Heckuva Job, Jimmy…
Former RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson:
A proposal to keep seriously wounded vets from falling through the cracks of the bureaucracy was shelved in 2005 when Jim Nicholson took over as the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, according to the former VA employee who was responsible for tracking war casualties.
As a result, seriously wounded veterans continued to face long delays for health care and benefit payments after being discharged from the military, says former VA program manager Paul Sullivan.
The program, called the Contingency Tracking System, had been approved by Nicholson’s predecessor but died once Nicholson took over the VA, Sullivan told ABC News.
Sullivan said he was told the cost of the system — less than $1 million to build and requiring a handful of staff to maintain — was prohibitive.
When asked about the Contingency Tracking System at the White House Wednesday, Nicholson told ABC News, “I’m not sure I know what program you’re referring to.” He added that “when the VA gets patients…we instantly create an electronic medical record for them.”
In testimony before Congress today, a VA official confirmed that its current tracking system still depends on paper files and lacks the ability to download Department of Defense records into its computers, a key flaw originally identified as leading to veterans getting lost between the cracks.
Yesterday, President Bush put VA Secretary Nicholson in charge of an interagency task force to determine what can be done to deliver benefits and health care now to thousands of wounded vets who have struggled to receive care.
Looks like it’s time to mint another Presidential Medal of Freedom.