Showing posts with label VA claims. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VA claims. Show all posts

Saturday, December 1, 2018

VA Help Desk Closing in Washington

Veterans Benefits Administration to close office’s help desk

NOVEMBER 30, 2018
The administration estimates the help desk assisted an average of 180 veterans each month with benefit-related queries.
The Veterans Benefits Administration is shutting down a help desk inside its Bremerton office that's staffed with employees who assist veterans with benefit-related queries.

The Kitsap Sun reports the office, as of Friday, will no longer be a place where veterans can receive in-person assistance with navigating through the Department of Veterans Affairs' pension and compensation system.

A statement from the Veterans Benefits Administration says its decision to downsize operations at the office "was made in line with the Agency's goal to be strong fiscal stewards of the taxpayer funds entrusted to us."
read more here

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Caring for triple amputee "part of spousal duty" to VA?

Nashville VA reinstates triple amputee veteran's full-time caregiver services after Tennessean report

Nashville Tennessean
Yihyun Jeong
Nov. 21, 2018

A triple amputee veteran will have his full-time caregiver services reinstated after the Tennessean reported Wednesday that the Nashville VA initially decided to deny the level of his caregiver's benefits.
Staff Sergeant J.D. Williams lost his right arm and both legs while deployed with the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan in 2010.

He was discharged and sent home, where his wife, Ashlee Williams, was assigned and paid by the VA to be his caregiver.

But after six years, she wrote on Facebook on Nov. 17, the VA decided to lower her husband to the lowest tier of the program, determining that he no longer needs a full-time caregiver.

She claimed that the VA assumed that the care she provided her husband, including helping her husband with applying prosthetics and lifting him into a wheelchair about 10 times a day, was part of her "spousal duty."

"...should have been included on the marriage certificate according to the VA," Ashlee Williams wrote in a post that was shared more than 25,000 times on Facebook by Wednesday morning.
read more here

Saturday, November 17, 2018

FORTUNE got GI Bill report WRONG

Reporters need IT upgrade!

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 17, 2018

"10,000 Student Veterans Haven't Received Crucial GI Bill Payments, VA Admits" is how Fortune reported the GI Bill payments what were not delivered. WTF?

We just read how the number is 82,000!

They also got the wrong info on the IT system!
“Essentially, the law requires a 50-year-old IT platform that was designed to do the equivalent of basic math to instead perform something akin to calculus in short order,” a VA spokesperson told the Journal in an email.

The VA spent $4 million on 300,000 hours of overtime August through October to try and deal with the immediate ramifications. The agency further estimates that 450,000 veterans have some sort of error in their payments.

Last year, the VA estimated that the necessary computer changes to update their systems would cost $70 million.
Ya, they did, but what happened to all the other millions and all the lost years?
"We live in a world where we never want to see what goes on in the lives of the men and women we depend on for what we enjoy. No one wants to see the price they pay or how hard they have to fight in combat we send them into or the nightmare they have to go through trying to move on with their lives. It's easier to ignore them as if they weren't there." Kathie Costos Wounded Times
In 2008, the thought was to create a new GI Bill that would inspire more recruits into the military. This was reported by Stars and Stripes.
"It is a very attractive incentive package, there’s no question about that. So individuals will be very interested in enlisting for education benefits," predicted Curtis Gilroy, director of accession policy for the Department of Defense. "But we will see a spike in the quality of our enlisted cohort as well," Gilroy added, because that heavier flow of prospective recruits "primarily will have college in mind."
The House was very busy back then. They were also adding funds to what came after the recruits were turned into veterans.
By a vote of 409-4 the House today passed legislation funding the Department of Veterans Affairs for FY 2009. The bill (HR 6599) includes $3.8 billion for mental illness treatment and $584 million for substance abuse treatment in the VA, significant increases over current year funding. Overall, the Veterans Health Administration budget is set at $40.8 billion for FY 2009 -- $1.6 billion more than the President requested and $3.9 billion more than current levels. It is projected that the VA will serve 5.8 million veterans in 2009.

