Showing posts with label VA law suit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VA law suit. Show all posts

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Congress Collective Amnesia on Veterans Affairs

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 31, 2012

Congress is suffering from collective amnesia regarding the plight of our veterans.
Fits of social amnesia after difficult or trying periods can sometimes cover up the past, and fading memories can actually make mythologies transcend by keeping them "impervious to challenge"

Veterans are with us forever but politicians come and go. As you will read, when heads of the VA have gone, nothing really changed. Sure money was spent but it was never enough to cover the number of veterans politicians were creating by starting wars. With WWII it seemed as if they got their act together and veterans were held in such high regard, they didn't even try to mess with them, or at least that is what they wanted us to think. They did it with Korea and Vietnam just as they did it with the Gulf War. They repeated it with Afghanistan and Iraq. Praise the veterans during election time then shove them into the ditch right afterwards.

It is just another round of politicians pretending to care because of the latest scandal but there have been oh so many more.

Anthony Principi Secretary of Veterans Affairs from 2001-2005 stepped up to complain about VA problems and offered his thoughts on how to fix it.
As a former secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, I am deeply troubled by reports involving the falsification of records to conceal waiting times for veterans at VA hospitals—with at least 40 of them dying while awaiting treatment. A preliminary review by the VA inspector general, released Wednesday, found that at least 1,700 veterans waiting for care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs medical facility were not even on a wait list.

He replace Hershel W. Gober, acting Secretary of Department of Veterans Affairs from 2000-2001, replaced Togo West (1998-2000) and this is facinating since part of the article on Wiki contains a flashback military sexual assault survivors will find interesting.
West held several posts in the administration of Jimmy Carter: General Counsel of the Navy (1977–1979), Special Assistant to the Secretary and to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (1979), and General Counsel of the Department of Defense (1980–1981). As the Secretary of the Army, West weighed in on the Aberdeen scandal, prompting stricter enforcement and investigation into the Army's sexual harassment policies.
President Clinton's appointment to head the VA was Jesse Brown, a disabled Vietnam veteran. The number of veterans receiving healthcare benefits went from 2 million in 1993 to over 3.7 million in 2000. The budget went from $36 billion to $48 billion for 2001. Sexual trauma counselors in Vet Centers was a new division in National Center for PTSD.

While I hate to slam Jon Stewart on his reporting on the records the VA and DOD were supposed to be getting together, that also started under President Clinton. "The Government Computer Based Patient Record Framework Program originated as a joint VA and Department of Defense (DOD) response to satisfy a 1997 presidential directive to create a comprehensive, lifelong medical record for all service personnel." They also started "Virtual VA" as a way of providing a paperless way to file claims.

Here is another flashback U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
In the mid-1980s, 75 million U.S. citizens—one-third of the population of the United States—were eligible for some form of veterans' benefits. Then, as in the early 2000s, war veterans and their dependents and survivors could apply to one of the 58 regional offices of the veterans administration (VA) for disability, loan eligibility, education, and other benefits. In an average year in the 1980s, nearly 800,000 disability claims were filed, about half of which were granted by the regional offices. Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims was created, people whose claims were turned down had limited recourse, which did not include review by a court of law. If a regional office of the VA denied a claim, the claimant could appeal that decision within the VA to the BVA. If the BVA denied the appeal—which it did in about 75 percent of cases—the claimant had just one remaining option: to reopen the claim on the basis of new and material evidence and begin the process over again.
In July 1999 the court issued a decision which held that the veterans affairs department (VA) did not have a duty to assist veterans in developing their claims unless those claims were "well-grounded." In response Congress passed the Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA) of 2000 (Pub.L. 106-475, Nov. 9, 2000, 114 Stat. 2096). Signed into law by President bill clinton in November 2000, the act eliminated the "well-grounded" language and stated that the VA was required to provide assistance in developing claims unless there was no reasonable possibility that VA aid would help the veteran's claim.
The Bush Administration walked into a VA claim backlog.
All this didn't happen overnight. Gregg Carlstrom reported for Federal Times that "Poor planning by agency leaders and underfunding by Congress created these debilitating backlogs that may take years to resolve, according to federal officials, legislators and watchdog groups. At the start of the Bush administration in 2001, VA had more than 400,000 pending claims for disability ratings, which determine a service-disabled veteran’s employability and disability benefits. The department made progress reducing that number: By 2003, the backlog was down to around 250,000."

Too bad Principi didn't have many thoughts when he had the job. Nicholson took over his chair and got blamed for most of what he walked into before he ended up letting things get even worse.

