With the federal government pushing for increased veteran hiring across the economic sector, you would imagine that federal agencies, such as the Veteran’s Administration (VA), would be staffed and managed by military veterans today. You would be wrong.
According to an analysis by the Daily Caller, only 13 percent of the management positions of VA healthcare facilities are held by veterans. The other 87 percent of the top 300 positions are filled with civilian administrators or bureaucrats. It is interesting to note that, as a percentage, there are more temporary or acting positions in the upper management of the VA than there are veterans today.
Hiring veterans today
The problems facing veterans entering the workforce is well documented and finding productive and rewarding careers should be a priority for the government. Each veteran represents an investment of time and money paid for by the taxpayers. Ensuring that tax dollars are spent wisely is, supposedly, one of the jobs of government.
In that vein, optimizing that investment should be enough of an incentive to give veterans preferential treatment in government positions. Many civilian employers give veterans “bonus hiring points” when they apply for a job, and, in an organization that is intimately concerned with the assistance of veterans, the VA should be staffed with a remarkable number of veterans today.
The Veteran’s Preference Act is intended to boost veteran employment
According to the Department of Labor, “Veterans who are disabled, who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others in hiring for virtually all federal government jobs.”
However, the Daily Caller investigation found a startling disconnect between the attitudes of current VA administrators and veterans who have attempted to find employment with the government agency with job applicants being passed over for positions they are suitably qualified for in favor of non-veteran applicants.
The VA was unable to say how many veterans it employs but during the Bush administration, approximately 60 percent of “blue collar” employees at the VA had veterans’ preference status. These employees were used in housekeeping, laundry, maintenance and food services.
Are veterans today not interested in helping other veterans?
The VA management spokesperson claims that qualifying skills could keep many veterans from managerial positions, but doesn’t address what could be the real issue. The VA is filled with career bureaucrats who fear that if veterans filled the top positions, they would need to actually do their jobs. Careerism would not be rewarded and, unlike today, administrators would be expected to be competent, at the minimum.
Veterans would be better served through the VA if the administrators and managers were more invested in success. Claiming that the VA is unable to find unqualified veterans to fill these positions is disingenuous, at best. The only reason that the VA cannot find qualified veterans today for managerial positions is if the management of the VA does not want veterans in those positions.
Although the VA and even some veteran non-profit organizations have a problem hiring veterans today, there are still organizations that are vets helping vets. These are the organizations that are really making a difference for veterans.
The VA is rife with fraud and venality. The best efforts of the last two secretaries have done little to change the culture of corruption that permeates an organization that the veteran community depends on to have their best interests at heart. The failure of this government agency has been well-publicized but has not generated enough anger among the general public.
The changes needed to bring the VA back into line with its reason for existence are extensive and life altering for the current crop of administrators who have failed in their public trust. It would do no harm and a great deal of good to fire the bunch of them and replace them all with veterans today. From top to bottom. Get rid of them all and start over.
The Daily Caller, Actual Veterans Are a Scarce Sight in Top Veterans Affairs Hospital Jobs, Luke Rosiak, January 2016 [http://dailycaller.com/2016/01/05/va-employs-few-veterans-in-top-medical-management-jobs/]
U.S. Department of Labor, Veteran’s Preference Information [http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/vetspref/main.htm]