Yesterday we brought you the story of Air Force Veteran, Janice Rae Periza, of Montrose, Colorado and her tribulations with the Veterans Administration. And just as a reference, here is the five point plan I’d follow to cure its ills.
I’m quite sure there are many more “Janice stories” out there regarding issues with the VA. But we must also remember this scandal isn’t just about the veterans themselves, it’s also about those in the VA system who are trying to do the right thing — against a very entrenched bureaucracy.
Consider the story of Paula Pedene. As reported by the Washington Post, Ms. Pedene was a VA whistleblower who spoke out against the Phoenix VA Hospital Director. She was the former chief spokesperson for the Phoenix VA Hospital before her actions resulted in a misconduct investigation opened up against her — and her desk being relocated into the basement.
As the Post reports, “the whole thing can look minor on paper. They moved your office. So what? But the change is designed to afflict the striving soul of a federal worker, with a mix of isolation, idle time and lost prestige.”
It is the ultimate tactic of intimidation and coercion that seeks to instill fear into the heart of the plebeian class by the ruling patricians. It is a reprehensible tactic to silence the truth — but for those who whistleblowers who stand for what is right, they deserve our admiration.
It is a tactic used not only by the VA system.
As the Post writes, four years ago, Walter Tamosaitis, a former contract worker at an Energy Department installation in Washington state, raised concerns about the processing of radioactive waste. Then he was transferred to a windowless room in the building’s basement. “It was so lonely,” he said. One day, there was a big snowstorm outside. In the basement, the phone rang. It was his wife, who’d seen a TV report that his workplace had been shut down. He went upstairs: lights out. Doors locked. Nobody told him.”
The question we must ask: is the VA Hospital system there for our veterans or to further itself? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not painting a broad brush across all VA hospitals. Here in West Palm Beach we have a doggone great director in Charlene Szabo.
But is there a prevalent culture of corruption, cronyism, and nepotism in the VA system? Will the new VA Director be able to break the phalanx and send the violators home or will he be hamstrung? Will the VA union bureaucracy grind him down at every attempt to reform the system?
The inherent problem in the VA is not a matter of funding, it is a matter of leadership and accountability. I would submit that instead of fundraisers and campaign rallies, President Obama should make unannounced visits to VA hospitals and speak to veterans – that’s what leaders do. Trust me, it only took one surprise visit to the unit motor pool by the commanding general to make sure your act was squared away! But true leaders already knew things were squared away because they had been engaged in their unit motor pool and welcomed surprise visits as an opportunity to shine.
Something tells me that would not be the case in quite a few VA Hospitals.
Therefore, the reason why we have stories like Jance Rae Periza is because we have stories like Paula Pedene. The tyranny of big government bureaucracy marches on.