More than 121,000 veterans of military service have been let down, sometimes badly, by the very agency created to help them, the Department of Veterans Affairs.
That is disturbing enough. Worse is information that the veterans were harmed by a nationwide network of lying, cheating VA bureaucrats.
VA investigators revealed Monday that more than 57,000 veterans who sought medical care have been kept waiting 90 days or more for their first appointments. Another 64,000 men and women who served their country apparently were forgotten altogether. They never were given the appointments they requested.
President Barack Obama and some members of Congress have known about the VA scandal for years. They already had been told some veterans were kept waiting for months to see doctors.
But earlier this year there were reports from a Phoenix VA facility that some veterans on waiting lists died while trying to obtain care. Officials in charge of scheduling ordered subordinates to falsify records to make it appear waiting times were short.
As a result of those reports, more stories of abuses at VA health care centers surfaced. Then, several days ago, VA?Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned his post.
On Monday, acting VA?Secretary Sloan Gibson said agency employees have been contacting veterans throughout the country to get them off waiting lists and on real schedules for appointments.
That sounds like progress - but similar scandals in the past also have been followed by promises to improve.
It will not happen unless the VA?deals decisively with another revelation by investigators.
Thirteen percent of those scheduling health care appointments at the 731 VA?hospitals and clinics checked told investigators they had been told by supervisors to falsify records to ensure wait times for veterans appeared shorter than actually was the case.
That is the rotten core of the problem. Unless those supervisors are disciplined severely - preferably fired - the message will go out that the current "crackdown" will blow over eventually and the abuses can be resumed.
Mistreatment of veterans such as that revealed this spring is not acceptable to the vast majority of Americans. It needs to be stopped - right now.