IRONY: Congressional Committee focuses on Honesty

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VA Honesty Project

Did you hear the one about the politicians in Congress asking politicians in the Executive to be honest?

In a curious twist, rather than the pot calling the kettle black, we have a situation where the pot is asking the kettle to be not-black. This is like saying a “Kinda Good Congress” versus a “Sorta Evil Executive,” where both claim to care more about veterans issues.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs has started its own honesty project called the VA Honesty Project. Clearly, the name is meant to be ironic, and when I first came across the project, I hoped to find a treasure trove of data on Department of Veterans Affairs misgivings.

What I found less than impressive. As you read on, you may say, “Wow Ben, you seem silly and childish here.” That is my point. I think the premise on which the VA Honesty Project is based is childish, and this article explains why it is a waste of time and any money Congress spent on it.

First of all, Congress merely created a cheapie webpage and gave it a name. There is no real “project” per se unless by project they mean something no more grandiose than a single paged blog. What Congress (Republican led) highlights on the webpage are a number of instances where the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) failed to respond to a media outlet for a request for information or a quote.

Yawn.

According to Fedscoop:

The “VA Honesty Project documents nearly 70 recent instances in which VA has failed to respond to reporters’ requests for information or refused to answer specific questions,” the site states. “The department’s apparent disregard for the press has become an object of reporters’ scorn, leading some to openly accuse VA of ‘thumbing their nose at us’ and others to write entire articles focusing on VA’s stonewalling tactics.”

“With 54 full-time public affairs employees, VA’s media avoidance strategy can’t be anything other than intentional,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement. “What’s worse, the tactic leaves the impression that department leaders think the same taxpayers who fund the department don’t deserve an explanation of VA’s conduct. By keeping a running record of VA’s attempts to stonewall the press, we hope to convince the department to put a renewed focus on being responsive and transparent with the media so America’s veterans and taxpayers can get the answers they deserve.”

On the surface, a casual reader might be under the impression Congress is on the right track or at least moving in the right direction. The information on the VA Honesty Project webpage may even seem shocking in the number of reporters VA ignores. But when you dig deeper, there is a boring reality behind the rhetoric.

VA fields thousands of responses to news outlets on a regular basis. The odds are high that VA will not get back to every query. In much the same way, Congress does not respond to every request to meet with the press or with constituents. There are just too many people. And, let’s be honest, only lobbyists and movie stars get the red carpet treatment.

I am just being realistic here, but by Rep. Jeff Miller’s own standard, he still owes me a meeting when I was with Veterans For Common Sense (VCS). However, like most things on Capitol Hill, politicians cow-tow to lobbyists and high paid performers advocating only for those with deep pockets. The rest of us are inconsequential.

For example, Miller would not meet with us about our class action lawsuit against VA. That suit was a big deal and it was credited with pushing VA to change many policies on how it treats veterans with PTSD. While he was too busy for PTSD policy changing lawsuits, Miller was more than willing to meet with Pete Hegseth at Concerned Veterans for America. While I am unsure of Pete’s record of helping veterans directly, we all know he is a good cheerleader for veterans’ issues.

Now, do I cry about it and create a webpage on my site called the “Jeff Miller Honesty Project” because he refused to meet with me? No. We all know how the game is played in DC. Meanwhile, the Republican majority is hoping the majority of Americans do not notice their game is in fact a game, at least not before they vote on the issue this midterm election.

In my view, the webpage VA Honesty Project is little more than a publicity stunt using veterans to facilitate the public’s (mis)perception that the Republican Congress cares about veterans. Some of them do, but most of them see us as expendable cannon fodder. Those same Republicans are annoyed about our benefits payouts and consider us entitlement babies sucking on the hind tit of the American taxpayer.

If the Republican led House Committee on Veterans Affairs was truly serious, why not create a real “project” that posts useful information on a unique website? Instead, they added a mere page on the House Committee’s website and called it a VA Honesty Project. What a joke.

This election cycle, do not be fooled by tricks like this from politicians in either party. Let’s be sure to let Miller and friends know we are not stupid. The VA Honesty Project is merely a rouse that does not exist. By any modern definition, it is no real project at all; it is merely a play on words and cannot be considered anything more. After all, it is a single web page on a single, already existing, website. I think we as Americans should demand more than mere HTML. It is no different than registering a business entity with a state’s commerce department and then telling people you have an existing business.

“No, no little Jeffie. I know “veterans projects” and your VA Honesty Project is no project at all.”

While I believe this is a Republican trick to appear more veteran friendly, in that stride, I can with high confidence point out that Democrats are equally as culpable. President Obama had plenty of opportunities to clean up VA when he had both the House and the Senate, but veterans and taxpayers instead ended up with a huge backlog and billions in defunct government contracting projects.

Our grandkids, grandkids, grandkids will have to pay that back.

If Congress (Republicans and Democrats) truly wanted to pursue honesty, it would publish all the information it receives from VA through its legislative investigations. THAT is where the truth is. For some reason, Congress has chosen to not do so on their nickel and dime webpage.

That issue aside, I call on Congress to do one better by answering this question. Why do we no longer require VA officials to testify to Congress under oath? I want an honest answer to that question.

We require athletes accused of steroid use to swear in. Why not ensure VA is giving us honest answers by giving testimony under oath? It would cost even less than the pennies Jeff Miller and friends allocated in setting up a new webpage.