It is really a shame on all of us when there was a surplus of funds that were supposed to be for suicide prevention.

Oh, but the problems with the VA did not happen overnight  and when we look back at what was promised, what was spent, and what the results turned out to be, most heads explode!
In 2008, there were reports on how the system was not just broken, but plans to fix it were AWOL.
VBA's pending compensation and claims backlog stood at 816,211 as of January 2008, up 188,781 since 2004, said Kerry Baker, associate legislative director of the Disabled Veterans of America, during a Wednesday hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. 
Baker said VBA must have the funds necessary to upgrade its IT infrastructure to handle the backlog and a growing caseload. Anything short of an increase is "a recipe for failure," he added. 
Carl Blake, national legislative director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said VBA needed $121 million in its fiscal 2009 budget for its information technology. According to VA budget documents, VBA requested an IT budget of $109.6 million for its compensation and benefits programs, down $23.8 million from $133.4 million in 2008. VA requested an overall 2009 IT budget of $2.53 billion in 2009, up from $2.15 billion in fiscal 2008, with the largest portion earmarked for the Veterans Health Administration.
But that only added to the 8,763 veterans dying while waiting for their claims to be honored. But since that was not enough, by June of 2009, the VA claim backlog hit 1 Million! The answer was to spend $70 million more to replace the  appointment system.

I could keep going on this, but you get the idea now that no matter how much money contractors got paid to deliver the care our veterans deserve, they did not have to repay one dime and Congress just kept funding more of the same. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

USA Today has some explaining to do!

USA Today has some explaining to do!

"Veterans sacrificed enough: USA TODAY investigations of VA health care help our heroes"

That was their headline, but if they are referring to reports like this, they need to explain what the rest of the story was and why they did not report it!

"In Phoenix, reporter Dennis Wagner's coverage of the VA crisis led to nationwide investigations and major changes in veterans' health care, as well as in the administration's accountability and transparency. Internal VA investigations verified that patients were dying while awaiting care and documented widespread mismanagement and reprisals against whistleblowers."

"The VA secretary was forced out. Congress approved a $15 billion emergency fund and launched the Veterans Choice program giving VA patients a private-care option."

Reporters keep doing that! Patting themselves on the back for only telling part of a story the rest of us live with...and if you read Wounded Times, read all the time too.

Here are some other headlines on this topic.

Veterans call program to get health care with civilian doctors 'a disaster,' broken

Veterans from around the state expressed frustration over the Veterans Choice program, meant to increase access to health care, during a listening session in Helena on Monday night.
Independent Record reported that on 10/24/2017 and veterans added that the VA had gone downhill over the last 8 years.

The Cherokee Tribune had a report in May of 2018 that 1.3 million veterans had been overcharged and were getting reimbursements.

And in June WHIO 7 News reported this mess.
A key program being expanded by the Trump administration to give veterans greater access to private doctors has failed to provide care within 30 days as promised due to faulty data and poor record-keeping that could take years to remedy, according to a government investigation released Monday. The Government Accountability Office, Congress’ auditing arm, found veterans often had to wait between 51 and 64 days for appointments with private doctors under the Veterans Choice program. It cited a lengthy scheduling process that took as long as 70 days.
Read more of this type of pat on the back while the rest of us are scratching our heads instead of pulling our hair out!
"New VA leadership carried out what has been described as the most comprehensive overhaul in agency history."

Treating veterans like the rest of us in never right. Sending veterans into the same system members of Congress have been complaining about, is even worse. When reporters get a pat of the back for not telling the whole story, that is the worst! had this in June.
The GAO said veterans could wait up to 70 days for private-care appointments under the Choice program because of poor communication between the VA and its facilities and "an insufficient number, mix, or geographic distribution of community providers."

