VA's $400K History Book Sidetracked By Crisis

Dennis Wagner | AZ Central | January 19, 2015

When the media, investigators and Congress exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs' broken and dishonest health-care system last year, VA officials were forced to postpone publication of a $400,000-plus history book that glowingly portrays the agency's achievements.  The Arizona Republic obtained a copy of the unreleased manuscript, "Not Your Father's VA," showing a publication date of May 2014. In fact, the VA did not release the volume at that time, which was one month into a national furor over delayed care for veterans.

The book was produced under government contract by a company known as History Associates Inc. The project was authorized for $500,000, according to Jessica Jacobsen, a VA public affairs officer, but the final price tag was $411,700.

The manuscript was prepared by James Rife, History Associate's senior researcher and writer. Subtitled "The Transformation of VA Health Care in the Late 20th Century," the 267-page tome's purpose is spelled out in an introduction:

"The history of VHA's modern transformation deserves to be remembered and celebrated, and we are pleased to present this book as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of those many people who both carried it out and continued it into the 21st century."  Just weeks before planned publication, congressional committees and media began investigating allegations that thousands of patient appointments in the Phoenix VA Health Care System were secretly backlogged, and some veterans had died awaiting care....