The embarrassing decay of the Veterans’ Administration has been a widespread subject of discussion nationwide and in this column, and as is so often the case with scandals in the federal government, there seems to be a spike in coverage, and then it fades away. And, whatever you may think about the presumptive GOP Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, I must admit that it does my heart good to hear that he has committed himself, should he be elected, to dig into the mess and begin to give our troops the care they deserve beginning in January of 2017.
The Republican Convention is nearly upon us, and Mr. Trump made a speech in Virginia wherein he made some sweeping promises with respect to repairing the VA. Normally I am cynical when it comes to political promises, but I think that if anyone can bring some improvement to a failing government agency, it just might be the Donald. Why? Because even though he isn’t ex-mil, he did attend a military academy, and I believe that if one has an open heart, the things that are instilled in a military academy student are the same as the things that are instilled in a soldier. There’s something else: he isn’t kidding when he says he’s “really good at things like that,” meaning fixing businesses that are in disarray, which is essentially what we have with the VA. It is a poorly, yea, scandalously managed “business” that is an extension of the United States government, and it will take sound business practices to turn it around.
However, rather than having the goal be to turn a profit or please the stockholders, the first order of business is to begin to do whatever is necessary so that the benefits veterans are promised when they agree to go into harm’s way for us actually reach them, and in a timely manner.
“The VA scandals are widespread and totally inexcusable,” Trump said, while in Virginia Beach. He also discussed the agency’s continual failure to treat soldiers’ physical and mental health disorders, the internal conflict in the agency, its toxic corporate culture, lack of accountability and poor management practices.
He underscored the need for an immediate improvement of treatment for vets suffering from mental ill health, and with regard to the suicides that are occurring, especially amongst older veterans, Mr. Trump said, It is a “national tragedy that is not talked about.”
He promised that every veteran will have a choice when it comes to selecting and seeing their physician. In the Trump Administration, vets will be able to go to a private facility if they prefer. Mr. Trump has also vowed to help vets find jobs. It seems that his desire to help veterans stems from the fact that he truly appreciates them, rather than viewing soldiers as a somewhat necessary evil. Undoubtedly, if he can keep the promise he made, he will have the devotion of soldiers everywhere.
“You defend America, and America will defend you,” he said. And I say, “Make it so, Mr. Trump, make it so.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner