July 25, 2018

With all the hysteria in Washington over non-stories like the possible revocation of security clearances for leakers and liars who never should have had them in the first place, you probably never even heard one of the most important stories from Monday’s news: the Senate confirmed Robert Wilkie, President Trump’s pick as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, by a surprisingly lopsided 86-9 vote. But that’s misleading: this is the first time in the 30-year history of that post that any Senators have voted against a President's nominee.  And this isn't entirely the predictable Trump Derangement Syndrome. 

Wilkie is incredibly well-qualified, having been assistant secretary of defense under George W. Bush and Pentagon undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.  He also vowed to “shake up complacency” at the VA, which is desperately needed, and my use of the word “desperate” is not hyperbole.  Veterans have actually been dying on waiting lists for care, and that unconscionable fact was covered up as if protecting VA bureaucrats' paychecks were more important than protecting the lives and health of our veterans.  I wouldn’t just shake up the VA, I’d slap it around a little, and I’m famously nice! So why the unprecedented opposition to Wilkie?

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You won’t be surprised to learn that the opposition spans the ideological spectrum from far-left to farther-lefter; from Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Ed Markey, etc. to outright socialist Bernie Sanders.  Their big objections seem to be fear that Markey will fire VA employees for their political views, not their poor performance (I have a feeling that really means that if they hold liberal political views, they shouldn’t be fired no matter how poor their performance is) and that Wilkie will be open to “privatizing” the VA – which translates as “giving veterans the option of seeking private medical care, the type Senators enjoy, rather than waiting around for government care until they die.”

I have the feeling that if we could change the law to force Congress members to get their health care from the VA, virtually overnight, our veterans would finally start getting the type of choice and high quality care they deserve.


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  • Amelia Little

    07/27/2018 03:10 PM

    I hope that Wilkie can make the necessary corrections to better the VA care. Certainly there are people (even high in the ranks) that are not doing their job and are complicit in the coverup of inadequate health care who ought to be fired. But, as noted, there will probably be cries of it's because of that person's politics. And, those cries will be the loudest from those who DO play the political card, and just assume everyone is like them.

    The nearest VA from where I live is a 3 hour drive. Not all veterans needing care can make that trip--or it's long, painful, grueling. And, from there, even though there are excellent heart doctors and hospitals in that city--nope another 3 hour drive from THERE to the nearest VA facility "qualified" to deal with heart problems, surgery. So, from where I live, it's 6 hours for that. Really? I am absolutely in favor of veterans being able to go to doctors in their area for care, any care, all care. Not only can the trip be a problem for veterans--there is getting there--someone to drive, and, needed support of usually a family member. I guess, put them on a bus, let them pay for a taxi to get to the hospital?

    I so agree with those who say congress should have to use the same health care as veterans. Or, even the same health care that private citizens are able to afford. You know, where the insurance company can deny coverage even though the qualified doctor, who has spent how many years getting to that point (and still paying off student loans) and probably even a fellow in whatever the specialty is, one who has seen the patient in person, has examined the records, labs, xrays, etc has determined a certain medication, surgery, etc is indicated. AND, they need to pay their share of the premium, like ordinary citizens have to.

    And, yes, they should have to live under every regulation and law the rest of us do. They need to have a SS portion come out of their paycheck (I repeat, comes out of their paychecks like the rest of us) and, when they retire, they have to live on their SS--which would still be much greater than what I get every month. Oh, and they should have to pay TAXES on that SS--which is what I have to do. There are way too many "perks" of being a congressman--and it's all on the tax payers' dime. There is plenty of accomplishments (which, of course, never make the news) but for those issues where congress stonewalls--deduct their pay until they get things done. Maybe there should be a penalty for idiocy as shown by pelosi, schumer, ol' maxine and others by their inane statements.

  • Carolyn Mary Hoogensen

    07/27/2018 04:03 AM

    My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2015 - but because of the wait- and scheduling for appointments and additional tests and travel 300 miles for a lung specialist to meet and greet - and then reschedule for surgery- which by then was too late to do - he finally started chemo and radiation in July 2015 - went into remission - however Dec 2016 he started exhibiting signs of memory decline - was told he should see neurologist - in the meantime he went for his cancer checkups, had scans in April 2017- supposedly including the brain since that's one of the first place it spreads - was told he was clear - but needed other tests - colon, esophagus etc - because of activity - finally had that done in June - waiting for appts - and finally saw a neurologist in Aug 2017 - had brain surgery for a very large tumor - which had spread from his lungs - I asked how did the Pet Scan miss it - Found out - that the protocol for the Pet scan didn't include the brain but from the ears down - Really? The first place his type of cancer spreads is to the brain and they neglect to check it? We had the tumor removed at a local hospital since there is no neurosurgeon here - My husband is now in hospice care - Couldve would've should've - makes me wonder if they had done surgery when he was first diagnosed....instead of making us go back and forth - especially since the test they did in May- showed it had just started to spread.

  • Keith

    07/26/2018 04:01 PM

    I'm a recipient of a botched shoulder surgery at the Temple, Tx VA. If I was allowed to go to a private doctor like I wanted, this would not have happen. I originally went in for a torn rotator cuff. After a 2 year delay, they said it had been retracted to long & no longer could be reattached. So they replaced the shoulder joint & I now I'm in constant pain, with limited movement & strength.

  • Glenn Williams

    07/26/2018 01:17 PM

    While I personally have received very good care through VA, I may be an anomaly.

    With all the focus on veterans care and suicide prevention for veterans, I hope that someone can address suicide in active duty military. From personal experience, from remarks from fellow veterans, and from losing my son to suicide while serving in the Air Force, I have found that the military discourages personnel from seeking mental health care to the point that careers are ruined as soon as the servicemember steps foot in the clinic. My son sought help and he was immediately ostracized, removed from flight status, put on a desk job, and was the subject of derogatory remarks by his command. I feel these actions ultimately caused him to sink into utter despair and take his life 3 years ago. I pray that no other servicemembers suffer the same fate as my son but until the military commits itself from the top down to changing this culture I fear that more suicides will occur.

  • Nellie Williams

    07/26/2018 12:50 PM

    I am so very glad that someone is finally addressing the fact that the Senators and congressmen have their own private health insurance, their own private retiement, all those other perks, not to mention the $150,000 year salary that they earn by doing nothing. Which by their own admission, they cannot live comfortably on, let them try to live on some of our senior citizens yearly income. It is a joke. We have a former president who had very little and can now live in an 8 million dollar house. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Most of the people in Washington are completely out of touch with the average American's life.

  • Jim Liko

    07/26/2018 11:18 AM

    Thank you so much for presenting the truth of the news as it really is. Not like the others who show and tell lies. Remember LIARS will go to their check point.

  • Linda Black

    07/26/2018 11:18 AM

    Is there any way to require government employees to use the same health care we have to use? In order to help fund social security why not put all government employees, including congressmen and senators, under the social security system the rest of Americans must use?
    Every piece of legislation passed shoul apply equally to our elected officials!

  • Leslie Farler

    07/26/2018 11:12 AM

    As citizens who are fed up with Washington is there anyway that we can push too have the Sentors healthcare switched? I know may people say get out and vote, but that really hasn’t changed much in Washington. Can we start a petition? Something has too give the veterans deserve better!

  • Donna Fox

    07/25/2018 11:17 PM

    I really appreciate your analysis and commentary on this vote and the current political insanity and incivility. You comments keep me informed and focused.

  • Jill Ryan

    07/25/2018 06:35 PM

    Yes that is exactly what they need, VA healthcare. If that happened things would really change for the better.