Jim Nicholson 2005-2007 Resigned
VA chief Jim Nicholson resigned in 2007. Most of us have seen few changes since he left office. This is the mess we were in back then. Nicholson walked into what Principi left behind.
"Within months of taking office at the VA, Nicholson had to deal with a $1 billion shortfall at the agency, requiring the administration to appeal to Congress for emergency spending.

Republicans blamed the shortfall on unexpected health care demands from veterans. But Democrats said it was an example of what they said was the administration's inadequate planning for the war in Iraq.

Nicholson came under harsh criticism in Congress after it was revealed in May 2006 that VA computer files with personal data, including Social Security numbers, for 26.5 million veterans and military troops, were missing."
"As a veteran, I am outraged. Frankly I'm mad as hell," Nicholson said, pledging strong action against those responsible. "I can't explain the lapses of judgment on the behalf of my people. We will stay focused on these problems until we get them fixed."

Why did people want him to resign?
Nicholson Underestimated Funding for Veterans' Health Care by at Least One Billion Dollars. "House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, who had both argued that the department could get through this year without additional cash, held a joint news conference to announce "immediate action" to fill a fiscal 2005 shortfall of at least $1 billion, and another shortfall of at least $1.5 billion in the House-passed appropriation for VA health care in fiscal 2006. Nicholson told lawmakers Tuesday that the administration had vastly underestimated the number of service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who would seek VA medical treatment." (Washington Post, 6/30/05)

Nicholson Repeatedly and Incorrectly Assured Congress that VA had Adequate Funds for Veterans' Health Care. An April 5 letter written by Nicholson to the Senate stated: "I can assure you that VA does not need emergency supplemental funds in FY2005 to continue to provide timely, quality service that is always our goal." (Washington Post, 6/24/05)
American Legion Commander: ‘I Blame Bush And Congress’ For Veterans Cuts President Bush spoke to the American Legion today, claiming that “support of our veterans has been a high priority in my administration,” and that one of his priorities is “making sure that our veterans have got good, decent, quality healthcare.”

President Bush should save his rhetoric. In an interview with National Public Radio, even American Legion National Commander Paul Morin, a regular political ally of the White House, pointed out that Bush has consistently skimped on veterans funding. “We are not pleased with the budget for the military and for the VA hospitals for our veterans,” Morin said. “I blame the President and Congress for insufficient funding of the VA health care system.”
And this from the GAO
For fiscal year 2005, Congress appropriated $31.5 billion for all of VA's medical programs, and VA provided medical care to about 5 million veterans. During fiscal year 2005, the President requested a $975 million supplemental request for that fiscal year and a $1.977 billion amendment to the President's budget request for fiscal year 2006. In congressional testimonies in the summer of 2005, VA stated that its actuarial model understated growth in patient workload and services and the resources required to provide these services.

"An unrealistic assumption, errors in estimation, and insufficient data were key factors in VA's budget formulation process that contributed to the requests for additional funding. According to VA, an unrealistic assumption about the speed with which VA could implement a policy to reduce nursing home patient workload in VA-operated nursing homes for fiscal year 2005 led to a need for additional funds. VA officials told us that errors in estimating the effect of a nursing home policy to reduce workload in all three of its nursing home settings--VA-operated nursing homes, community nursing homes, and state veterans' nursing homes--accounted for a request for additional funding for fiscal year 2006. VA officials said that the error resulted from calculations being made in haste during the OMB appeal process. Finally, VA officials told us that insufficient data on certain activities contributed to the requests for additional funds for both years. For example, inadequate data on veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in an underestimate in the initial funding request.

In other words the GAO found they did not plan for the return of wounded and disabled veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Joe Galloway wrote a great piece on what all of this meant. In "At long last sire, have you left no sense of decency?" in a piece on McClatchy
Nicholson, on White House orders, blocked four congressional attempts to streamline the VA's handling of a disgraceful six-month backlog in veterans benefit claims — a backlog that's only grown worse in subsequent years.

With its eyes on maintaining public support for Bush's war in Iraq, and not on those it sent to fight it, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's Pentagon pressured the Army and Marines to discharge their wounded as fast as possible with the lowest possible disability ratings.

As a result, those who had borne the battle were abandoned to the dysfunctional VA healthcare system, in which it takes six months just to get into the system and a month or more to get a doctor's appointment.

