The Veteran Affairs scandal, which has already led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Chief Eric Shinseki, has resulted in better understanding of a backlog of care requests, mishandled and neglected needs of veterans old and new, a manipulated and abused system of accountability, and even deaths of those forced to wait indefinitely for care. The issue has now reached a fairly monstrous size and scope, with sixty-nine different VA facilities under criminal investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A new report from the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay, and Dismay at the VA” — quite the alliterative rhyming title for quite the serious subject matter — claims that over 1,000 may have died in the last ten years “as a result of the VA’s misconduct and the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice.”
In the report Coburn, who is a doctor himself, criticized both the Administration and Congress for having “failed to ensure our nation is living up to the promises we have made to our veterans.” Poor care, bad scheduling, major and unnecessary delays, and corrupt employee policy, including underworked and overpaid staff and criminal activity within the VA, were all named concerns within the report.
The report also heavily criticized the Committee of Veteran Affairs within the Senate, saying it “has only held two oversight hearings the last four years, and was even profiled in Wastebook 2012 for being among the committees in Congress holding the fewest number of hearings.” Wastebook is a document published by Coburn himself on those Congressional projects he finds to constitute wasteful spending, or money that could be better spent. He also addressed the issue of whistleblowers, a particularly important matter in light of new information provided by just such an individual. “Bad employees are rewarded with bonuses and paid leave while whistleblowers, health care providers, and even veterans and their families are subjected to bullying, sexual harassment, abuse, and neglect,” noted Coburn’s report.