Pointing fingers everywhere be inward, VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers slams the the past, blaming VA’s predecessors for the disability backlog.
Sowers jumped onto MSNBC Morning Joe right after Paul Rieckhoff slammed VA for its disability backlog failures the morning prior.
I am not sure if this is the best approach. It makes VA appear like they are losing the battle for the minds of the American public and the American veteran. Maybe they are.
Here is the clip:
These past weeks, VA has aggressively moved to downplay negative press about the backlog and the lack of substantive progress. God only knows how much their public relations budget is.
Here is what we know. We know that people like Tommy Sowers and Allison Hickey did not “do it.” We know Tom Murphy, head of Disability, did not do it. These folks have not been around for a long enough time to know what the impacts of their policies will be.
We do, however, know that the VA has not exactly been straight with us in front of Congress. When Congress asks straight questions about these programs, especially the software platforms, VA will not answer the question straight on. I can only wonder, “why not?”
Paul Rieckhoff put it best yesterday on MSNBC.
“We don’t know [what’s wrong]. We’re looking from the outside, right? It’s like looking at a broken down car on the side of the road and [asking] what’s wrong with the engine? … Everything they have asked for Congress and the veteran service organizations have given them. But the numbers continue to go up.”
Here is the clip:
The fact is, whenever Congress holds an oversight committee hearing, they refuse to swear in the VA official who testifies. That’s right, for those of you newcomers. The VA is not under oath to tell the truth when it testifies before Congress.
There may be two reasons for this. First, it could be because Congress trusts that VA will tell the truth. However, after viewing just one oversight hearing you will know that Congress does not trust that it is getting the truth.
Here is the second possible reason. Congress does not want the VA to tell the truth. One former VA did tell the truth. He told Congress that VA needed more money. He was fired.
The problem is likely that VA is doing as much as it can with the little money it has. VA has been understaffed and under funded for years. Even in a good year when VA does get a spending increase, it is still well under what the ideal budget would be.
I think the fact is that Congress and the Presidency do not want the VA to be straight with the American people because otherwise more tax dollars would go toward veterans. Instead, the money goes in the other direction.
While America has in many ways failed her disabled veterans over the years, it has not shied away from creating disabled veterans by fighting numerous foreign wars we cannot afford.
Bass tacks, if we really want VA to tell us what is really going on, we need them to be under oath. That way, no one can get fired. That’s my overly simplistic and altruistic theory.
Here’s my premise as to why that matters. It’s rather hard to fire someone when they are under oath to tell the truth. That would be retaliation, and I’m pretty sure it would be illegal.
That’s my answer. VA must be under oath to allow the truth to come to the surface. That way, we can know what is really going on.
To Secretary Shinseki, please pop the hood of that broken down car that is the disability backlog system and let the American public have a look.
Who knows, maybe the car might finally get fixed before that 2015 deadline.