John Dickerson: Living at ‘peak outrage’ belittles veterans’ scandal
Now, imagine if you experienced it with the inefficiency of the worst experience you’ve ever had with customer service. That’s what’s happening in some cases at Veteran Affairs clinics and hospitals around the country: People at their most acute moments of need are being ignored and forgotten. This is an outrage to be outraged about. But does anyone have faith that this outrage will be answered by serious action?
What makes the VA scandal different is not only that it affected people at their most desperate moment of need — and continues to affect them at subpar facilities. It’s also a failure of one of the most basic transactions government is supposed to perform: keeping a promise to those who were asked to protect our very form of government.
When the wait times were long and those promises were being broken to veterans, administrators then lied about it. It appears this was true across the country.
Unlike some other debates, this one can’t be delayed by a conversation over whether caring for veterans is the proper responsibility of the federal government.
The politicians are to blame for that fact, but so are we. Genuine outrage — sustained outrage — is required to move politicians. Every time we let politicians claim we’re facing another Watergate, or partisan pundits inflame us on Facebook, or Twitter trolls play on our emotions, we spoil our ability to respond to the outrages that really matter.
Unlike the phony outrages that get addressed and forgotten, improving service at the VA is going to take time. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the VA was a more difficult bureaucracy than the Pentagon.
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