Category Archives: VETERAN’S AFFAIRS

URGENT…NEW NEWS STORIES…..

HERE’S A FEW NEWS ARTICLES I FOUND…

As evidence of Agent Orange in Okinawa stacks up, U.S. sticks with blanket denial

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http://www.ksfy.com/content/news/Congress-passes-bill-to-help-vets-with-less-than-honorable-discharges-406070835.html

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http://ijr.com/2016/12/754397-a-veterans-dead-body-was-left-unattended-in-shower-for-9-hours-and-the-va-facility-blamed-staffing/

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http://www.tampabay.com/news/military/veterans/va-now-says-it-fired-two-after-veterans-body-was-left-in-shower-nine-hours/2306150

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Veterans Affairs Uses Clinton Executive Order To Preempt States Rights

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TIME AND AGAIN WE SEE THIS

A steady drum beat of new scandals and nothing changes…

News articles are written and nothing changes…

Congressional meetings are held and and nothing changes…

Direction is given from Congress and the President and nothing improves…

New laws are written and nothing changes…

VA issues proposal after proposal and vies to change and improve and nothing changes…

VA WILL NOT CHANGE UNTIL FORCED

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the VA WILL NOT CHANGE UNTIL IT IS FORCED TO DO SO..

Even with scandals breaking out all over the place, numerous reports on TV and in newspapers,  and congressional hearings,  and  VA is lying, Vets are dying  billboards going up around the country,  the VA continues to lie,  delay and deny,  stonewalling,  and squirming furiously to hide the truth and maintain the status quo…

 Only congress has the power to effect real change at the VA…they control the money…

And there’s only one way to control congress.

The thing EVERY congressman cares about most?…Getting  Re-elected.

Here’s what I’m proposing…

THE NATIONAL VETERAN’S ACTION COMMITTEE..   NVAC

I’m not talking about a traditional PAC that gathers together billions of dollars and then uses that money to bribe politicians with junkets and campaign contributions and promises of future consulting jobs and exorbitant speaker fees…

We would only do four things…Organize….Provide information to politicians on matters that concern us  (no campaign contribution, no information junket to Bermuda, not even lunch)  Watch what they do…and VOTE

With a new Presidency and a host of new Congressmen it’s more urgent than ever that VETS concerns and needs are represented …Here’s the solution:

National Veteran’s Action Committee

You can  now join NVAC

JOIN NVAC  HERE

SHARE THIS WITH EVERY VET AND FAMILY MEMBER YOU KNOW

Neil Barretts’ Idea… A central clearinghouse for info on both good and bad VA sites…

FROM NEIL BARRETT

12/10/2016

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Hi all,

I wanted to tell you about a small project that I’ve been working on to help veterans with their VA Healthcare.

For the past five years, I have been receiving healthcare through the VA and have been to close to 20 different hospitals and outpatient clinics throughout the country. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the quality of care is all across the board. I have been to clinics in some places where it’s very clear that my quality of life, as a vet, is their number one interest.

On the other hand, I have been to other clinics where, from my perspective, I am nothing more than a number. For obvious reasons, I try my hardest to avoid those clinics. That said, I can’t find any sort of central location where I have a heads up of what to expect when going to a new clinic.

From this, I built a website called VAreview.net. Basically, I researched and created a page for every single VA hospital and clinic in the United States (a little over 1,000 locations). From there, veterans can rate their experience at that particular location. Think Yelp but specifically for the VA.

My hope is that as more and more users provide feedback, some trends may be begin to emerge. We, as veterans, can then take this information and provide the collective feedback to the leadership of the VA so that they can allocate resources to the areas of weakness and also learn from the areas of strength.

Also, while in the military, I was always taught that asking for help is considered to be a sign of weakness. It took me many years to realize that getting help for my physical and mental ailments wasn’t me being weak but was the only way I was going to get better. I have hope that other veterans sharing their experiences with the VA will provide the needed courage to get the treatment they need.

The big hurdle here is gathering feedback. I suspect that almost everyone reading this has likely spent some time at one or more VA’s in the country. All I ask is that you stop by the website and write a few sentences about your experience so that we, as a community, can find out what’s working and what’s not.

I should mention that I spent a good amount of time building this website and have no ulterior motives here other than building a voice for the veteran population in the hopes that we can improve upon our system. I intentionally creating this website as a place that can be built upon and maintained as a community so there’s no individual bias involved.

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I think it’s a great idea…What do you think?  You can check out his site here:  VAreview.net

Join,  read articles,  contribute to the database…

While your here, check out this site too…

TUCSON VA AT IT AGAIN OIG “criminal” probe into Tucson VA confirms whistleblowers claims

noverever22compressed

Published on Nov 18, 2016

Former top administrator sounded the alarm about unethical scheduling practices for several years and now an OIG report confirms her claims.

Question:  “Did you know that some of this stuff was going on?”

NON-answer: “We definitely have come a long way since 2014”  (Then why are we getting reports that’s it’s still going on today?) “

She NEVER answered the question…”Did you know”

 Question: ” Is there any accountability for the people who were doing things that were unethical?”

NON-answer: “We’re convening an Administration Investigation Board  (whatever that is?) and that board will take a look into the allegations…”

 ( Putting the fox to guard the hen house AGAIN )

Question: ” Could that mean that some of these people could be fired?”

NON-answer:  ” I think that’s a little premature to say.  I think the board will review the allegations and then go from there…”

(Translation from VA double-speak to english…” We’re gonna hide this in the deepest hole we can dig and wait till it blows over…”)

ARE YOU TIRED OF THIS HAPPENING AGAIN AND AGAIN?

VA WILL NOT CHANGE UNTIL FORCED

 Only congress has the power to effect real change at the VA…they control the money…

And there’s only one way to control congress.

The thing EVERY congressman cares about most?…Getting  Re-elected.

So here’s what I’m proposing…

THE NATIONAL VETERAN’S ACTION COMMITTEE..   NVAC

Read about the NVAC HERE

You can  now join NVAC

JOIN NVAC  HERE

The process is simple…

  1.  Join the NVAC  Facebook  groupHERE

  2.   NVAC dues are $1.00 per month ..You can pay them HERE.

  3. Sign up for the newsletter VA REPORT HERE

  4. It’s a simple three step process.  you’re not a full member till you have finished all three steps…

  5. You will also receive Steps to a Fully Developed Claim,  a guide for Veterans applying for VA benefits…

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER HERE:

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RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF  Steps to a FULLY DEVELOPED CLAIM

 

US report on Tucson VA wait times validates whistleblower’s claims.

noverever22

From a story by

Emily Bregel Arizona Daily Star
Read the entire story HERE
Excerpt:

After 17 years working as a registered nurse in the Tucson VA system, Diane Suter says she was taken aback when a manager first pressured her to falsely record patient wait times in 2014.

Suter, 62, had just started a new job scheduling patients at a Southern Arizona VA Health Care System primary care clinic on South Sixth Avenue. Wait times were often one to three months long, but revealing the true wait times in the computer system meant the doctor missed out on bonus pay, Suter’s nurse manager told her.

“She said, ‘Your appointments are over two weeks out and you’re costing your doctor money,’ ” Suter said. The manager showed her how to “zero out” wait times on their computerized scheduling system: Suter was told to input a patient’s desired appointment date as the same day as the scheduled appointment date, so it would appear there was no wait time, she said.

Suter complied after her manager strongly implied she’d be fired if she refused. But her dogged whistleblower complaints to VA regulators and legislators contributed to the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s decision to investigate the Tucson VA starting in April.

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Sound familiar? These things just keep popping up…

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Excerpt:

Tucson VA spokesman Luke Johnson said in an email the practices described in the report “are inappropriate and are not consistent with our … core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence.”

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Does this also sound familiar?

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Don Avant ·

Webmaster at Donavantwebsites.com
RE: “Doctors’ and nurses’ performance pay is no longer tied to wait times, Johnson said.”

I have no problem with performance pay being tied to wait times provided the wait times are HONESTLY REPORTED. By delinking performance times and performance pay you are actually removing any incentive DRs and Nurses have to work harder and reduce the wait times honestly…

RE: “Johnson encourages VA staff to speak up if unethical practices are still happening.”

I’ll believe that when I see elephants fly (outside of a Disney movie that is.). If you want to see how much the VA “encourages employees to come forward,” look at what happened to Suter. “After Suter objected to unethical scheduling practices, she suffered retaliation and a hostile work environment, leading her to leave the VA in August 2014 and seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.” ( quote from the story )

RE: “The nurse manager who compelled her to falsify wait times still works at the Tucson VA, Suter said.”

Well, that’s hitting the nail right on the head. The perfect explanation for why these problems keep
reoccurring at the VA..NO ACCOUNTABILITY… The best cure for bad behavior is STR ( Swift and Terrible Retribution ) The problem was investigated and substantiated by the OIG. What happened? The perpetrator still works for the VA and the whistleblower has been hounded out of a job.

JUST PUBLISHED—JUST PUBLISHED—JUST PUBLISHED

Sign up for VA REPORT NEWSLETTER and get the newly published guide: Steps to a FULLY DEVELOPED CLAIM…

SUBSCRIPTION

 

To MD or not to MD

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So…I was reading this article over at DisabledVeterans.org:

Clinical Pharmacists Now Handle Primary Care For Veterans Affairs

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2016/10/26/clinical-pharmacists-now-handle-primary-care-for-veterans-affairs/#comment-30040

I decided I would ask a Professional Nurse what they thought about it.

My niece is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at Princeton Baptist Medical Center and a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at UAB Critical Care Transport.

Here’s  a transcript of my comment and our interaction:

My comment:

I’m all FOR increased access but NOT AT THE COST OF REDUCED QUALITY OF CARE…No Pharmacist has the training of an MD. That’s why they have a

No Pharmacist has the training of an MD. That’s why they have a PHD after their name instead of an MD…

I love nurses…

They’re great people and those that go into the field usually do so from the standpoint of caring for their patients.

My niece is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at Princeton Baptist Medical Center and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at UAB Critical Care Transport.

She transports critical care infants (usually in a helicopter ) and is eminently qualified for her job (getting critical infants to a place where they can be better treated than where they are..)

As a matter of fact, I would bet that most of the MDs that she is transporting kids too would flounder in the high-pressure atmosphere she operates in…(no pun intended ) She’s GREAT at keeping kids alive till they get where they need to be…HOWEVER, She’s still not an MD…

When she gets the kids to UAB Hospital, their care is turned over to an MD who specializes in Pediatric care ( probably assisted by other Pediatric Nurses that specialize in in-house care…) I sent her a link to this discussion and here was our interaction…

Continue reading To MD or not to MD

VA quit sending performance data to national health care quality site

 

 

 

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According to this article in USA Today,  the VA,  despite legal requirements to do so,  has stopped sending info regarding it’s performance as compared to nearby hospitals,  thus taking away Vets ability to compare that performance and make an informed decision about where to seek health care…

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/09/12/va-quit-performance-data-hospital-compare/90123440/

Is it any surprise that the VA is AGAIN breaking the law and AGAIN refusing to be transparent to Vets and the public?

From the article:  “In a separate move, the VA also took down its own site in February that provided side-by-side quality comparisons of its hospitals. That page, hospitalcompare.va.gov,is now simply blank.”

I wonder what the VA is trying to hide now…Could it be that VA hospitals are trying to hide the fact that they just don’t stack up to civilian hospitals when it comes to the number of deaths and and re-admissions?

The VA seems to be trying to lay the blame on  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claiming that HHS, claiming ” lawyers at HHS advised the VA to pull the plug until the two agencies could work out a new deal governing the sharing of information.”   The HSS ain’t talking…saying only  “HHS declined to provide answers to a list of questions from USA TODAY but issued a statement from CMS spokesman Aaron Albright saying the agency is committed to providing additional health care information to consumers.”

Sounds to me that the HHS has been taking lessons from the VA in gobbledegook…

What’s your take on it?   Hit the link above and read the article,  then feel free to comment below.

 

Barry Coates dead; 46-year-old veteran was face of the VA scandal over delays in care

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POSTED 2:15 PM, JANUARY 27, 2016, BY

Barry Coates dead…..

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DON’T SHARE =DON’T CARE

Witness Testimony of Barry Coates, Veteran

My name is Barry Lynn Coates and due to the inadequate and lack of follow up care I received through the VA system, I stand before you terminally ill today. I joined the Army in February of 1991 anxious to serve my country. Near the end of basic training an injury to my back derailed those plans and I was discharged around the first of May that same year.

After a five year fight to obtain service connection status for my injury and the treatment and pain management required as a result of it, I finally became eligible for medical treatment through the VA system. That was the start of the long, painful, emotional, and unnecessary journey that brings me to you.

On November 22, 2010 severe abdominal pain sent me to Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville SC, where a spinal CT showed that my lungs were clear and my liver were normal however, there was blood seen in the stool so a follow-up was recommended and consideration of a colonoscopy was suggested. That follow-up recommendation was completed at the Rock Hill Clinic with Dr. Anuradha Verma on January 20, 2011. No rectal exam was done, I was basically told to continue taking my medications previously prescribed and to come back if things did not improve or things got worse.

Due to increased pain and constipation, on February 25, 2011 I requested to be seen by a doctor or to be referred to a GI Specialist. I saw Dr. Verma again on March 3, 2011 because of increased pain and rectal bleeding. I reminded her of the suggestion made by the ER doctor that a colonoscopy might be needed. I was sent home with hemorrhoidal suppositories and the promise that a colonoscopy might be done at some point. I was not seen until May of 2011 and the results were the same.

I had relocated in October 2010 but had to continued to be seen at the Rock Hill, SC Clinic due to the back log at the Florence, SC Clinic. I was first seen by Dr. Eric Naumann at the Florence Clinic in June 2011. He started by putting me on 100 mg of the stool softener “Docusate” in order to counteract the constipation caused by narcotics necessary to treat the ongoing back pain to my previous injury. He also expressed dismay that this had not be done previously. Most importantly, he agreed that a colonoscopy needed to be done.

However my first GI consult did  not occur until August 2011 with Dr. Sylvia Kim. I informed Dr. Kim of the ongoing pain, constipation, and bloody stools that I had been dealing with for over a year only to repeatedly have it dismissed as hemorrhoids. I was simply told to return in two months, still no referral for colonoscopy despite my request. In a conversation with Andy Pigge, Rn at the Florence Clinic, I made it known that my requests were being ignored and I felt it was jeopardizing my health.

On September 1, 2011 after ample time on the Docusate I sent Dr. Naumann  a message via my healthyvet.com informing him that I was still bleeding every bowel movement and still experiencing pain. As of September 15, 2011 I began having trouble urinating in addition to the other problems and only found some relief sitting in warm water. Dr. Naumann was informed of these new symptoms at this time. He stated that I may need to see a surgeon and may need to be considered for a colonoscopy. Dr. Naumann requested for the second time a colonoscopy October 4, 2011.

I saw Dr. Kim October 12, 2011 and told her that the pain was now constant as well as the rectal bleeding and that my stools have become smaller and bright red in color. I was finally scheduled to have a colonoscopy consultation in April of 2012, which would be approximately a year and a half after the beginning of this journey.

Tired of living in constant pain and knowing that my problems were bigger than hemorrhoids, I persistently called on the chance that there might be an earlier opening or cancellation. I was able to secure an opening for consultation appointment for November 30, 2011 and finally had the colonoscopy done December 9, 2011. The procedure was done at the Fort Jackson Hospital by Dr. Steedman Sarbah which found that I had a 5.5 mm nodule located six to eight centimeters from the anal verge with almost total luminal obstruction. I was diagnosed with stage four colon rectal cancer. Further tests revealed metastatic nodules on the right lung in the upper lobe along with liver lesions. It was stated that because of the post proximity of the nodules to anal verge a proper rectal exam would have easily found it and prompted treatment sooner.

I saw Dr. Kim days later on the 14 of December 2012 and expressed to her sentiments of the doctor that performed the colonoscopy along with my own that a doctor should take time to listen to her patients as they know their bodies and can often sense when something is wrong. After “supposedly” not being able to feel the tumor during prior exam after seeing the images she was suddenly able to locate it easily.

I had surgery on December 16, 2012 for a post diverting loop colostomy and started chemotherapy in January of 2012 followed by 26 radiation treatments. The tumor was removed July 22, 2012 with a total anal recession. I have since had to endure a permanent colostomy which requires multiple bag changes per day along with catherization several times daily because of the bladder nerves being severed in order to remove the tumor. I am totally and permanently impotent as well as incontinent. The extensive chemotherapy has resulted in permanent neuropathy in both my hands and feet causing constant discomfort and pain.

A follow up exam on April 2, 2014 has shown even further spreading of cancer with new lesions on my liver, multiple new lesions on both lungs, plus growth of the existing lesions and a referral for a MRI as the doctor fears it may have spread to my brain. Another round of Chemotherapy would have been started immediately but was postponed so I would be able to come and speak to all of you.

It is likely too late for me, the gross negligence of my ongoing problems and crippling back log epidemic of the VA medical system has not only handed me a death sentence but ruined the quality of my life I have for the meantime. I am not here today for me, I am here to speak for those to come so that they might be spared the pain I have already endured and know that I have yet to face.

( Emphasis added by me)

My situation is made even more unnecessary knowing that a 1.2 million dollar grant was given to the Dorn VA Center to reduce backlog and improve care and treatment of veterans only to learn that the money was misallocated by diverting it to other uses instead of using it for the intended purpose. Only 1/3 of those funds were used properly.

Men and women across this country volunteer every day to serve in the armed forces. The fact that our military stays well-manned and strong solely on the willingness of those volunteers to risk to lives for the protection of the nation as a whole is truly awe-inspiring. Other nations have to force service in order to maintain a strong military.

( Emphasis added by me)

The very least this country should do is to ensure that those volunteers are taken care of after they have made sacrifices to take care of our country.

( Emphasis added by me)

I am not a unique case in the VA health care system as 19 others have already died and 60 more are in the same terminal status I am here because proper care was not given exams were not performed properly, and diagnostic tests were either postponed or not done at all.

In the civilian world, these doctors would face malpractice suits and medical review boards. As the saying goes “heads would roll.” In the VA system oversight is not as clear cut and complaints are often either lost or covered up by bureaucracy. So I ask you today, how many more vets will be allowed to suffer and die before someone is held accountable?

Coates,  who became the human face of the Veterans Affairs scandal over delays in care in 2014, died on Saturday of the cancer that wracked his body after waits for medical care at a VA facility. He was 46.

( Emphasis added by me)

 

Coates became a national figure representing delays in medical care at VA hospitals after he was featured prominently in a CNN investigation in January 2014.

The CNN investigation that included Coates was the first national story about delays in care across the country that year. It led to a national controversy resulting in the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, and ultimately a law that provided $16 billion to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama.

After the CNN story about him, Coates was asked to testify before Congress about the delays in his medical care. When he got to Washington, Coates told lawmakers he had suffered for months, waiting for a simple medical procedure that might have saved his life.

Coates testified he was dying of cancer because the procedure was delayed at several VA facilities, including the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina.

Leaving some lawmakers in tears and making national news again, Coates described in detail how he waited months, even begging for an appointment to have a colonoscopy. But he found himself on a growing list of veterans also waiting for appointments and procedures.

About a year after first complaining to his doctors of pain, Coates said, he was able to get a colonoscopy. Doctors discovered a cancerous tumor the size of a baseball. By then he had Stage 4 cancer, and it was only a matter of time before he was overtaken by the illness, he told lawmakers.

From his first interview, Coates, a simple but articulate man from rural South Carolina, spoke eloquently about how veterans should be treated better, and deserved more after all the sacrifices they had made for their country.

“Due to the inadequate and lack of follow-up care I received through the VA system, I stand before you terminally ill today,” Coates told members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

The lawmakers who heard him testify were shaken by his description, and about the numerous deaths of other veterans outlined in CNN’s investigation.

“This is an outrage! This is an American disaster!” Rep. Jackie Walorski, an Indiana Republican, nearly screamed, her voice quavering, during that congressional hearing, in April 2014. “My dad was a veteran. He died of colon cancer,” she said, crying softly. “This is so personal to me.”

Coates remained friendly and kind, was never hostile, and even kept his humor as his illness progressed. Speaking with his down-home and polite country manner, the Army veteran had a remarkable ability to touch many people with his story.

Coates’ family said he died Saturday from the cancer that had been left untreated by the VA for so long. After his time in the national spotlight, Coates continued to rail against the VA and fight for veterans to get better treatment, continuing to speak with reporters and helping them understand the VA crisis and scandal as it unfolded.

Coates’ son, Shane, 23, on Wednesday described his father’s fight and how he remained committed to helping other veterans to the end.

“Everything they did at the VA was dragged out, it was never a quick appointment for anything,” Shane Coates said. “He had to wait so long to get any treatment. After what happened to him, he just wanted to fight for other veterans.”

“He wanted to show the world that when you go fight for your country, it’s not right that you come home and then you have to fight just to get basic medical treatment,” Shane Coates said. “The way they treated him, and other veterans, it’s just not the way any veteran should ever be treated. It’s just not right.”

Coates was buried Wednesday in Timrod, South Carolina, after a service at the Timrod Baptist Church. In addition to Shane, Coates is survived by his father, Barry Coates Sr.; his wife, Donna; his brother Randall; his sister Dawanna; and by four other children: Scotty, 25; Breanna, 24; Troy, 22; and Tyler, 16.

POSTED 2:15 PM, JANUARY 27, 2016, BY

The story of Dr Sam Foote….

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/investigations/2014/05/31/va-scandal-whistleblower-sam-foote/9830057/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

ARE YOU MAD ENOUGH TO DO SOMETHING YET?

I’m exploring the idea of creating a PAC  dealing only with Vet’s issues…Read about it here…

VETERAN’S POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE

1. Share this post with every Vet,   Vet family member, ALL your Facebook friends and other social media…

2. Sign up for the newsletter and encourage those you share with to do the same…( Newsletter is in infancy stage…I’m still learning to use it..)

3. Begin thinking of ways you personally would be willing to do to help ( Would you be willing to make a donation to the fund, be a recruiter, hold meetings at your house, put up a poster at your local VFW or DVA, Be a county , state or national officer? )

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SHARE = CARE  

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Eighth grader in Oregon was suspended for wearing a t-shirt, and stuff about Phoenix

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Most of you who have read my posts before realize that I don’t usually add a LOT of comment.  I prefer to just present the stories and let you make up your own mind…This one’s a little different…I will add some of my own thoughts…

First…the story:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/11/oregon-8th-grader-suspended-from-school-for-wearing-patriotic-shirt-showing-gun/

An eighth grader in Oregon wanted to honor his older brother,   a Marine who had successfully served in Iraq and  safely returned home.   His tribute took the form of wearing a t-shirt… For some reason, the principal decided that this t-shirt wan “inappropriate” and demanded that he take it off…When the student refused, he was sent home.

