Mark Caserta: Americans need answers, not more cover-ups

22 May

soldier

May. 22, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

The Obama administration faces yet another scandal.

As if the ongoing investigations into Benghazi, the IRS, and the Justice Department weren’t enough, the president and his administration now face a scandal involving the possible mistreatment of our brave military veterans.

Evidence is mounting showing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been keeping “two” sets of books in some of its hospitals to make it look like they were reducing wait times experienced by military veterans before seeing a doctor.

The VA, which has long been the target of complaints of delays and dysfunctional bureaucracy, made the commitment in 2010 to introduce a new appointment system for veterans designed to reduce wait time for an appointment with a primary care physician or specialist in one of its hospitals or outpatient clinics.

It’s surmised the pressure felt by the VA to meet the increasing demands of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan compelled them to “cook the books” to make it look as if they were indeed making the headway expected from a department that’s received substantial increases in taxpayer funding.

Even more damning are the allegations from a “whistleblower” doctor in Arizona who claims dozens of patients at one hospital died while languishing on a “hidden” waiting list without ever being given as much as an appointment.

In an interview with CNN, Sam Foote, a retired VA doctor of 24 years in the Phoenix area, revealed that as many as 40 patients had died after being placed on a secret waiting list and that officials at the hospital actually shredded documents and faked evidence to cover up their actions.

Since then, numerous whistleblowers have alleged similar practices in at least seven other VA hospitals around the country claiming that officials at the hospitals were sometimes even paid bonuses for reducing “declared” wait times.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took the Obama administration to task last week for being slow to react to what he called “a systemic, cultural problem” inside the VA.

“It’s been more than a month since allegations that some 40 veterans died while waiting care at the Phoenix VA were first made public.” McCain said in the weekly GOP address. “To date, the Obama administration has failed to respond in an effective manner.”

Exacerbating the problem for Americans is that once again we’ll see no independent investigation into the matter. The VA secretary, Eric Shinseki, will oversee an “internal” investigation.

Now with all due respect to the retired Army general who was himself wounded twice in Vietnam, Shinseki should recuse himself from oversight of the investigation and allow an independent counsel to conduct the inquiry.

But this follows a familiar pattern within this administration that totally contradicts Barack Obama’s promise of transparency and a new era of “openness in government.” Team Obama has excelled in sweeping their liberal dirt neatly under the White House rug.

Failing our brave military veterans in this manner is inexcusable, and it’s time to hold this administration accountable.

Americans deserve answers, not more cover-ups.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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