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VA’s long list of performance failures

VA’s long list of performance failures
(Photo by Lucas Carter)

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At a May 5 press conference in Indianapolis, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger called for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, as well as Robert Petzel and Allison Hickey, VA's under secretaries for health and benefits, respectively. It was a decision the Legion arrived at gradually, after years of support.

What changed the Legion’s mind was the accumulated effect of VA performance breakdowns across the country, coupled by the glaringly obvious failure to hold senior executives accountable for mounting numbers of preventable patient deaths, long-delayed medical care, and other critical management failures. Adding salt to the wound, VA continued to reward incompetent senior executives with bonuses paid for by taxpayer dollars.

Dellinger noted two of the most recent revelations that finally convinced him that top VA leadership in Washington needed to change: allegations that the Phoenix VA medical center kept a secret list of patients waiting months for medical care, which was linked by CNN to preventable deaths of about 40 veterans; and findings by a VA investigation that workers at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., had been instructed on how to falsify appointment records.

“Patient deaths are tragic, and preventable deaths are unacceptable,” Dellinger told members of the Legion’s National Executive Committee at the press conference. “But the failure to disclose safety information, or worse, to cover up mistakes, is unforgivable – as is fostering a culture of nondisclosure.”

The Phoenix and Fort Collins allegations were preceded by many other failures at VA facilities over the past four years, including:

An audit of the Fayetteville VA Medical Center found its employees did not complete required suicide-prevention follow-ups 90 percent of the time for patients at high risk.

  • Six patient deaths were linked to delayed screenings for colorectal cancer at VA medical center in Columbia, S.C.

  • Five patients died and 16 more became seriously ill at the Pittsburgh VA medical center from an outbreak of the Legionella bacteria that was caused by human error

  • Three patients died while waiting for gastrointestinal treatment at the VA hospital in Augusta, Ga., which had an appointment backlog of more than 4,500 patients.

  • Four preventable deaths occurred at the Atlanta VA medical center among patients being treated for mental-health issues.

“The American Legion expects when such errors and lapses are discovered, that they are dealt with swiftly and that the responsible parties are held accountable,” Dellinger said. “This has not happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There needs to be a change, and that change needs to occur at the top.”

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James VanderSchuur

May 31, 2014 - 10:49am

Where can a veterans get medical treatment when really they need it now? If you look at the DVA's web sight and search for healthcare services at VA medical facilities, there is a list of healthcare services under "A to Z list of services". I have found no facility that lists any services related to walk-in care, whether it is urgent or emergency care. For example: At the Battle Creek Medical Center, the only service listed is "pharmacy". Grand Rapids is the same. At Ann Arbor, it lists the word "emergency", but from there you have reached a dead end. So,I asked the patient representative in Grand Rapids, Kim Gardener, after calling her every weekday for 13 days if Grand Rapids was a walk-in facility. When she finally responded, she said "no". I then asked my therapist, Sean Young the same question, and he said "yes". I then asked a clerk. I thought that a clerk would know because patients must register with them when they come in. the clerk told me "yes, but we don't advertise it". Why wouldn't they advertise it? I assume that they don't want veterans to know. I then asked the DVA through their web sight why they did not tell veterans where they could get walk-in healthcare. Their response was supposed to be within 5 days. No response. Three weeks later, I again asked them the same question. This time they responded by thanking me for my concern and that they would look into it. That was 3 months ago. Look for yourself and see if anything has changed. I guess not wanting you to know was and still is intentional.

James VanderSchuur

May 31, 2014 - 9:34am

I am supposed to be receiving priority group 1 healthcare. Last year I was scheduled for a colonoscopy in Ann Arbor. Prior to the procedure, I was instructed to not follow the instructions given with the prep solution which are FDA approved. The FDA says that the prep should be followed by drinking clear liquid after taking the solution up to 1 hour prior to the procedure. The VA's instructions were to not drink liquid after the prep solution. As a diabetic, I was also instructed to withhold insulin. After the 2.5 hour drive to Ann Arbor I was very ill. My blood pressure was extremely low, I was very dehydrated, and my blood glucose level was very high. The procedure had to be delayed for an hour in order to improve my condition. According to the VA, everything went well. It was later obvious that the prep procedure was designed for their convenience, not for the patient's health consideration. Within an hour after I was released, I could not swallow food due to pain in my mouth. I had already not eaten for 2 days. I could not control my glucose level. I was taking liquid pain relievers. After 2 more days of worsening condition, I called the clinic in Grand Rapids to tell them what had happened and why. I was told by the triage nurse that someone from PC would call me back. After receiving no callback, I sought treatment in a local emergency room. I had developed thrush due to a weakened immune system caused by dehydration and a high glucose level. Three days later, I received a callback from PC. An appointment was set up 17 days after my initial call. The VA has refused to pay for my emergency care because they say that VA treatment was available to me and my condition was not emergent. VA records show that they diagnosed me with an unrelated salivary gland infection based only on my initial phone conversation with the triage nurse. The VA medical staff will not take responsibility for their lack of lack of competence or concern. It has all happened to me before. I am currently waiting for a hearing related to payment.

