There certainly hasn’t been much written about it in the mainstream media, but an article posted on Military.Com’s web site suggests that the Bush Administration is charging full speed ahead with plans to dismantle the Veteran’s administration.

“What VA?” the article quotes a chuckling Senator’s aide as saying in a conversation that suggested that the VA is being dismantled. “By the time this administration is done there won’t be a VA.”

So why would the Bush administration want to dismantle the VA? The article suggests three reasons:

  • VA is a large-scale, publicly funded healthcare system that works: VA works so well it has been used as a model to push the case for nationalized healthcare; something that strikes fear in the heart of every Republican… VA is efficient and provides healthcare that meets the highest standards. If it can work for millions of veterans, it can work for millions of Americans. That concept is antithetical to current administration thinking. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina we learned that VA was the ONLY healthcare organization that managed to save ALL patient records. This is because VA uses a computerized system that was backed-up on a regional level and put back online in a matter of hours.
  • VA is ripe for privatization: And that spells profits for private corporations. The latest move in this direction happened last week on Capitol Hill where the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs approved [a bill] which would spend money from VA’s healthcare budget to study outsourcing jobs of VA healthcare workers. The study, with VA healthcare funds going to private consultants, could cost over $140 million and lead to the loss of up to 36,000 VA jobs. Democrats opposed it, but Republicans pushed it through

  • VA is part of BIG government: And that’s something this administration abhors…

The article points out that the VA’s respected computer system is under attack from Rep. Steve Buyer (R.Ind), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, who has proposed eliminating regional control of the system under the guise of saving money.

It also cites other tell-tale signs that a dismantling of the VA is underway, including:

  • Recommendations by last year’s CARES commission calling for the closing of VA hospitals.

  • Statements by Dr. David Chu, undersecretary at the Dept. of Defense. To the effect that the government is spending so much money on veterans’ benefits that it is hurting the country’s ability to fight current wars.”

  • Measures being pushed by Representative Buyers calling for “massive changes” in VA benefits.

The author of the piece, Larry Scott, writes:

It’s time for veterans to realize that the current administration has failed them. Smaller government and lower taxes are wonderful phrases and paint a glowing picture. But the reality is much different than the painted picture. VA’s chronic under-funding has led to hiring freezes, layoffs and the closing of healthcare facilities. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of veterans are forced to go without healthcare.

It is hard to keep up with this administration’s efforts to dismantle or privatize the social safety net, but this would seem to be yet another example, one that seems to be pretty much flying under the radar. We need to pay attention, and we need to act!

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