Showing posts with label Department of Veterans Affairs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Department of Veterans Affairs. Show all posts

Friday, May 8, 2020

Navy Vet got tired of waiting for prescription at Pensacola VA...went back with AR-15

FBI: Veteran tried to enter Pensacola VA Clinic armed with AR-15-style rifle, handgun

Pensacola News Journal
Colin Warren-Hicks
May 7, 2020
He returned to the clinic two hours later, carrying an AR-15-style rifle that was loaded with 20 rounds of ammunition, with one round in the chamber. The safety was turned off and "ready to fire," the affidavit stated.
After allegedly making threatening comments to a witness in the parking lot, a U.S. Navy veteran approached the Pensacola VA armed with AR-15 style rifle. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/
A U.S. Navy veteran is facing federal charges after he entered the Pensacola Veterans Affairs Clinic on Wednesday armed with an AR-15-style rifle, 34 rounds of ammunition and a handgun because he was upset COVID-19 policy changes were causing his prescriptions to be filled too slowly.

Howell E. Camp, 58, was stopped by police before he entered the building and was taken into custody.
read it here

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Some Veterans with dependents may "wait until 2021 for their stimulus checks"

With IRS Deadline Looming, Some Veterans May Still Wait Months for Stimulus Money
By Patricia Kime
4 May 2020

Making veterans who can't fill out the online form wait until 2021 for their stimulus checks, when they can file a tax return that includes dependents, is "incompatible with the goals" of the stimulus money, Takano said.
The Internal Revenue Service has set a deadline of May 5 for veterans to register for dependent payouts, after initially saying they would have only two days. But the guidance, along with warnings that veterans who don't complete the form now will have to wait until next year for their stimulus funds, has left some confused and scrambling.

"We have several veterans with no Internet access," one email received by said. "Are you able to get at least 25 copies of this IRS form mailed to us?"

Nearly 7% of U.S. veterans live below the poverty level, and more than two million veteran households lack fixed or mobile broadband connections at home, according to a Federal Communications Commission study released last year. read it here

Saturday, May 2, 2020

COVID-19 "2,000 cases within VA in the last five days"

Veterans Affairs adds 2,000 new coronavirus cases in five days, deaths top 500

Military Times
Leo Shane III
May 1, 2020

Veterans Affairs patient deaths from coronavirus topped 500 overnight and cases rose to nearly 9,000 as the illness continues to spread within the department’s health system.
Nurse Heather Espinal stands in front of the James J. Peters Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center where she works in New York City on April 22, 2020. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

As of Friday morning, 8,798 patients had contracted the fast-spreading virus, an increase of more than 2,000 cases within VA in the last five days. On April 2, the system had fewer than 2,000 total cases.

Dozens of sites have recorded more than 100 coronavirus cases among patients. The hardest-hit sites are all in the New York City area, while department hospitals in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. have all recorded more than 200 cases.

As of Friday morning, VA has seen 512 deaths from the illness. That’s up 88 cases in the last five days. On April 1, the system had reported only 53 deaths.
read it here

VA ordered almost $300,000 worth of body bags in April

Veterans Affairs ordered nearly $300,000 in body bags due to coronavirus


Veterans Affairs ordered nearly $300,000 in body bags due to coronavirus
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) ordered almost $300,000 worth of body bags in April amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A contract document first reviewed by Politico shows that the VA ordered the body bags from a major contractor called ISO Group on April 15.

The VA has seen its number of COVID-19 cases and death rise. As of Thursday, 8,500 VA patients had tested positive for the virus and nearly 500 had died. Since the VA signed the contract on April 15, it has reported 3,000 new cases.

It is unclear if the purchase of the body bags was related to the pandemic or how many bags were purchased.

The Hill has reached out to the VA for comment.

The Trump administration ordered over 100,000 body bags in April, for a reported $5.1 million. The order was placed was the day after President Trump said that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus might not exceed 50,000 or 60,000 people.
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Friday, May 1, 2020

VA denies veterans used as "test subjects" with hydroxychloroquine

Wilkie defends VA hydroxychloroquine use, says vets weren't used as 'test subjects'

Connecting Vets
Abbie Bennett
April 30, 2020
About 28 percent of those given the drug died compared to 11 percent who were given only routine care. The drug did not make a difference in the need for a breathing machine such as a ventilator and researchers noted that the drug may have damaged other organs.
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie defended the VA's use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug so far unproven as a treatment for COVID-19, Wednesday after being accused of using veterans as "test subjects."

