COL Larry Mrozinski: Department of Veterans Affairs Scandal Demands Top-To-Bottom-ReviewPosted by chris on Sep 25, 2012
Department of Veteran’s Affairs Scandal Demands Top-To-Bottom-Review
The Georgia Republican Party has repeatedly called into question this Administration’s leadership and those appointed by it with the responsibility to act as stewards of America’s National Security interests and that of the service member’s, to include active duty and our citizen soldiers of the National Guard and Reserves. Those “leaders”, especially at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), have sadly misled and mismanaged to the detriment of our Nation’s security. VA leadership broke the solemn promise to our military veteran’s by squandering precious taxpayer dollars and followed up with one excuse after another for sorely needed assistance that they claim cannot be fixed until 2015.
The VA has suffered from yet another public confidence blow to the tune of $5 Million dollars from the disclosure of a closely held scandal of monumental proportions that was made aware to the leadership at the VA early on. You may not recall reading this in your main stream media because it is nearly five times more costly than the GSA scandal we are all too familiar with. This scandal comes on the heels of the mounting Veterans claims backlog that will hit 1.2 million by December 2012. The VA scandal is concerning excessive conference spending, the same arrogance and disregard of public trust that caught the General Services Administration (GSA) wanting. The VA Inspector General is investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse resulting from two human resource training conferences held in Orlando Florida that totals $ 5 Million, a far more egregious sum than the $823,000 GSA’s 2010 Western Regions Conference, which used public funds for personal pleasure. But the lack of leadership in this Administration and in the VA continues the pattern of misconduct at the expense of our veteran’s and disregard for the tax paying public. This ill conceived VA conference scandal comes on the back of a very successful August Republican National Convention I attended in Tampa as a Delegate, which assailed a platform and pledge to reverse a backlog in veteran’s claims that has spun out of control in just a few short years.
Where is the smoke? Let the tally begin:
- $84,000 in promotional items distributed to the conference’s 1829 attendees, to include such items as pens and highlighters with VA logo’s;
- $13,000 for approximately a half dozen VA employees’ reconnaissance for trips to as many as three locations for conference locations;
- Over $100, 000 in unspecified wasteful spending with little to no value to a conference;
- VA spent nearly $2,734 per person at the two conferences.
- Allegations of Federal employees accepting gifts and compromising the legal procurement process.
What is the solution you ask? Well, new leadership for a start and you get a chance to decide. The following excerpts say it all. Very recently the honorable Disabled American Veteran’s (DAV) organization published in their SEP.-OCT. 2012 DAV magazine nine questions asked of both Incumbent Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. The following is arguably the most important question asked that will shape the next four years:
DAV Question#1of 9: “What are your top priorities for addressing the many challenges facing veteran’s particularly disabled veterans, and the Department of Veteran Affairs?
Obama responded with six written paragraphs to the first question: “From the day I took office, I have made addressing the needs of all veterans and military families a top priority and I am committed to ensuring they receive the job security, health care, and education they have earned”….pg.13.
Governor Romney responded with one written and succinct paragraph to the first question: “We still have men and women in harm’s way. My first priority is to ensure that the system of care and benefits provided by both Defense Department and Veteran’s Affairs Department is working for returning combat veterans. Second, we have tens of thousands with visible and invisible wounds of war from Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. We have to give them the absolute best care possible through a VA system that is centered on their needs, and not on the needs of a vast bureaucracy. Third, veterans everywhere want the dignity of work but are struggling to find it in this economy. Whether they are young or old, we absolutely must put America’s veterans back to work. Finally, it has grown harder and harder for qualified veteran’s to receive their disability benefits. The number of disabled claims that are overdue or pending has doubled in just a few short years. We must do better. I’ll hold senior VA leaders accountable for performance. It’s time to try a new approach to finally solving this problem, because what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked”……pg13&36.
Veterans know real leadership and the fact that only a true leader could find in his heart what his head already knows, it takes vision, priorities and Statesman-like management and understanding to tackle and solve tough problems. Governor Romney is that candidate veterans, service members and families can count on and trust to reverse the decline. Governor Romney will bring the proven values, honor and respect he instilled as a Commander-in-Chief of the States Guard in Massachusetts to the current empty Presidential chair.
I call on all veteran’s and representatives at the district and county to continue their good works and send out the word in all 159 counties across Georgia, that fellow veterans are suffering and waiting in a line that this current admistration refuses to recognize or fix. If it were not for the generous Georgians and Americans like you that offer their free time, and talents to those who served, veteran and their families would be far worse off. With nearly four years exhausted in talking points and rhetoric, one can only admit that this Administration has created a paradox of tragedies and comparisons between the staggering veterans claim backlog and our nation’s debt. All came about because of a lack of empathy, self-sacrifice and leadership, which we can no longer afford.
Again, what can you do? Work as hard as you have ever to elect as our next President Mitt Romney and Vice President Paul Ryan, because Veterans Know Real Leadership!
Colonel Larry Mrozinski (RET.)
GAGOP Veteran’s Outreach Chair