Veteran's Day: I Love the Smell of Bureaucratic Failure in the Morning

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Happy Veteran's Day.  

If you don't get just a little pissed off on Veteran's Day, then you probably aren't paying attention.

noun: platitude; plural noun: platitudes
  1. a remark or statement, esp. one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
    "she began uttering liberal platitudes"
    synonyms: cliché, truism, commonplace, banality, old chestnut, bromide, inanity,banal/trite/hackneyed/stock phrase

Yep, here on Veteran's Day we have plenty of Platitiudes.   Important political people from all parties will make their inevitable trip to some national cemetary like the one pictured here, where my Dad is interned.  They will stand in front of some gathered and speak of honor, duty, sacrifice.  

They'll make Mr. Worf proud. Qapla'!

With Veteran's Day falling on a Monday, it shares the distinction of falling on the day that the Department of Veteran's Affairs releases their Monday Report.

What are the Monday Reports, you ask?  They say it best:

The Monday Morning Workload Reports, part of VA's Transparency Program, are weekly compilations of performance measures for the processing of Disability, Pension and Education benefits, as reported by Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) regional offices.

It should be called the wall-of-shame.   This report basically just shows the backlog statistics for claims processing.

"This is how far behind we are but we made this report so we can show you we're trying."     As of the time of this writing, the November 11th report is not-yet available.   Perhaps the responsibile parties have off for the holidays to be with their families.

But, using November 4th's data, of the 705,113 pending applications for benefits, 56.8% of them are "backlogged", having been pending for over 125 days.


For you partisan readers, this isn't an Obama fail.  It isn't a Republican Fail or a Democratic fail.  It is a failure shared by all parties, including me and you for allowing this to continue.  It isn't just about VA Claims processing, either.  It is larger than this.  

Some people are stingy with the use of the word hero and maybe everyone who puts on a uniform to get GI benefits and a paycheck isn't a hero. (or maybe they are.)

Think of the DEVGRU soldiers, the ones that hopped into an experimental helicopter and jumped across the Pakistani border to pay Mr. UBL a visit in the middle of the night.   They shot and killed the terrorist mastermind boogie-man behind the 9/11 attacks.   Certainly, if anyone is a hero, those guys are heroes, right?

How do we treat our heroes?

With a small paycheck, without a clear transition path into civilian life and work and without protections for their families.   That is how we treat them.

I watch my Facebook wall and Twitter stream and see the life updates of men that I knew in high school or college.   Kids that went off into military service, fought in several countries, made us proud and became heroes.

Sure, they find work and they seem happy but I can't help but think, we failed them.    They didn't come back to paid-off homes or a financial nest-egg.   Many of them, at 34, are 'starting out' in some new career.  Sure, a very good military retirement may be out there for some of them but not all of them.

We, as a civil society that chose to commit these men to acts of war -- fail them 364 days a year.  Sure, you or I might donate to Wounded Warrior or buy a soldier's lunch at the sub counter.   Today, we'll have parades, furniture-store sales and all of the hullabaloo at events honoring these men.

Then tomorrow, many of these men and women will return to underpaying jobs trying to make ends meet.   All because they didn't go to Business School.   They grabbed a carbine everyday, risked it all in the name of duty, honor and all-that-good-stuff.

Look, I'm very glad we have an institution called the VA.  Maybe, the real problem is that we need more than just that one institution looking out for the care and feeding of our most honored men and women.


Nick Saban has an annual salary of $5.5million to coach a game.  

David Ortiz has an annual salary of $15 million.

50 Cent is worth $250 million.

An average salary for a vet less than $40,000 / annually.


I like watching Alabama Win.   I liked watching Big Papi crush it and In Da Club has a dope beat.

I'd trade them all to make our veterans millionaires.