Less than veterans deserve

When we take the measure of a man, we often ask ourselves: Do we trust him? Likewise, our faith in organizations and government is shaped by similar questions: Are their dealings open and honest? Do they keep their promises?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs appears to be flunking these tests.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made an uncomfortable appearance in front of U.S. Senators on Thursday following damning investigations done by government inspectors and journalists. Those reports suggested numerous veterans are not receiving prompt medical care, dozens have died while awaiting care, and the VA has fudged its records to hide these problems.

Doubts about the VA’s probity are deep enough that the American Legion has joined a chorus calling for the Veterans Affairs secretary to resign.

Shinseki, a retired Army general, told last week’s hearing that he feels a commitment to military men and women and intends to work on their behalf as long as the president wants him in the job. Instead, Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health at the VA, resigned on Friday. It was a less-than-dramatic move, since Petzel was preparing to retire this year.

The Veterans Administration displays a mission statement on its website: To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

In Wilkesboro, N.C., Irene Triplett receives a $73.13 check each month from the Veterans Administration, compensation for her father’s service in the very war of which Lincoln spoke. The late-life daughter of Pvt. Mose Triplett, 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, is the last child of any Civil War veteran still on the VA rolls.

The monthly arrival of Ms. Triplett’s checks should symbolize the certain and enduring nature of promises our government makes to those who serve.

In fairness, Shinseki may be whole-heartedly committed to the well-being of vets. His sacrifice of Petzel demonstrates a modest realization that some atonement is needed. Additionally, an inspector general cautions that it’s wrong to assume patients who died while on a waiting list died because they were waiting.

But the fetor of malfeasance and the funk of incompetence are too strong to ignore.

Washington state’s Sen. Patty Murray admonished Shinseki: “We need more than good intentions. What we need from you now is decisive action to restore veterans’ confidence ….”

We agree action is needed, but not from Shinseki. Accountability rests upon a foundation of consequences, not a patchwork of second chances. President Obama should replace Shinseki now.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Friday, July 19

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Vote 2024. US American presidential election 2024. Vote inscription, badge, sticker. Presidential election banner Vote 2024, poster, sign. Political election campaign symbol. Vector Illustration
Editorial: Return Wagoner and Low to 39th Disrict seats

‘Workhorse’ Republicans, both have sponsored successful solution-oriented legislation in each chamber.

Schwab: Attempt on Trump’s life doesn’t require giving up

Those opposed to a second Trump term still are allowed to speak their minds and cast their votes.

Vote for more of Port of Everett’s projects by voting for Prop. 1

Letters and editorials are flying, both pro and con, on Proposition 1:… Continue reading

We need answers to questions about Alderwood mall shooting

I was deeply saddened reading the article about the memorial service for… Continue reading

Protect The Herald’s content and customer service

It’s maddening to hear about layoffs at The Daily Herald. I’m so… Continue reading

A law enforcement officer surveys the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, the site of the Republican National Convention, on July 14, 2024. (Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times)
Editorial: Weekend’s violence should steel resolve in democracy

Leaders can lower the temperature of their rhetoric. We can choose elections over violence.

A graphic show the Port of Everett boundary expansion proposed in a ballot measure to voters in the Aug. 6 primary election. (Port of Everett).
Editorial: Case made to expand Port of Everett across county

The port’s humming economic engine should be unleashed to bring jobs, opportunity to all communities.

Vote 2024. US American presidential election 2024. Vote inscription, badge, sticker. Presidential election banner Vote 2024, poster, sign. Political election campaign symbol. Vector Illustration
Editorial: Return Peterson, Ortiz-Self to House seats

The 21st district Democrats, each seeking a sixth term, are practiced and effective lawmakers.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Thursday, July 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Kristof: Democrats musk ask if loyalty lies with Biden or goals

Odds are that Biden will lose and take Democrats down with him. That can only dishonor his legacy.

Repeal of Climate Commitment Act would stop local projects

A really great article by Ta’Leah Van Sistine in a recent issue… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.