After three weeks of silence on increasing reports of widespread VA misconduct, the President finally took to the podium. He expressed outrage (he is “madder than hell,” as it were), but few find the President’s angry sentiments alone sufficient for a problem that has festered for years.
Veterans groups, like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, called Obama’s speech “a tremendous disappointment.” The American Legion said, “The VA has been aware for some time that inappropriate scheduling procedures are widespread among its medical facilities. Yet Secretary Shinseki has taken no initiative in correcting the problem. Veterans continue to die waiting for their health care, senior VA executives continue to get their bonuses, and only after all of this is the secretary now pledging to fix what’s wrong.”
The President’s statements were seen as deficient so universally that even the New York Times editorial board said that “expressing outrage is hardly enough for a president who, as a candidate in 2008, criticized the agency and vowed to improve care and address backlogs.”
Anger does not produce accountability, or outrage, reform. To start real change, the President should support the recently House-passed Department of Veterans Affairs Management and Accountability Act that gives top brass at the VA the ability to remove VA managers failing in their responsibility to care for those who have sacrificed for this country.
It’s time for more than words, Mr. President.