As the medical profession in the United States is taken over by Obamacare, costs are going up rapidly and
options are few. If you are unfortunate enough to rely upon the VA hospitals for your medical care,
you already live in a dystopia that may await the rest of us, unless difficult decisions are made very soon.
Overview /recap articles:
The VA is deeply, thoroughly
broken. In 2014, after it was revealed that at least 75 US veterans had died while waiting to get appointments
at their VA hospitals — with more than 120,000 never tended to, just abandoned or deliberately shuffled from one
bureaucratic boondoggle to another — public outcry forced the following: congressional hearings, an internal VA
investigation, an Obama administration investigation, an FBI criminal probe, a RAND Corp. investigation, an Office of Special
Counsel investigation, and the "early retirement" of VA chief Dr. Robert Petzel and Eric Shinseki, secretary of veterans
affairs. "I assure you, if there is misconduct, it will be punished," then-President Barack Obama said. "I want
every veteran to know we are going to fix what is wrong." Yes, the federal government was going to internally fix what
was wrong with a massive, federally funded institution. Last Thursday [8/10/2017], more than three years and two new
secretaries later, the New York Times reported that current head David Shulkin is fighting to keep out the director of the
Washington Medical Center, Brian Hawkins, who was fired last month for running a hospital at "the highest levels of chaos."
VA must be held accountable. Here's what Congress needs to do. A recent study completed by the U.S. Government Accountability
Office found that, on average, it takes six months to a year to remove a permanent civil servant in the federal government. Oftentimes, it
takes even longer. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is not exempt from the red-tape that prevents agency leadership from firing or
disciplining employees within their agency. President Obama's former VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson testified at a House Committee on
Veterans' Affairs hearing on the Choice Program that it was too difficult to fire a substandard VA employee. In fact, President Obama himself
said, "if you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired. Period. It shouldn't be
The Editor says...
If what Mr. Obama said was true, why
Faults VA Bosses for Problems With Vets Health Care. A former U.S. Marine who exposed substandard mental health
care at the troubled Phoenix VA hospital two years ago says that veterans' health care has continued to deteriorate at the
facility despite legislative efforts and leadership changes. Brandon Coleman, an employee at the Department of Veterans
Affairs for more than nine years, spoke to the Washington Free Beacon following new revelations about shortfalls at
the Carl T. Hayden VA hospital in Phoenix. "I think that the Phoenix VA is a cesspool," Brandon Coleman told the
Free Beacon in an October interview. "I think it is the worst example of VA health care in the United States
as we know it. There are some other bad examples, but Phoenix is known as ground zero."
VA Sec Pick Promises 'Major Reform' for Veterans Health Care. David Shulkin on Wednesday [2/1/2017] pledged to
implement "major reform" at the Department of Veterans Affairs if he is confirmed to lead the troubled agency. Shulkin,
who President Donald Trump unveiled as his choice to lead the VA in mid-January, said before a Senate panel that he does not
favor "privatization" of the VA but would work to establish an integrated and modern system for veterans health care, with
better partnerships between public and private facilities.
Lectures Navy SEAL Veteran: VA Isn't Bad. The VA has been embroiled in scandal since it was revealed that
the agency had covered up lengthy delays in treatment that led to the deaths of veterans awaiting care at a Phoenix
hospital. The whistleblower reports about Arizona' fake wait list led to additional exposés about inefficiencies
and budgetary issues that have contributed to the deaths of American veterans. It was revealed in November that a VA
hospital had infected or exposed 600 veterans to Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV — the disease that
leads to AIDs — due to poor dental care.
Worker Union Is Blocking Republican VA Reforms. President-elect Donald Trump promised to fire incompetent and
dishonest Department of Veterans Affairs employees, but he will have to fight the American Federation of Government
Employees — the largest federal worker union — every step of the way. During the 115th Congress,
Trump — along with Republican majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives — can enact
sweeping reforms to improve every department and agency in the federal workplace. Republicans controlled the 114th
Congress, too, but outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama routinely threatened to veto GOP proposals. Trump and
AFGE already share some history. When the GOP presidential candidate proposed expanding a VA program that lets veterans
get private medical care, AFGE quickly blasted the idea.
Trump Plans To Privatize The VA Just Like He Promised On The Campaign Trail. News headlines this week screamed
about how President-elect Trump is considering a plan to partially privatize the Veterans Health Administration. Did
nobody read his campaign website during the election?
considering 'public-private option' for VA reform. President-elect Trump is considering a "public-private
option" at the Department of Veterans Affairs that would allow all veterans to choose whether they want to receive care from
the VA or from private doctors. "We think we have to have kind of a ... public-private option, because some vets love
the VA ... some vets want to go to the VA," a transition official told reporters at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday [12/28/2016].
"So, the idea is to come up with a solution that solves the problem. And it's not the easiest thing in the world because
you've got all these little kingdoms out there, which is hard," the official said. "You know, in the federal government,
it's hard to break things up and start over. So, those are the types of things that people are talking about."
Taught Employees to Game Wait Times. Employees at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in southern Arizona
were instructed to manipulate veterans' wait times so they appeared shorter, a newly released investigation shows. The
agency's inspector general substantiated allegations that managers at the Tuscon-based VA medical system told schedulers to
"zero out" patient wait times, a scheduling practice that persisted in 2016 despite whistleblower reports of wait-time
manipulation at the Phoenix VA that drew national outrage more than two years ago. The VA inspector general report,
publicly released on Wednesday [11/9/2016], provides more evidence of bad scheduling practices that stretched beyond the
Phoenix VA hospital.
The Editor says...
How very fortunate for Hillary Clinton: The IG's report was released the day after
the presidential election. She was defeated, even without adding this additional Obama scandal to the mix.
Veterans Day, start fixing the Veterans Administration. Just in time for Veterans Day, when we honor those who
served their country in uniform, the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs has unearthed another
scandal. This time, it's that scheduling staff at a clinic in southern Arizona systematically zeroed out patient wait
times for thousands of appointments to make it look like goals were being met. Worse yet, this cheating took place
between December 2013 and August 2014, after the broader VA scandal.
Obama Opposes Legislation to Fix the
VA. Public awareness of the VA scandal erupted after evidence surfaced that a large number of veterans died while
waiting for appointments at a medical care facility in Phoenix, Arizona. Investigations also found the problem was nationwide
with approximately 120,000 veterans waiting for care. VA employees created "secret" waiting lists and fudged scheduling to
give the appearance veterans were receivingappropriate care in a timely manner. According to the Arizona Republic, the VA
acknowledged the Phoenix facility "manipulated patient wait-time records to trigger bonuses."
Alphabet Soup Corruption.
[Scroll down] Gen. Eric Shinseki, who became a hero to the progressive anti-war movement for his congressional testimony during
the Bush administration questioning troop levels, became Obama's Secretary of Veterans Affairs. But the agency was quickly mired
in scandals at the Veteran Health Administration, where critically ill veterans were not given prompt care, lives were needlessly lost,
and records were doctored to cover up such incompetence. Like the IRS and the EPA, the VA also remains under a cloud of
suspicion, well after Shinseki's resignation.
Giant Scandals That Barack Obama Just Couldn't Keep Undercover! [#4] Veterans Affairs Scandal: Now this
one is cutting really close to my heart, and I know it is so for many other Americans. This government-created
institution provided a nightmare for our vets, often having to be put on wait lists for months and even years, with many
dying in the process. Doctors, staff, and heads of certain VA's around the country altered work hours, and gave
themselves raises while our wounded and maimed vets were left to fend for themselves. The corruption in the VA still
continues today, even with the head change.
No "Major Scandal" in Obama Administration?
Following revelations in 2014 that there was widespread Veterans Administration falsification of health care wait times, and that certain locations
had created secret waiting lists for veterans, the media finally declared this a scandal. But it's not Obama's scandal, it's a Veterans Affairs
scandal. Hunter Schwarz writes for the [Washington] Post that "It was a very significant scandal, to be sure, but perhaps not one that people
laid directly at Obama's doorstep." The Washington Post's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler recently referred to this one as a scandal, noting that
only eight people have lost their jobs so far as a result of this veterans care debacle, not 60 as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald
said last week on Meet the Press. But as I have argued, there were really two scandals at the Veterans Administration at the time: health
care wait times and the disability benefits backlog.
scandal, two years later: nothing much has changed, has it? Two years ago, the news that corruption at the Veterans
Administration had resulting in veterans dying without care in order to bolster VA executive bonuses outraged the nation. For
the first and only time in his administration, Barack Obama demanded the resignation of a Cabinet official, VA Secretary Eric
Shinseki, and pledged to reform the VA. Congress demanded action, and everyone lamented that Americans who sacrificed so
much for their nation had been exploited, ignored, and left to die by a bureaucracy more concerned about self-promotion than
their care. What's changed since the scandal broke?
Incompetent Failures in the Obama Administration. [#11] Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki is very much the
reverse of [Ben] Rhodes and [Tommy] Vietor. A retired four-star general and a wounded combat veteran from Vietnam, he failed
to improve wait times at the VA. As news reports broke that veterans died waiting for care, Shinseki became the natural target
of blame. Nevertheless, Shinseki is neither the beginning nor the end of the problem. As PJ Media's Bryan Preston argued,
this general "just took the fall for what the bureaucrats below him were doing." Bureaucrats gamed the system for all it was
worth, and they were not forced to resign, but Shinseki took the fall for everything.
Timely news and commentary:
Security pays millions to people VA says are dead. The Department of Veterans Affairs knew they were dead, but
the Social Security Administration kept paying benefits to hundreds of people anyway, according to a new agency audit
released Friday [9/1/2017] that says at least $37 million in bogus payments were made. Investigators compared the VA's
record to Social Security rolls and found nearly 4,000 people who were listed as dead by the VA, but were still getting
checks. Some of those people listed as dead were in fact still alive, but others were deceased — and their
checks never should have been paid, the Social Security inspector general said.
under 3 investigations over report of rushed, botched radiology scans. [Scroll down] [Dr. L. Anthony]
Leskosky's documentation and claims about similar problems at the Marion VA have sparked investigations by three federal agencies
into the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic to see if its radiologists rushed analyses of potentially hundreds of patient scans
to boost their pay — even though it resulted in veterans with serious or fatal conditions being untreated. The
investigations follow a report by Leskosky, who initially advised his supervisors of his concerns but was told to keep quiet about
Heritage Budget Wants to Ax
Federal Housing Administration, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The firing of a federal employee takes
about 18 months on average, given the appeals process, which allows multiple avenues for an employee to register
complaints. This was one of the central issues discussed Tuesday [8/22/2017] at the Heritage Foundation, where members
of the conservative think tank outlined the organization's Blueprint for Reorganization. [...] Suggestions include the
elimination of entire offices like the Federal Housing Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It
also envisions consolidating Veterans Affairs, which has 42 offices specifically focused on health benefits, a setup that
was described Tuesday [8/22/2017] as a "bureaucratic nightmare" for veterans.
signs vets bill to keep veterans choice program afloat. President Trump on Saturday signed a bill that will
pump funds into the Veterans choice program to keep it up and running, while Washington continues to fight over how best to
give veterans the care they earned — but which the government has sometimes failed to deliver. Approved in
the wake of the wait-list scandal that saw hundreds of veterans die while stuck on secret wait lists, the choice program
allows those caught in backlogs to seek care at from a private clinic or doctor and bill the costs back to the Veterans
Trump and Secretary Shulkin Announce VA Choice and Quality Employment Act. President Donald Trump has signed an
emergency spending bill that will pump more than $2 billion into a program that allows veterans to receive private medical
care at government expense.
director of DC VA medical center fired from VA headquarters: Report. The Department of Veterans Affairs
fired the former director of the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center, who was reassigned to VA headquarters in April, according
to a report Tuesday [8/1/2017]. In a statement Tuesday [8/1/2017], the agency said Brian Hawkins "failed to provide effective
leadership at the medical center," NBC4 in Washington first reported. D.C.'s VA Medical Center had reassigned Hawkins in
April to the new position at the VA headquarters after an internal inspection of the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center found
shortages of medical supplies and unsanitary conditions. Congressional leaders and military veterans criticized Hawkins'
reassignment to a significant position. In June, NBC4 reported the D.C. VA Medical Center experienced a cockroach
infestation in 2015.
halt bill to let VA doctors prescribe pot for pain. Republican lawmakers have blocked a vote on a bill that
would have allowed Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a pain treatment in states where the drug is
legal. The House Rules Committee stopped a proposed "Veterans Equal Access" amendment from moving to debate on the
House floor by keeping the measure out of the House's proposed VA funding bill for next year.
Finally Accountability at the VA. The
Department of Veterans Affairs has fired 526 employees, demoted another 27 employees and temporarily suspended an additional 194 for longer than
two weeks, since President Donald J. Trump took office on January 20. That information is contained in the Adverse Actions
accountability report posted on the agency's website. The report doesn't include the employees' names, but shows their positions.
CBS reports that in an effort for more transparency and accountability within the VA, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin
announced that the list "accountability actions" will be posted and updated online weekly.
administration has fired more than 500 VA employees since January. Department of Veterans Affairs officials have fired more than 500
misbehaving employees since January, according to data posted online Friday [7/7/2017]. VA Secretary David Shulkin touted his agency's decision
to publish its efforts to hold VA employees accountable, unveiling new requirements for updating the public on personnel actions. "Veterans and
taxpayers have a right to know what we're doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent," Shulkin said in a
statement. "Posting this information online for all to see, and updating it weekly, will do just that."
veterans deserve a VA system that works. It starts today. Hardworking men and women from all across
America get up every day, go to work, and deliver results. If they don't, they lose their jobs — that's the
basic definition of accountability in the workplace. For far too long, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
employees haven't been living up to the same work standards of the average American. Stories of excessive wait times
and backlogs, poor quality of care, and misconduct have plagued the Department for years and are repeated in every state
across the country — including my home state of Texas. As the VA's culture falters, so does their service to
bill creating more accountability at VA after string of scandals. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly
approved legislation Tuesday [6/13/2017] giving the leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs the ability to fire
employees for misconduct and protect those who uncover wrongdoing at the agency. The vote was 368-55.
passes long-sought VA accountability bill. Congress approved long-sought legislation Tuesday [6/13/2017] to
make firing employees easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs, part of an effort urged by President Donald Trump to fix
a struggling agency serving millions of veterans.
Decides Not To Prosecute VA Execs Accused Of Intentionally Misleading Congress. The Department of Justice won't
prosecute VA executives accused of intentionally misleading Congress about cost overruns at the new VA hospital in
Denver. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs asked the DOJ for a perjury investigation in 2016, as the committee
believed executives were misleading lawmakers to cover up exploding costs for the facility under construction, but the DOJ
maintains there is not enough evidence to move forward with prosecution, the Associated Press reports.
OKs bill to make firing employees easier for VA. The Senate approved broad legislation Tuesday [6/6/2017] to make firing
employees easier for the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs, part of an accountability effort urged by President Donald Trump
following years of high-profile problems.
Introduces Bipartisan VA Accountability Bill Streamlining Firing Process. A bipartisan group of senators
introduced legislation Thursday [5/11/2017] that would grant the secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to accelerate
the firing of employees for misconduct, a deal that arrives two months after the House passed its own version along party
lines. The legislation extends the appeals period from the House bill for employees placed on administrative leave, but
enables the department to withhold pay from those workers who are awaiting a case determination. Similar to the House
version, it includes a measure to strip employees of bonuses awarded in error and reduce pensions of workers convicted of a
felony related to their job.
Waters was right, it's time to start talking impeachment — of VA officials. On May 9, 2017 the Court
of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a ruling about former disgraced Veterans Affairs Phoenix hospital administrator
Sharon Helman. Helman oversaw the Phoenix VA, when the scandal broke about fictitious waitlist times. The
waitlist times were used to assess bonuses handed out by the VA. After a suspension and investigation, Helman was eventually
fired for charges related to the appointment data, retaliation against whistleblowers, and conflicts-of-interest involving
gifts from lobbyists. Helman was later convicted and given probation in the conflict-of-interest case. The court
overturned a provision of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. The intent of the bill was to give the
Executive Branch more power to fire high level employees for cause. If there was any government employee that deserved
to be fired for cause, it was Helman.
Report: More Than 100 Veterans Died While Waiting for Care at Los Angeles VA. More than 100 veterans died
while waiting for care at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles, Calif., over a nine-month span ending in August 2015,
according to a new government report. The VA Office of Inspector General found in a recent healthcare inspection that
225 veterans at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System facility died with open or pending consults between Oct. 1,
2015 and Aug. 9, 2015. Nearly half — 117 — of those patients died while experiencing delays
in receiving care. The inspector general reported that 43 percent of the 371 consults scheduled for patients
who ended up dying were not timely because of a failure by VA employees to follow proper procedure. The report was
unable to substantiate claims that patients died as a result of the delayed consults.
fires embattled Louisiana director amid scandal, secret wait lists. The director of the beleaguered Shreveport
VA hospital in Louisiana has been fired following a three-year tenure filled with scandal — including accusations
of covering up a secret wait-list, creating severe staffing shortages and refusing to buy essentials like vital signs
machines, linens or mattresses. Toby Mathew, who became director of Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in June 2014, was
fired on April 13 due to "charges related to general misconduct, and failure to follow policy and provide effective oversight
of the Center's credentialing and privileging program," said an internal VA memo obtained by Fox News. This is one of
the highest-profile employee removals since Secretary Eric Shinseki left in May 2014 following news of the massive wait-list
scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital.
Mulls Closing 1,100 'Underutilized' VA Facilities. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin says his department
is seeking to close perhaps more than 1,100 VA facilities nationwide as it develops plans to allow more veterans to receive
medical care in the private sector. [...] In an internal agency document obtained by The Associated Press, the VA pointed to
aging buildings it was reviewing for possible closure that would cost millions of dollars to replace. It noted that
about 57 percent of all VA facilities were more than 50 years old. Of the 431 VA buildings it said were vacant,
most were built 90 or more years ago, according to agency data. The VA document did not specify the locations.
Affairs has 346 workers who do only union work. An estimated 346 employees in the Department of Veterans
Affairs do no actual work for taxpayers. Instead, they spend all of their time doing work on behalf of their union
while drawing a federal salary, a practice known as "official time." That's according to a report by the nonpartisan
Government Accountability Office. But exactly what those VA workers are doing and why so many are doing it is not
clear. The VA doesn't track that, and the GAO report offers no clue.
Secretary: New Office To Fire Bad Employees Will Cost A Bunch Of Money. The upcoming employee
accountability and whistleblower protection office at the Department of Veterans Affairs will cost a substantial amount, VA
Secretary David Shulkin told reporters Wednesday [4/26/2017]. Shulkin explained in a call with reporters Wednesday evening
that the executive order President Donald Trump will sign Thursday establishes an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower
Protection with an executive in charge that reports directly to Shulkin. The point of the office is to identify any
barriers that might exist to removing bad employees from the VA. And it won't come cheap.
just launched a website to track medical wait times. The Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday [4/12/2017] launched a supplemental
website meant to provide veterans with a tool to access quality of care data and patient wait time in real time. "No other health-care system
in the country releases this type of information on wait times. This allows Veterans to see how VA is performing," VA Sec. David Shulkin
said in a statement. The website, www.accesstocare.va.gov, will list data for the 1,700 national health facilities as well as a dozen private
sector hospitals. Currently, data for a little more than a dozen facilities' are available, though more than 700,000 people checked the website
on the day of its grand opening.
Side With Union Bosses Over Veterans In VA Accountability Fight. Democrats are constantly bleating about the
need to better serve the nation's veterans. Yet when it comes down to it, they would rather bow to their union masters
than allow the VA to fire workers who aren't doing their jobs. The proof is the Democrats' fervent opposition to a
simple reform being pushed by Republicans — the VA Accountability First Act. This bill would let the
Veterans Affairs secretary fire someone and not have to wait a month for the person to actually be fired. It would also
let the VA cut the pensions for those convicted of a felony, and reclaim bonuses from those fired.
Post Gives Obama 'Four Pinocchios' for False VA Claim. The Washington Post fact checker team gave
President Obama "Four Pinocchios" for claiming that his administration fired "a whole bunch of people" who were in charge of
facilities at the Department of Veterans Affairs since the VA scandal began in 2014, determining that the statement was
completely false. Obama is not the only one accused of misleading the public about the number of people held
accountable for manipulating patient wait-time data at the VA. Department Secretary Robert McDonald has twice
received Four Pinocchio ratings for making similar claims.
Veterans in Crisis Still Left Hanging By Help Line. Government investigators with the Government Accountability
Office (GAO) "found that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did not meet its call response-time goals for the Veterans
Crisis Line (VCL)," according to the report that found issues with the center's text messaging line and live call
centers. The VA crisis centers are supposed to answer 90 percent of crisis calls within 30 seconds. An
investigation of covert calls to the centers found that this goal is still not being met, according to the report, which
found that just 65 to 75 percent of calls were answered in the required time. Text messages to the center
were not responded to in 4 of 14 instances.
Baldwin Paid Clinton Lawyer $90K For Crisis Control After VA Scandal. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) paid
Hillary Clinton's campaign lawyer $90,000 for crisis control following a Veteran Affairs facility scandal that engulfed the
senator and her staff. Baldwin, who was first elected to the Senate in 2012, was the only member of Congress from
Wisconsin to receive an official federal government inspector general report warning of the over-prescription of narcotics
given to veterans at the Tomah VA facility in her state. The abuses at the facility ultimately led to the death of a
Marine. A memo was first circulated in 2009 warning of the dangerous amounts of narcotics prescribed to veterans at the
Tomah VA facility by Dr. David Houlihan, the Tomah VA chief of staff.
After VA Promotes Transgender Programs. Under former President Barack Obama, veterans seeking health care
though the Department of Veterans Affairs were often neglected or mistreated, but that didn't stop one VA medical center from
bragging about its transgender initiative. The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio was the subject of
praise from the LGBT community in 2015 when it announced the opening of a clinic specializing in the care of transgender
patients, such as giving them taxpayer-funded sex-change hormones, The Daily Caller reported. However, when it came to
the other 111,000 veterans in the hospital's care, the VA center failed miserably in providing adequate treatment, including
not ensuring that its medical equipment was clean and its employees were properly trained.
Stops VA from Finding Vets Mentally Unfit to Own a Gun. The House passed on Thursday [3/16/2017] a bill to prohibit Veterans Affairs from
blocking a veteran from buying a gun by labeling them mentally unfit, requiring a judiciary authority to make that determination. The Veterans
Second-Amendment Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), states "a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or
experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective" by the VA "without the order or finding of
a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others."
Veteran Lays on Floor in Pain While Waiting at VA Hospital. An elderly veteran lay on the floor in pain and
resorted to using his bag of medication as a pillow while waiting at a Veterans Affairs medical center in Durham, North
Carolina on Friday [2/24/2017]. Stephen McMenamin, a former U.S. Marine who was seeking care, and his wife posted photos
of the scene on Facebook and said a nurse at the VA center yelled at the veteran for laying on the floor, Atlanta's WSB-TV reported
Monday night. "My wife found it upsetting, so she took a couple pictures," McMenamin told the news station, describing how
he witnessed another veteran on the ground using his bag of medication for a pillow after being denied a reclining chair.
VA Secretary Proposes Lifting Restrictions on Veterans Seeking Private Care. On Sunday, Veterans Affairs
Secretary David Shulkin told the Disabled American Veterans conference in Arlington, Virginia that he was thinking about
lifting restrictions on veterans who wish to receive private medical care. The program that already allows certain
veterans to receive non-VA care, the Choice Program, was originally instituted in 2014 after it was found that many VA
facilities had long waiting times, even to the point that people awaiting care died in some cases. As the law now
stands, however, the program allows veterans to receive private care only if they live 40 miles from a VA facility or if they
have waited more than 30 days for an appointment. Shulkin proposed doing away with those requirements, as reported by
Stars and Stripes.
Baldwin Quietly Left Committee With Oversight of Scandal-Plagued Wis. VA Facility. Sen. Tammy
Baldwin (D., Wis.) has quietly stepped away from the committee that has oversight over a scandal-plagued Wisconsin Veterans
Affairs facility, actions some Republicans see as the Democratic senator running from her past failures on the issue.
Baldwin served on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee throughout the 114th Congress but does not appear to
be on the committee in the 115th Congress, according to its roster. The committee has oversight over the Tomah VA, a VA
facility in Wisconsin that was over-prescribing opiates to patients and saw a Marine die from an overdose. A memo,
first circulated in 2009, warned of the dangerous amounts of narcotics that were being ordered by Dr. David Houlihan,
the Tomah VA chief of staff, and prescribed to veterans at the Tomah VA center.
unanimously confirms Trump-pick and Obama holdover David Shulkinas VA secretary. The Senate unanimously
confirmed physician David Shulkin to be secretary of Veterans Affairs on Monday night [2/13/2017]. He will now try to
deliver on President Donald Trump's campaign promises to fix long-standing problems at the department. Senators voted
100-0 to approve the lone holdover from the Obama administration. He has been the VA's top health official since 2015.
Union Work Jumps Ahead In Line For Care At Veterans Affairs. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees are
spending so much time performing job-protecting civil service union work that the quality of care provided to sick veterans
suffers, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The VA has no clue how many hours employees
devote to "official time" — time spent working for unions during work hours on the taxpayer dime —
because the VA has no standardized system for recording and calculating official time agency-wide, GAO found. But one
thing is clear — official time jeopardizes patient care.
Into Trump Admin, Corrupt Employees Are Already Being Fired At The VA. Days into Donald Trump's administration,
heads are finally beginning to roll at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Two notoriously corrupt employees in Puerto
Rico were fired this week, indicating that more may be on the way. One is the hospital's CEO, DeWayne Hamlin, who
offered an employee $305,000 to quit after she played a role in exposing his drug arrest.
Why A Military Officer Might Be A Terrible Pick For The Next VA Secretary. President-elect Donald Trump is
considering a military flag officer to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but a career military person would
likely lack experience dealing with the civil service rules that have been the department's primary barrier to ending
scandals. Trump has said that he's taken longer to fill that department's top slot because its life-or-death challenges
and long-running scandals make it so important. But now there are only four Cabinet posts left to be chosen, and there
is pressure to use the slot to shape a larger image of the administration.
Under Increasing Pressure to Keep Obama VA Secretary. Donald Trump is under increasing pressure from veterans
organizations to retain Robert McDonald as the secretary of Veterans Affairs, though the president-elect's plan to reform the
agency differs from efforts undertaken by McDonald during his tenure. Twenty veterans organizations wrote to Trump
urging him to keep McDonald in a letter sent Wednesday, citing his "proven track record" as VA secretary and leadership of an
"enterprise-wide transformation" of the troubled federal agency. They joined the leaders of the nation's largest
veterans groups — the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of
America, and AMVETS — who urged Trump's transition team to retain McDonald in a meeting last Friday.
Trump's Urgent Job: Clean
Up the VA. In 2014, the nation was horrified to learn that vets were dying while waiting for medical
appointments, and VA staff were concealing wait times. Now new patients are waiting even longer. Recently, a vet
with heart troubles died while waiting for a cardiology appointment at the Washington, D.C. VA. Investigators concluded he
would likely have survived had he been seen. Meanwhile Democratic senators are still blocking a bill to hold VA executives
accountable for these deadly failures. What's wrong with firing liars and incompetents? Democrats would rather side
with the public service unions that fill their campaign coffers and turn out the vote.
VA staff left veteran's body in shower nine hours, tried to hide mistakes. Staff members at the Bay Pines VA
Healthcare System left the body of a veteran in a shower room for more than nine hours then tried to cover up the mistake, a
hospital investigation shows. A report of the investigation's findings provides no information about the veteran, who
died in February at the hospice unit of the Bay Pines center, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd.
facility left dead veteran's body unattended in shower for 9 hours, report says. First they moved the dead body
into a hallway. Then they took it into a shower room. There it remained, ignored, for more than nine hours. No one
showed up to take it to the morgue because no one called the dispatchers. Not much is known about the unidentified veteran
who died in hospice care at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System outside St. Petersburg, Fla. But a hospital investigation made
public Friday [12/9/2016] by the Tampa Bay Times criticizes staff members for leaving the veteran's body unattended for such a long time
and then trying to cover up their mistake.
Obama's VA desecrates lonely veteran's corpse. The care of our nation's veterans under President Barack Obama
has been appalling — and recent outrageous reports from Florida shows it's only getting worse. A news report
says that staff at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Florida discarded the corpse of a veteran in a shower and left it to fester
throughout the day after the veteran had died alone and proper pickup procedures to the morgue weren't followed.
the Obama Legacy — Against His Own Mileposts. [For example,] "Honoring our nation's veterans." Obama's Department
of Veteran Affairs was mired in scandal, and some of its nightmarish VA hospitals were awash in disease and unnecessary deaths. Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was forced to resign amid controversy. Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized for issuing
an offensive report falsely concluding that returning war vets were liable to join right-wing terrorist groups.
VA Hospital Staff Resigns After Maggots Found in Vet. Whether it is a matter of understaffing, underfunding, or
a combination of the two, a myriad of horrific tales have been made public during Obama's two terms as president. The
latest offense is sure to make your skin crawl.
Affairs leader must be more than political ally. In just about every one of his campaign rallies, how many
times did we hear Donald Trump pledge, "We've gotta take care of our veterans, folks." Now the former host of "Celebrity
Apprentice" and future host of the White House is floating the names of Sarah Palin and Scott Brown, two of the most attractive
and vacuous cabinet suggestions ever, for the post of secretary of Veterans Affairs. The news did not sit well with either
Tom Lyons or Dan Magoon, two veterans who endured combat on opposite ends of the generational divide.
dentist accused of using improperly cleaned tools at Wisconsin facility resigns. A dentist has resigned from
his position at a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs hospital amid accusations he treated hundreds of patients with improperly
dentist resigns after possibly infecting 600 veterans with HIV and hepatitis. An unidentified Department of
Veterans Affairs dentist in Wisconsin resigned after possibly exposing hundreds of patients to HIV and hepatitis B and C.
Officials at Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced Friday the dentist, who placed veterans at risk by reusing his tools,
resigned after initially moving to an administrative role, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
VA Hospital May Have Infected 600 Veterans With HIV Or Hepatitis. A dentist at the Tomah Veterans Affairs
Medical Center in Wisconsin exposed nearly 600 veterans to infectious diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C,
say VA administrators. From October 2015 to October 2016, a dentist at the Tomah VA exposed 592 veterans to infectious
diseases by reusing his own dental equipment and "cleaning" it instead of using the sterile and disposable equipment provided
by the VA, said Acting Medical Center Director Victoria Brahm, according to WEAU News.
VA dentist may have infected
veterans with HIV, hepatitis. A dentist put nearly 600 veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in
Tomah, Wisconsin at risk of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C after failing to follow standard
sanitation procedures. The VA is now offering free screenings. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced
Tuesday that a dentist's failure to use sterilized equipment put close to 600 patients at its Tomah hospital at risk of
diseases like HIV or hepatitis. While there have been no reports of infections since it was reported on October 20,
the VA has pledged to provide treatment to any veterans that are found to be infected.
Hollywood liberals think this is all a big joke.
Bad Taste: ABC Developing Sitcom About VA Hospital. Know what's really funny? VA hospitals.
Real fertile territory for sitcom wackiness, what with the amputees and PTSD and the needless suffering of veterans at the
hands of an incompetent and callous bureaucracy. At least, ABC seems to think it a laugh riot. The network has
committed to produce a pilot of a sitcom called Lakeside VA. The Hollywood Reporter calls the project "a
comedy with heart."
Another government hospital runs over
budget, repeating a wasteful pattern. Construction of the new Army medical center at Fort Bliss in El Paso is
almost two years behind schedule and could be more than $100 million over budget before it's completed. Two years is an
awfully long time for our nation's heroes to wait for new hospital beds. And Donald Trump's tax returns notwithstanding,
$100 million is still an awful lot of taxpayer cabbage. One might argue that at least the William Beaumont Army Medical
Center is no Aurora, Colorado, Veterans Affairs hospital, still unfinished, with the meter running on more than $1 billion in
cost overruns and years past its estimated original completion date. Still, the troubles at Fort Bliss should come as no
surprise. A check on the past two military hospital projects — in Killeen and San Antonio — shows
the same budget bloat and dilatory scheduling.
Force Veteran Forced To Wait 5 Months For A Simple Wheelchair. Air Force veteran Arthur DeAngelis's five-month
wait for a simple wheelchair finally came to an end Friday. DeAngelis, an 80-year-old vet, had to wait five months for
a replacement wheelchair from the Hampton Veterans Affairs medical center, The Virginian-Pilot reports. He waited ever
since April 22, when he was fitted for a custom chair. "I've been in it for 10 minutes now," DeAngelis said.
