It’s unacceptable that a year after a scandal broke wide open at the Department of Veterans Affairs over wait times at VA medical facilities and other problems that our veterans are still having too many long waits for appointments.
Veterans of the armed services should get the timely care that is the nation’s obligation to them.
But the problems at the VA were severe and long-simmering, and a year is not enough time to resolve them all. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald was a good choice to lead the agency after the previous secretary’s resignation in the wake of the scandal, and he’s had his boots on the ground going to hospitals, talking to veterans and hiring new personnel to improve care and shorten wait times.
Though North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis has talked about possible “public-private” solutions, the Republican inclination toward turning some government services over to the “private sector” is not the answer. The obligation to veterans is the government’s to address.
How can the VA be improved? Investment has been made; more needs to be. At good facilities such as the VA complex in Durham, lessons on organization can be shared with other, more troubled facilities around the country.
Many veterans have high praise for the care they get at VA facilities, witnessed by the many thousands who have been cared for in Durham. And there is no question that, although wait times statistics have not improved enough, the organization itself is better and less hampered by bureaucracy.
Straightening out the VA is still going to take some time, even though the new leadership has a sense of urgency about it.