The Obama Administration Can't Cut Through Its 50-Year VA Backlog By 2015

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The Obama administration has a new scandal—and it's as old as the Vietnam War.

On Wednesday, the President announced an investigation into allegations that VA staffers falsified records to cover up wait times, which in several cases led to veterans dying before they received any care.

A USA Today timeline of the cover-up at Phoenix VA Health Care Service traces the scandal back to early 2012.


While this clerical fabrication adds a new, disgusting layer of bureaucratic malfeasance into the picture, the VA system has suffered from administrative negligence since the Kennedy presidency. The catastrophic legacy of Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War looms large, and can perhaps help illustrate how poorly the office is engineered to effectively treat veterans.

On top of a backward system—the National Journal points out the VA did not have a way to process claims digitally nationwide until 2013—the Obama administration has also been faced with an unprecedented number of veteran disability claims from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.


So it’s pretty unbelievable to think that the Obama Administration could overcome a backlog of hundreds of thousands by 2015, as now-embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki vowed years ago.

As I illustrate in this cartoon, there is no obvious solution to repair the broken system—not even President Obama’s favorite automated task manager. The VA must be rebuilt to adequately respond to veterans' claims.

Andy is a graphics editor and cartoonist at Fusion.