VA dance conferences, shredding veterans’ records, secret waiting lists, and veterans’ deaths should mean Shinseki’s resignationRetired General Eric Shinseki’s tenure as Secretary of Veterans Affairs is a string of scandals that amount to negligence, irresponsibility, and leadership failures from the top down.
The US Army Field Manual on leadership used to promote three categories of actions necessary for every leader. A leader must “Be -Know – Do”. Among those things a leader must do is set the example. Another is to take responsibility for his or her actions. A third is to seek responsibility and encourage his or her followers to do the same. A leader must be honest in thought, word, and deed. This is called “integrity”, something Shinseki seems to lack and may never have ever developed.
He will never live down the fiasco concerning the black beret becoming the routine headgear for all soldiers not in an airborne unit. Common sense should have dictated that forcing soldiers to wear thick, wool hats in the hot sun to be a bad idea. The idea is made worse by emblazoning them with a patch the color of UN Peacekeeper units. To further the fiasco, the early berets were not made in the USA. The hats look good with the old Army green class-A uniforms. But they are not pragmatic to wear with battle dress uniforms or Army combat uniforms. Let’s not revisit the bad ideas concerning the change in Army physical fitness uniforms. One of the selling points behind them was integrated reflective surfaces. The problem is after washing the uniform once, the surfaces no longer reflected. The cost to soldiers is triple that of the old cotton “sweats”.
Those demonstrate just a couple of the ways Shinseki failed to look out for the soldiers in his charge. He did not take responsibility for his part in those policies.
He also failed to know his unit, its strengths and capabilities, or its vulnerabilities and employ them in accordance with those attributes. He had no faith in his forces. He said that the operation plan for the conventional fight in the Iraq war wouldn’t work. He was wrong. It seems he failed to study any successful tacticians and operational planners form Hannibal through Schwartzkopf, including Patton.
His leadership failures and loyalty to oligarchs aside, Shinseki prefers to force feces to run downhill, claiming privileges of office rather than being a leader. It’s the legacy of his Army career and the hallmark of his tenure at the VA.
His fine example of leadership showed during the last testimony the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented before congress. As a leader, he should claim the ultimate responsibility for his administration and not give excuses or obfuscations.
The waste of taxpayer money on dance lesson training conferences for VA workers should have been enough to demand Shinseki’s resignation. We have veterans in need of medical care. We have homeless war veterans. We have veterans suffering with TBI and PTSD. We have veterans getting billed for tuition and fees that are covered by the education benefits they earned while serving. Instead of using the funding as it is intended, to take care of veterans and keep America’s promise to them, the money was wasted paying VA workers to travel, stay in a nice hotel, and attend dance lessons.
VA workers destroyed veterans records and benefits requests. Many veterans are still awaiting their disability screenings that rightfully should take place within the veterans last three months of service. No veteran should wait over a year for a benefits letter or disability rating. Yet, due to a backlog caused by inefficiency, VA workers shredded paperwork. Perhaps Shinseki should have better managed his budget. Had he hired efficient and diligent workers instead of paying for dance lessons there may not have been as much of a backlog.
Now we have these “alternate waiting lists” at VA medical facilities. Veterans have died waiting for healthcare. Shinseki, this is on your watch. Veteran suicide is at an all-time high. Veterans who are not suicidal but dying in line waiting for life-saving medical care that is owed to them is nothing less than criminal negligence. As a former commander, Shinseki knows the doctrine, he knows that widespread misconduct, especially criminal negligence, by his subordinates is a leadership failure, his failure.
Eric, you do not serve at the pleasure of the president. You serve at the people’s will, the president’s bosses. If one of the division commanders under you had this sort of track record while you were still in uniform, you’d have had his resignation on a silver platter, right next to his Command Sergeant Major’s retirement packet.
Do the honorable thing, Shinseki. Open all the evidence to congressional and legal scrutiny. Be open and honest for once. Fire all of your cronies. Clean house. Then, do an act of honor and fall on your proverbial sword by tending your resignation. Get away from our veterans and go someplace where you can do us no more harm.