"So far, so good." The wait was only supposed to take six to eight weeks, and despite numerous communication attempts with
the VA, staff did not return any phone calls.
veterans die waiting for care as troubled Phoenix VA builds new backlog. The Phoenix Veterans Affairs office is
still improperly canceling veterans' appointments, has built up a new backlog of cases — and at least one veteran
is likely dead because of it, the department's inspector general said in a new report Tuesday [10/4/2016]. Two years
after they first sounded the alarm about secret waiting lists leaving veterans struggling for care at the Phoenix VA, investigators
said some services have improved, and they cleared the clinic of allegations that top officials ordered staff to cancel appointments.
vets denied millions in benefits by VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs has shortchanged thousands of disabled veterans who can't leave
home without assistance roughly $110 million. The VA's Office of Inspector General issued the finding after conducting a review of the VA's
housebound benefits program, Stars & Stripes reports. The IG found that payment errors affected the benefits of 33,400 veterans confined to their
homes because of illness or injury, the paper reported. The VA designated 186,000 veterans housebound as of March 2015.
Cancer Died After Delays at VA Hospital. Patients at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in New Mexico
who were eventually diagnosed with cancer experienced delays in care that put their health at risk, according to the agency's
inspector general. Dozens of veterans who tested positive for colorectal cancer at the New Mexico VA Health Care System
in Albuquerque were not notified of their results in a timely manner, according to the inspector general report released this
week, which faulted a lack of oversight from the system's leadership. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of
cancer deaths in the United States. Screening can detect the cancer in its early stages, making it easier to beat.
Consider Bill Expanding VA Firing Powers. House lawmakers this week will consider the latest legislative effort
to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to more easily hold employees accountable for misconduct, amid warnings from the
Obama administration that the new bill would "undermine" the agency's workforce. Ahead of considering the VA
Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 on the House floor, the administration expressed concerns over the
legislation, labeling provisions that make it easier for the VA to fire or demote employees "misguided and burdensome." The
administration also said in a statement that portions of the legislation raise "constitutional concerns," including a rule
that would shorten the appeals process for employees who are disciplined by the agency. The development sets up a fight
between the White House and Congress over efforts to expand the VA's firing powers. The Obama administration objected
to congressional efforts last year to make it easier for the VA to punish any employee for misconduct or poor performance.
rejects panel's proposal for more oversight of VA health care system. President Obama objected Thursday [9/1/2016]
to a new governing board to oversee health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying it would undermine the VA secretary's
authority and make it harder for the scandal-ridden agency "to implement transformative change." The president said the
recommendation by a national commission for a new "board of directors" for the nation's largest health care system also would
"weaken the integration" of the VA's medical program with other services. He also said the Justice Department has advised
that the extra layer of oversight "would violate the appointments clause of the Constitution."
The Editor says...
Mr. Obama displays selective and sporadic concern for the Constitution.
symbol of hatred or history? Obama quietly bans Confederate flag at cemeteries. The Veterans Affairs
Department quietly moved this month to ban flying of Confederate flags from fixed flagpoles at the cemeteries it runs,
striking yet another blow against the controversial emblem. Congress had debated and rejected that change, but the
Obama administration decided to move forward anyway, saying it was unilaterally imposing the restrictions. "In particular,
we will amend our policy to make clear that Confederal flags will not be displayed from any permanently fixed flagpole in a
national cemetery at any time," wrote Ronald E. Walters, under secretary for memorial affairs at the VA.
suicide in VA hospital parking lot brings new scrutiny to agency. The suicide of a 76-year-old former Navy man
in the parking lot of a New York VA hospital where he was allegedly denied care has raised new questions about the federal
agency, and his family and friends hope his death won't be in vain. Peter A. Kaisen, 76, of Islip, shot and killed
himself outside the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he had been a patient.
Kills Himself in Parking Lot of V.A. Hospital on Long Island. A 76-year-old veteran committed suicide on Sunday
in the parking lot of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island, where he had been a patient, according to
the Suffolk County Police Department. Peter A. Kaisen, of Islip, was pronounced dead after he shot himself outside
Building 92, the nursing home at the medical center. The hospital is part of the Veterans Affairs medical system, the
nation's largest integrated health care organization, which has been under scrutiny since 2014, when the department confirmed
that numerous patients had died awaiting treatment at a V.A. hospital in Phoenix. Officials there had tried to cover up
long waiting times for 1,700 veterans seeking medical care. A study released by the Government Accountability Office in
April indicated that the system had yet to fix its scheduling problems.
has bed bug problem in major Illinois hospital. The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking the private sector
to help it monitor for bed bugs at a major VA hospital in Illinois. The VA on Monday put out a bid on a small business
to take up pest-monitoring duties for the VA's Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Ill. That hospital offers a full
range of services to veterans, including surgery, outpatient care and mental health services. But that hospital may
once again be overrun with bed bugs, a problem the same hospital has had before. A report from 2014 said the hospital
had been hit twice with bed bugs.
Shamelessly Downplays Ongoing Problems At The VA. President Obama, in an amazing display of self-adulation,
gave a lengthy speech to the Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Ga., this week, in which he boasted about all the
progress he's made in delivering better health care to veterans. [...] Two years ago, Obama solemnly swore that he was
"moving ahead with urgent reforms, including stronger management and leadership and oversight, and we're instituting a
critical culture of accountability." He's not delivered on any of those promises.
and the Clintons. [Scroll down] One of the more tangible scandals this cycle is the ongoing mess at the Department of Veterans
Affairs. This agency is tasked with one duty: Take care of the people who fought and were injured in the defense of our freedom.
Long waiting lists that led to premature, inexcusable deaths and suicides made this a sensational (if not horrific) saga when the story initially
broke. Lately, we learn of millions of dollars in expensive artwork at VA facilities and an explosion of non-physician hiring.
Gets It Right On Reforming the VA. [Donald] Trump is absolutely right in his diagnosis of what ails the program:
"Politicians in Washington have tried to fix the VA by holding hearings and blindly throwing money at the problem. None of it
has worked." It is a classic example of a single-payer health care system — wasteful, inefficient and impervious to
change. A case in point is the $10 billion "reform" passed two years ago that was supposed to relieve chronic, and at times
deadly, delays that veterans had to endure to get treatment. An Associated Press investigation found that wait times had not
improved at all last year.
Billions in New Spending Failed to Fix VA Problems, Made Some Worse. Amid public outrage over the deadly wait
list manipulation scandal that consumed the federal Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014, politicians on both sides of the
aisle demanded accountability and reforms. As usual, many Democrats blamed the agency's systemic corruption on funding
shortfalls, which was an inaccurate red herring. Nevertheless, Congress allocated billions in additional dollars for
the VA two years ago. A year later, wait times for care had gotten worse. CNN, which originally broke the VA
corruption story, has summarized the findings of a panel tasked with evaluating the VA's progress — and the
picture they paint isn't pretty.
Releases Results of Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide Rates. The Department of Veterans Affairs released
sobering new statistics today about veteran suicide rates in the United States. According to the VA, an average of
20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014. The VA examined over 55 million veteran records from 1979
to 2014 from every state in the nation. The last time the VA conducted a study like this was in 2010, but that report
included data from only 20 states.
Government Throws Billions at Problem — Doesn't Solve it. The latest example of government making
worse the problem they created is the V.A. healthcare system. Feel free to also call it a vision of the future of
Obamacare. And why is it that America's heroes are always the ones getting the shaft? We never seem to hear about
the sorry state of the welfare system, or any of the other hundreds of government giveaway programs. They seem to get
their checks and benefits on time. It's always our veterans, the men and women who put it all on the line for our
country, who get the government short-shrift. Reports have been consistently bad on the state of the V.A. system for
years — decades even, yet it can't seem to get fixed. We've all heard horror stories, one after another, of
veterans receiving care ranging from inadequate to downright appalling. And that's assuming they receive care at
all. Many have died waiting to receive it. Two years ago the brainiacs in Congress decided enough was
enough. It was time to "fix the chronic delay problem at the Veterans Health Administration." So they did what
governments always do — throw gobs of money at it. That will fix it right up. They threw down
$10 billion to develop the "Veterans Choice" program.
VA care may have killed over 1,000 veterans, dying veteran speaks. Much has been in the news about the Veterans
Administration's (VA) neglect in healthcare and other Veterans Administration scandals with our nation's veterans and based
on a new report, substandard VA care may have killed more than 1,000 veterans. Robert Alvarez of the Uniformed Services
Justice & Advocacy Group (USJAG) reported that when the national slate of scandals first broke at the Phoenix VA Medical
Center in 2014 many veterans, family members and advocates came out of the gate loaded for bear and many policy-makers swore
that they would usher in much-needed reforms, or else. However, as Alvarez stated, not much has changed, the scandals
have continued, and the debacle that is the Veteran's Administration is seemingly all about many things, but not systemic
report slams VA watchdog for 'systemic' failures in probe of Wisconsin hospital. A Senate committee's report
into overprescription of powerful painkilling drugs at a Wisconsin VA hospital slammed the agency's inspector general's
office for discounting key evidence, narrowing its inquiry and failing to make its report on the matter public. The
report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released Tuesday [5/31/2016] and first obtained by
USA Today, says the VA watchdog's investigation into the Tomah (Wis.) VA Medical Center was "perhaps the greatest failure
to identify and prevent the tragedies at the Tomah VAMC."
report slams VA watchdog for 'systemic' failures in probe of Wisconsin hospital. A Senate committee's report
into overprescription of powerful painkilling drugs at a Wisconsin VA hospital slammed the agency's inspector general's
office for discounting key evidence, narrowing its inquiry and failing to make its report on the matter public. The
report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which will be released Tuesday [5/31/2016] and
was first obtained by USA Today, says the VA watchdog's investigation into the Tomah (Wis.) VA Medical Center was "perhaps
the greatest failure to identify and prevent the tragedies at the Tomah VAMC."
Billion Later, The VA Makes Veterans Wait Even Longer To Get Care. When Congress rushed in two years ago to fix
a chronic delay problem at the Veterans Health Administration, one of the key reforms was a new, $10 billion program called
Veterans Choice. The goal was to give vets an option of going to a private doctor if they weren't able to get a timely
appointment with a government-paid VHA doctor. [...] That sounded good. But in practice, the program has failed miserably.
Still Waiting For Those 'Urgent' VA Reforms Obama Promised Two Years Ago. In the summer of 2014, President
Obama promised swift changes to resolve chronic delays and cover-ups at the Veterans Health Administration. Today,
veterans are still waiting months to see doctors and the VHA is still doctoring wait times, an audit finds.
Officials Admit They Let Veterans Die Rather Than Talk To Republicans. A federal employee union president is
wracked with regret because veterans likely died at a time when she knew about gross misconduct within her Department of
Veterans Affairs facility but didn't tell congressional leaders because they were Republicans. "If I would've gone to him
two years ago, who knows what kind of lives could've been saved," Germaine Clarno told a radio interviewer Monday, referring
to the Republican leader of a VA subcommittee. Clarno, a lifelong Democrat and social worker at the Hines Veterans Affairs
Hospital in Hines, Ill., has been president of the union representing doctors at the hospital since before the deadly
wait-time scandal unfolded.
veteran fell through VA cracks four times before suicide. A staple of the American military is to "leave no man
behind" on a foreign battlefield. Army veteran Tom Young was left behind by the VA, according to his family. They say
Young asked the Veterans Administration for help on four occasions, but only received phone calls back after he was dead.
VA hotline chief has a history of dropped calls from veterans. A former Air Force officer chosen to fix the
VA's problem-plagued suicide hotline has been running other agency phone banks that have a poor record of service, dropping
as many as one in five calls from veterans, according to internal data provided to USA TODAY. The deputy secretary
for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Sloan Gibson, defended the choice of Matthew Eitutus overseeing the crisis hotline,
telling USA TODAY Friday that Eitutus has shown considerable initiative for one of the agency's biggest challenges —
just answering the phone.
Of Suicides At Phoenix VA Shows Exactly How These Veterans Were Let Down. A group known as the Concerned Employees of the Phoenix VA has
issued a letter Sunday [2/28/2016] containing a list of veteran suicides at the hospital, as well as the specific lapses in care which led to veteran
despondency. After giving several examples of abysmal failure at the Phoenix VA, the group decided to lay it all out on the table in a single bold
pronouncement, according to the letter, obtained Tuesday by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Counsel Says VA Sought to Attack, Discredit Whistleblowers. Oversight officials at the Department of Veterans
Affairs failed to properly investigate medical misconduct allegations at multiple VA hospitals and issued reports that
attempted to discredit and attack whistleblowers, according to a review by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. In 2014,
the Office of Special Counsel asked the VA inspector general's office to look into claims of "secret waiting lists" at two
veterans hospitals after receiving whistleblower complaints. Employees at the facilities claimed veterans would often be
forced to wait months or longer for appointments, but this information was kept outside of the VA's official electronic records
system so that administrators could dodge federal requirements and take home cash bonuses.
watchdog sits on wait-time investigation reports for months. After the Veterans Affairs wait-time scandal erupted nearly two
years ago, the department's chief watchdog investigated 73 VA facilities across the country and found scheduling problems in 51 cases.
But that watchdog — the VA's inspector general — still has not released reports with the findings of those investigations to
Congress or the public. As a result, it's impossible to tell which medical centers had problems, how serious those problems were, or whether
they led to the deaths of any veterans. The inspector general has said only that they range from simple rule violations to deliberate fraud.
Futile Call to VA Prompts Congress Members to Act. The video shows Army veteran Dennis Magnasco trying to
schedule a doctor's appointment at his local VA hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts. But a nearly five-minute phone call
became a maddening stream of automated audio messages. And just when it sounds like Magnasco will be transferred to a
representative to help him schedule an appointment, he is looped back to the beginning of the original recording, again and
again. The problem of trying to get in the door of VA hospitals is one Magnasco said he's heard from veterans many times.
cite disorder at VA hospital. Nearly three dozen whistleblowers have come forward saying the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati is in a state
of disorder. They say veterans are not getting the care they need in the backyard of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, the former chief
executive of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. Since October, a team of Scripps reporters has been talking to a group of 34 current and former
medical center staff members. The group, including 18 doctors from several departments, sent an unsigned letter to McDonald in September
describing "urgent concerns about quality of care" at the facility, which serves more than 40,000 area veterans. They allege a pattern of cost
cutting that forced out experienced surgeons, reduced access to care and put patients in harm's way.
launches probe into allegations of misconduct at Cincinnati VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched
a formal probe into allegations of "misconduct that adversely affects the care of the veterans at the Cincinnati" VA, Fox
News learned late Friday [2/12/2016]. The VA began a series of what were described to Fox News as "cryptic" phone calls to
Congressional offices, advising them of a form inquiry by the VA Inspector General. [...] Dr. David Shuklin, the VA's Under
Secretary for Health, has asked the Inspector General to probe the still-vague matter.
Let veterans bypass federal crooks and see a doctor. In
April 2014, CNN first reported that VA employees secretly and systematically gamed their internal computer system to hide a massive backlog of medical care to ailing veterans.
While doing this, the officials paid themselves and their subordinates bonuses based on their fraudulently excellent performance. It has been discovered that this practice of
cooking the books at the expense of veterans was widespread, not at just a handful of VA facilities but at more than 100 of them. How many people have been fired for this? You
might well ask. The answer is — three.
initially cast VA scandal as partisan effort to undermine agency. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), now a Democratic presidential candidate, was slow to
take seriously reports in 2014 of the use of fake wait lists by Department of Veterans Affairs employees. As the New York Times reported, Sanders, then chairman
of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, initially indicated that the controversy was being fueled by a partisan effort to undermine the government agency.
Still Waiting For Real Reform. Don't be fooled by last week's headlines about more money and greater
accountability at the VA. It's the usual malarkey coming out of Washington DC. The prognosis for vets who need healthcare
remains poor, with vets likely to get the run around and face delays again in 2016. On Friday, congress passed an omnibus
spending bill for the coming year that allocates a whopping $171 billion to the Veterans Administration, which is even more
than the department requested. But that's pouring money down a rat hole, as long as the VA is riddled with corruption and
saddled with job protection rules that favor employees, not vets. As for the latest highly touted whistle blower protection
law signed by President Obama last Friday, there were whistle blower protections already on the books. What's lacking is the
will to enforce them. Adding more pages to the U.S. Code won't change that.
says he waited on VA hospital floor for hours. An Army veteran says he was forced to lie on the floor of the
emergency room for nearly four hours waiting to get care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque. Adam Griego says
he was in agonizing pain while on the floor. His mother took a photo of the incident, which occurred last week.
Are The Documents Showing Massive Whistleblower Retaliation At Phoenix VA. Two high-level officials at the Phoenix VA medical center
have completely escaped punishment for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers who brought to light serious patient care problems.
Despite trying to keep the names of the retaliating officials quiet, the Department of Veterans Affairs now has a public relations nightmare
on its hands, as the reports have emerged. The internal investigations wrapped up 15 months ago.
Deadly DC: The Land of No
Consequences. This week, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs will hold the 999,999th oversight hearing (give or take
a few) on the VA's homicidal, no-fault culture. "In the wake of the biggest scandal in VA history, in which 110 VA medical
facilities maintained secret lists to hide long waits for care," the panel notes, "the department has successfully fired just three
low-level employees for manipulating wait times. Not a single VA senior executive has been successfully fired for doing the same."
can't afford drug for veterans suffering from hepatitis C. On Tuesday [12/1/2015], a Senate report found Gilead Sciences,
which makes a cure for a fatal form of hepatitis, is more interested in profits than patients. The cure was invented under
the leadership of a celebrated doctor in the Department of Veterans Affairs, but at $1,000 a pill, even the VA can't afford to
save the lives of veterans who need it. In 2013, Vietnam veteran Zion Yisrael was told he had five years to live. He
has stage 4 liver disease, caused by hepatitis C — which has infected as many as 230,000 veterans. Most
veterans contracted it in Vietnam where it was spread by battlefield blood transfusions and vaccinations.
The VA System Was Always Corrupt.
Conservatives have been saying, no shouting, that if you want to see the future of Obamacare, of the top down government run healthcare
of our future, we need look no further than the VA system. [...] Others say no, that you can't throw the baby out with the bath water.
That sure, there are some bad hospitals, some bad administrators, but it's not all bad — that it wasn't always this way.
Well, to that I say bunk! Unlike other government organizations, the VA system didn't get as bad as it is over time. It's been
bad and it's been corrupt from its conception — when it began as the Veterans Bureau in 1921.
Paul VA official received an $8,697 bonus in year she was under investigation. Kimberly Graves, the top St. Paul Department
of Veterans Affairs official who recently refused to answer questions in front of a congressional panel, received an $8,697 bonus in
2014 — the same year she was under federal investigation for allegedly abusing her authority for personal gain. Graves'
bonus came after she received almost $130,000 in moving expenses to relocate from the East Coast to St. Paul last year — a
move she orchestrated, according to a VA inspector general's report. The report found that Graves also retained her $173,949 annual
salary even though her job responsibilities were significantly diminished in the move to Minnesota.
VA Is Still Paying Millions In Performance Bonuses. The scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department is still
paying performance bonuses to executives and employees to the tune of $142.5 million last year.
Affairs pays $142 million in bonuses amid scandals. The Department of Veterans Affairs doled out more than $142 million
in bonuses to executives and employees for performance in 2014 even as scandals over veterans' health care and other issues racked the
agency. Among the recipients were claims processors in a Philadelphia benefits office that investigators dubbed the worst in the
country last year. They received $300 to $900 each. Managers in Tomah, Wis., got $1,000 to $4,000, even though they oversaw
the over-prescription of opiates to veterans — one of whom died.
secretary misstates the number of wait-time manipulation disciplinary actions — again. This is the
second time this year that we found [VA Secretary Robert] McDonald inaccurately citing the disciplinary actions taken against
VA employees for manipulating wait-time data. There is a disturbing discrepancy between the figure McDonald cited during the
speech and the figure his agency is reporting to Congress as cases directly related to patient wait-time manipulation. As of
the day before his speech, there were 305 employees and eight senior executives who had proposed or completed disciplinary actions
against them for any basis relating to patient scheduling, failure of oversight, record manipulation, appointment delays and/or patient
deaths. Among them, 27 were cases relating specifically to "patient wait time manipulation."
Not To Worry, the VA Scandal Is Not A "Widespread" Problem — Only 40 Vets Died. Hillary is at it
again. She said on Rachel Maddow's show on Friday [10/23/2015], that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs are
real, but not nearly as widespread as the coverage would indicate. She blamed Republicans for using the issue as part of
an "ideological agenda" and said "they want the VA to fail."
at VA grows after employees plead the Fifth. Lawmakers are renewing calls to hold Department of Veterans
Affairs officials accountable for misconduct after two VA employees refused to answer questions during a congressional
hearing Monday evening [11/2/2015]. Kimberly Graves and Diane Rubens had both received subpoenas to appear before the
House Veterans Affairs Committee Monday [11/2/2015], where they both invoked their Fifth Amendment rights when questioned about
alleged abuse of a VA program that compensates employees for transferring locations. Both Rubens and Graves could still be
called back before the committee.
Senior VA Officials Plead The Fifth Amendment At Hearing. Two senior officials from the Department of Veterans
Affairs have pleaded the Fifth Amendment in front of a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on relocation bonus
corruption. Philadelphia and Wilmington VA regional offices director Diana Rubens and St. Paul VA regional office
director Kimberly Graves pleaded the Fifth and refused to answer any of the numerous questions put forward by HVAC chairman
GOP Rep. Jeff Miller.
A Good Start. After poor management at the
Veterans Administration was implicated in numerous deaths, the New York Times reported in April that "at most three" VA employees lost their
jobs. A September inspector general's report revealed that VA employees were getting around having their bonuses frozen as a result of the
scandal by creating new positions at the agency, then volunteering to relocate for these jobs — and collecting exorbitant expenses related
to the move. One VA executive relocating to Philadelphia collected $274,019.
Clinton's misleading claim that 'numerous surveys' show veterans are satisfied with VA medical care. Post-care
satisfaction surveys do not necessarily reflect the population of veterans at the center of the VA scandal, which dealt
particularly with patients' access to care. A large portion of veterans who received medical care may have had positive
experiences, but this overlooks the hundreds of thousands of patients who experienced delays in care, or the dozens who died
while waiting for care, as the inspector general found. While she says numerous surveys show veterans' satisfaction, the
examples her claim is based on are either funded by the VA or a non-scientific survey of veteran attitudes.
still waiting months to see doctor, another died on wait list. Remember how Hillary Clinton repeatedly assured
voters over the past week that the real scandal at the Veterans Administration was that Republicans wanted to privatize some
of its functions in order to allow veterans to actually see a doctor? Even in Hillary's attempted walkback on
Wednesday [10/28/2015], she still stressed that she was more concerned with GOP reform efforts than in solving the systemic
fraud that kept thousands of veterans from getting medical care.
Clinton Minimizes VA Troubles, Three Reports Expose Shortfalls Across Country. Days after Hillary Clinton said
that Republicans have inflated problems at the Department of Veterans' Affairs to make them appear more "widespread," three
reports point to shortfalls and mismanagement at VA facilities across the country. The VA Office of Inspector General
released three separate reports on VA facilities in Alaska, Illinois, and California this week that found insufficiencies at
the locations. The first assessment, released Wednesday [10/28/2015], found that a veteran who could not eat because of
difficulty swallowing experienced a delay in getting care at the Oxnard Community Based Outpatient Clinic at the VA Greater
Los Angeles Healthcare System in California. The patient later died.
gaffe brings VA problems into 2016 race. Sen. John McCain said Wednesday [10/28/2015] that Hillary Clinton's
recent comments about the Department of Veterans Affairs should make veterans question whether she can be president.
McCain, R-Ariz., took the offensive, along with Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, on behalf of the Republican National Committee,
which seized on the growing controversy over Clinton's statement last week claiming the VA's problems are "not widespread."
She told MSNBC that the GOP is exaggerating VA dysfunction in a plan to cut funding and privatize the agency.
defense of VA: One too many rides on the VRWC pony. At the very least, Republicans should not assume that the
issue is settled. And neither should the media that rushed to toss hosannas at Hillary last week. Her bizarre
and paranoid rant discounting the deaths of dozens of veterans at the hands of a corrupt VA as nothing more than a political
attack on single-payer health care should also remind Democrats that Hillary remains the same haughty, entitled, and unlikable
candidate that she turned out to be in 2008.
Sorry, Hillary Clinton. VA Corruption is
Widespread. Hillary Rodham Clinton says the furor over sick vets waiting for health-care is overblown and "not as widespread
as it has been made out to be." [...] Sorry, Clinton. That's wrong. 138 nonpartisan investigations prepared for Congress —
count them, 138 — have shown corruption and dysfunction throughout the VA system. And our ailing vets bear the brunt.
Clinton's Icy Indifference To Veterans' Suffering At The VA. It almost defies belief that a leading presidential candidate could show
such hardened indifference to the plight of America's veterans, some 57,000 of whom have been shunted off to Soviet-style waiting lists that have
exceeded 90 days, and nearly a thousand of whom have died while in the Department of Veterans Affairs' subprime care. Incredibly, that's
what Clinton conveyed to lefty MSNBC interviewer Rachel Maddow, who actually tried to get Clinton to admit that the system was failing under President
VA Problems Overblown. VA Whistleblower: Let Me Give You A Facility Tour Then. Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblower Brandon Coleman
is offering a personal tour at any VA facility to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to show her that corruption and mismanagement at the
department is neither a right-wing conspiracy, nor restricted to one part of the country. Coleman appeared Monday [10/26/2015] on Fox News to offer a
response to Clinton's claims that the apparent crisis at the VA is a product of press coverage and Republicans pushing an ideological agenda.
Veterans Affairs scandal not a 'widespread' problem. Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton says the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal is not as "widespread" of a problem as coverage would indicate. [...] The former
first lady blamed Republicans for using the issue as part of an "ideological agenda" and said they want the VA to "fail."
Veterans still facing major medical delays at VA
hospitals. Despite billions of extra dollars poured into the agency in the last year and numerous reforms intended to
improve veterans' access to care, whistleblowers and internal documents obtained by CNN reveal some VA facilities continue to grapple
with appointment wait times of months or more. Even at the Phoenix VA medical center, where CNN learned last year "secret"
appointment lists were hiding how veterans were dying waiting for care, sources say complicated wait-time calculations obscure
ongoing appointment delays.
It's Time to Get Rid of the
VA. There is only one guaranteed way to get fired from the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Falsifying records
won't do it. Prescribing obsolete drugs won't do it. Cutting all manner of corners on health and safety is, at worst,
going to get you a reprimand. No, the only sure-fire way to get canned at the VA is to report any of these matters to authorities
who might do something about it. That, at least, is what the U.S. Office of Special Counsel recently reported to the president
of the United States. The Special Counsel's office is the agency to which government whistleblowers go to report wrongdoing.
VA In Midst of 'Leadership Crisis'. The
report focuses on the leadership challenges at VA facilities bred in an environment in which employees lack trust and feel reluctant
to speak up about problems. "VHA leaders operate within a challenging and disempowering environment that discourages
emerging leaders from seeking promotion within the organization," the report explains. "A misalignment of accountability and
authority exists within a broader VHA culture characterized by risk aversion and lack of trust." Visits to VA facilities
revealed that employees consistently hold back on reporting potential problems. "At almost every facility visited, at least
one leader interviewed mentioned that risk aversion and a reluctance to 'speak up' were a significant issue," the researchers
write. Leadership at VA hospitals is also characterized by unclear roles and responsibilities among staff.
Status Quo Still Reigns Over at the VA. It's been
over a year since the Veterans' Affairs healthcare scandal broke, and despite promises of change from the Obama administration, it looks like
the old status quo still reigns at the department. The government's Office of Special Counsel, a watchdog group in the government looking
into the matter, has discovered that the VA has failed to properly discipline employees who played a role in the scandal.
of Reform at VA Beckons Donald Trump With a Promise of Firings. Robert McDonald, head of the Veterans
Administration, claims he's making "great progress" delivering health care to vets and turning around the agency's
mismanagement and corruption. Don't believe him. Right now, more than 35,000 combat vets who are automatically
eligible for VA care are stuck on hold because the VA's enrollment process is broken beyond belief.
Inspector General: 307K veterans died waiting for health care. The Inspector General's report is out on the
failure of the Veterans Affairs Department and it is not pretty. The report says 307K veterans with pending
health care requests died while waiting for care. That's 35% of all health care requests as of September 2014.
One-third of the vets on VA's waiting list are dead. In July, reports surfaced that an estimated 239,000 veterans died
before they became eligible for benefits, or 28 percent of the nearly 850,000 veterans thought to be seeking these benefits.
The OIG's report said the situation is even worse — it said 307,000 names on the VA's list of pending enrollees were
deceased. That's 35 percent of the 867,000 people on the list as of last year.
allegedly show Memphis VA leaving disabled vets unattended. Video footage allegedly showing veterans — many of whom
are quadriplegics or paraplegics — being left unattended at a Memphis Veterans Affairs hospital during staff meetings is reviving
concerns about how VA hospitals treat American servicemembers. The videos, first reported by Communities Digital News (CDN) and said to
be filmed at the Memphis VA Medical Center, show patients being left alone for about 30-45 minutes each evening during a staff meeting
attended by all hospital staff, whistleblower and former Memphis VA employee Sean Higgins told FoxNews.com.
Will Making It Easier
to Fire Feds Go Viral? "Today, it's the VA. Tomorrow, it could be your agency," said MSPB Chairman Susan Tsui
Grundmann in a speech at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's EXCEL conference in Washington. Grundmann was
referring to a 2014 law that allows the VA secretary to fire any Senior Executive Service employee immediately, and a bill
passed by the House in July that would make it easier to fire all VA employees — not just top career officials.
The intent of the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act — which includes the provisions affecting senior
executives — and the 2015 VA Accountability Act is to help the department more quickly get rid of poor performers
or those engaged in wrongdoing. The congressional efforts to expedite firing were launched after reports erupted last year
about employees engaged in data manipulation and the excessive wait times for vets seeking appointments in Phoenix and elsewhere.
learn VA hospital dumped patient records with Social Security, personal info. A
Veterans Affairs hospital in South Dakota has waited more than two months to notify 1,100 patients
that files containing their Social Security numbers and other personal information were dumped in a
trash bin. The Rapid City Journal reports that the data breach at the VA Hot Springs hospital
took place in May, but it wasn't until July 29 that anyone was notified. The paper said
the breach was the most recent in a string of embarrassments that has engulfed the nation's VA system
over charges of doctored wait lists, poor care and wasteful spending.
Threatens To Shut Down Hospitals As Vets Die Waiting For Benefits. A little less than
a year ago, President Obama signed a bill that injected an additional $16 billion in the Department
of Veterans Affairs. The measure was supposed to, as Obama put it, "ensure that veterans have
access to the care that they've earned." The money, he said, "will help the VA hire more doctors and
more nurses and staff more clinics." Obama said the bill also would improve accountability.
Whatever the bill's intentions, it hasn't succeeded.
of Veterans Awaiting VA Healthcare Already Dead, Report Says. According to a leaked
internal document from the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly one-third of veterans awaiting
healthcare coverage at the VA have already died. The April 2015 report, leaked to the Huffington
Post by VA whistleblower Scott Davis, indicates that 238,657 of the 847,882 veterans waiting to be
enrolled in VA healthcare are already dead, suggesting that over 28 percent of veterans applying
for health coverage perished while waiting for it.
V.A. Scandal Linked to Obama.
Driven out by whistleblowers, Acting Inspector General of the Veterans Administration Richard Griffin finally
resigned last week. Good riddance. Griffin had whitewashed and concealed information about inadequate
care and phony waiting lists and tried to retaliate against truth-tellers. But don't expect real improvement
at the VA. Griffin's successor is another bureaucratic lifer, Lin Halliday. She's been collecting a
paycheck from the VA Inspector General's office since 1992, while the deadly problems festered. President
Obama seems to like that approach.
Lists Grow as Many More Veterans Seek Care and Funding Falls Far Short. One year after
outrage about long waiting lists for health care shook the Department of Veterans Affairs, the
agency is facing a new crisis: The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now
50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year's problems, department officials say.
The department is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall, which could affect care for many
veterans. The agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other significant moves to
reduce the gap. A proposal to address a shortage of funds for one drug — a new, more
effective but more costly hepatitis C treatment — by possibly rationing new treatments
among veterans and excluding certain patients who have advanced terminal diseases or suffer from a
"persistent vegetative state or advanced dementia" is stirring bitter debate inside the department.
mysterious case of $54 million VA spent on prosthetics in $24,999 payments. Employees
in the purchasing department of a VA hospital in the Bronx had used government purchase cards like
credit cards at least 2,000 times to buy prosthetic legs and arms for veterans. Each time they
swiped the cards, it was for $24,999. That was precisely one dollar below VA's charging limit for
purchase cards. When word reached Congress about the $54,435,743 worth of prosthetics bought under
such odd circumstances over two years — the subject of an inspector general investigation
announced Monday — lawmakers demanded details. But they were told there was no documentation.
magical Bronx VA hospital made $54M disappear. When Robert McDonald took over as the
head of Veterans Affairs last year, I seem to recall a fair deal of confidence being expressed that
the scandal plagued embarrassment of a department was on the road to recovery. And to be fair, some
things have improved. There has been more transparency and plenty of records being turned over to
both Congress and the media. But some of their major woes still remain. As of April of this year,
despite an extra $16 [billion] being funneled in, wait times for sick veterans have not significantly
changed at some of the most troubled hospitals.
