Letter: Veterans Affairs leaders oversimplify problems

I happened upon your article of Sept. 8 online describing how the VA was considering using retail concepts to “re-brand” the VA and recover the lost trust of veterans and taxpayers. I have represented veterans since 1986 and see many of the same problems today as I saw back then. I’ve seen multiple attempts at reducing the claims backlog by introducing new software that failed or increased the backlog. While I agree the VA must...

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I happened upon your article of Sept. 8 online describing how the VA was considering using retail concepts to “re-brand” the VA and recover the lost trust of veterans and taxpayers. I have represented veterans since 1986 and see many of the same problems today as I saw back then. I’ve seen multiple attempts at reducing the claims backlog by introducing new software that failed or increased the backlog. While I agree the VA must regain the trust of their employees, they must first rid the department of the mentality of punishing an employee who points out errors and poor planning. This is an institutional mentality that no retail approach will correct. Too often, the VA has proclaimed new ways to make things better but nothing was made better.

Unfortunately, the secretaries of the VA for the most part do not understand just how complex the system is or how vital ongoing training is. Too many want to use a production business model to change the VA. However, the VA is a service business and if a model is to be used, it should be a service business model.

In 1946, Gen. Omar Bradley stated, while administrator of the Department of Veterans Affairs, “We are dealing with veterans, not procedures; their problems, not ours.”

The VA long ago lost site of this aptly stated goal of the VA.

I know you are the messenger so I am not criticizing your reporting because it is important that veterans and taxpayers know the VA is trying. However, the VA should start first with Gen. Omar Bradley’s stated goal and work from there.

Sincerely,

Leo Dougherty

Tampa, Florida

 

 

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