From the halls of 810 Yellow Brick Avenue NW and indeed, from NOVA itself, we are being told in no uncertain terms that Donbo has tapped Toby Cosgrove for the job. Great. Hire a 75-year-old doctor as an administrator. Is this is vintage 2008 déjà vu a la Jimbo Peake? Regardless of which guy you’re rooting for, we need youth in this job. We need an Agency shakeup and bitch-slapping to arouse awareness to the fact that the USS Delay & Deny is dead in the water.
Both sides of our VA “house” are out of order. Having to wait four years for a VBA Board appeal to reach the printing presses is just a small part of the equation. Focusing exclusively on the medical side of the house (VHA), no matter how dysfunctional, ignores the bigger problem. Every Veteran granted service connection at a medium (50% or better) rating gets Priority One status and creates yet more backlog for lesser rated Priority Two to Eight personnel. Regardless, it simply increases the perceived need for the future medical services. Efficiency for the buck spent is what is required. Morale. Pride in employment.
The demand for medical services is all the more pressing now due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates. Any repair order at the Board of Veterans Appeals, or massive hiring spree of temporary Veterans Law Judges, simply fixes the immediate and pressing situation of the interminable backlog at the VBA (where you get your ratings). No long term plan has even been formulated yet other than a rump appeals process with no due process.
Funding for both is problematic due to the last bill Representative Miller sent up to the Senate recently. Congress wants VA to trim back some fat somewhere in their art-bloated, solar-arrayed newly gussied up VAROs across the frozen plains if they want more money for the PTSD Hotline. Paying out bonuses for VAMC Directors to withhold or interminably delay services until Vets begin croaking is unfortunately going out of style. Sadly, VA is so myopic, they cannot see it themselves. Imagine how many years it took to make them colorblind to their own ineptness?
Who Is Toby Cosgrove?
So who is Toby Cosgrove? What is the Cleveland Clinic? Why is Toby the go-to guy to fix this? All these queshuns and no good Tobyfacts. Outgoing President Obama wanted him ahead of Bob McDonald back in 2014. He turned it down. Toby’s a Vietnam Vet apparently with boots on the ground. Again, like all these typical REMFs, he’s sporting a Bronze Star. It really cheapens the medal experience when you see these Officer folk get one who have never even felt that electric jolt that runs through your conscious mind moments after a 7.62 goes buzzing by mere inches from your noggin.
With the number of candidates now vetted for the VASEC slot more numerous than the original slate of GOP presidential contenders back in 2015, Cosgrove’s name keeps rising back to the top like a fishbobber. If nothing else, it’s giving the Big Twenty VSOs heartburn at the prospect of Trump dumping McFlougal and hiring some business guru who will see right through the ruse of VA Senior Executive Snooties who demand more bonuses and less work. What if Toby doesn’t drink Single-malt Scotch and can’t be bought off? What if he doesn’t play golf or chase after other married women? What lever can be exerted to make him a Team Player with DAV/VFW/AmLeg etc. ?
Remember, all this was not supposed to happen. In a kinder, gentler alternate universe, Secretary Bob would have continued into the new Administration and nothing would change appreciably. Dead Vets would continue to mysteriously wheel themselves into shower areas unaided in VA Hospitals. Other Vets would wait for years futilely waiting for a CT scan appointment. Still others would continue to die waiting for a cancer diagnosis that would never be rendered. Vets like Butch Long would continue to get their 10% appeals denied with no meaningful legal help. And the parade of excuses would just continue to spew into the new century from the corner of Delay and Deny. But the media was wrong.
I’m not an eternal optimist but something here leads me to believe whomever is chosen is not going to be in thrall to a bunch of High-tech knowitalls who think they have this all dialed in. Throwing more money at it won’t even feed the bonus machine at this rate.