The Bush administration grossly underestimated the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder cases coming home from combat and, when confronted with the reality of more than 320,000 new veterans suffering from PTSD, major depression and TBI, it did little or nothing to expedite their care. In fact, of the 84,000 new veterans diagnosed with PTSD, only half, or 42,000 have managed to get their disability claims approved by the VA.

Some veterans committed suicide while they awaited medical and financial help, itself evidence of the abject and disgraceful failure of the system, and the nation and the administration of George W. Bush. The VA responded by understating the numbers of veterans' suicides and then covering it up. Only after a veterans group sued it did the VA establish a suicide hotline. A heckuva job.

President Bush proposed a half-percent increase in the VA budget for fiscal 2006 after his own appointees at the agency told Congress that they needed a 13 percent increase to meet — barely — the urgent needs for medical and mental health care for the wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2007, Bush threatened to veto a bill to boost VA spending by 10 percent, or $3.2 billion. He said that was too expensive and countered with an offer of 2 percent. After Congress passed the bill almost unanimously, Republicans included, The Decider decided to swallow it and signed the bill.
James Peake 2007-2009 walked into this.
The VA's backlog is between 400,000 and 600,000 claims, with delays of 177 days. Nicholson in May pledged to cut that time to 145 days, but he has made little headway with thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan returning home.

VA staff charged $2.6 billion to their government credit cards
Investigators Review VA Credit Charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

All told, VA staff charged $2.6 billion to their government credit cards.

The Associated Press, through a Freedom of Information request, obtained the VA list of 3.1 million purchases made in the 2007 budget year. The list offers a detailed look into the everyday spending at the government's second largest department.

So yet again we have yet another head of the VA saying they "regret" but no one in congress seems to be able to admit the same thing even though they are in charge or who has been in charge all along. Had they fixed any of this before then Veterans for Common Sense would not have had to file a lawsuit because veterans were committing suicide and the VA was covering it up in 2008!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yale Law School takes on VA over sexual assault cases

Yale Law School suit alleges Veterans Administration biased against sex assault victims with PTSD
New Haven Register
By Mary E. O’Leary

The Service Women’s Action Network and Vietnam Veterans of America Wednesday sued the Veterans Administration, claiming its rules discriminate against vets seeking disability benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder tied to military sexual trauma.

The organizations are represented by the Yale Law School’s Legal Services Clinic, which filed the action in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

The suit claims that nearly one in three women is raped during their term of service in the military, while more than half experience unwanted sexual contact.

But it is not only women who are victims, according to the suit. It says that of the 26,000 reports of unwanted sexual contact made in 2011-12, some 52 percent came from men.

“These assaults often result in devastating, long-term psychological injuries, most notably Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sexual violence correlates with PTSD more highly than any other trauma, including combat,” the suit states.

In order to acquire disability benefits, veterans have to prove the disability is service-related.
read more here

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vet with PTSD lawsuit settled for $3.1 million

Vet with PTSD to receive $3.1 million from government
Times Tribune
Published: April 19, 2014

Fifteen months after he was awarded $3.7 million in a federal lawsuit, a Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will receive all but roughly $600,000 of the verdict after the government agreed to drop most of the issues it raised on appeal.

Stanley Laskowski III of Carbondale and his wife, Marisol, filed suit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010, alleging medical officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Twp. improperly treated his PTSD for years, causing it to worsen.

The case went before Senior U.S. District Judge James Munley for a nonjury trial in September 2012. In a 69-page ruling issued in January 2013, the judge agreed doctors made numerous errors in treating Mr. Laskowski, 36, and awarded him $2.4 million for past and future lost earnings and $1.2 million for pain and suffering. Mrs. Laskowski was awarded $140,615 for loss of her husband’s companionship.
Mr. Laskowski receives disability based on his PTSD. The government argues the value of those future benefits over his projected lifetime should be deducted from the award. Mr. Brier said he opposes that because there is no guarantee Mr. Laskowski will continue to receive the benefits as disability determinations undergo periodic review and payments could be halted in the future.

Regardless of the outcome of that dispute, Mr. Brier argued, and the government agreed, the portion of the verdict that is not in dispute should be paid. The 3rd Circuit Court on Thursday approved the request.

“This court order is a tribute to the Laskowski family’s perseverance, courage and faith in each other and the judicial system,” Mr. Brier said in a prepared statement. “This partial victory permits these American heroes to start to rebuild their lives.”
read more here

Marine's family allowed to sue VA after suicide and being turned away twice

Apr. 18, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The family of a Marine who killed himself after a tour of duty in Iraq will be allowed to proceed with a lawsuit against the federal government over his treatment by two Veterans Affairs facilities in Kentucky.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Friday that the lawsuit brought by the family of 21-year-old Cameron Anestis of Georgetown shouldn't have been dismissed. Anestis' widow, Tiffany Anestis, sued the federal government in 2011, seeking $22.5 million in damages after her husband developed mental and emotional problems.

