Tuesday, May 9, 2017


  - NOT too big to fail!       
          - An experienced-based look at the largest Health system in the Country.
It is a well-established fact that, for the past fifty years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been in a downward spiral with no end in sight. Veterans, Veterans’ Families, VA Employees, and most VA Management will back this claim with their own personal horror stories. Since the 1960’s this Government Department has been layered with so many levels of bureaucracy that it is sinking under its own weight. A thorough study of the current Organizational Documentation for this Department [1] will demonstrate that, over these years, there have been way too many “fingers in the pie”. This PDF Document is 451 pages long which illustrates that there are “too many cooks in the kitchen”. This has led to an overabundance of non-essential sub-departments and programs that do absolutely nothing for Veterans and their Families. This is also evident when the Department is viewed from the bottom up. Which has led me to believe it is time to “throw the baby out with the bath water”.
My vantage point on this subject is from the bottom. By that, I mean I see the day-to-day operative results of this Department on a truly local basis. To arrive at some realistic conclusions about the operation of this Department, it helps to understand the bureaucratic structure the Employees and Veterans are asked to work within. There is an old management style called a “silo” structure. Imagine, if you will, an infinite number of large grain silos out in the Midwest stretching as far as the eye can see. These grain silos are located in one State and on three separate farms. Farm “A” is made up of the Veteran Health Administration, and has 50% of the silos; Farm “B” is made up of the Veteran Benefit Administration, and has 35% of the silos; and, Farm “C” is made up of the National Cemetery Administration with the remaining 15% of the silos. If you take each Farm, by itself, you could easily form three separate Government Departments (Again, just have a look at their “Org. Charts”.). These silos are so well insulated that they don’t/won’t/can’t communicate with each other.
The Farm that is of the greatest concern to me is Farm “A”; the Veterans Health Administration...
 Fig. #1: This chart is six years old. There are newer changes/additions. [2]
 Please understand that each, and every, little “block”, in the chart above,has its own organizational flow chart that is just as complex. Too many people get the words complicated and complex confused. This organization and all its sub-organizations are not complicated; they are complex. It has been my experience that when you have an organization as complex as this, you lose the ability to be transparent and accountable. The “silo” structure further insulates management and employees in their own “kingdoms”, which they in turn guard with their lives. This gives unscrupulous managers the opportunity to game the system, and run their departments as a Dictator would run a third world Country. This “benefit” has not been lost on many of those climbing the ladder of success within the VA system. Certainly, there are those who take advantage more than others do, but this “silo” structure breeds the culture that Veterans come up against every day in their dealings with the Veterans Health system. And, we Veterans are not happy!
The experiences I have had at the local level, a small backwater VA Medical Center in Long Island, NY, have made it very clear that my claims of mismanagement, corruption, intimidation, fraud, embezzlement, indifference, and disrespect for Veterans are all well founded. Even at this local level, the “silo” structure is evident and in play. Someone at the top of the food chain has created this structure, and, thus, allowed this culture to exist. Now, it is time for them to go, and total redesign the way our Government views and treats its Military Veterans. If the Government can’t, or won’t, do it, then it is time the Citizens of this Nation to step up and take over.
[1] full PDF document, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2016
[2] 2011 VA Org. Chart

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