Peter Finch stated it very succinctly and on point in his award winning role in Network when he said
“I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!”
I am a soldier, I am Veteran and I served my country, in peace, in war and in combat, with pride, honor and integrity as a commanding officer in the European Theatre during the years of the Cold War and it was missions impossible!
I am mad as hell at the very organizations – Veterans Administration and Veterans Affairs, particularly their Veteran’s Hospitals located in Alabama – that allegedly provide programs services for our veterans and their families and truly fail to live up to the mission statement that President Lincoln promised at the founding of the VA during the civil war:
“To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.
What is a Veteran?
A Veteran - whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve – is someone who at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America, for an amount “up to and including his life”!
A veteran is defined by federal law, moral code and military service as "Any, Any, Any"... A military veteran is Any person who served for Any length of time in Any military service branch.
A war veteran is any GI (Government Issue) ordered to foreign soil or waters to participate in direct or support activity against an enemy. The operant condition: Any GI sent in harm's way.
A combat veteran is any GI who experiences any level of hostility for any duration resulting from offensive, defensive or friendly fire military action involving a real or perceived enemy in any foreign theater.
What are the Veteran’s Administrations Obligations to the Veteran?
According to the VA, five core values underscore the obligations inherent in the VA’s mission: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. The core values define “who we are,” our culture, and how we care for Veterans and eligible beneficiaries. Our values are more than just words – they affect outcomes in our daily interactions with Veterans and eligible beneficiaries and with each other. Taking the first letter of each word—Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, Excellence—creates a powerful acronym, “I CARE,” that reminds each VA employee of the importance of their role in this Department. These core values come together as five promises we make as individuals and as an organization to those we serve.
Integrity: Act with high moral principle. Adhere to the highest professional standards. Maintain the trust and confidence of all with whom I engage.
Commitment: Work diligently to serve Veterans and other beneficiaries. Be driven by an earnest belief in VA’s mission. Fulfill my individual responsibilities and organizational responsibilities.
Advocacy: Be truly Veteran-centric by identifying, fully considering, and appropriately advancing the interests of Veterans and other beneficiaries.
Respect: Treat all those I serve and with whom I work with dignity and respect. Show respect to earn it.
Excellence: Strive for the highest quality and continuous improvement. Be thoughtful and decisive in leadership, accountable for my actions, willing to admit mistakes, and rigorous in correcting them.
How Has The Veteran’s Administration Failed our Veterans?
In April, 2014, “allegations that some 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA were first made public. This has created in our veterans' community a crisis of confidence toward the VA - the very agency that was established to care for them."
The Phoenix facility reportedly worked to disguise patients' long wait times by creating a secret waiting list and later destroying the evidence. Reports suggest the same practice of using secret waiting lists may be happening elsewhere across the country.
An outraged Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., slammed the "systemic" problems plaguing Veterans Affairs health care centers around the country on Saturday, saying the Obama administration has "failed" to respond to the mismanagement and delays that have been linked to dozens of deaths nationwide.
"Decent care for our veterans is among the most solemn obligations a nation incurs, and we will be judged by God and history by how well we discharge ours," McCain said in the weekly Republican address. "That's why I'm so deeply troubled by the recent allegations of gross mismanagement, fraud and neglect at a growing number of Veterans Administration medical centers across the country."
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki told a Senate committee this week that the problems with VA health care make him "mad as hell," and he said he's committed to "taking all actions necessary" to address the situation.
The secretary said he's ordered a top-to-bottom audit of all VA clinics that could potentially conclude in as few as three weeks.
But veterans in need of care, McCain said, cannot wait for the administration to act. "They need answers, accountability and leadership from this administration and Congress now," he said.
"Clearly, the VA is suffering from a systemic, cultural problem that Congress cannot resolve with piecemeal response," he said. "What's needed is a total refocusing of the VA on its core mission of serving veterans -- stretching from its top political leadership all the way through to its career civil servants."
"Congress must also give VA administrators greater ability to hire and fire those charged with caring for our veterans," he added. "Most importantly, we must give veterans greater flexibility in how they get quality care in a timely manner."
The VA health care scandal has been gathering steam in recent weeks as more reports of misconduct trickle in from care centers across the country. The Military Times, a newspaper that caters to the armed forces but is not published by the military or the government, called Friday for Shinseki's resignation. And among public officials, it's not just Republicans who are criticizing the administration.
"We have more than allegations at this point, we have evidence, solid evidence, of wrongdoing within the VA system," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said at Thursday's hearing. "It 's more than an isolated incident -- it's a pattern, apparently, of manipulating lists, gaming the system... which is not just an impropriety or misconduct, it is potentially a criminal act."
On Friday, Robert Petzel, a top official with the Department of Veterans Affairs, submitted his resignation, and in an interview with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Petzel's exit was not voluntary.
"There is no question that this is a termination of his job there before he was planning to go," McDonough said in the interview, which is scheduled to air in full on Sunday's episode of "Face the Nation." "We're looking at accountability. We want to continue...to provide our veterans the services that they have earned."