Over the last year, every major GOP candidate with the exception of Donald Trump has made a pilgrimage to gatherings put on by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), a group that had barely formed during the 2012 primary cycle. Whereas candidates back in the day were under pressure from the old-line veterans' groups to promise undying support for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its nationwide network of hospitals and clinics, the opposite has been true this season. Candidates at CVA rallies have been competing with each other to badmouth the VA and its allegedly shabby treatment of veterans. And all have pledged fealty to the CVA's goal of moving as many vets as possible out of the VA into private care. Even Trump is calling for more "choice."
This enormously important question will be discussed, and perhaps decided, at meetings on Monday and Tuesday of the Commission on Care. That's a federally chartered group that is writing binding recommendations on the future of the VA. If you've never heard of the Commission on Care, you're not alone. Virtually none of the mainstream news outlets have covered its public hearings, which have been going on since the fall. [...] It just so happens that four of the 15 members of the commission are executives with major medical centers that stand to gain from the outsourcing of veterans' care. Another works for CVA, the Koch brothers-backed group, and yet another for an organization allied with CVA. Last month these six commissioners plus a seventh were outed for writing a secret draft of the commission's recommendations -- in which they call for full privatization of the VA by 2035 -- in possible violation of the Sunshine and Federal Advisory Committee Acts. This revelation infuriated the other commission members. It also led prominent veterans' groups, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, to send a letter to the commission chair slamming the secret draft and expressing their united opposition to privatizing the VA.