As for the Whistleblowers protection, you can look that up yourself since that has also been going on for a very long time. Yep~Congress yet again. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Northern Mariana Islands Veterans Appeal Claims Get Fast Track

VA accelerates pending Veterans benefits appeals for victims of Super Typhoon Yutu

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans (VA) announced that it is prioritizing Veterans benefits appeals, effective Nov. 1, for victims in the Northern Mariana Islands who have been impacted by Super Typhoon Yutu.

VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals has determined that the significant effects of Super Typhoon Yutu were sufficient cause for the Board to advance the appeals for the Northern Mariana Islands municipalities determined to be disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“During this season of intense weather systems, VA is continually assessing how we can best support our Veterans as they recover from natural disasters,” VA Secretary Wilkie said. “Just as it did with hurricanes Florence and Michael, VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals is prioritizing the benefits appeals claims process because it is the right thing to do.”

By regulation, the Board may advance appeals on docket (AOD) by a motion of the chairman if sufficient cause is shown. All Veterans and other appellants with an appeal currently pending before the Board whose addresses of record are in one of the affected municipalities will have their appeal automatically advanced on the Board’s docket.

No action from Veterans or appellants are needed if their addresses are current. The AOD for this storm is expected to last until April 30, 2019, and the Board will reassess the situation after that period has ended. For a comprehensive list of all affected AOD areas, visit:

In addition to Super Typhoon Yutu, VA also concluded that the significant effects of hurricanes Florence and Michael were sufficient cause for the Board to advance the appeals for counties in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia found to be disaster areas by FEMA.

The mission of VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals is to conduct hearings and decide disability benefits appeals for Veterans in a timely manner. For more information about the Board, visit

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hurricane Michael puts VA appeals on fast track

VA prioritizing all pending Veterans benefits appeals claims for victims of hurricanes Florence and Michael

From the Department of Veterans Affairs
WASHINGTON — Veterans impacted by recent hurricanes Florence and Michael will now have their pending appeals claims for benefits prioritized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), department officials announced.

VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals has determined that the significant effects of hurricanes Florence and Michael were sufficient cause for the Board to advance the appeals for counties in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia determined to be disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Accelerating the decision process on pending appeals claims for those Veterans and their families affected by hurricanes Florence and Michael is the right thing to do,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

By regulation, the Board may advance appeals on its docket by a motion of the chairman if sufficient cause is shown. All Veterans and other appellants with an appeal currently pending before the Board whose addresses of record are in one of the affected counties will have their appeal automatically advanced on the Board’s docket. 

No action from Veterans or appellants are needed if their addresses are current. Visit the list of counties affected by hurricanes Florence and Michael at this link:

The advancement on docket (AOD) for these two storms is expected to last for six months from the date of the events. Therefore, Florence counties will be AODed from Oct. 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019; and counties affected by Hurricane Michael will be AODed from Nov. 1, 2018, to April 30, 2019. The Board will reassess AOD for these two storms once the six-month periods end.

The Board’s mission is to conduct hearings and decide appeals in a timely manner. For more information about VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals, visit

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

VA Claim Backlog 70,537...maybe?

Inspector general finds VA claims backlog greater than reported
Stars and Stripes
Nikki Wentling
September 10, 2018

WASHINGTON – The number of backlogged benefits claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs is larger than the agency reported, according to findings released Monday from a government watchdog.

The VA considers backlogged claims to be veterans’ claims for benefits that take longer than 125 days to approve or deny. The VA Inspector General’s Office reported officials omitted 63,600 backlogged claims from its count during the first half of 2016, creating a misrepresentation of how many claims were delayed.

Overall, the VA’s estimated backlog represents only 79 percent of actual backlogged claims, the IG determined.
read more here

Thursday, August 30, 2018

'I look pretty well preserved for being dead for 26 years'

Iraq veteran finds out VA has declared her dead
by Raphael Pires
August 29th 2018
What she also didn’t expect is having to prove she was alive when she came back.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — A Candler veteran who was trying to get medical treatment through Veterans Affairs found out the agency has declared her dead.

"I said, 'I look pretty well preserved for being dead for 26 years,'" Judith Herren, an Iraq War veteran, said.