And that, my friends, is a VA Honesty Project I would whole-heartedly support. You give me a politician who supports that kind of honesty, and I would say the sky is the limit on cleaning up VA and Capitol Hill.

Source: Fedscoop

http://fedscoop.com/house-committee-targets-lack-transparency-va/

Writer Disclaimer: I have voted for Bush and Obama and Snoopy. That either makes me a sucker or a glutton for punishment or both – but it does not make me a Demoquack or a Repiglican. In my defense, I was only 19 when I voted for Snoopy. I have no excuse for the others.

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9 Comments

  1. I think Jeff Miller is no friend of veterans just as Paul Ryan isnt . He negotiated our 1percent cost of living raise away to Patty Murray who is also a supposed vet friendly senator . The F-35 has a current cost over run of 145 BILLION. Why not bring it under control and no one in the military would have to be cut. The industrial war complex is alive and well. The entire Veterans affairs committee and all senior leadership of the VA need firing . The recent 30 page IG report on the Nashville regional office is deplorable. From Travis Kraft and up , all parties should be fired . If you arent subscribing to the VA IG reports , then please do . It shows how corrupt the VA really is .

      • It is the desire of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman to play political musical chairs as a republican. Veterans and American citizens we have to take a stand against the evil spirit, which is seeking to get control of all three branches of the U.S. Government, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch.

        This is the republicans evil desire, for example many times have we seen a political power shift in our government, which the losing party suffers lost of representation due to a democrat/republican jumping ship to the democrat/republican due to which party is the majority winner. What does this do for Veterans and the American citizens. NOTHING POSITIVE AT ALL but it rather is an effort of CONTROL. These people are CONTROL FREAKS at best, we the citizens must PRAY to the GOD of the OATH they don’t want to exist and He will right the ship.

        We cannot stand by and become idle to what is happening right before our EYES and do NOTHING. Our first move is to incorporate GOD as our LEADER because these political leaders are godless, when they continuously sit by and allow an governmental agency such Veterans Affairs to commit CRIMES against Veterans, such as murder and against the American citizens by stealing their monies.

        Our present governmental leadership is only concerned about one thing and that is MONEY. PERIOD. First thing first is we have to hold them accountable by making them put the OATH back into action at Committee Veterans Affairs hearings because is reverence to GOD and America was founded upon GOD.

        We must stand up with GOD and start executing our SOVEREIGN POWER because they are employed by the American citizens TAX DOLLARS.

      • Very true Benjamin. I spent 30 years in the Air Force and thought I had seen every beoken process there was until I was retired due to health reasons and started working with the VA. It is one set back after another. They try to pit out so much positive spin but underneath , they are hard broke. The veterans affairs committee is a joke.

  2. So now that we all know how corrupt the VA is and what a failure the govenment is, what do we do? Keep writing these commentaries?

  3. “Republicans” aren’t the problem – DEMOCRATS and RINOs ARE.

    When will some of you get it through your heads that we are being given political nominees hand picked by corrupt officials?

    Stop pointing at the Republicans – if any can save the veterans it is the real Republicans and Libertarians who fight daily for veterans and all who are not able to protect themselves UNDER THE LAW.

  4. Why must I swear to tell the truth at a hearing or make a statement to that effect on all correspondence to VA and VARO? I’m OK with that but not with VA’s refusal to take the oath in testifying to Congress or responding to me that they read and considered every medical document, VA or private, to consider my claims.

  5. I think it’s ALL a joke! Present day politicians should be totally ashamed of themselves. ALL PARTIES. They don’t get ANYTHING done and they blame the stupidest reasons for it. Congress has NO checks and balances on it either. You can’t even count on the HONORABILITY of Veterans serving in Congress! One day our entire economy will die an unpleasant death due to fact that congress only deals in credit. The day we can’t get credit the U.S. is done. There won’t be money for anyone then. Do we need another trillion dollar piece of military hardware or do we need to take care of our own? To hell with Afghans and Iraqi’s problems. Let them fight it out themselves. Feed and care for our tired and poor people. Create civilian oversight committees to ride shotgun over our money. It’s also amazing just how many thieves are in this great country of ours. We should deport them to their ancestors homeland for it.

    • You’re one hundred ninety nine percent right because we’ve got no say so about monies at all. We’re sovereign and we need to DEMAND Congress put a citizen liaison committee in place. We need to know what Congress is doing PERIOD, we have shot our own selves in the foot due to the fact, we don’t even have knowledge of whether or not there is prosecutorial authority been remover from over the Department of Veterans Affairs.

      VA official are responding in contempt of Congress, whenever Congress ask them questions of any nature BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR CONGRESS. We need to get answers to why the President, Congress, U.S. Department of Justice is allowing this governmental agency to operate in a ROGUE MANNER.

      And why they’re leaving our nations Veterans to be completely unprotected to a point, which our constitutional and civil rights are frequently violated, why the U.S. Federal Court system isn’t allowing Veterans to receive any REDRESS in the U.S. Federal Court system. Se we can’t keep allowing the Veterans Service Organizations to be our only go between, when it comes to dealing with Congress.

      The time is now for us to unite and put our strategy together for the purposes of speaking for ourselves as U.S. Veterans, in other words we’ve earned the right to sit at the table with those who are suppose to have our best interest at heart (CONGRESS). We Veterans are the ones who are experiencing deprivation of our due process rights, property rights and civil rights, so now we must represent ourselves by being heard at these Congressional hearings. No one else is getting the job done.

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