Unfortunately, General Eric Shinseki has chosen the least controversial exit of all. Rather than stand and fight the endemic corruption the VA is awash in, he has opted for resignation. We are the losers and I say this with great sadness. In Gen. Shinseki, we had a warrior-citizen who was cognizant of what many of us endured while serving. Having that commonality is a prerequisite for the job in my mind. Former VASEC Jesse Brown was the only other one who could boast of this association. He, too, was an above -average Secretary. I think we all know what is in store for us soon. Can you say “whitewash”?
Just as the GM folks got their neckties in the dirt on the ignition fiasco that caused 12 or more deaths, greedy VA employees has bamboozled Shinseki and given him bogus info. He, to his detriment, took it as gospel and now has to pay the price. Now, here’s why we lose out.
-Gen. Shinseki has five years under his belt and is up to speed on the problems.
-He is now acquainted with who the culprits are and is expertly situated to introduce changes to correct it.
– He is the first VASEC in history to effect changes that have benefited Vets of the Vietnam War (Parkinson’s, B cell hairy leukemia, IHD etc.) in over a decade. The IOM and their ilk have been dragging their heels for years on presumptive issues. Ric cut to the chase and rammed it through. His record on homelessness in Veterans is stellar.
-He has the capability due to his long tenure as a leader/warrior to make bold changes rather than small baby steps. VA needs this desperately.
-He isn’t concerned with stepping on political toes at this point. His focus is solely on us Veterans. He is one so he “feels our pain”. Make no mistake about it. He walks the walk.
– He doesn’t have any “baggage” that drags him down. He’s happily married and has no Monica Lewinskys in the wings. He’s bulletproof on that front. That’s no small feat in this day and age of the roaming eyeball. Witness Gen. Petraeus.
-Given the nod from Congress and the legal authority, he’d go in and sweep out the scalawags who infest the VA hierarchy. He owes no one for his appointment other than the President and Congress. That’s a very tall mandate if the President was willing to stand behind him instead of a golf cart.
-He honestly cares about us as individuals and doesn’t consider us a liability or a lead weight around his neck holding him back from greater things. His focus has always been on a repair order, not a stepping stone to Secretary of State or a Vice Presidency.
-After 38 years in the Army, we can safely say he’s seen it all and knows the repair order for much of what infects VA currently.
– He’s being 86’d for political expediency-quite possibly the worst reason to do away with him. Congress folk are up for reelection this fall and without going into the specifics of which party feels threatened, it is safe to say that the party that flies the blue flag is under considerable approbation from the voting public over a number of fiascos that do not need elaborating here. We all know what they are assuming we read the papers.
-When an agency head with five years under his belt is finally apprised of the shortcomings on his watch, it is asinine to show him the door before he can attempt to correct it. This imbroglio is going to be censured, downplayed and relegated to the back page by the PR wonks both at the White House and the VA. They don’t want the bad press. Everyone knows that. General Shinseki would eviscerate the VA as we know it and an utter massacre would be a given if he was given free rein. I’m sure the thought of that keeps many in the White House up at night wondering just who will be unmasked and convicted.
-Most of the objectionable personnel guilty of these crimes are-yup- political appointees whose careers are in jeopardy. The party in power put a lot of them in there over the last five years and they are not going quietly into the night without a fight. General Shinseki owes them nothing and thus any leverage they feel they possess is nil. Unless he gets the ax. He did-and now they can breathe a sigh of relief.
-After the dust settles in Phoenix, the investigation will uncover a few more minor players and then it’ll be back to lather, rinse and repeat the mistakes. Nothing will ensue other than a lot of new hot air emanating from the usual sources and promises never to let our Veterans down ever again.
-The whole idea of a strong agency head as envisaged by the 1988 VJRA is being tossed out in favor of a congressionally-brokered fix. By that, I mean throwing Gen. Shinseki to the wolves to appease the press and get reelected this fall.
Mark my words. Nothing positive will come of this. An apt analogy would be to fire the Captain of the Titanic minutes after his ship hit the iceberg. Never mind that White Star senior management ordered him to crank it up to 25 knots. He’s in deep doo-doo because his watchmen were asleep at the wheel or worse. To fire him now before launching the lifeboats and saving lives is pointless and shortsighted. He is perfectly positioned to repair the problems or prevent them in the future now. Why would anyone take the star quarterback out in the 4th quarter in a tie game on 4th and inches-in the red zone? Why, Congress, of course.
I have seen this same scenario far too many times in DC. Politics are Veterans’ worst enemy. Being beholden to them (senators and representatives) for our health and compensation is unworkable. What, exactly, the repair order is does not encompass firing the only one capable of fixing it in the shortest time possible and doing it professionally. I suppose that thought never entered Sen. McCain’s head. That’s what happens when you’re buzzed on Coors, I suppose.
We understand the frustration Representative Miller feels over this but it is clearly a case of “Nobody told me” and ”I trusted the bastards”. You don’t just announce the buck stops here and unceremoniously boot him. Much like a broken automobile, you fix it with the best tools, the best mechanic and newest technology available rather than tow the car to a new shop and hire a new, untried mechanic who is unfamiliar with the vehicle’s problems. Sometimes the shortsightedness of our politicians causes more harm to our Veterans cause than we imagine. Here, it is being perpetrated with anger and effrontery rather than with calm, reasoned logic. Such are the vagaries of politics. Strangely, we didn’t see Secretary Kathleen Sebelius given this treatment after the Health Care Computer pancaked. I guess it’s who you know, not what you know. SOP in DC-to our detriment again.
Onward through the fog of stupidity.