Recently there has been sensational news about staff at many VA Hospitals mis-scheduling medical appointments and filing false paperwork that made it appear to supervisors in Washington that they were meeting specified timelines—and some veterans may have died because they did not get timely treatment by the VA. Shame on those who filed false papers to save face when there was no possibility of meeting arbitrary timelines for appointments.
The true scandal is not with the false VA reports. The real scandal is that Congress refuses to adequately fund the VA to properly give care and benefits to our veterans. When timelines are not met, it is not because of mismanagement or paper shuffling; it is because our VA Hospitals are understaffed and overworked—trying to take care of our veterans without adequate resources. The resources are controlled by Congress in Washington.
The same problem exists with the Benefits Division of the VA—when there was criticism of Disability Claims (for in-service connected disabilities filed by injured veterans) were taking too long to process, the VA responded by taking claims personnel away from the Pension area to process Disability Claims. Hence the VA has made some headway clearing up a backlog of Disability Claims while Pension Claims have gotten farther and farther behind.
Now Pension claims are not about Pensions—these claims are for reimbursements to Senior War Period Veterans for their uninsured and unreimbursed long term care expenses—these folks are our most vulnerable veterans—our heroes from WWII and Korea. These Pension Claims are taking about a year or more to process and many of these vets die before their claim is approved. These are sick and aging people who need caregivers and assisted living. When these claims are not timely processed, the veteran who dies waiting for approval gets nothing. It is a national disgrace.
But the disgrace does not fall on the VA—it falls squarely on Congress for not adequately funding the VA with needed personnel and an adequate budget to modernize its systems. Congress sends our young men and women into danger for the sake of our national security—but when our young patriots come home injured, Congress is full of hot air in supporting their needs.
Congress needs to fulfill the promises made to the members of our military—and that means giving them adequate resources on the battlefield to win, and giving them adequate resources to mend their wounds and get the care they deserve when they come home.
On this week before Memorial Day, the day we remember those young men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, call your Congressman and US Senators, and tell them to double the VA budget. It’s the right thing to do.