Here’s the e-mail I sent to the school district supervisor:

from: Don Avant <avantdonald@gmail.com>
to: “schlachter@gresham.k12.or.us” <schlachter@gresham.k12.or.us>
date: Mon, Oct 12, 2015 at 10:30 AM

Superintendent Schlachter…

I would like to make a couple of points..

First, I’m a Viet  Nam Vet and so am active in many Orgs and websites supporting Vets and Patriotism…As such, I’m  appalled at the actions of your school in response to a young man who sought not to disrupt at your school but only to honor the many Veterans who have fought and died for our country…
Second, It would seem, from the stories that I’ve read, that the t-shirt concerned was not in direct conflict of your dress code, only offending in the perception of the principal at the school.  I am here to inform you that not only have you stepped on this young man’s civil rights, but you have offended ME and a large number of Veterans with your actions…
I intend to follow this story closely and report your actions to ALL my constituents…If your actions against this principal are not Immediate and an apology to the young man is not quickly forthcoming…YOU AND ALL YOUR BOSSES WILL HEAR FROM US..
Respectfully yours…
DWA
And here’s his response:

Jim Schlachter

Oct 12 (7 days ago) Reply
to me

Dear Don,

 

I recently received your email expressing your concerns, and wanted to share some background.

 

As you may know, recently a middle school student in the Gresham-Barlow School District wore a t-shirt to school that had a rifle on it. Some news reports state the student was suspended. This was not the case. The administration did talk with the student about the appropriateness of the image on his shirt. The parent of the student agreed to allow the student to go home after the student refused other options such as changing into a different t-shirt.

We are aware the rifle on the student’s t-shirt featured a Fallen Soldier Battle Cross, which is a symbol used to show respect for fallen troops. The message of the t-shirt, showing support for our country’s military, and their many sacrifices, is a positive one that we fully support. What called into question the appropriateness of the t-shirt in a middle school setting was the rifle included in the image.

While the district’s dress code does not allow clothing with images of weapons, in light of this situation, we will take a closer look at our policy. This is an opportunity to engage the community in a conversation about school safety and the age appropriate ways to express support for our military veterans in a school setting.

The Gresham-Barlow School District greatly appreciates the service provided to our country by the members of the United States military and the many sacrifices made by veterans and their families to defend our country.

My e-mail back:

Don Avant <avantdonald@gmail.com>

Oct 13 (6 days ago)

Reply
to Jim

Just wanted to remind you while taking a closer look at your policy that the student in question has already had his Right to Free Speech infringed upon and continuing that infringement is unconstitutional…

Thank you…
DWA
If you would like to contact Mr Schlacter and add your own comment to the mix, Here’s his e-mail address:
schlachter@gresham.k12.or.us
Please let him know how you feel about his stepping on this students Constitutional Right… AND refusing to allow him to honor his brother…
Now on to Phoenix…
The Arizona Republic a Tucson publication put out by Gannet Publishing, has continued to cover the Phoenix VA scandal and t doesn’t seem to be getting any better..

Internal strife ongoing among Phoenix VA staff

Phoenix VA fiscal officer wins whistleblower reprisal case

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/investigations/2015/10/17/phoenix-va-fiscal-officer-wins-whistleblower-reprisal-case/74015344/?from=global&sessionKey&autologin

Phoenix VA bosses mired in personal conflicts

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/investigations/2015/05/24/phoenix-va-bosses-mired-personal-conflicts/27724253/

Delays at VA urology clinic implicated in deaths

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/veterans/2015/10/16/delays-va-urology-clinic-implicated-deaths/74048378/

Personally I think it’s time to bring in a couple of terriers to clean out this rat’s nest…what do you think?

Somebody call the FBI dammit!!!

Please feel free to comment below,  however,

Sharing this post to your friends,

gets the word around faster…

 

A cure for VA problems?

Is there a cure for VA problems?

There doesn’t seem to be…

The congress, The President,  McDonald and everyone else but the VA has tried.  The VA continues to fight tooth and nail against any meaningful reform…Delay, deny and lie is built into the culture and fabric of the VA’s management…

As far as I can see, there is only one solution…the promise of SWIFT AND TERRIBLE RETRIBUTION for not performing your job correctly…

If OIG finds a department deficient…the department head should be suspended  immediately,  without pay,  and an interim  director appointed.  A full investigation into the department should be initiated and  ALL  found responsible should be fired…

Investigation results should be made public as the investigation is ongoing and a final report should made to the President,  VA director , congress and the public.  Anyone who fails to co-operate with the investigation should also be suspended without pay.

Whistle blowers  must be STRENUOUSLY protected..

.Any claim of retribution should be immediately  published,  investigated,   and punished by  suspension,  leading to a dismissal hearing.  Retribution to a whistle blower should be punished by law.

If that’s not enough,   CRIMINAL PROSECUTION should be used.   Accepting money to do a job and then not doing it is,  after all,  Fraud.  Covering up malfeasance  is Conspiracy to Commit Fraud.  Do RICO laws apply to a huge conspiracy like this?

What about Civil Suits to recover any and all funds paid to those who took money by fraud?

What do you think about it?

What can you do to make a difference?

Make a comment below…

 

Contact your Congressmen and Senators

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Contact the VA and let them know how mad you are…https://iris.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1703

(there doesn’t seem to be a number to file a complaint or an e-mail address…maybe your  Congressmen and Senators will have better luck)

AND you can SUPPOSEDLY  contact VA Sec. McDonald at his personal cell phone at   (513)  509- 8454

See the C-span clip here

http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4507948/va-secretary-cell-phone-number

Legal clinics for Vets

Legal clinics are helping servicemen and women get their veterans benefits faster. These pro bono legal clinics are run by law students, and they help veterans substantiate their claims and get the disability compensation they need. Schools like the College of William  & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., have helped vets file hundreds of claims which could help vets get free legal advice and reduce the growing backlog of disability compensation in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

 

Because of the success of the clinic at the College of William & Mary, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced a bill on May 28 that would help other clinics get funding to help with veterans’ claims. Called The Veterans Legal Support Act of 2013 , the bill would allow VA to give up to $1 million per year to help these types of programs by giving them the financial support needed to continue to offer their services. According to the AP, 30 law schools in 18 states have developed these kinds of programs in the past five years.

 

“We have a responsibility to take care of our veterans and the VA isn’t currently doing enough,” Sen. Shaheen said in a statement. “The claims backlog is unacceptable and we still have too many veterans out on the streets. “Some of our nation’s law schools are greatly reducing processing times for the most difficult benefits claims and expanding access to legal services, both of which are key to preventing homelessness. Our bill would authorize the VA to work more closely with these programs and lower barriers for additional schools to develop their own. Our goal is to have a veterans legal clinic in each state.”

 

Because of the success of the program at the College of William & Mary, students there have written a guidebook for other schools interested in starting a program like this. According to the AP, Congress has deemed this program an inexpensive way to speed up the VA system of benefits processing.

 

“At 50 clients you’re directly representing at a time, that’s certainly not going to impact the backlog in a way that It needs to be,” Patty Roberts, director of clinical programs at William & Mary’s law school, told the AP. “But if you get more law schools across the country to do this work then you’re exponentially leveraging the passion and the experience of law students across the country to help with that backlog.”

more of the same…

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A year after Americans recoiled at new revelations that sick veterans were getting sicker while languishing on waiting lists — and months after the Department of Veterans Affairs instituted major reforms costing billions of dollars — government data shows that the number of patients facing long waits at VA facilities has not dropped at all. No one expected that the VA mess could be fixed overnight. But The Associated Press has found that since the summer, the number of vets waiting more than 30 or 60 days for non-emergency care has largely stayed flat. The number of medical appointments that take longer than 90 days to complete has nearly doubled.Nearly 894,000 appointments completed at VA medical facilities from Aug. 1 to Feb. 28 failed to meet the health system’s timeliness goal, which calls for patients to be seen within 30 days.That means roughly one in 36 patient visits to a caregiver involved a delay of at least a month. Nearly 232,000 of those appointments involved a delay of longer than 60 days — a figure that doesn’t include cancellations, patient no-shows, or instances where veterans gave up and sought care elsewhere.

A closer look reveals deep geographic disparities.

Many delay-prone facilities are clustered within a few hours’ drive of each other in a handful of Southern states, often in areas with a strong military presence, a partly rural population and patient growth that has outpaced the VA’s sluggish planning process.

Of the 75 clinics and hospitals with the highest percentage of patients waiting more than 30 days for care, 12 are in Tennessee or Kentucky, 11 are in eastern North Carolina and the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, 11 more are in Georgia and southern Alabama, and six are in north Florida.

Seven more were clustered in the region between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Those 47 clinics and hospitals represent just a fraction of the more than 1,000 VA facilities nationwide, but they were responsible for more than one in five of the appointments that took longer than 60 days to complete, even though they accounted for less than 6 percent of patient visits.

That has meant big headaches for veterans like Rosie Noel, a retired Marine gunnery sergeant who was awarded the Purple Heart in Iraq after rocket shrapnel slashed open her cheek and broke her jaw.

Noel, 47, said it took 10 months for the VA to successfully schedule her for a follow-up exam and biopsy after an abnormal cervical cancer screening test in June 2013.

First, she said, her physician failed to mention she needed the exam at all. Then, her first scheduled appointment in February 2014 was postponed due to another medical provider’s “family emergency.” She said her make up appointment at the VA hospital in Fayetteville, one of the most backed-up facilities in the country, was abruptly canceled when she was nearly two hours into the drive from her home in Sneads Ferry on the coast.

Noel said she was so enraged, she warned the caller that she had post-traumatic stress disorder, she wasn’t going to turn around — and they better have security meet her in the lobby.

“I served my country. I’m combat wounded. And to be treated like I’m nothing is unconscionable,” she said.

The AP examined wait times at 940 individual VA facilities from Sept. 1 through Feb 28 to gauge any changes since a scandal over delays and attempts to cover them up led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May and prompted lawmakers to pass the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act in August. The analysis included all VA hospitals and outpatient clinics for which consistent wait time data was available. It excluded residential treatment centers, homeless dormitories and disability evaluation centers. Data for individual facilities were not available for August.

It is difficult to quantify exactly how things have changed because the VA introduced a new method for measuring wait times at the end of the summer. VA officials say the new methodology is more accurate, but its adoption also meant that about half of all patient appointments previously considered delayed are now being classified as meeting VA timeliness standards. That means published wait times now can’t be directly compared with data the VA released last spring.

The trend, however, is clear: Under the VA’s old method for calculating delays, the percentage of appointments that took longer than 30 days to complete had been steadily ticking up, from 4.2 percent in May to nearly 5 percent in September. Under the new method — the one that counts half as many appointments as delayed — the percentage went from 2.4 percent in August to 2.9 percent in February.

The number of appointments delayed by more than 90 days abruptly jumped to nearly 13,000 in January and more than 10,000 in February, compared to an average of around 5,900 the previous five months. That’s not a change that can simply be blamed on bad winter weather; many of the places reporting the largest gains are warm year-round.

VA officials say they are aware of the trouble spots in the system. They cite numerous efforts to ramp up capacity by building new health centers and hiring more staff; between April and December, the system added a net 8,000 employees, including 800 physicians and nearly 2,000 nurses.