"You're just shocked," said Al Grasch, the attorney for the Anestis family. "The VA turned him away, not once, it turned him away twice."

Anestis' family claimed the VA was negligent when it turned away the Marine at two VA hospitals in Lexington when he sought a mental health evaluation and treatment.

A spokesman for the VA declined to comment on the pending litigation.
read more here

Monday, April 14, 2014

Vietnam Veteran Sued VA for Malpractice and Won $12 Million

Vietnam veteran wins twelve million dollars in medical malpractice settlement
Posted by: briadm

A Vietnam veteran and Chicago-area resident will receive a $12 million settlement from the federal government in a medical malpractice case.

John Johnson is a Vietnam combat veteran who served in the Army from 1970 to 1971. In 2007, Johnson was admitted to Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Illinois for oral surgery. After he was put under anesthesia, Johnson went into cardiac arrest, which resulted in brain damage. Johnson filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.

According to the lawsuit, doctors did not prepare adequately for the surgery and failed to properly monitor Johnson’s heart condition after he received anesthesia.
read more here

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Vietnam veteran's fractured ankle turned into amputated leg?

Olympia man suing Veterans Administration after he contracted MRSA
Vietnam vet sues Veterans Affairs after broken ankle treatment ended with amputation because of infection
The News Tribune
Staff writer
February 23, 2014

A Vietnam veteran living in Olympia is suing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs two years after a severe bacterial infection he developed while receiving care at the system’s Seattle hospital led to the amputation of his right leg.

Steve Garletts alleges VA doctors were negligent in their care over a three-week stretch in late 2011. It began when he sought treatment for an ankle fracture he suffered in an accident at his Alaska home. He took a turn for the worse when he contracted an antibiotic-resistant MRSA infection.

The former Marine is seeking unspecified compensation for his traumatic injuries, disfigurement and loss of earning capacity.

“I came in with a simple fracture and I came out without a leg,” Garletts, 65, said in an interview this month.
read more here

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs employees sue state

Employees sue state Veterans Affairs department
Arkansas Times
Posted by Leslie Newell Peacock
Jun 17, 2013

Employees and former employees of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs have filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleging wage and hour violations at the now-closed Little Rock Veterans Home and the incident-plagued Fayetteville Veterans Home.

The numbers of people in the class could exceed 50, lawyer John Holleman said today. Holleman represents named plaintiffs Darlene Okeke, Debra Jackson, Rita Culberson, Patricia Burton, Sandra Stewart, Linda Hopkins and Peggy Johnson in the suit against ADVA. Their complaint, filed June 18 in Pulaski County Circuit Court, makes several allegations: That they were required to work off the clock and then falsify records to indicate they had not, were not always allowed to take promised compensatory time, and that comp time was awarded on an hour per hour basis rather than the hour and a half that is the rate of pay for overtime.

The complaint says the “policy of failing to compensate Plaintiffs for all hours worked” had been in place for more than three years and “is continuing and ongoing.” Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages equal to the unpaid back wages at the overtime rates as well going back three years as well as “liquidated damages” (back pay).

Holleman said one of the plaintiffs, for example, had accumulated 400 hours of comp time but was not allowed to take a day off to go to her child’s wedding. Management was also deducting a half hour from pay for lunch, he said, though employees had to work through lunch to get their jobs done. He said the facilities were understaffed and “mismanaged.”
read more here

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Soldier's Battle Lost After Returning Home

A Soldier's Battle Lost After Returning Home
January 12, 2013

Spc. Lance Pilgrim was among the first Army troops to enter Iraq in March 2003.

Eventually, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and died from an accidental overdose in 2007 at the age of 26.

His father, Randy Pilgrim, says he first realized something was wrong when his son broke down at the sight of an animal that had been run over. The image had triggered the memory of a traumatic time overseas.

"We tried once to go around bodies in Iraq, but we were ambushed. So we were told from then on, don't let anything slow you down," Lance Pilgrim told his father. "I had to run over people. ... I don't think I'll ever get that out of my mind."

That same summer, he started managing his panic attacks with pain medication. His mother, Judy Pilgrim, says he became dependent on it.

