The foremost military academy in the U.S., West Point, has a very strict honor code.
It reads, "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do." The Veterans Administration in Phoenix abides by no such code. Their code seems to be the exact opposite.
A preliminary review of the Phoenix VA health care system by the Inspector General's Office has found numerous problems in addition to the ones already reported.
First, the report found 1,700 veterans waiting for appointments whose names did not appear on any waiting lists. Essentially they were ghosts, probably with no hope of getting to see their doctor.
In a press conference after the IG's report was released, Sen. John McCain said, "These veterans continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost in the Phoenix health care system's convoluted scheduling process."
Great. Even as they are being identified, these veterans might still be left behind.
Second, there were 1,400 veterans on the VA's electronic waiting list who didn't have an actual appointment scheduled to see a primary care physician.
Last, the Inspector General's Office took a sample of 226 veterans waiting for care -- "The Phoenix VA reported the average wait was 24 days." In reality, the wait time was 115 days, a three-month difference. It looks like the VA lied to Congress about wait times -- a clear violation of the West Point Honor Code.
West Point cadets who violate their Honor Code by lying about shaving can be removed from the school.
They have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to lying, cheating and stealing.
West Point has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cadets who tolerate lying, cheating and stealing.
At the VA, lying seems to be tolerated, accepted and encouraged in the exact opposite way it is at West Point. It may even lead to a promotion.
What's been going on at the Phoenix VA is disgraceful. It seems to get worse every day as more and more allegations come out. Everyone involved in this cover-up should resign in shame to save the trouble of firing them. This nation's veterans are owed more than they are receiving. This is about honor. West Point Honor.
So here's the action plan: Hire a West Point-educated general to run the Phoenix VA. Install the West Point Honor Code. Run that place like it's West Point. No lying. No cheating. No stealing. No tolerating anyone who lies, cheats, steals or covers-up medical wait times.
If anyone violates the Honor Code they are to be dismissed the same way a cadet would be for lying about shaving. This plan wouldn't take much to implement, just giving back the same honor many of the veterans have already given this country.