One year ago, Americans were horrified to learn of a nationwide patient care scandal at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, in which veterans were denied care while officials falsified scheduling statistics to conceal the delays.

But while that scandal affected veterans and their families most directly, it also underscored a broader and more troubling trend: Americans’ declining levels of trust and confidence in the leadership of the federal government.

The very visible failure of the VA, the second largest federal department, is emblematic of a collapse in trust in the U.S. government’s ability to deliver on its obligations.

The good news is that the scandal sparked a push for change in Congress, and President Obama signed the new VA reform law—the most significant in a generation—in August. The new law was intended to bring more accountability to the VA’s performance and to allow veterans greater choice in where they seek medical care.

The very visible failure of the VA, the second largest federal department, is emblematic of a collapse in trust in the U.S. government’s ability to deliver on its obligations.

Unfortunately, 12 months later, neither of those goals have been met; the reform effort has been stymied by a toxic and dysfunctional VA bureaucracy determined to preserve the status quo.

One of the department whistleblowers who helped expose the scheduling scandal, Dr. Katherine Mitchell of the Phoenix VA Medical Center, says now that she’s “incredibly disappointed with the lack of progress,” as she told the military news publication Stars and Stripes. Her explanation for the stalled progress: “The culture has not changed.”

But the VA scandal, and the difficulty in fixing what’s wrong at the department, has an impact felt far beyond the veterans’ community.

The very visible failure of the VA, the second largest federal department, is emblematic of a collapse in trust in the U.S. government’s ability to deliver on its obligations.

Consider the findings of a recent CBS News poll that found 62 percent of Americans believe the country is “on the wrong track.” Why would almost two-thirds of Americans have such a lack of confidence in this nation’s future?

Certainly, performance scandals at the VA and other government agencies are contributing factors that help explain that collapse in confidence. But we needn’t look too far to find other factors.

Americans are also alarmed by the towering national debt that has accumulated under the last two administrations (now at more than $18 trillion and counting). They wonder what that debt means for the health of the economy in the long term, and how and when Washington will learn to live within its means.

The news from overseas is yet another source of anxiety, as daily reports reveal mounting chaos in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East. Meanwhile, longtime U.S. adversaries like Russia and China are testing their limits aggressively in their respective regions.

Americans look at all of these developments and are concerned at the lack of national leadership that has allowed these threats to flourish. But they’re uncertain of how to achieve a real change in the status quo and to get America back “on the right track.”

My organization, Concerned Veterans for America, is undertaking an effort to change this dynamic with our 2015 Defend Freedom Tour, which launches April 17 in New York City. We’ll be joined by a group of distinguished military veterans and supporters who are advocating for a positive change to the dysfunctional status quo in Washington.

As the Defend Freedom Tour makes its way across the nation, with scheduled stops in 23 cities, we want to work with military veterans and other patriots to organize a movement for real change based on accountability and results.

Making this ideal a reality will require more than just “changing teams” and putting someone else in charge in Washington. The fact is, we need to change the culture of how the government functions.

That will require an organized and concerted effort to demand accountability from our elected officials of both parties; to make them responsive to the real challenges our nation is facing at home and around the globe; and to demand results.

And that starts with a vigorous defense of the freedoms that have made our nation great, and sending a message that the failures of the last several years, both on the home front and around the world, are unacceptable.

The poll results make it clear that Americans have lost faith in an elite leadership class that is failing to keep its promises. Our goal is to build a movement that will change that dynamic and restore the United States to a position of world leadership.

Pete Hegseth is the former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. A Fox News contributor, he is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard and has served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay.  He is the author of “In the Arena” and serves on the Advisory Board for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).