Roger that, folks. Finally a go-to number/website/email to report perfidy. How cool is that? I thought we’d reached the nadir of communications when they came out with 1-800 -Santa Claus. Press 1 for nice and 2 for naughty. I played hell on Buckwheat Junior with that for years. And now VA employees can finally get even rather than mad. Lord knows, I’ve had my fair share of AFGE guys here with a boatload of bitches and most were spot on. Project on Government Oversight (POGO) now affords them an outlet for all this malfeasance.
We are finally and suddenly seeing the dam break on any number of issues to do with VA. Considering there are basically only three major functions there (VHA,VBA and Graves Registration), it isn’t too disconcerting to find that all three are more sexually congressed up than Hogan’s Goat.
The VA Bodygate fiasco of fingerpointing at the beginning of the weekend was a low blow for all of us still on this side of the grass. We’d all like to think this would not befall us at the end. Fortunately, most of us are north of homelessness and will never lie around a morgue for a year in the popsicle box but this just further illustrates the indifference an agency tasked with our well-being and burial holds us in. Again…
Over the weekend, I perused sites discussing the VA debacle with many comments. I read many and left a few. One acre of anger seems to emanate from a select few who have never served. They consider us trailer trash and feel the entitlements granted to us at signing long ago are superfluous and unearned. Even more, our incessant bitching is the equivalent of whining and asking for a welfare handout. They take umbrage with the idea we would have the temerity to ask for anything after serving. I left a comment that the person voicing his displeasure with Veterans’ complaints would probably be just as disgruntled with the military if he were now forced to speak a) Japanese; b) Russian; or c) Chinese. That provoked another round of Vet-bashing whose bait I refused to strike. Apparently, the cup will forever remain half-empty to some. Equally apparent was the belief that some argue for argument’s sake.
You already got paid and vets keep their hands out saying “gimme! gimme! gimme!” Disgrace
Few in the civilian world seem to understand that Memorial Day is a day for the dead. It’s their parade, their day of honor and their memories we should embrace. Call Kingsford Briquets the incense before the altar.We get our day in the sun in November if that is what you can call it. However, right now, every day is Veterans Day because the media finally woke up to the scam we’ve had perpetrated on us for over a century. Unless you just awoke from a Van Winkle snooze, you should be aware of it. In a nutshell, the newsies have stumbled onto the fact VA has been shading the truth. Again…
I’m not going to whine and whimper. I’m not inclined to do that. I saw which way the wind was blowing in 1972 when I came home from my Vietnam vacation. I didn’t wait around for a parade. I didn’t wish for something that was not in the cards. I shut up about what happened, pressed on with my life and sat on it for about 40 years until the VA began a new denial game with me in 2007. Then I started writing about it. I don’t bitch. I offer solutions. There is a difference in the two.
Suddenly, we wake up every morning and it’s Veterans this and VA that. Each dawn reveals a new level of misfeasance and uncaring indifference. Each day, by noon, a new revelation pops up like a bloated corpse rising to the surface in the media pond. Each new revelation is met by gasps of surprise as if no one could be capable of such lowbrow actions. As my Aunt Jackie used to say “Sugar, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Member Randy sent this in and I add it to enunciate my point.
VA has engaged in the same behaviour for eons. Promises made and subsequently broken are the hallmark of their business model. Apologies for same are as predictable as the platitudes that follow. New promises are ginned up only to be broken anew. New programs abound and trip over old ones in a constant effort to “modernize VA”. Hell, if this continues, we’re going to modernize claims adjudication right into the 22nd Century with little or no resolution.
I saw all this in 1973 when I drove off Edwards AFB for the last time in ignominy. The VFW would have nothing to do with us. We were untermenschen. Dirty, unwashed Vets from the Vietnam debacle. Pseudo-warriors from a pseudo-war. Wannabe Veterans. I walked away from it to keep my sanity.
That many of us who are left from the Vietnam Misunderstanding are now entering the VA medical system is a no brainer. With the new medical paradigm, getting served is somewhat the proverbial crapshoot. Some are less fortunate than others and tend to gravitate back to Mother VA as their protector. They feel a camaraderie among their brethren there. I know. I’ve been an integral part of that brotherhood. My one year vacation at the Seattle VAMC was a wakeup call to just how bad things are there. And yes, in spite of the atrocious care I received, breaking bread with those I served with was an enervating, bonding experience. I will never forget that year.
I also hear polls conducted by the VA that show a huge groundswell of support for the existing VAMC hospital model and the care received there. When conducting a poll, independence is best advised in order to produce credible results. Tasking the foxes with responsibility for an accurate headcount of egg production in the hen house does not always yield results that can be replicated again and again. Nevertheless, for as long as I can remember, the media has foolishly accepted the pablum fed them by VA on every facet of their programs. It just turned out they were lying about it. I can hear Gomer Pyle somewhere there in the background saying “Surprise, surprise, surprise, Sgt. Carter!”
