Monday, May 23, 2016

Veterans Aren’t Tourists Yet VA Delivers Mickey Mouse Service

“Disneyland remains the central attraction of Southern California, but the graveyard remains our reality.”

WASHINGTON TIMES— Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Monday compared the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the VA to the length of time people wait for rides at Disneyland, and said his agency shouldn't use wait times as a measure of success because Disney doesn't either.

"When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what's important? What's important is what your satisfaction with the experience is," McDonald said Monday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. "And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure."

McDonald's comments angered House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted out Monday afternoon, "This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines."

McDonald faced questions at the breakfast about the VA's lack of transparency surrounding how long veterans must wait to receive care at VA facilities around the country. The agency has weathered controversy over the past several years due to its struggle to provide timely care for many patients.

The VA secretary said most veterans report being satisfied with their care and argued that the average wait time for a veteran seeking VA treatment is only a matter of days.

He said he did not believe a measure called the "create date," which gauges a veteran's wait time by counting from the day the veteran first requests care, was a "valid measure" of a veteran's VA experience.

The Government Accountability Office released a report in April exploring the metric used to count a veterans' wait time, called the "preferred date." The measure does not count from the time a veteran first calls to make an appointment.

Independent Journal Review reached out to the Disney Corporation for comment on the assertion that it did not measure wait lines.

A Disney Theme Parks spokesperson responded by phone to deny this claim:
“We take wait times very seriously. We continually push the boundaries to give our guests the best experience possible. A large team of highly trained industrial engineers are tasked with improving our guest’s experiences, from transportation, to guest flow, to ride comfort and certainly wait times.
One of the things we take great pride in is if you have a wait time at our parks, your wait is enjoyable. We call this the Disney Difference. We recently remodeled the Dumbo ride, doubling its size and adding a Big Top area for families waiting for the ride. This area is a huge, interactive, air conditioned area for children to play in and where adults can relax with a buzzer they receive that notifies them when their spot is ready on the ride.” 
 The spokesperson added:
“If you wait at the Haunted Mansion there are musical tombstones that will sing to you. There is a flowing honey wall at the Winnie the Poo ride. We designed animated crabs for The Little Mermaid waiting area which will interact with you and play games while you wait.
We take every facet of the guest experience very seriously. If you have to wait, you should have fun while doing it.”

When asked why the VA Secretary would use their company as an example for wait lines, the Disney spokesperson said:
“I’m not sure. This company was founded by veterans. Roy Disney was an officer in the U.S. Navy and Walt drove an ambulance in France assisting service members directly after WWI.”

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