In a letter and a call to veteran service organizations representing millions of former service members on Wednesday, Wilkie downplayed a non-clinical study conducted using VA records of veteran patients in department hospitals who were treated with the drug. The study showed that veterans were more likely to die or require ventilation if treated with the antimalarial drug than if they were under only standard care.

The call and letter follow Wilkie advocating for the drug last week, arguing it had been effective for younger and middle-aged veterans, though so far there is no published evidence supporting that.

In the letter, obtained by Connecting Vets, Wilkie said the study showing veterans were more likely to die or worsen when treated with the drug "led to misinformation about what did and did not happen at VA."

He said veteran patients with the virus were treated with the drug only with guidance from a doctor and denied the allegation vets were used as "test subjects" for the drug.
read it here

Thursday, April 30, 2020

VA Electronic health records plan massive failure continues

VA's $16 Billion Electronic Health Records Modernization Plan Is Failing, IG Says
By Richard Sisk
April 28, 2020
"For 10 years we've heard the same assurances that the electronic health records problem will be solved. It's incredible that we can't get this fixed." Rep. Hal Rogers, Kentucky

Claims piled up at the VA Regional Office in Winston-Salem, N.C. (VA Office of Inspector General)

A $16 billion effort to give veterans lifetime electronic health records that meshed with the Pentagon's has been marked by repeated delays and oversight failures that could have put patients at risk, according to reports from the VA Inspector General.

The IG reports released Monday detailed confusion in the overall implementation of the plan and failures to train staff and put in place adequate equipment for the pilot program, such as new laptops.

The first IG report, titled "Deficiencies in Infrastructure Readiness for Deploying VA's New Electronic Health Record [EHR] System," looked at how the Department of Veterans Affairs went about implementing the initial $10 billion, 10-year contract with Cerner Corp. of Kansas.

The VA now estimates that the contract, awarded in May 2018 by then-Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie without competitive bidding, will now cost at least another $6 billion for management and equipment.

The second report focused on delays and failures in the pilot program, even after it was scaled back from three test sites to one at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington.
read it here

Just some background on the problem since it was after all these reports the spending spree started...and kept going,

VA, more promises, more waiting on fix to come
VA claim backlog at 816,211 but IT cut back WFT
8,763 vets died waiting for benefits
VA 400,000 claim backlog causes search for tech savvy workers
Hundreds of Veterans Claims were in the shredding bins at VA Detroit office
VFW reports 4 VA offices involved in document shredding

VA Claim backlog hit 915,000 on May 4, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2020

Director of Oregon VA "morale building exercise" flashmob ignored COVID-19 recommendations

How serious is the VA taking this pandemic that anyone thought this would "build morale" instead of spreading death?

Roseburg VA director leads coronavirus dance party without social distancing, face masks

KGW8 News
The Oregonian/OregonLive
Author: Ted Sickinger
April 25, 2020

Just a week ago, the Roseburg VA confirmed four members of its medical center staff and one patient had tested positive for COVID-19.
ROSEBURG, Oregon — An internal video obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive shows the director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration Medical Center in Roseburg holding a flash mob dance party in hospital offices with at least 16 staff, none of them consistently wearing protective equipment or maintaining social distance.

The event appears to be a morale building exercise and was posted Friday on the hospital’s internal intranet, one of the regular updates that Director Keith M. Allen has been posting on COVID-19 and other topics. The updates are viewable by all 1,000 employees in the Roseburg VA district, which covers four southern Oregon counties and a slice of Northern California.

The district serves some 56,000 veterans, many of them elderly and with preexisting conditions. Just a week ago, a Roseburg VA administrator confirmed that four members of the medical center’s staff – including a nurse who ended up on a ventilator in a Portland hospital -- and one patient had tested positive for COVID-19.
read it here

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Reports of veterans dying of COVID-19 going up

Veterans Dying Of COVID-19

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 22, 2020

This will be updated as reports come in. All of the following just came in today. Check back for updates.

Fort Worth Coronavirus Victim’s Last Words to Family: ‘I Love You’
Marcus Lee, a husband, father of two, Navy veteran and federal government worker from Fort Worth, died Friday of coronavirus.
He was 40.
"He was so sweet,” his wife Karlisha Lee said in an interview Tuesday. “He was always giving."

Coronavirus In Texas: City Councilman And His Husband Die Within Hours Of Each Other
SAN ANTONIO (CBSDFW.COM) – Anthony Brooks was a city councilman in Live Oak, Texas — about 20 miles northeast of San Antonio. The Air Force veteran and his husband, Phillip Tsai-Brooks, died within days of each other of complications from COVID-19.

