Local Editorials

Another view: Cleaning up VA should be a top priority

The body of a military veteran was left in a Veterans Affairs health care facility shower room for more than nine hours before someone finally had it moved to a morgue, the Tampa, Florida, Bay Times reported last month.

Then, once their negligence came to light, some staff at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System hospice tried to cover it up, according to an in-house investigation.

Some staff at the hospice violated VA policies by “failing to provide appropriate post-mortem care” of the veteran’s body, the hospital Administrative Investigation Board concluded. A hospital spokesman called the episode “unacceptable,” but refused to tell the newspaper whether the guilty employees had been disciplined in any way.

Providing that information would have been a violation of confidentiality rules, the spokesman said.

That is absurd, of course. If confidentiality rules prohibit the government from disclosing whether employees have been disciplined – without providing any names – something is badly wrong within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But we knew that.

What the spokesman did say was that members of the hospice staff have “recommitted” to VA core values.

Pardon us for doubting that. More likely, those involved breathed sighs of relief for being punished by mere slaps on the wrist. If they recommitted to anything, it was to not getting caught the next time they do something wrong.

A bill that would allow VA officials to come down hard on the handful of personnel who make a mockery of efforts by others to help veterans is pending in Congress. Why hasn’t it passed, yet? Because the bureaucracy wants it killed.

President-elect Donald Trump should make cleaning up the VA one of his top priorities – recommitting the nation to treating veterans decently.

– Gloversville (N.Y.) Leader-Herald

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