Montel Williams On Veterans Affairs Scandal: We Need A VA Surge [Video]
Talk show host Montel Williams declared in an interview today that immediate action is needed to address the healthcare backlog at Veterans Affairs hospitals, following serious allegations of a cover-up by federal government officials. Williams also added that Barack Obama owes veterans an apology.
The VA stands accused of cooking the books in the form of secret waiting lists for military vets requesting doctor’s appointments and other treatments. Allegedly, 40 vets died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA facility.
VA officials allegedly understated the actual healthcare waiting time, in part, so they could qualify for performance bonuses. Many other observers have pointed out that the VA mess is a precursor to what it would be like for the civilian population of the country under government-run healthcare.
An emotional Williams, a Marine Corps and Navy veteran from the Vietnam era, also insisted that forcing VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down is irrelevant to the systemic flaws at the VA which need to be addressed by a “surge.” Some Capitol Hill lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for Gen. Shinseki’s resignation.
Williams — who attracted a lot of internet attention for a recent speech about the VA’s shortcomings — told FNC’s Neil Cavuto (see embed below) that the returning soldiers are effectively still on the battlefield because they aren’t receiving medical care. “They’re in battlefield USA,” he said.
Reflecting on his own service, Montel Williams declared, “I told the world I’m willing to put my life on the line and die for you. Now, our guys went over. They left body parts. Some of them never made it back. Some of them are here now and their souls are still there. And we have the audacity to turn our back on them right this second?”
Williams blasted President Obama’s commencement address at West Point today for failing to apologize for the VA scandal and called attention to Obama’s plan to set up a $5 billion fund to combat terrorism.
“The president just promised $5 billion for terrorists around the world?! At West Point?! Where he could have used today to say, ‘I’m sorry! For the pain that I’ve caused you, the families! And I’m going to fix it today!'”
Obama’s speech received a lukewarm response from the cadets, described as an “icy reception” by CNN, and he received “tepid applause and a short standing ovation from less than one-quarter of the audience upon his introduction,” according to the Washington Times.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars far prefer George W. Bush as commander-in-chief rather than Barack Obama, based on Washington Post polling data.
An interim report from the VA’s inspector general released today found “inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide.” As far as the Phoenix medical facility is concerned, the report determined that about 1,700 vets were not included on waiting lists, and based on a sample, new patients generally had to wait 115 days for their first primary care appointment rather than 24 days as the VA claimed.
The preliminary review drew no conclusions, as yet, about whether anyone passed away while on a waiting list.
As far as a VA surge is concerned, Williams said that four years ago, the US quickly mobilized 33,000 troops for Afghanistan as part of a surge to curb terrorist violence in that country. About a billion dollars of wasteful military appropriations in the Defense Department budget could be used to mount an equivalent surge at the VA hospitals to pay for temporary active duty for any corpsmen recently exiting active duty, he claimed.
Williams made the following proposal:
“Let’s surge for the next 90 days; let’s clear the entire backlog of the appointments that have been missed… there are soldiers who haven’t seen doctors for three years; we don’t even know the level of illness they have now.”
What do you think about Montel Williams’ idea of a VA surge to address the backlog at VA military medical facilities?
[Image credit: David Shankbone]