Today Military Times published an interview with VA Secretary Shinseki. The headline quote is “VA is here to care for you”
Couple quick comments (writing this in between six month old grandson duty).
“He acknowledged frustration over the controversies, but said he has no intention of resigning and worries that the recent headlines will discourage veterans from seeking care in the system.”
It’s not the headlines that discourage veterans from seeking care in the system. It’s the amount of time it takes to get a claim approved, the amount of time it takes to schedule an appointment (and yes, secret waiting lists have existed in virtually every VA hospital for years), and it’s the runaround a veteran gets whenever he or she tries to access anything VA.
“Any time allegations like these come up, we’re going to take a look. We take them seriously. When we heard about these allegations, in congressional testimony, that afternoon I invited the inspector general to go down to Phoenix and get to the bottom of things, do a complete and thorough review and get me a response as soon as possible. So that is underway.”
All due respect, General. Where’s the “I” in this? Is that how you led on active duty? Everything I was taught as an Army officer was to be at the critical point – the decisive point – personally. Not relying on someone else to collect, filter and report. You can’t send someone else on a leader’s recon. Do you realize the increase in esteem you might gain from appearing to be personally involved and caring about the deaths of these veterans?
“As this is happening, I just want veterans to know that VA is here to provide care for them. That’s our only mission. We intend to do that well. Care has everything to do with quality, quality of service and quality of benefits. They’ve earned them, and we’re going to deliver them.”
Deeds not words.
(when asked his personal reaction) “We didn’t have any details. This came up in testimony. There apparently is a list with 40 veterans’ names on it. We tried to acquire that, we were never given that list. So we asked the IG to get involved in a formal review. He has those lists, and we’re waiting for those outcomes.”
The interviewer asked for his “personal reaction”. PERSONAL. Where’s the personal reaction? We, we, we. “We were never given that list.” Why, sir, are you waiting to be given that list? I suggest eyes on the target, get to Phoenix.
I have a suggestion, dress in jeans, ballcap and a tee shirt and go to a VA – any VA system using a different name. See how the experience matches up to what you’ve said in the interview here. Maybe you could do an episode of Undercover Boss?
Here’s the link to the entire interview.