Those of us who have ever dealt with filing a disability claim with the Veterans Affairs Administration know how frustrating it can be. It’s very similar to our days on active duty where “hurry up and wait” was common place.
Most people are aware of the current backlog of claims waiting to be processed with the VA. As of the end of this past month, September, 2013, there were approximately three quarter of a million claims on backlog, according to the VA’s transparent reporting. A claim is classified as being in backlog once it has been in the system for more than 125 days.
So, it’s quite frustrating, as both a veteran and a tax payer, to find out the folks at the VA, when they could have hired extra claims processors, spent more than half a million dollars on artwork!
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has inquired of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki just why the purchase of artwork, that carried a $562,000 price tag, was made in lieu of hiring other employees to help with the backlog.
The purchase appears to be little more than business as usual for the government entity, who may have been trying to spend all of their budgetary money by the end of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, so as not to have their budget reduced by any unspent amount the following fiscal year.
“If the overall fiscal stability of our country is not of sufficient concern, then the VA should have at least prioritized service to veterans who continue to wait inordinate lengths of time to receive decisions on benefit claims,” Moran wrote in a letter to Shinseki. “These funds also would have been better spent filling positions in Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Kansas and other rural states where staffing remains an acute problem to which the VA is struggling to respond adequately. Among these and many other problems before the VA, it is very troubling that appropriations were not put to better use,” Moran continued.
In closing, Moran wrote in his letter, “I request a justification for the purchase of over a half-million dollars of artwork for the VA and look forward to a timely response.”
If nothing else, veterans will now have some nice decor to stare at when they are visiting the VA hospitals for treatment and to inquire about their claims while they “hurry up and wait” longer.
The Universal Free Press contributor Kevin E Lake is an Iraq War Veteran and an author. He has published five books. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kevin-E-Lake/160363024038300