Share This Page

The Veterans Affairs scandal: It only grows

| Monday, May 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The news only gets worse for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA is engulfed in a conflagration over growing allegations of substandard care nationwide. And, worse, the evidence is growing, exponentially, that the standard operating procedure of VA officials was to obfuscate if not lie.

The latest disquieting evidence comes in a two-part Trib investigation into just one part of the scandal — the fatal outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at two Pittsburgh-area VA hospitals that killed at least six and sickened 16 others.

To classify this as a series of “communication breakdowns” would be a disservice to the phrase. For, repeatedly, the facts said one thing while VA officials' testimony before Congress said pretty much the exact opposite.

Internal emails and other documents show that superheating water in an attempt to kill Legionella bacteria did not work. But a VA official said it did. Testing for the bacteria was spotty at best. But a VA official said otherwise. An improperly operated water-disinfection system was not disclosed to Congress. And there was early talk among VA officials of trying to keep the outbreak quiet, complete with a number of officials doing what they could to cover their behinds.

Given the totality of the VA's problems that extend far beyond Pittsburgh, reasonable people are left to conclude that the Department of Veterans Affairs is a broken, if not corrupt, enterprise. And Congress and the legal system must respond accordingly.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.