The nation needs a ‘surge’ in funding to defeat the VA backlog and find out honestly what veteran care will cost in the future, according to TV personality Montel Williams. A 22-year Marine Corps and Navy veteran, Williams delivered an emotional and apparently planned speech to a veterans’ picnic in Myrtle Beach, SC for Memorial Day.
Williams’ speech highlighted the tension between caring for veterans hurt in previous wars and funding America’s current military obligations. He proposed taking money from national defense to give to the VA.
“I’m trying to launch something, today,” Williams said, making a circling motion with his hand indicating that he was at the picnic to give this speech.
“There is some, I’m going to call it this, there is some form of war being waged against us, veterans. We’re being used as political pawns. We’re being used to stretch across tables — I don’t care about politics!” Williams said.
“What I care about is that this country lives up to all of us veterans and provides the care we deserve,” he said.
Williams went on to describe the President’s warfighting surge in Afghanistan, which attempted to mimic the success of the 2007 Bush surge in Iraq. He said the nation needed a surge in VA funding to eliminate the backlog in veterans health claims and determine honestly what will be needed to meet future obligations.
(What follows is not necessarily the position of American Military News)
The idea of attacking the VA backlog problem head-on is a good one.
The idea of finding out honestly what will be needed in the future based on promises made to veterans, that’s a great idea.
A simple surge in funding for the VA bureaucracy will only make it worse. No matter how much money the VA in its current form is given, it will not be enough, and the ‘surge’ will become the expected level of funding. Anything less than the ‘surge’ will be seen as a budget cut.
A budget surge, like a surge in troop levels, must be accompanied by a change in strategy. Otherwise, all you’re doing is trying harder at a losing strategy.
It may be that more funding is not needed at all.
The culture of the VA is such that at the end of a surge, the VA will have found a way to declare its backlog problem solved, no matter what the actual result. For instance, they could create “case management teams” and assign every veteran to a case management team. Instantly, there would be no more waiting list — because the waiting list would be called a “case management team.”
If there is a ‘surge,’ let outside auditors attack VA programs whose major benefit is to the VA bureaucrats themselves, and overwhelm the current way the VA does things in programs that do benefit veterans.