VA needs lesson in accountability


This Sunday marks a special occasion when we celebrate our dads and their tremendous influence on our lives. Father’s Day is much more than a time to give our dads ties, dress shirts or new gadgets that will take weeks to figure out. It’s about thanking our fathers for their love, support and guidance. I’d like to take this moment to wish all of the dads in our state a very happy Father’s Day — especially mine.

Growing up in North Carolina, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons from my dad that I try to emulate to this day. My father owned a residential construction company and every summer he would put me to work. He started me out at as a boy picking up trash on construction sites. I worked hard and learned pretty quickly how to use a hammer so I could have more responsibility – and get off trash duty. I’ll always be grateful he taught me the importance of a strong work ethic. By making me start from the bottom, he showed me that if you’re willing to work hard, you can climb the ladder and achieve your goals.

Another thing my dad taught me is to be a man of integrity. He told me to say what I mean and mean what I say, to stay true to my beliefs, and to keep my word. Folks in Washington could learn a lot from my dad. Unfortunately, for far too many politicians up there, their word doesn’t mean very much. It seems like every week there’s a new scandal or government abuse rocking the country. From the IRS using the “dog-ate-my-homework” excuse to duck responsibility, to the Department of Veterans Affairs failing to provide adequate care for our heroes, our government agencies continue to disappoint.

When he established the VA, President Abraham Lincoln promised that our nation would take care of our military personnel and their families who have served and defended our country. Right now, the VA is falling extremely short of that promise. Many of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have endured traumatic experiences on the battlefield and should not have to continue to fight to receive proper care when they return home.

Make no mistake, there are many good and dedicated people at VA medical facilities in North Carolina who do a tremendous job every day for our veterans. In fact, many of the folks working at VA facilities are veterans themselves. The problem is the bureaucracy has gotten so massive and so out of control that the resources are wasted and the quality of care delivered to veterans has decreased. This culture of unaccountability has led to long wait times, 10,000 disability claims still in backlog and millions of our tax dollars wasted. Our veterans are too often being ignored, and tragically, left without the care they earned through their service defending our freedoms.

While my colleagues and I will continue to fight to reshape the culture at the VA, it’s high time this administration takes responsibility and joins us to clean up the mess. It isn’t enough for the President to say we will keep doing the same things but do them better.

I believe service connected veterans should have the choice to go to any doctor of their choosing and the VA should have to pay for that medical care. That’s the way we can help end these wait times, break down these backlogs, and put a stop to bureaucratic corruption. It’s time for our veterans to have accountability from the VA. They put everything on the line for our country and our freedom; it’s time for us to do the same for them. God bless our veterans and their families. God Bless our fathers.

Richard Hudson represents the eighth congressional district, which includes Scotland County.

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