Our Veterans Deserve Better

Yesterday Concerned Veterans for America and The Weekly Standard joined forces to kick off the first Defend & Reform event of a five part breakfast series of live policy forum, to a sold out crowd in Washington DC. This week’s focus was Reforming Veterans Affairs: Preserving Promises to Those Who Serve. Top veterans organization including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America (IAVA), American Legion, and AMVETS participated in discussions, as well as former U.S. Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Honorable Anthony Principi and members of the House and Senate Committee of Veterans Affairs.

This solution-oriented event’s sole purpose was to create an open discussion aimed to fix the bureaucracy and leadership issues that are preventing the Department of Veterans Affairs from operating efficiently. There are immediate concerns, such as the 841,000 claims backlog of veterans waiting on results in order to receive benefits, but there are also larger, more systemic leadership issues that must be addressed.

Too many empty promises have been made. Veterans are suffering due to invalid actions from the very department that was created to support them. The purpose of the VA has gotten lost in the vast sea of bureaucracy. Secretary Shinseki continues to insist that the VA backlog will be cleared by 2015. While meeting this goal would be a success, in reality there is not a clearly defined strategy that will deliver the promised end state.

The VA recently announced that it has eliminated 97% of backlogged claims that were at least two years old. While that is refreshing news and a step in the right direction, that it is all it is: a step in the right direction. There is plenty of work to be done, including holding those responsible for the systemic leadership failure on multiple levels.

Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairmen of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs and speaker at the Reform & Defend event, is critical of Shinseki’s goal of the backlog will be eliminated by 2015, based on current patterns at the VA. Miller believes that Shinseki’s goal is unattainable without presidential leadership and called on President Obama to get involved, stating the problem will only be resolved if leadership “at the very very top” steps in. He goes on to say that even if they are successful at their goal, “if the leadership processes aren’t changed, we’re going to have a backlog again.”

And he’s right. Obama needs to acknowledge that the Department of Veterans Affairs is failing its mission in more ways than one. Obama has continually pledged to help and support veterans long after they return from war. It is time to come through on that promise and demand accountability out of Mr. Shinseki and the entire department.

Concerned Veterans for America has called for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation for his lack of accountability and inability to fix the claims backlog. He has had the time, the funding, and the opportunity to make necessary changes, but has failed to do so.

Enough is enough. It’s time to clean house at the VA. New leadership is the first step of many needed to bring a fresh perspective and problem-solving solutions required to overcome this challenge. Our veterans deserve better than to continually suffer the consequences of a failed bureaucracy.

Click the link below to RSVP for the next Concerned Veterans for America event on July 11, 2013: Defend & Reform: The Need For Spending Reform:        http://concernedveteransforamerica.org/advancereform/register/

Also published at: http://www.examiner.com/article/our-veterans-deserve-better

Follow Amber on Twitter:@AmberBarno

The Unethical Government

In the May 29th, 2013 Gallup poll, 50% of Americans approved of Obama’s performance as President of the United States, while 43% disapprove. It’s almost unbelievable that 50% of Americans still have faith in President Obama. He has lost control of the government he is responsible for due to the unethical culture he created within his own administration. Clearly a massive percentage of Americans just don’t care or aren’t paying attention. But for the 43% who are, most feel some sort of monumental betrayal over the past few months plagued with scandal after scandal.

The mannerisms Obama has carried throughout his presidency over the past five years including the constant shift of blame, ‘it’s Bush’s fault,’ and selectively deciding when he is responsible for events that occur during his administration, are no longer sufficient. With the help of the mainstream media President Obama may have breezed through his first term without having to answer for much of his administration’s actions, but now he is not being afforded that luxury.

Since the IRS, Benghazi, and Department of Justice scandal broke, Obama’s defense has been to downplay the issues at hand.  Instead of facing them head on and demanding answers, he protects those who had direct involvement. Why is he not outraged? Why is he not publicly demanding resignations with the attempt to reassure that this type of behavior will not be tolerated within his administration? That is what the American people need to see out of their president right now.

Instead, the Obama White House continues to fail to acknowledge any wrong doing of Attorney General Eric Holder’s misleading testimony in front of Congress regarding the DOJ scandal. Obama appointed Holder to head the investigation of IRS scandal. That action in itself is a blatant attempt to conceal the truth and further mislead the American people. Additionally, Obama continues to profess that he knew nothing of the IRS targeting Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups, even though the IRS Commissioner visited the White House 157 times since Obama took office in 2009. Just for reference, IRS Commissioner under President Bush’s Administration, Mark Emerson, visited the White House once in four years. That’s right, once.

The Commander in Chief has a unique, but time sensitive opportunity to reconcile with the American people. If he wants to regain the American people’s trust he must make some very calculated and meticulous decisions that result in holding people accountable for their actions under his administration. He must convince the nation that his administration does not operate above the law. He must demand a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal and start calling for resignations. But there is no indicator that Obama wants to expose the truth any more than Eric Holder does, so unfortunately, we most likely will not see any leadership accountability out of the White House. Let’s hope he makes the right choice.

It’s time to reign in your out of control government, Mr. President. We want the truth and an ethically and morally sound government. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Additionally published at The Commentator: http://www.thecommentator.com/article/3718/obama_s_rebellious_government

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberBarno