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A Special Sacrifice

A letter from the editor of our November 2016 issue.

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“Boondoggle” may be too soft a word to describe the mismanagement and cost overruns—more than $1 billion at last count—of the Veterans Affairs hospital project in Aurora. As a former VA executive was awarded a more than $63,000 bonus, the construction of a cutting-edge building to replace the dilapidated Denver location moved ahead—with, apparently, the full knowledge of VA leadership that the design would put the project significantly over budget. With the hospital now slated to be finished in early 2018, one population in particular is suffering from this bureaucratic ineptitude: our veterans. Which makes features editor Kasey Cordell’s moving profile of veteran Julian Scadden (“Final Post,” page 124) all the more poignant. Over the past few years, Cordell has immersed herself in Denver’s veteran community. “It’s really important that the media not just depict these people as either completely broken or uniformly heroic,” she says. Through sensitive storytelling, Cordell adds, “we can show that most veterans fall somewhere in between and that many are having positive impacts on their communities that often go unnoticed.” That’s certainly the case with Scadden, who’s a housekeeper at the Denver VA Medical Center and who volunteers his time at the Denver VA Community Living Center. Detailing Scadden’s role at the CLC here would undercut the emotional core of Cordell’s feature, so I will simply say this: Please read “Final Post.” I hope the higher-ups at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs do; they could learn something from Scadden, who always puts our veterans first.

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