What Should We Do About The VA?
By: Tom Chatham
All of the recent reports about the VA show one thing very clearly. The majority of the problems relate to employee incompetence and indifference. This is what happens when employee benefits and working conditions are held in higher regard than the treatment of veterans which is the only purpose of the institution. This is what happens when you hire workers that have contempt for the country and veterans in particular and the system refuses to hold them accountable. In this situation, merely replacing the men at the top will do nothing because they will still rely on the same people at the bottom.
Here is a very practical solution that would solve the problem with civilian employees. Get rid of the civilians and hire active duty military personnel to fill the slots. Every branch of the military has occupational specialties that encompass all of the necessary skills to treat veterans and run the system.
The VA has its own budget and locations across the nation. It should be treated just like another branch of the military. Persons that enlist in the four branches of the military and have completed at least one enlistment or tour successfully and have job skills that can be utilized at the VA should be able to reenlist for the VA just as they now can reenlist for other branches of the military. These persons would then be able to finish out their military career with the VA if they wish.
By having the VA staffed by military personnel it would eliminate the excessive pay and bonuses that their civilian counterparts now demand and get. It would also eliminate the sometimes excessive civil service retirement pay they get.
The use of active duty personnel would guarantee accountability due to the military structure that demands it.
Active duty personnel would be more inclined to go the extra mile to help veterans than civilians who have never served in the armed forces.
Active duty personnel would be more in tune to the needs of veterans and would speak the language veterans are familiar with.
The active duty military and VA system would be able to provide seamless support to one another in emergency situations where medical personnel are in short supply.
The head of the VA should be a General with a medical background that would have to be accountable to the veterans.
Any veterans that need special services that cannot be provided by the VA system could receive a voucher for use at civilian medical facilities.
While this may not seen like the perfect solution it would be a dramatic improvement over what we have now. I say that as someone that has used the VA system. I don’t want to put all of the current employees at the VA in the same category. There are some very dedicated people there that do care but they are few and far between. This would also provide more jobs for veterans that desperately need one. This system would provide the needed medical treatment for veterans that is now becoming too expensive even for civilians due to the new healthcare mandates. The veterans have earned this benefit no less than the police and firemen that receive greater pay and benefits than the military that has risked so much for this nation over the years. The veterans deserve a system that is operated for their best interest and is not skimping on services due to outside agendas.