Last week controversy erupted across the nation when Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald compared waiting times at the VA to those at Disney World.
Speaking about the long lines veterans have been forced to wait in to receive care, Secretary McDonald remarked that “When you go 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?”
Secretary McDonald’s absurd comparison leaves out the fact that people do not typically die while waiting in line for Splash Mountain, but far too many veterans have died waiting in line for care at the facilities he is responsible for overseeing.
The Secretaries foolish remarks have been widely panned and ridiculed by a whole host of people, with some going as far to say that he should be fired from the VA.
While I agree that Secretary McDonald’s comments certainly warrant his removal as head of the VA, I do not believe it will do a single thing to give my fellow veterans the critical care they need in a timely manner. You see, while the Secretary’s remarks were both foolhardy and callous, they are only a symptom of a larger disease.
That disease I’m talking about is the entire bureaucratic monstrosity that calls itself the VA.
The VA’s annual budget is a staggering and growing $163 billion per year for a bloated bureaucracy that all too often fails our veterans. Of that $163 billion, approximately one-third is spent on the administration inside the Veterans Health Administration Department, which does little except put bureaucrats in-between veterans and their doctors.
In the last 10 years, the budget for the VA has more than doubled, yet few people would argue that the quality of care for veterans has improved. Continuing to throw money at a flawed institution like the VA will not solve the problem, because the VA bureaucracy itself is the problem.
With the ongoing epidemic of veterans dying on waiting lists across the country, we have a moral obligation to help them escape this bureaucratic, inefficient, government-run nightmare.
Instead of needlessly spending billions on duplicative infrastructure, overhead and government-paid doctors, nurses and administrators, we should abolish the entire VA bureaucracy and put veterans and their family members in control of the resources they need to receive quality care. By putting money directly into the hands of veterans and allowing them to control their own healthcare decisions and see the doctor’s of their choosing, we can guarantee them more efficiency and higher quality of care.
Firing a single bureaucrat like Secretary McDonald won’t result in better healthcare for veterans, neither will spending even more money on the VA. The only way we can guarantee that we don’t ever have to ever read another headline about a veteran dying on a waiting list, is to get rid of the bureaucracy that put them on that waiting list in the first place.
We all owe everything we have to our nation’s veterans, but we don’t owe anything to bureaucrats at the VA, except a permanent pink slip.
Col. Rob Maness is a 32 year veteran of the Air Force and is a Republican candidate running for United States Senate in Louisiana