Veterans groups are furious after an Inspector General audit said tens of thousands of veterans who called for help reached only an answering machine.
“There’s no excuse for people not answering the phone,” Darin Selnick told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Selnick was appointee for the Bush Administration at Department of Veterans Affairs from 2001-09 as special assistant to the secretary. He is now the VA advisor for Concerned Veterans for America.
Of those veterans who did have their call answered and were referred to a medical center, nearly half of them had their cases closed without getting the medical help they needed.
One in three veterans calling the homeless hotline run by the VA did not have anyone answer the phone.
“In total, we identified 40,500 missed opportunities where the Call Center either did not refer the Homeless Veterans’ calls to medical facilities or it closed referrals without ensuring Homeless Veterans had received needed services from VA medical facilities,” the report states.
Selnick told TheDCNF that he has met nonprofits around the country frustrated with VA incompetence, but many are afraid to speak out.
He said CVA does not accept money from the VA, and that this allows him to call out the VA failures where other groups dependent on VA funding are more hesitant.
“It depends on how much the organization relies on the VA for money,” Selnick told TheDCNF. “If you’re relying on the VA for money are you going to speak out? Probably not.”
Selnick said groups like American Legion and VFW have spoken out to varying degrees.
He argued that the Bush administration did more to curb veteran homelessness.
“We just didn’t make big pronouncements about what we did, we just did something,” he said.
Pete Hegseth, CEO of CVA, called out the first lady for her promise to end veteran’s homelessness.
“Unfortunately, the failure of the first lady to make good on what I am sure was a well-intentioned goal to aid homeless veterans is part of a disturbingly long list of unfulfilled promises made by this administration to our nation’s veterans,” Hegseth said in a statement to TheDCNF. “This administration says the right things about wanting to make sure veterans receive the care and assistance they have earned, but even six years in, its actions have yet to match its words.”
Selnick said this incident is just another example in the “continuing saga of good ideas with bad implementation.”
“The reason veterans’ homelessness isn’t improving is the same reason that the VA is failing in other areas: bloated, unresponsive bureaucracies and lack of accountability,” Hegseth said in a statement to the DCNF. “The bottom line is that efforts to help veterans—be it reducing homelessness, improving health care, or any other issues the VA deals with—will never succeed if the people in charge of implementing change aren’t held accountable for their actions.”
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