The Character Building Project

Michael J. Kerrigan


The initial stage of our campaign to reform the VA begins with listening to our veterans who have shared with us their not so pleasant experiences with the VA. As a result, numerous issues have been identified which need to be addressed and prioritized. The preliminary conclusion is not whether the VA is in need of reform but where and to what extent.


Secret waiting list to hide long delays in treating vets

Significant and chronic systemic leadership failures in the hospital system

Mismanagement/inefficiencies and redundancies

Lack of transparency in decision-making

Lifetime job security of VA employees

Retaliation and reprisals against whistleblowers

Wait times at each VA medical center especially, patient primary care wait times

Engaging in rationing of health care

Indifferent culture of the VA

Backlog of disability claims

Delayed medical care

Falsified data/manipulation

Procurement fraud

Need to modernize VA Health records

Political paralysis of congressional oversight committees… Continue reading



Realizing a campaign to reform the Veterans Administration (VA) will encounter an entrenched culture, be challenged by bureaucratic bloat, empire building and resistance to change from those protecting their turf, I have sought counsel from friends in Washington, former officials in the VA and those advocates having reform campaign experience.

Also having 32 years of Washington experience in dealing with Members of Congress, the Department of Defense, Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and other vested interests, I realize a campaign to reform the VA will be difficult, complex and problematic.

The counsel I have thus far received as to identifying the obstacles for such a campaign is quite sobering. A list of three of the most challenging obstacles follows:

First and foremost will be to align the campaign to reform the VA with the major goals of the Oversight and Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate. These committees… Continue reading


Eric Shinseki, the retired United States Army general served as the seventh United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs (2009-2014). Friends both in the Veterans Administration (VA) and the military have told me Shinseki, notwithstanding the scandals at the Phoenix VA, is a man of great integrity, brave and honorable. Shinseki is a veteran of two tours of combat in the Vietnam War, in which he was awarded three Bronze Stars for Valor and two Purple Hearts. He was both the first Asian-American four-star general.

In naming Shinseki’s successor President Obama called Robert McDonald “an expert in making organizations better.” The President was banking that McDonald the retired Chairman and CEO with a 33-year tenure at Proctor & Gamble has the skills to reform the beleaguered veterans health system. McDonald is known as a straight shooter with a tireless work ethic.

Tireless indeed, as the Secretary had been in his first… Continue reading

Last weekend when I first met Tim Payne, I was taken not with the fact that this double amputee sat upright in his wheel chair while cheerfully greeting so many civilians. Rather I was taken that he had an infectious smile of contentment about him and that he had a happy twinkle in his eyes.

In this brief encounter, I knew I was in the presence of a special warrior and listened attentively as he boldly shared his faith with me in an unusually charming way. He barely mentioned he had published a book about his faith, so upon my return to our home, I went on Amazon and immediately order it. The Squad Leader’s Bargain arrived this afternoon and I read it through without leaving my chair.

Surprisingly, for this traditional Roman Catholic, Tim Payne’s incredible book touched me in many positive and important ways. Here are a few:… Continue reading

Jesse Graham, Max Brewer, John & Dustina Masson, Marybeth & me, Andy Yelisie, Tim Brown (Front) Tim Payne, Josh Himan, Adam Keys

Jesse Graham, Max Brewer, John & Dustina Masson, Marybeth & me, Andy Yelisie, Tim Brown
(Front) Tim Payne, Josh Himan, Adam Keys


Friday afternoon my wife and I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing an extraordinary organization, Help Our Military Heroes donate their 61st new Van to John Masson an especially deserving Special Forces warrior. Below you will find more information about the two incredible women who have been improving the lives of our wounded military heroes through mobility and independence.

Two best friends, one dynamic idea…

Laurie Hollander and Marybeth Vandergrift started with a simple goal: to make a difference in the lives of our most severely wounded service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. So, in December of 2009 they got together with some friends and founded Help Our Military Heroes (HOMH). Since then HOMH has awarded dozens of adaptive minivans to some of… Continue reading

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Mottoes & Quotes

“In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity,In Peace: Good Will.”

— Winston S. Churchill

For the Visually Impaired

Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.