With all the evidence of incompetence from the current Administration, have you ever thought: "My six year old could do a better job"? Well, round up the kids, because it's time for a game of "So You Think You Can Be a Cabinet Member?"
You are Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, and because of all the vets returning home from Iraq, you are facing a $3 billion dollar budget shortfall. You respond by...
a) immediately telling Congress that your department needs funding to care for wounded veterans.
b) spending six months telling Congress you don't foresee any funding challenges, even as veterans are forced to wait for care.
If almost one-third of Vet Centers said they needed more staff, and a VA Deputy Undersecretary had admitted that mental health and substance abuse care was "virtually inaccessible," you'd say that the VA...
a) needed more staff.
b) was "adequately staffed."
If Congress gave you $300 million to make sure veterans coming home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would get the mental health care they needed, you'd...
a) spend the money on mental health care for veterans.
b) not spend the money.
If you answered "a" to these questions, there's an opening now at the Department of Veterans Affairs that you might be overqualified for! Because when VA Secretary Jim Nicholson was faced with each of these questions, he got it wrong every time. And wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan paid the price.
Now, finally, after years of errors and missteps, Secretary Nicholson has finally resigned. This should be welcome news for all veterans. Nicholson has been incompetent and dangerously out of touch throughout his time as VA chief (watch this video of his terrible performance on PBS after the groundbreaking piece by ABC's Bob Woodruff put him under fire earlier this year). As I have said repeatedly over the past couple months, he's like the FEMA Director Michael Brown that America didn't know about. (For complete information on the Secretary Nicholson's record at the VA, check out IAVA's fact sheet.)
All joking aside, President Bush now has a tremendous opportunity to replace Secretary Nicholson with a well-qualified and effective candidate. I can think of at least one Iraq veteran who'd make an excellent choice. More than 1.5 million veterans have already served in Iraq and Afghanistan and that number continues to grow. Many will require long-term care for a myriad of issues, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Here's hoping we get the real leader we need - and not another Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Brown, or Jim Nicholson.
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