McCarthy: Our veterans deserve a modern VA


A generation into the information age, the bureaucracy of the VA remains impenetrable.

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In the 1930s, people suffered through the summer with electric fans. Today, we have central air conditioning. In the 1930s, news came via radio and the morning newspaper. Now, we hear about worldwide events instantaneously with alerts on our smartphones. In the 1930s, the VA processed paper disability claims. Today, it does the same.

Created in 1930, Veterans Affairs is an 84-year-old bureaucracy that hasn’t adapted to a 21st century world. In an age of instant communication and data clouds, the VA uses a scheduling program, VistA, which is over a quarter-century old. We can track packages in real time, cash checks, and look up traffic all from our phones, but the VA is stuck in the old-tech, slow, and opaque system of yesteryear.

A generation into the information age, the bureaucracy of the VA remains impenetrable. As veterans suffered, many people in the VA hid the fact that veterans had to wait weeks or months for medical appointments. But unacceptable wait times were just the beginning.

Whistleblowers who spoke out against the neglect and abuse of veterans faced “harassment,” a VA employee said at a recent congressional committee hearing. The VA’s paper disability claim system is still overwhelmed with massive backlogs, leaving injured veterans uncompensated. On top of all of this, administrators who oversaw the scandals received generous bonuses and thousands of clerks, administrators, and support staff were incorrectly overpaid by millions of dollars.

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