With Memorial Day, the time Americans set aside to remember the Nation’s fallen veterans, just around the corner, the Sunday political talk circuit was dominated with talk of the Federal government’s failure to properly care for living veterans in the United States.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union”, House Committee of Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said that the growing scandal of inadequate care in the VA extends far beyond embattled VA leader Eric Shinseki.
“You’ve got an entrenched bureaucracy that exists out there that is not held accountable, that is shooting for goals, goals that are not helping the veteran,” he said.
To unravel the bureaucratic mess which is harming the Nation’s veterans, Miller contends, the VA must be reformed from the ground up.
“We have got to move away from a World War II concept into the 21st century,” Miller said.
That means allowing for veterans to seek private doctors with VA benefits, the lawmaker said. He then applauded the VA’s Saturday announcement that veterans cab seek non-VA care with a portion of the government help to which they’re entitled.
Other lawmakers expressed frustration that it has taken so long for the VA’s issues to become a top priority in the public eye.
“What took so long?” Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said. “This is not a new issue in terms of the backlog,” he added on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota added that the Obama Administration should have even taken swifter action when the belated reports of problems in the VA hit mainstream media.
“I think the President just waited way too long to get into this…” he said. “That was the issue that many of us were raising as you had reports of up to forty people who died on waiting lists.
“You had these reports of secret lists and falsifying records and all those sorts of things. And it took three weeks for the President to act,” the lawmaker continued. “I’m glad that he is engaging, the things that were said yesterday about giving veterans access to non-VA facilities to– if they can’t get into VA facilities, I think, is a welcome change.”
Army combat veteran Wes Moore, the executive producer and host of the PBS documentary series “Coming Back With Wes Moore”, joined “State of the Union” to remind Americans that Memorial Day is one of the loneliest days of the year for many of the Nation’s veterans. The holiday is not, he reminded, an excuse to barbeque or the first official day of summer.