And they say that in at least one statistical category, the VA has improved: The number of appointments handled by VA facilities between May and February was up about 4.5 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

But they also readily acknowledge that in some parts of the country, the VA is perpetually a step behind rising demand.

“I think what we are seeing is that as we improve access, more veterans are coming,” Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson told the AP.

He also acknowledged that the VA has historically been “not very adroit as a bureaucracy” in responding to those changes. It takes too long to plan and build new clinics when they are needed, he said, and the VA isn’t flexible in its ability to reallocate resources to places that need them most.

“We are doing a whole series of things — the right things, I believe — to deal with the immediate issue,” Gibson said. “But we need an intermediate term plan that moves us ahead a quantum leap, so that we don’t continue over the next three or four years just trying to stay up. We’ve got to get ahead of demand.”

He also asked for patience. President Barack Obama signed legislation in August giving the VA an additional $16.3 billion to hire doctors, open more clinics and build the new Choice program that allows vets facing long delays or long drives to get care from a private-sector doctor.

It will take time to get some of those initiatives expanded to the point where they “move the needle,” Gibson said.

Between Nov. 5 and March 17, according to VA officials, only about 46,000 patients had made appointments for private-sector care through Choice — a drop in the bucket for a system that averages about 4.7 million appointments per month.

___

DISPARITIES ABOUND

In many parts of the country, the VA can boast of being able to deliver care that is just as fast, or even faster, than patients would get in the private sector. Relatively few VA facilities in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Coast states reported having significant numbers of patients waiting extended periods for care.

Of the 940 hospitals and outpatient centers included in the AP analysis, 376 met the VA’s timeliness standard better than 99 percent of the time. A little less than half of all VA hospitals and clinics reported averaging fewer than two appointments per month that involved a wait of more than 60 days.

The difference between the haves and have-nots can be stark.

The Minneapolis VA, one of the system’s busiest medical centers, completed 276,094 medical appointments between Sept. 1 and Feb. 28. Only 424 of them involved a wait of more than 60 days.

At the VA’s outpatient clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, a facility handling a third of the volume, 7,117 appointments involved a wait of more than 60 days.

That means there were more vets experiencing extended delays at that one clinic than in the entire states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut combined.

Equally surprising: The Jacksonville clinic is practically brand new. It opened in 2013 with the express intent of improving access to care in a fast-growing city with a lot of military retirees and a close relationship with three U.S. Navy bases: Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport and the Kings Bay Naval Base.

But like other VA facilities built recently in spots now struggling with long waits, the clinic took so long to plan and build — 12 years — that it was too small the day it opened, despite late design changes that added significantly more space.

“Even our best demographic models didn’t anticipate the rate at which the growth would occur,” said Nick Ross, the assistant director for outpatient clinics at the VA’s North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System.

In recent months, the clinic has been enrolling another 25 new patients per day — a growth rate that would require the VA to hire another doctor, nurse and medical support assistant every 10 weeks to keep up with demand, said Thomas Wisnieski, the health system’s director.

Officials are hoping to lease 20,000 square feet of additional clinic space while they begin the planning process for yet another new building.

Clinic construction is also underway in an attempt to ease chronic delays in care on the Florida panhandle. A new outpatient VA clinic is scheduled to open in Tallahassee in 2016, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in August for a new clinic in Panama City.

___

A SLOW PACE OF CHANGE

The Fayetteville VA hopes to celebrate its 75th anniversary this fall with the opening of a huge new outpatient health care center that could ease the types of chronic delays that caused Rosie Noel so much anxiety. (After her canceled exam, the VA paid for Noel to get care at a private-sector clinic; she doesn’t have cervical cancer.)

With 250,000 square feet of usable space, the center will be almost as large as the main hospital building itself. The new campus will have 1,800 parking spots, a women’s clinic and scores of new treatment rooms. It is sorely needed for a region that is home to two of America’s largest military bases, the Army’s Fort Bragg and the Marines’ Camp Lejeune, and one of the highest concentrations of vets in the country. In two core counties, one in five adults is a veteran.

Yet the new building is also emblematic of the slow pace of change at the VA.

Planning for the facility began in 2008, and Congress approved funding the next year. Construction hadn’t even begun when the first target completion date came and went in June 2012. The VA’s Office of Inspector General said in a 2013 report that the VA’s management of the “timeliness and costs” of seven planned health care centers, including the one in Fayetteville, had “not been effective.”

The hospital’s director since 2010, Elizabeth Goolsby, cited the VA’s failure to expand quickly as a primary reason for why eastern North Carolina now has some of the longest waits for care in the country.

“The contracting and building time in the Department of Veterans Affairs is a lengthy process,” she said.

During her tenure in Fayetteville, Goolsby has opened new outpatient clinics in Wilmington, Goldsboro, Pembroke and Hamlet. All now rank among the VA locations with the highest percentage of appointments that fail to meet timeliness standards.

At the VA’s clinic in Jacksonville— a small medical office built in a shopping plaza near Camp Lejeune’s main gate in 2008 — nearly one in nine appointments completed between Sept. 1 and Feb. 28 involved a wait of longer than 60 days.

“It’s not big enough to accommodate the number of veterans we are seeing or the number of providers we need,” Goolsby acknowledged.

One solution, she said, has been to keep building.

A new 15,000-square-foot clinic is under construction to serve the area around Camp Lejeune. The VA also is trying to develop a clinic in Sanford, north of Fort Bragg. And there have been stopgap measures, like the construction of modular buildings at the Fayetteville hospital this winter to host mental health clinics, and an emergency lease for a temporary medical office that allowed it to bolster staff in Jacksonville.

Some vets whose doctors were moved over to the new Jacksonville space said things improved immediately, even if that has not yet been reflected in the statistics.

“It used to take me six months to a year to get a doctor’s appointment,” Jim Davis, a retired Marine who fought in the first Gulf War and now has Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Since he transferred to the temporary clinic, he said, “I’ve called, and within three or four days I can get in to see the doctor.”

He called the change a relief, because he preferred to stay within the VA system for care if he could.

“There’s not a pharmacist at Wal-Mart calling me at home and asking me if the latest change in medicine made me feel sick. But that is happening in the VA,” Davis said. “They are so much more respectful, because they know you served.”

___

RURAL RECRUITING CHALLENGES

After years of planning, a large, new outpatient center also is scheduled to open this fall to expand care offered at the VA medical center in Montgomery, Alabama.

That expansion also is long overdue. Among the VA’s full-service medical centers, the Montgomery VA had the highest percentage of appointments that took longer than 30 days to complete. More than one in 11 appointments completed between September and February failed to meet timeliness standards. A sister hospital, a short drive to the east in Tuskegee, was No. 2.

There’s no guarantee, though, that a new building will help the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System solve one of its other longstanding problems — a difficulty recruiting enough doctors and specialists needed to handle demand.

Both hospitals are surrounded by largely poor, rural counties designated by the government as having severe physician shortages.

“They are on the frontier of some of the most medically underserved areas of the country,” said Dr. William Curry, associate dean for primary care and rural health at University of Alabama School of Medicine.

That could mean that veterans who might otherwise get care in the private sector are more reliant on the VA. It also has historically meant big challenges recruiting physicians, who can make more money in metropolitan areas.

“Not a lot of medical students want to go work for the VA in a rural community medical clinic,” said Dr. Kevin Dellsperger, chief medical officer at the Georgia Regents Medical Center and former chief of staff at the VA medical center in Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Srinivas Ginjupalli, acting chief of staff for the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, confirmed that recruiting is a challenge, but he said the VA has been boosting salaries since the summer in an attempt to be more competitive in attracting staff.

Goolsby cited similar rural recruiting problems in her enterprise, which serves a sprawling region of hog farms and tobacco fields. Other VA officials said difficulty attracting health care providers to remote or poor parts of the country was an issue throughout the system.

___

NO EASY FIX

A few places struggling the most with long waits did report improvements.

At the VA in Montgomery, Alabama, the percentage of appointments that take longer than 30 days to complete has fallen from 12.6 percent in September to 6.4 percent in February. That’s still a bad number compared to other VA hospitals but, looking at performance only in February, it would be enough improvement to take the hospital from worst to third in terms of the percentage of delays.

The VA’s most chronically delayed outpatient clinic throughout the summer and fall, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, reported improvement, too. In September, 24 percent of its patient visits were delayed by at least 30 days. By February, that had fallen to 11 percent — still terrible, but much better.

The VA site that had the most trouble meeting the VA’s timeliness standard during the whole six-month period reviewed by the AP was a small clinic near Fort Campbell in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. One in five appointments took longer than 30 days to complete, and the rate has gotten steadily worse over time.

The centerpiece of the legislation signed over the summer was a plan to expand the number of veterans who are approved to get care outside of VA facilities. Yet the Choice program has barely gotten off the ground.

ID cards for the program were mailed starting in November, but many vets still don’t understand how it works. It theoretically is open to patients who can’t been seen within 30 days, or who have to drive longer distances for care, but enrollees still have to get VA approval to see a private-sector doctor and only some physicians participate in the payment system.

“It’s not working the way it needs to work,” said Gibson, the deputy VA secretary, though he added that he was enthusiastic about its potential. He said some consultants advising the VA said it might take 18 months to build the program.

In a meeting with congressional aides and state veterans service officials in March, Goolsby gave some figures to illustrate how the program was working in southeastern North Carolina: Of the 640 patients offered an opportunity for outside care through mid-March, only four were ultimately seen a private-sector doctor.

“We’re finding that a lot don’t want an outside appointment,” she said.

Reasons vary, she said, but one factor is that switching to a new doctor can be disruptive for someone with an ongoing medical issue.

In March, officials loosened the eligibility rules for the program slightly so it would cover more vets who have to drive longer distances for care.

The VA also has been trying to tackle long wait times in other ways.

The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, Ginjupalli said, has been promoting the use of “telehealth” systems that allow patients in rural or backed-up areas to see doctors elsewhere via video conferencing.

It also has reached an agreement with the Defense Department to help reduce long delays for care at its clinic in Columbus, Georgia, by moving some staff to a 19,000-square-foot building at the military’s medical center at Fort Benning.

Dr. Daniel Dahl, psychiatrist and associate chief of staff for mental health at the Central Alabama VA, said the new space will triple the VA’s capacity for mental health care in the area. In February, the average delay for a mental health appointment at the Columbus clinic was 25 days — seven times the national average.

Obama’s secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, has cautioned that it will take time for reforms to make a difference.

He also warned in recent testimony to Congress that the system may still be decades away from seeing peak usage by the generation of servicemen and servicewomen who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Total enrollees in the VA system have ballooned from 6.8 million in 2002 to 8.9 million in 2013. During that same period, outpatient visits have soared from 46.5 million to 86.4 million annually; patient spending has grown from $19.9 billion to $44.8 billion; the number of patients served annually has grown from 4.5 million to 6 million.

McDonald told Congress the number of mental health outpatient visits alone is up 72 percent from 2005.

“Today, we serve a population that is older, with more chronic conditions, and less able to afford private sector care,” McDonald said.

That could mean that without further change, waits will only grow.

