Military Connection: Article Sparks Intrigue: By Debbie Gregory

ArticleWith the confirmation of Robert McDonald as the new permanent secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, many in the military and Veteran communities are eager to see what his term will bring, and how he will affect change in the VA system. The staff at Military Connection would like to know what members of the Veteran community think about McDonald’s confirmation, and how he should approach his task of reforming the VA. Using the following editorial article from The Arizona Republic, as a guide, we ask that you formulate your own ideas on how you think Sec. McDonald should approach refurbishing the VA.

 VA scandal: How to fix a broken system
By The Arizona Republic editorial board

 As Seen in The Arizona Republic

Mr. Robert McDonald:

We admire your courage. In accepting this nomination, you are about to confront one of the most daunting challenges in all of federal governance: reforming the VA hospital system.

You face three great challenges.

The first is size. With 6.5 million patients, 300,000 employees and more than 150 hospitals and 850 clinics, the system is too large to adequately perform its core mission of providing lifesaving and recuperative care to veterans of war.

You must make the VA health-care system smaller. This will be your greatest challenge.

By returning to the VA”s roots and treating only war and service-related injuries, you will enhance care for all veterans. Congress is working to find private-sector alternatives. Help them find answers for those whose needs are unrelated to their service. It does no favors to vets to make this organization bigger.

The second challenge is the corrosive culture you inherit.

Imagine how daunting your job leading Procter and Gamble would have been if you could not trust your subordinates. Imagine what kind of company P and G would be if your down-line directors believed they could mislead you and get away with it. Your chances of accomplishing real reform would be next to nil.

The VA has many great, duty-minded, veteran-centric employees. It also has too many employees, in too many important positions, who have demonstrated they will lie. They must go.

The third of your challenges is time. Bureaucracies as large and dysfunctional as the VA will resist change by waiting you out. You have no more than 31 months – realistically, less – to enact reforms before President Barack Obama leaves office and the next wave of political appointees moves in. You must act quickly.

There are steps you can take that will improve your chances of ensuring quality health care for vets. None will be easy. Some are dramatic.

Click here to read the full editorial.

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Military Connection: Article Sparks Intrigue:   By Debbie Gregory