Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert McDonald said Monday the VA shouldn’t have to use wait times as a metric for success because Disneyland doesn’t.
“When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said, according to The Washington Examiner. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”
McDonald delivered his comments at a breakfast put on by the Christian Science Monitor in an effort to address criticism surrounding absurdly long wait times for appointments at the VA.
Aside from long wait times, the agency has been rocked with reports of nationwide wait time manipulation by employees who, sometimes with encouragement and instruction from management, “zero out” wait times. To “zero out” an appointment means employees will equate a veteran’s requested appointment time with the next appointment available. This makes it appear as though the veteran didn’t have to wait for an appointment.
But instead of relying on wait times as an indicator of success, McDonald says the agency should be focusing on other metrics like satisfaction with care.
This comment infuriated Concerned Veterans for America, a leading advocacy organization for veterans.
“To compare veterans’ experiences waiting weeks and months for care to tourists waiting in line to see Mickey Mouse demonstrates just how out of touch the secretary is with the struggles many veterans deal with while waiting for care at the VA,” Dan Caldwell, vice president of political and legislative action at Concerned Veterans for America, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“His comments also display a lack of seriousness about solving the deep, structural problems within the VA and are further evidence that Secretary McDonald is not the serious reformer he promised to be. The secretary should be ashamed of these comments, and he should publicly apologize to the hundreds of thousands of veterans whose experiences he has so casually dismissed,” Caldwell added.
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