___

The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org

Problems in Waco

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In 2008, the Va facility in Waco Tx  bought an MRI machine to study Brain damage in soldiers…

Seems that the plan was to do brain scans on soldiers before deployment and scan the same people after deployment and compare the results…

Here’s the story  from  Modern  Health  Care   “the industry’s leading source of healthcare business and policy news, research and information”  (MHCs’ words)

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20141018/INFO/310189928

A good idea…There are a few problems however…

“Researchers have been unable to complete any brain research on the machine amid concerns about image quality and mechanical breakdowns.”

Since 2008, virtually nothing has been done with this $3.6 M MRI machine because it was installed so poorly that vibrations caused poor image quality …

And the VA continues to throw good money after bad…The storys’ last paragraph…

“In the past year, VA officials have hired both a new center director and a supervisor for its neuroimaging program and plan to restart research on the scanner once they reduce the vibrations they say led to its image quality problems.”

Incompetence continues unabated…

[wd_contact_form id=”7″]

LOT GOING ON I’m trying to keep up…

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Please note: V A REPORT  website is in no way affiliated with the VA, or any other government agency…
OK folks, this is  a quick post to let you know what’s going on…

On the site, I’m working to get a few more state pages up and running and figure out the reporting aspect…I think I found a couple of plugins that will allow contact forms and comments to go directly to the moderator for that page…That will allow the moderator for that page to deal with them directly instead of having to route everything through me…

On that subject,  I’ll be needing volunteers to moderate pages…They will need to be from the state the page is for,  have a computer… and an interest in helping Vets. They will have Editor privileges for that page and hopefully access to a couple of resource pages I’ll be putting together later…

OK…NOW FOR THE NEWS…

I thought that with all the HOOPLA, being called on the carpet in congress etc that just MAYBE the VA was starting to get the idea that WE’RE MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE…

Apparently not…

http://washingtonexaminer.com/veterans-affairs-spies-stonewalls-on-people-investigating-it/article/2550854

Seems like more typical VA  run-around to me, what do you think…

AND I thought that MAYBE congress was going to finally  start to address the VA’s many problems,,,

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/06/10/house-passes-bill-allowing-vets-to-get-private-care/10285153/

Apparently  not…

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/27/senate-blocks-dems-bill-boosting-vets-benefits/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/27/us-usa-veterans-congress-idUSBREA1Q26O20140227

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/republicans-va-funding_b_5395698.html

At  least someone is trying to help…

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/06/after-va-scandal-veterans-turn-to-american-legion-for-help-with-claims/

And here’s a guy that uses his own time Pro Bono (That’s  lawyer talk for “free”) to help Vets…

aycomgroup.worldnow.com/story/25570084/advocate-helping-veterans-get-financial-and-medical-benefits#.U83Z9pW8i8c.facebook

He’s helping Vets that are homebound to get a separate benefit meant to help with home care…

Ok y’all… it’s time to get back to the… WE’RE MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE…part…

The VA isn’t going to change until we MAKE it change…

And the way to do that is to DEMAND it from the people that were SUPPOSEDLY  elected to represent us…and the only way to do that is to convince them that if they don’t fix this problem NOW,  they will not be re-elected…

You may think “I’m only person…What can I do to make a difference?”

There is something that you can do that is very powerful…You can let your elected officials know that this is very important to and that you are watching them to see what they do and YOUR VOTE IS DETERMINED BY THEIR ACTIONS…

You can contact your senators and house members here…
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

A phone call is most effective,  but  a letter or an email can have an impact too, especially if there are a LOT of them…Ask for a response,  engage them any way you can…and KEEP engaging them until they do something…

You can also contact NEWS MEDIA  in your area and let them know how you feel…

WARNING:  UNABASHED SELF PROMOTION AHEAD…

Finally, you can help spread the word about this site…SHARE… SHARE… SHARE and ask your friends to share too…that’s how we get the word out…

AND FINALLY…

If you think this site isimportant to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is important to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….Think how much we can help if everyone puts in $20, $10, $5 or even $1…



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20

Getting the word to as many as possible is VERY IMPORTANT…Please share with anyone you know who is a Vet or has a family member that is…Please share with all you FB contacts.
You can SHARE by the button below…You can LIKE this post by the button in the floating panel to the left…

 

 

 

 

 

Protesters lie under ambulance during eviction of war vet

 

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Please note:  V A REPORT  website is in no way affiliated with the VA, or any other government agency…

 

4fe5737a-0eb1-11e4-9522-00151712edf8byron_bartonb979b20e-0ea9-11e4-9c11-0015173e0b6esafe_protesters

Found this story:

http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/protesters-lay-under-ambulance-stop-eviction-war-v/ngh2D/

: on this FB page that deals with Vet and Agent Orange issues…

 Agent Orange Legacy – Living with Agent Orange

(click on the title to visit the page)

A Veteran that’s partially paralyzed from a stroke  Is being evicted from his home because of foreclosure…

The Story itself is disturbing enough, but the comments are even more so… Comments and replies quickly deteriorated into a debate of definitions and blame, some even coming to the conclusion that the Vet didn’t deserve to live in the house because he couldn’t afford it and some blaming political parties, the banking industry, even the judge that made the decision for the eviction order…All getting farther and farther away from the point…There’s a Vet in trouble…Does he need help…

Some even went so far as to check out an entity that was raising funds for the Vet and saying the fundraiser was shady and the funds would never get to the Vet…

Others jumped on the story and used it to promote their position on the banking industry, again blaming one party or the other for the problem…

This whole thing just got more and more evil as I read along…

Go to the story, check it out, read the comments…If you feel the need, do some research on your own, on any aspect of the story …Then let me know what you think…

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….Think how much we can help if everyone puts in $20, $10, $5 or even $1…



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20

Getting the word to as many as possible is VERY IMPORTANT…Please share with anyone you know who is a Vet or has a family member that is…Please share with all you FB contacts.
You can SHARE by the button below…You can LIKE this post by the button in the floating panel to the left…

THINK IT’S GETTING BETTER?

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Think it’s getting better? I dont…

Was8817484

 July 10
Parents of military veterans who took their own lives after surviving combat told a congressional panel on Thursday how not to prevent suicide:
●Turn away a veteran of some 400 combat missions in Iraq because he’s no longer active in the National Guard.

●Then turn him away because he was previously in the Guard and refer him to a military facility where he’s promptly referred back to VA.

●Now tell him to wait for a postcard with his appointment time.

●Either don’t send that postcard, or send it to the wrong address.

●Refuse to refer him outside the Veterans Affairs health-care system.

●When he finally does get his first VA date with a psychiatrist, have that doctor inform him that he’s retiring and won’t be able to see him a second time. Emphasize that he will, however, be seen by another doctor — just as soon as one becomes available.

●Never get back in touch, and let him run up considerable debt getting what help he can in the private sector.

●And, finally, watch that veteran sprawled on the floor, crying in the corner of a VA hospital where he’s gone while having flashbacks and begging to be admitted. Refuse to see him again, but assure him he’s free to stick around until he feels well enough to drive himself home.

After all that, Daniel Somers committed suicide last summer, his parents tearfully testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday. Their son was 23.

Sitting close together, Harold and Jean Somers took turns reading their statement, peering through almost matching wire-rimmed glasses. A few times, he finished her sentence when she started to cry. Once, she did the same for him.

While they spoke, members of the committee could not have been more attentive. One said she had been close to tears herself; a couple told the grieving parents that their testimony had been hard to hear. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), a doctor who served in Vietnam, called their words “heartwarming.’’ He must have meant heartbreaking, because there was nothing fuzzy about it.

In 2011, Daniel Somers wrote about the crushing guilt he felt over having been “called upon to employ deadly force on a regular basis — often in situations where noncombatants ended up in the crossfire. To this day, I am unable to provide even a rough approximation as to the number of civilian deaths in which I may be complicit.”

In his final months, Somers suffered from post-traumatic stress so severe he wore a towel around his head that he said helped keep out the voices, the light and the sound.

Clay Hunt, a Marine who fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan, took his own life in 2011. His parents, Richard and Susan Selke, added more to the “what not to do” list.

●Tell someone who has at last found an antidepressant that works well that he has to change drugs because there’s no generic version available.

●Once that hurdle is cleared, tell him the VA pharmacy doesn’t stock that drug, but it will be mailed to him in seven to 10 days. Ignore all medical advice against stopping anti-depressants cold.

●Now tell him the prescription can’t be refilled because it was written in Colorado rather than Houston, where he’s just moved — and thus he must start all over in the system, and wait to be reevaluated.

●Classify him as only entitled to 30 percent disability pay even though he is so compromised by the symptoms of his post-traumatic stress that he isn’t able to work.

●Lose his paperwork for 18 months, and then five weeks after his death, finally review his appeal and conclude that he should be on full disability. Notify his survivors of the good news.

Brian Portwine’s mom, Peggy, said he should have gotten an automatic mental health evaluation after a fellow soldier he’d just switched seats with in their Humvee in Iraq was blown to bits. That didn’t happen, though.

Back home, he had such poor short-term memory that he’d frequently ask his friends, “Where are we going again?” Yet despite suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and a traumatic brain injury, he was deployed again and killed himself in May of 2011.

“I’m begging this committee” to do something, Portwine said, in keeping with what “I promised my son at his funeral.’’

She has kept that promise, as have all the parents and loved ones who’ve been turned into advocates by the rolling tragedy of the 22 veterans a day who committed suicide in 2010, up from 18 per day in 2007, according to the latest figures from VA.

The committe’s chairman, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), introduced a bill on Thursday called the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which would require the National Guard and VA to work together. Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.), a retired Army colonel and Iraq veteran, has proposed similar legislation to financially reward psychiatrists who stay in the VA system. It’s unclear what VA could offer to doctors to stay on in a place that would leave a man who fought for us, and then couldn’t forgive himself, crying on the floor.

In this case, it’s obvious that Congress is willing to act, but how? Surely, more access to and information about private care is one answer. But on days like this one, spent watching the grief of those who survived soldiers we effectively left on the battlefield, VA itself seems beyond saving.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/18/homeless-vet-living-in-car_n_5508450.html?utm_hp_ref=veterans

http://cironline.org/reports/vas-opiate-overload-feeds-veterans-addictions-overdose-deaths-5261

The VA continues to punish those within it’s ranks who speak out…

http://www.c-span.org/video/?320316-4/hearing-whistleblowers-va

And the Audit? This is the VA’s responce…

https://www.change.org/p/the-department-of-veterans-affairs-overhaul-the-claims-processing-create-mandatory-claims-deadlines/u/53be97d184aec80783bdae4c

There are those who are trying to help…

http://wreg.com/2014/06/20/homeless-veterans-story-inspires-man-to-create-non-profit-for-vets-in-need/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/07/10/house-va-chairman-to-introduce-bill-to-combat-veteran-suicides/

“What can I do?…I’m only one person?” Well there’s a lot you can do…

You can…Contact your congressmen and tell him you vote and you’re MAD AS HELL AND YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE…This site will show you where…

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

A call is more effective but a letter or E-mail will help too…You can let your elected officials know that this is very important to and that you are watching them to see what they do and YOUR VOTE IS DETERMINED BY THEIR ACTIONS…

You can….

