Memorial Day gives time for individuals to honor their partners, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, family and friends- a celebration of our military’s commitment to country. For those who’ve served, it’s a sensational way to reflect.
Thousands gathered in cemeteries around the nation to remember heroes who’ve given their lives while serving our country. And, also to support those who stand side-by-side with comrades who pay the ultimate price for duty.
Addressing folks at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama said, “Today most Americans are not directly touched by war. As a consequence not all Americans may always see or fully grasp the depths of sacrifice- the profound costs that are made in our names right now as we speak, every day.”
Reminding that our troops are coming home as the Afghanistan War ends, Obama made no specific mention of what may be an example of Americans not fully grasping. The recent queries into Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system where at least 40 veterans died while awaiting appointments, centered on deliberate manipulation is a civilian disconnect.
Allegations that Phoenix officials kept separate lists to hide backlogged appointments for veterans has spawned the investigation into 26 other agency facilities with evidence confirming the VA knew about the separate wait lists.
Dr. Katherine Mitchell who runs the post- deployment clinic at Phoenix VA Hospital told CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin that troops coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq with injuries sustained from IEDs, suffering from severe PTS and cannot function are put on a waiting list for 6-8 months, sometimes longer.
Mitchell told Griffin that she was so worried that documents supporting the allegations would intentionally be destroyed, the night prior to the Inspector General investigators showing up at the hospital she hid the separate list where no one would find it prior to getting the reports to the investigators.
Most Americans support the military but, as Obama noted, “Not all Americans may always see or fully grasp” the sacrifice of our military and some cull commitment of duty to service members. Many of them hold high-ranking positions within the country’s military health care system.
Director of Phoenix VA Sharon Helman was put on administrative leave after allegations that the hospital and clinics developed strategies that produced dirty data to meet department obligations to maximize monetary rewards from the VA’s bonus system.
Agency critics have stated that incentive monies “motivates some employees especially managers to misrepresent achievements to meet performance goals.”
The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have caused the VA to see an influx of veterans seeking care and the numbers are expected to rise. Veterans depend on benefits because they are promised them over and over again.
Obama told the crowd, “These Americans did their duty. They ask nothing more than that our country does ours….to give our troops the resources they need.”
As questions of quality of care inside the VA arise, it may send a discouraging message to troops who trust the Administration for support and care. Citizens are charged to ensure those suspected of wrongdoing within a (any) government military health system is held accountable.
Some in Washington argue that the outrageous circumstance of discarding troops’ care aside is politically charged, underscoring an election year. But, contrarily, attempting to divert the importance of America’s wounded warriors care may be an opportunity for Americans to demand the exposure those plagued of unethical behavior.
Since 2007, President Obama has touted siding with the vets on VA health care services. Millions of dollars was put into the VA’s budget to modernize medical recordkeeping, and improve care and treatment. “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months—even years—to get an appointment at the VA,” he said.
If allegations are proven right, officials inside the VA blatantly disregarded the President’s intent on the use of taxpayer millions, manipulated accounting and fraudulently took the booty. Which, may quite well be politically charged, but certainly criminal, no?