To listen to conservative media watchers, the overwhelming number of news organs are normally less than objective when it comes to basic journalistic objectivity when it comes to reporting on anything relating to Barack Obama. Even the usually a reliable ally to the White House, Politico.com on May 21, 2014 has dropped an S-bomb regarding the spreading-like-wildfire Veterans Affairs (VA) controversy. Per Politico's headline, the situation has officially been deemed a "scandal."
To make matters even more dicey for the Obama Administration, even the self-described left-of-center Dana Milbank of The Washington Post has come down hard on Barack Obama on his May 21, 2014 op/ed piece. Ensuring he's landing with both feet stomping down hard, Milbank has referred to Obama as "President Passive" regarding his action, or lack thereof, so far in the VA's "secret death list" scandal.
The "Gee, I never thought of that" moment...
In what reasonably could be believed what was on the minds of many of his fellow citizens, Milbank asked the obvious: how could Obama be "mad as hell" according to his Chief of Staff, yet simultaneously state on live television that he himself wasn't entirely convinced there were cases of wrongdoing?
Taking from Obama's first public statements since the story initially broke three weeks ago, Milbank directly quoted from the Chief Executive's presser, "If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable. If there is misconduct, it will be punished."
So who uses the VA?
While most Americans believe a majority, if not all veterans, turn to the government's Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities for treatment, it's actually a minority of those who have ever been in uniform of their country. And of that demographic, it's just not that rare that they are at the lower end of the economic spectrum. In starker terms, those who use the VA are vets who are poor.
Requirements for authorized use of VA medical facilities are fairly basic and simple. With certain exemptions, such as those who have been awarded the Purple Heart or have ever been held as a Prisoner of War, all that's needed is to serve for 24 consecutive months and been granted a discharge other than dishonorable. Yet retirees, both officer and enlisted, overwhelmingly use the Department of Defense's TRICARE health care program, which is offered at extra cost withheld from the retiree's pension based on the rank held at the time of separation from active duty.
However, less than 1-in-6 on active duty remain for a full 20 years, so the overwhelming majority of veterans have to rely either on non-governmental health care insurance or the VA proper. Yet the VA has placed "Income Thresholds" which would all but ensure those who have achieved financial success in the civilian world would be ineligible for VA provided medical coverage.
Not many companies hire double amputees...
The newest generation of disabled veterans has come to discover what vets who went before them have always known, many of those who gave the years of their youth to serve their country are subjects to a bureaucracy, and sometimes leaders, whose commitment is more than questionable. As Milbank noted;
'If somebody’s mismanaged or engaged in misconduct,' Obama said, 'I want them punished. So that’s what we’re going to hopefully find out from the — from the IG [Inspector General] report as well as the audits that are taking place.'
But Obama doesn't need an IG to tell him 'if' there has been mismanagement and misconduct. He needs only his eyes and ears.
FULL DISCLOSURE: The author is retired from the US Marine Corps, and does not use the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals or clinics.