Scott Davis, the Veterans Affairs whistleblower who brought to national attention the diseased culture of disdain and neglect affecting the healthcare of so many of our returning military men and women, wrote an open letter to President Trump this week, and his report from inside the belly of the beast is not good. Trump, who has signed numerous executive orders intended to put the VA back to rights, should be shocked and appalled to find that virtually none of his actions have been implemented and that there remain deep, systemic problems within the department.
“Over the past year, I have contacted your office about outstanding issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs impacting Veteran access to healthcare,” wrote Davis. “These critical issues included; several thousand abandoned calls to the Veteran Crisis Line, 800,000 Veterans in a pending backlog, nearly 300,000 deceased Veterans being denied access to VA healthcare, since 2014 over 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans being placed in an illegal pending means test status, and Veterans with critical illnesses being denied access to care.
“Although your public statements about supporting Veterans and whistleblowers have been encouraging, VA leadership at all levels have continued to engage in actions that continue to cause Veterans delayed access to the healthcare benefits they earned through military service,” he continued. “Mr. President, it is with great disappointment that I inform your office that despite your efforts to reform VA, the agency has done little to improve its operations to enhance Veteran access to healthcare.”
Davis goes into great detail outlining the terrible problems that continue to plague the Department of Veterans Affairs: Marine moms still being denied compensation for the contaminated water they were exposed to at Camp Lejeune in the 1950s-1980s; Billing errors that have resulted in veterans being overcharged for their medical copays on a monthly and ongoing basis; inconsistent policies regarding which veterans get into the healthcare program, resulting in an enormous backlog; a lack of disciplinary action taken against corrupt VA officials who caused the original crisis; and more.
“President Trump, based on the above justifications, I would strongly encourage you to appoint a White House czar for Veterans Affairs to liaise on your behalf with Veteran Service Organizations, VA OIG and Government Accountability Office officials to get factual information about Veteran healthcare needs that is independent of VA leaders who are responsible for the current state of the agency,” concluded Davis.
At the very least, President Trump needs to order a full investigation of these claims and see to it that he lives up to his campaign promise to make things right in the VA. Veterans are counting on this president to be a champion for them in ways the last guy was not. Now is the time to act.