Check out this organization, Concerned Veterans for America…

http://concernedveteransforamerica.org/

And here’s a petition to sign…

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-department-of-veterans-affairs-overhaul-the-claims-processing-create-mandatory-claims-deadlines

You can look around on facebook at the FB pages for Veteran’s organizations like:
Vietnam War Photography Share…VIET NAM VETS…Vietnam Reflections – Through Their Eyes…
United States Veterans Association…

Sent a request to join their group and express your thanks…

You can SHARE the address for this post… http://donavantwebsites.com/think-its-getting-better/ …and my site to all your FB friends and ask them to SHARE ALSO with all their FB friends so Vets will have a place to report their VA problems and get help…

You can BECOME INVOLVED…That’s the only way to get the word out…”THEY” are not going to do it for us so we have to do it for ourselves…

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet,  this site is important to you.   You can help support this site by making a donation here…

 

You can also help by going to the store and purchasing Veteran related items…click here  

 

NEW DEVELOPMENTS

There have been new developments in the ongoing VA scandal…Check these out:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/381179/big-brother-watching-vets-michelle-malkin

http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/06/28/va-hospitals-funded-420-million-panels-while-veterans-died-waiting-128343

http://www.koat.com/news/veteran-dies-waiting-for-ambulance-in-va-hospital-cafeteria/26779446?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=koat

http://video.foxnews.com/v/3659423132001/war-hero-jr-martinez-on-impact-of-va-scandal/?intcmp=obinsite#sp=show-clips

Here’s an IDEA…The president is using executive orders to try and deal with the recent influx of unaccompanied children across our borders..Why not do the same thing to deal with the VA crisis?

I and many other Vets, all the Vets support groups such as The VFW and the DAV , the House and Senate have all called for immediate action…

The Senate and House bills will take time to resolve…

The problem is growing…

Why not use Executive Action  to achieve Immediate results?  We’re quick enough to take actions that send our troops into harms way…Why can’t we take immediate action to help them when they come home suffering from the consequences?

JUST SAYING…

VA REFORM

10435980_786841248016045_5174201461473989157_n

Congress, for the first time in many years, has the opportunity to actually accomplish something…REFORM THE VA…The outcry over the current VA scandal provides a unique chance, with both parties in aggreement for the first time this century, for something to be done.

VA bureaucrats must not be allowed to sabotage this effort in order to save their bloated
domains…

While the core of both the House and Senate versions of the legislation are good, there are loopholes in the Senate-passed bill that — if not closed by the conference committee — could allow the VA’s unaccountable bureaucracy to sabotage new reforms and lead to excessive spending.

The members of the House and Senate VA conference committee must adhere to 3 key principles when crafting the final version of the legislation:

First, there must be clear, independent, and automatic guidelines for veterans who qualify for private healthcare that cannot be manipulated by the VA bureaucracy.

Second, the provision to fire poorly-performing VA managers must not be diluted beyond the Senate-passed legislation.

Finally, spending for VA reform needs to be limited, and paid for, through discretionary appropriations — not budget gimmicks.

Also..something must be done to end the curtain of secrecy that hangs over the VA and bring the light of public accountability to bear on all it’s dark corners…

I know that you are as angry as I am about the recent scandals rocking the VA…We also realize this is nothing new…

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/23/politics/va-scandals-timeline/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

Since its’ inception, the VA has been riddled with corruption and incompetence…

Even when “investigations” and “Audits” were conducted,  most of the findings were not reported to the public,  efforts to resolve the problems were short circuited by the VA’s stonewalling and evasion of the issues,  people installed to fix the problems were found to be just as corrupt and incompetent as the people they replaced… and the problem just goes on and on and on….

In my opinion, the main cause of the problem is that the VA was created in the image of a government that is as bloated, corrupt and incompetent as it is…

One of the main reasons that this has continued is the lack of an oversight that is independent of the VA. Investigators are asking the wrong people to find out what the problem is…They’re asking the VA…They should be asking the people who are directly affected, Veterans,  rather than the ones who are causing the problem…I have an idea that I think will at last get the real problems out into the light…

A   SOLUTION

What about a problem reporting system operated by the Veterans themselves…reporting directly to the public, the president , congress and the press all at the same time…

I’m thinking about a group of websites,  one for every VA facility (clinics, hospitals, VA offices,  EVERYTHING THE VA DOES) called THE  VA REPORT.  Veterans who have a problem of any kind (or an idea of how to fix a problem ) could post it directly to the site…

I’m not talking about something like the huge website the VA runs at VA.gov…I’m talking about TRULY independent websites with links to each other,  run by the Veterans themselves,  open to anyone who wants to contribute his story or his experience or relate a problem…

You wouldn’t need a billion dollar effort like the rollout for the Affordable Care Act…Independent  websites can be set up very cheaply or even for free…I know this because I’m setting up my own website now…http://donavantwebsites.com/…I’m betting that you could find thousands of volunteers to set up and man these sites…Sites would be supported by small start up business grants, small state grants, and contributions by site users…

A contact card giving directions for reaching the website would be required on EVERY desk in the VA, from the Directors desk to every desk that a Veteran walks up in any facility…

These websites should be monitored by congressional members staff,  The VA,   a Presidential committee,  the press,  the public and anyone else who would be interested… IN REAL TIME… and REQUIRED READING for Department Heads in the area or facility they represent…No need for a lengthy expensive “investigation” to uncover a problem

No president or VA official or congressman would ever again be able to say “I didn’t know”…No VA official in any capacity would EVER AGAIN be able to hide his corruption and incompetence behind a VA stonewall…

This idea coupled with the immediate removal of civil service protections for any VA employee except for those directly providing services to a Veteran (in other words anyone in a supervisory position) would go a long way toward solving problems that Veterans are experiencing now…

A CALL TO ACTION…

You may think “I’m only person…What can I do to make a difference?”

There is something that you can do that is very powerful...You can let your elected officials know that this is very important to and that you are watching them to see what they do and YOUR VOTE IS DETERMINED BY THEIR ACTIONS…

You can contact your senators and house members here…
http://www.contactingthecongress.org

A phone call would be most effective…Next,  an e-mail, making sure to ask the member for a reply…

 

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20 

Getting the word to as many as possible is VERY IMPORTANT…Please share with anyone you know who is a Vet or has a family member that is…Please share with all you FB contacts…You can SHARE by the button below…You can LIKE this post by the button in the floating panel to the left…

MONTELL WILLIAMS FIRED UP!!!

10435980_786841248016045_5174201461473989157_n

Montell has been seen recently on several venues lately giving passionate talks  and speeches about the VA scandal…

Here’s a speech he gave titled War on Veterans..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgQ7ZzFTl6A

Here he is on Neil Cavuto…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgQ7ZzFTl6A

 

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20

Getting the word to as many as possible is VERY IMPORTANT…Pleaase share with anyone you know who is a Vet or has a family member that is…Pleae share with all you FB contacts.
You can SHARE by the button below…You can LIKE this post by the button in the floating panel to the left…

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALABAMA CONGRESSMEN

I know that you are as angry as I am about the recent scandals rocking the VA…All of us also realize this is nothing new…

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/23/politics/va-scandals-timeline/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

Since its’ inception, the VA has been riddled with corruption and incompetence…
Even when “investigations” and “Audits” were conducted, most of the findings were not reported to the public, efforts to resolve the problems were short circuited by the VA’s stonewalling and evasion of the issues, people installed to fix the problems were found to be just as corrupt and incompetent as the people they replaced… and the problem just goes on and on and on….

In my opinion, the main cause of the problem is that the VA was created in the image of a government that is as bloated, corrupt and incompetent as it is…

One of the main reasons that this has continued is the lack of an oversight that is independent of the VA. Investigators are asking the wrong people to find out what the problem is…They’re asking the VA…They should be asking the people who are directly affected, Veterans,  rather than the ones who are causing the problem…I have an idea that I think will at last get the real problems out into the light…

What about a problem reporting system operated by the Veterans themselves…reporting directly to the public, the president , congress and the press all at the same time…

I’m thinking about a group of websites, one for every VA facility (clinics, hospitals, VA offices, EVERYTHING THE VA DOES) Veterans who have a problem of any kind (or an idea of how to fix a problem ) could post it directly to the site…

I’m not talking about something like the huge website the VA runs at VA.gov…I’m talking about TRULY independent websites with links to each other, run by the Veterans themselves, open to anyone who wants to contribute his story or his experience or relate a problem…

You wouldn’t need a billion dollar effort like the rollout for the Affordable Care Act…Independent websites can be set up very cheaply or even for free…I know this because I’m setting up my own website now…http://donavantwebsites.com/…I’m betting that you could find thousands of volunteers to set up and man these sites…Sites would be supported by small start up business grants, small state grants, and contributions by site users

A contact card giving methods for reaching the website would be required on EVERY desk in the VA, from the Directors desk to every desk that a Veteran walks up in any facility…

These websites should be monitored by congressional members staff, The VA, a Presidential committee, the press, the public and anyone else who would be interested… IN REAL TIME… and REQUIRED READING for Department Heads in the area or facility they represent…No need for a lengthy expensive “investigation” to uncover a problem

No president or VA official or congressman would ever again be able to say “I didn’t know”…No VA official in any capacity would EVER AGAIN be able to hide his corruption and incompetence behind a VA stonewall…

This idea coupled with the immediate removal of civil service protections for any VA employee except for those directly providing services to a Veteran (in other words anyone in a supervisory position) would go a long way toward solving problems that Veterans are experiencing now…

Your opinion and input would be greatly appreciated…

Please feel free to contact your congressmen and let them know how you feel on this issue…If you would like to copy this article and send it to them, feel free…

CONTACT YOUR SENATORS HERE…http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES HERE…http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

 

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20

Getting the word to as many as possible is VERY IMPORTANT…Pleaase share with anyone you know who is a Vet or has a family member that is…Pleae share with all you FB contacts.
You can SHARE by the button below…You can LIKE this post by the button in the floating panel to the left…

 

Gulf War Syndrome, The VA and our forgotten veterans

gulf war illness

CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO GO TO THE ARTICLE

This is the story of an Air Force Veteran that was stationed in Turkey during the run-up to the Gulf war..His story is both compelling…and indicative of the way Veterans are being treated by the VA…and our government in general…


You can help support this site my making a donation here…

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20

Getting the word to as many as possible is VERY IMPORTANT…Pleaase share with anyone you know who is a Vet or has a family member that is…Pleae share with all you FB contacts.
You can SHARE by the button below…You can LIKE this post by the button in the floating panel to the left…

Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014

THE    PROBLEM

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is failing America’s veterans. For too long, veterans of all generations — and their families — have been underserved, overburdened, and flat-out ignored by an unaccountable bureaucracy. Veterans submit claims for battlefield injuries…and then wait for years. Veterans seek basic medical diagnosis…and then wait for weeks. And in the most tragic cases, veterans are given sub-standard care…and lose their lives in VA facilities. Families, along with their veterans, share the burden of these bureaucratic failures.

THE  SOLUTION

“We are dealing with veterans, not procedures; with their problems, not ours.”

— General Omar Bradley, Director, Veterans Administration, 1946

General Omar Bradley ran the VA for two years following World War II and is credited with improving the healthcare system and overhauling the organization.  Today’s Department of Veterans Affairs would be well served to live by the words of one of its greatest champions and reformers. The VA exists to serve individual veterans—in most effective, efficient, excellent manner possible. This requires forging a culture at VA that rewards excellence, maximizes efficiency, and delivers effective services

Reforming the department will require creating a culture of excellence, but there is no silver bullet solution for the the problems at VA. Instead, step-by-step, leadership at all levels VA—from the Secretary to local managers—must be given the tools and incentives necessary to cut through the bureaucracy and put the outcomes of veterans at the forefront. VA does not need more money or more programs to accomplish this. VA need three, more critical, reforms: Accountability, Transparency, and Flexibility.

