How many veterans will have to die of neglect before Eric Shinseki resigns?

Because whatever the number is, it’s apparently “more than forty:” “At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list. The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.”

…Only it wasn’t much of a secret, given that what went on here. Essentially, VA officials created a dummy list that made it look like they were processing veterans care in a timely fashion, while keeping actual sick veterans on a separate list that had some of them waiting for months for healthcare appointments.  This, indeed, resulted in veterans dying before they could be seen by a doctor: and before anyone thinks that I’m exaggerating the situation, please note that everybody concedes that Phoenix VA officials were actually shredding records to hide the problem.  So this was all known, including internally – but the resulting stink raised inside the organization over this went nowhere for months, apparently. Take a gander at this:

In one internal Phoenix VA e-mail dated July 3, 2013, one staffer raised concerns about the secret electronic list and raised alarms that Phoenix VA officials were praising its use.

“I have to say, I think it’s unfair to call any of this a success when Veterans are waiting 6 weeks on an electronic waiting list before they’re called to schedule their first PCP (primary care physician) appointment,” the e-mail states. “Sure, when their appointment is created, it can be 14 days out, but we’re making them wait 6-20 weeks to create that appointment.”

The e-mail adds pointedly: “That is unethical and a disservice to our Veterans.”

The only time that a bureaucrat writes a pointed email is when he or she knows dang well that the excrement is going to hit the rotary blade eventually, so it’s time to CYA. And this was a serious issue: ostensibly, the VA IG office was investigating the situation.  The problem is that something – or somebody – was holding up the process; despite the fact that this has been a known issue for a year, it apparently took a veteran slowing dying by inches in December to get this story to break.

A fish rots from the head down. Eric Shinseki is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs: that makes this disaster his responsibility, and the honorable thing for him to do here would be to resign immediately.  No, I don’t expect honorable activity from a Obama Cabinet appointee, either, so the next alternative strategy would be to get him forced out. Only, he’s one of the antiwar movement’s old darlings, so the odds of that happening are, as they say, nil.

But I suppose that we should look on the bright side: at least Shinseki didn’t abandon all our veterans. Just some of the ones out in flyover country.

Moe Lane (crossposted)

PS: Do I even need to note that this is the same administration that thinks that it’s competent enough to administer your health care decisions for you? – Because I’m pretty sure that most of the people reading this have already worked that out for themselves.

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