70-year-old veteran is 1st virus death reported at Beaumont Army Medical Center
EL PASO, Texas -- A 70-year-old military veteran is the first death stemming from the coronavirus to be reported at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
The El Paso VA Health Care System announced the death on Tuesday afternoon.

El Paso VA patient dies from COVID-19
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14/CBS4) — The El Paso Veteran Affairs reported that a patient of theirs died Monday evening.

The official said the patient contracted the coronavirus previously.

The patient was in their 70s and had multiple underlying health conditions.

Another resident at the Frank M. Tejeda Veterans Home dies as COVID-19 outbreak continues
FLORESVILLE, Texas - Two veterans have now died at the Frank M. Tejeda Veterans Home in Floresville.

According to the Texas Veterans Land Board, the veteran died from COVID-19 since last updating us on the numbers at the home Monday. The veteran is one of 10 who have tested positive at the nursing home, which also has had five staff members test positive.

Iraq Veteran Sunnie Smith died while waiting for liver transplant from the VA

Army veteran dies while waiting on liver transplant, family remains frustrated by VA health care system

First Coast News
Author: Ken Amaro
April 20, 2020
On Saturday, Army Veteran Sunnie Smith died from complications related to her disease. She leaves behind a 10-year-old and many who loved her.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Sunnie Smith's name is not on the Veterans Memorial Wall, but she is being remembered as a hero on the battle lines and on her bed of affliction.

"She was my hero," said Betty Smith.

Sunnie Smith did two tours in Iraq, came home and fought the biggest fight of her life. We met the Smith family a year ago.

Sunnie Smith was in the heart of her fight with liver disease and with the Veterans Affairs healthcare system.

"She needed that liver and we kept waiting and we kept waiting to be put on that list," said Betty Smith.

Betty Smith became her daughter's biggest advocate and made appeals with the VA and with her U.S. congressmen to put her daughter on the organ transplant list.

"She needed a liver and she fought the disease with courage," she said.

The army veteran was in the final stages of liver failure. The family says during her second tour in Iraq she became ill, and shortly afterward, they discovered the source of her illness.

Smith said in 2018, the VA, which was her primary health care provider, told them her daughter would possibly be accepted by a center in Virginia for a liver transplant. The hold up was her MELD score.
read it here

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Department of Veterans Affairs under OSHA investigation "failed to keep workers free from known hazards"

Department of Labor to investigate VA over staff exposure to coronavirus

Connecting Vets
Abbie Bennett
April 17, 2020
The union accused VA of further violating OSHA standards by failing to provide workers with N95 respirators "and other necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)" as well as "failing to isolate suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients and refusing to provide COVID-19 testing to employees who have been exposed to those known or suspected of having the virus."
After a union representing millions of Department of Veterans Affairs employees accused the VA of "endangering" veterans and medical staff during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor said it will investigate.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent a letter to the American Federation of Government Employees' National Veterans Affairs Council President Alma Lee saying that after the union filed a complaint on behalf of 260,000 VA employees, an investigation is planned.

OSHA "will be initiating an investigation concerning worker exposure to patients with COVID-19," the letter read.

The letter was written by Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary for OSHA, who added that "I am contacting the VA's designated safety and health official" about the allegations.

The union's complaint alleged VA "failed to keep workers free from known hazards" and said the agency directed staff who had come in contact with or been in close proximity to people with virus symptoms, to report to work "without regard to the 14-day self-quarantine guidelines" issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
read it here

Friday, April 17, 2020

Veterans Affairs lifts restrictions on masks for health workers...and is now under investigation

update VA pledges more masks for medical staff who were rationing supplies

Federal investigation launched as Veterans Affairs lifts restrictions on masks for health workers

ABC News
Quinn Owen
April 17, 2020

The numbers of infected employees continue to grow along with the rising case count among the nation's veterans. So far 284 veterans seeking treatment at VA-run facilities have died while the number of confirmed positive cases reached nearly 5,000 on Thursday.

Federal officials have launched an investigation into allegations that the Department of Veterans Affairs is putting its health care workers in danger as they continue to work on the front lines fighting the novel coronavirus, according to a Department of Labor letter obtained by ABC News.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation comes in response to a VA union complaint last week that medical workers who were exposed to infected patients did not receive coronavirus testing and lacked sufficient protective equipment, including N95 respirators, eye protection, face masks and gowns.
read it here

VA secretary refuses to share documents that detail PPE supply, lawmakers say
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has requested the documentation dozens of times since March 23. Eight Democrats on the committee, including its chairman, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., wrote to the White House Task Coronavirus Task Force on Thursday morning asking that it be shared immediately.