Mike Brewer

May 22, 2014 - 5:05pm

Patient at Loma Linda VA. Prior Tucson.Have not had one complaint in 28 years.

Old SSG

May 14, 2014 - 11:14am

Wilbert is close to what is needed. The original concept of the VA was great when hospitals were few and far between. However, it really is time for it to go away and be strictly an insurance company. There are numerous hospitals with better means of accountability, better funding and staff that are far easier to remove if they are not proficient and easier to replace. The money saved by shutting the system down would be better spent on providing funds for the private sector hospitals to care for the Vets. I know of one hospital that was only getting 1% of the local vets because unless they did not have insurance they were not going go to the VA. Having friends who used it I have plenty of war stories. Yes, I am retired military, but I do not use the VA.

Andy Konopka

May 13, 2014 - 4:19pm

The VA system needs aninvestigation and reworking from without the government, since our "leaders" have shonw themselves reluctant to pursue the firing of those responsible, ie: the VA leadership. This is a good opportunity for the government to hire vets and give them a meaniingful job...clean-up and revamp the VA system. WHo better suited to shoulder the responsibility than those whoneed it.

Anonymous

May 13, 2014 - 4:39pm

Right on. We took care of each other on the field. I am sure we can take care of each other in the world.

oops

May 13, 2014 - 1:33pm

Its not just the varo in this in seattle a vso is in bed with the varo. How do i know a person in american lake AL office showed me a meno from vso in seattle and shame on him ,he thinks he is God '

Jack [ skipchaser ]

May 13, 2014 - 12:32pm

I want to know why, no one is asking why the VA. are paying bounes to their employes at regional offices to denie claims,or send them back to vetran redo over. Fact- 2012 VA. regional office in Michgian was payed over 250,000.00 in bounes to denie claims. they also found never ever looked at claims in boxes, in a janitor room and some in a shredded machine. This is going on all over the country.And yes Iwas denied my claim too. The VA. has turned into a money grubbing, company.And half the people hire have ever served and they decide whether you get yor claim approved or not .Tell me does this seem right.

Greg

May 24, 2014 - 10:46pm

Please learn how to spell and write! It's easy to learn and people with value your opinion even more.

BobUSMC

May 13, 2014 - 1:16pm

Why did the IRS get bonuses. Because the government probably found some extra money and instead of putting back into the coffers decided to divvy it out to keep their flunkies loyal to them. Same thing at VA. Pay your flunkies to keep your secrets. These bonus are being paid at a time where the federal government is saying the federal highway funds will run out in August and 700,000 jobs could be lost and roads will not be repaired. Why kind of leadership are we getting from these clown in DC. Dump them all. And as a sideline to you getting your claim denied. Get an attorney cause then you will win. These crooked as lawyers will always reward each other in these cases so they can take up to 40% of your settlement but at least you will get something. Same thing with Social Security. If you fail the first time get an attorney and 90% of the time you will win your claim.

Don Armstrong

May 13, 2014 - 11:29am

I’m a Nam Vet and have gone to the VAMC at Jamaica Plain in Boston since 69. Back then I arrived at 6:30 and got a number and at 08:00 general sick call started. You had to make sure you had all your paperwork and make copies because it always was lost. In the 80’s I went into a PTSD treatment group at an outreach center and at the same time I did my own research at the National Archives to find all the reports I needed to verify events in Nam. I never put in for a disability but went to meetings all the time plus I did one on one with a doctor that had been in the VA system for 23 years. After 3 years of going to the outreach center he asked what my disability rating was and I said I never put in for it because I still worked for a living. Well he put me in for 30% and it was a good move because health issues started showing up. The HMO I went to kept saying “Agent Orange” and refused to cover me or treat me since it was a preexisting condition. My physical troubles mounted up and I ran into the doctors doing reviews at the main VAMC and any doctors that agreed with too many Vets were removed from disability reviews. This was at the Main VAMC on North Capitol Street in DC. I actually saw doctors that copied what was on previous notes and never asked a question. Now most of these doctors had been in the system all of their lives and had become “Gubmint workers”. Now what I had to do was put in 7 appeals and track all of them myself and entually after 3 years I was notified that I was now 100%. Now at the same time changes happened in DC. They came out with electronic records and doctors fought it and I still remember one of them being told “it is part of your job to fully and completely fill out all the information on the electronic or they would be fired. They then assigned us to teams based upon the last two digits of your SSN. They also assigned a pharmacist to each team. That meant you saw the same doctors and got your meds reviewed to see if there were any conflicts. After they processed your info they asked if you wanted it mailed or pick it up. If you picked it up they would tell you to go to main pharmacy in 20 minutes and look for your name on a screen and once it’s there you are good to go. In the old days it was all paperwork and you could spend 4 hours waiting for meds. Now I moved to New Hampshire and it is like a country club. Most of the doctors are outside contract doctors or retired military doctors that give a dam about veterans. The biggest trouble they have is no shows for appointments. I just saw my primary doctor for a 6 month follow up and we pulled up all my blood work since 2002 and graphed out the entire series of numbers. Being a diabetic it shows my progress. It also shows that while I’m 25 lbs overweight by charts my weight has varied by 6 lbs since 2002 so it’s not a worry. I get all my meds on time and I have gone to Urgent care at 6:30 AM several times several since 2002 for Diverticulitis, a malaria attack and a 103 temp. I get there then because shift change is at 7 AM so I get all fresh people and few waiting to see a doctor. In the case of diverticulitis the first time I got a pain killer via IV then I started drinking contrast medium for two hours and by 10 AM I had a Cat Scan and by 11 I was leaving with two meds for the intestinal problems and they had matched my Cat Scan info with my colonoscopy info and saw the bulge was where they saw it in the colonoscopy. My treatment has been excellent there. Now in the HMO I had my first colonoscopy was done at an office in the HMO with zero painkillers and people were cutting through the room to get to a supply closet. At the HMO any appointment was 2 to 3 weeks out unless I wanted to sit for 6 to 8 hours in a waiting area with coughing, puking, hacking adults and children. The VAMC is a great place , at least where I go to be treated but and there is a big but you have to be your own advocate and not be afraid to ask questions and stand up if you think something is being glossed over. I see far too many vets complain the doctor did not treat them for something but when asked if they told the doctor they would say “no they never asked me.” By the way the Manchester NH VAMC is the only one in the country that does not have an ER. The director wanted to shut it down at nights and on weekends. When asked where Vets are supposed to go his response was “It’s not my problem to provide them with insurance”. Well all of us vets contacted the media and wrote letters all over the place. The end result is we have urgent care and if they can’t treat you then you are sent via ambulance to a nearby hospital. My personal opinion is many of the problems are related to government workers that don’t care and can’t be fired and just milk the system. Think of it as a giant DMV where they don’t need you but you need them.

