Letter from GAGOP Veterans Outreach Chairman COL Larry MrozinskiPosted by chris on Apr 24, 2012
Veteran’s Fight Through the Fog of War and Find the Truth
The Republican Party has a proud tradition of support for our nation’s veterans and the sacrifices shouldered when called to duty. All one has to do to find this embedded devotion is read the 2008 Republican Party Platform to acquire a sense of the magnitude of pride and esteem held for our nation’s service members and veterans. The truth is our veteran’s hear the rhetoric from this Administration and see something totally different when the promises are called due. You see, our veteran’s do not need teleprompters or talking points to describe what they sacrificed or their limitations borne by service….they’re part of less then 1% of our nations population and this Administration still cannot get to the work at hand because few ever walked the same walk.
One stark case in point that best describes this administration lack of leadership and concern it has for veterans in found in their ambivalence in handling health issues. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs faces an overwhelming backlog of a current 897,566 disability claims with more than 65 percent pending for more than 125 days, as the House Veterans Affairs Committee heard in open hearing on, April 18. This is where the Administrations rhetoric and disingenuousness come into focus. Soldiers coming off active duty are experiencing claims lengths of over a year. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has seen a 48 percent jump in claims since 2008 alone. It is anticipated that the backlog will grow to more than 1.2 million claims in 2012 and an additional 50,000 expected in 2013 as veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars flood the system. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in March, he pledged to process all claims in fewer than 125 days with a 98 percent accuracy standard by 2015……..we can only assume he expects to have a second chance to get it right or do what military leaders and good managers know what needs to be done……..stop duplication of effort, make a plan, allocate resources, set bench marks and focus on results. Well, this Administration has had over three years to get it straight and we cannot afford another four more………Georgia’s and our Nation’s veterans need us now.
The contradictions and hypocrisy of this Administration runs very deep and is painfully obvious to our veterans that they are less important to the Commander-In-Chief than hiring a Battalions worth of Internal Revenue Service personnel, over one-thousand, to implement the initial phases of the yet to be decided fate of so called Obama care. What an irony…..We have a testified, and recognized crisis in the shortage of hundreds of VA personnel to process claims and a legitimate need to eliminate the current claims backlog and we are hiring government employees to crunch numbers and potentially enforce a health care reform law that will hurt the very people who cannot seem to get the help they were promised when they took their solemn oath to defend the Nation. If we cannot answer the needs of our veterans expeditiously, does anyone have faith the general public will fair any better waiting for their government enforced health care claim or needed service because the paperwork is sitting in an inbox or takes the weekend off? Our service members seldom get a break, so why is the Commander-In-Chief not demanding answers or recognizing the crisis, why is he silent? If the end goal is to control and limit health care choices and access……look no further than to the Administrations VA, the leadership has perfected the art of stall. If anything needs a top-to-bottom review and reform, it is the Department of Veterans Administration.
On top of this mess, we have yet another contradiction in leadership from this Administration. In earlier April it was revealed that the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, took a page out of then Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s weekly plane trips to San Francisco on a U.S.Air Force jet, and decided to bill the government $32,000 per private flight home to Monterey California, all accomplished since taking office in July 2011. Panetta is only required by law to reimburse the government $632 for each trip. All of this thus far is estimated at a cost to you the taxpayer-indebt of $860,000. In a comparison of the tales of two ironies, a most scandal finds the Government Services Administration’s (GSA) funding a boondoggle to Las Vegas, which cost nearly $840,000, all this coming from a government agency with a mission to curtail spending. Both of these arrogant misuses of public monies and break with public trust are all avoidable if there were leaders at the helm that clearly understood the meaning of integrity, and self-less service. With over $1,700,000 lost to pleasure travel in these two instances, one wonders on how 53 veterans at $32,000 per year, could be employed or how many personnel the VA could of hired to process those outstanding disability claims.
A Department of Defense spokesman defended the secretary by saying “No one understands the budget pressures on the Pentagon better than Secretary Panetta,”. He went on to say, “As a required-use traveler, he must use government aircraft for all travel.” But recently Panetta said he regretted the burden the trips put on taxpayers. However, the point is we are squandering valuable resources and precious time sorely needed by those whom served, not prioritized for those Appointees and employees whom are addicted to being served with conveniences that stalls the health claims of our veterans. We need leaders and adults with self-discipline and requisite maturity to lead by example and who know the meaning of sacrifice and self-service, not self indulgence and selfishness.
Colonel Larry Mrozinski USA (RET.)
GAGOP Executive Committee, Chairman Veteran’s Outreach