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The Department of Veterans Affairs has lost nearly 40 senior staffers already in 2018—but don’t worry, the Trump administration says that the people who left didn’t matter and “Any attempt to characterize this small handful of departures and minor personnel issues as having a significant impact on VA’s operations is simply fake news.”

Minor personnel issues?

The departures, not counting former department head David Shulkin, include the acting chief information officer (currently being replaced by someone named in a massive harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit), the chief spokeswoman for the VA’s health system, the head of the Veterans Health Administration, the acting deputy undersecretary for health and community care, 10 people in the human resources department, the head of strategic partnerships, and five regional health system directors.

Staff and veterans advocates say the loss of talent and institutional knowledge is impeding efforts to address significant challenges, from reducing the rate of suicide among former military personnel to modernizing VA’s antiquated record-keeping system and eliminating its backlog of benefits appeals. Two high-stakes initiatives also have stalled: legislation to expand veterans’ access to health care outside VA’s network, and a $16 billion contract to synchronize veterans’ medical records with systems operated by the Defense Department and private providers. […]

“It is not normal,” said Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), the top Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The precedent has been to have “a lot of continuity in these positions,” but the Trump administration is intent on “dismantling the agency,” he added. “I worry about institutional knowledge. Who wants to work there now?”

No one. That’s the point. This isn’t even some new Trump administration tactic, it’s a longtime Republican one: they break the government so they can claim the government doesn’t work. Privatization of veterans health is the whole point here, and it’s going to be a disaster.

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