Veterans Administration Overhaul is not a priority for Congress

Hundreds of thousands of backlogged cases, and 22 veteran suicides per day in America, yet only a handful of Congress are engaging in efforts to support a pilot program designed by US Combat Veterans to improve performance and reduce costs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

You would think all of our elected representatives in Washington would share a genuine concern for our disabled combat veterans. After all, they owe their safety and national security to those who fight our wars. However, not all of our Congress gives legitimacy to veteran’s claims of poor performance at the VA. Some of our federal legislature, too busy adding to our national debt and pursuing endless inconclusive oversight investigations, think the VA is working just fine.

In November, I introduced our readers to a group of disabled veterans (called Veteran Warriors) spearheading a self-financed movement to overhaul the Veterans Administration. My link to the introduction to the Veteran Warriors is here.

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A few weeks ago, these retired noncoms traveled from Florida to Washington to meet with an assembly of federal legislators to present their case to save taxpayers money by streamlining the failing VA claims processing and disability ratings system.

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Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), committed to this meeting. Congressman Daryl Issa (R-CA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ron Desantis (R-FL), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) also pledged to attend.

Not many would keep their commitment, instead they sent assistants, aids and interns to fulfill their promise to the Veteran Warriors and America’s struggling community of disabled veterans. Many of these substitutes (representing absentee legislators) had limited exposure to Veterans Administration problems and issues. Moreover, some, to be kind, were clueless.

Veterans residing in the State of Illinois might want to take note, Congressman, Tammy Duckworth and Ms. Stephanie Ueng (Duckworth’s designated Rep. for this scheduled meeting) did not bother to show up, cancel or call to acknowledge the Veteran Warriors presence. Given Rep. Duckworth’s service in Iraq and the loss of both her legs to combat injury while serving as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, I would want to know why Rep. Duckworth ducked the meeting and is withholding her support for VA overhaul.

After the November 2013 meeting, Lauren Price YN1, Veteran Warriors Public Affairs Representative confirmed the following members of Congress publicly committed to supporting the Veteran Warriors proposal for VA overhaul after a small-scale test of its implementation proves successful. Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Tim Bishop (R-NY), Rep. Kathy Castor, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Ron DeSantis.

Somehow, true leaders always rise to the occasion.

Genuine concern for poorly publicized VA problems (exposed during meetings with the Veteran Warriors) prompted engaged representatives (listed above) to support a federally funded pilot program to test the Veteran Warriors proposal for long overdue VA overhaul.

November’s meeting also prompted an invitation for Veteran Warriors to testify at a December 4,2013 House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, to address VA deficiencies, backlog issues and complex disability claims. Watch the video below:

After the completion of these hearings, Lauren Price YN1, confirmed through Erin Snow, Legislative Assistant to Congressmen Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), has also pledged support to the future implementation of a successful Veteran Warrior VA pilot program.

Time will tell if more of our elected representatives will take notice and climb on board.

Given there are an estimated 22 million veterans all over America, I am disappointed more of Washington’s flag waving, platitude spewing elite are not falling all over themselves to support the first serious, non-government solution to decades of VA incompetence. Perhaps Congressional devotion to Washington’s American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union might explain current overhaul trepidations.

I would hope Americans concerned about our veterans would take the time to contact their representatives in Washington and insist they attend any future hearings on VA overhaul attended by the Veteran Warriors. They all fought for us. We should all work toward fulfilling the promises we made to them.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Jim Price, Lauren’s husband for the stealth and undying loyalty he has shown to this noble cause. For those who do not know the Price’s, Jim is Lauren’s husband. He is also a disabled veteran and a member of the Veteran Warrior team. For those that take the time to watch the CSPAN video of last week’s testimony, Jim is the guy always at his wife’s side. Thanks for tolerating me, Jim.

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