As you may have heard, The Veterans Committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed on a compromise of their separate bill proposals. What's that? You say this calls for rejoicing? Well, maybe a little. If you want to rejoice that something positive actually happened in the hallowed halls of our Federal government. But you see, this is just D-Day. It's not H-Hour.
D-Day is the day when an operation is supposed to start. The best example is, of course, D-Day. By that I mean 6 June 1944. But D-Day wasn't the name of the operation. The name was Operation Overlord. It is remembered as D-Day because it was the largest operation ever undertaken by a group of countries.
OK, sorry for the very brief history lesson, we'll get back to it in a little bit. But, yes a compromise has been reached. It's not what acting VA Secretary Sloane Gibson wanted ($17.6 Billion) but its close. $17 Billion over 3 years. It contains funding for Veterans who live too far away from a VA medical center or have waited more than a month for an appointment. It also contains funding to hire more doctors, nurses and other medical staff. The bill also grants the VA Secretary the power to fire senior executives. That's right, the secretary couldn't do that before. It literally took an act of Congress for the VA Secretary to be able to control the bureaucrats that run (and have ruined) the Veterans Administration.
Let me back up a second. I said "it took" an act of Congress. Actually it will still take an act of Congress. That's where we get into H-Hour.
H-hour is on Friday. That's when all of the elected Senators and Representatives in Washington, D.C. will be leaving for recess. So, if this compromise isn't voted on by Friday, it wont happen. That's right. None of this will happen unless both the Senate and the House vote to pass the bill. Also by Friday, the Senate has to vote to confirm Robert McDonald as the new Secretary of the VA. Now, I'm sure they have a lot of other things to do, but we have to make sure they pass the bill. So I'm again asking that we rally the troops again to call their elected Senators and Representatives and tell them (or at least their voice mail) that we want this bill passed.
In announcing the compromise, House Veterans Committee leader Jeff Miller (R-FL) said "the VA is not sacred--Veterans are." This, more than anything else, I agree with. The next thing I agree with is that Sanders said that this compromise bill "starts the conversation". He is correct. This is not the end of the VA Scandal, just as D-Day of Operation Overlord wasn't the end of World War II.
Let's remember, the VA Scandal has grown from the tragic deaths of Veterans at a VA Medical Center in Arizona into problems and investigations at other medical centers across the United States, including more than two years worth of claims that have never even been looked at in a Philadelphia claims processing center.
That's why Veterans organizations are taking a "wait and see" approach to the compromise. Dan Caldwell, legislative campaign manager for Concerned Veterans of America (CVA) said the politicians have to address what the actual mission of the VA is.
Daniel Dellinger, National Commander for the American Legion, said " it would be a great mistake to see this legislation as a one-time fix for all the woes that have been hobbling VA's performance and credibility."
We can only hope and see if the politicians do understand that this is the start, not the ending, of the VA Scandal. Also, the next Secretary of the VA must not only use the power to fire senior bureaucrats, but they must bring those responsible for the VA Scandal to a court of law. Veterans died and others have waited far too long for the care that this nation promised them.
That is all.