Fred Wilson USMC Nam 1969

May 21, 2014 - 6:19pm

the va hospital in manchester n.h should be audited too they have a shrink who shoots done every vetran who has problems with ptsd and thinks they should all work his name is DR Valdez Senater Shaheens office shuld get this asshole booted from doing comp. and pension exams Siemper Fi

Anonymous

May 13, 2014 - 1:09pm

In my last appeal I commented as you that if you don't be a whinner and complain about your injuries the doctors will never try and help you by asking questions. My appeal is for umemployability due to my service connected injuries which are now rated at 80%. My examiner never used any instruments to measure flexability or do anything but hold his hand up and tell me to push my shin against it. That was it. I have disability for degenerative condition to my spine and internal derangement of my knee plus radioculpathy of right and left lower extremities and he asked me to push against his knee?????? Then in my denial the doctor states these conditions are improving????? Really how does something degenerative improve or how does internal derangement improve??? They even stated I had returned to a job that I had left because of conflicts with disabilities and that is an outright lie. These doctors don't care and most of the management don't care either as long as they get their checks and their vacations.

J.T. Johnson

May 13, 2014 - 11:23am

I just wish the Legion commander wouldn't make such statements without first consulting the membership!! I can see politics all over this statement. Take the Legion out of conservative / liberal statements meant to aid one party in the next elections. This statement was nothing less than grandstanding for the republican cause. One more shot at the administration to cleanse their own pathetic agenda of inaction!!

Paul Marion

May 14, 2014 - 9:58am

Roger that!

Tony Masters

May 13, 2014 - 9:58am

3 tours in Viet-Nam I live in lakeland Fl , Went to see my doctor and all does is type on his computer and I try to tell him my problem and he comes back with Look I only have so much time I have other people to see.What real funny is i drop off my record to be scan and went back to get them and they couldnt fine them. After the doctor told me I was a lier and I was in tears. 3 Months later they found my records in the doctor filing cabinet. I bear my pain From COPD , Sleep Apnea , sugar diabetes, , muscle spasms all from agent orange

Don Armstrong

May 13, 2014 - 11:36am

Always make copies of everything you bring in and don't give it to the doctor but rather the intake person. Every VAMC has one assigned. When I moved from the DC area to NH I brought all my records and gave them to the guy before I even moved. He set me up to be treated by the NH VAMC and linked with DC to also try and get a records transfer. He had them all scanned in by the records people and I verified it. You go to the FOI people and sign a form and they print and send you a copy of all the medical information including all notes for the time frame you specify. I copy everything so there is no doubt about what is going on. You have to be your own advocate.