VA Whistleblower Calls For Resignation Of Officials Amid ER Staffing Crisis. Jared
Kinnaman, a vocational rehabilitation counselor and whistleblower at the Phoenix Department of
Veterans Affairs medical center, is calling for the resignation of Phoenix interim director Glen
Grippen and Secretary Robert McDonald. In two letters sent out Friday, Kinnaman recounted his
struggle and efforts to promote accountability at the Phoenix VA, which so far have amounted to very
little, despite promises of reform from the leadership. Still, the long list of unacceptable
practices continues unabated at the hospital.
Obama Era of Unresolved Scandals and Outrages. Remember the VA scandal? Remember how outraged everyone was,
and how adamant President Obama and the new VA secretary were to get to the bottom of it and hold everyone accountable?
More VA cover-ups.
It should be quite clear by now that the bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs needs a
drastic purge. Its perfidy became obvious about a year ago when Americans learned that various
officials had been gaming the system in order to preserve their own performance bonuses and give the
appearance that veterans were getting timely care. The practice was widespread and many were
complicit as veterans died and suffered in silence without the medical treatment they were promised.
Since then, a great many other problems in the agency have been revealed, including cover-ups of lethal
infections at VA facilities, hospitals that consume resources and serve no patients, and pill mills.
perplexing claim that House bill would 'cut' VA medical care funds. The House passed
its first appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016, largely voting along party lines on the Military
Construction and Veterans Affairs bill. House Democrats, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary
Bob McDonald and some veterans groups opposed the bill, saying it inadequately pays for veterans'
medical needs and construction projects that could help expand their access to care. The White
House has threatened to veto the measure. Prior to the House vote, Pelosi said the bill would
"cut" $1.4 billion below the president's budget. She said it "cuts" $690 million
of it from veterans' medical care, the equivalent of 70,000 fewer veterans receiving medical
care through VA in one year. Are her statements accurate?
Disturbing Update On Obama's 'Urgent' VA Reforms. One year after the emotional media
firestorm over long, fraudulent and even lethal wait lists for veterans seeking medical treatment at
government facilities, virtually nothing has happened to change the situation for those who've
served their country and now need health care. Like a true Chicago pol, Barack Obama doesn't
fire people, not when they know too much. They "retire," which is what then VA Director Eric
Shinseki chose to do.
Perry: 'Outrageous' Lack of Accountability After Veterans Scandal. Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas,
says it is "outrageous" that so few people have been held accountable at the Department of Veterans Affairs after the
Obama administration promised action would be taken against those found responsible for manipulating wait times at VA
hospitals. Internal documents obtained by the New York Times show that despite claims by the department that at
least 14 people had been fired, only three actually have lost their jobs.
People Lost Jobs With V.A. in Scandal. The nationwide scandal last spring over
manipulated wait times at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals led to the ouster of the
secretary of veterans affairs and vows from the new leadership that people would be held
accountable. Then in February, the new secretary, Robert A. McDonald, asserted in a nationally
televised interview that the department had fired 60 people involved in manipulating wait times to
make it appear that veterans were receiving care faster than they were. In fact, the department
quickly clarified after that interview, only 14 people had been removed from their jobs, while about
60 others had received lesser punishments. Now, new internal documents show that the real number
of people removed from their jobs is much smaller still: at most, three.
don't we just abolish the VA? The men and women who serve in the military protect both
the United States' security and its values, including political liberty, free enterprise and individual
choice. How strange, then, that when their time in uniform ends, we thank them for their service
and turn them over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which epitomizes centralized bureaucracy.
41st Vet Killed by the VA and the Obama Administration. [Isaac] Sims died on Sunday,
the day before Memorial Day. The week before, Sen. Bernie Sanders blocked a bill that could have
enabled the corrupt and the stupid at the VA to be fired. And we all know that Shinseki didn't
resign soon enough. We're not saying that firing everyone last week would have saved Sims,
but it might have given him enough hope to hold out a few more days.
memo ordered false health care claims to cover up backlog. Another veterans scandal hit the Obama
administration Wednesday with the emergence of an internal Veterans Affairs memo that allowed bureaucrats to cook
their books and assert they were answering diligently President Obama's call to reduce the backlog of veterans'
benefits claims. The memo was known inside the VA as "Fast Letter 13-10," and a government watchdog said
Wednesday [4/15/2015] this "flawed" guidance from VA headquarters in Washington deliberately resulted in making
the agency appear it was delivering services and benefits to veterans faster than it really was.
'Medical records of whistleblowers have been accessed and ... used to attempt to discredit the
whistleblowers'. If you really need further evidence of why it's dangerous to let
government officials demand sensitive information from us, look no further than the ongoing scandal
at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Once focused on the apparently lethal mistreatment of
military veterans by a system created to provide them with (usually crappy) medical care, the story
now also encompasses retaliation by officials against VA employees who raise concerns about such
mistreatment. Perhaps most disturbing: "In several cases, the medical records of whistleblowers
have been accessed and information in those records has apparently been used to attempt to discredit
the whistleblowers," commented Carolyn Lerner from the Office of Special Counsel at a congressional
hearing yesterday [4/13/2015].
Fails Vets: VA Wait Lists As Bad As Ever. A year ago, the VA scandal involving extreme
wait times and cover-ups broke. President Obama pledged urgent reforms, and Congress gave him
billions to fund them. But so far, nothing's changed.
year later, VA still protecting and promoting cover-up artists. The new VA Secretary,
Robert McDonald, has begun a period of self-searching and investigation within the department.
Unfortunately, he seems to be choosing his investigators from the very same corrupt and self-protecting
pool of bureaucrats that have caused the VA's many problems. Case in point: One current
investigation pertains to a VA facility where veterans were doped up with opiates and given no
treatment for their underlying conditions. It is good to see this rock turned over, but among
those McDonald has appointed to the investigating board is Deborah Amdur, director of the White River
Junction Veterans Affairs hospital in Vermont. Amdur was just recently caught in a lie answering
questions about a terrible scandal at her own facility.
VA Health Care Wait Times Are In The South. The chronic delays plaguing the Veterans
Affairs health system are concentrated in a fraction of its hospitals and clinics — many
of them in the South — that have done far worse than others in delivering prompt care, according
to government data reviewed by The Associated Press.
times at Farmington veterans clinic among worst in U.S.. Veterans' wait times to see a
doctor in Farmington are some of the longest in the nation. A study looking into the number of
veterans stuck on waiting lists to see doctors nationwide by The Associated Press revealed the
Farmington VA clinic was the sixth worst in the country for wait times.
Another Obama "Success Story". Eight months ago, President Obama put on a grand show
for the troops. [...] Obama condemned the "inexcusable conduct" at VA hospitals across the country
(and under his own watch). He vowed to "do right by all who served under our proud flag." He
promised America's veterans new "reform," "resources," "timely care" and an end to the disgraceful
disability backlog. The bill he signed, in case you'd forgotten, included $10 billion in
emergency funding to pay for veterans to go outside the chronically dysfunctional VA system if they
are facing long wait times or live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, plus another $6.3 billion
to set up 27 new clinics and hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff. So, how's
it all working out? About as well as every other "success story" Obama has signed his name to:
abysmally, ineffectually and incompetently.
VA Spent $3.3 Billion on the Agency's Buildings as Vets Died Awaiting Care. The VA's
budget has increased every year under the Obama administration. In its budget fact sheet for
FY 2015, the administration pointed out that "total VA funding has grown in 2015 by nearly
68 percent from 2009." Records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon suggest that the
VA has not neglected its facilities. A review of records available the official government
spending website shows the VA spending $3.3 billion on facility upgrades and expansions
between 2010 [and] 2015, the budgets for which the administration is responsible.
Affairs officials changed 20 year-old benefit claim to appear only 14 days old.
Department of Veterans Affairs officials in the agency's Little Rock, Ark., facility changed the
dates on patients' healthcare claims to conceal the fact that veterans had waited up to 20 years to
learn if they would receive benefits for their injuries. The VA inspector general's discovery,
made public Thursday [2/26/2015], showed officials at the Little Rock regional office continued to
tamper with patient records even after the practice had sparked national outrage as the VA scandal
exploded. In July 2014, the inspector general received an anonymous tip that staff at the VA office
in Little Rock, Arkansas were changing the dates on veterans' claims.
the VA has not fired 60 people for manipulating wait-time data. The VA scandal
unfolded after whistleblower allegations that dozens of veterans died at the Phoenix VA while
waiting for care. During a House hearing, the VA Office of Inspector General acknowledged that wait
lists may have contributed to the veterans' deaths. Patient and appointment record falsifications
and manipulations were then found to be a systemic, years-long problem. Secretary Eric Shinseki
resigned as more allegations surfaced.
VA Reform DOA. President
Obama and the Veterans Administration bureaucracy are already sabotaging the VA reform law passed in
August. The ink is barely dry on the 8.6 million "Choice Cards" that supposedly allow vets to see a
doctor outside the delay-plagued system. But Obama's budget tries to snatch the $10 billion
allocated for choice and allow it to be spent however VA top administrators want. It's a sickening
betrayal. Even worse, VA Secretary Robert McDonald is telling federal lawmakers that this underhanded
move will better serve "VA system priorities." That's the problem. He's more interested in
protecting "the system" than vets. It's all about bureaucratic turf and union jobs.
Secretary Robert McDonald States That He's Fired 900 Employees. On Sunday, Department
of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald appeared on NBC to defend his recent track record of
holding the VA accountable. According to McDonald, from the start of his tenure as secretary, 900
employees have been fired. After an embarrassing incident earlier in the week in which he lost
his cool at a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing, McDonald told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press"
that he's made fundamental and drastic changes to core VA leadership.
secretary hits back at lawmaker: 'What have you done?' Veterans Affairs Secretary
Robert McDonald had a heated exchange with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) at a hearing on Wednesday
[2/11/2015] as he defended his work at the troubled agency. [...] "This is a department mired in
bureaucratic incompetence and corruption," Coffman said earlier in the hearing. "And I got to tell
you, I think the public relations is great today. But there is no substance, there is no substance.
who waited one year for the VA to grant him a cancer screening dies of the disease. A
Vietnam veteran denied a vital cancer checkup for more than a year by the VA in Atlanta died at home
on Saturday [1/10/2015]. Great-grandfather, Norman Spivey, 64, passed away from complications
arising from Stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to his liver and lymph nodes. He was seen for
the first time and diagnosed as terminal in July and Spivey's wife, Gayla, has revealed her fury at
the fatal delay.
avoids Phoenix VA hospital, holds event less than mile away. Ignoring calls by
veterans and Republicans to visit a Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix that launched a health care
scandal, President Obama gave a speech about homeownership instead Thursday — less than a
mile from the VA facility. Mr. Obama announced a plan to cut mortgage fees charged by the Federal
Housing Authority, saying the move will save the average family $900 per year and will make it
easier for people to buy their first home. It's part of his agenda for his State of the Union
address on Jan. 20.
from 2012 found VA clinics had been warned 'not to game the system'. A 2012 audit
accused Department of Veterans Affairs clinical offices in Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas of
routinely canceling appointments in blocks to manipulate wait times despite a nationwide directive
from top VA officials "not to game the system." According to the Arizona Republic, the disturbing
audit also charged that VA employees at 3,400 clinics in the three states often recorded walk-in patients
as scheduled visits to make it appear ailing veterans were being seen without any wait time at all, when,
in fact, the reason they were there at all was because they couldn't schedule an appointment.
culture' at VA has led to significant failures in health care, White House review finds. The troubled
Veterans Affairs health care system is plagued by a "corrosive culture" of mismanagement and distrust that has had
significant negative impacts on medical treatment for veterans, according to a White House review. A summary of
the review, which was done by deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors and released Friday, says the environment
within the Veterans Health Administration hurt morale and affected the timeliness of health care, and the division of
the department must be restructured.
VA workers facing disciplinary action, McDonald says. The Veterans Affairs Department
is considering disciplinary action against more than 1,000 employees as it struggles to correct
systemic problems that led to long wait times for veterans seeking health care and falsification of
records to cover up delays, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said.
acting chief says 18 veterans left off waiting list have died. In
the latest development in the mounting scandal surrounding the Department for Veterans Affairs, the
acting head of the agency says that 18 of the 1,700 veterans kept off an official electronic
appointment list have since died. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said in a visit to Phoenix
Thursday that he would ask the inspector general to see if there is any indication those deaths were
related to long wait times. If so, they would reach out to those veterans' families.
but no surprise: Obama administration knew about VA lists since 2010. There are many
end of the year lists — but there was a list this year no one wanted to be on, and that's
a Veterans Administration wait list. Even more disturbing revelations are emerging about the VA
scandal, but the question is, does anyone even care?
fires Sharon Helman, head of Phoenix hospital at center of scandal. The Veterans
Affairs Department removed the head of its Phoenix hospital facility Monday, more than six months
after whistleblowers said veterans were dying while on secret wait-lists there, though veterans
groups said the department still has a long way to go to rebuild trust. Sharon Helman, the
director of the Phoenix VA health care system, was officially fired Monday, though she has been on
administrative leave since May.
Changes Finally Reach Veterans Affairs. Three-and-a-half months on the job, [Robert]
McDonald on Monday [11/10/2014] announced the first steps of a major reorganization of the
much-maligned department, with the changes centered around his goal of focusing on the VA's core
VA chief may fire 1,000 staffers over healthcare scandal. Three months after taking
the helm, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald unveiled plans to create a chief customer
service officer tasked with overseeing an agency-wide program to streamline the department's
regional centers into a single network. In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday,
McDonald said that 35 staffers also will lose their jobs and 1,000 additional workers may be
fired — all of whom "violated our values," he told the program.
show White House "requested" IG to change VA scandal report. Almost two months ago, a
whistleblower from inside the Department of Veteran Affairs claimed that the Inspector General
watered down the final report in the VA's wait-list scandal to minimize the political damage. IG
Richard Griffin denied that he had been pressured to adjust his findings, which the Arizona Republic
found used a nearly impossible standard for responsibility to get the VA off the hook for hundreds
of fraud-related deaths. On Friday [10/31/2014], though, the House Committee on Veteran Affairs
published e-mails that clearly show the White House demanding those changes to the final report.
months after Shinseki resigned, the VA is still an abominable disaster. It was less
than five months ago that President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of his Secretary of
Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, in the wake of the scandal involving a systematic cover-up of
waiting times and related deaths at VA hospitals. [...] According to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
the Department of Veterans Affairs has made the inexplicable decision to promote an administrator
who advised his colleagues against disclosing a deadly Legionnaires' Disease outbreak at a
6 Times Obama Declared
Crisis, Then Did Nothing. After news broke that the VA had deliberately lied to
veterans about their waitlists, leading many vets to die waiting in line, President Obama declared a
state of political emergency: "If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is
disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period." After initially backing VA Secretary Eric
Shinseki, he then threw Shinseki under the bus. And that's been about it. Nothing
material has actually been solved.
VA hospital fails outside compliance review. The Department of Veterans Affairs
health-care system in Phoenix does not comply with U.S. standards for safety, patient care and
management, according to a non-profit organization that reviews medical facilities nationwide. In
findings published online, The Joint Commission says Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center failed a July
inspection in 13 quality-control categories. [...] The inspectors also determined that VA employees
were unable to report concerns "without retaliatory action from the hospital."
announces it will get around to firing four senior officials in scandal. Impressed?
Not everyone is, considering the circumstances, timing, and personnel involved. Congress gave the
new Secretary of Veterans Affairs broader powers to dismiss officials who contributed to the VA's
wait-list scandal before leaving on their summer recess.
moves to fire 4 senior executives due to scandal. The Veterans Affairs Department said
it is firing four senior executives as officials move to crack down on wrongdoing following a nationwide
scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care, and falsified records covering up the delays.
VA hospital lacks pajamas and sheets, but spends millions on new furniture, TVs and solar. Veterans
at the Shreveport, La., Veterans Affairs hospital have been going without toothbrushes, toothpaste, pajamas, sheets
and blankets while department officials spend money on new Canadian-made furniture, televisions to run public service
announcements and solar panels, a Watchdog investigation has revealed. Sources inside the hospital told Watchdog.org
that patients also have had to contend with substandard care, as many nurses spend less time on work than on cell
phones, iPods or accessing personal data on hospital computers.
whistleblowers win settlements in retaliation cases. The Department of Veterans
Affairs has reached settlements with three whistleblowers who helped expose wrongdoing at the
Phoenix VA hospital, where details of a nationwide record-keeping scandal emerged this year. The
U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a small federal agency that investigates whistleblower complaints,
announced the settlements on Monday [9/29/2014]. At least two of the agreements involve
promotions, signaling that the agency wants to reward employees who report bad practices.
Soon We Forget the Veteran Who Attacked the White House. [Scroll down] One of the
reasons that veterans don't seek care, the VA admits, is that veterans don't trust the VA — they
don't believe treatment is effective and they have problems with access, such as cost or location of treatment.
Skipped VA Hearing, Attended Fundraiser on Same Day. Rep. Bruce Braley (D., Iowa) skipped a key Veterans' Affairs (VA)
Committee hearing in 2012 on the same day he had a fundraiser, again raising questions about his commitment to veterans' issues,
Republicans say. The GOP had already pounced on Braley for missing a hearing held by the full House VA Committee on Sept. 20,
2012, where lawmakers discussed long wait times for veterans' mental health care, the backlog of disability claims, and the stewardship
of VA funding. He also attended three fundraisers that day. Government records show that Braley, this year's Democratic
Senate candidate in Iowa, also missed a VA hearing on Feb. 15, 2012.
mistakenly withheld $2.4 million in disability from vets. The federal government accidentally withheld $2.4 million out of
September disability compensation checks for 12,000 veterans owed the money for service-related physical or emotional disabilities, according to
the Department of Veterans. The VA, which apologized for the mistake Wednesday [9/3/2014], says it has worked with the U.S. Department of
Treasury to pay back all the money either by direct deposit or with checks sent by mail.
Investigation Reveals Poor Care, Fake Reports and 'Nationwide Systemic Problem'. A scathing report issued by
the inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that former military personnel faced persistent
problems accessing care at the agency's medical facilities and that staff faked reports indicating the appointments
operation was running smoothly. Acting Inspector General Richard J. Griffin couldn't, however, substantiate
earlier reports that 40 deaths or more could be attributed to poor VA care, noting that the whistleblower who made
the allegation "did not provide us with a list of 40 patient names."
at VA has led to significant failures in health care, White House review finds. The troubled Veterans Affairs health
care system is plagued by a "corrosive culture" of mismanagement and distrust that has had significant negative impacts on medical
treatment for veterans, according to a White House review. A summary of the review, which was done by deputy White House
chief of staff Rob Nabors and released Friday [6/27/2014], says the environment within the Veterans Health Administration hurt
morale and affected the timeliness of health care, and the division of the department must be restructured.
show Obama met just once with Shinseki during VA scandal. President Obama touted the newly passed Veterans Affairs reform
bill Thursday [8/7/2014] as he signed the measure into law and lamented the scandal that triggered it. But a review of records by
Fox News shows the president — despite the urgency he placed publicly on the crisis — only met one-on-one with then-VA Secretary
Eric Shinseki once during the scandal. The records, provided through a Freedom of Information Act request, showed they met
on May 30, the day Shinseki resigned.
left to blame: Obama owns Veterans Affairs reform now. [Scroll down] Based on what we've seen from Obama in
the past, veterans groups should be wary of this administration's commitment to fully implementing these reforms. From his
learning of VA scandals "from news reports," to his disengaged, almost forced acceptance of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation,
to his tepid response to evidence of reprisals against whistleblowers, Obama's lack of attention to this issue has been deeply
revealing. One thing is for certain: Now that it's the law, the success of VA reform will depend solely on how Obama and
his administration choose to enforce it.
unveil $17 billion bill to reform Veterans Affairs. The proposal, co-authored by House
Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., includes a major reform provision aimed at
allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary to immediately fire senior employees who
currently enjoy an appeals period that can last for years. The plan would allow the VA secretary
to immediately fire senior workers who are incompetent or who lie, allowing them a 21-day appeal period.
Deal Expands Medical Care, Includes $15 Billion. A rare bipartisan deal in the U.S.
Congress would spend about $17 billion to help ease U.S. military veterans' long waits for medical
care. The deal announced today expands the type of non-VA hospitals and clinics where veterans
could receive care, authorizes leases for 27 new VA facilities, and allows the Department of
Veterans Affairs secretary to fire senior executives. It includes about $12 billion in
emergency spending and about $5 billion in offsets within the VA's budget, said Senator Bernie Sanders
and Representative Jeff Miller.
The Editor says...
Senator Sanders is an Independent. Representative Jeff Miller is a Republican. If the
two of them agree, that's not "bipartisan."
of Vets Died or Injured Under VA Care, Data Shows. Hundreds of veterans suffered harm
or died from medical mistakes termed "adverse events" while receiving care from the Department of
Veterans Affairs last year, according to new data obtained by NBC. Through a Freedom of
Information Act request, NBC found 575 of the estimated 6 million patients annually treated by the
department were affected by adverse events, up 74 percent from 330 in 2010. The VA did not
disclose details or individual outcomes.
New VA health leader suspended whistleblower. The Department of Veterans Affairs' new
regional health-care boss in the Southwest, now responsible for instituting reforms, suspended an
employee in California last month after he reported that patients in Palo Alto were being
endangered, according to a national watchdog group. The Project on Government Oversight, a
nonpartisan organization, says Elizabeth J. Freeman, interim director at the Southwest Regional
Health Care Network, put the employee on leave after he was accused of "disrespectful
correspondence" — a written complaint about mismanagement of medications.
House warned about 'antiquated' VA scheduling system 5 years ago. Acting Veteran
Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson assured Congress last week that the VA is working hard to replace its
"antiquated" scheduling system, but the Obama administration first received clear notice more than
five years ago about the need for an overhaul to reduce patient wait times. "Excessive wait times
are addressed by moving to a resource-based management system," Veterans Affairs technology
officials told the Obama-Biden transition team in a briefing report that included mention of VA's
"schedule replacement" project.
The VA Debacle.
The breadth of problems at the VA has proven continually surprising, even as the torrent of unrelated bad news
knocks new revelations about VA corruption off the front pages. The Office of Special Counsel investigating
the VA is looking into 67 whistleblower complaints — 25 of which have been initiated since June 1. Just
last week, a Philadelphia VA employee told Congress that mail "sat in boxes untouched for years" at the pension
office. VA workers then falsified dates to make the backlog of claims appear smaller, thus ensuring they
got bonuses and salary increases.
VA secretary: Staff reacted properly
to treat vet who died waiting for ambulance. Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson visited
Albuquerque on Thursday [7/17/2014] with high praise for the VA hospital's staff. He said the staff
"reacted properly" when a veteran collapsed in the hospital's cafeteria and later died. Jim Napoleon
Garcia, 71, waited half an hour for an ambulance to take him 500 yards away to the emergency room.
He received CPR on the floor during that time.
Affairs spies, stonewalls on people investigating it. Congressional staffers investigating data
falsification and whistleblower retaliation at the Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in
Philadelphia were given a workspace there that was wired with activated audio microphones and video
cameras, the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs said Monday [7/14/2015]. Committee
investigators also glimpsed a notebook used by the agency's regional director that bore written instructions
to ignore their requests for information, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said during a late-night hearing.
Obama's Operation VA Scandal Distraction. Barack and Michelle Obama are quite the
diversionary tag-team. He blames everyone else for his problems. She takes credit for progress on
his behalf that he doesn't deserve and distracts public attention from his avalanche of failures with endless
Obama talks veterans' jobs and homes — but not VA healthcare. This is what it means to be
first lady: you enjoy a 66% popularity rating, almost 20 points higher than your husband's. And you
can give an entire speech about the needs of veterans — for homes and good jobs — without ever
having to refer to the conflagration over their medical care that has enveloped his White House.
data manipulation at Phila. VA, report finds. Inspectors surveying Philadelphia's
Veterans Affairs benefits center in June found two stunning signs of disarray: mail bins brimming
with claims dating to 2011 and other benefits that had been paid twice. More alarming, the team
from the VA Office of Inspector General found evidence that staff tasked with managing pensions for
the eastern United States were manipulating dates to make old claims appear new, according to a
report obtained by The [Philadelphia] Inquirer. The findings are the first clear evidence that
the city's VA system is not immune from controversies that have plagued other centers and sparked a
growing scandal over delayed care and services affecting veterans nationwide.
or incompetent? The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists
at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, although, on May 19, 2014, White
House spokesman claimed Obama learned about the scandal only recently through press reports.
Affairs officials claim agency cannot revoke bonuses, contradicting earlier statements to congressional
committee. Bonuses paid to top executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs who committed
misconduct cannot be rescinded, an agency official testified Friday, in direct contradiction to what he told
a different panel less than a month ago. [...] In May, VA officials claimed they had rescinded a $9,345
performance bonus paid in 2013 to Sharon Helman, who was the director of the Phoenix VA hospital where
the scandal over phony waiting lists first erupted. Agency officials claimed at the time that Helman's
bonus was rescinded because it was improperly paid due to an administrative error. While VA officials
say Helman's bonus was rescinded, they have not confirmed the money has been recovered.
Tell Congress about Culture of Retaliation at the VA. Four whistleblowers at the
Department of Veterans Affairs told a congressional panel about the forms of retaliation suffered
after their attempts to report wrongdoing in the agency. Their testimony came as a federal
investigative agency said it was examining 67 claims of retaliation by supervisors at the VA
against employees who filed whistleblower complaints.
Uncovers Another VA Backlog: Months Of Neglected Medical Records. The Memphis VA
Medical Center has yet another medical records backlog, The Daily Caller has learned —
this one estimated at three to five months long. According to the whistleblower, who provided the
photo of this second set of medical records piling up at the Memphis VA Medical Center, the
individual responsible for scanning in these records is Carnell Clark, an employee at the facility
who is currently busy helping to catch up on a backlog TheDC exposed in June.
chiefs who stifled whistleblowers got $100,000 in bonuses. The Department of Veterans Affairs paid out
more than $100,000 in bonuses last year to top executives at facilities that ignored whistleblower complaints of poor
patient care. Whistleblowers have played key roles in uncovering systemic problems at VA hospitals across the
country, revealing long wait times, cooked appointment books and bad treatment of veterans. Although the VA later
confirmed many of the accusations, officials often failed to take reports seriously and, in some cases, retaliated
against the whistleblowers, employees and government investigators told Congress on Tuesday [7/8/2014].
Whistleblower: I Have Experienced 'Harassment' Since Contacting Rob Nabors With Concerns. Veterans Affairs
employee and whistleblower Scott Davis discussed "harassment" he endured after revealing concerns about the embattled
department to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors Tuesday at a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. "The
harassment I have experienced at the HEC from top levels of management include my whistleblower complaint to White House
Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors was leaked to my manager Sherry Williams, who stated in writing, that she was contacting me
on behalf of Acting Secretary [Sloan] Gibson and Mr. Rob Nabors," he said. "Neither Mr. Gibson nor Mr. Nabors have
responded to this fact."
VA Medical Staff Stole Morphine From Dying Patients. Vials of morphine were
systemically stolen from a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and replaced with
water and saline so that dying veterans got the wrong treatments, a longtime VA nurse told The Daily
Caller. "A nurse taking care of hospice patients over the past year had been diverting vials of
morphine," said Valerie Riviello, a 28-year veteran nurse at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center
in Albany, New York. "Those patients that were dying in hospice were not getting their intended pain
medication." Management became aware of the recurring theft without reporting it to higher levels
of governance within the VA system, said Riviello, a Florence Nightingale Award winner for nursing.
of tax dollars in 'sordid' bonuses paid to top Veterans' Affairs administrators. Hefty
performance bonuses were paid last year to 64 Department of Veterans Affairs medical directors who
oversaw hospitals, including some where patient wait lists were falsified and preventable patient
deaths occurred, according to data obtained by the Washington Examiner. Also collecting a
merit bonus of $12,579 last year was John Pierce, the head of the agency's medical inspection unit,
who retired this month after being slammed by the independent Office of Special Counsel for
downplaying whistleblower complaints about inadequate patient care.
Health Care Waiting Game. Americans look down on national health systems like Canada's and Britain's because of
their notorious waiting lists. In recent weeks, the Veterans Affairs hospitals have been pilloried for long patient wait
times, with top officials losing their jobs. Yet there is emerging evidence that lengthy waits to get a doctor's appointment
have become the norm in many parts of American medicine, particularly for general doctors but also for specialists. And
that includes patients with private insurance as well as those with Medicaid or Medicare.
medical inspector retires amid criticism of response to whistleblower complaints. The head of the Office of the Medical
Inspector for Veterans Affairs has retired, just over a week after a scathing letter and report criticized that office for failing to
adequately respond to complaints from whistleblowers and downplaying the severity of problems at some VA facilities.
VA fix could cost billions. The
VA's data on patient wait times is so bad that Congress's official scorekeeper can't even calculate the costs for fixing the agency, and
that has become a major hurdle as lawmakers push for a quick fix on Capitol Hill. The House and Senate each have passed bills to
try to get a handle on the wait times and other problems afflicting care at VA clinics, but when negotiators from each chamber met last
month to try to hammer out a compromise, they ran into problems over the cost.
the VA's Spin-'N-Stonewall Machine. The Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Office of
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is very concerned. No, the communications specialists in
the agency are not concerned with veterans in need. They're not concerned with citizens and public
officials requesting public information. They're not concerned with journalists seeking the truth.
What these entrenched government employees care most about, above all else, is the business of spin and stonewalling.
Offers Doctor's Appointment to Vietnam Vet Who Died Two Years Ago. Nearly two years
after he requested an appointment with a Veterans Affairs hospital, Vietnam veteran Doug Chase
finally got approved for a visit to a primary care doctor. Unfortunately, he'd died in August 2012
of a brain tumor. Suzanne Chase, his widow, received a letter dated June 12, 2014 saying he could
now call doctors at a Bedford, MA hospital to schedule an appointment. "We are committed to
providing primary care in a timely manner and would greatly appreciate a prompt response," it read
at the bottom.
The White House Gets
the VA Story Exactly Backwards. Sad to say, the Obama administration seems clueless about what might be broken
at the VA and how to fix it. Either that, or it is just cravenly saying and doing whatever it thinks is necessary to
make the story go away. Evidence for the clueless hypothesis came on Friday [6/27/2014], when White House Deputy Chief
of Staff Rob Nabors weighed in with his diagnosis of what ails the VA. The document is extraordinary in its
contradictions, sloppy formulations, and non-evidence-based conclusions.
VA secretary not a health care expert. Veterans groups worry that [Robert] McDonald may have trouble adjusting
to a far-flung bureaucracy of more than 300,000 employees, where hundreds of hospital directors and other career executives
wield great power far from Washington.
Obama plays us time and time again. In 2007-08 Obama ran to once and for all get the
Veterans Administration serving veterans, instead of its own bonused bureaucracy. Last week his
aide delivered a blistering evaluation of a crippled VA, requiring a basic overhaul. That report
came 1,984 days after Obama took office. In a Friday news dump to attract minimal attention.
And Obama's team just discovered this deadly dysfunction?
VA hospital workers claim retaliation for blowing whistle on the horrors they saw. When Valerie Riviello, a
nurse at a Veterans Affairs facility in New York, saw the clinic restrain a sexual assault survivor to a bed for seven
consecutive hours, she released the woman. The next day, Ms. Riviello said, she was removed from her post as
senior nurse manager and given a full-time desk job that prohibited her from contact with patients. She
eventually was reprimanded and is facing a 30-day unpaid suspension for releasing the woman. Now, Ms.
Riviello is one of more than 50 whistleblowers who say the Veterans Affairs Department retaliated against them
for trying to do their jobs.
Veterans Waited For Treatment, VA Hospitals Spent $420 Million On Solar Panels. If
you thought the fiasco engulfing Veterans Affairs (VA) couldn't get any worse, you were wrong. It
seems that VA hospitals spent around $420 million dollars on solar panels and windmills, while
veterans languished on appointment waiting lists. Some have died as a result.
Struggling Agency Beset With Ills. Citing "significant and chronic system failures" in the nation's health system for
veterans, a review ordered by President Barack Obama portrays the Department of Veterans Affairs as a struggling agency battling a
corrosive culture of distrust, lacking in resources and ill-prepared to deal with an influx of new and older veterans with a range of
medical and mental health care needs.
crafted in response to VA scandal gets pushed off. As lawmakers prepare to skip town
for the Fourth of July holiday next week, a long to-do list will remain in their wake. While that's
nothing new — especially in an election year, getting just about anything of substance
done is an achievement — Congress is set to leave without finalizing its response to the
burgeoning Veterans Affairs health care scandal that cost a Cabinet secretary his job and is tied
to numerous reported deaths.
Bias and the Obama Scandals. We live in a strange time. Historically, reporters and
editors have believed that their job is to disseminate news. That is no longer true. [...] On the
VA, don't get me started. Just today, more details about the scandal emerged — secret
waiting lists, altered records, dying veterans. A year or two ago, leftists like Paul Krugman were
touting the VA as evidence that socialized medicine is a smashing success. Mightn't the current
scandal tell us something about the desirability of government-administered medicine? Our reporters
and editors won't touch that angle with a stick.
