Vet, Pundit Barno: Shinseki Replacement Needs to 'Get Hands Dirty'

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 04:00 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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A bureaucrat with healthcare experience would be the ideal candidate to fill Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's former post, said political commentator Amber Barno, a former Army helicopter pilot who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's an animal of its own and it's different than the military, and we need a leader who understands how to make leadership and management work within this massive bureaucracy," Barno told J.D. Hayworth on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."

Vets would like to see someone who is "willing to get their hands dirty and work hard instead of just being a cabinet-level appointee that sits there and is going to ride out the rest of their career without changing anything," she said Thursday.

Story continues below video.

Shinseki resigned in May following whistleblower revelations of widespread record-keeping fraud and secret waiting lists — designed to conceal months-long wait times for care — within VA facilities across the country. Scores of veterans died while waiting for appointments.

While the clogged VA health system has long been the subject of criticism, Barno said  members of the military have been drilled to take orders without complaint, a possible explanation for why the VA's scurrilous practices took so long to come to light.

"Nobody has a good day when they're going to say that they have to go to the VA," she said, referencing the lengthy wait times and "a bureaucracy where red tape is so enormous and it is such a hassle."

Barno also noted that VA medical care is inconsistent. Veterans have no control over whether they get to see "the good doctor that is actually helping them and customer-service oriented, or they're seeing the terrible doctor that puts up the red tape and deals with the bureaucracy and doesn't help them."

"It's infuriating to see veterans being treated like this," she said. "It says a lot about us as a nation."

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