profrlklein

May 13, 2014 - 6:45am

I filed my VA claim on 29 Sep 2009. On 27 Jun 2011 (only 20 months [628 days] of waiting), I received only a 30 percent disability for migraine headaches. Everything else (Sleep Apnea, Stroke, TIAs, Degenerative Disks, etc.) was denied because the VA did not see any direct service connected causes in my military medical records. The VA simply bypassed the second part of the clause--the "OR AGGRAVATED BY military service" part. Now my APPEAL has been in the BACKLOG since 18 July 2011. I have requested help from the American Legion, my Senators, my Congressmen, and the White House. A White House inquiry was conducted, in which an American Legion representative at the Houston VA site pretended to be helping me by setting up a conference call with a VA claims officer in Dec 2012. This did result in me getting a second VA medical exam. Although it was not supposed to be, I was given the exact same exam I had for my original claim. Even the same VA doctor did the exam despite the fact that VA regulation stated it must be a different doctor. And then, nothing--the American Legion representative stopped all contact with me--refused to take my calls and never responded to my emails. Even my Congressman attempted to help and the VA simply ignored him, so my Congressman got busy with other things. Every month I send in a complaint to the VA. When the VA decided to reply, sometimes it was 4 to 6 weeks later (if at all), I get the exact same political BS canned letter with absolutely no substance. That is, no explanation whatsoever, and completely ignored my question. It perturbs me to no end that they boldly lie by telling me that the average processing time is 460 days. So, what is the explanation why my appeal has been "in processing" for 1015 days now? Finally, in April 2014, my Congressman's aid contacted me to apologize for the long delay in working my case. On 7 May 2014, I received a letter from my Congressman with the VA's answer. It is mostly political BS, but they finally gave an explanation. Here it is, "Appeals are worked in the order of date received. Currently, the Houston Decision Review Officers (DRO) are working to complete appeals received in 2010. Typical processing time for appeals is 18 to 40 months." It is now April 2014, and they are just now working 2010 appeals. And since my appeal was received in 2011, I am going to have to wait for another 18 to 40 months before they get to the 2011 appeals (and possibly mine). I have already waited 33 months, now it is going to be another 18 to 40 months. That is despicable.

Don Armstrong

May 13, 2014 - 11:42am

It took me 3 years to got my rating upgraded even though I had lost my job due to physical troubles. As soon as you get a review you should file an appeal if it is a bad review or if you see something wrong. I had one review where the doctor was on vacation so with only 15 minutes of the hour left a new doctor showed up and copied the old doctors notes and then walked out complaining he had missed his lunch. I filed an appeal and explained exactly everything that happened then. I eventually had 7 well documented appeals in and in return for dropping the appeals I was made 100%. Don't sit back on your thumbs expecting the system to work on it's own. It's the squeaky wheel that gets greased.

michael day

May 13, 2014 - 10:13am

I do not understand the way different people are treated different ways, I for one have had short falling with the VA and active duty medical, because I served believing very much in what I was doing and not partaking of alcohol or prostitutes that nasty pranks pulled on me often sent me to the hospital, though treatment was often ignored all together, but yet a worthless sluggard that just refused to uphold his/her sworn duty could get such excellent medical care both in the service and ind in the VA , LOL , I was medically discharged from the service do to back injuries that cause my feet to hurt and my legs to collapse and the VA down graded it to back strain and I have had a liver malfunction ever since going to desert shield now my VA doctors are claiming it is due to Illegal drug use even though they can find no such substance in me any where, I have a clicking over my right eye and the civilian doctor I went to said it was an air pocket and active duty said there was no such thing and the VA says it is because I am dyslexic, so I have no real answer other then to keep holding in there and pray some day things will be set rite

Perry

May 13, 2014 - 8:11am

How is sleep apnea, TIA's, degenerative disk, and especially "etc." connected to your claim? Or, for that matter, how are migraine headaches service connected?

Anonymous

May 13, 2014 - 3:01pm

Unfortunatley as someone had recently posted the squeaky wheel gets greased. I know of a person who started getting symptoms of Crohns disease before even going to the rifle range in boot camp. He now gets 80% disability and plasters Marine Corps stickers all over everything like he actually served and I think it sticks. You aren't a Marine until you graduate boot camp as far as I am concerned because you not called a Marine until then. I know a female reservist that witnessed a bad accident while at summer camp and she gets 100% for PTSD. Until we get people that screen these disabilities fairly and there actual debilitating functions are taken into account things will never be straigtened out. Since I started going to the VA in 1973 I have seen WWII Vets and Korean Vets who you really never hear complaining except about very obvious things you can see are effecting them. They are mostly getting treatment because they are retired Vets and not a monthly check for a disability. Today I see young Vets that can walk fine, that can see good and that can communicate well but they are getting disabilities. Most of them are relating to PTSD because they have had a bad nightmare at sometime or they say they have witnessed something bad and because of our bleeding heart liberal govenment they can be diagnosed with a disability. I would bet there are many older vets out there who never had a bunch of bleeding heart liberal social workers come to your school if someone in your class was killed in a car accident. They come to tell you that you should be distressed or traumatised so they can justify there jobs. This is sickening while seeing Vets in wheelchairs or on crutches that feel there are others who deserve it more so they won't put in for a rating. It is the same in everything. As long as the govenment is going to give to the lying and lazy malingering people of the world without proper investigation there will always be undeserving people getting freebies while those who really deserve it have to keep on fighting for what they deserve--civilian and service members and Veterans.

Service connected

May 13, 2014 - 11:07am

Perry, I don't know all of Mr. Days conditions or how he ended up with them at discharge. But to answer your question--did he have these conditons prior to military service? If not, it is service connected. And FYI--migraines are a service connected disability.