Bad You Think the VA Scandal Is, It's Much Worse. The casualty number from the
VA scandal just grew from a few dozen to 1,000. That's according to a report compiled by Sen. Tom
care at VA hospitals cost 1,000 veterans their lives, report says. The problems at
Veterans Affairs extend well beyond long wait lists, with a report Tuesday showing the department
is plagued with poor care that has cost up to 1,000 veterans their lives and left taxpayers on the
hook for nearly $1 billion in malpractice settlements since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Some of the problems detailed in the report by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are
downright ghoulish. They include the case of a former security chief at a New York Veterans Affairs
medical center whom the FBI arrested on charges of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder women and children.
VA deaths covered
up to make statistics look better, whistle-blower says. Records of dead veterans were
changed or physically altered, some even in recent weeks, to hide how many people died while
waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital, a whistle-blower told CNN in stunning revelations that
point to a new coverup in the ongoing VA scandal. "Deceased" notes on files were removed to make
statistics look better, so veterans would not be counted as having died while waiting for care,
Pauline DeWenter said. DeWenter should know. DeWenter is the actual scheduling clerk at the
Phoenix VA who said for the better part of a year she was ordered by supervisors to manage and
handle the so-called "secret waiting list," where veterans' names of those seeking medical care
were often placed, sometimes left for months with no care at all.
The Golden Days of Government under Emperor Obama.
We have seen the Obama Administration routinely review its own actions for illegality —
Eric Holder, for example, conducted a vigorous inquiry into the possible lawless behavior of Eric
Holder. This, as you know, was the ultimate chessmatch between investigator and target, a battle
of two masters. It was like a game of wits between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarity, if both
were corrupt and both were dullards. But in case you think that's a case of favoritism for the
high-ranking officials in the Obama Administration, Think Again, Buddy. The policy is
extended downwards to mid-level managers, too.
brass knew of false data for 2 years. Department of Veterans Affairs administrators
knew two years ago that employees throughout the Southwest were manipulating data on doctor
appointments and failed to stop the practice despite a national directive, according to records
obtained by The Arizona Republic through a Freedom of Information Act request. A 2012 audit by
the VA's Southwest Health Care Network found that facilities in Arizona, New Mexico and western
Texas chronically violated department policy and created inaccurate data on patient wait times via
a host of tactics.
and NBC Skip New VA Scandal Outrage; ABC Gives News Just 14 Seconds. Despite the newest revelation in the Veterans Affairs
scandal on Thursday [6/19/2013] that one in ten veterans have to wait at least one month before they can get an appointment to see a doctor,
CBS and NBC refused to cover the latest news in both their evening news shows on Thursday night as well as their morning shows on Friday
morning. ABC News only gave 14 seconds of coverage to the issue in a news brief during the 7:00 am hour on Friday's
Good Morning America. CBS News chose to instead publish an article about it on their website Thursday afternoon.
VA: ousted exec keeps salary while on leave. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
disclosed Friday [6/20/2013] during a congressional hearing that Sharon Helman, the former Phoenix
VA Health Care System administrator placed on leave last month amid a patient-care scandal,
continues to receive her full salary — roughly $170,000 annually. The VA has
acknowledged her facility manipulated patient wait-time records to trigger bonuses. The U.S.
House Veterans' Affairs Committee on Friday examined how the VA awards bonuses and whether the
criteria used to grant them reward executives who engage in bad behavior or create incentives to
Fed-Up Veteran Blasts VA's "Lie, Delay, Deny" Abyss. This former Special Forces
soldier and medic served his country for 25 years. He worked in the health care field managing
military field medical clinics. "I know how health care is supposed to run, even in austere or
low-budget environments," he says. And in his nightmarish, ongoing experience, the VA is an epic,
deadly, monstrous failure. He minces no words: "They're getting billions of dollars, and they treat
veterans like [excrement]. There's no accountability, no buy-in, among civilian unionized
employees. We mean nothing to them. It's like going to the DMV for your health care."
destroyed records to cover up massive cancellations for wait-list fraud. Judicial
Watch has found documentation that shows a deliberate effort to destroy documentation relating to
massive cancellations of appointments at the VA in order to falsify wait times. In a press release
this morning [6/18/2014], the watchdog group lays out the findings from documents accessed through
FOIA demands that vindicate one whistleblower and expose the wider fraud effort that went far
VA gave 10 mil in in bonuses in last 3 years. Newly released records show the Phoenix
VA Health Care System paid out roughly $10 million in bonuses during the past three years, when
some staff manipulated patient wait-time records to trigger bonuses as veterans died awaiting care.
The Arizona Republic, after asking for bonus records at least 10 times since March, obtained the
data Friday [6/13/2014] from the Department of Veteran Affairs under the federal Freedom of Information
Act. Bonus payouts increased significantly under Sharon Helman, who became director of the
Phoenix VA in February 2012.
Chairman: VA Instructed Employees To Stonewall Investigation. Officials in the Obama
administration's Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appear to have illegally instructed VA
employees to stonewall a congressional investigation into the department's scandals, according to
House Committee on Veterans Affairs chairman Rep. Jeff Miller. [...] Miller, who is investigating
VA for secret waiting lists and other factors that led to preventable veteran deaths at VA medical
clinics, warned that VA supervisors "can face adverse employment action and have payment of their
salaries suspended" for impeding Congress.
rationing is coming with Obamacare but doctors can stop it. National uproar over the Veterans Affairs scandal
should refocus the nation's attention to the issue of health care rationing. Under VA care, 40 patients died while
waiting for treatment at a Phoenix, Ariz., facility. Not only is that the tip of the iceberg in terms of what
government-run health care means for patients, it should also sound the alarm about the newest tactic for rationing care,
In a Scandal In Which Ailing Veterans Died, the VA Tweets About... Global Warming?
The Veterans Administration's scandal has spread nationwide, to dozens of facilities. It has cost
former administrator, Gen. Eric Shinseki, his job. It is discrediting the very idea that our
government can keep any promise or do anything useful at all.
Administration Knew About VA's Secret Wait Lists For Years. The Obama administration knew about allegations
of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, The Daily Caller has learned.
The current VA scandal involving secret waiting lists that led to preventable veteran deaths at the Phoenix VA Medical
Center claimed the scalp of Obama-appointed former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned at the end of last month.
Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama only found about the VA wait-list scandal from
watching the news. But the Obama administration knew that an internal VA investigation into secret "paper" waiting
lists was conducted in 2010 under Shinseki.
brief and painful reminder that Washington is filled with flippant and incompetent halfwits. Each
of these events involves several dead Americans, some in the line of duty, some waiting for medical attention and
some waiting for reinforcements that would never come. Very little has been done to find and punish those
responsible for these events.
bill shooting through Congress could cost taxpayers billions, fiscal hawks warn.
Fiscal hawks are warning that new legislation passed in both chambers of Congress this week in
response to the Veteran Affairs scandal could cost taxpayers more than $500 billion over the next
decade. A Senate source told FoxNews.com on Friday that lawmakers "passed a bill they didn't read
which led to Congress issuing a blank check with real consequences for the country down the road."
charge VA told local VA hospital to stymie their search for information. Two
Pennsylvania congressmen, one Democrat and one Republican, charge that officials within the
national Department of Veterans Affairs tried to stall, if not block, their attempts to find out
about hundreds of veterans on wait lists for years, waiting for health care appointments at the
Pittsburgh VA. If the charges are true, the VA officials responsible should be terminated,
chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, told CNN.
Getting Lost in Scandal Overload. President Obama is embroiled in two Veterans
Affairs scandals: 1) fabricated documents and secret waiting lists for health care, with dozens of
veterans dying while waiting for appointments; and 2) waiting lists for disability benefits. The
former is now the subject of a criminal investigation opened by the Phoenix office of the FBI just
days after the release of a bipartisan letter from 21 U.S. senators to the Department of Justice
calling for a criminal investigation. "Evidence of secret waiting times, falsification of
records, destruction of documents, and other potential criminal wrongdoing has appalled and angered
the nation, and imperiled trust and confidence in the Veterans Health Administration," the senators
wrote in the letter, which was sent late last week to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Advocate: Senate-Backed VA Bill 'Sabotages' Vets' Ability to Access Civilian Care.
The founder and chair of a group dedicated to reducing hospital infection deaths told the House
Committee on Veterans' Affairs Thursday that a bill backed by the Senate Wednesday [6/11/2014] to
address the backlog of veterans awaiting medical care "is designed to protect union jobs, not ailing
vets." The bill drafted by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of
the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, "will not save the lives of vets stuck on the wait list," said Dr.
Betsy McCaughey, chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. "This bill as currently written
is designed to protect union jobs, not ailing vets."
Spent Tens of Millions on Ad Campaigns, Audits, Green Energy. An analysis of more
than $1 billion dollars in spending by the Department of Veterans Affairs on "professional
services" finds several instances of questionable spending, including millions for a national ad
campaign and energy programs to make VA facilities more sustainable. The spending comes in light
of the ongoing allegations of misconduct and an audit that revealed potentially fraudulent
practices at 90 VA centers.
FBI Moving on VA Health Care. FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday [6/11/2014]
that the investigation was being led by the FBI's field office in Phoenix, which he described as the
"primary locus of the original allegations" being investigated by the VA's Office of Inspector General.
Fictions as Truth.
For the VA mess, the Obama administration would have us believe: [#1] The mess, to the extent
that it was a mess, was largely a result of prior policies of the Bush administration as Barack
Obama pointed out as early as 2008. [#2] The Bush wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were largely
responsible for the delays in service, as hundreds of thousands of new vets were dumped into the
system. [...] [#5] The VA scandal is mostly, like the IRS brouhaha, a regional matter with no
Official Concedes 'Integrity Issue', Apologizes. A top Veterans Affairs Department
official is acknowledging "an integrity issue here among some of our leaders" as the embattled
agency reels from mounting evidence that workers fabricated data on veterans' waits for medical
appointments in an effort to mask frequent, long delays.
Johnson once again attacks Obama on POW swap. Rep. Sam Johnson, a former prisoner of
war, called President Obama's deal to free U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "ill-advised,
inappropriate and immature" in a letter he sent to his colleagues in Congress Monday [6/9/2014].
"While U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, and I don't agree on much, we agree that President
Obama broke the law when he released the five top terrorists in exchange for a detained American
soldier," he said.
WH Official: VA Not Overhauled Because 'We Don't Do Small Stuff Well'. In a Monday
[6/9/2014] National Journal column about how many Democrats are allegedly saying they have "quit"
on Obama — claims I find quite hollow, given that no one asserting this has yet had the guts to go
on the record — Ron Fournier quotes "a senior White House official" with a head-shaking take on
the Veterans Administration scandal.
reportedly stopped sending teams to try to improve underperforming hospitals. The
Department of Veterans Affairs suspended a program that sent teams of doctors and monitors to try
to improve its worst-performing facilities for approximately two years, according to a published
report. The Wall Street Journal, citing agency doctors and internal records, reported that the
visits were "paused" beginning in early 2011. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the head of the agency's quality
and safety program, said the VA had begun to revive the program about a year ago.
says more than 57,000 patients are waiting for first visit. The Department of
Veterans Affairs on Monday [6/9/2014] shed light on the depth of the VA scheduling scandal and substantiated
claims that rank-and-file employees were directed to manipulate records. The agency said about
100,000 veterans are experiencing long wait times for appointments and that about 13 percent of VA
schedulers have said they were told to falsify appointment-request dates to give the impression
that wait times were shorter than they really were.
The VA Bureaucracy on Trial. When
Woodward and Bernstein did their groundbreaking reporting in the 1970s, they uncovered abuse of power and corruption that led to the resignation
of the nation's highest elected official. It was what a free press can and should do: keep government honest. But Watergate
was ultimately a story about one man and one administration. The VA story is about something much larger: systemic corruption at
one of our biggest federal agencies.
Florida Republican who is Veterans Affairs' worst nightmare. The House is recessed
for the week, and most of America's representatives are in their districts meeting with
constituents or campaigning — or traveling somewhere in the world on congressional
business. In this election year, when anger at Washington is boiling over, Capitol Hill is the last
place any incumbent wants to be unless they absolutely have to. But Miller isn't home in
Pensacola, on the coast of Florida's Panhandle, mingling with the 1st District voters the
Republican has represented since 2001.
Why There are More Scandals These Days. [Scroll
down] Consider the latest scandal rocking Washington at the Department of Veterans Affairs,
the federal government's largest civilian employer. To meet a patient caseload that's grown 30 percent
since 2003 and address persistent quality-of-care problems, the VA's budget more than doubled over the period,
while full-time employees jumped 63 percent to 314,000. Yet the VA still can't match the private
sector's standard of care, which is why only 40 percent of veterans are enrolled in the government-run
health care system. A recent audit confirms a widespread and "systematic lack of integrity," as employees
prioritized protecting their bonuses over caring for sick and dying veterans.
Real vets are dying in Obama's VA scandal. On this weekend when we honor the 70th
anniversary of D-Day, we are even more mindful of all we owe our veterans. That's why what's been
happening at the VA hits so close to home. Americans are, at our core, a grateful people. We
reject the idea of letting our own people down. To see all this deception and incompetence at the
VA — with no accountability, no action: it is more than just a shame; it's a national
The Worst Available Care.
Liberal commentators long lauded the Veteran's Administration (VA) health-care system as a model
for the nation. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it a "huge policy success"
and "a real live case of impressive cost control in health care." His colleague, Nicholas
Kristof, gushed that the VA health system is, "one of the best-performing and most cost-effective
elements in the American medical establishment." And Phillip Longman, in his book Best Care
Anywhere, touted the VA system as "the benchmark for quality medicine in the United States."
Now, the ongoing scandal about record falsification at Veteran's Health Administration (VHA)
hospitals has confirmed what most American physicians have long known — the system is
reach bipartisan deal on bill to fix VA. Senators announced a sweeping bipartisan
agreement Thursday to address several issues at the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs with
hopes of approving the agreement next week and sending it to the House for swift approval. The
agreement would allow veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or who are
experiencing long wait times to seek care at other government or private medical facilities.
Senators also propose providing $500 million for VA to hire more doctors and nurses to meet growing
Special Counsel Investigating Widespread Reprisal Against VA Whistle-Blowers. The
U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is currently investigating allegations of whistleblower
reprisal from 37 different Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees in 19 states, The Daily
Caller has learned. OSC is investigating allegations that VA retaliated against whistleblowers on
cases involving "improper" health-care scheduling. VA is currently under fire after it was revealed
that a secret waiting list kept at a Phoenix, Arizona VA medical facility led to preventable
veteran deaths. A VA employee in one of the cases alleged that he/she was slapped with a proposed
seven-day suspension, a lowered performance evaluation and reassignment after reporting scheduling
impropriety to the VA Inspector General.
Hospitals Also Had Secret Waiting Lists. The problems with delayed care and unauthorized wait lists that
caused a furor at a Veterans Affairs health care campus in Arizona existed at several facilities in the Midwest, but in
much smaller numbers, VA officials said in letters to two U.S. senators.
senators unveil 'choice' plan for VA patients. Senate Republicans on Tuesday [6/4/2014] unveiled
a proposal to let veterans caught in long waiting lines go outside the VA system to get medical
care, seeking to harness the private sector to help clean up some of the problems that have plagued
the department. The bill, dubbed the "Veterans Choice Act," would give veterans who live far away
from a VA facility or who have waited too long for an appointment the right to see another doctor
outside the VA system — but the VA would still pick up the tab, including any co-payments.
payer is Root Cause of VA Deaths. General Eric Shinseki 'falling on his sword' won't
bring back a single veteran who died needlessly while waiting for approved medical care. Punishing
specific hospitals or administrators won't get our veterans the timely doctor visits they need.
Blaming doesn't fix anything, and tweaking the VA system won't make things right. The problem
with the VA system is the system, a single-payer model. Newspaper headlines shrieked outrage over
unconscionable wait times to see a doctor; inadequate operating rooms; and needed medicines not
available. This should come as no surprise. That is the way single-payer systems work.
That is the norm, not the exception.
'Do It Yourself, White
Boy!' Life at the VA. Another lifetime ago, those five words were spoken to me in a
VA hospital in New Orleans. Another typical civil service, morbidly obese nurse biding her time
until retirement. The patient was a WW1 vet (who'd been gassed, etc.) and he needed to have his
bladder catheterized. I wrote the order that was countersigned by a resident but it didn't happen.
A few hours later I returned. I asked about it and was told,"Do it yourself, white boy!" So I did,
although I fumbled my way through the procedure since his 90-year-old prostate was the size of Delaware.
He'd been hurting for hours while this lady did her very minimal job as well as her nails.
To Head VA Predicts Obamacare Will Lead To Single-Payer. The first name to emerge as
the favored choice to head the Department of Veterans Affars previously predicted that Obamacare
will eradicate employer-based insurance and push the U.S. towards a single-payer system "like they
have in England". The Wall Street Journal reported that Dr. Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, who heads the
Cleveland Clinic, is being heavily sought by the Obama administration to replace Gen. Eric
Shinseki, who was forced out last week amid the VA wait list scandal. Cosgrove, who is a Vietnam
veteran, has served as head of the clinic since 2004.
Almost 80% Hold Obama 'Personally Responsible' For VA Scandal. A new Washington
Post-ABC News poll shows that nearly 80% of Americans believe Barack Obama is "personally
responsible" for at least some of the issues surrounding the Veterans Affairs scandal.
The VA's Two
Underlying Problems. Now that the political fight over Eric Shinseki has ended, our
nation can focus on reforming the VA system, which treats about 10 million of the 22 million U.S.
combat veterans and costs taxpayers about $150 billion a year. The problem is much bigger than
negligence and dereliction of duty by individual bad actors. In fact, there are two main problems:
one cultural, the other of supply and demand.
Hospital Axed Veteran Programs While Approving $1 Million In Bonuses. The Memphis
Veteran Administration (VA) Medical Center approved over $1 million in bonuses months before
closing a therapeutic aquatic pool citing a lack of funds. The Memphis VA Medical Center handed
out $1,005,644 in bonuses for its approximately 2,000 employees in fiscal year 2010, according to
data provided to The Daily Caller by Sandra Glover, the communications officer for Veteran
Integrated Services Network (VISN) 9, which includes the Memphis VA Medical Center. Glover told
TheDC that cost factored into the decision to close the therapeutic aquatic pool in July 2011. In
a statement prepared for [the Daily Caller], Glover said that bonuses and capital improvement
projects come from separate pools of money, and that the VA outsources aquatic care to veterans at
Is It A Scandal Or A Prototype? Are the problems of the Department of Veterans
Affairs an unfortunate scandal? Or are they a matter of deliberate Obama administration policy?
[...] Indeed, now that 60 percent of the VA's 216 major facilities have been implicated, that
would seem to suggest that a good chunk of the VA's 320,000 employees are implicated. That's bad
enough. But from an Obama point of view, that's still a manageable problem — even if the
VA situation shows, as Peggy Noonan and other pundits have argued, that Obama is a bad manager, or
not a manager at all.
Inverted Grief Process. When a scandal breaks in the newspapers, the president starts with acceptance,
which he mixes in with a little anger — an emotion he invariably explains "no one" is feeling more
than he is. Then his upset subsides into bargaining — that all-purpose word "if" begins this step,
followed by the promise to get to the bottom of a concern that he had previously conceded was real. And,
eventually, he ends up flat-out denying that there was ever a problem in the first instance. [...] Such a pattern
has now been applied to scandals involving the IRS, the NSA, the Department of Justice, and Benghazi. But
not the Veterans Administration. Why?
Obama's Exceptionally Productive Week. In the midst of America grappling with the reality that veterans
are safer on the battlefield than on a VA hospital waiting list, on Memorial Day, Barack Obama, lover of all things
military, flew to Kabul to surprise our U.S. servicemen and women. [...] Looking spiffy in a brown bomber jacket
festooned with American flags, the guy who effectively barred veterans from entering the WWII Memorial during the sequester
promised the troops that their well-being was of the utmost concern: [...]
Hopelessly Out of His Depth. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, including
today, I've heard Barack Obama talk about what we owe our veterans — about how what's
happening to them in the VA scandal is intolerable, how reforms to the system are urgently needed,
how the problems need to be fixed, and how we need to do right by our veterans across the board.
[...] What I find rather odd, however, is that this critique is being offered by a man who is
serving his second term as president. It's being offered, in fact, by a man who was identifying
these VA problems long before he first ran for president. Yet they've worsened on his watch.
And he wants us to know he's mighty outraged about it.
Shortages Aren't Just a Veterans Affairs Problem. They're a Nationwide Problem. Last
week, an investigative report revealed that 1,700 veterans who wanted to see a doctor at a Phoenix
Veterans Affairs hospital were missing from an official waiting list, mirroring a tactic used at
two dozen other facilities across the country to mask long waits for medical care. A few hundred
other people are missing from the Veterans Affairs system, too: doctors. The Veterans Affairs
Department is 400 doctors short, The New York Times reports. But the doctor deficit is not limited
to the VA — it's a nationwide problem.
Chart Destroys the Claim That Insufficient Funding Caused the VA Scandal. Senator
Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed this week that more resources would solve the root causes of the massive
problems at the VA. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the V.A. needs more money to effectively serve
our veterans. Joe Violante, the national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans,
estimated that the V.A. has been underfunded by billions of dollars over the last decade. Based
upon these assertions, it would be plausible to assume that budget cuts at the V.A. could be partly
to blame. If funding of the V.A. has not kept up with inflation or patient growth, this would be an
extremely legitimate complaint. But that is not what has happened.
Get Rid of the VA.
If you haven't been under a rock, you've heard of the "VA scandal" and all the conservative hair
lighting on fire over it. What a surprise that the VA treats veterans like a bad afterthought and
the VA bureaucracy treats themselves like kings who don't have time for the pesky, annoying vets
who are always whining about waiting, and waiting, and waiting until they die. Who knew that
hasn't been happening for decades?
the blame-Bush effort on VA will backfire. John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack
Obama — who reminded everyone today that he sat on the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee
at the time — all criticized the Bush administration for the problems of long wait
times, the lack of accountability, and the poor service provided to veterans. McCain proposed a
reform of the VA, while Obama proposed spending a lot more money and putting a lot more focus on
it. That was almost six years ago, and Obama has been in charge for more than five years,
as was Eric Shinseki.
of Vet Treated at Phoenix VA Facility Read His Suicide Note on Air. CNN anchor Brooke
Baldwin broke down on air Friday afternoon as the parents of Iraq War veteran Daniel Somers read
his suicide letter. Somers wrote in the note that the VA failed him. Somers was a veteran of
Operation Iraqi Freedom and served in over 400 combat missions. He suffered from fibromyalgia and
PTSD and killed himself last year after he received treatment from the Phoenix VA hospital.
Take: Shinseki Resignation was 'Elaborate Theater'. Before Obama was president, he
promised to end wait times at the VA and streamline services. But six years later he simultaneously
claims that he's been working on the problems, and that he knew nothing about the problems.
relatively quick ouster goes against Obama's past pattern of resisting firings.
Technically speaking, Shinseki, 71, a retired general, offered his resignation and Obama accepted
it, the White House said. But there was little question that the retired general was pushed out the
door amid growing concern from Democrats about the recent disclosures of long wait times at veteran
hospitals and federal employees trying to game the system to mask the problems.
Scandal: How a General Lost Command. By the time Shinseki faced up to the VA's problems, the ball had
already rolled past him and he couldn't get ahead of the political story or the actual events. That's a shame,
for veterans most of all. The VA's problems didn't start with Shinseki and they won't be solved by his
resignation — in fact, they may get worse.
Around the Country Describe VA Experiences. Vietnam veteran Dan Dominey
has been in pain for months because, he said, the VA hospital in Phoenix delayed his care.
Dangerous Scandal At the VA. The surprising thing isn't that Veterans Affairs
Secretary Eric K. Shinseki resigned today but that he didn't do so sooner. Like Kathleen Sebelius,
he is another Obama administration appointee who simply lacked the management skills to run a large
organization. He charitably described himself as "too trusting."
Takes the Fall. The resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki from the Veterans Affairs
Department was probably unavoidable, under the principle that a leader should accept full
responsibility for a great scandal. But the department's problem was not Mr. Shinseki. It has been
broken for years. No one should expect his removal to be anything but the beginning of a
much-needed process of change. Time now to tune out the noise from the lawmakers who lately have
been baying for Mr. Shinseki's head. No doubt they will keep heaping abuse on President Obama, on
the campaign trail, and at the hearings for whoever is nominated as Mr. Shinseki's replacement.
Empty posturing in support of troops and veterans is a staple of political life, and is far easier
than actually helping veterans. This should not distract anyone from the long list of things that
need doing at Veterans Affairs.
VA secretary RESIGNS. President Obama announced late Friday morning [5/30/2014] that he has
accepted 'with considerable regret' the resignation of scandal-hit Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric
Shinseki. But the shake-up had all the markings of an Oval Office firing.
of Arithmetic. The first thing a database developer learns to fear is data
corruption. "Data corruption refers to errors in computer data that occur during writing, reading,
storage, transmission, or processing, which introduce unintended changes to the original data." If
left unchecked, data corruption eventually renders a database completely useless; not only useless,
but harmful. A useless database only fails to give you answers. A harmful database
actually gives you consistently wrong answers. This was exactly what happened to the Veteran's
Affairs, according to the Washington Post.
of reports show Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was in denial, not in the
dark. Warnings have been sounded for more than a decade that veterans were dying
because of long waits for health care that were covered up by bogus record- keeping at Department
of Veterans Affairs hospitals. They came in nearly two dozen reports from the agency's inspector
general and the Government Accountability Office. They came from congressional investigations
and a constant barrage of reports from the Washington Examiner and other media. They came in
transition briefings when the Obama team moved into the White House in 2009. They even came in a
memorandum sent by a top VA official in 2010 to all medical network directors within the Veterans
Health Administration. Yet somehow this "bad news" escaped Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric
Were bonuses tied to VA wait times?
Here's what we know. Two reports released this week — one by the VA's
inspector general and another by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs —
indicate in some cases wait times were manipulated to meet employee performance goals needed for
bonuses. The news has raised questions about just how widespread the practice was and who
received the financial incentives. Answers from the VA have been harder to come by.
The VA Health
System Is a Tragic Warning Against Government-Run Health Care. The report found that
workers in the Phoenix VA network systematically manipulated wait time data, leaving thousands of
military veterans waiting for medical appointments, and some 1,700 stuck in limbo after being left
off the waiting list entirely. According to the report, the average initial wait time for a primary
care appointment in the Phoenix VA system was 115 days — a far cry from both the
system's 14-day goal and the 24 days Phoenix officials had reported.
Clinton Criticized VA Care Of Veterans Under Bush. Former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton is so far silent on allegations that hospital officials doctored paperwork to cover long
wait times for veterans seeking care, but as a 2008 presidential candidate she harshly criticized
the care of veterans under President Bush. "As a President, President Bush has not done what we
needed to do for our veterans," Clinton said at an El Paso, Texas campaign event in February of
2008. "We haven't funded the VA. We have so many coming home who are injured and not being taken
care of. I think it is the highest obligation of the President, who is also our commander in chief,
to take care of those who have served our nation." Clinton pledged as president she would take
care of U.S. veterans.
Awful Horror of the VA Scandal. I don't think most Americans have fully come to terms
with just how bad the Veterans Administration scandal is. [...] It's not yet clear whether [Eric
Shinseki] did anything to deal with the secret wait lists or the bonuses or not. It is clear that
he promised to improve the VA's wait times for veterans, and that he failed. But it's also clear
that he is not the beginning or the end of the problem. He came into the VA in 2009, aware that
there were problems, and promising to fix them. Problems in the VA go all the way back to before it
was even called the VA. It has never been a well-run agency, and it's fair to ask if it can ever be.
Shortage Is Cited in Delays at V.A. Hospitals. Dr. Phyllis Hollenbeck, a primary care
physician, took a job at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Jackson, Miss., in 2008 expecting
fulfilling work and a lighter patient load than she had had in private practice. What she found
was quite different: 13-hour workdays fueled by large patient loads that kept growing as colleagues
quit and were not replaced.
needs to work with Congress to address VA scandal. When the Obama administration's
veterans scandal came to public attention last month, it was unclear just how far the administration's
failure of leadership and the mistreatment of our veterans extended. Now, we're starting to find
out. For instance, we now know that the delays and manipulation are "systemic throughout" the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), that as many as 1,700 veterans were affected in the Phoenix VA
system alone, and that the scandal could extend to 42 medical facilities — a substantial
increase from previous estimates.
VA Scandal Is a Crisis of Leadership. This scandal won't go away as others have, because all
America is united in this thought: We care about our military veterans. We've asked a great deal
of them, and they have a right to expect a great deal from us. Also, everyone in America knows what it's
like to go to a bureaucracy when you're in need and get jerked around and ignored. The scandal also
prompts this thought: Barack Obama is killing the reputation of government. He is killing the
thing he loves through insufficient oversight. He doesn't do the plodding, unshowy, unromantic work
of making government work. In the old political formulation, he's a show horse, not a workhorse.
Resigns as Veterans Affairs Chief Amid Furor Over Hospitals. Eric Shinseki resigned
as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department Friday after meeting face-to-face with President
Obama about mounting evidence of widespread misconduct and mismanagement at the agency's vast
network of medical facilities. In a statement Friday morning after the meeting, Mr. Obama said
that Mr. Shinseki had offered his resignation from the post he has held since the beginning of the
president's administration. "With regret, I accepted," Mr. Obama said.
Healthcare Should Be Provided by the VA. The current situation at the Veterans
Administration is a national disgrace and paints the Congress and the White House with the same
filthy brush, and not just this Congress and White House but, to one degree or another, all those
in recent memory. The very idea of the people who have laid their lives on the line for the very
existence of America being shunted to the side to wait around to die is despicable past the point
of me having the vocabulary to express how truly incensed and nauseatingly sickened I am by the
treatment of the people who should be at the very top of the priority list for the best healthcare
available. And to have a "commander in chief" who claims to have known nothing about the
situation and a Congress who ignores it until there's newsprint and TV face time available to
denounce it is almost beyond the belief of even someone like me who holds politicians in a position
between ambulance chasers and carney shysters.
it Time Republicans Linked the VA Scandal to ObamaCare? The VA scandal, without
question, exposes the federal government's incompetence to manage anything, most especially
healthcare. In the midst of the implementation of ObamaCare, which is highly unpopular and doomed
to failure, without the assistance of Republicans in Congress an argument for repeal is being made
on the public stage via a VA-orchestrated debacle. Yet, for some unknown reason, probably out of
fear of politicizing a scandal involving America's vets, Republican representatives have chosen not
to link this healthcare scandal to ObamaCare with the same fervor exhibited by the left when tethering
mental illness to gun control, illegal immigration to racism, and extortion to fairness.
'I Always Take Responsibility,' but VA Scandal Started with Bush. President Obama announced the resignation
of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Friday, vowing to take full responsibility for the increasingly widespread
scandal engulfing the VA's health services. Within seconds of taking responsibility, however, the President made
sure to assert that the problems "predate my presidency."
...unless you're Secretary Shinseki.
Shinseki resignation 'really changes nothing'. Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said Friday that
the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki does not fix widespread scheduling problems and delays in
care across the VA. "Today's announcement really changes nothing," Mr. Boehner told reporters. "One personnel
change can not be used as an excuse to paper over system problem. Our veterans deserve better and we'll hold the
president accountable until he makes things right." President Obama announced Friday morning he had accepted Mr.
Shinseki's resignation after public and political pressure to step down drew too much attention away from the real
problem of helping veterans.
report sparks new wave of calls for VA chief's resignation. An independent review has
determined that Department of Veterans Affairs officials falsified records to hide the amount of
time former service members have had to wait for medical appointments, calling a crisis that arose
in one VA hospital in Phoenix a "systemic problem nationwide." The inspector general's report, a
35-page interim document, prompted new calls for VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a former general
and Vietnam veteran, to resign. Some of the calls on Capitol Hill were from members of President
Obama's party, complicating what is already a political challenge for a president who has made
veterans issues a legacy-defining priority after more than a decade of war.
investigators: Delayed care is everywhere. Delaying medical care to veterans and manipulating records to hide
those delays is "systemic throughout" the Department of Veterans Affairs health system, the VA's Office of Inspector General
said in a preliminary report Wednesday. "Our reviews at a growing number of VA medical facilities have thus far provided
insight into the current extent of these inappropriate scheduling issues throughout the VA health care system and have
confirmed that inappropriate scheduling practices" are widespread, the report said. Investigators with the Inspector
General's Office also said their probe into charges of delays in health care at a VA hospital in Phoenix shows that the
care of patients was compromised. Late-night testimony Wednesday [5/28/2014] by a top VA official before Congress amounted to
a confession that the agency had lost its focus over the years, paying more attention to meeting performance standards than
boil over as Veterans Affairs officials answer subpoenas with excuses and blank stares. Sparks
flew during a rare late-night hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee, as visibly upset Republicans
raked VA officials over the coals while the ink was still wet on a scathing inspector general report condemning
the agency's deadly failures. The report found that in Phoenix, Arizona alone, 1,700 U.S. military veterans
were denied medical care and others waited an average of 115 days to be seen by a doctor — and that
officials covered up the lapses by manipulating wait-lists and other official records.
