President Obama stunned veterans, Republican lawmakers and even talk show host Jon Stewart recently by claiming his administration has reduced most veterans’ wait times for a doctor’s appointment to “just a few days,” an assertion that veterans said doesn’t match reality.
Speaking to the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh, Mr. Obama gave a mostly rosy assessment of reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs under Secretary Robert McDonald, tapped by the president last year to clean up scandals over delayed health care for veterans.
“The VA is handling millions more appointments, inside and outside the VA, and delivering more care,” Mr. Obama said. “On average, veterans are waiting just a few days for an appointment. And that’s all good news.”
The president also said more work needs to be done, and that he’s “still not satisfied” with the VA’s overall performance. But it was Mr. Obama’s claim of “just a few days” that left critics inside and outside the VA system shaking their heads in bewilderment.
“Under President Obama, the VA’s budget has massively increased, yet the backlog of disability claims more than doubled in his first term … wait times for health care have increased, and the department remains devoid of any sort of accountability,” said Dan Caldwell, legislative and political director of Concerned Veterans for America. “Even after the VA wait list scandal and another funding increase from Congress as part of the VA reform bill passed last summer, wait times for health care have continued to increase and veterans have a ‘choice card’ most are unable to use.”
Critics also pointed to a study by The Washington Post last month that found the number of veterans on wait lists for health care has risen 50 percent in the past year.
“One out of every three veterans waiting for care at the VA has already died, and President Obama still doesn’t have a plan to change the culture at the VA,” said Cory Fritz, an aide to Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “Instead of more hollow platitudes, the president needs to join House Republicans in working to deliver real accountability and reform for our veterans.”
A veteran who works for the VA said it’s taken him five years to get the necessary treatment for hearing loss and a joint ailment. He called Mr. Obama’s claim “stupefyingly untrue.”
“It’s startling that he’d say that in a room full of thousands of vets that have first-hand experience with the red tape and delays,” said the VA worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Our veterans deserve better than this, but as long as the federal government refuses to properly oversee these large bureaucracies, they will continue to be plagued by fraud, waste, abuse, and incompetence.
The Founders included the Convention of States option in Article V for just this situation. When the federal government abuses its power -- when it no longer cares about the people it was intended to serve -- the people and the states have a recourse in Article V. Click here to learn more.