What do you do when a sacred trust is broken?
Too many veterans in Indiana and across the country are asking this question.
These men and women who wore the uniform of the United States in combat did so with the expectation that their country would take care of them when they returned home. This is a sacred obligation that should rise above politics and always be a top priority in Washington.
Unfortunately, the federal department responsible for honoring that commitment — the Department of Veterans Affairs — has not provided acceptable care for many of those who served our nation.
Recent reports out of Phoenix and other VA facilities are shocking, outrageous and completely unacceptable. Allegations of patient backlogs, mismanagement and unreasonable disability claims review wait times undermine the integrity of the entire VA health and benefits system.
These allegations are not an isolated set of circumstances or an outlying example of gross incompetence. They are indicative of a bureaucratic culture of mismanagement and indifference to the needs of veterans.
I have visited our VA facilities in Indiana and met with many of the medical professionals who serve Hoosier veterans. These are hard-working, caring people who are doing their best to help, but the VA is plagued by problems that are larger than a few doctors or nurses.
For example, several months ago, one of my constituents — Frederick of Evansville — wrote to me about his experience with the department’s disabilities claims backlog. Frederick, a Vietnam War veteran, personally experienced these waiting times to get his claims processed. Unsurprisingly, this delay has negatively affected his quality of life.
Veterans’ claims are supposed to be processed in under 125 days, yet wait times at the VA facility in Indianapolis remain well above what our veterans deserve.
Our country has a duty to honor and support those like Frederick and other Hoosiers who made sacrifices to protect and defend our country.