As a candidate, in the early days of his first term in office and continuing to this day Obama repeats the mantras of “our veterans deserve the best” and “we’re going to fix the VA.” Of course he’s right, our vets do deserve better and we do need to fix the VA.
There’s just one problem, there are no actions to back up the tough talk. In fact, under Obama’s watch the VA has deteriorated into just another bloated, inefficient, lying, scamming, covering up agency.
Now, as if letting our vets die while awaiting services and then covering up and lying about the deaths weren’t bad enough, what just happened kicks even more sand into the faces of our vets.
Two years ago on August 7, 2014 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Obama signed the Veterans’ Access, Choice and Accountability Act. The ideas behind the law were to improve benefits available to our vets and “provide real accountability for incompetent or corrupt senior managers, the law: Authorizes VA to fire or demote Senior Executive Service (SES) employees and Title 38 SES equivalent employees for poor performance or misconduct.”
The law was passed in the wake of the 2014 wait-time scandal that made national headlines and was in part designed to give the administration the ability to quickly fire employees. Now that the stories are out of the headlines, we’re again seeing the Obama administration’s true colors.
On Friday, the Department of Veterans Affairs notified Congress it will no longer enforce the law.
The VACAA originally reduced the appeals process by fired employees to just three weeks versus many months, and was designed to root out what had become an obvious culture of incompetency, complacency and outright corruption at the VA. It isn’t working.
Stars and Stripes has reported that not only are people not being fired for their gross incompetence at the VA but rather they are actually being promoted or returned to high-paying jobs.
The Dept. of Veterans Affairs announcement last week left Capitol Hill lawmakers aghast at the hubris once again being displayed by the Obama administration.
“It is outrageous and unconscionable that the VA is choosing to blatantly ignore all of the accountability reforms set in place by the Veterans Choice Act,” said Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
After a White House-initiated investigation in 2014 found an abundance of mismanagement and other issues within the agency pressure began to build for this administration to, for once, hold someone accountable and actually fire some federal bureaucrats.
One of those whose head (finally) hit the chopping block was former Director of the Phoenix VA, Sharon Helman, who after pleading guilty to felony corruption charges was exposed for pretty much being the poster child of a corrupt, out-of-control, unaccountable bureaucrat.
Of course Helman then sued. Guess what happened then.
On May 31 U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the DOJ would not stand up for America’s vets and fight Ms. Helman in court. Thus, after being busted on federal felony charges for receiving $50,000 in illegal gifts (from lobbyists seeking contracts with the VA) including a car and a $5,000 check, Helman is now on track to return to her job and cushy, six-figure salary.
And with that the Obama VA has told Congress –aka: the people’s representatives, “We have decided to no longer follow the law.”
Since when do we announce to the nation that we will no longer obey certain laws?? I’ll tell you when – since O became king and set the example by picking which laws he chose to obey.
It’s not’s surprising that our spineless Congress is merely aghast at the hubris displayed by the VA when they should be mad as hell they’re flagrantly breaking the law. Congress should be issuing arrest warrants and filing charges on the entire agency.
In the Stars and Stripes article, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson tried to tamp down the controversy with this statement – “The overarching theme today is for all of us to get back to the veterans’ business,” he said later Monday in a conference call with reporters. “This has been a considerable distraction for a long period of time.”
Well, there’s a big part of the problem right there – this issue is seen as only a distraction rather than a turning point within the VA, and they’re just following in the footsteps of their boss. Every single one of these people should be fired and replaced with Veterans.