Then he started leaving the base without permission, showing up at home in the middle of the week. He finally got an Other Than Honorable Discharge, which meant his service in Iraq no longer qualified him for veterans benefits — or military funeral honors when he died.
read more here

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Iraqi war vet awarded $3.7 million in PTSD case against VA

Iraqi war vet awarded $3.7 million in PTSD case
Times Leader
January 16, 2013

SCRANTON – A federal judge has awarded $3.7 million to an Iraqi war veteran who alleged the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Township failed to properly treat his post traumatic stress disorder.

U.S. District Judge James Munley issued the order today in the case of Stanley Laskowski III and his wife, Marisol.

Laskowski, of Carbondale, filed suit against the VA in 2010, alleging physicians there were grossly negligent in the care they provided him for PTSD he developed during a tour of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003.
read more here

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Veterans For Common Sense may be heard by Supreme Court

Media Advisory: Judges to Decide if Supreme Court Hears Landmark Lawsuit
Contact: Veterans for Common Sense
(202) 491-6953 Date: January 3, 2013

In the next few days, the Supreme Court will determine if it will hear arguments in the case, Veterans for Common Sense v. Shinseki. An announcement could come as early as this Friday.

In one of the most important landmark legal cases involving veterans’ access to healthcare and disability benefits in decades, two veterans groups filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on September 5, 2012, asking the Court to hear the case. According to the Supreme Court's web site, our case was distributed for conference of January 4, 2013.

The lawsuit, filed in July 2007 by VCS and Veterans United for Truth (VUFT), centers on one key issue: whether the Veterans Judicial Review Act allows veterans to challenge in federal court the systemic delays in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) provision of mental health care and death and disability compensation.

Learn more about our VCS / VUFT lawsuit at our web site. The New York Times published several news articles about the veteran suicide crisis as well as the enormous disability claim backlog now at more than 1.1 million claims. and the paper also published an editorial supporting the plight of our veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans for Common Sense also appeared on "60 Minutes" three years ago discussing the long waits veterans face when seeking VA assistance.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit formed in the District of Columbia in August 2002, VCS leads the way on many key VA reforms. One major example is VA's new streamlined disability benefits for PTSD based on scientific research announced in July 2010.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Veteran sent home with appointment instead of care died

VA sued for negligence in ex-Councilman Witter’s death
November 21, 2012

MASON CITY — The widow of former Mason City Councilman Scott Witter is suing the U.S. Veterans Administration, claiming that negligence by the Mason City VA outpatient clinic contributed to his death.

Witter, 56, died Feb. 23 of a massive heart attack, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court.

His widow, Teresa L. Witter, says her husband went to the Mason City VA outpatient clinic at about 3 p.m. on Feb. 22 complaining of chest pains.

According to the suit, Witter was examined by an outpatient nurse who questioned him about his complaints and took his vital signs.

The clinic office records state Witter felt better after interacting with the nurse. He was to have lab tests the next morning and made a follow-up appointment at the clinic for March 8.

At no time was he seen by a physician nor was any physical examination or any diagnostic testing done, according to the suit.

Witter suffered the fatal heart attack the next morning.
read more here

Friday, November 23, 2012

Florida Vet Wins $1.25M in Hep C Case Against VA Hospital

Vet Wins $1.25M in Hep C Case Against VA Hospital
Nov 23, 2012
Miami Herald
by David Smiley

A failure by Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center staff to properly clean colonoscopy equipment likely infected a patient with hepatitis C, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan awarded U.S. Air Force veteran Robert Metzler and his wife a combined $1.25 million in their medical malpractice case against the United States government. Metzler, 70, and his wife, Lucy Ann Metzler, had sued for a combined $30 million.

Metzler was one of more than 11,000 veterans who received colonoscopies with improperly-cleaned equipment between 2004 and 2009 at VA hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., according to an investigation by the VA's own Administrative Investigation Board.
read more here

Florida veteran wins lawsuit

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lawsuit claims disabled veteran killed by excessive painkillers

VA hospital killed former soldier with excessive painkillers, lawsuit says
By Dennis Rombo
Deseret News
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — Former soldier Gregory Lee Smith just wanted doctors at Veterans Affairs Medical Center to fix his chronic back problems so he could become a police officer. But, his parents say, they killed him with an excessive amount of painkillers after surgery two years ago.

Gregory Lynn Smith and Jeri Bolinder blame the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the death of their 30-year-old son in a federal lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City this week.

Smith and Bolinder say the loss devastated them.

"Greg is in (his father's) heart and mind all the time. He actually finds himself telling himself that he needs to think of something else," the lawsuit says. "(He) will never see Greg in his police uniform, 'serving and protecting' again, as he swore to do as a soldier.

