An Opportunity Amid the VA Problems

This was published as a Wall Street Journal Think Tank column on May 30, 2014.


Gen. Eric Shinseki resigned when it became clear that the problems in the VA health-care system were systemic, not one-off acts of a few bad apples. No administration wants another problem, especially with veterans who have served our country and who matter politically, but crisis creates opportunity in politics and policy.

There is a window of opportunity to assess what went wrong and put in place measures to eliminate the waiting lists and address underlying  management and leadership issues in the Department of Veterans Affairs. There may also be a rare opportunity to act with bipartisan support.

But windows of opportunity to shake up entrenched bureaucracies or come up with new resources–if they are needed–don’t stay open long. The president has made a real and very personal commitment to veterans. To turn crisis to opportunity and add to that legacy, it will be important to assemble recommendations and begin to implement them while the media and the political world are paying close attention and are motivated to act.


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