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The VA Bonus Debacle | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

The VA Bonus Debacle

Most corporations determine performance based on short term cycles. It allows them to recognize quarterly successes as representative of the culture within the organization. It permits senior leaders to take credit for short term changes. And when bonuses are linked to short term results, it increases the likelihood that numbers will be tweaked or straight out falsified for a quick cash payout.

VA LogoThe Veteran Affairs scandal has demonstrated this. In return for reducing the wait times of veterans, managers received financial bonuses as a demonstration of their prowess and capability. It was found after the fact that many had falsified documents or condoned the process of creating secondary wait lists to hide the real problems. Rebecca Wiley, then director of the Columbia VA medical center, received almost $18,000 in bonuses while her mismanagement was later found to have delayed more than 8,500 appointments, with nine veterans dying while they awaited their treatments.

The examples of unjustified bonuses runs rampant. Glenn Haggstrom, the Washington D.C. VA construction chief, earned approximately $55,000 in bonuses while having significant delays and cost overruns for his projects to the tune of $1.5 billion. Thomas Lastowka earned an extra $23,000 as the Director of the Philadelphia regional office, all while doubling the number of veterans waiting for care beyond 90 days.

The issue with bonuses is not whether or not they are given; it is whether or not they are earned. A bonus is generally a tool used to retain key talent within an organization or to reward key individuals for their increasing the profitability of the organization as a whole. Translation: You are so amazing we cannot afford to lose you, or you have made us so much money that we are showing our appreciation by paying it back.

Bonuses are harder to justify in non-profit earning companies. If the company does not create money, then they are using money which is taxed or donated to help their clients, and the use of bonuses seems to take away from the ability of the organization to them – in this case disabled service members.

Rep. Jeff Miller, sponsor of the bill that would allow the VA to take back bonuses paid to undeserving employees.
Rep. Jeff Miller, sponsor of the bill that would allow the VA to take back bonuses paid to undeserving employees.

If the concern is that people will leave the organization who are underperforming, then they were the wrong people to hire in the first place. If the concern is that great performers need to be paid more, then their pay should be renegotiated based on their capabilities and responsibilities. Otherwise, the application of bonuses at the VA will continue to cause veteran’s blood to boil over the lack of timely medical care they are receiving and second class status they feel. When you are not being seen for more than 90 days, and someone is being paid a bonus as a result, something is surely wrong.

The good news is that as of today, Congress has given the power back to the VA chief. For all of those bonuses which were paid out prior to scandals breaking, it would enable the return of the funds which were misappropriated. The Senate still has to vote, but the goals are clear – honest business practices are the goal of the future and executives should remember that long term planning nets long term results.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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1 thought on “The VA Bonus Debacle

  1. And you wonder why normal, good people would vote for the High Quality of Leaders we have in our Nation today. Which one will be the next Leader of the Free World?
    Please pray wisdom and strength to guide the many Dept. such as the VA. Well give the VA credit for being a employer in many community’s from coast to coast. In that way it has made excellent footprint on our society. Lot of funds into many areas. Just wish more had hit the target?. It is hard to hit what you know so little about.
    It’s not mental health’s fault “it’s ours”.
    We built a system where you can talk to the Chaplain but not the mental
    health field. The two are not the same. The Chaplain will be in the fox hole with you. The good Chaplain will always be ready to serve 24/7as part of the family.
    Mental Health has their/ files/ folders/ & packets. No-one wants to be part of a packet! The VA puts its money into Mental Health. With “press suit solders” who never had greens or BDUs. No experience . Loss of 22 Vets a day?
    Maybe I am wrong-seen a few good VA staff, (they just had good hearts).

    ••You want to make a real difference! STOP! Hire the Vet! not some one else on the payroll to help the vet — that’s you know, or is a friend’s kid.
    I am ready to count that( with contractor building parking, their are more in the service Pay to help Vets) than there are vets alive today.
    STOP – SAVE MONEY -give it to the vet to rebuild their life….

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