VA-veterans-affairs…and they’re here to help… somebody. Mostly their own employees, managers and contractors. If they help any veterans, well, they’ll crow about it — but it’s incidental to their perception of their mission.

They didn’t do veterans any good with this:

On Friday, 17 January 2014, there was a breach of the eBenefits website that is run by the Department of Defense (DOD)  and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA is conducting an independent investigation. If you are a veteran registered  with this website, you can call the VA directly at 1.800.827.1000 to learn whether your eBenefits information may have been  compromised.


  1. Some underling from VA will make an insincere apology, probably in the passive voice, for their lack of security on vets’ personally identifying information. (This is not the first time. Hell, it’s not the 30th time, either).
  2. The vets are the ones who take it in the shorts.
  3. There will be no consequences, not for the hackers, nor for the VA payroll patriot who left the door standing open.

We’d love to be wrong about these, but they run a pretty standard script for these things.

The guy who is Secretary of the VA is a former general officer whose only achievement in three decades in uniform was awarding the then-Ranger beret to the entire Army, in the largest tee-ball social promotion in military history. But he was a success there, compared to his tragically clumsy service at VA.

This entry was posted in Lord Love a Duck on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

5 thoughts on “Breaking: The VA is from the Government…

Bill K

Yep. I saw a real mix of caring folks during my residential stint in the VA. On the one hand, there were some really compassionate angels, often young females with a heart, who took care of the old geezers with a passion, often because they had not lost the motivation that attracted them into nursing in the first place, for the right reasons.

And on the other hand, I saw folks, often older, often male, but not necessarily, who were lazy bums just pretending to work, Soviet style ‘men-of-system’.

And unfortunately, the bureaucracy, governed by Pournelle’s Iron Law, had no way to further reward and incentivize the first nor evacuate its bowels of the second.

And so the shame was that given enough time, far too many people in group 1 either left or migrated to group 2.


“The guy who is Secretary of the VA is a former general officer whose only achievement in three decades in uniform was awarding the then-Ranger beret to the entire Army, in the largest tee-ball social promotion in military history. But he was a success there, compared to his tragically clumsy service at VA.”

I won’t argue that Shinseki was right about the beret. I hate that thing with a passion that goes beyond mere words, and I always felt like a complete goombah wearing the damn thing. Aside from its complete impracticality as headgear, the Rangers had turned the black beret into an icon. Should have left it to them, to be quite honest. Stupid, stupid, stupid decision.

That said… Shinseki did accomplish one thing that made sense, and that was bringing back the medium-weight force that the Armor and Mech Infantry communities killed off back in the 1980s. If he did nothing else, his advocacy for that needs to be acknowledged. Maybe it’s a case of a stopped clock being right twice a day, but I do have to acknowledge that breaking the Infantry out of the Bradley, and getting the light guys some damn armor was a Really, Really Good Thing (TM).

I knew of Shinseki back when he was a mere field grade running units in the old 9th ID. His reputation then was pretty damn good, and people liked working around him. He was good enough that the guys who worked for his unit as slice elements from 15th Engineers always talked shit to the rest of us about how much of a pleasure it was to work for someone who had half a damn brain. I have good, clear memories of his outfit being pretty switched-on, and doing good things the one time we were cross-attached to it.

So, when the idiot came up with that whole “Black berets for everyone…” concept, I was a bit surprised. I have no damn idea where that came from, or why the hell he thought it was a good idea. I’ve heard rumors that the actual parties responsible were people who got his ear, and then made it happen, but I’ve never been able to really confirm what the genesis of that whole moronic thing really was. I can’t vouch for the rest of his career, but Shinseki was a decent field-grade. What the hell happened to him after the 1980s, I’ll never know. I’ve always wondered what the hell actually goes on at Leavenworth and the War College, because I’ve known a couple of complete idiots that went there and actually turned into decent senior officers, and a couple of really good guys I knew at the company grade level who became complete and utter buffoons as senior field grades and GOs. Go figure-I guess it’s the Peter Principle in action.

Hognose Post author

I’ll tell you where it came from, and it was brilliant in a way. AUSA was coming up. (For you civilians and other service guys n’ gals, it’s the Army’s equivalent of the SHOT Show – big annual gathering of dogs and ponies). And Rick Shinseki was keynoting it. And his “Army Transformation” plan, of which the motorized Stryker units were one part, was on the bubble. I believe that the black beret thing was designed to be such a shock that it got all his critics to lift and shift fires from Transformation to the goofy hat, and it did exactly that.

Rare is the Ragnar today who ever stood under a black beret — well, one with the Ranger (Marauders) flash and 75th crest on it, anyway. Time moves on and they’ve written new history under the sand beret.

I have heard firsthand that Rick S. was an absolute stud as a junior officer in Vietnam.

All senior officers have mixed legacies to one extent or another. Look at Macarthur, Abrams, hell, McClellan.


Y’know… I’m seriously starting to wonder if I’m going senile, or there was another Shinseki out there during the 1980s. I thought the guy I knew from the 9th ID was him, but having just checked out his official biography, there’s no way-The time frame I’m thinking of, he was at 3ID in Europe.

What’s really screwing with me is I know I sat through a discussion about the whole Army Transformation thing, and one of the keynote speakers was talking about how Shinseki was a protege of Shy Meyer’s, and that the whole Stryker concept grew out of the 9th ID Motorized concept, only “done right”.

Weird. Eric Shinseki never served a day at Fort Lewis, so far as I can tell, or in the 9th ID, but I’ve got clear memories of a guy who was a MAJ/LTC around that time with a name damn close to Shinseki, and who I thought was him. And, I remember having a fairly senior officer from the old days of the 9th ID bringing up Shinseki as having been an old 9th ID guy who brought the concept back, likening it to the way the Army killed the Armor concept after WWI, only to have the generational “changing of the guard” bring it back when the junior guys who’d run things in WWI got their turn at the wheel later on.

In short, disregard most of my first post on this issue. I’m apparently operating in a state of delusion, which when you mentioned he’d served in Vietnam, started to clear. The guy I knew at 9th ID wasn’t that old-He couldn’t have been a 1965 graduate of West Point, like this Shinseki did.

Hognose Post author

Rick S. lost a leg in Vietnam, so if your 9th ID guy had two legs, it ain’t him. He didn’t have a pronounced limp though.