"The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom." - Sun Tzu
As even more reports of VA hospitals with secret wait lists emerge, let's take a look at what the President said about the VA in 2008 [Campaign Promise: Obama 08] ...
...Reduce the Claims Backlog: There are currently over 400,000 claims pending within the
Veterans Benefits Administration, and over 800,000 claims receipts are expected in 2008
alone. VA error rates have also grown unacceptably high: over 100,000 cases each year
contain significant errors. In the Senate, Barack Obama has voted to increase funding to hire needed additional claims staff. As president, Obama will hire additional claims workers and convene our nation’s leading veterans groups, employees and managers to develop an updated training and management model that will ensure that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently, and stem from adequate training and accountability for each claims adjudicator...
Well, I think we all know by now that THAT promise remains broken. And the White House should choose it's words a bit more carefully...
"The President is madder than hell, and I've got the scars to prove it..." - White House chief of staff Denis McDonough on CBS's "Face the Nation"
So who's on the job to fix this mess? There's an organization that was the first to call for change...
The American Legion has stepped up for Vets time and time again - lately, calling for the Secretary of the VA, GEN (ret) Eric Shinseki, to resign. So far, the only VA staffers that are being held to account are ones that were due to retire (that's convenient). Here's what the National Commander of the American Legion, Dan Dellinger, is saying about this situation.
So, I fully agree with the Legion here. And...
Simply firing Shinseki won't solve the problem today or even in six months. We need a huge effort to make this disgusting situation right by our veterans - a momumental task to begin NOW before a new Secretary is nominated. This entire problem sits at the feet of the Commander in Chief and he can make this happen. Republican and Democrat leaders alike should rally around President Obama to fix this issue before more veterans DIE instead of turning their deaths into polical theater.
In the meantime, I nominate GEN (ret) David Petraeus for Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
I know, I know, some of you are rolling your eyes at this...just hear me out. [Full Disclosure: While I do not have a relationship with him, GEN (ret) Petraeus replaced me on the board of Team Rubicon when my tenure came to it's limit/end.]
GEN Petraeus is not perfect (who is?), but...he is a fixer, a Mr. Wolf, get 'er done type of guy. He's someone that is smart enough, tough enough, tireless enough to begin moving the largest and most broken part of our government in the right direction. This is a thankless job, the kind where people only know when you fail.
And, perhaps even more importantly, this is the kind of mission where he could be redeemed, and he is a man in need of redemption.
I say, give him the nod, AND more resources to solve this problem...(or turn it over to the private sector and save a few billion by giving all the vets insurance cards.)
What say you?