Mindboggling is a word which comes to mind when I realized I had missed an important story pertaining to my and many other veterans’ favorite agency, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs a.k.a. the Veterans Administration a.k.a. the VA.

The story relates to the VA psychologist at the Olin E. Teague Veterans Center in Temple, Texas, who sent an e-mail to her colleagues telling them to stop diagnosing veterans with post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

I say this is mindboggling because I once covered the VA as a newspaper reporter and if I do say so myself, covered them like stink on a June bug. This was especially true for goings-on at the Temple VA hospital, which has had its share of black eyes. But the truth is that since I no longer work this or any other particular beats, or as a reporter, I let a few things slip by although it is just as well in cases such as this one because I am just as miffed now as I would have been when this story first surfaced.

Actually, and sadly, nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to ridiculous, unethical, and/or immoral acts which come from the VA. And when I say that I don’t mean to say that all VA employees are bad or mean or total ass****s although a few are. The problem is economics and the system itself.

In the economic realm the VA suffers from the root of all commerce: supply and demand. The system error is that our Congress has seen fit in recent years to shortchange veterans by continually underfunding the VA. It is true you will see the department get a few million bucks more here and there during some years. But it never seems to be enough. Even when the VA tries in principal to do right they seem to screw it up such as their CARES initiative. Like the military base closing apparatus, CARES shut down and proposed closing VA facilities that weren’t being used. The principal was sound in theory but in practice turned out to be a disaster both politically and functionally. I’m still shaking my head over that and I attended more CARES hearings and commission meetings than I ever wanted to in a lifetime.

Of course, like a good bureaucrat, I see that Dr. Perez, whom I may have met or may not have met at Temple, employed the standard defense for any bone-headed move which is to cover one’s a**. That is good for her. She will probably get a raise or an elevated position somewhere else now especially since the Peter Principle seems to be in rich supply when it comes to the Temple VA hospital.

But members of Congress, yes that Congress, may leave their rear ends exposed if they let the VA health care system fall apart. You can only pull a rubber band so far before it comes back and smacks you. The sensible thing to do is, at the very least, begin talking about mandatory funding for the VA as opposed to discretionary spending. In other words, instead of approving an annual budget for VA health care the funding could be appropriated in advance and thus be unencumbered by a variety of obstructions so that veterans can finally get the health care they deserve.

I must remind you and myself, however, that this is Congress we are talking about. Yes, that Congress. And nothing is likely to happen until throngs of people start making loud noises about whatever the subject. Right now people are making a lot of noise about high gasoline prices. Tomorrow who knows. (Probably gasoline prices.) So I don’t suppose mandatory funding will be anytime in the near future.

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