Keeping Bob’s in business
While Steve Otto’s column May 28th (“Better pack a lunch: I-275 Dale Mabry exit closes,” Metro) suggested one might pack a lunch for the drive on I-275 southbound, I have come to the conclusion one should pack a breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night-snack if driving the major highways of Hillsborough County.
As a resident of Lutz, it amazes me that every major artery heading south is under construction. This includes I-75, I-275, the Veterans Expressway and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Now, just to add more frustration to the daily compute to downtown Tampa from Lutz, U.S. 41 is under construction, causing one lane to be closed, both north- and southbound, for at least four months.
I know this progress will be wonderful when completed, but couldn’t the construction be a little better planned and timed to cause less road rage? Or are we just creating jobs or just keeping Bob’s Barricades in business?
Fixing the VA
It seems the entire country is aghast with the way the VA hospitals have been treating veterans, and rightly so. I, a disabled veteran, applaud the members of the press, Congress and even the president in their disgust and calls for action. I applaud the removal, voluntarily or otherwise, of the individuals responsible at each hospital but find that many under-productive employees remain and can’t be fired. This is not just at the VA, mind you — the entire federal government runs on the premise that you have a job for life. That kind of attitude is not conducive to good service for our veterans.
What I have a problem with is that no one is directing the blame where it belongs — squarely on the shoulders of the House and Senate! They are the ones who set the budget. They are the ones who determine how much money is available to treat veterans. They are the ones who set goals for the VA to meet without providing the money and other resources to complete the task.
The VA only has so much money to spend toward veterans and their care. The VA only has so much money to hire physicians and technicians to staff facilities. The VA only has so much space in current facilities, and not enough of those, to treat veterans. The VA has tremendous wait times in all facilities because there is not enough money to treat veterans. Until, and unless, Congress starts funding the VA appropriately, a major investment to be sure, nothing will change. You can fire and accept the resignation of any number of people, but the underlying causes remain.
Congress told the VA to reduce the backlog of claims, and the VA has done so. They reassigned many people to do this, and it is working, depending on who you talk to anyway. What do you think is the best way to get rid of a backlog if you are a VA employee faced with an impossible task that you are not familiar with in the first place? Deny, deny, deny. Look for any small reason, and deny the claim. Ta da! No more backlog. The people who were reassigned to reduce the backlog were working in the education department, where veterans’ GI Bills are processed. What do you think happened to the backlog there?
Don’t take my word for it. Visit the local VA hospitals. Just walk around and look at the waiting areas. In the specialty clinics, ask the veterans how long they waited for their appointment and what time it was scheduled for. You can do the math as to how far behind they are, not only in scheduling but in treating veterans on time. If you do this, keep one thing in mind: It gets a lot worse come November, when the snowbirds come back. To start fixing the problem, at the minimum I believe being a disabled veteran should be a requirement for holding any high office in the VA system, and being a veteran should be a requirement for being on the veterans committees in Congress.