Herren said the problem started back in November when she decided to consider getting treatment at Charles George Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville.

"They couldn't process anything because I was listed as ‘deceased’ in September of 1991," Herren said.

Herren served in the military for eight years -- four in the Army and four in the National Guard, where she found herself in Iraq.

"We were the first units in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and we really didn’t know what to expect," Herren said.
read more here

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

1,300 sexual trauma claims mishandled in 2017!

This story pisses me off more than I am allowed to say on a site open to all ages. When I read it, all I could think about what all the years members of the military were abused by their own and the abused by the departments that was supposed to help them and give them justice. 

I think about the older veterans I've know over the years suffering this triple betrayal, and the younger ones who followed because nothing was done before they were even born.

Now this part from a USA Today article made my head explode with all of their voices screaming for justice!
"The drop-off in focus on such claims at the VA coincided with a national uproar over a massive backlog in benefits claims at the agency. The backlog, which reached as many as 600,000 claims in 2013, had been reduced to 80,000 by the end of last year."
The crucial reality is, everyone did not care enough over a decade ago...and we need to take a seriously look at how much we really do care!

Sexual trauma claims by veterans wrongly denied by VA, investigation finds
Donovan Slack
Aug. 21, 2018
Such pledges were met with caution Tuesday among veteran advocates and assault survivors like Ruth Moore. She was raped twice by a supervisor in the Navy and endured repeated denials of her claims by the VA over 23 years.

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs improperly denied hundreds of military sexual trauma claims in recent years, leaving potentially thousands of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder without benefits, a VA inspector general investigation found.

Last year alone, the investigation found the agency mishandled as many as 1,300 sexual trauma claims. Some 12,000 veterans file for sexual trauma-related PTSD benefits each year.

The inspector general found the VA failed to order required medical exams in more than half the cases, didn’t obtain necessary records to back up the claims in hundreds of cases or denied claims despite contradictory evidence.

The agency neglected to provide adequate training to employees vetting the claims. It stopped conducting quality audits of the sexual trauma claims process in 2015. And the following year, it shunted the claims into a national queue where staff without any specialized knowledge processed them.

The VA has specialized processing for other types of claims, including those related to traumatic brain injuries or from prisoners of war.

The inspector general recommended the agency review denied claims, reintroduce specialized vetting and audits, and provide better training for claims processors.

In response to the findings, Paul Lawrence, the VA’s top benefits official, said the agency will comply with the recommendations.
read more here
So where was the outrage in 2006?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

LZ battle on home front

When your ride is a helicopter
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
August 19, 2018

LZ Landing Zone
In military terminology a landing zone (LZ) is an area where aircraft can land. In the United States military, a landing zone is the actual point where aircraft, especially helicopters, land (equivalent to the commonwealth landing point.) 
In commonwealth militaries, a landing zone is the cartographic (numeric) zone in which the landing is going to take place (e.g., a valley). The landing area is the area in which the landing is going to take place (e.g., the field where the aircraft are to land). The landing point is the point on which aircraft are going to land (e.g., a point of the field). Each aircraft has a different landing point.

From John C Wolf video  

Usually I know days ahead of doing these videos what the topic will be. This time, all I could think about is a Vietnam veteran named John Wolf and how his ride was a helicopter.

I posted the following on August 17, 2018 and could not get it out of my head.
read more here

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Iraq veteran, then police officer, denied surgery?

Army veteran and St. Louis police officer needs back surgery; denied by health insurance
Author: Rachel Menitoff
August 16, 2018
"I can't play with them. I can't wrestle with them. I can't throw the ball with them. I just can't do those things. This gives me a chance to do that. At least, it gives me a solution going forward."

ST. LOUIS — He was a patriot, fighting in Iraq, then became a police officer. He has numerous awards and medals, but he’s also a dad.

He can't even play with his sons because his pain is so severe, pain he got serving his country and community.

