The VA Status Quo Must Change

Remember the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal in April, 2014 that exposed veterans had died as a result of waiting for healthcare?

Veterans were placed on fake wait lists and were signed up for ghost clinics and records were manipulated.

Deceit had become the norm in order to make the VA look better in an attempt to not draw attention to the dysfunctional leadership failures running rampant through the bureaucracy.

The result: veterans suffered, veterans died.

Nearly a year and a half later what has changed? Nothing.

CNN has reported that the Veterans Affairs Inspector General has found that roughly 800,000 records and applications were delayed in the VA system for healthcare enrollment.

Of those delayed, 307,000 veterans may have died while waiting on an answer from the VA on their application for benefits.

These aren’t veterans waiting on healthcare appointments who are already in the system, but veterans merely trying to accomplish the first step, applying for VA healthcare.

The investigation additionally discovered that a veteran who died in 1988 still had an unprocessed application in the system 26 years later.

Another veteran had applied for VA healthcare enrollment in 1998 had a “pending” status on his record 14 years later.

The Inspector General also found that due to improper management and marking of unprocessed applications, Veteran Affairs employees had likely deleted over 10,000 applications in the past five years.

The report additionally noted that in 2010, employees concealed veterans’ applications in their desks so they didn’t have to process them at that time.

In standard VA practice, the employees were not recommended to be disciplined for their actions.

Recently Veteran Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald voiced his concern that politics were setting the VA up for failure.

His attempt to shift blame is unacceptable as the VA’s top leader.

Enough with the excuses, veterans deserve better than that.

They deserve the quality and timely healthcare they earned, but sadly are not getting.

It’s time for results, not continual empty rhetoric.

The agency has an annual budget of roughly $160 billion. In 2014 congress gave the VA an additional $16.3 billion to provide veterans with more choice when it came to their healthcare.

The VA manipulated the intentions behind the choice program, making the option virtually impossible for veterans to use.

Again, the VA chose to put the agency ahead of veterans well-being.

The VA has evolved into a massive bureaucracy that facilitates an unethical culture that refuses to accept change.

Its leadership climate fosters zero accountability within the department.

A year and a half after the scandal broke, the VA continues to resist reform that will produce effective results.

Enough is enough. The status quo is unacceptable. The VA needs accountably, choice and access for private care options, and a cultural shift that puts veterans first.

VA reform must become a priority now. Veterans have made tremendous sacrifices and put country before self.

They deserve a VA that serves them, not the other way around.
Because as it stands now, the disgusting reality is that our nation’s finest are left to fight for the benefits they’ve earned – some dying without receiving any of them at all.

Originally published in The Daily Signal

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No More Double Standards for Women in the Military

Last week, two female Army officers and West Point graduates made history when they successfully passed Army Ranger School, known as one of the most physically challenging and difficult leadership schools in the military.

Not only is this a phenomenal personal accomplishment, but they have paved the way for other women to advance in the military hierarchy. While a proud nation congratulated the women on their incredible achievement, it demonstrated how outdated and discriminatory the Selective Service law is.

As the Selective Service law stands now, only men, within 30 days of their 18th birthday, must register with the Selective Service. This means that in the event that the U.S. needs a military draft, these men would be called up and selected through a lottery.

The law does not discriminate. According to the Selective Service website:

“Virtually all male U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live, and male immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, residing in the United States, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.”

If selected, each man will be given a mental, physical, and moral assessment before a decision is made as to whether or not that person is eligible to enter military service.

In 1981, in Roster v. Goldberg, the Supreme Court ruled that a male only draft was constitutional because the military draft is meant to fill combat replacements during a time of war.

At the time, women were excluded from serving in those jobs. A 1994 review of the Selective Service Act stated that women were still able to be excluded due to the fact that they were not allowed to serve in combat jobs.

But times have changed. Combat does not weigh on the burden of men only. Women make up roughly 15 percent of the active duty military today. In a post-9/11 world, women have proven to be not only effective on the battlefield, but essential.

Nearly 200 women have died fighting for our country in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Pentagon announced in 2013 that women would be allowed to serve in combat—ground, infantry, and special operations—starting in 2016.

As a society that celebrates equality, we can’t undermine the meaning and advances that have been made throughout our history by accepting selective equality. We can’t pick and choose when we want things between men and women to be equal.

Women are now on the brink of serving in ground combat jobs. They have been critical for success on the battlefield. It’s time that they share the responsibly of protecting our nation if the time comes.
As the military-civilian divide continues to grow, it is the attitude of our nation that must change. It isn’t the job of “someone else” to protect the freedoms and liberties we get to enjoy as Americans every day. In the era of an all-volunteer military, it is the responsibility and obligation of every American, man and woman, to recognize that if the time comes and our nation calls, we will all protect it.

No one is above defending his or her nation merely because of gender.

When it comes to equality, you can’t have it both ways.

A woman’s life is no more valuable that a man’s, and no less valuable on the battlefield. It’s time for the Selective Service law to reflect the times. In the name of equality, Congress needs to amend the law.

Originally published at The Daily Signal

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What We Can Learn From 3 Who Disarmed Attacker on Train

The thwarted terrorist attack by three Americans on a Paris bound train last week exposed a flaw in terrorist tactics.
Spreading fear with violence (the goal of terrorism) is not possible when populations fight back.

The botched attack demonstrated vulnerabilities in a command and control terror strategy, and shows a break down in the sequence of the terror planning process to an attempted attack.
The success of terrorism relies on a passive, fearful response from a population.

This is why it’s time for Americans to reignite the “not on my watch” attitude.

And there is no better time than right now. The train gunman failed at what was seemingly an easy attack.

While we don’t know exactly who the man was working with or his level of training, the facts remain that this terrorist had multiple guns, the element of surprise, but was able to be tackled, hog-tied and incapacitated by unarmed individuals.
Not exactly good for the terrorism business that thrives on propaganda and Internet recruitment.

Terrorists work to exploit weaknesses and will always find ways to get through security, no matter how many measures are in place or how effective our intelligence capabilities are.
Bag checks and the Transportation Security Administration provide a minimal level of a deterrent, but realistically, merely provides a false sense of security.

Americans must open their eyes to the fact that if they don’t want to be the victim, it is up to them to step up and fight back—not wait for someone else to take charge.

There’s no place for political correctness when it comes to combating terrorism.

A resilient nation is an educated nation.

Downplaying the threat and ignoring the realities of terrorism within our borders will ultimately get people killed.

We must recognize threat for what it is. Terrorists can’t be reasoned with, nor rehabilitated. We need leaders who speak the truth about the dangers we face everyday here at home in the age of radical Islamic terrorism.

Leaders who encourage our society to remain vigilant and ready to stand up to those who wish to bring harm to our citizens.

In today’s age of Islamic State (ISIS) and other radical Islamic terrorist organizations, it is not a matter of if an attack on Americans or American targets will happen, but when.

The thwarted attack in France should serve as a wake up call that terrorists will continue to take advantage of soft targets, including our railways, shopping malls, entertainment venues and infrastructure.

Americans must unite and refuse to be the victim of such useless and barbaric violence. There is no substitute for a vigilant society and it’s time for America to fight back, just as the three American heroes did last week.

Originally published at The Daily Signal

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