We have reached a crossroads that has long been avoided. We have finally established that something is amiss- horribly amiss- and is not going to get all better without a meaningful repair order. This owie has been festering for so long it has metastasized into a cancer that infects the VA hierarchy and cannot be excised short of major surgery. Firing one or two gomers up in the airy, top regions of the VHA is not going to cure the patient. The other gomers will just reinfuse the same misogynistic philosophies into their noggins and we’ll be back at square one. We need look no further than the President’s choice of a replacement for the recently fired Dr. Petzel. He’s a clone who used to run the very same VAMC in Phoenix where the whole VA scheduling fiasco was unearthed. You will note I avoid the word “started”. What is afoot in Phoenix is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
For decades I’ve watched the Dog and Pony magic performed for the illiterate masses who gravitate towards the Big Six VSOs. They all pray to the same VA god for their largesse and handouts. Woe betideth the VSO who would bite the munificent hand that doles out the free rent and telephones at Regional Offices. This is why you are inclined to hear your service officer handling your claim say ” Hey. Let’s not be greedy here. VA gave you 10% for PTSD and you should be happy. We’ll come back in five years and ask for an increase to 30%. You don’t want them to think you’re greedy or ungrateful, do you? Besides, if you get too rambunctious, they may take your rating away from you.”
We’ve been hornswoggled so long we are content to ride in the back of the bus with Rosa Parks and remain silent. Suddenly, the mainstream media pops up like Ray’s brother -in-law Mark in Field of Dreams and says something inane like “Wow. Are you guys aware that VA is cooking the books on scheduling? Seriously. I’m not bullshitting you.” The problem with this is it has been common knowledge even within the VA for seven long years. I might be tempted to observe “Where’d you park the squad car, Dick Tracy?” if I weren’t down on the floor looking for the ass I just laughed off. Again…
I look forward to a productive newsday today. I have sent my complaints off to the various congressional entities begging them to perform due diligence and not bust out the white paint. I have even gone so far as to point out the inequities of the Independent Living Program and it’s peculiar book-cooking similarity to what is afoot at the VHA. I refer, of course, to the perennial bait and switch; the “we want to make sure Johnny Vet gets everything that’s coming to him”; the “we’re working on it but we have a new system and some of the personnel haven’t been brought up to speed on it just yet.” Again…
To them, my answer is unequivocal. “When-as in what decade or century in the future-do you anticipate having these legions of bumbling bureaucrats down at 810 Vermin Ave. NW up to speed and the problems solved?” How many more have to die to unearth the mystery of VA medical scheduling and set it aright? Why is scheduling a VA medical appointment so difficult and cloaked in secrecy if we keep shoveling more money down the maw of the VA machine? Mostly, I would ask the most burning question. Why is it that all these folks in charge of the VAMCs were making twenty and thirty thousand dollar bonuses while their Veteran patients were dying needlessly? Who, exactly, is in charge if we have to spend days, weeks and yes, years, in search of the scapegoat- let alone the actual perp who pulled the trigger on us? Again…
It’s one thing to die needlessly after faithful service to your country. It’s another thing entirely to die when the Agency bearing your name and who succors (suckers?) you turns its back and ignores you but assures Congress they are moving Heaven and Earth for just you, the Veteran. I guess I draw the line at the bonus checks.
At this stage, it’s not politics and I do wish you all would cease and desist with that vein of thinking. In my Memorial Face page post yesterday, a few of you wanted to know why I had not included a nasty, Bush-bashing cartoon as well. If he had done something boneheaded to Veterans, rest assured I would castigate him. However, Bush isn’t the problem. He’s term-limited. What is done is done. Bush might be guilty of innumerable things but he did not order the VA to cook the books. As some say, get over it. In this conflict, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Remember that. If Representative Miller was a Democrat it would have no more bearing on the investigation than finding out Barney the dinosaur was queer. We were promised many things we never received for our service. Let’s stay focused on that.
We, as Veterans, could stoically put paid to the lies and move on but dying needlessly because someone felt it necessary to cook the books to get a bonus is just a little over the top. Similarly, getting into a political donnybrook over whether Bush 43, Clinton, Bush 41 or Reagan screwed us is an exercise in navel-gazing. We allow our differences rather than our affinities to define us at our peril. Senator Sanders may be “independent”, Democrat or an alien from outer space. It’s immaterial to me. I want one thing for us. Whether I drive a Chevy to get there or a Ford is wasted hyperbole. Once the majority of you understand that, we can move forward and correct the deficiencies we encounter at VA.
The iron has never been hotter to strike with than now. Ignore the opportunity to bitch or become vociferous. Write your Congressman or Senator and express your feelings–or do not. And if you work for VA in any capacity and see an egregious situation, I beg you to bring it to light. The number and severity of the violations may be the impetus to ignite the long-overdue firestorm that should have occurred eons ago.