For the life of me, I can’t understand why there are not people protesting at the Department of Veterans Affairs office right now.
Or why VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has not resigned in disgrace.
Or why Congress and President Trump are not demanding immediate care upgrades for veterans in VA facilities.
Let’s face it: The way the VA abuses military veterans in its nursing facilities — and fails to hold itself accountable — is nothing short of scandalous.
It was a full nine months ago that USA Today revealed some fairly damning details about the quality of care being delivered. Or should I say not being delivered.
For example, inspectors from a private contractor cited 52 of 99 VA facilities for deficiencies related to “actual harm.” In three facilities, they found the residents were in “immediate jeopardy.” In eight, inspectors found both “harm” and “jeopardy.”
In the immortal words of Vince Lombardi, “What the he– is going on here?”
Ask anyone running a good nursing facility what’s needed and the answer is almost always the same: good leaders, good staff, a commitment to quality and putting residents first. In other words, exactly the things many VA facilities are apparently not doing these days.
As galling as the ongoing mistreatment happens to be, the VA’s seeming indifference should make your blood pressure rise. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie responded to substandard care reports by essentially blaming the victims.
He argued the VA should be given a mulligan because, by his estimate, residents in its facilities are sicker and have higher caregiving needs.
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and allow that his assessment may be accurate. That still does still not make lousy care OK. OK? So please do us all a favor and stop excusing the inexcusable.
Our veterans do not need military parades. Or being asked to stand at ballgames. Yes, those are nice gestures.
But if we really want to honor the men and women who have served and sacrificed, let’s stop mistreating them when they are most in need.
Our veterans deserve far better than this.
John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.