As the story goes, a U.S. Air Force general had just gone through a change-of-command ceremony.
As he was leaving he told his relief: “I’ve placed three numbered envelopes in your desk drawer. When you get in trouble open them.”
Things went well for about six months and then problems presented themselves. So the general went to the desk and opened the first envelope. The note inside said “Blame your predecessor!” So he did and things calmed down.
About six months later, he was in trouble again and so he opened the next envelope. The note said “Reorganize!” And he did and things calmed down for another six months.
Then he got in trouble again and he opened the final envelope. The instructions were “Prepare three more envelopes!”
The moral of the story is deal with the problem. Don’t blame your predecessor, don’t move the pieces around on the chessboard and if you can’t solve the problem, get out of the way and let some who can get the job done.
Let’s look at some recent headlines:
• The bodies of up to 60 veterans have been in the L.A. County morgue for a year-and-a-half. The law states veterans are supposed to receive a proper burial (The LA Times).
• Some combat-injured veterans were forced to wait for months for treatment in the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Hospital despite a national mandate they be given priority access to medical care (CNN).
• The Obama administration faces a serious scandal because government officials are alleged to have falsified data to hide how long veterans were waiting to see doctors at VA hospitals (USA Today).
• House Minority Nancy Leader Pelosi, D-CA, repeatedly put the blame for the VA scandal on former President George W. Bush, while arguing that her party has worked hard for veterans in recent years (The Washington Examiner).
• During his transition into the White House in 2008-09, President Obama proposed in his “Obama-Biden” plan to “make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible” (WND News).
• President Barack Obama wants to talk about flexing his administrative and executive power to do more. Instead, he got stuck talking about a clear administrative and executive failure that, at least so far, he hasn’t done much about (Politico).
It’s true the long wait times existed under the Bush Administration. It also is true that the Obama transition team knew about it back in 2008 and promised to fix it.
In the past five years, the problem has not been fixed. While the President is talking about wielding his pen if Congress fails to act, here’s an area he should have acted and seemingly failed to do so.
Second, it was his vision that the VA medical system would be the example of how he would fix health care in this country.
What does that bode for us under Obamacare if there are long waits and apparently some people dying as a result?
Our veterans put their lives on the line for us. Some no longer have arms/legs because of their service. They deserve timely and quality health care.
A suggestion — one we support — is to let veterans get high quality health care at local and regional hospitals using vouchers paid for by the VA. Next, start privatizing health care for veterans.
In the meantime, Nancy, stop blaming George W. Bush who is well known for his work with wounded warriors.