Tired of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) workers and officials not doing their jobs or even seeming to care about the people they are charged with serving? We may now understand what’s behind their attitudes: they themselves are not veterans.

Only 13 percent of executives at VA hospitals are actually veterans and while a good portion of those working at VA hospitals are veterans, our former servicemen and women are pushing brooms and mops rather than managing and leading.

In an exchange about hiring practices during a July 2014 deposition in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against a dentist, a dentistry chief admitted that hiring preference is not given to veterans for well-paying jobs or management and senior roles. Apparently, veterans are intentionally bypassed for such roles because they are perceived as too empathetic to those they serve. The dentist who filed the complaint said that he applied several times for a position, but his experience as a veteran had no bearing on him landing his job. In fact, according to him, “…thank God” his veteran background was not taken into consideration.

Hiring veterans for the sake of hiring veterans, if they are not qualified for the role, does no one any favors. However, bypassing the applications of veterans because managers fear they may be empathetic to their fellow soldiers is outrageous.  

One might make a good case for why granting veterans a preference in hiring is both good for those who have served our country and for employers, but it’s also federal policy. Government-wide, veterans are supposed to be given preference in hiring, and of all of the places we should expect to see the most veterans should be at the VA. They claim that one-third of its people are veterans, but when VA job postings are analyzed we find that we’re talking about low-skilled, low-wage jobs such as janitorial jobs or housekeeping aides. Higher paying jobs with similar low educational requirements are only available to current civil servants. 

As the Daily Caller explains, the issue may also be about securing jobs for union workers over veterans, yet union workers reportedly don’t get nearly as much work done and they themselves admit it:

“Title 38” refers to the pay-grade for doctors working in VA…

One cause is a provision in the union contract that says preference must be given to current federal employees — union members — for higher-paying and easier jobs, preventing them from even being advertised to the public unless no current VA employee wants a promotion.

Only 13 percent of VA hospital executives are veterans. Most executives are lifelong VA bureaucrats who have been promoted through the ranks. Employees have said that VA managers worry veterans will empathize with those they serve and be more likely to blow the whistle on behaviors that harm vets or put them second.

A severe lack of empathy among VA workers and leadership may be the reason that veterans have suffered so long and deeply at the hands of workers who appear to care insufficiently about the health and safety of those they serve. If you haven’t served in the military,  you may not understand why no man should be left behind. The only person too many VA employees seem to be looking out for is themselves and their paychecks. Until this mentality is rooted out of the VA, the wait time manipulation scandals will continue unabated.