Vets problem is more than a partisan issue |

Vets problem is more than a partisan issue

Are Veterans Administration facilities burning while Obama fiddles and Congress tap dances?

Actually, VA centers have been extinguishing small blazes for the past 40 years since Vietnam, but now the problem of serving thousands of veterans from three major conflicts is catching up to the VA, and the agency is struggling to provide quality care to veterans, many of whom wait for weeks, even months to be seen for some of the most serious ailments.

The current problem is a manifestation of previous administrations and shortsightedness. Problems existed in the Bush Administration, for example, when the inadequate condition of the Walter Reed Army Hospital surfaced. Just as President Bush signified “Mission Accomplished” after the military liberated Bagdad and toppled the Saddam Hussein regime, the mission was still incomplete in planning VA assistance during the future years the U.S. was involved in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Furthermore, the problem has become worse during the past five years, enough to make President Obama madder than hell. We may have had more sympathy for the president’s feelings if his staff discovered the problems at the Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Cheyenne, Wyo., VA centers rather than a whistle-blower tipping off CNN and the Arizona Republic newspaper. In his familiar “pass the buck” moment, the president said he learned of the problems from CNN.

This latest scandal is how a system was adjusted to create fake waiting lists that hid actual waiting times of months.

The problem is systematic and knows no partisan boundaries. As early as 2007-2008 when the VA was experiencing problems in providing adequate care, then Sen. Obama said he would make the VA a priority … but did he? This is a time for both the administration and congressional lawmakers to rectify the problem immediately. It’s also time for our senate majority leader, Nevada’s Sen. Harry Reid, to stop any finger pointing and show some true leadership to bring both sides together in the Senate to ensure veterans receive the proper treatment they so rightly deserve. It’s time for senators on both sides of the aisle to quit politicizing the situation. It’s time for many VA employees across the United States to stop giving inadequate service.

The CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff, said it best: “Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans. And veterans are caught in the crossfire.”

We say no foot dragging. It’s time to correct a program besieged with years of neglect. Our veterans deserve, much more.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.