Timothy L Coffey

May 13, 2014 - 5:56am

They need to follow Accreditation outlines like any other facility in Healthcare. This was not happening according to reports, there was blatant disregard for set standards. Now we need to do something with the lower level claims people who reject every claim, until appeals court get the claim. Making them pretty much useless. And then we need to have veterans reimbursed for their loses due to Malfunctioning System.

Jared

May 13, 2014 - 2:54am

A 'good' healthcare experience for an individual is fantastic, however, what about the others. I question more then a few of the comments on here. I have been in the VA system for over 10 years, across four states. Let me just tell you what was once good care, has rapidly deteriorated to scenarios that are playing out now. And if a veteran EVER questions the doctors, nurses and staff, they are basically thrown off premise. Sorry VA, you have a LONG LONG LONG way to go.

ColInf

May 13, 2014 - 2:29am

I have sent my Membership card back to the AL. The National Commander is totally out of line.

Mr. Phillips

May 16, 2014 - 12:50pm

I am a member of the VFW that seems to be lap-puppies for the VA and government officials to the detriment of most veterans and feel that the time has come for stronger measures like those of the AL. I support his call for those heads!

John C. Griffith

May 13, 2014 - 12:57am

I am a fully disabled veteran that has been been in the VA Healthcare System long enough to see many VA changes, some good and some bad. I give Mr. Shinseki credit for all of the good changes that I've observed. I can assure you that Secretary Shinseki is the best thing that has happened to VA in many, many years! The American Legion owes Mr. Shinseki an immediate formal and sincere apology! Maybe the American Legion director should resign.

Sid

May 13, 2014 - 12:08am

There are failures at VA hospitals as like any civilian hospitals- I believe that those directly responsible should be dealt with and Secretary Shinseki,should be left alone to do his investigations and he should bring due punishment on those at the local levelfor waht they have done- General Shinseki is the best Secretary of VA we have had in a long time. With due respect A.L. National Commander has jumped the gun.

Bernz

May 12, 2014 - 8:49pm

The VA Leadership needs to all VA hospital specially VA Hampton in Virginia. They have a lot of incompetent personnel Doctors, Dentist, Nurses and employee who treats Veterans as second hand citizens. Don't wait to see what happened in Arizona.

rodney_ward08

May 12, 2014 - 9:32pm

Yes we need to start at the top and FIRE incompetent overpaid bonus receiving VA so called leaders. It's past time for a complete cleansing of the VA Medical hospitals and clinics. Veterans have died and suffered long enough. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. The GAS and Federal prosecutors need to take immediate action and PUT THESE DUMB ASSES IN JAIL!!!! We have paid a heavy price as VETERANS. ITS PASTIME For the PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS TO ACT!!!!L!!!

Nick Tonkin

May 12, 2014 - 8:30pm

I am a Vietnam veteran but never really had any experience with the VA health care system until I returned from Bosnia. The glaring improvement in the VA between the late 90's and the late 00's is clearly the result of Gen. Shinseki's leadership. In my opinion, the American Legion leadership has no concept of the magnitude and difficulties the VA faces today. They need to get off their asses and visit VA hospitals and observe the veterans which the VA serves. Are there problems with the VA's service? Sure there are, as there are problems within any huge bureaucracy. The VA provides community based health care. This type of health care targets the health care needs of groups of veterans but delivers services on an individual basis. The VA is serving not only veterans of Afghanistan & Iraq, but increasingly get Vietnam veterans who have fallen out of the middle class in the past 8 - 10 years. These veterans are generally in very poor health, more than likely due to neglect over the years. As most know, the VA budget increases have not kept pace with the growing patient load the VA has to serve. If the American Legion leadership was really looking out for veterans, they would have found problem areas and brought them to General Shinseki for action. But no.... they only act when someone else brings up an issue and then they jump up and demand the replacement of the Secretary. Why wasn't the American Legion aware of these problems long ago and engaged in getting them fixed? The VA is my primary heath care. Not because it's all I have.... I do have more than adequate health insurance - it's because I know the system and can take action whenever I come across problems where most veterans really don't know how to get problems corrected. I have found that overall, the VA physicians and staff are dedicated professionals who are competent and concerned about caring for veterans. There are exceptions but they are rare and when problems are identified, management takes action to correct the problem. What I want to hear from the American Legion is: When exactly did they identify these problems and what actions did they take with VA managers to get the problem corrected? All these issues did not pop up overnight. Being a watchdog for veteran's problems with the VA should be one of the most important activities the American Legion does and the Legion's failure to accomplish this is not made up for by now calling for General Shinseki's replacement.

LRDG

May 12, 2014 - 11:52pm

Nick, Exactly, I work at the VA and in over 14+ years, I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I've ever seen the American Legion on the several facilities in the district I work in. The times that they usually show up is for Veterans Day, Memorial Day and sometimes even Independence Day!

Al Retd

May 12, 2014 - 5:34pm

Did you ever wonder if the Sec of VA Affairs was following orders from the WH or BO or even the SecDef?

Jim Wilson

May 12, 2014 - 3:26pm

Schinseki placed all the top leaders on administrative leave,BIG DEAL, they need to be put on leave WITHOUT PAY during the investigation. They will probably get a bonus for being on leave.

