Few consequences for shirking duty in government

Men and women in the military come to understand quickly that mistakes or shirking one’s duty can have truly terrible consequences. People die. Others are maimed in body and mind, coming home in desperate need of help.

It is different in government. Mistakes, including very serious ones, often have few meaningful consequences. Even conscious failure to meet one’s responsibilities frequently is punished by no more than reprimands and, occasionally, forced retirement.

So when President Barack Obama this past week expressed his outrage over a scandal in the Veterans Administration, many of those who have served probably reacted skeptically. They should.

Allegations of mismanagement and coverups of problems at VA?health care facilities surfaced several weeks ago. As time goes on, more and more reports of wrongdoing are being brought to light. In essence, they involve charges some VA health care facilities had intolerably long waiting lists for care – then, when some veterans on the lists died, efforts were made to cover up the scandal.

“I will not stand for it … We are going to fix whatever is wrong,” Obama pledged this week.

How many times have veterans heard that from politicians, both Democrat and Republican? And how many times have those responsible for failing to serve our veterans adequately gotten off the hook with mere wrist slaps?

For more than two centuries, Americans have been able to trust those who serve us in the military. It is more than a shame they cannot have similar faith in our promises to provide good quality care for them through the VA.

It is unacceptable.

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