The Obama Watch

Inveterate Carelessness

The VA scandal’s taint on our nation's soul.

By 6.2.14

UPI
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Sez I: If they would do the decent thing,
And shield the missis and the little ’uns,
Why, even I might shout “God save the King,”
And face the chances of them ’ungry guns.
But we’ve got three, another on the way;
It’s that wot makes me snarl and set me jor:
The wife and nippers, wot of ’em, I say,
If I gets knocked out in this blasted war?
Gets proper busted by a shell,
But… wot the ’ell, Bill? Wot the ’ell?

Ay, wot the ’ell’s the use of all this talk?
To-day some boys in blue was passin’ me,
And some of ’em they ‘ad no legs to walk,
And some of ’em they ‘ad no eyes to see.
And — well, I couldn’t look ‘em in the face,
And so I’m goin’, goin’ to declare
I’m under forty-one and take me place
To face the music with the bunch out there.
A fool, you say! Maybe you’re right.
I’ll ’ave no peace unless I fight.
I’ve ceased to think; I only know
I’ve gotta go, Bill, gotta go.
— “The Volunteer”
Robert William Service

So Rick Shinseki is gone, ostensibly because remaining as Secretary of the Veterans Administration would pose too much of a “distraction” for people like you and me who do not share president Obama’s gift for focusing like a laser on what is really important. Baloney, I say. The exact opposite is the case. His resignation is designed to distract us from the real repairs necessary — or from the impossibility of such repairs.

In truth, the Veterans Administration is more than a scandal. It is a taint on the soul of our nation. The rot has been endemic for decades at least, more like half a century. When I was spending my teenage years munching popcorn watching war movie theater, I tended to cringe more at the inevitable scene in the squalid VA hospital than at the bloody battle images. The phrase “VA Hospital” has been a hissing and a byword as long as the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.

Still, there is evidence that the Democratic Party approach to government work has lately aggravated this problem, and further indications that the existence of Obamacare bodes ill for our ailing veterans. The latest revelations about phony wait lists and fake stats to cover the true condition of VA health care provision has the familiar fingerprints of Obama’s operatives. They have always been more adept at doctoring numbers of patients than they are at doctoring patients in numbers.

One of my sources in another government agency does not have enough gumption to be a whistleblower but he will give me the inside scoop of how this administration operates. When Obama took over in 2009, the word came down from on high that they had to clear up the backlogs in applications for the service his department provides. There were six thousand requests in the hopper, and they had to reduce that to two thousand by year’s end.

Have no fear, the minions were told, we have a strategy. Since these files were originally opened six, twelve, eighteen months ago, some of them may have stale-dated while others may no longer be needed. So here is the plan: send each applicant a letter without a return envelope inside. The letter will explain that we are clearing the excess applications to free space for the urgent ones. You have five days to send in this new application or your file will be deemed inactive and closed.

As part of this scheme, the notices were all sent on Thursday so the recipients would probably not see them until Monday, after four of the five days had elapsed. Sure enough, they met their goal of turning six thousand cases into two thousand. And they did it without working one iota harder or helping one additional person.

With this type of approach, our veterans do not stand a chance. The paperwork is juggled while the infections spread and the cancers grow and the traumas steal the hope from a noble heart. The budgets grow and the bureaucrats get their bonuses and the bankers get the interest on the deficits while our heroes disappear into the shadows.

As Obamacare grows and the nation moves toward universal care, the chances of our special obligations being given special treatment shrink. Why should we think the elderly in Medicare deserve more consideration once we are guaranteeing care to every citizen? Why would the soldier deserve more than the civilian when care becomes a right and not a just desert?

They volunteered, did our lads, and they did so with honor. Even now they are reluctant to lay blame at the feet of their Commander-in-Chief. Their loyalty to us is to be admired, even revered. But where is our loyalty to them?

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.