Timothy Nolan has had back problems throughout his life. He has a degenerative condition. And he was used to a lot of physical work as an infantry team leader in Iraq, and most recently as a St. Louis police officer.
read more here

UPDATE from Louisiana, another veteran is fighting after he served in the Navy and then as a Sheriff's Deputy!

Vietnam veteran files federal lawsuit against Louisiana VA office director
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Leigh Guidry
August 17, 2018

A veteran in Lake Charles filed a federal lawsuit against the Louisiana Veterans Affairs regional office director.

George Jackson, 76, lives in Lake Charles with his wife, Helene. On Thursday, she and a veterans advocate went to the U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana to file the lawsuit against Mark Bologna.

Jackson, the plaintiff, stayed at their home.

"I'm here because my husband, George Jackson, can't be here," she told media Friday.

Jackson is considered tetraplegic, having lost the use of his limbs. He can still move them slightly but he has no strength. He splits his time between a hospital bed in his home and his electric wheelchair.

The Lake Charles native served 30 years in the U.S. Navy, climbing ladders, crouching, lifting heavy things and performing other jobs on ships. He was aboard wooden ships used to sweep rivers for mines during two tours in Vietnam.

"Most of my job was on ships ... 30 years of going up and down ladders," he said.

But he doesn't regret joining the Navy, he said. It was always his dream.

"That's the only thing I really wanted to do," Jackson said. "I watched Navy movies on TV. In first grade, I looked out the window, and I always wanted to be a sailor."

So he joined once he was old enough "and I put 31 years in the military."
read more here

Friday, August 17, 2018

Wolfie the Grunt told no trauma for him?

When you discover the following, you'll have a better understanding why I have done this for over 36 years! It is because of veterans like John C. Wolf~
Wolfie the Grunt takes personal 8mm movies of a Combat Assault in Vietnam
John Wolf
Published on Nov 7, 2014

I bought a 8mm Yashica movie camera during a stand down from combat. Took movies during the stand down and then decided to hump the camera into the bush on our next mission. I took footage during our airmobile assault. After blocking out Vietnam for 36 years I decided to use my footage to pay tribute to those soldiers that were ambushed and killed on Easter Sunday 4-11-1971. I never expected that video to be seen 1.5 million times and the rest of my videos to be seen 1 million times for a total of 2.5+ million currently. In this version I decided to add personal narration.

Now that you have seen this, what comes next will help you to understand that this generation of veterans has waited far too long for their service to be really honored, beyond parties and parades. That this generation of veterans have been, and still are, the forgotten generation.

This is what Wolfie wrote about his life and what honor/vindication he still fights for.

‎John C Wolf‎ to Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Yesterday at 12:50 PM ·

I am still waiting for my Notice of Denial (NOD) to be review and given a decision. It was filed in 2016 and I was told it would take 277 days for a decision. Well needless to say that was a lie. 

For 8 years I have been treated by the VA Mental Health department here in Jacksonville and given 4 prescriptions to help with my nightmares, depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety. I was combat Infantry Vietnam and awarded a Combat Infantry Badge (CIB), a Bronze Star and Air Medal as well as other honorable ribbons.

I experienced 3 major traumas, 
1. I had only been in country for about 3 weeks and my squad was out on a search and destroy mission and we were ambushed and two new buddies in front of me were killed, one died in my arms. 

2. I went over to another platoon to see some buddies and meet the new platoon leader, Lt. Hata. He was from a town near my home at the time in the Los Angeles area and talked for over an hour. I left to return to my platoon position, but turned around to wave goodbye. Lt Hata was waving at me and suddenly he was shot in the head and killed. I was devastated. 

3. On April 11, 1971 Easter Sunday, Chaplain Merle Brown came out and brought us hot food, gave us communion and then Easter Sunday Services. He ate lunch with us and I had the blessing of sitting right next to him and he became my new friend. His helicopter was later ambushed while leaving the ground, the explosions killed Chaplain Brown as well as 10 others. I watched as this happened, I was devastated and traumatized for his loss.

