VA Investigation Completed: Where Is the Outrage?

VA LogoThe Inspector General’s report on the waiting list scandal at the VA has been released. The 140 page study found that although 28 veterans had “significant delays” in care, and six died, the deaths could not be linked to the delays. In fact, of the 40 patients who died while on the Electronic Waiting List between April 2013 and April 2014, none of their deaths were attributed to delays in care.

The report, however, addresses the secret waiting lists, the “cooking of the books,” and contains a total of 24 recommendations to fix the system. But, it lets the VA and the government evade responsibility for the veterans who died.

“While the case reviews in this report document poor quality of care, we are unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely, quality care caused the death of these victims,” states the executive summary of the report.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald
VA Secretary Robert McDonald

VA Secretary Robert McDonald agreed to implement all of the recommendations listed in the report and has stated that employees have been disciplined. “Two members of the senior executive service have resigned or retired. Three members of the senior executive service have been placed on administrative leave, pending the results of investigations. Over two dozen health care professionals have been removed from their positions, and four more GS-15s or below have been placed on administrative leave.”

So, the verdict is that the VA did some things wrong, blame has been assigned and people were fired, but the deaths were not caused by the waiting lists. The media reported that the allegations against the VA were exaggerated and the veterans died of other causes. Time to move on, nothing to see here.

Well, not really. It seems there may be some problems with the VA report and the standards the Inspector General set for the deaths to be caused by the waiting periods. All of the veterans died from the underlying problem: heart disease, cancer, pneumonia or others. Not from the delays in care they received. The wording is important here, because by the measure they set, it would have been impossible for the VA to be responsible for any deaths. Ever.

“Delay of care may not have been the proximate cause of death,” said Dr. Gregory Schmunk, chief medical examiner in Polk County, Iowa and former head of the National Association of Medical Examiners, “but the real question is: Did delay of treatment cause the patient to die earlier than necessary?”

The wording of the report has also been challenged by Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev. “I don’t want to give the VA a pass on this, and that’s exactly what this line does. It exonerates the VA of any responsibility in past manipulation of these … wait times.”

By setting the standard so high, the government is trying to dodge the culpability it has in the deaths of these veterans. The media is helping them by claiming that the case against the VA is overblown and that whistleblower claims are exaggerated.

Is this any way to treat our veterans? Where is the outrage?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the opinion of the writer and do not reflect the policies of this website or organization.

Matt Towns
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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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3 thoughts on “VA Investigation Completed: Where Is the Outrage?

  1. This escape by the VA is just another Washington run and hide operation. In my case they let me bleed in my brain for 24 years. I had cat-scans etc. The blood clod finally grew to the size of a tennis ball and I passed out. I was given last rites at our local hospital and the VA wanted me shipped to the VA hospital in West Haven Ct. My wonderful bride refused and had me taken to Hartford Hospital where the staff was friendly even if the Dr. wasn’t. I was in a comma for quite some time and they did not know what to do with me, eventually a Nurse at said Hospital told my wife about a Neurosurgeon Dr. John Chaluca who was experimenting on putting Helicoids into the damaged arteries. The VA. finally agreed to pay for the operation. I won’t go any further except the VA refused to release my records of then approx. 30 operations to Yale New Haven Hospital. I will not say how my family obtained them but to say there was undercover “spy” work necessary. The reason for the VA. not releasing my records? I had to sign for them and no one else could except I was in a comma, query how do I use my motor skills when unconscious? They just did not the records to be seen by real Dr.’s
    Hey fight for your country and get screwed by the wealthy VA. Administrator’s and their unlicensed Dr.’s. Right?
    Okay, I have many stories of the VA. like almost cutting my tongue in half taking a tooth out and breaking my jaw, Fun Right? Oh yes I lost all my sense of tase forward of that slice, most of my foods taste like salt ummmm good!

  2. As usual, the right wingers blame everything on Obama. Not once in this article did it mention that this country has been ripping off our soldiers nearly since its foundation. And I wonder how many vets died waiting for care while Bush was in office, or even H.W. Bush, before any of you even cared to look into the neglect shown to those who have served. But, oh that’s right, that’s not the point of propaganda. Its meant to rile those who don’t know any better. And guess who has been making the decisions on who gets what? The rich. Ever since we rebelled against the crown, the wealthy have used their misguided sense of “superiority” to shape every facet of this country in their favor. But, like the typical republican motto: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

  3. Wait, you want me to blame the Inspector General’s report on Bush? If you had bothered reading this and other articles about the VA, you would see that I feel there is plenty of blame to go around.
    However, if you would like more information on what is going on. What has been going on since the Vietnam War, I invite you to read a few more articles.
    If afterwards you think I am a shill for big moneyed interests and an Obama-basher, that is your prerogative.
    I am more concerned with getting information to veterans, so they will know what is going on. Not what rich people (Soros, Koch or whoever) want anyone to know.

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