"Jeri lies awake at night and cries because her heart aches to see, touch and hold her son again," according to the suit. "She sees his beautiful face in her dreams and wakes to the reality that she will never hold him again."
read more here

Friday, October 12, 2012

Florida veteran wins lawsuit over Hepatitis infection

Veteran wins lawsuit over hepatitis infection he got at Fla.
VA hospital; several US cases
By Associated Press
Published: October 11

MIAMI — A Miami federal judge ruled in favor of a veteran who says shoddy hygiene practices at a Veterans Administration hospital caused his hepatitis infection.

Air Force veteran Robert Metzler and his wife in a lawsuit are seeking $30 million in damages. The ruling Thursday says damages will be settled later.
read more here

First VA colonoscopy trial begins in Miami
A trial began Monday on behalf of a U.S. Air Force veteran from Coral Gables who is claiming millions in damages, claiming he contracted life-threatening hepatitis C from a colonoscopy done with improperly cleaned equipment at the Veterans Administration

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Widow of boiled Marine fighting for change

Wife Of Man Who Died At Claremore VA Looks To Change System
Posted: Oct 03, 2012
Lacie Lowry
News On 6

CLAREMORE, Oklahoma - The widow of a man scalded to death is on a mission to change the Veterans Affairs system in Oklahoma.

Her husband died at the Claremore Veterans Center and a follow-up inspection revealed a multitude of violations.

News On 6 first brought you the facts behind Jay Minter's death Tuesday night. On Wednesday, his widow shared what it was like to see the love of her life die at a VA home.

Frances Minter says she'll always wear her wedding ring.

"We would have been married 62 years if he had lived until June the 20th and he died on May the 3rd," said Frances.

She vows to honor her husband's memory by fighting for change.

Jay Minter was drafted into the Army at age 18. In 1945, he was sent to the Philippines and Japan, where he had to pick up dead bodies after World War II.

Eight years ago, Jay went to live at the Claremore Veterans Center. And on a daily visit to see him, Frances walked into a terrifying scene.

"My husband had his legs up in the air and he was screaming, ‘They burned my legs! They burned my legs!'"

A nurse's aide had bathed Jay in a whirlpool tub for 15 minutes when his skin started tearing and sloughing off.
read more here

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Veteran says VA treatment caused frostbitten penis

Kentucky man says VA treatment caused frostbitten penis
Published October 02, 2012
Associated Press

An Army veteran is seeking $10 million from the federal government, accusing a Veterans Administration nurse of repeatedly put ice packs on his penis after surgery, causing frostbite and gangrene and ultimately leading to the organ's partial amputation.

Michael D. Nash of Louisville filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville for what he calls medical malpractice.

Nash, who served in the Army in 1968 and 1969, went to the VA hospital in Lexington for medically necessary surgery on his penis. Nash's attorney, Larry Jones of Jones Ward law firm in Louisville, said that after the procedure a nurse packed Nash's groin in ice for 19 hours.

"It basically caused frostbite on his penis, which eventually caused gangrene," Jones said. "In addition to robbing someone of their manhood, they've robbed him of the simple ability to urinate just like every other person who lives in this world."
read more here

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Issa says "Decades-old VA claims backlog inexcusable" so what's his excuse?

Last night I was mulling this over and remembered something that Issa didn't seem to understand along with the history of claim backlogs.

Obama: New PTSD rules 'long overdue step'
July 09, 2010
By the CNN Wire Staff

The Department of Veterans Affairs is making it easier for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to get benefits, a development President Barack Obama calls a "long overdue step."

In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said Veterans Affairs will launch new rules for easing PTSD documentation requirements starting next week.

Current department rules require veterans to document events like firefights or bomb explosions that could have caused the disorder. Such documentation was often time-consuming and difficult, and sometimes was impossible.
read more here

or this
VA Starts Paying New Agent Orange Claims
November 04, 2010
Terry Howell

On November 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that they had begun distributing disability benefits to Vietnam Veterans who qualify for compensation under new expanded Agent Orange exposure rules.
This means that up to 200,000 Vietnam Veterans may now be eligible to receive VA disability compensation for medical conditions recently associated with Agent Orange.

The expansion of coverage involves B-cell (or hairy-cell) leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease.

