An editorial in the Arizona Republic honors the men and women who blew the lid off the Department of Veterans Affairs shabby health care policies in Phoenix.
They have been named Arizonans of the Year.
For my money, they ought to be named Americans of the Year.
What did they do to merit national acclaim? Oh, they merely revealed to the nation that veterans were dying because hospital administrators were fabricating wait times that vets were enduring as they sought medical care at the VA hospital in Phoenix. As many as 40 them died while waiting for that care.
The news of this scandalous treatment exploded across the country.
Yes, news of this hideous treatment cost an honorable man his job. Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki, a retired Army general and Vietnam War combat veteran, lost all credibility through his inability to fix the problems that developed on his watch.
As the Arizona Republic editorial noted: “Without the courage of whistle-blowers like (Sam) Foote and (Katherine) Mitchell, the American public would still be under the wholesale delusion that the VA hospital system is run well. We would still believe — erroneously— that the often-troubled VA had turned the corner on providing prompt, quality patient care.”
The impact of this scandal has reached across the country and throughout the enormous VA health care network. The Thomas Creek Veterans Medical Center in Amarillo was not immune from heightened scrutiny as officials sought to ensure that veterans did not fall through the cracks as they had done in Phoenix.
Hey, I’ve got some skin in this game as a veteran who signed up a little more than a year ago with the Amarillo VA system. So I am quite grateful for the attention brought to this disastrous problem by Drs. Foote and Mitchell.
The honor “Arizonans of the Year” somehow doesn’t seem quite fitting enough.