Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content

Veterans Affairs needs full overhaul

Profile image for Denton Record-Chronicle Editorial
Denton Record-Chronicle Editorial

We are at a loss to understand how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has gotten so screwed up. The men and women who served our country in the military deserve so much better.

The Austin American-Statesman reported last Sunday on the results of an internal investigation of wrongdoing at the Temple VA campus.

Veterans in the VA's Compensated Work Therapy program, which is designed to treat substance abusers, described being sent to the homes of high-ranking VA officials to perform landscaping work.

They also reported being forced to do odd jobs for supervisors and their family members on the Temple campus during work hours -- such things as car washing and auto repair.

But wait, there's more.

The Statesman obtained a report that said Temple VA employees at the motor pool funneled business to a small Killeen firm that made at least $400,000 by padding invoices to the VA with 30 percent surcharges.

In all, the report found, more than $1.3 million was "funneled through" the business in recent years.

An angry U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, who represents the Temple-Belton area, said, "I am shocked, outraged and exasperated to hear of these issues, and I expect the VA to work quickly to right the wrongs done to our heroes."

The VA appears to be taking the allegations seriously.

Christopher Sandles, the top VA administrator in Central Texas, launched the investigation after hearing rumors about wrongdoing in the motor pool. The VA's inspector general is investigating financial irregularities that could result in criminal charges, according to the Statesman.

The investigation at Temple is only the latest chapter in a sordid story of malfeasance, laziness and incompetence at the VA. Veterans have been denied services and died while awaiting medical treatment. VA employees have found ways to steal government money that career criminals could admire.

The VA must be reformed top to bottom. It appears to be rotten to the core.