Disabled veterans deserve better from USA

3.ZjgNh3FelFUThe Veterans’ Administration scandal is more than individual mismanagement and bureaucratic coverup.   It is also that the VA doesn’t have enough money to keep up with the increasing number of severely disabled veterans.

CNN reported that veterans are being forced to wait more than the 14-day maximum set by President Obama, and that many VA hospitals have covered this up by keeping veterans’ names off the official waiting list until they could meet the deadline.  At one hospital, CNN reported, 40 veterans died while waiting to be treated.

Note: This figures are not adjusted for inflation

Note that these figures are not adjusted for inflation

There is no excuse for this, any more than there is an excuse for high school teachers and administrators falsifying student test results.  But when you have a bureaucracy that says your career depends on meeting impossible numerical goals, and you lack an independent means of checking results, there will be cheating.  It is not justifiable, but it is predictable.

Memorial Day was originally a holiday to honor the Union soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Civil War.   Because of medical advances, a smaller percentage of troops die now than died then on the battlefield and in military hospitals afterward.   The ironic result is that a higher percentage survive to live with the mutilations and amputations of war.

2.t0lGEo8cPEIThe Washington Post reported that the percentage of veterans applying for disability benefits is the highest on record.  I don’t believe this is because this is because (or at least not mainly because) of malingerers.  I think the higher disability rate reflects a higher survival rate.

Mismanagement and coverups in the Veterans Administration are wholly the fault of the Obama administration.  Lack of sufficient funds to do the job is the responsibility of both the administration and of Congress, and the congressional Republican budget hawks in particular.

It is right and fitting that we honor our war dead with parades and flag ceremonies on Memorial Day, but it should not stop there.  We honor our dead when we pay our debt to the living.


Memorial Day Nightmare by Kelley Vlahos for The American Conservative.

The Graphic Reality of the VA’s Funding Woes by Christopher Flavelle for Bloomberg View.  The charts in this post were taken from this article.

Why Is the VA Suffering From a Lack of Resources in the First Place? by Katrina vanden Heuvel for The Nation.

Cold Calculations: How a backlogged VA determines the true cost of war by Greg Jaffe for The Washington Post.  A report on what disabled veterans get from their government.

In reading the charts, remember that the U.S. government’s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1 of the previous year.  Thus Fiscal 2009 started on Oct. 1, 2008.  The first Obama administration budget was for Fiscal 2010.

[Added 5/27/14]  Below is a chart that illustrates one aspect of the VA’s increasing workload.  The spike in traumatic brain injury is thought to be a result of concussion caused by IEDs (improvised explosive devices).


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