In the denial of my compensation request and in a statement to Congressman John Rutherford, the VA C and P said I never experienced trauma in combat. Duh?

I was interviewed 1 time by the blond lady in Gainesville. Many of you probably have experienced with I have: DENIAL. The VA recently sent me to have a private non-VA doctor do an interview of me for PTSD. I have recently learned the blond investigator that turned me down is under investigation by the VA because there have been so many complaints about her decisions.

For all those that are filing for compensation and have or will submit letters from family and Vets they served with, do not have them put any comment in their letters with what is considered a diagnosis, i.e. PTSD, Insomnia, etc. Gainesville will take those letter and throw them into the garbage as though they were never received therefore they say they have no evidence of your problems.

My case is unique, because as some know I bought a 8mm film movie camera and took it into the bush. 

I filmed our air mobile assault the day before Chaplain Brown was killed. Years ago I took the footage and made a tribute video for those killed on Easter Sunday and posted to YouTube. History Channel contacted me and asked if they could get my original 8mm film reels and use them in Vietnam in HD documentary. I did and they upgraded the footage to HD and sent the file to me. This footage has been used in 4 other documentaries and they have been viewed over 85 million times.

I am on a mission to get this murderer lady in Gainesville fired and make the President and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to clean up C and P and get what Vets deserve. If you are having the same problems as I, please contact me in hopes my experiences can help you and others too.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Now we know why disabled veterans still suffer

The Shadow Rulers of the VA
By Isaac Arnsdorf
8 Aug 2018
At times, Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman have created headaches for VA officials because of their failure to follow government rules and processes. In other cases, they used their influence in ways that could benefit their private interests. 

A June 21, 2013 file photo of the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”

“On any veterans issue, the first person the president calls is Ike,” another former official said. Former administration officials say that VA leaders who were at odds with the Mar-A-Lago Crowd were pushed out or passed over. Included, those officials say, were the secretary (whose ethical lapses also played a role), deputy secretary, chief of staff, acting under secretary for health, deputy under secretary for health, chief information officer, and the director of electronic health records modernization.
Moskowitz and Sherman helped Perlmutter convene a council of health care executives on the day of the Trump-Perlmutter photograph, Dec. 28, 2016. Offering more private healthcare to vets was a signature promise of Trump’s campaign, but at that point he hadn’t decided who should lead an effort that would reverse the VA’s longstanding practices.
read more here

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

VA Appeal Backlog at 400,000

VA appeals backlog claims at 400,000!
But this is the worst part of all!
Noting the backlog of more than 400,000 appeals, he said,

"Many veterans will end up waiting at least six years just for the decision on their appeal. Veterans and their families deserve better."

Under the RAMP program, veterans can choose to withdraw their existing claim and transfer to two new "lanes" for a quicker decision.
Which means, if they do, the backlog of claims will suddenly decrease while the number of veterans waiting to have their claims approved did not change!
Read it here on Military Times

New VA Secretary Faces 400,000-Case Appeals Backlog, IT Delay

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

VA kicking out experienced staff for what?

How fast did the word "privatization" pop into your head?

Trump loyalists at VA shuffling, purging employees before new secretary takes over
Washington Post
By Lisa Rein
July 18 at 2:32 PM

Ahead of Robert Wilkie’s likely confirmation to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump loyalists at the agency are taking aggressive steps to purge or reassign staff perceived to be disloyal to President Trump and his agenda for veterans, according to multiple people familiar with the moves.

The transfers include more than a dozen career civil servants who have been moved from the leadership suite at VA headquarters and reassigned to lower-visibility roles. The employees served agency leaders, some dating back more than two decades, in crucial support roles that help a new secretary.

None say they were given reasons for their reassignments.

The moves are being carried out by a small cadre of political appointees led by Acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke who have consolidated power in the four months since they helped oust former Secretary David Shulkin.
read more here

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

VA Contractor charged with sexually assaulting 4 female patients

Prosecutor: Doc hired by VA sexually assaulted four female patients
San Diego Union Tribune
Carl Prine
June 18, 2018
Manzanera’s arrest came two days before one of his former patients filed a series of lawsuits in state and federal courts against the doctor, the VA and his former employer, QTC Medical Services.

