Pharos-Tribune

Editorials

May 25, 2014

OUR VIEW: Time for change at VA is now

We were a little dismayed that the response to the debacle that is the Veterans Affairs office was to give VA Secretary Eric Shinseki more power. Giving him more authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators is not the answer.

The answer is clear.

Kick him out on his keister and let him wait in line at the unemployment office. Maybe he’ll have to wait as long as our veterans who were left to suffer on the VA’s waiting lists.

A bit harsh? Maybe. But showing a lack of concern for the men and women who have served our country is not something we take lightly.

And to make it worse, a lack of respect was shown when VA officials attempted to cover up their transgressions — all the while lavishing each other with undeserved bonuses.

The whistleblowers in Phoenix claim the waiting lists and delays caused up to 40 deaths. The VA admits 23 patients died because they had to wait too long for services. How are our leaders not screaming from the rooftops for Shinseki’s job?

A problem of this magnitude is clearly a cultural problem, which in any organization starts from the top down. The sooner we get Shinseki out, the sooner we can get someone in there to clean up the mess he either made or allowed to be made. Our veterans’ lives depend on it, and it should be a major priority for this administration.

It’s not that we don’t support the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act. Rather, it’s that we don’t support it for the current leadership. By all means toss the cells and then give the new — and hopefully improved — leadership the needed authority to keep cleaning house.

The VA has botched the care of 23 million veterans. This is not a matter to be taken lightly. It’s a matter that needs resolved quickly and correctly. Any plan that leaves Shinseki at the helm is not handling the problem correctly.

It’s time America stands up for the men and women who protect her.

It’s time for America to ask why Shinseki still has a job.

THE ISSUE Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act OUR VIEW Any plan that leaves Shinseki at the helm is not handling the problem correctly.

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