When the national slate of scandals first broke at the Phoenix VA Medical Center in 2014 many veterans, family members and advocates came out of the gate loaded for bear and many policy-makers swore that they would usher in much-needed reforms, or else. Nevertheless, the scandals have continued and the debacle that is the Veteran’s Administration is seemingly all about many things, but not systemic accountability.
The Director of the beleaguered Phoenix Hospital plead guilty to negligence and wait-time list manipulation, acknowledging complicity in the deaths of over 30 veterans. Her sentence? She received two years probation. In June we learned that she might actually be eligible to get her job back! Yes, that’s right.
A former Ohio VA Administrator, William Montague, received a 57 month prison sentence in June also. He was convicted on multiple counts of corruption. The New York Daily News featured a story which noted that malpractice settlements have tripled since 2011. Meanwhile, a bevvy of Congressmen wailed to the heavens about expenditures for the new facility in Aurora, Colorado. Now 1.1 billion over budget the facility is still not finished. Ah yes, we would be remiss if we failed to mention yet another Senate hearing on all the veterans who died while in the care of the great staff at the faility in Tomah, WI. Of course there were, as there are every month, a number of combat veterans whose cases the VA mishandled and they subsequently committed suicide like Drew Winkler.
And that was just during the month of June. To add insult to injury the VA Secretary likened waits at the VA to amusement park ventures at Disneyland. Well, Mr. Secretary, not sure what theme parks you’ve been taking your kids to visit, but they must be on a different planet–or in another dimension.
This week Senator Coburn released a lengthy report documenting the deaths of more than 1,000 veterans due to malpractice or lack of care at the VA. And the hits just keep coming.