For clarification, the recent op-ed by Derrick Storms entitled “How veterans can fight back against VA abuse,” does not accurately portray the position of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, nor does Mr. Storms speak for the organization or its members. Clearly, his op-ed reflects a lack of in-depth knowledge of the VA claims process and the working relationships between the VA and the nation’s veterans service organizations.
Furthermore, his allegations of a “widespread culture” at VA where officials and employees are rewarded for “violating veterans’ constitutional rights” are specious at best. By accentuating isolated cases, he did not paint an accurate picture of the entire VA system, its leadership or the thousands of dedicated VA employees. It is especially troubling that he would advise veterans who may already be facing financial hardship to pursue costly and frivolous legal action without first consulting with one of our many expert VFW Service Officers for assistance in resolving their claim.
Veterans would have been better served if he had informed America of how the VA system has been overwhelmed by the effects of ten-plus years of war. It is a fact that because VA professionals are dedicated, they see to it that millions of veterans receive service and high-quality VA health care annually. The VA is a national resource and we, the 1.9 million members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its Auxiliaries, take very seriously any allegation of mismanagement made against a government organization that’s charged with supporting the 23 million veterans in the United States.
We find the personal attack on Secretary Shinseki to be unwarranted and deplorable. Secretary Shinseki’s character is beyond reproach. He has always made himself available to listen to our concerns. Moreover, we have found that he has no higher priority than the health and welfare of our veterans. Any allegation to the contrary just isn’t true. The VFW continues to lead the battle to ensure that more veterans can be properly served in a timely manner by working with VA and its leadership to closely monitor the entire claims process. Rest assured, we hold management and leadership at the VA accountable at the highest and lowest levels.
Mr. Storms should have provided a more accurate picture of what VA actually does instead of accentuating the negative. The American taxpayers, our veterans and their families deserve no less.