LRDG

May 12, 2014 - 11:55pm

Jim, If Ms. Lerner from the IRS can be on paid leave while she is still subject to Congresional hearings for her Faux Pas with regards to supposed auditing violations, then Shinseki is just following procedure!

Savanna

May 12, 2014 - 10:21am

Brad is a liar too and always sides with the VA even changes what you tell him to make is appear minimal, he needs to go, liar, liar, I know Firsthand what he is all about, how a Veteran can hear the horror and be a turncoat liar and sleep at night, I cannot imagine, special place for scumbags like that next life

Savanna

May 12, 2014 - 10:21am

Brad is a liar too and always sides with the VA even changes what you tell him to make is appear minimal, he needs to go, liar, liar, I know Firsthand what he is all about, how a Veteran can hear the horror and be a turncoat liar and sleep at night, I cannot imagine, special place for scumbags like that next life

Savanna

May 12, 2014 - 10:20am

Brad is a liar too and always sides with the VA even changes what you tell him to make is appear minimal, he needs to go, liar, liar, I know Firsthand what he is all about, how a Veteran can hear the horror and be a turncoat liar and sleep at night, I cannot imagine, special place for scumbags like that next life

Wayned

May 9, 2014 - 11:00am

Create an Advantage Insurance Plan similar to the Medicare Advantage Plans. The premium paid for by the VA for the basic plan. I am in an Advantage PPO that has three levels of premiums from none to $78.00 and each has which medical needs will be taken care of. I do contribute $105.00 a month from my Social Security also. The Vet could go to the doctors or their choose. In the Medicare Advantage Plan I am in, I can go to any doctor in the plan, and since it is a PPO, I don't have to have a referral. It also has a drug plan as part of the plan. Does little to cover hearing and glasses. I am a 6 year Air Force Veteran, but I don't go to the VA. I volunteer at a clinic for about six months and it seem the only thing a lot of employees were interested in is "CYOA".

Gretchen Smith Venerable

May 9, 2014 - 1:24am

I almost forgot.....I requested both a CPAP for sleep apnea as my machine isn't working and was told respiratory would contact me. That was six weeks ago. Reported facial and extremity numbness and tingling and was told neurology couldn't see me for another 3-4 months. I could very well be one of the 40 deceased veterans! We have to be the voice of those and their families and hold the VA accountable. Pave the way for the next generation as WWII (my father served), Korea, Vietnam, etc) paved the way for us via VFW, DAV, other veteran organizations.

JenniferJ

May 10, 2014 - 10:21am

Gretchen, I'm with CBS News - please email me - janischj @ cbsnews dot com

Gretchen Smith Venerable

May 9, 2014 - 1:15am

I'm a Air Force Desert Storm Intelligence operations veteran and didn't think I'd live long enough to see the VA exposed! I've had several near death experiences at several VA's. There are several experiences however I'd like to share two. Jan 2012 I had surgery at Hines VA, Chicago for a blockage to my right kidney the VA left untreated for 10 months. Presurgical consult I reviewed the paperwork only to find they were about to operate on the left kidney until I pointed out to the nurse the documentation incorrectly identified the wrong side of the procedure to be performed. I have the documentation identifying they almost operated on the wrong kidney (left side). Post surgery developed a serious infection within hours and the ER would do nothing until the 3rd day when a doctor with fresh eyes admitted me to the hospital. I was so much pain and had lost so much blood I was put on dilatin for pain. Two months later (23 Mar 12) I had a massive asthma attack four days after being diagnosed with pneumonia. I requested a RN to give me a breathing treatment and she refused. I walked a quarter of a mile or so to the ER where they pumped 180mg prednisone in three hours. We have got to join hands and hold their feet to the fire so that the next generation receives better care.

Vee

May 8, 2014 - 8:02pm

The biggest issues that I have with the VA is that you have to wait sometimes 5 months to get to see your primary care doctor. Then when I have a schedule clinic appointment the clinic call me to say that they have to reschedule you because that doctor want be in the office. So now that appointment is push 5 months out. The is the use of making appointments the the clinics or speciality clinic canceling them. If that wasn't bad enough I found out after requesting copies of my medical record that some of my doctors are putting incorrect statements about me and my medical conditions. My husband loss his hearing while he was on active duty in which he later went to the reserves. Because he didn't go to sick call for his hearing he was DENIED several claims for hearing loss. Tell me what kind of evidence do a person need to verify that they have hearing loss when he's legal deaf.

James Morton

May 8, 2014 - 6:46pm

The biggest failure for me is not getting easy care. I have to call for an appointment usually at least 30 days waiting then I have to drive 2 hours to get to that appointment. This is just plain nuts and stupid besides. I could easily call my local doctor and get in to see him usually within a week and he is only about 6 blocks from my house takes me all of 5 minutes to get there. There is no good reason for this with todays technology. We are issued a VA ID card with a magnetic strip on the back which could easily be coded with all necessary information for billing that could be read at any health care facility or pharmacy. It could give any co-pay that we might have to pay and once swiped the health care provider would be paid within 24-48 hours directly into their bank accounts, instead of up to 2 years later. With this ability we could free up the VA's healthcare facilities for those that really need their help and in many cases close completely or greatly reduce staff at these VA facilities. All this would greatly reduce the amount of dollars currently being wasted by typical government workers who for the most part neither care or are motovatied to do a good job. They are there for their paycheck and that is about it. Meds by mail works for our spouses why not us? Our spouses can go to any doctor they want and it is covered by Champ VA, maybe it is time Champ VA takes over our care also. I would be willing to bet about 80% of our veterans would jump at that kind of deal and to never ever have to deal with going to a VA facility again.