Four female patients from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs were sexually assaulted by an Oceanside physician who was arrested on Wednesday, authorities say.

Out on a $150,000 bond, Dr. Edgar Manzanera is slated to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon in California Superior Court’s North County Regional Center in Vista on four separate felony counts of sexually penetrating the women with a foreign object.

A physician contracted by VA to review pension disability claims, Manzanera also is accused of violating the state’s professional code for health providers by allegedly making sexual contact with his patients.

“If there are any other potential victims, please contact the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office,” said deputy prosecutor Dan Owens during a telephone interview on Monday.

Manzanera did not return a Union-Tribune message left with a woman at his home on Monday.
read more here

And about QTC Medical
DIAMOND BAR, Calif., Aug. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- QTC Medical Services, Inc. (QTC), a Leidos (NYSE: LDOS) company, was awarded its second prime contract by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue to provide medical disability examinations for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). The contract has a one-year base period of performance, four one-year options, and a total contract ceiling of $6.8 billion, if all options are exercised. This second award follows the initial award of VBA's only nationwide contract supporting disability examinations for separating and retiring Department of Defense servicemembers.

Monday, June 18, 2018

PTSD Between Salvation and the Grave

This is what is happening to veterans! 
This was on the New York Post
Shuttered clinics and transferred doctors have veterans fearful the Brooklyn VA hospital is on its way to closing. 
The Bay Ridge facility’s ear, nose and throat clinic – which treats vets exposed to everything from Agent 
Orange in the Vietnam War to new toxins in America’s Mideast conflicts – is losing its contingent of doctors from SUNY Downstate Medical Center. A sign on the clinic door alerted patients that it was closing for good on June 27. 
After a rally by veterans groups and ongoing pressure from Rep. Dan Donovan, the head of the city’s VA hospital system told The Post the clinic will, in fact, remain open. Martina Parauda said two to three part-time staff doctors will be hired to replace the SUNY physicians by the end of the month. 
But vets suspect the VA ultimately wants to shut down the Brooklyn hospital, which sits on valuable oceanview property, or at least ax the last of its inpatient care.

Oh, but we were told that veterans would get such great care! None of the politicians bothered to fill us in on what century that would happen!

WHERE IS AMERICA WHEN VETERANS NEED AMERICA? That is the question publicly asked back in 2006 when I wrote the following. It is a question I have been asking all my life.

I grew up surrounded by veterans from WWII and Korean War. Then I married into another military family. My husband and his nephew fought in Vietnam. My Father-in-law, along with three of his brothers, fought in WWII.

I saw all the parades and saw the ambivalence when veterans were forced to fight battles against the government after they fought for the nation. Promised care was just never there, ready for when they needed it.

In 2003 I was writing about PTSD and what it was doing, just as I was back in 1993 when I got my first computer and jus as I did back in 1984 when the media was not paying attention, so I wrote in the local newspaper. Why am I still asking the same question?

Am J Psychiatry 1991; 148:586-591 Copyright © 1991 by American Psychiatric AssociationSuicide and guilt as manifestations of PTSD in Vietnam combat veteransH Hendin and AP Haas Department of Psychiatry, New York Medical College, NY. 
OBJECTIVE: Although studies have suggested a disproportionate rate of suicide among war veterans, particularly those with postservice psychiatric illness, there has been little systematic examination of the underlying reasons. This study aimed to identify factors predictive of suicide among Vietnam combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 
METHOD: Of 187 veterans referred to the study through a Veterans Administration hospital, 100 were confirmed by means of a structured questionnaire and five clinical interviews as having had combat experience in Vietnam and as meeting the DSM-III criteria for PTSD. 
The analysis is based on these 100 cases. 
RESULTS: Nineteen of the 100 veterans had made a postservice suicide attempt, and 15 more had been preoccupied with suicide since the war. Five factors were significantly related to suicide attempts: guilt about combat actions, survivor guilt, depression, anxiety, and severe PTSD. Logistic regression analysis showed that combat guilt was the most significant predictor of both suicide attempts and preoccupation with suicide. For a significant percentage of the suicidal veterans, such disturbing combat behavior as the killing of women and children took place while they were feeling emotionally out of control because of fear or rage. 
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, PTSD among Vietnam combat veterans emerged as a psychiatric disorder with considerable risk for suicide, and intensive combat-related guilt was found to be the most significant explanatory factor. These findings point to the need for greater clinical attention to the role of guilt in the evaluation and treatment of suicidal veterans with PTSD.