According to the VA it will likely take several months for them to begin paying the initial payments or increases to existing payments. As reported on in March of this year, it is very important for those who were exposed to Agent Orange and suffer from one of the three diseases to submit their claims as soon as possible.
read more here

Why wouldn't he mention these? Simple. At the same time President Obama and his team were trying to do something good to help veterans, Congressmen like him were saying "cut the deficit" so they were not hiring people to handle all of these expanded claims to be processed.

Gee, does Issa remember a thing like this?
Jan. 11: Victory for Veterans - Judge Rules in Favor of VCS in Case Against VA
Veterans for Common Sense
Jan 11, 2008

January 10, 2008, Washington, DC – The U.S. District Court in San Francisco today handed an enormous victory to veterans who sued the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over lengthy delays for medical care and disability benefits. The Judge’s ruling means our class action lawsuit against VA will move forward, with the first court hearing scheduled for next month.

“We won this round against VA. Veterans will have our day in court. The VA must now release documents under discovery about their deliberate attempts to deny and delay medical care and disability benefits for all veterans, especially our Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans,” said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), the lead plaintiff organization that filed suit against VA.

On July 23, 2007, VCS and Veterans United for Truth (VUFT) filed a class action lawsuit against VA in order to force VA to provide prompt and high-quality medical care and disability benefits to veterans, especially those with mental health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Our Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are committing suicide while waiting for VA to answer their pleas for medical care. VA must make sure all our veterans receive prompt and high-quality medical care and disability benefits. The long waits at VA must end,” added Sullivan.
go here for the rest

That's the problem with politicians forgetting a thing called an archive because things like this are in it just like this one.
President Bush's VA Budget is $3 Billion Short

Vietnam Veterans of America: President Bush's VA Budget is $3 Billion Short
February 13, 2008 - "The annual exercise of debating the merits of the President's proposed budget is flawed," said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Medical Center directors should not be held in limbo as Congress adjusts this budget and misses, yet again, the start of the fiscal year.

I could go on posting even more but I think you get the idea. While veterans were coming home screaming for help, people like Issa didn't even care it was happening.

Rep.: Decades-old VA claims backlog inexcusable

By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 18, 2012

The Veterans Affairs Department announced Wednesday that almost 1.7 million people are using its online eBenefits information system — but that wasn’t sufficient to ward off continuing complaints from Congress about the backlog of claims.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Committee, said the average 188-day wait for a claim to be processed and an error rate of 16 percent on claims decisions are unacceptable.

But he doesn’t blame the Obama administration for the problem. “The system was broken in the Vietnam War when I enlisted, and it was never fixed,” said Issa, who joined the Army as a senior in high school, and later became an officer as a result of an ROTC scholarship.

Issa, who said he has no service-connected disability and has never filed a claim, said veterans are weary of promises with no results. “VA continues to claim it will get better, but they have not gotten better,” he said.
read more here

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Federal Court won't help veterans?

UPDATE Veterans For Common Sense is taking this to the Supreme Court!
9th Circuit Court Reverses itself. Next Stop Supreme Court

Dear Supporter,

As you may have heard, this week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued their En Banc decision regarding our lawsuit ruling against VCS and VUFT. While the majority decision once again confirmed that serious problems exists within the Department of Veteran's Affairs, they disagreed that the courts were the proper venue for the veterans to seek redress. We respectfully disagree and will be appealing this case to the Supreme Court of the United States. Our veterans are not second class citizens and should not be subject to an arbitrary and capricious system with special rules exempt from normal due process protections that other Americans enjoy. As it stands the VA can effectively do what it wants forcing veterans to languish for years This is just a set back, it is not the end of our 5 year struggle, to ensure veterans have timely access to the quality care that they need and deserve. The recent IG report quanitfying the serious problesms that persist at VA shows that our veterans need everyone's help. We need your support to keep up the fight. The 9th Circuit Court may have turned their back but we will never turn our back on veterans. You can sign on to be a part of our historic court case by donating today.

I was always taught our Constitution trumps statutes and that our Courts were our last bastions to preserve our rights and liberties;now that promise has proved hollow, and all I hear is the continuing echoes of men and woman in distress. We should all feel their pain. This day will be remembered as the day our country turned its back on our veterans. VCS vows to fight this heartbreaking decision all the way to the end, because 18 of our veterans commit suicide every day.”

Patrick Bellon,MPA
Iraq Veteran
Executive Director

The government gave veterans excuses. The charities around the country spread out and sprung up. They watched the 99% protests while they wondered who the hell would fight for this part of the 1% serving today along with the less than 10% that served yesterday. Groups ended up showing exactly what they value. Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth decided to try to legally force the government to honor their side of the deal only to discover the court says they have no authority? So where are you on this? Are you willing to fight for them? Protest for them? Call your senator or congressman? Call the media to make sure everyone knows how bad things are for them?

