Veterans Affairs Secretary Erik Shinseki resigned Friday morning.
With that, President Barack Obama announced that leadership at the Phoenix VA has been fired.
It’s probably the right thing. Even if Shinseki were to be able to institute change at the VA from the top down, the idea that the guy at the top of the flow chart gets to stay when auditors have found evidence of criminal wrongdoing at several VA healthcare centers won’t fly.
Obviously, the culture inside the VA has sunk too far below any good standards.
The numbers of vets NOT getting healthcare is staggering.
And sometimes, when the numbers are so large, the individual stories get lost.
Here at KTAR, we have taken call after call from family members of vets who are no longer with us. Would they be, if they had gotten proper care?
But Friday morning I heard a heartbreaking interview with two parents who lost their son to a suicide after he returned from active duty.
Daniel Somers wrote a note to his wife, his high school sweetheart, detailing his physical and emotional pain, and his poignant words leave no doubt that he was unable to get through another day on this earth.
He pointed out that 22 vets take their lives every day, which is more than the number of children killed by a madman at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Can you imagine having the presence of mind to write those words in an eloquent letter to your family before taking your own life? I can’t.
Somers went to the VA for health care and was told he was National Guard, so he needed to see the Dept. of Defense.
The DOD told him to go to the VA.
After nearly two years of waiting, being told no and getting postcards promising an appointment in the distant future, Somers had had enough.
Stories like his are all too common.
Hopefully Friday is the first step toward hearing a different story.