Accountability. It is nearly impossible to fire bad managers and/or bad employee at VA; making it extremely difficult to hold VA employees accountable for their performance. Even the VA secretary is limited in his ability to clear out poor performers and bureaucratic dead-wood. As a start to this project, CVAsupports the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014, H.R. 4031 in the House and S.2013 in the Senate, a bill that provides for the removal of VA manager who underperform. Click here to Take Action on this bill.

Transparency. The authority of Congress, and the people, to oversee government functions is critical to the American system. Without checks-and-balances, government cannot be held accountable. Unfortunately VA has a long-track record of stonewalling Congressional oversight committees and not providing timely, and accurate, data. As a result, Congress, the media, and veterans groups get an incomplete picture of the department’s effectiveness.CVA will push for more robust VA reporting requirements.

Flexibility. If a veteran lives near an excellent VA facility, then they’re likely well served.  If a veteran lives near a poor VA facility — or nowhere near a VA facility — then they’re likely under-served. This is inherently unfair to certain veterans, making VA’s problems their problem.  Instead, if veterans receive poor VA care, or VA care is too far away, they should have the flexibility to seek VA-funded care elsewhere. Choice is empowering for the veteran and competition good for VA. CVA will push for greater flexibility for veterans to receive quality care, no matter where they live.

TAKE  ACTION

Where do your representatives stand on the VA Accountability Management Act of 2014?

Call your Two Senators (S.2013) and your Congressman (HR 4031) now and tell them to co-sponsor this bill.

Contact Your Senator
Contact Your Representative

Want to do even more to hold VA Accountable?

Join a CVA “Strike Team” and help use put even more pressure on Congress to take action.

Join a Strike Team

 

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20

Getting the word to as many as possible is VERY IMPORTANT…Please share with anyone you know who is a Vet or has a family member that is…Please share with all you FB contacts.
You can SHARE by the button below…You can LIKE this post by the button in the floating panel to the left…

Senator Burr Releases an Open Letter to America’s Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, released the following open letter to America’s veterans:

May 23, 2014

 

To the Nation’s Veterans,

Over the course of the last few weeks, there has been a great deal of media coverage—rightly so—of the still-unfolding story coming out of the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding secret wait lists and other problems related to appointment scheduling at VA facilities. Last week, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs heard from Secretary Shinseki, representatives of some of the Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), and others.

While a great deal of the media coverage of the hearing has focused on what Secretary Shinseki said, and didn’t say, much less has been seen of the testimony of the VSOs that testified. I wanted to take a brief moment to comment on that testimony.

First and foremost, I must recognize and commend the American Legion, National Commander Dan Dellinger, and the American Legion team for taking a principled stand, before the hearing and during it, and calling for leadership change at the VA. It is clear that the Legion has been listening to its membership about the challenges they face in gaining access to care, and has reached the conclusion that “enough is enough” and the status quo is indefensible. The Legion’s membership has much to be proud of with the organization they support.

Regrettably, the Legion was alone among the VSOs that testified in taking such a stand. It became clear at the hearing that most of the other VSOs attending appear to be more interested in defending the status quo within VA, protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the Secretary and his inner circle. But to what end? What use is their access to senior VA staff, up to and including the Secretary, if they do not use their unprecedented access to a Cabinet Secretary to secure timely access to care for their membership? What hope is there for change within the VA if those closest to the agency don’t use that proximity for the good of veterans across our country?

I believe the national and local commanders of every VSO have the interests of their members at heart, and take seriously their commitment to their members and their organization. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that to be the case within the Washington executive staff of the VSOs that testified. Last week’s hearing made it clear to me that the staff has ignored the constant VA problems expressed by their members and is more interested in their own livelihoods and Washington connections than they are to the needs of their own members.

I fear that change within the VA will not be possible unless and until these organizations also reconsider their role as well as the nature of their relationship with VA.

Sincerely,

Richard Burr

United States Senator

AND HERE WAS THE VFW’S REPONSE…

VFW COMMENT ON SENATOR BURR’S OPEN LETTER TO VETERANS

SENATOR BURR’S ALLEGATIONS ARE MEAN-SPIRITED AND PROFOUNDLY WRONG

This letter is in response to the open letter you made available for distribution late Friday, May, 23, 2014. First and foremost Senator, I will afford you the same amount of respect you demonstrated for the Veterans of Foreign Wars by the monumental cheap-shot and posturing you’ve engaged in by enlisting in an absolutely disgusting ambush style of politics. Without the courtesy or benefit of conversation or dialogue with me or the VFW Adjutant General regarding your disagreement with VFW’s recent testimony to your committee, you chose instead to take the low road and question VFW’s motives and levy a pejorative personal attack on VFW staff.  Senator, this is clearly one of the most dishonorable and grossly inappropriate acts that we’ve witnessed in more than forty years of involvement with the veteran community and breaches the standards of the United States Senate. Your allegations are ugly and mean-spirited in every sense of the words and are profoundly wrong, both logically and morally. Quite frankly Senator, you should be ashamed.

 The VFW staff you chose to rebuke and whose principles you have questioned walk the walk. They’ve been there, done that and some of them have the scars to show for it.  Collectively, those same staff members have among them more than 47 combat deployments. This includes deployments to Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Their awards include four Purple Hearts, sixteen Air Medals, Bronze Stars and a variety of other awards.  Some rely on VA for their healthcare and residual treatment associated with their military service.   They understand first-hand the problems existing within the system because, unlike the majority of people, they’ve been willing to do what others won’t.  Senator, that is exactly why we find your personal attack so disgusting.

The men and women working in our DC office are dedicated professionals.  Importantly, they take the work they do personally.  They do it because they care.  I suggest you compare the more than exorbitant amount of days off you receive, including virtually the whole month of August, two weeks around Easter/Passover, and certainly not a single five-day work week  to the often time long, arduous hours they put forth every week of the year.  Surely, with all the issues and the current emergent need for solutions, you must have more important things to do than to assail the character, people and motives of America’s VSOs ?

 

Let me assure you Senator, our DC staff does not operate in a vacuum, or independently from its headquarters in Kansas City. The staff operates under the direction of me and the Adjutant General. The testimony that was provided to your committee was vetted and approved by me and the Adjutant General only after careful study and consideration. We don’t act in hopes of grabbing a headline or securing an interview on cable news; our only agenda in this is to ensure the veterans of our nation receive timely and adequate healthcare.  If you have issues then I suggest you contact either one of us directly.

The fact of the matter is this; every year the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and Paralyzed Veterans of America have been trying to call attention to the issue, warning Congress of the consequences, and trying to work with Congress and VA on solutions.

Each year our organizations build an analysis of VA benefits and services known as the Independent Budget, and each year since 2005 the Independent Budget has warned Congress    

about the dangers of long wait times and care rationing due to improper resources, oversight and accountability.

Last year, and again this year, then-VFW Commander-in-Chief John Hamilton and I warned you and both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees about the dangers of long wait times. This decade of stern warnings has fallen on deaf ears.

There’s no doubt that the culture within VA needs to change. In a letter to the President, we made it clear that he needed to take immediate steps and ensure necessary authority to Secretary Shinseki that will guarantee the status quo of protecting enmeshed and “untouchable” bureaucrats within the VA system cannot and will not continue.  We urged him to provide him authority to impose the strongest disciplinary actions, including removal and prosecution whenever and wherever necessary, on any VA employee who would abdicate their responsibilities and have a hand in the mistreatment or abandonment of those who have earned timely and adequate healthcare.

  

Clearly, you were not listening during VFW’s testimony.  Nowhere did we suggest that we were interested in protecting anyone.  I suggest you read the transcript.  We find it especially specious that you seek to point fingers without at least an acknowledgement of some responsibility by Congress in all of this.  Your assumption that we do not listen to what our members have to say is insulting. We spend most of the year traveling to and visiting VFW Posts world-wide.  We have direct contact and speak at length with our members.  We listen.   And what you should know is this; that there is huge, and growing sentiment within most of the veteran community regarding the inaction of Congress, because they are keenly aware, (if the past is any guide), they will enact no budget, no regular appropriations bills, nor other key legislation.

If we’ve been remiss in anything Senator, we’ve been remiss in being too polite with Congress.  For years, the VFW has come to Congress with hat in hand and for years, we’ve heard the same old story.  You can be assured Senator, that you’ve done a superb job in showing us the error in our ways.  You can also be assured that in the future, we will spend a substantial percentage of our time seeking to inform our members and our constituents of the repeated failure to act by our elected officials.  We will not stand by and let our members be distracted by rhetoric or finger-pointing and we certainly won’t abide our veterans being used as political footballs. And you can be sure that we will let our membership know the low-regard you hold for their organization.

 

Sincerely,

William A. Thien                                                                     John E. Hamilton

Commander-in-Chief                                                              Adjutant General

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Veterans speak out about VA hospital claims

Veterans speak out about VA hospital claims (via Repost Video News)

it took me almost a year to schedule it. and… albuquerque veterans weigh in on claims the local v-a hospital has covered up excessive wait times for patients. the claims are the latest black eye for the veterans health administration … following…

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Top veterans’ health official resigns over falsified records scandal

Top veterans’ health official resigns over falsified records scandal (via PBS News Hour)

WASHINGTON — The top official for veterans’ health care resigned Friday amid a firestorm over delays in care and falsified records at veteran hospitals. Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki says he has accepted the resignation of Robert Petzel, the…

Continue reading Top veterans’ health official resigns over falsified records scandal

CONGRESSIONAL REFORM

Check it out…..

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. TERM LIMITS 
12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2. NO TENURE/NO PENSION
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3. CONGRESS (past, present & future) PARTICIPATES in SOCIAL SECURITY
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system and Congress participates with the American people.

4. CONGRESS CAN PURCHASE THEIR OWN RETIREMENT PLAN
Just like each and every other American.

5. CONGRESS WILL NO LONGER VOTE THEMSELVES a PAY RAISE
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 2.5%.

6. CONGRESS LOSES THEIR CURRENT HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
Congress will participate in the same health care system as the American people.

7. CONGRESS MUST EQUALLY ABIDE by ALL LAWS
No special exemptions or treatment.

8. ALL CONTRACTS WITH PAST AND PRESENT CONGRESSMEN ARE VOID
Effective 1/1/12.

Think of the money this will save and the problems that it will much more quickly solve! Health care, medicare, social security, IRA and pension plan reform and on and on.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
Read more at:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/28thamendment.asp#PCQey8Kkwmz6l8mu.99http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/28thamendment.asp#PCQey8Kkwmz6l8mu.99

What can we do?

1. You can sign the petition athttp://www.change.org/petitions/the-u-s-senate-congressional-reform-act-of-2013

2. If you’re REALLY serious, you can e-mail your senators and representatives. Find their e-mail address at:http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ Just copy the entire e-mail, go to compose and paste it into your NEW MESSAGE box, hit send…

3.E-mail to ALL friends…Let congress know we’re tired of this and we’re not going to take it anymore…

Proposed constitutional amendment seeks to require that laws apply equally to U.S. citizens and members of Congress?
SNOPES.COM

 

VA opens first legal-aid clinic for homeless veterans

Lawyers hope to help vets navigate the benefits application process
University of Baltimore law students Christopher Moschkin (left) and Janice Shih (right) pose for a portrait with Americorp fellow and attorney Rochelle Richardson (center). All three work with the Homeless Persons Representation Project.
University of Baltimore law students Christopher Moschkin… (Erin Kirkland / Baltimore…)
July 21, 2013|By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
Honorably discharged decades ago, a former Marine was living in a Baltimore homeless shelter, surviving with the help of $255 a month for a disability he suffered while in the service.

