Recent scandals involving fake accounting and waitlisted vets dying before getting care have once again pummeled the Veteran’s Administration (VA) with negative publicity. Our veterans deserve the best we can give them and the best way to serve them is to eliminate the massive bureaucracy charged with taking care of them, empowering vets to take care of themselves. Military members volunteer to leave their families, stand watch and go wherever national command authority deems vital to the service of the nation. The least we can do to thank the less than two percent of our fellow citizens who provide the blanket of freedom under which we live is to care for the mental and physical wounds suffered in that service. The VA is failing at this task.
Not that there aren’t many dedicated hard working people at the VA, there are. Sadly those dedicated employees are hamstrung by the same forces killing our vets; the system and bureaucratic inertia. The task is impossible for any bureaucracy to accomplish at the levels of funding and staffing we can afford to pay. The amount of waste and overhead spending endemic to a massive agency like the VA is such that we would have to spend ten times what we are spending just to have the required amount make it to the vets who have earned it. If you doubt this just remember that VA administrators were receiving bonuses even as wounded warriors were dying on waitlists without necessary care.
The VA manages a massive and failing single payer health care system. (Shades of what’s in store for the rest of the country?) They also manage education and job training grant programs like the Montgomery GI bill, a mortgage loan guaranty program, payments and maintenance for service connected disabilities and grants for things like retrofitting special adaptive housing. They handle many of these tasks admirably. Why shouldn’t the heath care our vets receive be managed in the same way? A system of vouchers, putting health care dollars in the hands of those who need them and eliminating the overhead, cost and (we now know) fraud associated with the bloated bureaucracy.
Since the wars fought in response to the 9/11 terror attacks began the VA has proven itself wholly incapable of caring for our wounded warriors. Not only is it horrendous for vets, it is costing us money, $36 million since 2001 to settle claims for delayed treatment. Save the taxpayer a ton of money and reduce the deficit while putting more health care dollars into the hands of the veterans who earned it. Eliminate the VA healthcare system and give veterans direct vouchers for care.