It’s the most basic and sacred promise we make as a nation. In return for sacrifice in the service of country, the nation – as part of the permanent, unabridgeable debt of honor it owes its military veterans – will do everything in its power to care for those wounded or disabled in the course of defending it. It is a promise not only crucial in its own right, to the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country, and to their families, but one that lies at the very heart of the social contract that holds us together as a nation and a people. And yet it is a promise that over the last two generations we have shockingly foreclosed upon and broken in myriad disturbing and increasingly egregious ways, as the VA – the Department of Veterans Affairs – the massive governmental institution charged with fulfilling that promise – has found itself mired in soaring costs, grotesque inefficiencies, bloated and outdated bureaucratic systems, bitter political infighting, incompetence, corruption, and endless delays. Taken as a whole, this broken promise represents an unconscionable failure of gargantuan proportions, on the part of one of the largest and most crucially important federal bureaucracies in America – exacerbating the pain and suffering felt by millions of American veterans and their families in countless heartbreaking ways, and undermining faith in public institutions.
The VA: A Documentary Film will chronicle in riveting depth and often wrenching detail the workings of this crucial American institution: exploring what it does and how it functions, its vast size and critical importance, its history and provenance and how and why it came into existence, how and why it has changed over time, how it has come to be broken in many critical ways in recent generations and how it may be reformed going forward. Interviewing two dozen key experts and stakeholders, including veterans, historians, advocates, politicians, political scientists, public policy experts and ordinary Americans, the film will follow in detail the stories of three veterans as they attempt to negotiate the challenges of life after military service, and the often Kafka-esque realities of the labyrinthine federal bureaucracy dedicated to helping them.