RICHARD L.

May 8, 2014 - 6:34pm

From my personal experience the VA is doing great. Sure, there will be some deaths and some foul-ups, but overall their performance is excellent. I have dealt with about 100 VA employees over the years, and I would give them a rating of 100% (yes, 100%). No, make that 110%. A counselor from VR&E sought me out at his initiative and helped me get started as an entrepreneur. Over the past 4 years I have sold $450,000 worth of computers to the VA for use by transitioning vets. And it was the VA that got me started. Who can complain about that? I have to compare my first-hand, positive experience against second-hand, vague complaints of others.

Larry Cummings

May 12, 2014 - 10:35am

"Sure there will be some deaths and some foul-ups" - you sound like Hillary - "What difference does it make"? And what in the hell does your selling computers to the VA have to do with health care? You apparently don't know what is going on at the VA.

327mouse

May 10, 2014 - 8:28am

sure you would think they are doing great,you are lining your pockets with money, did you ever have to try to get taken care of for a problem????????

Robert Yoka

May 8, 2014 - 7:49pm

Sure,don't bite the hand that's feeding you,did the VA pay you for that glowing testimonial also.You are entitled to your opinion so don't criticize others for theirs.Secondhand complaints,COME ON !!!!!!

Patrick Young

May 8, 2014 - 6:00pm

While the VA is not perfect, to see the American Legion National commander calling a press conference to call for the resignation of Secretary Shinseki is pure political grandstanding. Something the American Legion claims not to get involved with. I wonder what political office he is considering?

eagle275

May 8, 2014 - 10:52pm

Not perfect? Tell that to the families of the patients who were left to die,ahole.

duane peck

May 8, 2014 - 5:47pm

While many V.A's listed here seem to have dropped the ball we here in Hot Springs S.D. are fighting tooth and nail to keep ours open as they say they are planning on closing it in the next 3 years. it at one time was a full fledged working hospital but they gradually fazed it out to a clinic and now they want to close that clinic and replace it with sending us to a local hospital. local hospitals constantly fail to give military veterans the care they are required. the veterans that used this hospital and the clinic now, rated it very high in care for us. it seems they want to make it harder and harder for rural veterans to get the required medical care. the hospital and it's grounds have been put on the national registry which requires them to keep it in good condition, so why pay to keep it in good condition and not use it? Veterans from the Indian reservations, northern nebraska,western wyoming and north dakota use this V.A. They cut our appointments down to once a year for veterans maintenance purposes and it just keeps getting worse and worse as far as veterans care goes. We are beginning to wonder if rural veterans count any more.

eagle275

May 8, 2014 - 11:01pm

So, I guess guess you need to figure out what your priorities are and help support our veteran's organizations because that is the only voice we have. I am a service officer for my VFW post, and every time I help a vet with his paperwork to get benefits, I wonder if that person is gonna get screwed. I help all I can, but alot is out of my control. I follow up as much as I can, but I do have try to work so I can pay my bills, and the service officer position is volunteer. Obama and his thugs hate the military, always have, always will. This is intentional, part of the big plan to weaken us and make us submit to the UN agenda. When are you guys gonna wake up? Everything we've ever been taught why to defend our country is before us. Seeing the truth is very painful, but we need to step away from the denial and take a long hard look at what is happening here and stand up to it.

Alfonso E. Caballero

May 8, 2014 - 3:46pm

The Medical Side needs attention, but the Benefits side is corrupt, which also drifts to the Medical side. The Medical Side changes recommendations and the Codes given by VA Administrative Judges to their benefit. Their Statements of why are not given but it is all gobbly-gook. It takes forever to get benefits, try 1976. The Houston VA Regional Medical Center has not accounted for all the files of Veterans that were trashed without review. Their reviews are suspect anyway. All the VA is so full of supervisors and administrators starting with Washington down to the lowest clinic. The only thing they do on time is pick up their pay checks. Get rid of 90% of them and hire people that will assist the Veteran. Everyone knows how the system really works and who gets told what and how to do it. Congress should clean house, but that brings another level of disgust.

327mouse

May 10, 2014 - 8:47am

well said,semper fi

Fred Wison

May 21, 2014 - 6:34pm

they should clean house at the manchester n.h VA also a corpmen in the jungles of Vietnam helped a Marine more than they do ther for treatment the DAV sucks also in manchester n.h useless representation on claims Siemper Fi 9th Marines nam 1969 H co. Ashau Valley

eagle275

May 8, 2014 - 11:02pm

Hooah!

