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| posted on 5/4/2007 at 08:47 AM|
|Can anyone tell me why Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affair still has a job? That's right, he's a Bush appointee. "You're doing a heck of job, Jimmy" (sarcasm implied)|
Paul Rieckhoff | May 04, 2007
Just when you think you've seen it all, the top bureaucrats at the VA manage to set new standards in rewarding incompetence. It turns out that back in 2005, only months after admitting that they had underestimated the cost of veterans' care by more than $1 billion dollars, VA officials involved in the foul-up each got bonuses in the tens of thousands of dollars. The total cost of these bonuses? Over $3 million dollars.
For those of you who can't keep track of all the different ways returning troops are getting the run-around, here's a quick recap of what we saw in 2005:
In their budget request for 2005, VA based their numbers on the data from 2002 - before the war in Iraq even started. As a result, they expected only 23,500 new veterans to seek services, instead of the 103,000 new veterans who returned from war needing care. So the VA asked Congress for $1 billion less than they would actually need.
While local facilities were flooded with new veterans and forced to ration care, VA bureaucrats spent six months telling a concerned Congress that there wasn't a problem. As late as summer 2004, VA Secretary Nicholson assured Senate leadership that "the VA does not need emergency supplemental funds in FY 2005." Eventually, the VA finally admitted the billion-dollar shortfall and requested emergency funding, but not before thousands of veterans were affected by the six-month budget crunch.
So what happens to the people responsible for this fiasco? Are they fired, or even reprimanded? No - they are rewarded with handsome bonuses that drew millions of dollars away from crucial VA programs. Bonuses for this kind of negligence - it's like giving George Tenet the Medal of Freedom.
What else could the VA have done with $3 million? Here's an idea. The entire 2006 budget for the Defense and Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Center was only $14 million dollars. And last year, they faced a staggering budget cut of 50%. Three million dollars would have gone a long way to helping the estimated 150,000 troops with a brain injury. Instead, it went into the pockets of some bureaucrats. In the coming weeks, the presidential candidates from both parties will lay out their plans for the future of this country.
Thankfully, some of these candidates are veterans themselves (John McCain and Duncan Hunter--who also have sons serving in the military right now). While I doubt any of these politicians rely on the VA for their health care, I certainly hope they'll remember their millions of our veterans who do.
The more than 1.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan expect to hear how these candidates will ensure that the VA is looking after our fellow veterans, not the Washington bureaucrats in suits.
(6323 all sites)
| posted on 5/4/2007 at 08:49 AM|
|Sad thing is this happens in my school district, when a principal is not doing a good job, they tend to be promoted to the district office, where their administreative duties can be put to better use|
Standing Alone Against Northern Aggression Since 1861
World Class Peach
(5150 all sites)
| posted on 5/4/2007 at 11:25 AM|
|Alright, I'll bite at that one.|
I think he still has the job because now veterans don't dread going to the VA hospitals. They used to be a place where you went when you couldn't get care from a local hospital. Now they are places to go to get treatment that most veterans can't get at any hospital, and many veterans actualy go there RATHER than go to their local hospitals.
Used to Veterans Hospitals were considered a last refuge for old and/or poverty striken veterans. If you couldn't afford insurance, or pay the bills, a veteran would have to settle for a VA hospital. Many tales of mis-treatment and neglect came from VA patients.
Now, treatment at a VA facility is on par, or better, than any local facility.
Treatment for many diseases and injuries that are not associated with the civilian population are handled there.
Building facilities have been upgraded and remodled to accomodate the veterans and give them a higher standard of care.
In the Dublin VA there has been a constant revitalization of the facility over the past five years. Heating/cooling, removal of harmful building materials, electrical and plumbing has been redone, along with newer and more efficient equipment.
The building has also been rebuilt in areas to provide atriums and sunrooms to allow patients that cannot go outside due to illness that requires isolation to enjoy viewing gardens, bird feeders, and interact with others outside. Some patients interact with them by growing their own small gardens and enjoy having someone to watch their small plot of vegetables grow.
The VA is now one of the nations leaders in octogenarian care (that's the care of people 80 and older) and for Alzheimers.
So, I think the VA is doing "A heck of a job."
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