Did he let them down, or did we let them down?
On one hand you have millions of veterans who have received care through the VA after their service to our nation. These are not just the veterans of our wars, they are anyone who served, and is eligible because of that care, to receive some or all of their healthcare through the VA. On the other hand we have the leader of the VA, a retired four star general who not only achieved the highest rank in the Army, held the highest position in the Army, Chief of staff. Along the way, he lost half of a foot in Vietnam, early in his career, remained on Active duty with that disability, commanding at every level, and was awarded numerous medals for his service, including the purple heart, and the bronze star for valor.
There is no question what is going on with the VA scandal is as bad as it gets. Veterans died, their families have suffered, and there are quite possibly records that number in the multi millions that have been deleted, only to hide the shortcomings. The casualty list from the VA scandal threw any casualties from Afghanistan off the front page. (More so than the liberal MSM has been doing for years.)
General Shinseki testified in front of congress this week, getting grilled on what has been happening with the VA scandal. His testimony has been categorized as lackluster, a lack of passion, and concern, and almost an indifference to the situation. This is not the first time he has testified in Congress. In the months leading up to the Iraq war he also testified. He was a Chief of Staff who was accurate in the assessment of Iraq, and what it would take, to win, to occupy, and the long term effect on the military. He was ignored then, and his assessment seems almost prophetic now.
It seems impossible that a man who spent over 30 years in the Army, was disabled in combat, but continued to serve, commanded at every level, led the same Army that swept Saddam Hussein out of power, would now decide to just ignore veterans healthcare issues.
It seems more likely that the general was handcuffed by a bureaucracy that for years has protected employees, kept derogatory information from their bosses, did what they did in order to get the bonuses offered, and keep up the outer appearance of a seamless organization run by an efficient government.
General Shinseki refused to resign. If he was aware of this, and took no action, he needs to resign or be fired. If General Shinseki was not aware of this, or he was aware, but handcuffed, he needs to be unleashed, and allowed to do what he did for over 30 years, and that is lead, with the authority to fix what is wrong. He had total authority n the Army to make it work, it was his charge, his responsibility, his obligation to America’s sons and daughters, and he did that. Is this a case of the general conforming to the bureaucracy, or was he prevented from doing what he has done all his life.
As President Obama said in 2008, there is no one more qualified to lead the VA than General Shinseki. The question is, was he allowed to lead? Until we know more, firing General Shinseki seems like a band-aid, and allowing him to lead seems like a possible cure.