For more than one hundred years, Americans have paused on Memorial Day to remember and mark the sacrifice of those who gave the “last full measure of devotion.” It is about our fallen heroes – children and spouses, siblings and cousins, friends and neighbors – and their fight for our freedom.
On this Memorial Day, let’s recall that President Lincoln first tasked our nation’s Department of Veteran Affairs with the noble responsibility: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” While many Veterans are well-served by the VA, many, many others report to me that the VA has failed them and this sacred duty.
From my key position on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I hear and see some of the worst failures of President Obama’s VA: manipulated wait times, doctors who come in drunk, employees who participate in armed robbery and deal illegal drugs, and big bonuses for ‘leadership’ at failing VA hospitals. I grill and question top VA executives, Obama appointees, and career bureaucrats for answers – but most evade accountability, almost none are fired.
Within a culture of non-accountability, some of our best hard-working employees are never recognized, while the worst bureaucrats, those who harm our veterans or cover it up, are rarely punished. In response to this crisis, I helped pass the VA Accountability Act through the House to give the VA Secretary the authority – thus the responsibility – to remove, to fire those who harm our Veterans and pad their pockets.
Shockingly though, Senate Democrats refuse to allow a vote and have blocked accountability every step of the way. Even worse, the VA Secretary – yes, the one who just said that it doesn’t matter how long Veterans are forced to wait for life-changing care – has fought this very bill. And worst of all, the man who leads the entire VA, President Obama, has chosen to stand with these failed employees and their labor unions instead of protecting our Veterans.
This troubling culture of non-accountability is not a new problem, but to have a President and his VA Secretary attack the whistleblowers, deride Veteran complaints, and argue wait times don’t matter is frankly appalling. It is an abandonment of the promise of Lincoln. And it is unacceptable.
Rest assured, on this Memorial Day and throughout the year, I will not give up this battle for accountability, for better care and benefits for our brave Veterans. They deserve no less. They deserve so much more. And I’m bound and determined to force this Administration, and the ones to come, to make accountability central to care of America’s Veterans.
Congressman Tim Huelskamp represents the First District of Kansas and holds a key position on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. His office has helped well over 1,000 Veterans with casework, much of it relating to problems with the VA