Fed court reverses order for VA system overhaul
PAUL ELIAS May 7, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Monday reversed its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department dramatically overhaul its mental health care system.

A special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that any such changes need to be ordered by Congress or the president.

The 10-1 ruling reversed an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court.

The May 2011 ruling had ordered the VA to ensure that suicidal vets are seen immediately, among other changes. It found the VA's "unchecked incompetence" in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims was unconstitutional.

The new decision said courts are powerless to implement the fixes sought by two veterans groups that filed the lawsuit against the VA in 2007. The lawsuits alleged that hundreds of thousands of veterans had to wait an average of four years to fully receive the mental health benefits owed them.

"There can be no doubt that securing exemplary care for our nation's veterans is a moral imperative," Judge Jay Bybee wrote for the majority. "But Congress and the president are in far better position" to decide whether and what changes need to be done.

The court said veterans are free to file individual legal claims, but courts had no business ordering systemic overhauls.

"If the courts don't have jurisdiction, then the veteran is left without a remedy," Erspamer said.

Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth filed the lawsuit at the heart of the ruling in San Francisco federal court in 2007.

During the two-week trial without a jury in April 2008, lawyers for the groups showed the judge emails between high-ranking VA officials that the attorneys said confirmed high suicide rates among veterans and a desire to keep quiet the number of vets under VA care who attempt suicide.

"Shhh!" began a Feb. 13, 2008, email from Dr. Ira Katz, a VA deputy chief. "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?"
read more here

Monday, August 22, 2011

VA appeals ruling on behalf of veterans?

You'd think that since the VA is supposed to be about taking care of veterans, they'd be all too willing to get it right, but in this case, they are fighting against being forced to.
VCS / VUFT Lawsuit in New York Times
Written by NYTimes
Sunday, 21 August 2011 22:46

More Excuses and Delays From the V.A.
August 21, 2011 (New York Times Editorial Board) - It has been more than three months since a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit accused the Department of Veterans Affairs of “unchecked incompetence” and unconscionable delays in caring for veterans with mental health problems.

Instead of working with the plaintiffs to address the court’s concerns, the V.A. is appealing the ruling.

The 2-to-1 decision in a lawsuit brought by two nonprofit groups, Veterans United for Truth and Veterans for Common Sense, found that the V.A. bureaucracy was so extremely slow and unresponsive that veterans were being denied their constitutional right to mental health care and to the timely adjudication of disability claims. It cited as evidence the high veteran suicide rate — an estimated 18 a day among the nation’s 25 million veterans, and four to five a day among those being served by the V.A.

The judges pointedly noted that the agency had no suicide prevention officers at any of its outpatient clinics and that 70 percent of its health facilities had no systems to track potentially suicidal patients. The court agreed with the plaintiffs that “systemwide” changes were needed at the V.A., especially given the rising flood of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It ordered the case back to the district court so a plan could be devised.
read more here

Just amazing! If you take anything away from this article, let it be these two facts.
"the agency had no suicide prevention officers at any of its outpatient clinics"
"70 percent of its health facilities had no systems to track potentially suicidal patients"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Widow of decorated Iraqi vet files wrongful death suit against VA hospital

Widow of decorated Iraqi vet files wrongful death suit against VA hospital
Published: Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 12:35 a.m. MDT
By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Chris Anglesey nearly died in the U.S. Army's march into Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

While responding as a medic to a downed helicopter, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle he was riding in. Anglesey returned home with a Bronze Star and a partial disability.

Anglesey, who grew up in Kaysville, worked as a paramedic/firefighter in South Carolina and Arizona, eventually finding his way back to Utah for a job with the Tooele Army Depot Fire Department. Along the way, he and his wife, Kathy, became the parents of five daughters.

Last summer, he went to the George E. Whalen Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City after falling over some toys in his Tooele home. Doctors diagnosed him with a broken right tibial plateau and kept him overnight for evaluation. They sent him home the next day with crutches, painkillers and an undetermined date for surgery, court documents state.

Anglesey returned to the hospital three days later after stumbling on the crutches. He also experienced respiratory problems requiring oxygen. He again stayed overnight, went home with painkillers and no date for surgery.

Two days later, Anglesey was found unresponsive in his home. Efforts to revive him failed. He was 32.

Those details leading to his death are outlined in a federal lawsuit his widow filed this week against the VA hospital and three doctors, alleging negligence and malpractice.

read more here