Rep. Jeff Miller (R.-Fla.) is sharply critical of President Barack Obama for his tone and phrasing regarding the treatment of veterans by his administration.
When the president addressed Disabled Veterans of America, he “threw around a lot of impressive sounding talking points,” Miller says. As chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Miller has challenged how Veterans Affairs has been operated and worked to improve congressional oversight.
“But like a lot of the information coming out of his Department of Veterans Affairs nowadays, the rhetoric doesn’t match reality,” he said.
“The president decried wait-time manipulation, even though VA leaders routinely tolerate such practices and, according to the Government Accountability Office, VA wait-time data is still misleading,” he said. “He spoke of the need to protect whistleblowers, even though retaliation against VA employees who spotlight problems is still a major problem.”
In what he said would be his last major address to a veterans organization, Obama said the Disabled Veterans of America were among the first group he approached when he was campaigning for president in 2008 and he has sought to make the DAV a partner with his administration.
“When you came home, you deserved better,” the president said. “Veterans who at times have struggled to get care at the VA, you deserve better, too. If there’s ever a breach in the covenant, then leaders in this country have to work hard to regain trust.”
The president also saluted the work of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald.
“That’s what Bob and so many hardworking people at the VA are doing,” he said. “But upholding this covenant has to be the work of all of us. It’s not just the VA’s job. It’s everybody’s job. Government has to deliver the care and benefits and support that you have earned.”
Miller said he was disturbed to hear the president frame the failures of his administration to meet the needs of veterans as part of a struggle for adequate funding.
“He tried to link VA’s poor performance with a lack of funding, even though VA’s budget has nearly quadrupled since 2001,” the congressman said.
“The fact is, VA will never be fixed until we have a president who is dedicated to solving the department’s number one problem – its widespread and pervasive lack of accountability,” he said.
“Until then, VA’s issues will continue while veterans pay the price.”