Report Finds V.A. Hid Waiting Lists. In the first confirmation that Department of Veterans Affairs
administrators manipulated medical waiting lists at one and possibly more hospitals, the department's inspector
general reported on Wednesday that 1,700 patients at the veterans medical center in Phoenix were not placed on
the official waiting list for doctors' appointments and may never have received care. The scathing report
by Richard J. Griffin, the acting inspector general, validates allegations raised by whistle-blowers and
others that Veterans Affairs officials in Phoenix employed artifices to cloak long waiting times for veterans seeking
medical care. Mr. Griffin said the average waiting time in Phoenix for initial primary care appointments,
115 days, was nearly five times as long as what the hospital's administrators had reported.
Bureaucrat: 'We Could Have Moved Forward More Quickly'. In a testy exchange Wednesday [5/28/2014]
evening, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, blasted a
government bureaucrat for his failure to do something about the 1,700 veterans who were waiting for
primary care appointments at the Phoenix veterans hospital, but who were never placed on an
electronic waiting list. Dr. Thomas Lynch, an assistant deputy under secretary at the Department
of Veterans Affairs, told the House committee Wednesday evening that he knew veterans had been left
off the electronic waiting list, but he says he was more focused on understanding "the process."
Brown: No VA problems in Florida. A stampede of Florida politicians, Republicans and
Democrats, have joined the national outcry about problems at the VA. But Rep. Corrine Brown remains
convinced about one thing: "We're doing fine in Florida," she said this evening at a VA hearing,
listing projects in the state.
stands by Shinseki. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is quickly becoming one of the only
lawmakers on Capitol Hill who isn't demanding Eric Shinseki's resignation. The Speaker on
Thursday again declined to call for Shinseki to step down as secretary of the Department of
Veterans Affairs, despite a growing chorus from both Republicans and Democrats following the
release of a damaging report for the agency's inspector general.
Vets Wait, VA Employees Do Union Work. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
paid at least $11.4 million to 174 nurses, mental-health specialists, therapists, and other
health-care professionals who, instead of caring for veterans, worked full-time doing union business.
The list of these taxpayer-funded union representatives at VA offices around the nation and their salaries
was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Georgia representative Phil Gingrey's staff and
provided to National Review Online.
Hoyer: Republicans are politicizing the Veterans Affairs scandal. The House's No. 2
Democrat accused Republicans of exploiting the scandal that has enveloped the Veterans Affairs
Department for political gain and said he is worried that civil servants could be swept up unfairly
in a witch hunt. "I don't think there's any doubt about it ... that is essentially the tactic
that Republicans are trying to employ," Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters Wednesday [5/28/2014].
Obama and the Truth.
Smoking gun emails have been unearthed which prove the Obama administration lied about the Benghazi
attacks. This lie was repeated. It was compounded. It was uttered at the United Nations General
Assembly. Now the VA scandal has erupted revealing that the actors in the bureaucracy cooked the
books... lied... to cover up wait times. This is systemic conspiratorial lying. The
families of Americans who died in Benghazi deserve compassion. The veterans and their families
impacted by the Veteran's Affairs scandal deserve our compassion. The unseen victim in the
rubble is the truth. We have, as a people, forgotten that the first duty is to the truth.
Pelosi uncertain deaths of veterans at VA qualifies as a scandal. So far, some 23 veterans
are known to have died as a result of long wait times for treatment by the Veterans Administration.
Other deaths are believed to have been caused by long wait times, but the connection between those deaths and
secret waiting lists have not been officially made. [...] Nevertheless, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
dismissed those concerns in an interview with Ezra Klein. "I think anytime our men and women in uniform
are not served in the manner which they deserve could perhaps call it a scandal," she said.
Pelosi: VA Is A Scandal, Just Maybe Not A Scandal-Scandal. House Minority leader
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Vox.com's Ezra Klein that she wasn't sure the Veterans Health
Administration (VA) scandal was an actual, you know scandal. Asked by Klein for her thoughts on
the VA scandal, Pelosi said (audible pauses left in), "Well, it, I .. think any time that our,
our men and women in uniform are not served in the manner at which they deserve, you could perhaps
call it a scandal, because it's scandalous that they're not. Whether it is a scandal with intention
and the rest of that, uh, the evidence remains to be seen. But the fact is uh, that uh, that eh,
they haven't been served worth of their sacrifice or their, uh, role in our country."
Williams Goes on Fiery Rant over VA: Why Didn't Obama Apologize?! Talk show host Montel Williams is an
American veteran, and he is particularly incensed about the scandal over veteran deaths as a result of secret waiting
lists. Moreover, he was bothered by how President Obama was at West Point, yet didn't take a moment to apologize
for how his administration has dropped ball on veterans' health. Williams told Neil Cavuto that giving Secretary
Shinseki the boot won't really fix much.
General Confirms Vets Waited 115 Days for Care in Phoenix. A preliminary report
Wednesday from the Veterans Affairs Department's inspector general confirmed that at least 1,700
veterans were kept off of waiting lists at the Phoenix Health Care System, leading more lawmakers
on Capitol Hill to call for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down. "While our
work is not complete, we have substantiated that significant delays in access to care negatively
impacted the quality of care at [the Phoenix] medical facility," acting Inspector General Robert
Griffin wrote in the new report. And the issues there are not unique. "We are finding
that inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide," he wrote.
Unions Share the Blame For VA Deaths. Encouraging vets on Medicare to use civilian
care instead of Veterans Affairs' could cut the patient backlog at the VA by as much as half,
solving a national crisis. Almost half of vets are older than 65, and nearly all vets using the
VA have Medicare coverage. Often, they'd be better off getting their bypass surgeries and cancer
operations at civilian hospitals that do higher volumes of these age-related procedures and have
better survival rates, instead of sticking with the VA. But the VA fails to tell them.
The culprit is the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that dominates the VA.
For AFGE, the VA is a jobs program. The union wants more patients, bigger VA budgets, and
more staff, never mind what ailing vets need.
about unionized government workers.
doctor tells the truth about the VA health care system. The news that more than half
our states have VA facilities with secret waiting lists that threaten the lives of our veterans is
shocking. But the more pervasive, less sensational, problem with VA hospitals is one I have
experienced as a physician: They are fallback places, providing second tier medical care, with each
facility serving meat and potatoes medicine to its community of needy veterans. Many veterans
know this and choose to get their health care elsewhere when they can, via Medicare or private
insurance if they have it. For these veterans, the VA is a place to go for free prescriptions,
lab tests and medical care only when they can't get in to see their regular doctors.
What Obama's many
messes really mean. Another week, another scandal. From Fast and Furious at the ATF
to the Pigford fraud at the Department of Agriculture, the IRS' political targeting to the State
Department's Benghazi mess, the healthcare.gov debacle at HHS to spying at the NSA and the DOJ,
President Obama is running out of agencies and departments to defend in his two years left in
office. This White House has either had the worst luck in recent memory or it is responsible for
breaches of public trust so vast, it's no wonder public faith in our government is at a record low.
VA run like a 'crime syndicate' whistleblower says. Last week, President Obama
pledged to address allegations of corruption and dangerous inefficiencies in the veterans'
health-care system. But before the president could deliver on his pledge, the scandal has spread
even further. New whistleblower testimony and internal documents implicate an award-winning VA
hospital in Texas in widespread wrongdoing — and what appears to be systemic fraud. Emails and VA
memos obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast provide what is among the most comprehensive accounts
yet of how high-level VA hospital employees conspired to game the system. It shows not only how
they manipulated hospital wait lists but why — to cover up the weeks and months veterans spent
waiting for needed medical care. If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the
executives' bonus pay.
The Fourth Branch of Government.
Preferring to look ignorant rather than irresponsible, President Obama said last week that he only
recently learned of scandals at the Department of Veteran Affairs through news reports. He spoke of
the problems at the department as if they had blindsided him, despite the fact that as a candidate
in 2008 he railed against the "the broken bureaucracy of the V.A." and decried outrageous delays in
treatment for veterans. He didn't need news reports to inform him of the depth of the
department's flaws; he could have reviewed his own campaign speeches.
VA Clinics Falsified Appointment Records. Fake appointments, unofficial
logs kept on the sly and appointments made without telling the patient are among tricks used to
disguise delays in seeing and treating veterans at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics.
Beaten to Death in VA Hospital, Widow
Says. After waiting for four hours for dialysis with a shunt in his arm, a veteran
told a Veterans Administration hospital he was leaving, whereupon VA police beat the hell out of
him and stomped on his carotid artery, giving him a stroke that killed him, and they lied to his
wife about it, the widow claims in court. Norma Montano sued the United States of America in
Federal Court, for the death of her husband of 44 years, Jonathan Montano. The Montanos' son and
daughter also are plaintiffs. The lawsuit comes as veterans hospitals nationwide are under
investigation for lying about wait times to which they subjected patients. News reports have not
yet linked the long waits to any deaths. Norma Montano does not attribute her husband's death to
the long wait, but to the needless beating.
are] Over A Dozen House-Passed VA Reform Bills Sitting on Harry Reid's Desk. Rep.
Jackie Walorski (R-IN) interviewed with Larry O'Connor, WMAL radio in Washington, D.C. on
Wednesday, May 21st. Get this: she serves on the House Veteran's Affairs committee
and says over the last 18 months, the House has passed dozens of reform bills for the VA, some
bi-partisan, none of which have made it to the floor of the Senate — meaning Harry Reid
killed them, didn't give Senators the opportunity to even consider them. Can we say anything
other than Harry Reid may have killed those 40 or more veterans who were not treated, and may kill
more as diseases have advanced during this time? There is only one reason not to bring
legislation to the floor after it is passed and received from the House, and that is to keep
the intent of the bill from happening — in this case, improving the VA.
Expects To Have More Medical-Care Funding Than It Can Spend For The Fifth Year In A Row.
The Obama administration's Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expects to have more money for medical
care than it can spend for the fifth fiscal year in a row, The Daily Caller has learned.
Republican lawmakers and veteran groups are currently calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric
Shinseki over secret waiting lists kept at the Phoenix VA Medical Center that led to preventable veteran
deaths. Despite liberal claims that VA needs more funding, based on a report from the labor union
the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) that VA is underfunded, the scandal-plagued
department actually has a surplus in medical-care funding.
Warriors, Upset About VA, Take Memorial Day Ride. Shortly after 8:00 a.m. Monday
[5/26/2014], a group of more than 200 bicycle riders departed the Sheraton National Hotel in
Arlington, Virginia for the short ride to the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington. The riders
were in town to kick off the 7th Memorial Challenge, a week-long bike ride for wounded veterans
that begins outside of Washington, D.C. and ends in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Lawmakers Call For Criminal Investigation Into VA Scandal. Will Eric Holder use his
highly politicized Justice Department to investigate? [...] At this point, it's [abundantly] clear
that employees covered up long waits: there's no need for an internal review. These are established
facts There's been quite a bit of waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the Veterans Affairs. An
internal review might uncover even more fraud, waste, and abuse. What's needed is criminal
investigation of what is already known. If the VA was a private company, they'd already be under
investigation by a criminal agency of the government.
buck never stops with Obama but the credit always does. Lots of people were
surprised — and dismayed — that President Obama didn't announce the end of
Eric Shinseki's tenure as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs after the two met on
Wednesday. But pushing out Shinseki would have disturbed the narrative Obama wants
Americans — and a compliant liberal mainstream media — to believe: that the
VA's inability to appropriately handle medical care for eligible veterans who need it was a
longtime problem he inherited and has mostly been trying to fix.
true VA scandal is shared across the federal government. At the Department of
Veterans Affairs, the federal government's largest employer (the Army ranks second), only 56.9 percent of
employees believe they can disclose a suspected violation of law or regulation without
fear of reprisal. Even fewer — 46.1 percent — feel "a high level of respect" for their senior
leaders. Fewer still — 37 percent — are satisfied with the policies and practices of those
leaders. Quite an indictment, you may say, one that confirms congressional demands for the
summary firing of Eric K. Shinseki, the Cabinet secretary in charge of the VA. But the numbers for
the government as a whole are barely more encouraging than for Mr. Shinseki's domain.
Democrats worry that Obama needs to "get a spine" in VA scandal. It's good to know
that Democrats are offended by Obama's incompetence and spineless response, too. But if that's the
case, then why is that outrage being expressed sotto voce? Is it more important to
protect Obama from criticism than it is to take action to put an end to the crisis at the VA?
Chances of Democrats Learning Lesson from VA Scandal Are 'Zero'. On Monday's [5/26/2014]
broadcast of "Special Report" on the Fox News Channel, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer was
not optimistic that Democrats in Washington, D.C. would learn their lesson from the Veterans Affairs
hospital scandal and the fallout from it, particularly with regards to ObamaCare.
Fallout: Boston Globe, LA Times Declare Obama Incompetent. The scandal at the
Veteran's Administration is rocking the Obama regime and may yet be one of the worst scandals of
the Obama era. Already two major newspapers are starting to accuse the Obama administration of
utter incompetence. In fact, a lack of "competence" is exactly how columnist for the Boston
Globe Jeff Jacoby put it May 25.
death highlights urology clinic wait-time issues. All Gilford Anderson wanted was to
find out exactly why his lower extremities, including his genitals, were swelling — and
to ask a Phoenix Veterans Affairs doctor whether the swelling was linked to a procedure he'd
received last December. Anderson, who had prostate cancer, had been feeling sick since a stent had
been implanted. Over the next five months, his body quickly deteriorated and cancer spread through
his bones. He tried to make follow-up appointments through the VA to no avail, and desperately
tried other avenues like the emergency room and his sister's oncologist.
33 Democrats Opposed a Bill to
Make VA Bureaucrats Easier to Fire. On Wednesday, the House of Representative overwhelming approved the Department of Veterans
Affairs Management Accountability Act, a bill that would relax the standard bureaucratic red tape that makes it exceedingly difficult to fire
government employees, even those implicated in an embarrassing scandal. The vote was not unanimous, however, as 33 Democrats for some
reason voted against the legislation. The opposition was comprised of union-backed liberals, as well as lawmakers such as Jim Moran (Va.),
Steny Hoyer (Md.), and Chris Van Hollen (Md.), who represent the D.C. suburbs where many senior VA employees reside.
Pelosi blames George W. Bush for Veterans Affairs scandal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., repeatedly put
the blame for the Veterans Affairs scandal on former President George W. Bush, while arguing that her party has worked hard for
veterans in recent years. Pelosi took a shot at Bush while saying that the scandal is a high priority for Obama.[...] The
Democratic leader never mentioned Bush by name, but she alluded to him early and often in the press briefing.
I Blew the Whistle on the V.A.. My decision to become a whistle-blower after 24 years
as a physician in a Veterans Affairs hospital was, at first, an easy one. I knew about patients who
were dying while waiting for appointments on the V.A.'s secret schedules, and I couldn't stay
silent. But there was no response to the two letters I sent to the Veterans Affairs inspector
general, one in late October 2013 and one in early February. Going public would damage an
institution I gave more than two decades of my life to, trying to make a better place for veterans
to get their care. But I had to be able to sleep at night.
In the Czech Republic, the entire government stepped down over a relatively picayune corruption
scandal in which politicians bought off potential opponents with government jobs; in Turkey, senior
ministers resigned after a similar scandal, though the prime minister resisted calls for his
resignation; the prime minister of Luxembourg, Europe's longest-serving leader, announced his
resignation when it was revealed that his spy agencies were misbehaving; the governor of Tokyo
stepped down over a dodgy loan from a hospital operator; etc. These are premiers and heads of
parliamentary governments and senior leaders; what's an obscure cabinet secretary by comparison?
Vapid Response to the VA Scandal. It's been a month since we learned up to 40 of more
than 1,400 veterans on a secret waiting list at the VA hospital in Phoenix may have died while
waiting up to a year for treatment. [...] It wasn't until Wednesday that President Barack Obama
spoke in public about the scandal. He'd learned of it from news reports, said White House Press
Secretary Jay Carney. That's also how the president learned the Obamacare website was a mess, the
IRS was targeting conservative groups and security at the Benghazi consulate was lax, aides said.
Evidently no one who works for Mr. Obama ever tells him anything.
groups blast Obama's remarks on VA scandal: 'Tremendous disappointment'. Two top veterans groups — the
American Legion and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) — voiced their displeasure Wednesday with
President Obama's remarks on the growing VA scandal. The American Legion said in a statement that the president's decision
not to announce the firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was "an unfortunate one," while Paul Rieckhoff, the
CEO and founder of IAVA, called Mr. Obama's response "a tremendous disappointment," the Hill reported.
Fournier: Obama's VA Presser 'Pathetic'.
National Journal's Ron Fournier had sharp criticism for President Obama over his handling of the Virginia Veterans scandal.
Fournier called the Obama Administration's view on scandal "pathetic" and said Obama knew the scandal "was a systemic problem" when
he came into office. "He is winding down the wars and he knew this had to be a radical overhaul and what did he do, like he's
done with a lot of other things?" he asked. "He didn't pay attention, he didn't govern. Now he's holding nobody accountable,"
Predictable Response to VA Problems. Follow the Veterans Administration scandal
timeline and you'll recognize how it parallels events in other Obama scandals.
transition team was told about 3 audits showing VA misreported wait times. President Obama's transition team
was warned in 2008 that repeated audits showed the Veterans Affairs Department was misreporting wait times for medical
treatment, including one audit revealing delays nearly 10 times worse than the department was officially acknowledging.
The situation was so bad that the inspector general said it stopped trying to police the issue until the VA could prove its
information was accurate — raising a red flag for the transition team, according to documents obtained by The Washington Times.
Carson: VA Mess Predicts Even Worse Outcome for Obamacare. Retired pediatric
neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson on Saturday called the Veterans Administration scandal a "gift from
God" because it portends the future of healthcare in America under Obamacare. "I think what's
happening with the veterans is a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and
layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the healthcare provider," Carson told
... and it still is.
once touted VA as a model of socialized medicine. It should go without saying that you could never get away with
what the VA is doing in the private sector. In fact, the incentives would work to cut wait times and improve care rather
than cover up deficiencies. In short, gas bags like Krugman and Klein don't know what they're talking about.
Or, they simply believe in fairy tales about socialism's promises. They obviously haven't looked very closely at the
disaster in Great Britain as the NIH kills thousands every year with long wait times for appointments, filthy hospitals, and
shortages of all kinds.
gins up his outrage act over VA scandal. President Barack Obama is fed up — again. He's outraged
over his latest scandal involving lethal delays providing promised medical care to American veterans — again.
Because, Obama claims, he didn't know about it — again. And he's vowing to get to the bottom of the
problem — again. And hold all those accountable — again. [...] ["]So if these allegations prove
to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it. Period!" Oh-oh. There's
Obama's telltale punctuation point — "Period!" That's become a guaranteed laugh-line since its frequent
use in his ObamaCare "you can keep your doctor" lies.
Miami VA hospital employee alleges
crimes ignored. As a crisis engulfs the Department of Veterans Affairs over allegations of wrongdoing at VA medical centers
across the country, Miami's VA Hospital has come under fire from one of its own: a longtime employee and police detective, who alleges that
some patients are dealing drugs, others are being physically abused — and administrators are covering up the problems. [...]
In allegations first reported by WFOR-CBS 4 this week, Fiore said that instead of being allowed to investigate these incidents as
a VA detective, he was re-assigned to a clerical position within the hospital's medical administration department as retaliation.
Senate Dems close ranks on VA. Senate
Democrats are closing ranks behind Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and President Obama's decision to keep him in the Cabinet
despite Republican calls for his ouster. As of Thursday afternoon, not a single Democratic senator had called for Shinseki's resignation.
Is the VA scandal a funding
issue, or a leadership failure? Over the last few days, some have suggested that the issue at the VA has been a lack of resources,
by which the US has shortchanged the VA in budgets and in patient spending. While one can argue whether resources within the VA have been
adequately focused — which is a leadership issue — one cannot argue that the VA has lacked for resources from Congress in
the form of budgets or per-patient spending. OMB historical data on budget outlays by department are easily available at the White House
website, and the spreadsheet tells a very interesting story.
The Veterans Scandal: Socialized Medicine on Trial.
Barack Obama's [...] lifetime dream of a free public (single payer) healthcare system for all just disintegrated in front of him.
Forget the wildly ambitious and pervasive "Affordable Care Act," the government couldn't even handle the health of our wounded servicemen,
acknowledged for years to be by far the group most deserving of medical attention in our country. With veterans dying while waiting
lists are falsified, it's hard to see government healthcare as anything but incompetent, disgraceful and quite possibly criminal.
Socialism Emerges as Culprit In
Scandal of Veterans' Care. The Veterans Affairs health-care system is completely government run. It is a
pure single-payer program. National Review editor Rich Lowry calls it "an island of socialism in American health care."
He is right. [...] The long waits for treatment, with excessive delays resulting in as many as 40 deaths, are a tragically
predictable outcome. This is the result of bureaucratic rationing, price controls, inefficiencies, and the inevitable cover-ups.
Loose Drugs and
Manslaughter at the Veterans Administration. The Washington Times reported that the administration, in 2008, was apprised
as a general matter of VA problems related to wait times. According to the Times, concealed wait times are what led to the resignation
of Undersecretary of Health Robert A. Petzel. Maybe so, but there is also evidence that Petzel — since he
presumably had access to VA inspector general reports — knew about loose drugs at the VA and did nothing about it.
The VA Scandal in Brief:
Yes, It's Bad. The scheme to cover up long waits at VA hospitals worked like this: The local VA administrators in
numerous VA hospitals would not officially book an appointment — however direly needed — until an opening in a
doctor's schedule came up, essentially keeping a waiting list to get onto the official waiting list. In other instances, the
politicians in charge of the facilities would constantly cancel and reschedule appointments in order to make it appear that the
overwhelming majority of appointments were made within the VA's stated goal of a 14-day window.
Obama Admin Has
Already Ignored 3 IG Reports on VA Problems. In the opening of The Kelly File [5/23/2014], Megyn took us through the Obama
administration's mishandling of problems within the VA going back to 2008. After the president said he would await an Inspector General's
report before fully weighing in on possible abuses within the VA, we're learning that three IG reports and an audit have already been completed.
Dem Congressman Blasts Obama
Administration for Lying About the VA. Democratic Congressman David Scott (GA) took to the House floor on Wednesday to deliver
a scathing message to the Obama Administration. He called for the firing of Veteran's Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, and said
that VA officials had been lying to Congressmen over the state of the department. Scott delivered an impassioned speech when
discussing how 40 veterans died when they could not get help.
Louisiana VA staff falsified
documents. Twenty-three employees at a Department of Veterans Affairs center in Louisiana were placed on leave in 2010 as
part of an investigation into document forgeries, a move revealed only in federal whistleblower lawsuits filed years later. The
investigation focused on records required to prove staff "competencies" at a medical facility in Shreveport, Louisiana, according to the
complaints. Nancy Faulk, an associate chief nurse at a VA hospital in Shreveport, filed a lawsuit last fall disclosing that employees "were
identified as participating in the falsification of competency records."
VA scandal will stick with the Obama administration. [Scroll down] The incompetence comes in the aftermath of
HealthCare.gov — the Technicolor failure of technocratic liberalism. Again, the White House is shocked, saddened
and angered by the management fiasco of a manager under its direct control. In both cases, a presidential priority was badly
mishandled over a period of years, and the president seems to have learned about it on cable news. Obama has defended himself by
assuming the role of an outraged bystander — which, when it comes to leadership, is more of a self-indictment than a defense.
a Month, TV News Gives Less Airtime to VA Scandal Than Christie Controversy Received in Four Days. In nearly four and a half
weeks, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have offered 110 minutes to an evolving Obama administration scandal involving
secret lists designed to keep veterans from receiving proper medical treatment. Back in January, it took those same network shows
just four and a half days to churn that much coverage for Chris Christie's Bridgegate.
Shinseki at The VA — Wrong
Man, Wrong Reason. Clashing with the Bush administration over anything was enough to recommend Shinseki to the Obama administration.
Unfortunately, as the nation has seen to the detriment of its wounded warriors, it hardly qualifies one to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Obama was looking for an anti-Bush icon with General's stripes when he should have been looking for a competent administrator.
introduce exciting new meme to celebrate Obama doing nothing to fix the VA. What am I missing here? There must be
some inside joke or allusion I'm not getting that explains why you'd introduce this slogan during the one week more than any
other of his presidency that illustrates what a terrible, disengaged manager he is.
How America Treats Illegal
Aliens vs. Veterans. A government that fails to secure its borders is guilty of dereliction of duty. A government
that fails to care for our men and women on the frontlines is guilty of malpractice. A government that puts the needs of illegal
aliens above U.S. veterans for political gain should be prosecuted for criminal neglect bordering on treason.
Obama Let the VA
Scandal Become a Political Circus. President Obama sounded resolute Wednesday addressing the secret waiting lists at
VA hospitals, until you noticed the caveats that hung off nearly every line. It was the first time the president addressed
the VA scandal and it came almost a month after the story broke. But the speech was more detailed than anything that had
yet come from the White House and sounded all the more forceful coming after VA Secretary Shinseki's tepid appearance before
Congress last week. Had this speech come two weeks — or even 10 days — ago, it might have been
taken in good faith as a signal that real accountability was coming in short order. But for many, that moment has passed.
Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo treated better than our vets,' claims former Defense Department spokesman. A former
Defense Department spokesman is calling out the Obama administration for giving terrorists better medical treatment than its
giving the nation's veterans. In an opinion piece on FoxNews.com today, Defense Department alumni J.D. Gordon claims,
'Al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo treated better than our vets.' 'Yes, it's true. I know because I served as a
Pentagon spokesman from 2005-2009 and visited Guantanamo Bay Naval Base over 30 times during those years,' he writes.
Democrats Argue VA's Success is Proof Obamacare Will Work. The bureaucratic corruption and abuses now coming to light
ought to serve as stark warnings against expanding single-payer healthcare in America. If government apparatchiks can fail our
combat veterans this badly — in a limited-scope, government-run program that virtually all Americans support — what
possible justification is there for foisting this failing model onto the entire country?
$8.8 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses at seven accused VA facilities since 2011. Open the Books — a
good government and transparency-minded watchdog organization — does exactly what their name implies, and discovers
that taxpayers showered officials at seven embattled VA locations with nearly $9 million in bonus pay between 2011 and 2013.
Administration's Ethics Problem. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki cannot get a handle on the recent scandalous
treatment of veterans in VA hospitals, where more than 40 sick men were allowed to die without proper follow-up treatment.
A cover-up allegedly followed. When the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal broke under the George W. Bush
administration, heads rolled. So far, Shinseki seems immune from similar accountability.
The VA scandal's lesson for ObamaCare.
The truth is these hospitals are a mess and have been under both Republican and Democratic administrations. In the
George W. Bush years, we had a scandal over the filthy conditions at Walter Reed. In the Clinton years, The
Washington Post ran a story headlined "VA Hospitals Report Thousands of Errors, Many Causing Death." Previous administrations
had their own share of VA scandals. The real problem is not management. The real problem is government-provided health care.
the VA Scandal Is the Real Outrage. If you've ever been seriously sick or helped a family member who is, you
know how dark it can get. In the hospital, you look to every doctor or nurse who throws back that curtain and punches
the hand sanitizer machine as if they have the answer, but they don't. This test or that test will tell us more, you're
told, or we'll know more after one more bag is hooked up and drained. [...] Now imagine if you experienced it with the
inefficiency of the worst experience you've ever had with customer service. That's what's happening in some cases
at Veteran Affairs clinics and hospitals around the country: People at their most acute moments of need are being
ignored and forgotten.
Has Already Admitted 23 Veteran Deaths Linked to Delays in Care. At a press conference Wednesday [5/21/2014],
President Obama said that the inspector general for the VA "did not see a link" between veteran deaths and delays in care
at VA hospitals. The president suggested that he can't take action until investigators "find out what exactly
happened": [...] It's true that the inspector general has not yet attributed deaths at the Phoenix VA to delays in
care, but a VA internal review found a link between the deaths of 23 veterans and wait times at VA facilities.
The VA's Socialist
Paradise. For the left, the Department of Veterans Affairs is how health care is ideally supposed to work.
No insurance companies, no private doctors, no competition — just the government and the patient. Paul
Krugman, The New York Times columnist, has held up the VA as a model for the entire country. The Washington Monthly
ran a famous article in 2005 arguing that the VA was leading the way for U.S. health care. The socialist senator from
Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is such a reflexive defender that in an instantly notorious interview on CNN he pooh-poohed the
burgeoning scandal that may involve fatalities with the undeniable observation that "people die every day."
Calls Out 'Lazy' Obama for Lack of Accountability. On Fox News Channel's Thursday broadcast of "Hannity," former
Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) reacted to President Barack Obama's handling of the ever-expanding VA Hospital scandal. Host
Sean Hannity indicated this seemed to be a pattern and pointed to the lack of a standard of accountability in the Obama
administration, which included Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and now
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
questions $16.6 million in bonuses at Hines VA. Writing a top VA official this week, Sen. Mark Kirk said
$16.6 million in bonuses have been awarded at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital west of Chicago since 2011 and asked
whether waiting times for patients had been manipulated there so criteria for the bonuses could be met. Kirk's letter
to Richard Griffin, acting inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs, cited Freedom of Information Act requests
as the source of the information about the bonuses.
Rep. Gohmert Compares Boehner to VA Head: 'Time for New Leadership'. Will John Boehner's House
Speakership be able to survive the 2014 midterm elections? Even if Republicans retain control control [sic]
of the chamber, one member of the Boehner's is fairly certain the answer is "no."
bill to allow VA chief to more easily fire workers. The House easily passed legislation Wednesday
[5/21/2014] that would make it easier for the Veterans Affairs secretary to fire or demote senior employees, a
proposal that gained support after allegations of mismanagement at the agency. The VA Management
Accountability Act was first introduced before the recent firestorm over reports that VA medical facilities concealed
long waits for healthcare. But the recent developments led House leaders to accelerate its consideration.
The Editor asks...
Why just the VA? Why not make every government employee accountable for his or her actions?
Here is the answer: unions want absolute job security no matter what.
Panel Admits VA Scandal A 'Political Problem' for Obama, 'Confidence is Lost'. During a panel discussion
on her 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show on Wednesday [5/21/2014], host Andrea Mitchell wondered why President Obama
chose to make a statement on the Veteran's Affairs scandal without having any significant reforms to announce:
"Why send the President out to say something about the VA when he's not ready to take bolder action?" Chief
White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd acknowledged: "Well, this was an attempt, I think,
to stop the political bleeding that was taking place... that this has become a political problem for the White House. [...]"
Director of scandal-hit VA hospital in Phoenix got $8,500 bonus in
April. The director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System received an $8,500 performance
bonus in April while the agency's inspector general investigated the deaths of 40 veterans there due to mismanaged
waiting lists. Sharon Helman also got a $9,345 bonus in 2013. A red-faced VA was forced to rescind the
bonuses on Wednesday [5/21/2014] after a member of Congress blew the whistle on national television. As the
scandal deepens, two Democrats have broken a partisan logjam by demanding the resignation of VA Secretary Eric
Obama Talks VA
Scandal: Vets Are 'One of the Causes of My Presidency'. On Wednesday [5/21/2014], President Barack Obama spoke
with members of the press after meeting with his staff on how they plan to address the scandal involving the hiding of wait
times veterans faced at VA hospitals. The president expressed his anger over that situation, but he urged the public to
wait for a full investigation before taking steps to address the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Whistleblower Exposes Drug Dealing, Theft, Abuse. When asked why he would risk his job and speak publicly,
Detective Thomas Fiore considered the question carefully before answering. "People are dying," he finally said,
"and there are so many things that are going on there that people need to know about." Fiore, a criminal investigator
for the VA police department in South Florida, contacted CBS4 News hoping to shed light on what he considers a culture of
cover-ups and bureaucratic neglect. Among his charges: Drug dealing on the hospital grounds is a daily
memo shows that the VA knew of records manipulation in 2010. Robert Petzel resigned last week as the top health
official for the Department of Veterans Affairs, just one day after testifying before a Senate committee that he knew VA health
clinics were using inappropriate scheduling practices as early as 2010. Whistleblowers claim the schemes continued until
this year, leading to a recent wave of outrage that sent the VA and White House scrambling to correct the alleged problems and
restore confidence in the department.
Obama campaigned on the backs of
waiting-list veteran heroes in 2008. President Barack Obama did not, as the White
House claimed yesterday, only learn of the VA wait-list scandal on TV, just as he claimed to learn
of the IRS, Fast and Furious and AP reporting snooping scandals. Obama campaigned on the VA
scandal while still a senator in 2008, got elected president and then forgot about it —
until the scandal came back into the light of publicity this month.
Obama 'At the Tipping Point,' 'Gives Power to Incompetent People'. ["]President Obama is at the tipping point.
