By Sun Herald, Biloxi/Gulfport
This nation is pouring salt into the wounds of its warriors. The numbers speak for themselves.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 900,000 pending disability claims from veterans. And while estimates vary, there is no doubt that processing a claim takes months and can take more than a year.
During those unconscionable delays, veterans are literally dying without the care they earned with their sacrifice and service.
The delays are even putting healthy soldiers more at risk. An estimated 27,000 soldiers are stuck in the Army awaiting medical discharges because “a ‘seamless’ process for service members to separate from the military because of wounds, illness or injury” grinds to a halt at the doors of the VA, according to USA Today. That, in turn, diminishes the Army’s readiness, because those tens of thousands “awaiting medical separations cannot go to war but cannot be replaced until gone,” reports Gregg Zoroya of USA Today.
Most important is the failure of this nation – its leaders and its people – to ensure that the VA measures up to its Lincolnesque motto “to care for him who shall have borne the battle.”
As a column by Duncan D. Hunter and Pete Hegseth suggests, the solution is not necessarily a matter of pouring more money into the VA. But, they assert, it is almost certainly a matter of leadership. The VA, they contend, desperately and immediately needs “a dynamic and uncompromising leader who will make bold reforms to a bloated and calcified bureaucracy and rethink the way we interact with and serve veterans of all generations.”
We urge the president and the Congress to determine what is needed – whether more money or better management or both – to bring the VA into full compliance with its obligations to the nation’s veterans.
Anything less dishonors those who served, and those in whose name that service was rendered.