Problems at the VA covered up for too long

Many veterans of military service and the tens of millions of Americans who are grateful to them are outraged about allegations involving the Department of Veterans Affairs. But this is not a new anger. It dates back decades.

Displeasure over the VA goes in cycles. Reports of mismanagement by agency officials are made public, then the president and Congress demand reforms. Anger dies down for a few years. Then the cycle repeats itself.

If there ever was a case of a chronic problem being swept under the rug time and time again, it is the VA situation.

That makes the White House reaction to the current scandal puzzling. President Barack Obama has vowed that, now that he knows there is a problem, he will demand something be done about it.

But Obama knew about the problem – the very same one now making headlines – before he became president.

According to a published report, Obama’s transition team was told of the concern not long after he won the presidential election in 2008. Audits indicated veterans were being subjected to long waiting times for medical treatment – and that VA officials were lying about the matter.

In one case, Obama’s aides were told, the VA reported 2,900 veterans were forced to wait more than a month for health care appointments. But independent investigators found the actual number was about 28,000.

So why didn’t Obama do something about it immediately after taking office?

More important, why should anyone believe the president intends to do anything meaningful now?

Problems with the VA have been covered up for too long. Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, should demand action this time around.