It is one thing after another with his administration. The head of the VA, Gen. Eric Shinseki should be fired immediately
it is lunacy to have Shinseki, who is overseeing the VA debacle investigate anything — lunacy. He is not competent
to run a federal agency. He has got to go. Just like the soon-to-depart Kathleen Sebelius was not competent to
roll out ObamaCare. Again, the truth, the truth is that the president gives power to incompetent people and
keeps them in place when things fall apart.["]
We are all veterans
now. The national scandal and disgrace at the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) is
the perfect example of the disaster that awaits America with ObamaCare. We're about to find out
what it's like to receive health care from the government. The VA scandal is proof that with
government in charge of health care, it will bankrupt the entire country. Countless Americans will
die through bureaucratic incompetence, neglect, long waiting lists and fraud. Just like what our
veterans have already experienced.
accounts of when Obama learned of VA problems. With criticism and anger mounting on
both sides of the aisle, the White House on Tuesday [5/20/2014] struggled to explain exactly when
President Obama learned of lengthy wait times and false reporting at Veterans Affairs health care
facilities but defended its larger effort to improve care for the nation's veterans. A day after
claiming the president learned from TV news reports of accusations that as many as 40 veterans died
while waiting for treatment at a Phoenix VA hospital, White House press secretary Jay Carney said
the burgeoning scandal is "not a new issue" to Mr. Obama.
VA Whistleblowers Coming Forward. What the whistleblowers can expect is a hostile
media that has surrounded their Precious to come after them. Used to be a time in this country when
whistleblowers were lauded and had movies made about them. Those days ended January 20, 2009.
Whistleblower Says He's Been Demoted, Bullied. Dr. Jose Mathews says he's paying the
price for being a whistle-blower at the VA hospital in St. Louis. He didn't hold back as he told
his story to KMOX. Mathews was head of psychiatry at the VA before he came forward to say that
doctors were treating only half the mental health patients they had the capacity to handle. After,
he says he was promptly removed from his position and specifically instructed not to contact any of
the psychiatrists he was leading.
House flails on VA mess. At first, last week's dismissal of a high-ranking official
with the Dickensian name of Dr. Robert Petzel seemed like the least the administration could've
done to respond to the cover-up of the lax, lazy and downright inhuman treatment provided to
veterans at the government-run hospitals across the country — hospitals specifically and
solely dedicated to their care. The supposed firing came a day after a disastrous congressional
hearing featuring Petzel and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. But almost immediately, it
turned out Petzel wasn't dismissed at all; he'd announced his retirement months earlier and was
only staying on until his successor was confirmed.
a President Learns Everything on TV. [H]aving an absentee president is bad for both
the health of veterans and the nation. The president may have gotten away with treating the IRS
scandal as no big deal and questions about Benghazi as merely a Republican witch hunt. But the
spectacle of widespread corruption at the heart of a government health-care system that led to the
deaths of veterans is not one you can pass off as a product of the fevered imaginations of his
opponents. That's especially true when you consider that Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the House
Veterans Affairs Committee, wrote specifically to the president a year ago to bring to his
attention what was already believed to be a widespread problem involving inefficiency and deceptive
Spending Per Patient Exploded Amid Deadly Delays. Several VA hospitals have been
accused of falsifying records to cover up delays in treating patients in desperate need. In
Phoenix, as many as 40 veterans may have died as a result. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., argued
that the main cause of the delays is money: "If the VA does not have enough doctors to see these
patients, then these problems are a result of a lack of funding." [...] It sounds good. And it
would seem to make sense. But it's far from true. The VA's budget has been exploding,
even as the number of veterans steadily declines. From 2000 to 2013, outlays nearly tripled,
while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million. Medical care spending —
which consumes about 40% of the VA's budget — has climbed 193% over those years, while the
number of patients served by the VA each year went up just 68%, according to data from the VA.
VA hospital scandal is hurting the administration's credibility. Whatever the anger
index, the administration hasn't done much to fix the problems created by secret lists to hide the
long waiting times for veterans to get medical care, including the possibility that some patient
deaths in Phoenix could have been avoided. The department's undersecretary for health resigned
Friday, three Phoenix officials have been put on leave, and that's about it. The story is
increasingly gaining traction in the press.
The Editor says...
VA and the Limits of Liberalism. Many have noted, including our own John Fund, that
the VA scandal poses an acute threat to the Obama administration because of how much its problems
resemble the criticisms of Obamacare itself. But let's imagine there was no Obamacare. Let's
imagine that Obama had actually followed through on his occasional promises to focus on the economy
and jobs first and foremost and didn't blunder into the huge wasteful distraction that is the
Affordable Care Act. The lessons of the VA would still be a problem for Obama and for liberals
generally. Why? Because the Democratic party simply is the party of government. It is
the party that insists on the nobility, efficacy and intellectual superiority of government.
Scandal at the VA Is Real, and Obama Is Ducking It. What is most surprising about the
present controversy surrounding the substandard treatment at the VA, in which at least 40 veterans
lost their lives while awaiting treatment, is that House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff
Miller (R-FL) had alerted the president to trouble nearly a year ago.
Silence Amid VA Crisis Raises the Stakes for Democrats. It's rare, in the epicenter
of partisan national politics, for a scandal implicating one of the political parties to unfold in
slow motion. But that's what has happened in Washington since charges of misconduct at the
Department of Veterans Affairs were raised last month. That may explain the White House's
somewhat muted response — President Barack Obama hasn't publicly addressed the issue
since April 28, when he was asked about it during a trip to Asia.
Need to Roll at the VA. If VA hospitals really are falsifying records to disguise
lengthy waiting times — and if veterans are dying as a consequence — then President Obama needs
to bring in new management to fix the problems, and fast.
Faces New Test in Mismanagement at Veterans Hospitals. The president is now facing
fresh allegations that officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs manipulated wait times to
hide the long delays many patients faced to see physicians. Aides said he learned of the specific
allegations in news reports. Mr. Obama's apparent lack of awareness about the current problems at
the department has drawn the expected scorn from across the political spectrum, and will probably
increase this week as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill.
Hasn't Obama Addressed the VA Scandal Since Last Month? Evidence of the barbaric
treatment of America's retired armed forces personnel in the Veterans Health Administration system
grows by the hour. Atop word last month that 40 vets died awaiting care in Phoenix, Sunday's
[5/18/2014] Dayton Daily News, reported that "The number of dead veterans could total more
than 1,100 from 2001 through the first half of 2013" due to faulty treatment and waiting endless
months for VA medical care.
routinely shocked, angered by things happening within his own administration. The
media swears that this is the scandal, finally, that will really hurt the administration.
They're all over it. But they were "all over" previous scandals, too, before they lost interest
and eventually started playing defense for the administration. Will (at least) dozens of dead
veterans hold the press' attention long enough to leave a lasting mark? We'll see, but in the
meantime, please excuse my skepticism.
The Obvious Lessons of
the VA Scandal. My father was a veteran of World War II, and thus eligible to receive
medical treatment at the VA hospital that operated a few miles from our house. He used it exactly
once. His experience with what the Veterans Administration calls "health care" was so awful that he
claimed to be more in fear of his life within the walls of that VA facility than he had ever been
while on active duty in Europe.
Scandal Compounds Democrats' Obamacare Problem. Both Republicans and Democrats have
praised the VA system as a model of efficient health care delivery. It is now clear that such
praise should have been offered cautiously, if at all. For all the hand-wringing, lip service, and
declarations that "nobody is more outraged about this," however, 2014 finally offers politicians a
window to do something about the problems at the VA. Why? It's an election year, and
the Affordable Care Act is on the ballot.
VA Whistleblowers Coming Forward, Campaign Says. Conscientious workers at the
Veterans Health Administration aware of their employer's reputation for punishing people who expose
wrongdoing were given a new outlet last week. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and the
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America unveiled an encrypted web submission form Thursday
soliciting horror stories in the wake of a nationwide furor about fudged wait time records and
related veteran deaths in Phoenix. POGO Director of Communications Joe Newman says the groups are
looking for systematic problems and received 310 submissions as of Monday morning.
can't duck responsibility for the VA scandal. Little attention was paid back in 2012
when the Washington Examiner's Mark Flatten first began shining the spotlight on the multitude of
management and ethical problems in the day-to-day operations of VA. But people within VA had long
been pointing to serious problems, including a 2010 memo to the department's topmost leadership
describing eight ways waiting-times data was being manipulated by VA facilities managers.
Even the Obama transition team at VA took note of the problems in its 2008 report, according to the
Washington Times. So Obama knew of these problems from before he took the oath of office, as
Shinseki surely did when he first took over at VA. The department's most serious maladies have
worsened under Obama and Shinseki.
NBC Ignore Report Showing Obama Administration Knew About Ongoing VA Problems. Of the
big three networks, only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley covered the new revelations
in the VA scandal. CBS News host Scott Pelley noted that "The Bush White House was so concerned
about this back in 2008 that it warned the incoming Obama Administration." CBS Evening News
and Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier were the only evening news programs to cover
the report while NBC Nightly News and ABC World News remained silent.
House says Obama only learned of VA wait-list scandal on TV. White House Press
Secretary Jay Carney wound up with egg on his face Monday as he told reporters that President
Barack Obama first learned from a TV news report that his Veterans Administration was denying
medical care to vets with secret off-the-books-waiting lists. But new evidence emerged this
morning that his transition team was notified five years ago about how VA medical centers' official
wait-list times bore little resemblance to reality and risked denying military heroes critical
Carney: Obama First Learned About VA Scandal in the Media. President Barack Obama
first learned of the scandal involving Department of Veterans Affairs hospital administrators
concealing the true wait times vets faced in the press, according to a claim made by White House
Press Sec. Jay Carney on Monday [5/19/2014]. While the president may have not been aware of the
falsified wait lists, however, reports indicate that his administration was informed of excessive wait
times at the VA as early as 2008. Obama even campaigned on the issue of VA waiting lists in 2007.
paid out millions to settle 167 cases of delayed medical treatment: report. The
Department of Veterans Affairs paid a combined $36.4 million to settle at least 167 cases related
to delays in medical treatment, a new report alleges. The embattled agency — which has been
criticized in recent months for a failure to treat veterans promptly — made the payments since 2001
either voluntarily or as the result of court actions, the Dayton Daily News reported Sunday [5/18/2014], citing
record obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. News of the settlement comes after
reports emerged last month linking the death of at least 40 veterans to lengthy waits and shoddy
care at a Phoenix, V.A. hospital. V.A. officials are also accused of trying to cover up the alleged
Scandal Hits New Hospital. Add Albuquerque, New Mexico's to the growing list of VA
hospitals accused of keeping secret waiting lists to hide delays for veterans seeking medical care.
And it may already be too late to get to the truth and find out what harm, if any, was done to
veterans there — VA officials are already destroying records to cover their tracks,
a whistleblower inside the hospital tells The Daily Beast.
furious over treatment delays at VA hospitals blamed for 40 deaths as health official is forced to
resign. Top aide Denis McDonough tells CBS' Face the Nation [5/18/2014] that Obama is demanding
that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and others in the administration 'continue to fix these things
until they're functioning the way that our veterans believe they should.' Allegations of preventable
deaths that may be linked to delays at the Phoenix VA hospital have triggered an election-year uproar.
warned about VA wait-time problems during 2008 transition. The Obama administration
received clear notice more than five years ago that VA medical facilities were reporting inaccurate
waiting times and experiencing scheduling failures that threatened to deny veterans timely health
care — problems that have turned into a growing scandal. Veterans Affairs officials warned the
Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election that the department
shouldn't trust the wait times that its facilities were reporting. "This is not only a data
integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it
affects quality of care by delaying — and potentially denying — deserving
veterans timely care," the officials wrote.
in treatment' a factor in more than 100 deaths at VA centers. As controversy swirls
around the Veterans Administration over deaths caused by delayed care, an investigation by the
Dayton Daily News found that the VA settled many cases that appear to be related to delays in
treatment. A database of paid claims by the VA since 2001 includes 167 in which the words "delay
in treatment" is used in the description. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle those
claims, either voluntarily or as part of a court action. The VA has admitted that 23 people have
died because of delayed care, and is facing accusations that hospital administrators are gaming the
system to conceal wait times, including using a "secret list" at the VA in Phoenix.
alleges VA clinic is destroying evidence. A whistleblower is alleging that a Veterans
Affairs clinic in Albuquerque, N.M., is destroying evidence of a secret waiting list for veterans
seeking care. "The 'secret wait list' for patient appointments is being either moved or was
destroyed after what happened in Phoenix," a doctor who works at the Albuquerque VA hospital told
The Daily Beast. "Right now ... there is an eight-month waiting list for patients to get
ultrasounds of their hearts. Some patients have died before they got their studies.
It is unknown why they died, some for cardiac reasons, some for other reasons," the doctor said.
Among the veterans on the waiting list were veterans with serious heart conditions, gangrene and even brain
tumors, the doctor alleged.
'madder than hell' over VA scandal. In some ways, this scandal is more dangerous to
the president than any other. There are documents, witnesses willing to tell their story, and both
parties eager to get to the bottom of what happened. It's safe to assume that more revelations of
wrongdoing will be forthcoming. It probably won't lead to impeachment, but it will severely damage
Obama's reputation. It plays into the narrative that Obama is incompetent and that people are
suffering — and dying — because of it. That's a powerful message to go
into mid terms with.
Affairs Undersecretary Robert Petzl didn't resign, but was FORCED OUT by Obama
administration. A White House official said Friday [5/16/2014] that the resignation of Veterans
Affairs Undersecretary Robert Petzl was not voluntary, despite previous reports that he resigned
out of anger with the Obama Administration. [...] Petzel, the undersecretary for health care at the
VA, resigned abruptly on Friday, just a day after telling a U.S. Senate committee that he knew in
2010 about a memo describing 'inappropriate scheduling practices' now blamed for as many
as 40 deaths at VA medical centers.
Using Phoenix VA are Angry, Sick and Scared. The veterans who use the Phoenix
Veterans Affairs Health System are angry, sick and scared. They say they call and call, but get
no answer. They say they are ignored, disrespected and turned away by employees with no medical
training. They say they wait months for an appointment with a primary care doctor, then wait
several more months to see a specialist. More than 200 veterans and family members packed into
American Legion Post 41 to share horror stories of delays, misdiagnoses and poor treatment with the
national commander of the American Legion and the interim director of the Phoenix VA.
VA hospitals are a government-run disaster. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New
York Times columnist Paul Krugman has long touted the VA system as the epitome of government-run
healthcare. "Exhibit A for the advantages of government provision [of healthcare] is the veterans
administration, which runs its own hospitals and clinics, and provides some of the best-quality
healthcare in America at far lower cost than the private sector," Krugman claims. And he is right
... at least about the VA being exhibit A for government healthcare. Like all single-payer health
systems around the world, the VA controls costs by imposing a "global budget" — a limit to
how much it can spend on care. [...] When resources can't meet demand in a given year, the VA does what
other single-payer systems do: It rations.
Can't stop the music.
The Financial Times actually believes that a Veteran's Administration scandal may taint president
Obama in a way that Benghazi, IRS, the AP wiretapping scandal, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Libya, NSA,
Ukraine and Obamacare could not. In an article filled with outrage the writer thinks, this
time it sticks. Why should it?
Dems, WH in CYA mode, VA scandal potentially bigger than IRS, Benghazi. The Veterans
Administration scandal may drive this coming election cycle in ways no one has yet anticipated.
Given the deep reverence for veterans that exists in Americans of all political stripes and
Democrats' already-precarious electoral position ahead of the 2014 midterm, the media's best and
brightest seem to be concluding that this could tip the balance something fierce. This CNN segment
demonstrates the power of this issue. When bureaucrats cause dozens of veterans to die, and the
White House goes into CYA mode, the issue is just too powerful for anyone to write it off as a
partisan witch hunt.
Scandals Raise The Specter Of Healthcare Rationing. Whistleblowers within the
Veterans' Administration health system are coming forward with tales of brutal disregard for the
health and life of those who served our country. Allegations of extensive wait times for lifesaving
care, deaths while waiting, and horrific mismanagement have triggered outrage. Unfortunately, the
VA abuses are just the tip of a much larger, more menacing iceberg. The iceberg is covert health
care rationing, and it's inherent in single-payer systems like the VA.
VA Fast-Tracks Sex Change for Manning While Vets Die on Waiting
Lists. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has formally approved the request of Pvt.
Bradley Manning, convicted for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, to be temporarily
transferred out of military custody in order to undergo expensive hormone therapy and surgery to
become a woman.
chief Shinseki has a lot to explain. The deaths of 23 veterans were linked to delayed
cancer screenings dating back four years at 13 facilities in nine states. Six veterans died after
delays at a single hospital in Columbia, S.C. Veterans in Fort Collins, Colo., waited months to be
seen, and clerks were taught how to falsify appointment records to make it appear the small staff
of doctors was meeting performance goals. Similar games were played at a VA center in Cheyenne,
Wyo. At the VA hospital in Phoenix, a retired doctor charged that some patients facing lengthy
waits for appointments were omitted from electronic files and placed on a "secret" paper waiting
list. Forty died, he said, but it is unclear whether their deaths were linked to the delays.
deserve better. The tension between the needs of the men and women who serve this
country and the agenda of the Department of Veterans Affairs under Secretary Eric Shinseki is at a
breaking point. With lives and American promises on the line, it's time for the man charged with
keeping them to step up, or step aside.
Pick for VA Health Supervised Scandal-Tainted Hospital. This doesn't look good.
The person nominated two weeks ago to replace the VA's outgoing undersecretary for health was
responsible for supervising one of the hospitals at the center of the current scandal. Dr. Jeffrey
Murawsky was nominated on May 1 to replace Dr. Robert Petzel as undersecretary of health at the
Department of Veterans of Affairs. Petzel's "resignation" was officially announced today,
although his impending retirement was first announced last September. Murawsky is currently the
network director — effectively the CEO — of the VA region that includes the Edward Hines, Jr. VA
Hospital in Chicago. Before he moved up the VA hierarchy, he worked as a manager at the
resignation rocks Veterans Affairs Department amid deadly health care scandal, but Republicans
still smell blood. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official in charge of the
agency's sprawling health care system resigned abruptly on Friday [5/16/2014], just a day after telling a U.S.
Senate committee that he knew in 2010 about a memo describing 'inappropriate scheduling practices'
now blamed for as many as 40 deaths at VA medical centers. Complaints about long wait lists and
falsified patient appointment reports have dogged VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.
Official Who Takes the Fall Was Already Set to Retire This Year. Today's resignation
of the Veterans Affairs undersecretary for health may have been timed to look like a fall guy was
anointed after Robert Petzel and his department faced criticism at a Senate Veterans Affairs
Committee hearing. But the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee called shenanigans:
Petzel was already due to retire this year.
official out over vet deaths scandal — but is it more 'damage control'? The Obama
administration, battling to tamp down yet another scandal, announced the resignation Friday
afternoon of a top Veterans Affairs official amid mounting questions over patient deaths possibly
tied to delayed care. But as with prior controversies, the administration's response, critics say,
is not nearly aggressive enough. The official said to be resigning already was planning to retire.
And once again, the president is being accused of relying on political allies to lead internal
reviews, without directly firing anyone.
Times says VA's Shinseki must step down. The VA scandal over alleged "secret wait
lists" for health care appointments, which may have contributed to the deaths of dozens of veterans
whose treatment was delayed, is still unfolding. Yet the allegations at the core of the scandal
are hardly new: A December 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that four
VA medical centers nationwide hid wait times, fudged data and backdated appointments for the
purpose of fabricating compliance with department timeliness goals. That should have served as a
top-down wakeup call to clean house and bring overdue transparency and reform to what long has been
viewed as the most dysfunctional agency in the federal system.
watchdog says federal prosecutors involved in scandal probe, charges possible. The
chief watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Thursday that his office is working
with federal prosecutors to weigh whether criminal charges are warranted in the health care scandal
at a Phoenix VA facility. VA acting Inspector General Richard J. Griffin, who spoke to
lawmakers on Capitol Hill after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki delivered his first public testimony since
the scandal broke, vowed to complete an "exhaustive review" and predicted it would be done by around August.
Growing Impatient On Inquiry In VA Deaths. Patience is wearing thin in Congress as
lawmakers confront allegations of treatment delays and falsified patient-appointment reports at
health centers run by the Veterans Affairs Department.
change is not enough for veterans. Delegating and deferring to a broken bureaucracy
that will not be candid about its failures has been a recipe for greater failures —
failures that have caused the death of veterans — and now it is surely only a matter of
time before President Obama sends Secretary Shinseki the word that he must resign. Too often
Washington sees this kind of ritual bloodletting as the full resolution to a problem, and White
Houses of both parties then blithely reuse the same template that caused the bloodletting in the
first place. It is time to step back from this particular tragic fall, and ask questions that
Washington historically fails to ask.
faces bipartisan criticism during Hill hearing on vet health care scandal. The chief
watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Thursday [5/15/2014] that his office is
working with federal prosecutors to weigh whether criminal charges are warranted in the health care
scandal at a Phoenix VA facility. VA acting Inspector General Richard J. Griffin, who spoke to
lawmakers on Capitol Hill after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki delivered his first public testimony
since the scandal broke, vowed to complete an "exhaustive review" and predicted it would be done by
Shinseki tells second biggest lie of the year. Thursday morning Department of Veterans
Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki came before the Senate Veterans Affairs committee and proclaimed —
with a straight face — that the VA health care system is "a good system." While
Politifact has already deemed President Obama's infamous "if you like your health care plan, you can
keep it" the lie of the year — Shinseki's statement ranks a close, and unfortunate, second.
Senator: FBI Should Investigate VA Hospitals Scandal. Veterans Affairs secretary Eric
Shinseki testified before Congress Thursday that he's "mad as hell" about allegations that veterans
were placed on secret waiting lists at VA hospitals and died while awaiting care. But when Senator
Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, called for a criminal investigation into he matter,
Shinseki appeared reluctant to take any action until the VA inspector general issues a report on the
Grills WH Chief of Staff Over VA Scandal. In an appearance on CNN's The Lead
with Jake Tapper, White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough defended the record of Veterans'
Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki in his post amid a scandal involving fabricated waiting times leading to
the death of military veterans. [...] Tapper brought up an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease, which
occurred in VA facilities in 2011 under Shinseki's watch. In spite of a report that indicated that
negligence led to that outbreak, no one was held accountable. "This is not new," he said.
"What can be done to stop this culture of no accountability in the VA system?"
Has Every Reason to Fix the VA. Why Hasn't He? The failure of the Veterans Affairs Department to quickly
compensate veterans for their disabilities is a moral abomination: It leaves soldiers wounded by war waiting in
long lines for payments they need and believe they have earned. And VA failures are under new scrutiny amid
reports of a string of preventable deaths among veterans and a growing political controversy around them — and
many in Congress are pointing a finger in the White House's direction.
of scandals has Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki fighting for his job. Eric Shinseki's
troubles began with a "Patton" video. Now the secretary of Veterans Affairs is facing charges that
veterans are needlessly dying on his watch as the head of the largest civilian agency in the federal
government. Scandals have cascaded over Shinseki and the VA since the Washington Examiner revealed
in August 2012 that $50,000 in taxpayer money was spent to produce a pair of video parodies that came to
define the lavish spending at the two Veterans Affairs training conferences in Orlando. Those
conferences cost taxpayers about $6.1 million, of which as much as $762,000 was squandered on
useless baubles like tote bags, pedometers and unnecessary travel, the VA inspector general later found.
Show VA Staffers Have Been 'Gaming System' for Six Years. Internal memos show the VA
has been playing whack a mole for at least six years with employees who use dozens of different
scheduling tricks to hide substantial delays in health care for America's veterans. And whenever the
VA tries to stop its staffers from "gaming the system," the staffers come up with new techniques.
Whistleblowers around the country are now accusing the VA of hiding a backlog in patient care with
bookkeeping tricks, and a former doctor at a VA facility in Arizona says the delays may have
contributed to the deaths of 40 patients.
vet turns to 911 in absence of timely VA care. William "Bill" Webb says he tried to get timely doctor
appointments in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, repeatedly failed and would be dead today if he hadn't dialed 911
and been taken to another hospital by ambulance. The 87-year-old Army veteran of World War II says his struggles
began about two years ago, long after he'd become a patient in the Phoenix VA network. Somehow, his records
vanished. "They lost me," Webb says. "They said I'm no longer a patient. I'd been going there for
years, and suddenly, I no longer exist."
Senator: VA Is Doing a 'Good Job'. On Wednesday's [5/14/2014] broadcast of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Sen.
Jon Tester (D-MT) defended the Department of Veterans Affairs despite a handful of recent deaths pinned to so-called
"secret waitlists" at its hospitals. Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said despite
these incidents, the VA is doing a "good job" in a broad overall sense.
acts like he doesn't care about growing Veterans Affairs scandal. There's a new story almost every day
about how the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to fail veterans under its care. The drumbeat of media
attention has led the American Legion and a growing list of lawmakers to demand the resignation of Veterans Affairs
Secretary Eric Shinseki. What was Obama's response? To say — through a spokesman —
that he has confidence in Shinseki and has ordered him to investigate.
Eric Holder: No Plans at DOJ to Investigate Secret Waiting Lists
and Veteran Deaths at VA Hospitals. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday [5/13/2014] that
the Department of Justice doesn't have any plans to investigate allegations that veterans placed on secret
waiting lists at VA hospitals died while waiting for care. [...] According to CNN, at least 40 veterans
died while waiting for treatment at one VA hospital in Phoenix. Members of Congress have said in recent
weeks that the inspector general investigation is inadequate and have called on the DOJ to launch its own investigation.
Committee head wants Obama to name special commission to investigate
Veterans Affairs patient deaths. An independent commission is needed to investigate whether patients
are dying because of botched care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the chairman of the House Veterans'
Affairs Committee said in a letter sent Tuesday [5/13/2014] to President Obama. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., asked
Obama to create a special, bipartisan commission to probe near-daily revelations about botched care, long delays,
preventable deaths and manipulation of records at Veterans Affairs medical facilities across the country.
Miller noted the flood of media reports and whistleblowers coming forward in recent days to report wrongdoing
since he revealed last month that the veterans' committee was investigating allegations as many as 40 preventable
deaths occurred at the Phoenix VA alone.
Blames Koch Brothers for VA Scandal. The Department of Veterans affairs has fallen under increased
scrutiny over revelations administrators in Phoenix and elsewhere created off the books waiting lists for veterans
seeking care. Several veterans died while waiting on the secret lists. Sanders forcefully defended the VA and
other federal agencies at the forum, stating the VA provides "very high quality healthcare" and programs such as Medicare
and Social Security are "enormously popular." However, Sanders's critique of the VA scandal then took a bizarre turn.
Todd: VA Scandal More Dangerous for Obama than 'Partisanized' Benghazi. MSNBC host and NBC News' Chief White
House Correspondent Chuck Todd warned on Monday that the budding scandal surrounding some Veterans' Administration employees
admitting to "gaming the system" and hiding patients' wait times is politically "dangerous" for President Barack Obama and
democrats. "Much more so," he asserted, "than the partsianized Benghazi [investigation]." Todd closed Monday's
edition of MSNBC's The Daily Rundown with a brief review of the scandal surrounding some VA hospitals deliberately obscuring
the true wait times that some veterans endured.
Whistleblower says Veterans Affairs cost-cutting led to denials, delays in
life-saving cancer tests. Patients in a Southeast Texas Department of Veterans Affairs medical system
faced denials or long delays in getting routine colonoscopies and other medical tests because of bureaucratic cost-cutting,
a former top administrator told the Washington Examiner in an exclusive interview.
reveals how Wyo. VA workers were taught to manipulate records. An email obtained by Fox News
Friday [5/9/2014] revealed that an employee at a Wyoming VA hospital instructed his workers to manipulate
records to make it seem like patients were being seen within the agency's required 14-day window, which
he described as "gaming the system." Fox News has learned that the VA was informed of dubious scheduling
practices at the Cheyenne VA Medical Center and at a community-based outpatient clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado,
which is part of the Wyoming center, through an internal investigation in December 2013. The problems
at and the investigation into the Fort Collins clinic were reported earlier this week.
Does the V.A.
Have More Secret, Deadly Wait Lists? Outrage has been building since claims emerged last week that at least
40 veterans died while waiting for treatment from a Phoenix VA hospital. A whistleblower who had worked at the Phoenix
VA alleged that the facility placed veterans on a secret waiting list to hide the fact that they had even sought care.
But in the furor over the latest revelations, an even larger and more serious problem may be getting lost. It's likely
that there are more secret wait lists concealing patient delays throughout the VA medical system, putting untold numbers of
veterans in jeopardy.
Veteran was unable to see primary care doctor. Until he moved to Phoenix from Indiana last spring, Michael Olson never
had any trouble with Veterans Affairs health care, according to his widow. But after nearly a year of trying to get an appointment
with a primary-care doctor at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, his widow, Vicky, says, the 45-year-old former Marine died from
complications of hypertension, obesity and asthma on March 30. "I thought Mike had fallen through the cracks until all
the stories came out. Now, I'm wondering — was he kept from care by design and was it deliberate?" Vicky Olson
said of her deceased husband.
insult to U.S. veterans: Wait times for medical care. By the government's own estimate just last month, the
average American waits about 26 minutes in a hospital emergency room before being treated. But on average, war
veterans must wait twice that long for the same care at Veterans Affairs hospital centers, and a string of internal
investigations suggests the ER wait times for retired troops frequently can last hours. The disparity, documented
in a Washington Times review of VA and Medicare records, is raising questions about why Americans who have given all to
serve the country can't get the same speedy care from the VA that they would if they went to local hospitals. Sometimes,
the consequences of delayed treatment can be fatal.
Lawmakers to subpoena VA secretary Shinseki in veterans health
care probe. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered a "face-to-face audit" at all Department of Veterans
Affairs clinics, a spokeswoman told CNN on Thursday [5/8/2014]. Earlier in the day, the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted
to subpoena Shinseki in the wake of accusations that his department is responsible for deadly delays in health care at some of its
hospitals. The Shinseki subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list, first reported
by CNN, of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital.
backs Shinseki despite calls to resign. President Obama is standing by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric
Shinseki despite two prominent veterans groups calling for his resignation, the White House said Tuesday.
Both the American Legion and Concerned Veterans for America have called for Shinseki to step down following
revelations that veterans at VA hospitals across the country died waiting for care.
Health Scandals Foreshadow Life Under ObamaCare. Government-run VA health clinics have
been caught falsifying records to hide obscenely long and sometimes deadly delays in treating
veterans. Welcome to the future of health care under ObamaCare.
Veterans Administration Scandal Hits Home. For anyone laboring under the assumption
that the scandal that plagues the VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona must be anomalous, think again.
Without even delving into the medical malpractice testimonials of my three relatives who work at a
VA Medical Center on the East coast, the recent near-death experience of my brother confirms our
worst fears: the culture of corruption and indifference that afflicts the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs is systemic.
doesn't just hurt — it kills. Government death panels weren't invented by Obamacare. By
hiding a list of 1,600 veterans waiting to see doctors in Phoenix, the Department of Veterans Affairs is accused of
40 deaths of those who died for lack of care. Keeping them off the official list concealed the backlog
and made VA bureaucrats look better and qualify for bonuses. So far, no firings, no disciplinary actions,
no screaming on the evening news has resulted, although the inspector general for VA is looking into it at the
insistence of Arizona lawmakers.
Secretary Eric Shinseki is missing in action. Like most presidents before him, President Obama has
surrounded himself with a cabinet full of gray non-eminences. With the notable exceptions of Hillary Clinton,
Leon Panetta and Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's department secretaries have been little known to most Americans.
Even so, were there to be an award for the most obscure Obama cabinet secretary, it would undoubtedly go to
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. His department is the federal government's
second-biggest bureaucracy — only the Department of Defense has more employees —
and it is supposed to care for the noble men and women who served this country in its military.
Charges at VA Likely To Be But the Start Of an Even Worse Scandal. The nation was
shocked by charges that more than 1,400 vets lingered and 40 died on a secret waiting list at the
Phoenix, Arizona, Veterans Administration A medical center. The list was concocted to conceal long
waits for care. What you haven't heard is even worse. VA hospitals all over the country are
manipulating the official electronic waiting list, and the deadly cover ups have been going on for years.
Hides Names of Hospitals Where Vets Died From Delays. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
blocked the release of the names of hospitals where 19 veterans died because of delays in medical
screenings, leading to calls for transparency from news outlets and a bipartisan group of Capitol Hill
lawmakers. Earlier this month, the VA denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who had been investigating the deaths.
A fatal wait: Veterans
languish and die on a VA hospital's secret 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.
VA boss accused of covering up veterans' deaths linked to previous scandal. A Veterans Affairs
official accused of keeping double books to hide the fact that dozens of veterans died awaiting care previously
ran a Washington state VA facility that allegedly fudged suicide numbers, FoxNews.com has learned. Sharon
Helman, director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, is accused with other management officials
of keeping a fake waiting list that made it appear sick veterans were being treated in a timely manner — while
hiding the real list that showed up to 1,600 sick veterans were waiting months to see a physician.