AP1

May 8, 2014 - 3:45pm

The truth will always surface in any wrong doing.....It was just a matter of time. "How Unfortunate" for all of us Veterans, and certainly the ones who have given the untimate sacrafice and at no fault of there own.

Ken Weiner

May 8, 2014 - 3:44pm

Many in California wait as well. David Phillips, Lakewood, Ca. died waiting for VA to perform necessary treatment for service connected injuries while his family and friends pleaded with the VA & Government. I moved from Ohio to California in July 2013 and had to wait 10 months for an appointment, out of meds, out of patience, feeling sicker and I was a few minutes late after driving over 100 miles through So Cal traffic and 1/2 tank of gas, then waiting over 10 minutes in line, then refused to be seen because I was now 3 minutes past the late time allowance. So I will finally get an appointment after 1 year waiting and I am priority group 1 @ 100% service connected!

charlie alvarado

May 8, 2014 - 3:11pm

going thru desert storm and operation enduring freedom. I have no problem's with the VA hospital. all my visit's are good, medication's sent to me good. but never get my result's on blood work's, even calling them back. sad to read the problem's other veteran's are having. I keep reading we live in the greatest country, just don't know why?

charlie alvarado

May 8, 2014 - 3:11pm

going thru desert storm and operation enduring freedom. I have no problem's with the VA hospital. all my visit's are good, medication's sent to me good. but never get my result's on blood work's, even calling them back. sad to read the problem's other veteran's are having. I keep reading we live in the greatest country, just don't know why?

Kenyatta Ford

May 8, 2014 - 7:58am

My father had surgery at and VA Facility and now he's messed up for life. And their Not giving me the right answers.

Savanna

May 12, 2014 - 10:15am

My husband had a mess up at Tucson VA covered up quite well by the upper cardio staff, resulted in 100 days in various hospitals and a crevice in his chest and leg, with wound vac, horrifying, I have all documentation, after I demanded he leave I got their attention, the valves the hospital received came into the OR with a bio film taint which caused more than one patient to get staph, and the Cardio Dr. Knows about it, that part they covered up but not before I saw the Dr.s notes in the computer, be very careful, my husbands was service connected from contacting rheumatic fever 30 years ago, we were very saddened by what they did. His sternum is not attached and 7 surgeries to correct it, saddest part the bs lies however I did not buy their bs and took pictures and pulled records all along the way, it still does not change the condition my husband of 36 years is in. Am I mad oh hell yeah,

James M. McIntosh

May 7, 2014 - 2:13am

Never have I had better health care than that I am getting from the VA. As a Vietnam way vet, Eric Shinseki stays, I say, because he has done a great job.

eagle275

May 8, 2014 - 11:05pm

So, your priorities are, you get yours and the hell with what is happening to everyone else,eh. Hmmmmm

327mouse

May 10, 2014 - 8:39am

well said eagle275

Jim Holler

May 6, 2014 - 6:09pm

I'm going through a process now with the medical team 6 here at Surprise AZ clinic. I have a bad case of acid reflux which I have had once before and I can't seem to get past the Nurse to explain what has been before to solve the problem. I'm not able to sleep much and I'm loosing weight because there is very little that I'm able to eat.The doctor prescribed a medication that is not working at all and I told the Nurse she said double up and then call back in 4 days well the 4 day ends on Sat and they won't be on duty until Monday and I will be out of pills on Sat if I double up. So the Nurse said call back on Friday then. So that is where I'm at with this.No medication after Sat. Problem will still be a problem.

Dave - I have Gerd

May 7, 2014 - 10:10am

Mr Holler, I have GERD myself and in addition to medication, I have to do several things to manage my GERD. I have gone from constant heartburn to now having it only rarely. While you wait, try this 1. Eat smaller meals more often instead of 3 large meals. 2. Avoid spicy, high fat foods. Avoid alcohol and chocolate 3. Drink milk or water instead of coffee, soda and alcohol. 4. Take your medication (probably prevacid or protonix) daily without meals for better absorption. Use antacids for sudden heartburn. 5. Exercise, this helps move food through your intestines 6. Don't eat for several hours before bedtime. Sleep with 1-2 pillows Good luck with your appointment. Hope this helps

cowboyup

May 7, 2014 - 12:55am

Keep on them Jim. However, remember we soon become Cattle, once we have had enough bull crap then we become Branded. last week I called in for my Pain Medication. Late this afternoon Nurse Susan from the Tucson VA Ironwood Clinic stated this. Sir your have 24 hours to get to the VA to pee or we are not giving you your pain medication. I told her I'm sick and have a surgery consult on the 12th which is next Monday and I can Pee Then. She then said I don't get my pain meds and the doctor will not release them. It gets better. I called "BRAD" Patient Advocate and he sited with the Doctor. I have always gone in to pee...ALWAYS!!!! However to stop my pain meds and forcing me out to an Emergency Visit for pain relief is so unprofessional. I'm sure I'm not the only Tucson Veteran going through this. Look Up Federal Tort Laws Jim. I have 5 years of this kind of treatment which is very twisted. When some VA staff in Tucson are at their best is when their at their worse. Sad but true. I have been out of meds now for 3 days and I hurt. God Help Us All

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