As of December 19, 2021 these are the statistics concerning American veterans this holiday season:
- More than 40,000 American veterans are homeless this Christmas.
- More than 400,000 are suffering from PTSD and are unable to get mental health treatment.
- More than 80,000 American veterans have committed suicide since 2008.
- More than 20 million American veterans are waiting to get an appointment at a United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital.
Former President Trump signed the VA Mission Act into law in June 2018, which allowed veterans to receive medical care from providers outside of the VA system. However, officials still have not provided “access standards” so veterans know when they can go to other hospitals for treatment, and those hospitals will know the VA will pay them for their services.
The VA Mission Act also authorized an Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission to determine what is working and what is not in the VA, but no one has been appointed to the commission. How did we get to this point, that veterans are so ill served by government officials in a bloated and dysfunctional agency?
In 2020, the VA employed 421,542 people, an increase of 50,000 since 2016, with a payroll in 2020 of $36.8 billion dollars. The agency remains a bureaucracy that seems intent on protecting its fiefdom, continuing the efforts to enlarge that fiefdom, and ignoring the primary purpose of being a medical system.
The whistleblower advocacy group Empower Oversight (EO) recently found records from the VA, uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that verified the VA’s long history of mistreating whistleblowers, with a culture of retaliation and “ethical conflicts.” Jason Foster, Founder and President of EO, stated that the VA has “a long record of mistreating whistleblowers that span multiple administrations.”