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Posted: May 24, 2014 10:00 p.m.

THE VA FIASCO

Fiasco correctly describes the unmitigated disgraceful conduct of the Veterans Administration unfolding before our very eyes on national television. Criminal neglect, criminal incompetence, criminal rationale and criminal bureaucrats dressed in business suits collected unearned bonuses after directly, or at best indirectly, causing the deaths of our sick and ailing veterans.

Forget politics.

There is no “spin” on this story; this is not “old news”; this is not ‘a conspiracy’ by Republicans or Independents or the Tea Party or willful neglect by the Democratic Party. This is, very frankly, just another union-protected government bureaucracy that’s totally out of control, self-serving, unafraid of repercussions, and can dodge responsibilities by calling in a union representative or just pretending such an abominable scandal doesn’t exist.

Veterans certainly deserve and have earned better conduct from the officials at the VA and our Federal Government. “Mad as hell” doesn’t hack it; to claim a VA executive was fired one week before his planned retirement is another asinine assertion bordering on the mentality of The Three Stooges (my sincere apologies to Moe, Larry and Curly). The almost immediate refusal by the U.S. Attorney General to conduct an investigation by the Attorney General is beyond contempt. The glaring difference between bureaucrats honorably discharged from the military versus representatives having never served in the military boils down to one word: Integrity.

Our country, yours and mine, has become a cesspool of irresponsibility and lies. Blame President Obama, blame the VA; hell, blame Sarah Palin because it just doesn’t matter anymore. We are still a country of gifted, honest, hard-working citizens, and in the end our country, our future and our children’s future will be up to us.

God grant that someday we all find the common sense to get the bums out of Washington D.C. and replace them — both parties — with patriots instead of politicians. Trained in leadership and discipline, veterans running for public office would be a great place to start. Albeit, permit me to stop ranting and offer solutions.

Letting veterans die — let me repeat that — letting veterans die for lack of care is a national emergency. Treat the situation as such. Bypass the unions and call in military doctors, nurses and administrators who can get the job done because that’s what they do and they do it well, and they do it without hefty bonuses. Outsource (remember that word?) the backlog of paperwork to dependable and ‘proper’ results-oriented companies. Cull the deadwood at the VA and provide our veterans the care as promised.

The old way is an antiquated way. The catchphrase ‘Thinking outside the box’, in this case, means ‘thinking outside of Washington, D.C.’ In time of war, as with the Gulf War, surgeons and doctors are called to duty. How many veterans must die before private hospitals, doctors, specialists, nurses and technicians graciously volunteer or ‘graciously be required’ to see, diagnosis, and if necessary, treat a few veterans a week to lighten the VA backlog?

Nothing is an emergency for most people until it affects them. Folks, my dad served in WWII. He was proud of his service and I was proud of my dad. Had he died due to criminal neglect and double-bookkeeping at the VA, well, perhaps it’s best not to cross that bridge for now. My injured brothers from Vietnam came home to VA hospitals ill-equipped to handle the volume of wounded. Roofs leaked; unsanitary conditions were the norm. In time things improved, but time is a killer just as the practice of double-bookkeeping and broken promises extinguishes the lives of our veterans today.

The Grim Reaper pounces on neglect. Why were bureaucrats at the VA allowed to become his best keeper?

Pete Mecca is a Vietnam veteran, columnist and freelance writer. You can reach him at aveteransstory@gmail.com or aveteransstory.us.

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