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Sat., Feb. 28
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VA’s employees brought problems to light

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A recent letter to the editor was headlined “VA scandal the result of employees unions.” The writer asked whether anyone wanted to bet against the leadership of a federal union being “the No. 1 problem in the Veterans Administration mess.”

Yeah, I’ll take that bet. In reality it was employees, including union employees, who brought the current situation to light.

Far from being the cause of this health care crisis for our nation’s veterans, those employees risked much to get the shortfall in veterans’ medical care the attention it deserves. There are many whistleblower cases ongoing that prove that point. These employees knew the risk, but they did it anyway because it was the right thing to do for those in their care.

Ongoing wars have been producing new veterans at an unprecedented rate for many years now, yet the VA has been cut back just when these heroes need it most. To quote J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, yes, a dreaded employee union. “There is nothing wrong with the VA that can’t be fixed by what’s right with the VA, its frontline healthcare providers.”

And it’s true. The current mess was caused by undercutting the VA’s resources while setting standards that could not be met without more resources, and then making executives’ bonuses dependent on reaching those standards. Is anyone surprised how that worked out?

The answer is that the VA, an organization uniquely qualified to understand and meet the specific medical needs of its very special serviced population, must be resourced to provide first-rate care on time and without fail. Our servicemen and -women earned it through their sacrifices, there’s no doubt about that.

And now when the debt has already been incurred is not the time to decide not to pay it or renege on the promise made to them of quality VA care. I hope that everyone who cares about our soldiers and veterans will urge their representatives to support our veterans.

Robin Johnson


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