63,000 reasons why veterans don’t get the proper care
How many of us would get a bonus for performing poorly at our job? I don’t think that number is very high. Sometimes an email gets forgotten or something slips through the cracks during a busy deadline. For most of us, these are minor problems that are easy to fix.
While everyone should be held to high standards, standards should be especially high for those providing care and services to America’s veteran population. Of the nearly 22 million veterans in 2015, just over 8.9 million are enrolled in health care provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Many veterans suffer from combat injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and issues relating to acclimating to life back home, all of which require specialized treatment and attention. Veterans also suffer from an increased risk of depression, addiction, and suicide, which can be treated with medical and psychological supervision.
It is easy to see that the role of the VA is integral to the well-being of millions of Americans who wore a military uniform. The services provided in VA clinics, homes, and hospitals across the nation need to be held to an extremely high standard, as their job is a crucial one.
While it may not be surprising that some at the VA don’t do a good job, what if the problem didn’t stop there? What if rather than being trained properly or replaced for poor performance, they were rewarded for their bad work? What if, despite being almost negligent at providing adequate care for our men and women in uniform, they received tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses?
Sadly, that is not a fabricated story. TribLive News published an article about Michael E. Moreland, a former regional director for VA hospitals in the Pittsburgh area, who received a bonus of $63,000 in 2012 after a Legionnaires’ outbreak. The outbreak at the Pittsburgh VA facilities lasted over two years causing the deaths of five veterans and making more than a dozen others sick during Moreland’s tenure. Moreland promptly retired and has refused to return any of the bonus money. In a separate article, TribLive News reported that that several members of his staff tried to hide details of the outbreak from the public.
It is frustrating when people, especially those in positions of power, are not held responsible for their actions. The VA commands a large portion of the federal budget, nearly $169 billion. The taxpayers assume that those at the VA are trying to help veterans with the funding. Rather than posturing or promoting an agenda to receive a pay hike, those who run the VA should be promoting more employment options for veterans and better health care access.
Many people have served their time in the military, protecting our country and upholding their oath to honor and serve the United States. They deserve the highest standard of care. Yet more often than not, things like government bureaucracy, politics, and the underwhelming desire to only do the bare minimum continue to stand in the way. It should be no surprise that some view the VA as a stepping-stone to a payday, instead of a commitment to provide whatever is needed for our former soldiers. Those who are not up to the task of providing the best care for those who served in the military should be removed and replaced.
The worst part is that there are good people who work at the VA. There are folks who care little for a fancy job title or more money. All they truly want to do is to help our former warriors in uniform. The poor examples of leadership cast all of the VA in a bad light, especially when the “leaders” of the organization are taking their cut and not performing to the high standards expected of them. The VA should promote those who put veterans first and their career second. Anything less will leave those who have sacrificed so much in jeopardy of getting their well-deserved care.