One issue we see many VA’s running into is the slow repair times regarding their structures, parking lots, and even equipment within the VA themselves. Well we have to look at many of these buildings that the VA’s are set up in; many (the Phoenix and Durham VA’s being two I’ve seen) are operating out of buildings that normally would be condemned.
Due to a large growth rate from the influx of veterans returning from war over the span of the last 16 years, the Phoenix VA has around 100 new veterans enrolling in their healthcare system per day. That’s an incredibly rapid growth rate. The Durham VA is growing at a 7% increase per year themselves; both facilities not having the room needed to accommodate such rapidly expanding need.
So why not simply build a new VA? Well, many are, but the approval process for such an undertaking can last up to 20 years before ground is even broken on a new VA building to be built, so for now, they’re having to pump money into repairing their own sinking ship in hopes of approval coming in the near future.
Now as far as repairs go, why the long wait? Well due to budgeting and earmarking funds for approval for specific projects, the Durham VA has ran into a law that’s causing many issues to arise; it’s called the “rule of two” and can be read about here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/38/8127.
Essentially, the VA can only hire a veteran contracting company to conduct repairs on the VA. Well, what happens when someone has a corner on a market? Inflation. We also have to take into consideration that some veteran companies just aren’t that good. The Durham VA brought it to my attention that they were in need of someone to repair their roof. After contracting out and their offer being accepted, the veteran company that won the bid walked off the job due to not being able to have the resources to undertake such an enormous endeavor. Is it true? I haven’t fact checked it so I’ll leave it for you to decide, BUT it certainly does pose a theoretical issue regarding only veterans being allowed to work on the VA’s.
I personally don’t agree with this, and here’s why; as veterans, we are not entitled to anything. We raised our hands and swore an oath. We were also paid for our services while serving. For congress to enact a law that stipulates that only veteran business can conduct repairs undermines the basic principle of a capitalist economy; the more competition, the more prices are driven down and quality of work goes up. If a business wishes to be successful, they must provide the best quality for the lowest price; granted, there are smaller details involved in this equation, but you can see my point.
So the question we are faced with is two fold: do we put more emphasis on veteran contractors being given work by the VA’s and risking a lengthy process and poorly done work (not in all cases mind you), or do we allow free market to run its course and the repairs done to the VA are done in a timely and effective manner (also not in all cases)? Cleary you can see the conundrum many VA’s face.
So to better understand why the system is broken, we must first delve into the reasoning as to why it’s being run in the manner that it is. Code 8127 needs to be dissolved immediately. What happens if it’s dissolved? A wider range of options become immediately available regarding contractors to choose from, and the time table is severely cut down rather than extended.
These are my opinions.