Although the link is from 1991 it applies even more now.

Today the lives of Vietnam veterans are still being claimed by suicide, but now added to the lists of the killed after action by war wounds, are those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? We have studied PTSD. We know the price of war. We know the treatment necessary. We know the medications that have been proven to relieve symptoms. Yet with all we know, what we do not know is how to remove the stigma of those suffering with it. We have yet to change the mind set of the "normal people" who remain safe in a secure world and oblivious to the one certain fact that it very well could have been them suffering instead of standing in judgment and positioning themselves between salvation and the grave.

How many more do we have to lay to rest because of PTSD and suicides when help is there for the asking? How many will we loose because they have to wait too long for treatment when they do finally seek after it? How many more will we loose because of fools mouthing off about something so easy to understand had they managed to find the ability to reach the one shred of compassion they have left within them? What is even more appalling is the fact that none of these deaths by suicide needed to happen had humanity bothered with those who suffer for what we sent them to do. The shame is not their's. The shame belongs to all of us who refuse to stand up for them, to give them a voice, to help them to find hope and help them to heal.

There are more parrots running around the country than patriots screaming "we support the troops" but are no where to be found when they are asked to prove any of their claims. Where are they when the veterans need funding for services they would not have to have had it not been for them being sent to risk their lives? They are telling the veterans they claimed to have supported when they were active, to get over it and deal with it.

Kathie Costos

We knew what was coming back in 2006 and reported on the Kansas City Star.
"The miscalculation on PTSD echoes last year’s underestimation by the Bush administration of how many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans would need medical treatment. It had underfunded VA health care by $1 billion, despite assurances to Congress that the department had enough money."

WASHINGTON –– The number of troops back this year from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder could be five times higher than the Department of Veterans Affairs predicted. 
Instead of 2,900 new cases that it reported in February to a veterans advocate in Congress, the increase could be 15,000 or more, according to the VA. 
At the Kansas City VA Medical Center, only nine vets from current combat were diagnosed with PTSD in 2004. 
Last year, it was 58. In just the first three months of fiscal 2006, the hospital saw 72. 
“It’s absolutely incredible,” said Kathy Lee, at the Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars. 
A former Army nurse in Vietnam who works at the hospital, Lee said, “Every single Iraq vet who comes in, I give them a list and say, ‘How many of these (PTSD) symptoms do you have?’ It’s almost nine out of 10.”
Most of the PTSD cases the VA sees involve veterans from earlier conflicts, primarily Vietnam. 
It was a year of telling reports, almost a prediction of what was to come. All of these headlines are still being repeated. 

26.5 million veterans had personal data stolen from a VA employee

2.2 million records stolen from active duty troops

Veterans fighting for jobs

Families need help to cope

Veterans Suicide Wall

When I came home, homeless veterans

PTSD veterans and kids

Congress to cut funds for veterans

The Wall Hand Against Stone

Two words that should not be "Homeless" and "Veteran"
(yes, the original one before it was used in a commercial)

VA underestimated cost of caring for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans by billions while many had to wait years for benefits

Sexual abuse cases in the military

Veteran Centers being overwhelmed by veterans seeking help

Camp Pendleton Marine families in bread lines

To save money, instead of lives, they were closing Psych Units