While Vets Wait 5 Years for Benefits, VA Bought $562,000 in Art

The agency has spent four years and $537 million on a new computer system


The Obama era has been a terrible one for veterans. The cuts to health and pensions were bad enough, but the backlog for benefits grew even worse.

The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency, to 245,000 in December — an increase of more than 2,000 percent.

Since 2009, the number of Southern California veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits has increased from 262 to 21,567.

More than 3,000 Southern California veterans have been waiting more than two years for their benefits.

As a candidate, Obama had promised to revamp a “broken VA bureaucracy,” but the documents reveal that many of the administration’s attempts — including efforts to boost staffing and computerize claims processing — have fallen apart in the implementation.

The agency has spent four years and $537 million on a new computer system, 97 percent of all veterans’ claims remain on paper. Since those numbers were tallied by the agency in January, the VA’s two top technology officers have announced their resignations, saying they had accomplished their goals.

A closer look at the VA disaster would have told you everything you needed to know about how ObamaCare was going to work. Colin Powell recently advocated for government healthcare based on military healthcare.

It's not clear how much actual experience he has had with it as a patient.

In 2010, Korean War veteran Gary Willingham, 80, went to the VA hospital in Dallas for what his family believed would be a short operation to remove a tumor from his neck. But the doctors accidentally clamped off his carotid artery and starved his brain of oxygen for 15 minutes. He had a massive stroke, which rendered him paralyzed and unable to eat or drink on his own. He died a year later.

Willingham’s family was never informed about the ghastly mistake made by VA doctors.

In just the past year, we've learned about at least 21 preventable deaths of military veterans at VA facilities across the nation as well as the spread of infectious diseases at these hospitals and clinics. In addition, there is evidence of bonuses awarded to executives at troubled VA hospitals and a lengthy ongoing disability claims backlog.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs under Obama seems to have the same priority as the State Department did, when instead of spending money on security for the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, it bought art.

This past week, the Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork.

On Monday, VA paid $27,000 for an order of photographs showing sunsets, mountain peaks and country roads. They would go into a new center serving homeless veterans in Los Angeles; a spokeswoman described the art as “motivational and calming, professionally designed to enhance clinical operations.”

VA spent another $220,000 on artwork for its hospitals. On Thursday, VA was buying art again. It spent $216,000 on artwork for a facility in Florida.

Instead of improving operations at troubled VA hospitals, they spent a few hundred thousand dollars putting art up on the walls.