The more the scandal around the VA is investigated, the more problems that surface. What’s even more damning is that during recent internal investigations, they find that whistleblowers have been trying to bring the issue forward for years.
In 2012, an internal audit accused some offices of ‘gaming the system,’ which was publicly denied at the start of this scandal. These facilities were doing this in order to appear that veterans were being seen in a timely manner. One of the methods was to record a walk-in patient as a scheduled appointment. At the time, they were to cease these practices, but it never happened.
Instead, warnings were ignored and patient neglect continued. Despite multiple whistleblowers, veterans continued to be recorded off the books and at times be purged from the actual electronic scheduling system because they were waiting too long. Leadership in the facilities knew exactly what was going on, so much so that they were directing the actions. And at times, the investigations showed that despite repeatedly classified serious shortfalls were seen by the department as harmless errors.
However harmless administration officials look at this, maybe they should have asked those who were on the waiting list. After all, over the past decade or so, some 1000 or more veterans may have died. And nearly $1 billion has been paid out by the VA to veterans and their families for medical malpractice. What type of malpractice might someone have been accused of? In an oversight report release by Sen. Tom Coburn titled “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay and Dismay at the VA,” showed that veteran patients were subjected to sexual abuse by VA doctors, while another instance reported that a VA employee in Massachusetts was selling illegal drugs to patients that were recovering from substance abuse.
While the investigations continue to shine the light on the struggles within the VA, there is still little to no action from Obama and the administration to actually fix the problem. There is no talk of a strategy to ensure that this abuse doesn’t happen again. And even with the light being shined on the situation, veterans still continue to wait and receive the care they need.