Hides Names of Hospitals Where Vets Died From Delays. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
blocked the release of the names of hospitals where 19 veterans died because of delays in medical
screenings, leading to calls for transparency from news outlets and a bipartisan group of Capitol Hill
lawmakers. Earlier this month, the VA denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who had been investigating the deaths.
Legion calls on VA secretary to resign amid scandals. The head of the American Legion called
Monday [5/5/2014] for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and other top VA officials to resign over
a series of scandals that have rocked the agency. Decrying what he described as "poor oversight
and failed leadership," the group's National Commander Dan Dellinger said the problems with the department
need to be addressed at the "highest level," starting with new leadership. He said this is the first
time the organization has called for such resignations in more than 30 years. "It is obvious the
issues are more widespread within the VA," Dellinger said, faulting "bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership."
VA's Backlog of Unprocessed Claims Swells Under Obama-Shinseki. [Scroll down] Meanwhile, albeit largely ignored
by the mainstream media, Obama's own veterans affairs "scandal" was unfolding — an enormous backlog of veterans
claims. In 2011, the claims backlog ballooned by 155 percent. To its credit, the Washington Post is
now covering this matter. And the more it probes, the worse the matter looks.
backlogs, VA disability claims processors get bonuses. While veterans waited longer than ever in recent years
for their wartime disability compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave its workers millions of dollars in bonuses
for "excellent" performances that effectively encouraged them to avoid claims that needed extra work to document veterans'
injuries, a News21 investigation has found.
Other VA scandals
Have a Disappearing Drug Problem. Opioids and other drugs have been disappearing from the Department of
Veterans Affairs hospitals, stolen by employees. The VA inspector general's office filed 36 new criminal
investigations, bringing the total number to a staggering 108 cases. These cases, according to CBS, involve "missing
prescriptions, theft or unauthorized drug use. Most of those probes typically lead to criminal charges." This is a
stark increase from last year's number, even though the VA promised to have a "zero tolerance" policy regarding drug theft.
drug thefts continue despite new efforts. Federal authorities have launched dozens of new criminal investigations
into possible opioid and other drug theft by employees at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, a sign the problem isn't
going away despite new prevention efforts.
employee convicted of third DUI returns to work. An employee at the Memphis, Tenn. Veteran's Affairs (VA)
medical center who was convicted of driving under the influence three times has returned to work as of Monday [5/15/2017].
Brittney Lowe, a senior interior designer at the Memphis VA was convicted in 2009, 2013 and most recently in 2017 of driving
under the influence and is now back working at the medical center, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
VA Hospital Boasted Of 20-Person Transgender Program, 100,000 Vets Lacked 'Safe' Care. A Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) hospital that touted its program focusing on 20 transgendered individuals failed in caring for the remaining
111,000 veterans on health care essentials like keeping its medical equipment clean and properly training employees,
government auditors found. [...] The hospital in question was the subject of positive news coverage in late 2015, with a
publicity campaign surrounding the opening of a "clinic for transgender patients." Veterans are able to receive
taxpayer-funded sex change hormones, CBS News reported at the time.
retaliation against whistleblower: doctor kept in empty room. Dr. Dale Klein may be the highest-paid U.S. government employee
who literally does nothing while he's on the clock. A highly rated pain management specialist at the Southeast Missouri John J.
Pershing V.A., Klein is paid $250,000 a year to work with veterans, but instead of helping those who served their country, he sits in a small
office and does nothing. All day. Every day. "I sit in a chair and I look at the walls," the doctor said of his typical
workday. "It feels like solitary confinement."
Attorneys Created A Secret VA 'Forum Of Hate'. Dissident Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials created a digital
"Forum of Hate" (FOH) using highly offensive email texts against an agency whose upper management they viewed as worried only about
getting bonuses for themselves and whose workforce they considered degraded by excessive Affirmative Action hiring. The
high-level employees on the FOH included attorneys, administrative law judges (ALJs) and managers who sent dozens of inflammatory
emails per day using their government email accounts, then complained about how they had to work late. The previously unreported
emails occurred in 2015, according to a draft report prepared by the inspector general (IG). A copy was obtained by The Daily
Caller News Foundation Investigative Group, but the employees' names were redacted.
Hospital Removes Portraits of Trump & New VA Secy Hung by Vets. When Republican congressman and Army veteran
Brian Mast saw that a Florida VA hospital didn't have photographs of President Trump and Secretary of Veterans Affairs David
Shulkin hanging in the lobby, he took action. Mast and a group of local veterans brought portraits of Trump and Shulkin
to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center and demanded they be installed, and the whole thing was caught on camera. They
were successful, but within hours management at the hospital took down the pictures. Their reason? They could not
authenticate the photos and they have to follow protocol. A VA spokeswoman said that the congressman's actions and the
actions of the veterans who accompanied him were "inappropriate." She said that portraits on display at the VA need to
come from the central office.
Psychiatrist Busted For Charging $200K In Services He Never Provided. A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
psychiatrist has been charged with bilking a health care provider out of $200,000 for services he did not actually provide.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Rochester announced the charges Thursday, which include health care fraud, tax fraud and money
laundering, Rochester First reports. Dr. Xingjia Cui, who is 52-years-old, works as a psychiatrist at the Canandaigua
VA medical center in western New York. He also runs a private practice.
veteran, 74, faces criminal charges and up to six months in jail for hanging flags at a Veterans Affairs facility. An elderly U.S.
Army veteran will go on trial next month for hanging two American flags at a Veterans Affairs facility. Robert Rosebrock, 74, faces a
criminal charge for displaying an American flag without permission outside the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs facility. He also
faces a charge for taking unauthorized photos of VA officers.
Employees Charged With Stealing Prescription Drugs To Sell On The Street. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
employees have been charged with stealing prescription medications like oxycodone and Viagra to sell on the street.
Satishkumar Patel, Alisha Pagan and Nikita Neal have all been charged with conspiring together to steal and distribute highly
addictive drugs, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, Christopher Thyer said in a press release. Thyer is the U.S. Attorney
for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Out of the three, Patel and Pagan are staring down additional charges, including
intent to deliver oxycodone, THV11 reports.
manager bans Christmas tree from office cubicle. A VA supervisor in the agency's Philadelphia office sent out
an urgent email memo Tuesday [11/29/2016] warning employees to remove a Christmas tree that someone had decorated in the
office. "There is a Christmas tree, ornaments, and decorations in the cubicle across from Luis Stevenson's desk (the
same cubicle where the scanner is housed)," wrote VA supervisor Rebecca Cellucci. "If this belongs to you, please claim
it. Otherwise, it will be discarded on Friday."
Exec Who Ran Sketchy Charity Allowed To Retire With Full Benefits. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
executive Thomas Burch, who ran a sketchy charity that provided him with lavish trips, will nevertheless retire with full
benefits. Burch, a lawyer for the VA, is set to retire on Nov. 30 with full benefits, despite investigations by
the VA and New York Attorney General's office finding that he used his veterans' charity for personal gain, CNN reports.
upset after bodies switched at Denver veterans' hospital. Anthony Sandoval spent his last days at the VA
Eastern Colorado Health Care center. After he died on Oct. 2, Anthony Sandoval's remains were sent to one mortuary,
while another man's remains were sent to Sandoval's family for cremation.
banned! VA removes Good Book from clinic. A Bible was removed from the waiting room of a Chillicothe
Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Athens, Ohio after a veteran complained. "Our government is secular, and must remain
secular," the unidentified veteran wrote. Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,
fired off a letter to the medical center on behalf of the veteran — alleging that the presence of the Bible inside
a government facility is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Suicide Hotline Reform Bill Sails Unanimously Through House, Harry Reid Crushes It. The House approved GOP
Rep. David Young's bill last Monday [10/3/2016] by a vote of 357-0. Young introduced the legislation after hearing numerous
complaints from constituents that the Veterans Crisis Line, designed to provide support for veterans feeling suicidal, simply
failed to answer emails or calls. The bipartisan bill passed the House without a hitch and Democratic Sen. Amy
Klobuchar teamed up with GOP Sen. John Thune to move the legislation through the Senate. Both majority and minority
staff on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs cleared the bill, Meg Baglien, communications director for Young, told The
Daily Caller News Foundation. But a nod from the committee didn't prevent Reid from stopping the bill in its tracks, [...]
Obama's VA desecrating
veteran corpses. I've read a lot of outrageous stories in my day. But this latest from an Illinois
Veterans Affairs whistleblower is one of the most shameful things I've ever seen. As a veteran, I care deeply about how
our current and former military members and their families are treated by the government. Unfortunately, under
President Barack Obama's leadership, the VA has somehow managed to get worse and worse. Now, reports out of Illinois
say that one veteran's hospital is so poorly run, they're leaving the discarded corpses of my fellow brothers-in-arms to rot
and decompose over months.
Disrespect: Bodies of Deceased Veterans Left to Rot Hospital Morgue For Months. Since the Veteran's
Affairs scandal broke in 2014, exposing the hospital system and government employees left thousands of veterans on long
waiting lists leading to death, the agency has received an increase in spending to deal with the backlog and wait times.
Things have gotten worse, not better. Wait times have doubled and now, a horrifying report out of Illinois shows bodies
of deceased veterans were left in the hospital morgue for months.
Lawmakers Ask VA to Cover Sex-Change Operations. Six Democratic lawmakers have written the Secretary of The
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) urging the removal of a rule banning VA coverage of sex-transition surgeries for
veterans. "We urge you to move forward with publishing a proposed rule to remove the arbitrary and outdated restriction
that prohibits VA from providing medical services to treat gender dysphoria," the letter states. Current VA regulations
prohibit the covering of "gender alterations." The letter says that regulation is in violation of The Affordable Care Act.
Hospital Bought $300,000 Worth Of TVs, Then Stored Them. Detroit's Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital
spent $311,000 on TVs that were never used and remain in storage. The federal agency's facility ordered the 300 TVs
"because they had funds available," which "may have violated the bona fide needs rule," according to a new report from the
department's inspector general (IG). Now, the TVs have sat "in storage for about 2½ years. Further,
warranties for the TVs expired."
Millions on Delayed Solar Power Projects. The Department of Veterans Affairs has spent more than $408 million
to install solar panels on its medical facilities in recent years, despite many of the projects experiencing significant
delays and some of the systems not becoming operational at all. The VA has failed to effectively plan and manage these
solar panel projects, resulting in significant delays and additional costs, according to a report released by the agency's
inspector general last week. The watchdog conducted an audit of 11 of the 15 solar projects awarded between
fiscal years 2010 and 2013 that were still in progress as of May last year. The investigation, which was completed in March,
found that only two of the 11 solar panel projects were fully completed.
calls for work by veteran artists after report shows VA spent $20M on high-end art. A taxpayer watchdog group is calling on the Veterans Affairs
Administration to showcase work by veteran artists, after it was revealed the VA spent some $20 million on lavish art at facilities around the country.
[...] The $19.7 million tab included a $700,000 sculpture to adorn a California facility for blind veterans. The VA also spent $21,000 for a
27-foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 "local image" pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for "art consultants" for the Palo Alto facility.
vets died, VA spent millions on art. Hundreds of veterans have died while waiting to get care from the
Department of Veterans Affairs, all while the department spent millions of taxpayer dollars on high-end art. According
to an investigation by COX Media Washington, D.C. and American Transparency, the VA has spent $20 million on high-end art
over the last 10 years, $16 million of that spent during President Obama's tenure. The investigation found one
particularly egregious example: $670,000 combined spent on two sculptures at a VA center for the blind.
$20 Million on Art Amidst Scandal. The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media
Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork,
including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind. "In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the
nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor," wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder
and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. "Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were
answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as 'the hamster wheel' and the appointment books were
cooked in seven of every ten clinics." "Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million
on high-end art over the last ten years — with $16 million spent during the Obama years," Andrzejewski said.
Some texts to VA suicide hotline went unanswered. Almost 30 percent of text messages sent as a test to a crisis
hotline for suicidal veterans went unanswered, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Monday
[6/28/2016]. "Our tests of text messages revealed a potential area of concern," the report reads. The GAO report
follows a scathing inspector general report from February that found some calls to the hotline were going to voicemail or
didn't receive immediate attention.
VA's Suicide Hotline Dropped 1.4 Million Calls Last Year. Some shocking and disgraceful news out of the VA
today: the suicide hotline, which has come under fire for sending calls to voicemail, apparently dropped over a
million calls last year. [...] Suicide hotlines, whether they're run through the VA or through any other organization should
never be dropping or ignoring calls — or if it were to happen, it should be an incredibly rare instance.
Report criticizes Duckworth for wasting
$5.2 million on failed VA marketing campaign. Illinois Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth railed earlier
this year against a lack of transparency in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General.
Perhaps the congresswoman has a more personal ax to grind. Duckworth, the former assistant secretary for the Office of
Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, is at the center of an inspector general's report blaming Duckworth and the office for
wasting $5.2 million in taxpayer money on a failed veteran outreach initiative.
VA Scandal: Clinic Caught Falsifying Wait Times For Veterans. After being alerted by a whistleblower that
leaders at a VA Medical Center in Houston were telling staff to falsify wait times, the Veteran's Affairs inspector general
took a look. What the IG found is alarming. More than a year after the national scandal broke that exposed
widespread delays and attempts by officials to hide them, this clinic was still masking chronic wait times for veterans.
The report found that the Houston VA Center repeatedly recorded the times the clinic canceled an appointment as a patient cancellation.
fume after VA ditches power to fire employees. The Department of Veterans Affairs has angered and frustrated
lawmakers by deciding to stop using their authority to fire senior employees, an authority Congress gave the VA in response
to the wait-times scandal of 2014. "Everyone knows VA isn't very good at disciplining employees, but this decision
calls into question whether department leaders are even interested in doing so," House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman
Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said Friday [6/17/2016]. The expedited firing process was designed to help VA leaders flush out
senior officials who had overseen the manipulation of wait times, which prevent veterans from receiving timely
healthcare. But it hasn't been used much, and it provoked a number of legal challenges from fired employees.
Fires First Negligent Officials in 18 Months. The Department of Veterans' Affairs fired three senior officials
from the Phoenix VA health care system Wednesday, marking the first dismissals linked to the mismanagement in Arizona since
the system's director was ousted in November 2014. Associate director Lance Robinson, chief of Health Administration
Service Brad Curry, and hospital chief of staff Dr. Darren Deering were all removed for negligent performance and
failure to provide effective oversight for properly scheduled appointments, according to a news release from the department.
furious at DOJ move that could protect fired VA official. Lawmakers are fuming over what they describe as a
"shameful" decision by the Justice Department that could help the former head of the scandal-scarred Phoenix Veterans Affairs
hospital get her job back. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in a letter sent Tuesday, notified House Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that the DOJ would not defend a key provision of the Veteran Affairs reform law, passed in the wake
of the scandal over officials covering up long patient wait-times. The provision in question had helped uphold the
expedited firing of the Phoenix official at the heart of the scandal, Sharon Helman.
in Washington may be over VA's plan to expand nurses' powers. From his Fresno, California, office, Dr.
Andrew Wall has joined what's fast become a national fight over the powers granted to Department of Veterans Affairs
nurses. Citing potential physician shortages, the department wants to expand its nurses' roles in advanced care.
The proposal has split the medical community, drawn congressional attention and prompted more than 11,700 public comments as
of Friday afternoon [6/3/2016], making it the hottest topic in the federal regulatory world. A number of doctors oppose
the VA's idea.
takes heat over plan to let nurses treat vets without doc supervision. The Veterans Affairs Department is
taking heat over a proposal to allow highly trained nurses to act as doctors, and even administer anesthesia without a
doctor's supervision. The move is part of an effort to reduce what is largely recognized as the VA's greatest
problem — long wait-times for doctor visits. But some see it as an ill-conceived plan that could put
veterans at risk. "When you have a veteran on the operating table with multiple medical conditions, seconds count,"
said former president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Dr. Jane Fitch, who was once a nurse herself.
"All those years of education and training can make the difference between life and death."
furious at DOJ move that could protect fired VA official. Lawmakers are fuming over what they describe as a
"shameful" decision by the Justice Department that could help the former head of the scandal-scarred Phoenix Veterans Affairs
hospital get her job back. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in a letter sent Tuesday [5/31/2016], notified House Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that the DOJ would not defend a key provision of the Veteran Affairs reform law, passed in the wake of the
scandal over officials covering up long patient wait-times. The provision in question had helped uphold the expedited firing
of the Phoenix official at the heart of the scandal, Sharon Helman. Now, lawmakers say Lynch's decision could put Helman back
on the job, as she pursues a lawsuit against the government.
Affairs Paid Out $338 Million in Legal Settlements Just for 2015. A new report on Monday [5/30/2016] says the Department
of Veterans Affairs paid out more than $338 million in legal settlements in 2015, more than triple the amount paid out in 2011.
The report is the latest in an already bad week for the Veterans Administration. If it was not such a serious issue,
one might find some humor in it as example of yet another tangled federal bureaucracy. The care of our veterans is
serious, however, and should not be a partisan issue. It is past time to get them the quality treatment they deserve,
in a timely manner.
Political Appointee 'Burrows' Into Permanent Job at VA. An Obama administration political appointee has
"burrowed" into a high-level career civil service job at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), highlighting efforts by
backers of the outgoing chief executive to implant themselves permanently into the federal bureaucracy in the waning months
of his presidency. Gina Farrisee was named deputy of chief of staff of the VA earlier this month, thus complicating the
next president's VA secretary's ability to choose his own inner circle but securing high and continuing pay for Farrisee,
whose job otherwise would have ended this year.
VA Declared Thousands Of Living Veterans Dead, Cut Off Their Benefits. When the VA isn't leaving veterans to
die waiting in line for healthcare at hospitals across the country, the disastrous system is declaring veterans who are alive
and well... dead. VA officials are now admitting the agency declared more than 4,000 living veterans, dead, cutting off
their benefits. Navy Veteran Mike Rieker from Florida is one of them. "The system failed, whatever they're doing
doesn't work. It was supposed to be corrected and of course it wasn't," Rieker told Fox and Friends during a recent
interview. "Things move at the speed of darkness at the VA."
wrongly declares thousands of veterans dead, stops benefits. Some 4,000 U.S. military veterans and their families stopped receiving benefits
over the past five years after they were wrongly declared dead, the newest in a string of problems to emerge from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA said benefits were mistakenly terminated for 4,201 veterans from 2011 to 2015 but subsequently reinstated.
secretary: Disney doesn't measure wait times, so why should VA? Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert
McDonald on Monday compared the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the VA to the length of time people
wait for rides at Disneyland, and said his agency shouldn't use wait times as a measure of success because Disney doesn't
either. "When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what's important?
What's important is, what's your satisfaction with the experience?" McDonald said Monday [5/23/2016] during a Christian Science
Monitor breakfast with reporters. "And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure."
calls for VA chief to resign over Disney remark. After a barrage of criticism for his remarks comparing wait
times for veterans who are VA patients to lines at a Disney amusement park, the secretary of veterans affairs is trying to
explain. The remarks led at least two Republican senators to call for Secretary Robert McDonald's resignation Tuesday
[5/24/2016]. McDonald was criticized for his statement to reporters about the relative importance of measuring wait
times or the overall experience at VA facilities, which he said veterans rate highly.
secretary facing bipartisan firestorm over Disney comments. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is
scrambling to calm a growing bipartisan firestorm after downplaying veteran wait times at VA hospitals by comparing them to
wait times for rides at Disney theme parks. McDonald made the comments Monday morning, and faced a backlash from
Capitol Hill almost immediately. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., went so far Tuesday as to call for McDonald's
No apology, blames wait time scandal on computer program. The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday sought
to clarify VA Secretary Robert McDonald's controversial comparison between the VA's wait times and wait times at Disneyland,
by saying veterans themselves have said wait times are not the only important factor when it comes to healthcare at the
VA. But the VA declined to apologize for McDonald's remarks, which angered members of both parties on Monday, and
declined to admit that the wait time scandal that broke in 2014 was the result of purposeful manipulation of data by VA
workers. Instead, the VA blamed it on a bad computer program.
secretary: Disney doesn't measure wait times, so why should VA? Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Monday [5/23/2016]
compared the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the VA to the length of time people wait for rides at Disneyland, and said his
agency shouldn't use wait times as a measure of success because Disney doesn't either. "When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of
hours you wait in line? Or what's important? What's important is, what's your satisfaction with the experience?"
VA Secretary Compares Long Hospital
Waits To Lines At Disneyland. Critics said Monday [5/23/2016] that Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald had
trivialized the long-standing problem of lengthy wait times for appointments at California's veterans medical centers by
comparing them to waiting in long lines at Disneyland. His comments sparked an angry backlash from California lawmakers
who felt that he had dismissed the angst and frustration of their constituents. McDonald made the comments Monday during
a roundtable discussion with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
illustrate his point, he cited the long lines at Disney theme parks.. Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald
does not think that measuring the number of days it takes for a veteran to receive a medical appointment is a valid
assessment of success for the Obama administration's VA. "To me personally, the day to an appointment is really not what
we should be measuring, what we should be measuring is the veterans satisfaction," he said. To illustrate his point, he
cited the long lines at Disney theme parks.
would ban Confederate flags on VA cemetery flagpoles. The 265-159 vote would block descendants and others
seeking to commemorate veterans of the Confederate States of America from flying the Confederate Battle Flag over mass
graves, even on days that flag displays are permitted.
lawyer runs 'worst' veterans charity, speeds off in Rolls Royce when confronted. The nation's lowest-rated
veterans charity is run by a lawyer at the Department of Veterans Affairs with a six-figure income. The National
Vietnam Veterans Foundation gave just $122,000 in cash donations to veterans in 2014 despite pulling in $8.5 million, tax
records obtained by CNN show. J. Thomas Burch, the CEO and founder of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, sped
off in a Rolls Royce when confronted by the network on Monday [5/16/2016].
'Worst' charity for
veterans run by VA employee. At first glance, the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation is a roaring
success. According to its tax filings, the charity has received more than $29 million in donations from generous
Americans from 2010 to 2014 for what it calls on its website "aiding, supporting and benefiting America's veterans and their
families." But look a little closer on those same filings and you can see that nearly all of those donations have been
cycled back to telemarketers, leaving less than 2 percent for actual veterans and veterans' charitable causes.
VA Kitchen Inspection After Reports of Roaches in Food. The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General went
"hunting for bugs" in the middle of the night at two VA kitchens Tuesday after a Conservative Review investigation revealed
allegations of an infestation so severe that cockroaches were served in patients' meals. The inspectors descended upon
Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in suburban Chicago at 3 a.m. to "conduct an impromptu walk-through of the kitchens,"
according to an internal VA email sent to union leaders at 7:24 a.m. "They were hunting for bugs, I believe that's what
they were doing at 3 o'clock in the morning," said dietician Kelvin Gilkey, who recently retired from Hines VA Hospital in
Hines, Ill., after 33 years. He served as the union steward for the kitchen employees and now works as a volunteer
VA Denies Infested Kitchen is a Problem, Employees Say. A Chicago-area Veterans Affairs hospital overrun by
cockroaches in its kitchen and food has been advised to "keep doing what they're doing" because the infestation isn't very
severe, employees say. This was the recommendation of two exterminators employed by a Wisconsin VA hospital who
surveyed the kitchen at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Ill. The pair met with upper management and union
representatives Wednesday [4/27/2016] and said they didn't see any cockroaches during their visit, according to social worker
and union president Germaine Clarno and union steward Kelvin Gilney, who were present in the meeting.
Cruz Joins Lawmakers Asking VA Sec To Explain Clinic Bible Removals. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz quietly joined
38 congressional lawmakers on Thursday [4/28/2016] asking Veterans Administration Secretary Robert McDonald to justify the removal
of Christian Bibles from POW-MIA display tables at three VA clinics and an air force base. The Bibles were yanked after
objections from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on behalf of mostly Christian clients at the facilities. MRFF
president Mikey Weinstein contended that their display violated the Establishment Clause plus military and VA regulations.
One must wonder why the word quietly was included in the first sentence of the article above. Is the writer trying to
imply that Senator Cruz is getting away with something?
Served for Dinner at Chicago-Area VA Hospital. A vermin infestation has overrun the kitchen of a suburban
Chicago Veterans Affairs hospital and is reportedly so severe that cockroaches routinely crawl across countertops as cooks
prepare meals. The insects have even found their way into patients' food, employees say. The bug invasion has
attracted the attention of a U.S. senator who is demanding to know how the VA is fixing the problem. It's just the
latest scandal at an agency rocked by allegations of abuse, incompetence and the needless deaths of veterans who wait years
for medical appointments. "The workers try to brush the cockroaches off the counters, but the bugs get in the food,"
said Germaine Clarno, a social worker at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in the Chicago suburb of Hines, Ill.
Clarno is the local AFGE union president and has been working with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel as a whistleblower
exposing secret appointment wait lists.
Stiffing Doctors, Abusing Vets to End Challenge to Government Unions. A free-choice program implemented to get
veterans crucial medical care is under siege because the Department of Veterans Affairs has not paid millions of dollars owed
to the doctors providing it. Now, the VA employee union, which opposes letting veterans get care outside their system
in the first place, is citing VA employees' failure as the reason to abort the fix. Congress approved the Choice Card
program in 2014 after a flood of media reports of veterans dying as VA facilities across the nation manipulated official data
to conceal long delays in scheduling appointments. The Choice Card program allows veterans to seek private medical care
if VA is unable to provide it within a month of being requested, or if there is no VA facility near their homes. Not long
after the program began, however, non-VA doctors and hospitals began complaining they weren't being paid for their services.
V.A. Caught Coaching Employees on How to Cheat Oversight. Management at Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) medical centers in California selected and coached employees on exactly what to tell investigators about wait time
manipulation, according to new inspector general reports. According to two whistleblowers, management handpicked
medical support assistants and told them what to tell the Veterans Health Administration Inspection Team, which visited the
San Diego medical center in May, 2014, following the wait time manipulation scandal which rocked the Phoenix VA. One of
the medical support assistants said he was afraid to tell inspectors anything because a supervisor was in the interview with
him. Investigators were initially tipped off to misdeeds at the medical center in San Diego by a whistleblower, who
said employees were being improperly trained and pressured by management to "zero out" appointment wait times.
Boss Promoted After Steering $4M Contract To Relative. A Department of Veterans Affairs manager who steered a
$4 million contract to a relative was promoted to the second-highest position in the hospital weeks after she was caught and
exposed in the national media. Wendy Gillis was the project manager in charge of building a new health center for the
Fayetteville, North Carolina VA hospital, which included helping find a plot of land to build it on. The hospital evaluated
16 plots, five of which were owned by relatives of Gillis. A committee ranked them by suitability, and a non-Gillis
plot was determined to be best. But in an "unusual" move, the VA selected land owned by William Gillis instead, and paid him
dies after setting himself on fire outside New Jersey VA clinic. A 51-year-old veteran died Saturday night
after he set himself on fire outside a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in New Jersey. Northfield police said
Charles R. Ingram III of Egg Harbor Township was airlifted Saturday afternoon to the Temple Burn Center in Philadelphia,
where he died later that night, The Press of Atlantic City reported Wednesday [3/23/2016]. Mr. Ingram reportedly used
gasoline as an accelerant and set himself on fire at the clinic at 1901 New Road, which was closed at the time. The
Northfield clinic is part of the Wilmington VA Medical Center system.
Reaction to the article immediately above:
Requiem for a VA Victim.
The bloated VA system now employs nearly 400,000 people to carry out its purported "mission of caring." The CBOCs were
established to "to more efficiently and effectively serve eligible veterans and provide care in the most appropriate setting,"
according to the feds. But nobody from [Charles Richard] Ingram's CBOC — one of 800 such offices run by the
VA, which boasts a record $150 billion budget — was there to help on that Saturday when Ingram perished.
Why not? Because the facility is closed on weekends. Its daytime, weekday hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
serve the convenience of the government employees, not of the men and women who put their lives on the line for their
country. Area veterans' advocates and local officials in both political parties have pushed for years to address
chronic understaffing and Soviet-era wait times. The Atlantic City Press reports that there is just one lone
psychologist to provide therapy to 200 veterans on any given day.
worker reinstated with back pay after missing time due to being in prison for armed robbery. The VA is a place
where people tend to somehow magically fail upward. By that I simply mean that workers at all levels can be caught up
in any sort of malfeasance or incompetence and not only retain their jobs, but apparently profit from their actions.
Worker Gets Job Back Despite Armed Robbery Charge. A Department of Veterans Affairs employee in Puerto Rico was
fired after being arrested for armed robbery, but her union quickly got her reinstated — despite a guilty plea —
by pointing out that management's labor relations negotiator is a registered sex offender, and the hospital's director was once
arrested and found with painkiller drugs. The woman missed work while sitting in jail but was reinstated in March with
back pay. The incident illustrates how union-backed civil service rules that rely on precedent combine with VA's past
failures to discipline problem employees of all ranks to keep convicted criminals on its payroll.
VA Demands Double Salaries for its Bad Managers.
Just when you thought they'd plumbed every depth of human depravity, and summitted the seven pinnacles of greed on each of
the seven continents, the senior management of the Department of Veterans Affairs, an organization run entirely for the
benefit of its employees whilst giving lip service (if not abuse) to the vets it presumably serves, calls for doubling the
pay of the current underperformers whose mis-, mal-, and non-feasance created this whole mess.
St. Louis VA Chief Got Plush Job, Free House in Philippines. Rima Nelson disappeared from public view after the St. Louis
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital she managed potentially exposed 1,800 patients to HIV, was closed twice for serious medical
safety issues and ranked dead last in patient satisfaction. But Nelson wasn't fired. Her VA superiors hid her literally on the
other side of the Earth in 2013 at the department's only foreign facility, a seldom-used clinic inside the palatial U.S. Embassy in the
Philippines capital city of Manila.
Veterans' hospital in Cincinnati faces scrutiny after
report. U.S. Republican Senator Rob Portman on Wednesday [2/17/2016] asked an independent watchdog to look into "deeply disturbing" allegations of
poor care and conflicts of interest at a Veterans Affairs hospital in his home state of Ohio.
suicide hotline in Oscar-winning documentary lets calls go to voicemail. A VA suicide hotline movingly
portrayed in an Oscar-winning documentary has allowed crisis calls to go into voicemail and has struggled with adequate staff
training, according to an inspector general investigation. Inspectors found problems occurred when calls were routed to
backup crisis centers after staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs suicide hotline center in Canandaigua, N.Y.,
(800-273-8255) were taking all the calls they could handle.
alleged 'misconduct' at Cincinnati VA, focus purportedly on prescriptions. A recent federal probe into alleged "misconduct" at a Department of
Veterans Affairs facility in Cincinnati is focusing on allegations of drugs being improperly prescribed to patients, Fox News learned Saturday [2/13/2016].
The agency's inspector general is purportedly looking into whether Dr. Barbara Temeck, the facility's acting chief of staff and a thoracic surgeon, carries
proper authority to prescribe medicine. Among the allegations is that Temeck prescribed medication to the wife of Jack Hetrick, the director of the
VA region that includes Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
demands proof World War II combat vet with Purple Heart served in military. The Veterans Affairs Department refuses to pay benefits to a World
War II vet in his 90s who was wounded in combat and earned a Purple Heart. Fox 2 Now in St. Louis reports that after Emil Limpert submitted
an application for benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs he was told he needed to provide more proof that he was in the military. "I get this
letter that says we can't accept it because we've got no record of you being in the service," he told the station. "I guess I'm the unknown soldier."
He was wounded in a foxhole in the Philippines in 1944.
defends officials who allegedly stole $400,000 from agency. A high-ranking Department of Veterans Affairs official on Tuesday [2/2/2016]
defended the VA's failure to discipline two employees accused of misconduct, and blamed the outrage over their lenient treatment on "considerable
external pressure" by the media and Congress to punish personnel who may not have done anything wrong. Sloan Gibson, deputy VA secretary,
praised a judge's recent decision to stop the demotions of Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves, two VA officials accused of together stealing more
than $400,000 in benefits from the government.
execs finally demoted for scamming system, but lawmaker wants charges brought. The Department of Veterans
Affairs said Friday [1/8/2016] two high-ranking officials were finally demoted in response to a federal probe that found they
manipulated the agency's personnel system for their own gain, but a key lawmaker is asking why they weren't prosecuted.
Federal prosecutors announced on Christmas Eve that they would not pursue charges in the case, but the Justice Department has
not responded to Rep. Jeff Miller's inquiry into why no charges will be filed.
refuses to fire people for having sex in the office — or selling heroin. [Scroll down] Suffice
it to say that the VA continues to conduct itself in a manner unbecoming to the sacrifice made by veterans for this nation's
security. The responsibility for that, more than eighteen months after the VA scandal first broke, extends farther northward
than [Secretary Robert] McDonald.