“If VA does not provide our committees with timely information, we cannot adequately exercise our oversight responsibilities, nor can we work with VA to minimize the harm to our veterans caused by this pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote. (Stars and Stripes

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Man charged with trying to sell $750 million in “nonexistent respirator masks” to the VA!

Georgia Man Allegedly Tried To Sell $750M in Nonexistent Masks To Veterans Affairs

By Aaron Boyd
Senior Editor, Nextgov
APRIL 13, 2020

The man tried the same scheme on state governments, according to prosecutors.

Federal agencies are cracking down on coronavirus-related fraud, including schemes targeting government agencies.

On Friday, the Justice Department announced charges against a 39-year-old Georgia man for allegedly trying to sell more than $750 million in “nonexistent respirator masks” to the Veterans Affairs Department.

According to a release announcing the charges, Christopher Parris, of Atlanta, told VA he could source 125 million face masks and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, despite allegedly knowing he could not deliver.

“For example, the complaint alleges that Parris promised that he could obtain millions of genuine 3M masks from domestic factories when he knew that fulfilling the orders would not be possible,” the release states. “Parris also allegedly made similar false representations to other entities in an effort to enter into other fraudulent agreements to sell PPE to state governments.”

Parris was charged with wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
read it here

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Veterans in Crisis: Isolation blend of fear and hope

Rise in veterans seeking help, a good sign

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 14, 2014

When the number of veterans committing suicide goes up, it shows that they did not get the help they needed to want to stay alive. We have seen that for decades, but it got worse as more and more people were doing more to take advantage of the situation than change it for the better.

In a way, it is like a miracle happening and I have hope!

The time has finally come when all the people out there who have been raising funds to let veterans know they are killing themselves have stopped their stunts. Now maybe veterans are able to hear that real help is out there.

The blessing in all of this is that a lot of people are stepping up to make a difference and veterans are responding. They are aware they do not have to fight the battle against PTSD alone.

Virtual mental health care for veterans up more than 200% amid COVID-19

by News 4-Fox 11 Digital Team
April 13th 2020
RENO, Nev. (News 4-Fox 11) — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said they have seen an increase in virtual mental healthcare use due to COVID-19.

According to the VA, there was a 70 percent increase in veterans using VA Video Connect for their appointments. They also saw mental health calls jumped more than 200 percent in March, compared to February.

Veterans groups step up efforts to help with coronavirus financial challenges and isolation

Military Times
Leo Shane III
April 14, 2020
A member of the American Legion salutes as group members retire flag displays after a memorial service held at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Ilwaco, Washington on Jan. 11, 2020. (Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read/Coast Guard)
Similarly, this week officials from the American Legion reconfigured their Buddy Check program launched last year to refocus on the current pandemic. Local posts are being tasked with outreach to veterans throughout their communities, to ensure individuals are healthy and still connected despite illness-mandated isolation.

“Legionnaires are using the phone, email and social media to safely find out how these veterans are doing and what we can do to help them,” American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford said in a statement.

VA Call Center employees worried about COVID-19 exposure

VA coronavirus exposure

CBS 46 Georgia
Bobeth Yates
Mar 30, 2020

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) -- Some Veterans Administration employees are concerned about potential exposure to coronavirus after a call center employee came to work for several days with symptoms.
The call center employee we spoke with also says a full week passed between the time the employee tested positive and the time coworkers were notified. She says the building was never closed and sanitized.

“Our call center is not shutting down and they were just going to clean his station and there is still work as normal," according to the whistle blower.

In addition, “Do Not Enter” signs were also placed in the infected worker’s cubical, but employees said that’s not enough. Multiple people reached out to CBS46 saying they’re now afraid to go to work, but the VA won’t give them paid time off.
read it here

Saturday, April 11, 2020

COVID-19 positive 4 employees, 14 patients at West Palm Beach VA

4 employees, 14 patients at West Palm Beach VA Medical Center test positive for coronavirus

By: Linnie Supall , Matt Papaycik
Apr 10, 2020

3,700 veteran patients at VA medical facilities around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, the Veterans Affairs Department said.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Four employees at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials confirm.

A spokesperson wouldn't provide any additional details about the conditions of those patients.

In addition, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 14 veteran patients at the West Palm Beach hospital have tested positive for COVID-19.
read it here

Veteran with cancer cannot get treatment from VA because of state borders and COVID-19

Veteran and family plead for hospitals to treat his stage 4 cancer

Apr 10, 2020
"I was informed that my father had no scheduled appointment. Even all of the CT scans, his chemo, everything had been canceled, but no one had contacted us," said Barron who's been trying to contact the VA Hospital in Shreveport to see if her father's treatments could be moved to that location.
BENTLEY, La. (KALB)- 64-year-old Byron Walters has been to Vietnam and back, serving his country in the United States Army.

