Today President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of the Secretary of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. As the news media reported the horrible treatment that caused the death of American veterans who were denied proper treatment the President of the United States of America called their treatment disgraceful and reprehensible.
“I respect the independent review and recommendations of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding systemic issues with patient scheduling and access. I have reviewed the interim report, and the findings are reprehensible to me, to this Department, and to Veterans. I am directing that the Phoenix VA Health Care System (VAHCS) immediately triage each of the 1,700 Veterans identified by the OIG to bring them timely care" Secretary Eric Shinseki said before his resignation.
He placed the Phoenix VAHCS leadership on administrative leave, and directed an independent site team to assess scheduling and administrative practices at the Phoenix VAHCS. The team began their work in April, and were taking action on multiple recommendations from this report. However, the damage from the reports of the mistreatment of American Veterans had already been done.
The Secretary released a statement on May 22, 2014, as the controversy over the reprehensible treatment that those who had sacrificed their lives for their country were being subjected to by the federal agency that was created to serve them.
In his statement to veterans and family members Shinseki said, “After 38 years in The Army, I am now honored and privileged to serve as your Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA remains committed to providing the high quality benefits you have earned and deserve. In response to these allegations at the Phoenix VA Medical Center and a number of other facilities, the VA Office of Inspector General is conducting a comprehensive, independent review. In addition to the IG’s independent review, I ordered the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to conduct a nationwide audit of all other major VA healthcare facilities to ensure understanding of, and compliance with, our appointment policy. That audit is being conducted now by more than two hundred senior VHA staff. All teams are independent of the facilities they are visiting. You and your families deserve to have full faith in your VA, and we intend to earn it every day,” he said.
The Veteran's Administration cares for over 8.9 million Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare. The VHA conducts 236,000 outpatient healthcare appointments every day which amounted to 85 million last year.
The Secretary said that many Veterans suffer from exposure to Agent Orange and combat-related PTS-D, and Gulf War illnesses. Since 2004, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey has consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare award our hospitals and clinics a higher customer satisfaction score than patients give private sector hospitals. VA hospitals are designed to deal with special problems that only Veterans face.
The effort to regain public trust that promised services to the men and women who were injured in the line of duty will be the chief mission of the new Secretary. Organizations like U.S. Veteran's Initiative in Washington have been working very hard to help homeless veterans. However, when the top government agency that was created to help veterans does not function correctly the entire nation suffers.
President Obama has promised to correct the problems that caused Veterans to be denied service. The poor customer service was not in just one area of the nation. The report reveals that there were many systemic problems that caused delays in Veteran services across the nation.
Examiner.com will remain on the customer service story for those who have served their country with honor.