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Opening Arguments

Shabby treatment

Today I'm failing in my efforts not to be so parochial.  This story of Big Government bungling shouldn't bother me more than any other story of such bungling just because I'm a veteran, but it does, OK?

While veterans waited longer than ever in recent years for their wartime disability compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave its workers millions of dollars in bonuses for “excellent” performances that effectively encouraged them to avoid claims that needed extra work to document veterans’ injuries, a News21 investigation has found.

In 2011, a year in which the claims backlog ballooned by 155 percent, more than two-thirds of claims processors shared $5.5 million in bonuses, according to salary data from the Office of Personnel Management.

The more complex claims were often set aside by workers so they could keep their jobs, meet performance standards or, in some cases, collect extra pay, said VA claims processors and union representatives. Those claims now make up much of the VA’s widely scrutinized disability claims backlog, defined by the agency as claims pending more than 125 days.

I hasten to add that I've never had a single problem with the Veterans Department, knock on wood. I was accepted into the VA medical system without a hitch after filling out an application form that took only about 20 minutes.

But come on! These men and women gave their all for this country, and they deserve more than this shabby treatment. If this is considered "excellent" performance, what do you have to do to earn a "poor" rating,  hunt a disabled vet down and shoot him?