He's currently battling the COVID-19 pandemic with the rest of Louisiana on top of stage 4 cancer.

"I have prostate cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer and liver cancer," said Walters as he explained that he's due for his fourth round of chemotherapy.

The VA Hospital in Houston, Texas has been treating him since he found out about his cancer and that's where he was scheduled to travel for his next appointment this month. He's been told that his treatments should be done no more than 3 weeks apart.
read it here

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Reno man is accused of stealing hundreds of surgical masks from a Veterans Affairs

Reno man charged with stealing surgical masks from VA hospital

Las Vegas Review-Journal
By Katelyn Newberg
April 8, 2020

A Reno man is accused of stealing hundreds of surgical masks from a Veterans Affairs medical center, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Peter Lucas, 35, was arrested Tuesday in Reno and appeared Wednesday in federal court in connection with the theft from the Ioannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. He is charged with one count of theft of health care property.

“Our military veterans served on the front lines to protect our country, and now our health professionals are doing the same in our fight against COVID-19,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich said in a statement. “We will not allow the theft of personal protective equipment to go undeterred, endangering the safety of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals protecting our communities.”
read it here

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

War veteran Jesse Bird took his own life after system failed him

Afghanistan veteran who died surrounded by his own medals was 'failed by the system' when his PTSD wasn't recognised, coroner rules

7 April 2020
War veteran Jesse Bird took his own life after system failed him, a coroner ruled
Found dead in his home in 2017 after department rejected pleas for help
Coroner ruled there was 'a lack of care, attention and proactive support for him
Department of Veterans' Affairs will consider and respond to Coroner's findings

Mr Bird's ex-girlfriend Connie Boglis (pictured with Jesse) has previously slammed the Department of Veterans' Affairs over the lack of support to him. He took his own life after the system failed him, a Coroner has ruled
'There appeared to be a lack of care, attention and proactive support, leaving Jesse with the belief that the only choice he had was to give up,' the Coroner said.

A young war veteran who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder when he returned from serving in Afghanistan took his own life after the system failed him, a coroner has ruled.

Former Australian Army private Jesse Bird, 32, was found dead in his Melbourne home in June 2017 after the Department of Veterans' Affairs knocked back multiple pleas for assistance.

He had $5.20 in his bank account at the time of his death, which came weeks after he was informed by the department his permanent impairment claim had been rejected.
read it here

Monday, April 6, 2020

Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital Director orders "all hands on deck" exposing them and veterans to COVID-19

Veterans hospital employees fear new work-from-home ban will endanger community

Chicago Sun Times
By Jake Wittich
Apr 5, 2020

The hospital’s new director, James Doelling, sent an email to Hines VA staffers calling for “all hands on deck” after many employees had already been working from home for weeks.

Employees at the Chicago-area Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital are concerned about a new “all hands on deck” directive that would send employees who have already been working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak back into the field.

The workers include social workers, dietitians, psychiatrists and more at the hospital whose services began shifting to telehealth practices when Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 began mid-March.

Some — like a social worker and mother of a 3-year-old — started working from home weeks ago while others began teleworking as recently as last week.

But that seemingly came to an abrupt end last week when the hospital’s new director, James Doelling, sent an email to Hines VA staffers calling for “all hands on deck” as the center prepared for a surge of veterans in need of services.
read it here

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Why is the VA still forcing veterans for in person comp exams during pandemic?

KARE 11 Investigates: VA continues high-risk exams during COVID-19 crisis

KARE 11 News
A.J. Lagoe, Steve Eckert
April 3, 2020
But veterans across the country, some of them high-risk for coronavirus infection, say they’re still being ordered to attend in-person benefits exams with VA contractors.
ST PAUL, Minn — “I was told I needed to go into New York City next week to get an in-person benefits exam,” said a 30-year-old Stamford, Connecticut Army Veteran. “I said, ‘I can’t do that for obvious reasons.’”

That veteran spoke on-camera and on-the-record but asked not to be named over fears it would negatively impact his benefits claim. He’s part of a new lawsuit that states the Department of Veterans Affairs is risking veterans’ lives during the COVID-19 crisis by forcing veterans to attend pension exams or risk losing their benefits.

“It’s an unnecessary risk,” said attorney Harold Hoffman who filed the lawsuit against the VA. “It’s not just risky, there is no reason for the risk!” he added.

In order to limit coronavirus exposure for vulnerable veterans, the Veterans Benefits Administration closed its 56 regional offices, including the St. Paul office on March 19th.
read it here