The Veterans Administration is Big Government at its Worst

The 9/11 Memorial Dedication Ceremony was held May 15th in New York City to honor the approximately 3000 who were killed by terrorists at the World Trade Center. A very moving ceremony, the speakers cited stories of courage, sacrifice, and survival. The new “Freedom” tower and complex will be a solemn reminder of the horrific and heroic actions that took place there. As Americans, we must never forget these events and the innocent people who died that fateful day.
Conversely, it appears that we’ve forgotten the men and women of our military and veterans who were killed or badly disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a nation, we cannot let our weariness of those wars cause us to forget about the need to take care of the physical and mental trauma cases resulting from these horrible wars. We have an obligation to provide our veterans and their families with the best care our country can offer. Multiple deployments and disabling amputations have left returning soldiers and veterans struggling to fit back into a family unit that had to repeatedly survive without them for long periods of time. On May 18, 2006, then Senator Obama as a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee stated, “… when a young man or woman goes off and serves our country in the military, that they should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect when they come home. That should especially be true for those who suffered disabilities on the battlefield… we’ve got an obligation to make sure that just as they are fighting on our behalf that we are going to make sure that we fight for their behalf when they come home.” With 22 military suicides a day, nearly 150,000 homeless vets, approximately 140,000 vets in prison, and an average wait time of 320 days for vets to receive their disability benefits, President Obama is not living up to the words of then Senator Obama. And the latest revelations of altered wait time data at the various Veteran Administration clinics and the possibility that some vets died waiting for medical help is further evidence that we are not honoring our solemn obligation to our vets. There is little doubt; the VA does not have the leadership necessary to honor our nation’s commitment to our military members and veterans. The VA should create forums of veterans around the country to provide recommendations for improvements. We need a grass roots effort of veterans who have had to utilize the VA bureaucracy and know where the bottlenecks and barriers exist. As a former Army officer and Veteran, I would volunteer to assist in this effort. Like the fallen on 9/11, we cannot forget our veterans nor leave their fate to the VA.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit

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