Then he met Rochelle Richardson.

Richardson, an attorney who works with the Homeless Persons Representation Project to provide indigent veterans free legal counsel, learned that the man had an outstanding claim for post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Richardson untangled his claim and submitted others for other unreported disabilities the former Marine sustained while he was in the corps. In June, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued the man a back payment of $23,396 and began sending monthly benefit checks of $1,503. He is no longer homeless.

Richardson hopes to continue securing back pay and benefits for former service members as she oversees the state’s first Veterans Administration Medical Center legal clinic.

The clinic, which opened this month on the fifth floor of the Baltimore VA Annex on West Fayette Street, fills what Richardson says is a longtime need to help the growing number of homeless veterans who struggle to navigate the complex process of applying for benefits.

Nearly 18 percent of Baltimore’s shelter population are homeless vets, according to recent census figures.

Richardson says she grew up in a military family. “For people who come from the military community, there’s an aspect of our military culture that you don’t leave anybody behind,” she said. “They are former service members.”

The clinic was created by the VA, the Homeless Persons Representation Project and Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps, which is paying Richardson’s salary. Additional legal assistance, which is free to veterans, is to come from area law students and other attorneys who Richardson hopes will volunteer a few hours a week to help veterans.

“This is a case where having a lawyer makes a big difference,” said Joe Surkiewicz, a spokesman for the Homeless Persons Representation Project.

Veterans advocates, President Barack Obama and lawmakers including Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski have pushed the VA to reduce a historic backlog in disability claims.

Baltimore’s VA office is one of the worst-performing in the nation, weekly data released by the agency show. Nearly 79 percent of the 12,596 disability claims at the office are more than 125 days old. The national average is about 67 percent.

The average wait for a decision in the Baltimore office, which serves all of Maryland, is nearly 22 months. The error rate is among the highest in the country at 18.8 percent; the national average is 10.1 percent.

The Homeless Persons Representation Project had been talking with the VA for years about starting a legal clinic. It has been training volunteer attorneys to handle disability claims and sending them to health fairs and shelters since 2008.
But Antonia Fasanelli, executive director of the Homeless Persons Representative Project, believed that a permanent clinic was needed to handle the demand. She enlisted the support of Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps, and the VA cleared space in its downtown medical facility for the operation.

Richardson, who had worked as an attorney to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals helping review benefit claims decisions made by local offices and subsequent appeals, was chosen to run the project.

Richardson said attorneys with the clinic will represent veterans all the way through the claims process.

“We knew there were veterans who had pretty complex claims,” Fasanelli said. “It would be wonderful if there were some lawyers who could help out.”

On a typical night, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates, more than 62,600 veterans are homeless. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans says twice that many veterans are likely to experience homelessness at some point over the course of a year.

After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, veterans associations expect the number of homeless veterans to grow. About 12,700 veterans involved in recent wars or operations were homeless in 2010, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reported.

By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun | July 21, 2013

jgeorge@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justingeorge

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Veterans die after being placed on VA Hospital’s secret waiting list

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.
The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.
For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care. But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.
Internal e-mails obtained by CNN show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it.
Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. The veteran doctor told CNN in an exclusive interview that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments:
There’s an “official” list that’s shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there’s the real list that’s hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.
Deliberate scheme, shredded evidence
“The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules,” said Foote in Phoenix. “They developed the secret waiting list,” said Foote, a respected local physician.
The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days, Foote said.
According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor’s appointments for veterans within the computer system.
Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, “they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there’s no record that you were ever here,” he said.
According to Foote, the information was gathered on the secret electronic list and then the information that would show when veterans first began waiting for an appointment was actually destroyed.
“That hard copy, if you will, that has the patient demographic information is then taken and placed onto a secret electronic waiting list, and then the data that is on that paper is shredded,” Foote said.
“So the only record that you have ever been there requesting care was on that secret list,” he said. “And they wouldn’t take you off that secret list until you had an appointment time that was less than 14 days so it would give the appearance that they were improving greatly the waiting times, when in fact they were not.”
Foote estimates right now the number of veterans waiting on the “secret list” to see a primary care physician is somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600.
Doctor: It’s a ‘frustrated’ staff
“I feel very sorry for the people who work at the Phoenix VA,” said Foote. “They’re all frustrated. They’re all upset. They all wish they could leave ’cause they know what they’re doing is wrong.
“But they have families, they have mortgages and if they speak out or say anything to anybody about it, they will be fired and they know that.”
Several other high-level VA staff confirmed Foote’s description to CNN and confirmed this is exactly how the secret list works in Phoenix.
Foote says the Phoenix wait times reported back to Washington were entirely fictitious. “So then when they did that, they would report to Washington, ‘Oh yeah. We’re makin’ our appointments within — within 10 days, within the 14-day frame,’ when in reality it had been six, nine, in some cases 21 months,” he said.
In the case of 71-year-old Navy veteran Thomas Breen, the wait on the secret list ended much sooner.
“We had noticed that he started to have bleeding in his urine,” said Teddy Barnes-Breen, his son. “So I was like, ‘Listen, we gotta get you to the doctor.’ “
Teddy says his Brooklyn-raised father was so proud of his military service that he would go nowhere but the VA for treatment. On September 28, 2013, with blood in his urine and a history of cancer, Teddy and his wife, Sally, rushed his father to the Phoenix VA emergency room, where he was examined and sent home to wait.
“They wrote on his chart that it was urgent,” said Sally, her father-in-law’s main caretaker. The family has obtained the chart from the VA that clearly states the “urgency” as “one week” for Breen to see a primary care doctor or at least a urologist, for the concerns about the blood in the urine.
“And they sent him home,” says Teddy, incredulously.
Sally and Teddy say Thomas Breen was given an appointment with a rheumatologist to look at his prosthetic leg but was given no appointment for the main reason he went in.
The Breens wait … and wait … and wait …
No one called from the VA with a primary care appointment. Sally says she and her father-in-law called “numerous times” in an effort to try to get an urgent appointment for him. She says the response they got was less than helpful.
“Well, you know, we have other patients that are critical as well,” Sally says she was told. “It’s a seven-month waiting list. And you’re gonna have to have patience.”
Sally says she kept calling, day after day, from late September to October. She kept up the calls through November. But then she no longer had reason to call.
Thomas Breen died on November 30. The death certificate shows that he died from Stage 4 bladder cancer. Months after the initial visit, Sally says she finally did get a call.
“They called me December 6. He’s dead already.”
Sally says the VA official told her, “We finally have that appointment. We have a primary for him.’ I said, ‘Really, you’re a little too late, sweetheart.’ “
Sally says her father-in-law realized toward the end he was not getting the care he needed.
“At the end is when he suffered. He screamed. He cried. And that’s somethin’ I’d never seen him do before, was cry. Never. Never. He cried in the kitchen right here. ‘Don’t let me die.’ “
Teddy added his father said: “Why is this happening to me? Why won’t anybody help me?”
Teddy added: “They didn’t do the right thing.” Sally said: “No. They neglected Pop.”
First hidden — and then removed
Foote says Breen is a perfect example of a veteran who needed an urgent appointment with a primary doctor and who was instead put on the secret waiting list — where he remained hidden.
Foote adds that when veterans waiting on the secret list die, they are simply removed.
“They could just remove you from that list, and there’s no record that you ever came to the VA and presented for care. … It’s pretty sad.”
Foote said that the number of dead veterans who died waiting for care is at least 40.
“That’s correct. The number’s actually higher. … I would say that 40, there’s more than that that I know of, but 40′s probably a good number.”
CNN has obtained e-mails from July 2013 showing that top management, including Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman, was well-aware about the actual wait times, knew about the electronic off-the-books list and even defended its use to her staff.
In one internal Phoenix VA e-mail dated July 3, 2013, one staffer raised concerns about the secret electronic list and raised alarms that Phoenix VA officials were praising its use.
“I have to say, I think it’s unfair to call any of this a success when Veterans are waiting 6 weeks on an electronic waiting list before they’re called to schedule their first PCP (primary care physician) appointment,” the e-mail states. “Sure, when their appointment is created, it can be 14 days out, but we’re making them wait 6-20 weeks to create that appointment.”
The e-mail adds pointedly: “That is unethical and a disservice to our Veterans.”
Last year and earlier this year, Foote also sent letters to officials at the VA Office of the Inspector General with details about the secret electronic waiting list and about the large number of veterans who died waiting for care, many hidden on the secret list. Foote and several other sources inside the Phoenix VA confirmed to CNN that IG inspectors have interviewed them about the allegations.
VA: ‘It is disheartening to hear allegations’
CNN has made numerous requests to Helman and her staff for an interview about the secret list, the e-mails showing she was aware of it and the allegations of the 40 veterans who died waiting on the list, to no avail.
But CNN was sent a statement from VA officials in Texas, quoting Helman.
“It is disheartening to hear allegations about Veterans care being compromised,” the statement from Helman reads, “and we are open to any collaborative discussion that assists in our goal to continually improve patient care.”
Just before deadline Wednesday, the VA sent an additional comment to CNN.
It stated, in part: “We have conducted robust internal reviews since these allegations surfaced and welcome the results from the Office of Inspector General’s review. We take these allegations seriously.”
The VA statement to CNN added: “To ensure new Veterans waiting for appointments are managed appropriately, we maintain an Electronic Wait List (EWL) in accordance with the national VHA Scheduling Directive. The ability of new and established patients to get more timely care has showed significant improvement in the last two years which is attributable to increased budget, staffing, efficiency and infrastructure.”
Foote says Helman’s response in the first statement is stunning, explaining the entire secret list and the reason for its existence was planned and created by top management at the Phoenix VA, specifically to avoid detection of the long wait times by veterans there.
“This was a plan that involved the Pentad, which includes the director, the associate director, the assistant director, the chief of nursing, along with the medical chief of staff — in collaboration with the chief of H.A.S.”
Washington is paying attention
The Phoenix VA’s “off the books” waiting list has now gotten the attention of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington, whose chairman has been investigating delays in care at veterans hospitals across the country.
According to Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, what was happening in Phoenix is even worse than veterans dying while waiting for care.
Even as CNN was working to report this story, the Florida Republican demanded the VA preserve all records in anticipation of a congressional investigation.
In a hearing on April 9, Miller learned even the undersecretary of health for the VA wasn’t being told the truth about the secret list:
“It appears as though there could be as many as 40 veterans whose deaths could be related to delays in care. Were you made aware of these unofficial lists in any part of your look back?” asked Miller.
“Mr. Chairman, I was not,” replied Dr. Thomas Lynch, assistant deputy undersecretary, Veterans Health Administration.
Congress has now ordered all records in Phoenix, secret or not, be preserved.
That would include the record of a 71-year-old Navy veteran named Thomas Breen.
Reprinted from http://myfox8.com/2014/04/23/veterans-die-after-being-placed-on-va-hospitals-secret-waiting-list/

If you think this site is vital to help Vets get the support they need…If you think this site is vital to bringing the VA’s problems into the open…If you think this site needs to continue…If you are a Vet or have a family member that is or you will become a Vet, this site is important to you. You can help support this site by making a donation here….



You can also support this site by going the the store and purchasing Veteran related items…http://astore.amazon.com/donavantwebsi-20

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