He vowed to "do right by all who served under our proud flag." He promised America's veterans new "reform," "resources," "timely care" and an end to the disgraceful disability backlog.
The bill he signed, in case you'd forgotten, included $10 billion in emergency funding to pay for veterans to go outside the chronically dysfunctional VA system if they are facing long wait times or live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, plus another $6.3 billion to set up 27 new clinics and hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff.
So, how's it all working out? About as well as every other "success story" Obama has signed his name to: abysmally, ineffectually and incompetently.
Take Obama's hyped plan to expand health care access to those who live far from a VA facility. Obtuse federal bureaucrats interpreted "40 miles" in the narrowest way possible, applied an "as the crow flies" distance rule inconsistently, and excluded untold numbers of vets. It took more than a year -- and concerted pressure from veterans groups and GOP lawmakers -- for the administration to "clarify" its confused eligibility standards just two weeks ago.
What about "accountability"? Obama bragged last August that "we've already taken the first steps to change the way the VA does business. We've held people accountable for misconduct. ... We should have zero tolerance for that." Looks like the VA bosses in Shreveport, La., didn't get the memo. As Tori Richards of Watchdog.org reported last month, a mental health services worker who exposed use of a secret appointment waiting list there was ignored for a year. Instead of accountability for the wrongdoers, the VA employee who blew the whistle, Army vet Shea Wilkes, became the subject of a criminal investigation.