By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.
It is no secret that most Veterans have had a complaint or two about the VA. The plain and simple truth is that any organization that takes care of more than 2 million patrons in a broad range of services such as healthcare (medical, dental, vision and mental), disability compensation, education benefits, employment assistance, home loans, and even death and funeral benefits, is going to accrue some complaints.
Recently, U.S. Congressman Jeff Miller,(FL) launched the VA Honesty Project. The Project is a website designed to track the Veterans Administration’s transparency with both the press and the public.
In a prepared statement, Miller said, “With 54 full-time public affairs employees, VA’s media avoidance strategy can’t be anything other than intentional.” He added, “What’s worse, the tactic leaves the impression that department leaders think the same taxpayers who fund the department don’t deserve an explanation of VA’s conduct.”
To be fair, the same complaint that Miller made about the VA can be said about law makers on Capitol Hill, who employ more than 54 full-time public affairs employees. But finger pointing won’t improve benefits for anyone. I do applaud Mr. Miller’s efforts to improve benefits that Veterans receive and agree that the VA should be held accountable for their actions and shortcomings. But I don’t know what the congressman is expecting. Does he want press conferences explaining individual cases where the VA dropped the ball? Does he want reporters hounding VA representatives like they were athletes after losing a big game? I don’t know who would want to hear excuses being made about their agency’s performance.
However, unlike the congressman, I do see the VA responding to critics and complaints. As a writer and Veteran who daily researches VA programs, I have seen rapid improvements in the VA over the last few years. I have seen the VA application move to a faster, paperless system. I have seen needs addressed in employment opportunities for Veterans. I have seen the VA address and nearly eliminate Veteran homelessness. I have seen the VA expand its healthcare and mental health benefits. And I have seen the VA taking measures to reduce their backlog. I think that I prefer the VA’s responses over hearing excuses made in front of a camera.
Rep. Miller is absolutely correct to point out that the VA is not perfect, and has room for improvement. Veterans deserve the very best, because they gave the very best. But I don’t see that adding another set of bureaucratic handcuffs is the solution to bettering the care for me and my brother and sister Veterans. I will continue to voice my concerns to the VA on where deficiencies lay in their department. And I will continue to see what actions they take in response to expressed concerns.