For those who may be unaware, a "bushmaster" is a dangerous, venomous snake that lies in the grass, to amBush it's victims.
The history of the Bushmaster is replete with swaggering talk and promises, and then (1.) failing absolutely to fund, or even to propose against its promises made, adequate funding that its proclaimed promises would require, and/or (2.) having received from Congress such funding as may be necessary, to actually spend the allocated funds on behalf of those promises. It's all truly been a case of talk the talk but slither as far from the walk as possible.
Please read the following editorial on the urgent need to live up to the promises this country made to the men and women when it decided to send them into harms' way. Relative to "supporting the troops," the piece outlines the sorry path of intentional deceit and cynical disregard for basic morality that has been part and parcel of the Bushmaster administration.
Feb 29, 2008
On February 14, 2008, Veterans for Common Sense testified before Congress and demanded accountability for VA’s catastrophic inability to provide timely and accurate claims decisions to disabled veterans. VCS specifically called for the removal of Daniel Cooper, VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits, as the top person responsible for VA’s claims fiasco.
In light of Cooper’s decision to cut and run, VCS believes today presents a rare opportunity for President George W. Bush to appoint an aggressive veterans’ advocate to overhaul VA’s broken and obsolete claims system. Now is the right time for Congress to implement the sound and reasonable recommendations made by the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission.
COOPER AND NICHOLSON - A TRAGIC LEGACY OF FAILURE
Not only is massive reform vital, so, too, is a history lesson in how the wheels came off at VBA. Here is a chronology showing how Daniel Cooper was fully aware of VBA’s claims crisis well before he became Under Secretary. However, Cooper failed to use this knowledge and deliver for veterans, even after six years as the top VA official responsible for disability compensation claims:
• In early 2001, then-Secretary Anthony Principi recognized challenges at VBA, and he created the “Claims Processing Task Force,” naming Cooper to lead it, even though he had no experience with VA. Cooper was a retired Navy Vice Admiral who served on the board of directors for Exelon, a nuclear power company, and USAA, an insurance and banking company.
• In October 2001, Cooper issued his Task Force report, which made dozens of thoughtful incremental recommendations, including holding VBA employees accountable. In November 2001, the full House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss the work of the Task Force. After 9/11 and after the invasion of Afghanistan, Cooper told the full Committee, “In my opinion, today, there are enough resources in VBA to do the job that has to be done,” a disturbing mantra repeated until the Walter Reed scandal blew the cover the shabby way this Administration treats our veterans.
• In December 2001, with more troops pouring into Afghanistan and with plans on the table to invade Iraq, Cooper provided additional written answers to the questions from Congress about VA staffing resources. Cooper wrote, “At the hearing, I specifically stated that new resources (i.e., FTE) should not be provided.” Given that there were hundreds of thousands of claims from half of our Gulf War veterans, everyone wants to know why did Cooper not plan for nor act on the needs of a new generation of war veterans when he became Under Secretary in 2002?
This disgraceful pattern of under staffing and under funding VA continued from 2001 through 2008.
• In February 2007, former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson told Congress, “The President’s 2008 budget request provides the resources necessary to ensure that service members’ transition from active duty military status to civilian life continues to be as smooth and seamless as possible.” Nicholson, who relied on Cooper to run VA's benefits programs, told Congress, “We expect to improve the timeliness of processing these claims to 145 days in 2008.... In addition, we anticipate that our pending inventory of disability claims will fall to about 330,000 by the end of 2008...”
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