Today began as any other with a routine of MSNBC and CNN and espresso as the daily see-saw between liberal and right wing reports came in plus the relevant and important Mother's Day tribute. Then, I almost spilled my espresso as Sen. Leader Reid and House Leader Boehner agreed the problems with the Veterans Administration are "systemic". Each leader putting their partisan fine touches that I am used to these days and openly accept. I too have my fine touch slant that you can hear at the local café on some days.
I thought the Senate and House didn't know what was going on down here at the local level. Per chance, readers of The Patch don't know what systemic problems are they can read on or buy my book Family Faith Land and Mysticism which is full of political chicanery locally frequent as when the mist and dew are heavy in the New Jersey Pinelands swamp.
What happens when Washington chicanery...oops "systemic" problems make their way to American neighborhoods? People lose confidence in government and begin to be disaffected, then take it out on the VA structure. It can be ugly and strangely satisfying as accusations get tossed. Sadly by now all of New Jersey is disaffected in some way since the goals of politicians have become out right nasty and belligerent.
In New Jersey we had redistricting twice once in 2002 then 2012. Our congressman in NJ District 4 moved the VA Outpatient Community Clinic and Readjustment Counseling Service outreach with him into his district. The VA was all too willing to conform spending lots of relocation money to sever them from one another which in hindsight was a bad idea as it was a one stop shopping model. Clinically the scheme spent money in the budget it did not have transferring it to be used for brick and mortar instead of patient care. The next few years were marked by building another Readjustment Counseling Service in yet another urban overpopulated area Lakewood, New Jersey. Proving throwing $$ out to us in the neighborhood won't and hasn't helped.
Local critics would ask whether or not its necessary to have all clinics and outreach in urban areas of New Jersey when in total most veterans in the State live outside. It was long understood New Yorker veterans use New Jersey and New York veteran facilities interchangeably. The answer is, because it makes a good show to voters who think serving veterans is important but don't know the real issues. But the lines of geographic disparity are drawn between those in urban areas that have the VA Medical Centers, clinics, and outreach $$$ and those that simply do not get the $$$ and are ignored. Is it socialism to cure this disparity between urban and rural?
It is true that many veteran service organizations sent a glut of partially completed and difficult combat claims impossible for VA to verify. This was done sometimes out of anger, spite, and lessons learned from the Vietnam Era when minor injury slowly evolved into catastrophic disease later in life.
Plus, the public have come into contact with the pathological misbehaved working for the VA leading to increased anger. Not because of their behavior alone, as highly intelligent dysfunctional employees can still have potential to become great leaders as I point out in my book, but the VA seems to have made it their mission to find the lowest intellect vicious characters that would not hesitate to shred VA claims in a heartbeat as a way to get back at veteran service officers who inappropriately submitted an imperfect claim; the term for this back-and-forth see-saw conflict is "systemic" problems.
Catching the misbehaved is not the problem as there are many "tells" but getting them out of their entrenched positions of 20-30 years is the problem. Most likely, a good VA employee will get out before they get attacked, or stay away entirely making the VA a sort of prison where the federal employees of ill repute, VA directors that waste money on relocation, and other incorrigibles hang out. Sorry self-serving congresspersons should also be included in any such prison.
I can say from my observation if medical directors are given the authority to dismiss and early retire personnel (like the military) most of the time the good employee will be let go. Medical directors have long established a circle of club members including congresspersons and senators, some veteran service organizations and state-county veterans reps too who very much like the way things are in as much chaos and incompetence they could create. This, they completely believe prolongs their tenure and thwarts the goals of the Presidency. Now see their commonality with congressional members?
I do not know General Shinseki but I did know other high ranking military leaders and, if they are any indication GS is a chess player. Possibly a very good one. Given time to gather his play he could be capable to turn those misbehaving in the VA believing it is their asset to do so, into a dire liability that they may live to regret. This would have the effect of the General earning everyone's respect outside of Wash. D.C. As for the Senate and Congress, they would be advised to tour the country and hear why Americans put down $13 billion last year for veteran healthcare and charity outside the VA in an attempt to create a small alternate universe where professionals care, are state licensed at every level, and respected.