INDIANAPOLIS — In a stunning announcement The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, has demanded the resignations of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and two top VA Administrators. At a news conference in Indianapolis, Daniel Dellinger, National Commander of the American Legion minced no words in condemning the incompetence of the VA. Citing poor oversight and failed leadership, Dellinger called for resignations of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey. An action the American Legion hasn’t called for in over thirty years.
While saying that Secretary Shinseki’s service as a career soldier and Vietnam veteran whose patriotism and sacrifice for his country “are above reproach”, National Commander Dellinger blasted Secretary Shinseki saying his “record as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, however, tells a story of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership”. Dellinger and the American Legion cited numerous examples of what whey feel are numerous examples of incompetence and inefficiency in how the VA works with America’s veterans.
Dellinger pointed to allegations from multiple whistleblowers of a secret waiting list at the Phoenix Arizona VA Health Care System that may have resulted in the death of approximately 40 veterans; that VA previously had acknowledged that 23 veterans throughout the health-care system have died as a result of delayed care in recent years; and the findings of an investigation by VA’s Office of Medical Inspector that clerks at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., were instructed last year how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency’s goal of 14 days, according to the investigation. “These disturbing reports are part of what appear to be a pattern of scandals that has infected the entire system,” said Dellinger, noting issues that have come up in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Augusta, Ga. “Those problems need addressed at the highest level – starting with new leadership. The existing leadership has exhibited a pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership that has been amplified in recent weeks.”
Dellinger said that the failure to disclose safety information or to cover up mistakes is unforgivable – as is fostering a culture of nondisclosure. “VA leadership has demonstrated its incompetence through preventable deaths of veterans, long wait times for medical care, a benefits claims backlog numbering in excess of 596,000, and the awarding of bonuses to senior executives who have overseen such operations,” he said. “Some veterans have waited years to have their claims decided. That same leadership has failed to provide answers to why these issues continue to occur.”
Appearing on Afternoons with Amos (Brown) Program on AM1310 The Light in Indianapolis, Verna Jones, head of the American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission, and one of the top ranking African-Americans in the Legion’s National Headquarters, echoed National Commander Dellinger and the Legion’s strong concerns about incompetence and inefficiencies with the VA. Problems that have allegedly resulted in patent deaths. Jones talked about the Legion’s efforts to work with the VA in improving conditions and reducing waiting times for veterans to receive services. She shared the frustration the American legion has had with the VA. During the interview, listeners called in and shared with Verna Jones problems they had had with poor service and treatment at Indianapolis’ Roudebush VA Hospital, a relatively new facility in downtown Indianapolis. Some of the callers’ stories of maltreat and mistreatment by the VA was heart wrenching.
Click the Media Player To Hear Afternoons with Amos Interview with American Legion’s Verna Jones. ©2014 WTLC/Radio One. Part 1 – Runs 22 Minutes Part 2 – Runs 21 Minutes