Vet's mom forced to sell Obama letter to cover VA failures he promised to
fix. The mother of an injured Army veteran of the Iraq war is selling a rare letter from President Obama to cover her son's medical and personal
expenses despite the president's handwritten promise to do "everything we can over the next four years to support your family." Cherry McKimmey told
[the Washingtonn Examiner], "Something good might as well come out of that. It is doing no good lying in my drawer. It means absolutely nothing
Failing Upward at the VA. A week after a
sham "demotion" resulting from corruption that triggered a criminal referral, the VA's Kimberly Graves miraculously bounced back with a
promotion to Assistant Director of the troubled Phoenix Regional Benefits Office. [...] And nothing says "trust me" like lawyering up and
taking the Fifth. The promotion comes with a plush transfer and moving allowance. Naturally.
another Veterans Affairs backlog. Thanks to the actions of a courageous whistleblower, it appears as though the
VA — through either indifference or incompetence — is keeping promised benefits from service members.
Tens of thousands of combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are being denied enrollment in VA health care because
of a computer glitch VA has known about for seven months and failed to fix.
Christmas Tree Ban Causes Yuletide Uprising. Folks around Salem, Virginia were ready to jingle the government's
bells after they implemented a ban on Christmas trees and religious Christmas carols in the public spaces of the local VA
hospital. The holiday hullabaloo began last week when workers received an email announcing that Christmas trees would no
longer be allowed in public spaces at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Jumps to His Death at V.A. Hospital. A military veteran seeking psychiatric treatment walked out of a waiting room at the
Veteran Affairs medical center in Philadelphia and jumped to his death from its parking garage Thursday morning [11/19/2015]. Gary Dorman
of Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania, took his own life after he sought treatment at the hospital, an employee at the hospital told The Daily Beast.
Affairs Facility Just Banned 'Merry Christmas'. It's becoming Christmas season again, so you know what that means: The politically
correct police are back in full swing trying to force everyone to say 'Happy holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas.' Obama's latest move to do
this is at a Veterans Affairs hospital.
VA Facility Bans 'Merry Christmas'. President Barack Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs has banned employees at its
facility in Salem, Virginia, from saying "Merry Christmas" to veterans. It started as a broader ban that included Christmas
trees. Federal law recognizes Christmas as an official federal holiday (5 U.S.C. § 6103) and provides federal
employees with a paid day off to celebrate the Christian belief in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
Former Phoenix VA boss Sharon Helman may keep bonus. The Department of Veterans Affairs cannot rescind a bonus
paid to former Phoenix VA hospital Director Sharon Helman shortly before she was fired last year for misconduct, according to
a ruling by an administrative judge. The VA had moved to take back $9,080 awarded to Helman, claiming the bonus and a pay
raise were issued by mistake. But judge Alan Caramella, in a Sept. 16 decision, sanctioned the VA for failing to
produce key evidence and ruled Helman may keep the extra cash she received for meeting fiscal 2013 performance goals.
of feds on paid leave for over a year, senator wants end to costly practice. The alleged abuse of administrative leave
policy has been most egregious at the Department of Veterans Affairs where two of the officials whose actions touched off the VA scandal
last year have been on paid leave for the last 18 months. They're not alone — of the nearly 6,000 VA employees
put on administrative leave between 2011 and 2013, 46 individuals have been paid not to work for more than a year. Senate Judiciary
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is pressing for answers.
Officials Refuse To Appear Before Committee, Get Hit With Subpoena. The House Veterans' Affairs Committee
(HVAC) held a hearing Wednesday [10/21/2015] to get to the bottom of an inspector general report which found that senior
officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs engaged in a scheme to cash in on relocation bonuses at the expense of
taxpayers. The only problem is that every single VA official or employee named to appear skipped the meeting.
Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey resigned ahead of the hearing to avoid coming before the committee.
Angeles VA shredded veterans' claims instead of processing them, IG report says. The Los Angeles VA shredded
veterans' benefit claims without ever processing them, the department's inspector general said in a report Tuesday [8/18/2015] that
suggests the problems exposed last year continue. Investigators auditing the Los Angeles office of the Veterans Administration
found eight benefits claims that were designated for shredding, instead of being processed and entered into the agency's electronic system.
VA caught sending
veterans' mail to the shredder. The government watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs reported Monday [8/17/2015]
that it was able to substantiate claims that the VA's Los Angeles office was sending mail from veterans to the shredder. The VA's
Office of Inspector General said it launched an "unannounced inspection" of the Los Angeles office after hearing allegations that the
VA staff there was shredding mail related to veterans' disability compensation claims. Though the OIG said it can't measure how
often this might have happened, it did say it found some examples of mail lined up for the shredder that instead should have been opened
Combat Vets Being Denied Health Care Because Of VA Computer Error. An error in the
Department of Veterans Affairs computer system is responsible for over 35,000 combat veterans being
placed in limbo on a health care enrollment list. The VA system requires veterans to complete a
questionnaire detailing household income in order to be considered for healthcare enrollment. But
that policy is not supposed to apply to combat veterans, who instead should be receiving five years
of free care. Still, the system doesn't appear advanced enough to differentiate between combat
and non-combat veterans, meaning that 35,093 veterans are pending enrollment for care when they
shouldn't even be on the wait list.
VA workers facing disciplinary action, McDonald says. In an interview with the CBS
News program "60 Minutes," [VA Secretary Robert] McDonald said the VA is taking "aggressive,
expeditious disciplinary action, consistent with the law" against more than 1,000 of its 315,000 employees.
Shows VA Psychiatrist On Facebook Telling Veteran To Commit Suicide. An image posted
online Monday night [7/27/2015] apparently shows a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist
telling a veteran to commit suicide. The image was uploaded to Imgur and shows an anonymous
veteran indicating support for gun rights on a Facebook comment thread. In response, Gregg Gorton,
whose Facebook profile shows that he works at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a
staff psychiatrist, said that the user should commit suicide. "[O]ff yourself, please," Gorton
said in response to the veteran. Another Facebook user jumped into the conversation shortly after
Gorton's comment, saying, "is that what you say to pro gun Veterans at the VA?"
whistleblowers, punished for revealing excessive opiate use and infestation, are finally exonerated. The
employees, who shared harrowing experiences with investigators of being ostracized, harassed and punished for reporting
their concerns about mismanagement, have plenty of company. The special counsel's office says it has helped more than
45 whistleblowers with claims of retaliation by VA in the last two years, by getting their jobs back and, in some cases,
securing compensatory damages.
more than 150 headstones for veterans' graves were plundered to build the floor of a
carport. When headstones on the graves of fallen servicemen crack or fade with age,
they're hauled away to be honorably destroyed. Then the Department of Veterans Affairs replaces
them. But at a veterans cemetery in Rhode Island, an employee who was supposed to be taking care
of the graves pillaged more than 150 granite headstones, many of them still inscribed with the names
of the veterans. Then he took the markers home to build a floor for his carport. [...] Two of
Maynard's co-workers turned him in to the Rhode Island State Police, court documents show. The
employees told investigators for the police and VA's inspector general that he bragged about stealing
the gravestones and using them at his home.
to Iraq war vet: 'We're not accepting any new patients'. Iraq war veteran Chris Dorsey
figured that no one would believe he had been turned away from a U.S. Department of Veteran's
Affairs clinic when he sought an appointment for post-traumatic stress disorder. [...] The response?
"We're not accepting any new patients — not this clinic," the VA employee behind the
desk says, without providing any extra information, assistance or guidance for treatment.
Strapped' VA Forgot It Had $43.1 Million Stashed Away. When not pleading poverty, the
Department of Veterans Affairs can be awfully careless with its money. The latest example: In 2011,
the VA set $43.1 million aside to produce brochures informing veterans about their benefits, then
forgot about it. The money went unspent for three years and now might be lost for good. An
internal audit released earlier this month said, "A breakdown of VA fiscal controls and a lack of
oversight led to the parking of funds ... and the failure to detect and properly use and manage these
funds." That breakdown in fiscal controls seems to be endemic at the VA.
Veterans Administration aims for a fresh betrayal. Instead of cleaning up its act, the
VA's trying once again to sabotage the Choice program, which was supposed to allow vets to see a
doctor outside the delay-plagued VA system. On Thursday [6/25/2015], VA Deputy Secretary Sloan
Gibson will ask Congress for permission to raid the $10 billion Choice fund and spend the money
elsewhere. It's an underhanded betrayal, but sadly, it's no surprise.
for Slackers, Part II. For example, not only was Janice Perry allowed to work on union
issues 100% of the time at her job at Veterans Affairs, she didn't even want to occasionally show up
at work, writes Patrick Pizzella, one of the three federal officials adjudicating federal union fights at
the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Perry, an AFL-CIO president, has been working on union duties
full-time while at the VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia. After she broke her ankle,
Perry demanded she be allowed to work from home, solely on union duties, five days a week, every week.
The VA then offered her the option to work three days each week from home, still solely on union duties.
of Dollars 'Making Mockery' of Federal Law and Taxpayers at VA. A federal whistleblower has revealed that
the Veterans Health Administration may have improperly spent up to $5 billion in improper and unauthorized
procurement expenditures over each of the last five years and lawmakers are demanding an explanation. An
internal Department of Veterans Affairs memo determined that the agency violated federal contracting rules to pay
for medical care and supplies. The communique, addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald and written by Deputy
Assistant Secretary Jan Frye, asserts that the VA "has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive
prices for goods and services due to breaches in federal law."
seen as "complicit" in costly abuse of military health benefit system. Marketers
peddling pain and scar creams directly to military personnel are costing the Pentagon hundreds of
millions of dollars a month, according to Major General Richard Thomas. Thomas, who oversees
TRICARE, the military's health benefit system, says doctors are complicit in the process.
"They're getting providers, doctors or whomever to write scripts, fill in scripts without even
seeing the patient," said Thomas.
VA cover-ups. It should be quite clear by now that the bureaucracy of the Department of
Veterans Affairs needs a drastic purge. Its perfidy became obvious about a year ago when Americans
learned that various officials had been gaming the system in order to preserve their own performance
bonuses and give the appearance that veterans were getting timely care. The practice was widespread
and many were complicit as veterans died and suffered in silence without the medical treatment they were
promised. Since then, a great many other problems in the agency have been revealed, including
cover-ups of lethal infections at VA facilities, hospitals that consume resources and serve no patients,
and pill mills.
Official Grilled In House Hearing Over $300K Relocation Incentive. A House Veterans' Affairs Committee
hearing was the scene of a tense exchange Wednesday as a top-ranking VA official was forced to answer questions about
a $300,000 relocation package the agency gave her to take a job in Philadelphia last year. Committee chairman
Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, grilled Diana Rubens, the current director of the Philadelphia VA Regional Benefits
Office, about whether such a large payment was needed to incentivize her to move the 140 miles from Washington
D.C. to Philadelphia.
manager forced underlings to pay his wife $30 for fortune telling. In a voice choked
with emotion, Rustyann Brown told lawmakers Wednesday [4/22/2015] how the Department of Veterans
Affairs routinely turned its back on veterans and their families, even in death. Mrs. Brown, a
former employee in the VA's Oakland office, was assigned one day in 2012 to a special team given the
job of reviewing more than 13,000 veterans' claims dating back to the mid-1990s that had never been
addressed. As they sorted through the mounds of papers, she said, they often discovered that the
veterans had long since died without receiving the requested benefits.
Sends Veterans' Medical Info To FBI To Get Their Guns Taken Away. Documents obtained by The Daily Caller and
interviews with American veterans reveal a shocking government program: The Department of Veterans Affairs is disarming
America's veterans by getting them placed on the FBI's criminal background-check list. The VA sends veterans' personal
medical and financial information directly to the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which can seize their
guns in home raids.
VA scandals call into question agency's ability to clean house. Nearly a year after a
scandal rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs, revealing that the agency's centers nationwide
were manipulating records to hide dangerously long patient wait times, the bad news just keeps on
coming — calling into question the agency's promise to clean house.
to Holder: Why Is The VA Putting So Many Veterans on Your Federal Gun Ban List? Chairman of the Senate
Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing deep concerns
over Veterans Affairs evaluations classifying veterans as "mentally defective" and banning them in the federal background
check system from purchasing or owning a firearm. According to Grassley's office, the VA "reports individuals to
the gun ban list if an individual merely needs financial assistance managing VA benefits," keeping them from exercising
their Second Amendment rights.
inspector general investigating Philadelphia official's relocation bonus. The Department of Veterans Affairs'
Office of Inspector General is investigating the nearly $300,000 relocation bonus paid to a senior VA official when she was
transferred from Washington to lead the Philadelphia regional office last year. In a letter to House Veterans Affairs
Chairman Jeff Miller, Deputy Inspector General Richard Griffin said his office is "reviewing the documentation" of the
$288,206 in payments to Philadelphia VA Director Diana Rubens. She received about $250,000 more than than the
average relocation expense normally paid to VA officials.
employee used doll photos to mock veterans' mental problems in email. A social worker
at an Indianapolis Veteran Affairs clinic was disciplined earlier this year after sending emails to
colleagues that contained photos of an elf figurine posed to mock the mental health problems of
combat veterans. Robin Paul, who manages the Roudebush Veteran Affairs Medical Center's Seamless
Transition Integrated Care Clinic, on Dec. 18 sent an email with photos showing an elf pleading for
Xanax and hanging himself with an electrical cord, according to The Indianapolis Star, which broke
VA secretary should know the importance of not lying about one's service — right?. Surely
there is no one who should better understand how offensive it is to lie about one's military service than the secretary
of Veterans Affairs. Yet that's exactly what Robert McDonald did the night he participated in the Greater
Los Angeles Homeless Count in January.
When a Republican does this, it's called lying.
writers struggle to characterize VA director's special forces fabrication. A majority
of headlines this week have characterized Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald's claim that he
served in the Army's Special Forces as a "misstatement" and a "false claim." Very few have referred
to his admitted fabrication as a "lie." McDonald, who qualified but never served as a Ranger and
did not serve in Special Forces, apologized this week for the falsehood. Headlines from the
Huffington Post, the Washington Free Beacon, the Washington Examiner, the Hill and Military Times
have used variations of "falsely claimed" in headlines regarding McDonald's fabrication.
remain angry even after VA secretary confesses "misstatement". The man brought in to
restore credibility to the Department of Veterans Affairs had some explaining of his own to do
Tuesday [2/24/2015]. Secretary Robert McDonald corrected a misstatement that he made last month
on the CBS Evening News about his own military record after the statement was questioned by several
Tammy Baldwin Lawyers Up After Three Deaths Are Linked To A VA Report She Sat On For Months. Sen.
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate, may have landed herself in some trouble
after it was reported her office did little to address the rather high rate of opiate prescriptions coming out
of the Veterans Affairs center in Tomah, Wisconsin. As a result, Baldwin's office fired a top aide, offered
her a severance package, and a confidentiality agreement. The aide, Marquette Baylor, rejected the deal and
is considering a sexual discrimination lawsuit against Baldwin. At the same time, Baldwin's office had the
Tomah VA report since last summer. To make matters worse, three deaths are linked to the overmedication
problem highlighted in the report on the facility.
You'd think the
VA is now running the FDA and the CDC. Seven patients at UCLA Ronald Reagan medical
center contracted a deadly superbug from an utterly routine medical procedure. Two have died.
A third, an eighteen-year-old boy, fights on for his life after 83 days in the hospital, mostly in
intensive care. All this suffering was preventable. If the CDC and the FDA had alerted UCLA and
other hospitals about medical equipment they knew was contaminated, patients would not have been put at risk.
The agencies had already watched the same lethal problem unfold in Chicago, Seattle, and elsewhere but they
swept it under the rug.
secretary sorry for false special forces claim. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert
McDonald has apologized for making false claims about having served in the the U.S. military's elite
specials operations forces, the latest scandal to hit the besieged department.
Secretary Robert McDonald reportedly admits lying about Special Forces service.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has admitted that he lied about serving in the special
operations forces in a conversation with a homeless veteran that was caught on camera earlier this
year. McDonald made the claim in January while he was in Los Angeles as part of the VA's effort
to locate and house homeless veterans. During the tour, a homeless man told McDonald that he had
served in the special operations forces.
'I CARE' slogan slammed by veterans, employees as mockery of reform. The embattled
Veterans Affairs Department, now ranked by a government watchdog as among the most troubled federal
agencies, is reminding employees in a memo why they should care about their work.
L.A. golf tournament tickets after VA cancels parking deal. With free grounds passes,
concert tickets and refreshments at the "Patriots' Outpost," veterans and their families could
expect a grand time at the PGA's Northern Trust Open golf tournament in Pacific Palisades next
month. But after the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the midst of a legal dispute, canceled
event parking at its West Los Angeles campus, tournament officials asked the agency to return 2,000
tickets it had donated for veterans.
Phoenix VA chief Helman took gifts in secret. As Arizona military veterans waited
months for doctor appointments in a broken health-care system, then-Phoenix VA hospital Director
Sharon Helman went on a weeklong vacation to Disneyland secretly financed by an industry lobbyist,
according to an administrative-law judge and documents obtained by The Arizona Republic. E-mail
records and receipts examined by Chief Administrative Judge Stephen C. Mish indicate that Helman
also got free concert and airline tickets and other perks from lobbyist Dennis "Max" Lewis, her
previous boss. Based on that revelation, Mish on Monday upheld Helman's firing by the VA
and rejected her appeal.
Stone cleared by Veterans Affairs doctor one week before murders, suicide. A Department of Veterans
Affairs psychiatrist cleared former Marine Bradley Stone of suicidal or homicidal tendencies just a week before he
went on a killing spree, slaying six others and then taking his own life.
5-day firing notice too long for Congress, too short for lawyers. The Department of
Veterans Affairs and Congress are battling over whether the VA is firing employees fast enough as
part of a major management overhaul, but legal analysts say even the five-day notice the
administration has settled on is too short and employees who have been fired could sue to get their
jobs back — with taxpayers on the hook for back pay. Veterans Affairs officials said
they came up with the five-day notice based on the advice of their attorneys, though members of
Congress said even that was too long because it gives targeted employees a chance to retire and
collect lifetime benefits.
Affairs Keeps Buying Bogus And Counterfeit Medical Equipment. Internal correspondence
between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and a major supplier of medical devices reveals that
the VA has been buying bogus and counterfeit medical equipment, The Washington Times reports. The
equipment comes from the so-called gray market and threatens to endanger patient's lives. Johnson &
Johnson brought the matter to the VA's attention and placed the blame on procurement rules.
Veterans Affairs procurement official abruptly resigns. The high-level procurement
official at the Department of Veterans Affairs slammed for leaking inside information to a private
contractor retired from the agency Tuesday [10/14/2014], the Washington Examiner has learned. Susan
Taylor, the subject of a scathing inspector general's report issued Sept. 26, had been targeted for
firing by VA officials. She is one of four senior executives the agency was trying to oust under the
provisions of a new law, signed in August by President Obama, that enhanced the power of the VA secretary
to discipline members of the Senior Executive Service for misconduct or poor performance.
VA Official Conspired With Her Married Boyfriend To Thwart Investigations. A recent
investigation has uncovered a shocking tale of corruption and adultery at the Department of Veterans
Affairs. Susan Taylor, a longtime federal employee and Deputy Chief Procurement Officer at the
Veterans Health Administration since 2010, not only used her position to award government contracts
to a former business partner, and worked with said company to hide the thousands and thousands of
dollars it was making off the government, but conspired with her married boyfriend — who
also had close personal ties to the company — to thwart investigations into her misconduct.
VA officials steered contracts to firm, investigation finds. The VA's inspector
general said in a scathing report that Susan M. Taylor, deputy chief procurement officer for the
Veterans Health Administration, "continually" lied about her dealings with FedBid, the
well-connected reverse auction company whose advisers and employees include two former top White
House procurement officials, a general and a former congressman.
Supervisor Made Her Employees Renovate Her House, Used Gov't Money To Do It. From 2010
to 2013, 48-year-old Venita Godfrey-Scott directed her employees to use materials and supplies
intended for VA medical center upkeep on her own house. These taxpayer-funded home improvement
projects included "a deck in her backyard, carpet installation, and various kitchen, bathroom and
basement improvements." She also instructed employees to buy other necessary materials with her
government-issued credit card, and had them work on these projects during normal work hours, when
they were being paid by the VA.
new boss requested for Phoenix VA. Arizona's entire congressional delegation sent a
letter Thursday [9/11/2014] to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald urging him to name a permanent leader
of the Phoenix VA medical center to replace Director Sharon Helman even though she remains on the
agency's payroll. The letter, unusual in its bipartisan consensus, notes that two temporary bosses
have overseen the beleaguered Phoenix VA Health Care System since Helman was placed on leave May 1
amid allegations of fraud and mismanagement. A third fill-in is expected in November.
Employees Arrested For Running Coke Ring Out Of VA Medical Center. Robert Tucker and
Erik Casiano had been using the U.S. Postal Service and the mailroom of a VA Medical Center in the
Bronx to receive and distribute cocaine since "at least November 2013," according to the press
release. Tucker has worked for the VA since 1997, and in 2012 was promoted to supervisor of the
Logistics Warehouse and Mail Center. Casiano, a pipefitter in the plumbing department, had worked
for the center since 2012. All told, the two attempted to distribute over 5 kilograms of
cocaine. If found guilty, they each face a minimum of 10 years in prison, and could be
jailed for life.
under fire for missing VA oversight meetings. Over a two-year period, Democratic U.S.
Rep. Bruce Braley missed 75 percent of meetings for a committee that provides oversight over the
Veterans Administration, including one meeting on a day he attended three fundraisers for his 2012
campaign. A few months later, news reports exposed systemic problems in patient care that have
since resulted in the resignation head of the federal department of veterans affairs. Republicans
argue that Braley, who missed 15 of the 20 Veterans' Affairs Committee meetings in 2011 and 2012,
has shown a lack of commitment to conditions within the health care system for veterans.
VA Neglected Care to Focus on ObamaCare Promotion. On Wednesday's "Your World with
Neil Cavuto," Scott Davis, a whistleblower who works as a Program Specialist at the VA's Health
Eligibility Center stated that "focus our attention to applications based on specific campaigns,"
including ObamaCare. Davis said "there's so much pressure on the employees to get stuff done so
that management can meet goals, it's easy to make mistakes, it's easy to have mishaps," and
employees often "rush through the application process to hit goals for members of management."
VA Employees Make $180,000 or More. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has
59,297 employees — 17.3 percent out of 342,089 workers total — that make
$100,000 or more in yearly salary, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Among those employees, 18,709 of them earn a salary of $180,000 or more.
Atlanta enrollment office. Federal investigators are examining allegations that
thousands of veterans who applied for health care benefits had their applications purged improperly
by the national Veterans Affairs enrollment eligibility office based in Atlanta, according to VA
employees interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
VA's Care of Veterans Impeded by Filming of TV Series, Conference. Dr. Roy Marokus,
who currently serves in private practice, told the Free Beacon that veterans were denied
care because of a mandatory conference he attended last March. Marokus said veterans'
appointments were cancelled so VA medical providers could attend the two-day conference. Medical
providers at the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where Marokus briefly worked, and providers at
all other VA medical centers in the Veterans Integrated Services Network, attended the conference.
A review of the paperwork handed out during the conference showed topics included advice on how
to plan a party and asked the medical staff to explore, "What Color is Your Personality?"
Senior V.A. Executive Was Rated 'Fully Successful' or Better Over 4 Years. All of the 470 senior executives at the Department
of Veterans Affairs received annual ratings over the last four years indicating that they were "fully successful" in their jobs or even
better, according to data released at a congressional hearing on Friday, despite delays in processing disability compensation claims and
problems with veterans' access to the department's sprawling health care system.
VA Sacrificed Vets for Solar Panels. The VA Scandal began at the Phoenix VA Health
Care System where administrators earned promotions and bonuses by shunting patients who needed
treatment into fake waiting lists. As many as 40 veterans had died while waiting for
care and 1,715 veterans in the Phoenix VA Health Care System had waited more than 90 days for
an appointment. A retired Navy serviceman died of bladder cancer after being put on a 7-month
waiting list after blood was found in his urine. He finally received an appointment a week
after his death. But each and every year, from 2009 to 2011, the Phoenix VA Health Care
System put in solar panels. The solar panels at the Carl T. Hayden VA in Phoenix
cost $20 million.
VA Hospital Blocks Fox News Channel From Waiting Room Television. Veterans are outraged after a
KMPH FOX 26 News investigation reveals the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fresno was caught blocking the "Fox News
Channel" from a hospital waiting room. Is it a mistake or something more? Veteran Bob McLaughlin says, "It
was just beyond amazement because I know Fox News has been pretty heavy on any of the government things coming out,
especially the Veteran Affairs Hospital scandal." McLaughlin says he went to the hospital to check it out for himself.
Cops Stomped On Veteran's Head, Killing Him. The family of a 65 year-old veteran
claims that VA police stomped on the veterans head and neck, causing him to suffer a stroke and die
several weeks later, a new lawsuit alleges. On May 25, 2011, Jonathan Montano was waiting several
hours to undergo dialysis treatment at the Loma Linda VA facility when he grew frustrated, reports
Courthouse News Service. With an IV still in his arm, Montano made his way towards the hospital
exit, saying that he would get treatment at the Long Beach VA facility instead.
Chaplain: Gov't Made Me Hide Crosses and Pictures of Jesus, Banned Me From Reading Bible
Aloud. In the wake of the ever-growing VA scandal, actions at the Iron Mountain VA
Hospital in Michigan may not have gotten quite as much press as many feel they should. Patsy
Norton, when walking into Iron Mountain's VA chapel, was appalled to find every sign of
Christianity hidden from sight. [...] The repression of Christianity isn't limited to Iron
Mountain, but has been reported in VA facilities all over the country.
VA hospital hides Jesus behind
curtain. Some folks in Iron Mountain became infuriated earlier this month when they discovered that statues of Jesus
and Mary, along with a cross and altar, were hidden behind a curtain in the chapel of the VA hospital there. The chapel still
has stained glass windows, though for how long is unclear. A VA hospital spokesman told me they are still trying to figure out
what to do with the windows. The decision to hide the religious icons came after the National Chaplain Center conducted an
on-site inspection and determined the hospital's chapel was not in compliance with government
lie about degree, VA exec still oversees network of health care centers. The director
of VA's Sierra Pacific Network, Sheila M. Cullen falsely claimed in "numerous official documents"
that Bernard M. Baruch College-Mount Sinai School of Medicine awarded her a master's degree she
never earned, according to a memo by the VA inspector general's office. VA officials refuse
to say what, if any, punishment Ms. Cullen faced.
Spends Close to $500 Million on Conference Room, Office Makeovers Under Obama. President
Barack Obama has increased the Department of Veterans Affairs' budget each year since he took office,
claiming the funds would give veterans the health care they deserve. However, an analysis of
records show the agency has spent close to $500 million on office furniture under the Obama
administration. This upcoming fiscal year Obama requested a 3 percent increase for the
Veterans Affairs budget. Obama's FY 2015 budget request points out he has increased the VA
discretionary budget by 35.2 percent since 2009 so veterans continue to access necessary services.
hospital backs down after slapping man with $525 fine over soda refill. The VA hospital that
slapped a $525 federal fine on a man after he refilled his 89-cent drink without paying has backed down,
choosing to issue a warning instead of a citation, a spokesperson for the facility said Thursday [4/17/2014].
Christopher T. Lewis, of North Charleston, was issued the $525 citation on Wednesday after he ignored signage
indicating that there's no such thing as a free lunch — or complimentary drink refills — at
the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston. Lewis, who is not a federal employee, told
responding officers he had done the same thing "multiple times" before and never had any problems, hospital
spokeswoman Tonya Lobbestael told FoxNews.com.
Affairs wind turbine, built for $2.3 million, stands dormant. A $2.3 million federal stimulus project at
the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud is giving green energy initiatives a bad name. A 600-kilowatt wind
turbine — some 245 foot [sic] tall — stands on the wintry VA grounds, frozen in time and temperature,
essentially inoperable for the past 1½ years. No one is working to fix it, though many attempts were
made to repair the turbine, once billed as a model green energy project.
Wind Turbine at Veterans Affairs Medical Center 'Inoperable' for Last 1½ Years. A wind turbine at the
Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota paid for with $2.3 million in federal stimulus funds has been
"inoperable" for one and half years. According to Fox News, the "600-kilowatt wind turbine — some 245 foot
[sic] tall — stands... frozen" and no one is even trying to fix it.
resigns after report finds VA spent $6.1M on lavish conferences. The head of Human Resources for the Veterans Affairs Department resigned
after an inspector general's (IG) report found that the agency spent $6.1 million on two week[-]long conferences. The 142-page IG report
investigated about $762,000 in "unauthorized, unnecessary, and/or wasteful expenses" during two conferences held in Orlando, Fla., that included $49,516
to produce a parody video of the late-Gen. George S. Patton.
Dept. of Veterans Affairs chief pleads the Fifth. A former assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs pleaded the
Fifth on Wednesday [10/30/2013], refusing to testify about a pair of taxpayer-funded human resources conferences in 2011 that cost a scandalous
$6.1 million or more. John Sepulveda oversaw the conferences, which included the screening of a parody video based on 'Patton,' whose
production cost the Treasury more than $52,000. But in front of the House Oversight Committee, he chose to remain silent, [...]
VA employees rack up $2.6 billion in credit card
charges. Veterans Affairs employees last year racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in government
credit-card bills at casino and luxury hotels, movie theaters and high-end retailers such as Sharper Image and Franklin
Covey — and government auditors are investigating, citing past spending abuses.
On at least six occasions,
employees based at VA headquarters made credit card charges at Las Vegas casino hotels totaling $26,198.
Workers at costly Veterans Affairs job center took average of 2 calls a day. The Veterans Affairs Department is spending millions on
employment call centers where workers have handled as few as one or two calls a day ever since the facilities opened in October 2011, according to
a recent inspector general report. The two centers are operated and staffed by a private contractor and were opened to increase the number
of veterans working for the department.
HR chief resigns amid conference scandal. Two multimillion-dollar conferences for Veterans Affairs Department human
resources officials have resulted in the resignation of the agency's top personnel official, as an internal investigation found
excessive spending and evidence that some of those planning the events had improperly accepted gifts from potential vendors.
of Veterans Affairs employees destroyed veterans' medical records to cancel backlogged exam requests. Employees of the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans' medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told
The Daily Caller. Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged
patient exam requests.
administration knew that veterans' personal info was at risk, security programs violated federal law. The Obama administration's
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) knew that a breach of veterans' personal information was "practically unavoidable" months before it happened in
January, according to an internal VA risk assessment that also said the department's security programs are "non-compliant" with three federal laws.
VA Official Steps Down After Data
Theft. A Veteran Affairs deputy assistant secretary who didn't immediately notify top officials
about a theft of 26.5 million veterans' personal information is stepping down, citing missteps that led
to the security breach.
V.A. to Provide Spousal Benefits to Gays,
Administration Says. The Obama administration on Wednesday [9/4/2013] escalated its effort to dismantle federal barriers to same-sex marriages,
announcing that the Department of Veterans Affairs would immediately begin providing spousal benefits to gay men and lesbians despite a federal statute that
limits such benefits to veterans' spouses who are "of the opposite sex."
Chaplains Banned From Saying "Jesus". Two Baptist chaplains said they were forced out of a Veterans Affairs
chaplain training program after they refused orders to stop quoting the Bible and to stop praying in the name of Jesus.
When the men objected to those demands they were subjected to ridicule and harassment that led to one of the chaplains
leaving the program and the other being ejected, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday [11/8/2013].
The Editor says...
Are there similar restrictions against Islamic, Hindu, Wiccan, or earth-worshiping eco-fruitcake
prayers? What if one of the chaplains prays directly to
Barack H. Obama? Would there be a reprimand or a promotion?
The VA Death Panel
Related topic: Rationing
and Death Panels Under Obamacare.
"Your Life, Your Choices".
Here are the links to several materials we discussed in this morning's [8/23/2009] segment about Veterans' health
care and end-of-life counseling with Former Director of the White House Faith Based Initiatives Jim Towey and
Assistant Secretary of Veterans' Affairs Tammy Duckworth.
Your Life Choices:
Recently, the VA re-implemented a pamphlet known as "Your Life — Your Choice" dealing with end of life
decisions for Veterans. I have briefly looked it over and here are a few pages to really pay
attention to: Page 24 — this is the page mentions things like you "cant shake the blues"
as a possible reason to not continue your life. You will also notice that it even mentions "I rely
on a kidney dialysis machine to keep me alive." My wife's Stepfather is on dialysis through
the VA and that just floored us when we saw it.
Tammy Duckworth under the Bus. I just watched Tammy Duckworth try her best to defend the
V.A. "death book" on Fox News Sunday. ... While she admirably held her own, her talking points were often
very, very lame ... The upshot was she defended this irretrievably gross book on the merits and attacked
the messenger to boot.
The Death Book for
Veterans: Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated
a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and
later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes.
After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the
VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your
The booklet, Your life, your choices is
and without the
cover page / disclaimer about the document being under review.
Obama to veterans: Drop dead!
When I wrote my Power Line post "Obama to Elderly: Drop Dead," I had no idea that the Obama administration had
already in one sphere implemented the macabre policy embedded within the various drafts of the health care
bill, but now I know better. In an important column published in the Wall Street Journal last week,
St. Vincent College President and former director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives
Jim Towey spills the beans. The Department of Veterans Affairs is circulating among those in VA
hospitals a 52-page end-of-life planning document entitled Your Life, Your Choices.
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