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What should be VA's response to reports of preventable deaths at the Phoenix VA Medical Center?

 

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Proud American

April 30, 2014 - 12:53pm

I served 1969-1970 and received my honorable discharge. At that time I was told the VA medical center would always be there for me. I recently went to the VA medical center to renew my enrollment after not using it for several years. I now have medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield. I figured they would want to use my insurance. No problem. Pleased to help them out. The guy at the center had me fill out paper work and told me to return in a week. I assumed I was getting my card. Every time I would return to get my picture taken for ID and told the machine was broke. Finally after being put off and put off I ask another rep there what was the deal with my delay in enrollment, was it because of a broken camera? He wouldn't tell me. Got home and had a letter from the VA telling me I could not use the medical center because I had been placed in an income bracket that disqualified me. I really wanted to use the VA Medical Center as a honorably discharged veteran who had served my country. Years ago I was lied to. A bold face lie by the US government to a young soldier. The VA Hospital is NOT there for me. They have abandoned me like a wounded soldier abandoned on the battlefield left behind by his buddies.

Anonymous

May 1, 2014 - 4:59pm

I did my time from 1998 to 2008 and guess what The VA has no file on me and will not help me here in PHX AZ

john

May 1, 2014 - 7:36pm

The VA personnel should be charged with murder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ron granitz

May 2, 2014 - 7:25pm

exactly

Calvin W.

May 4, 2014 - 11:53am

I agree with statement made by the Veteran above.
May 5, 2014
VA fail to comply with the following provisions: (CFR ) Code of Federal Regulations
1. CFR §17.33 Patients' rights.
2. CFR §17.52 Hospital care and medical services in non-VA facilities.

VA fail to comply with the following provisions: (CFR ) Code of Federal Regulations
CFR §17.33 Patients' rights provide that:… Patients have a right to receive,… therefor under the law, prompt and appropriate treatment for any physical or emotional disability.

According to CFR §17.52 ; Hospital care and medical services in non-VA facilities:
… When VA facilities or other government facilities are not capable of furnishing economical hospital care or medical services… or are not capable of furnishing care or services required,… VA may contract with non-VA facilities for care… in public or private facilities… individual authorizations may be used for Hospital care or medical services to a veteran for the treatment of ….For any disability of a veteran participating in a rehabilitation program under 38 U.S.C. ch. 31 … A veteran who has a service-connected disability …...,

I consider this to be one of the most important medical benefits that every Veteran should be evoking. Veterans can only evoke the benefits which they have been informed about…and this information is not adequately covered in latest "Veterans Health Benefits Handbook. Specific guide lines have not been provided for the veteran to evoke this provision of law when it is not being initiated by the VA administrators.

Retired Army

April 30, 2014 - 10:20pm

When I joined the Army, I was told that if I stayed in the military for 20 years that I would receive lifetime health benefits. I was also told that if I stayed less then 20 years that I would be treated at a VA medical facility for injuries incurred while on active duty or if I were indigent. Those promises were kept. No one told me if I stayed less then 20 years that I would be entitled to free lifetime health benefits. Problem with the VA medical system is that they are expected by some to treat every Veteran, regardless of time in service, type of health issue, or income level. It makes no sense. That's the reason that deserving Veterans have to wait for appointments for such a long time. Some Veterans are abusing medical care at the VA. They are faking their income levels to get free health care and living off the backs of the tax payers. Not every Veteran needs the services of the VA medical system or should be allowed to use it. Let's get back to what the VA medical system was created for-treat service connected disabilities and indigent Veterans.

Spencer Bolesta

May 1, 2014 - 4:35pm

Well said.

Retired USMC

May 1, 2014 - 5:45pm

I agree with most of the comments posted. But the Retired Army hit the nail on the head. Veteran should be treated with dignity and respect, and should receive care promised them. Those that are responsible for the death of 40 or more Veterans should be prosecuted to the extent of the law.

Ray Omdahl

May 1, 2014 - 6:36pm

You Betcha. Tucson VA has health care that can't be beat!

Jordynne Olivia Lobo

May 1, 2014 - 6:42pm

Upon enlistment I was promised free lifetime VA medical care - no co-pays, no private insurance, no Medicare: just 100% free lifetime VA medical care. Look, shipmates, it doesn't matter how long a shipmate (or buddy) served, the Government promised us - all of us honorably discharged vets, not just some of us - free lifetime VA medical care. But our Dear Rulers have been trying to drive wedges between us vets, and one tactic they've used has been to divide us administratively into VA "Priority Groups." My point here is that we vets must not divide ourselves by arguing that some vets are somehow "more deserving" than other vets of the free lifetime VA medical care that the Government promised us. Here's the battle cry: STICK TOGETHER, VETS! Don't let the Washington big shots divide us with their VA administrative "Priority Groups" or with any other scheme they try to divide us with. Our STICK TOGETHER spirit should move all of us to stand up for each one of us vets. All Served, All Deserve!

Army Retired

May 1, 2014 - 8:12pm

Jordynne-your comment is what is part of the problem. No one ever promised free lifetime healthcare, paid for by the tax payers unless you served 20 or more years. And if they did-they were wrong. And you shouldn't expect it. If you are indigent or have an injury or disease because of your military service-the country has a financial and moral obligation to take care of you. As a tax payer, why should I have to pay for your care at the VA for a common cold? That's why people who do qualify for VA care wait months for appointments and die in the meantime. Undeserving Vets are clogging the system. Even some of us retired military should take the high road and use our TRICARE benefits for medical care to free up appointment spaces for Veterans that are in real for VA care. The bottom line is that this country cannot afford providing every Veteran free healthcare for life. Nor should it. The VA should treat service connected disabilities and indigent Veterans-that's it. If that's followed, appointments would be timely and lives would be saved.

Responsible Veteran

May 1, 2014 - 8:26pm

I agree with Army Retired. The military did not promise us free healthcare for life. Look at your enlistment contract and see if it says free healthcare for life. It won't. The problem with the VA is all these Veterans not taking personal responsibility and wanting the govt to take care of them. If its not service connected or you aren't indigent the govt. shouldn't have to take care of you. Serving your country should be an honor, not something you do for the govt. to take care of you. All these Veterans getting free treatment for things that had nothing to do with the military is what is causing all of the wait times. Time for Veterans to take personal responsibility and quit blaming all their problems on the military.

mark (USCG RETIRED)

May 3, 2014 - 6:45pm

I agree. There is a VA hospital not to far from me and i am not to far from Langley A.F.B. I primarily go to my heath care provider at Langley. The only time i will go to the VA is if there are no appts available at langley or i have an issue with one of my with one of my afflictions from the disability i was awarded with so that way they will have a record of when i came in, that way it would help me if i needed to request an increase in disability for recurring problems. keep the space free for those who REALLY need the care and don't have the luxury I have.

Chris parks

May 5, 2014 - 2:40pm

I could not have said it better. I have a service connected disability and have been waiting for my 3rd low back surgery (l4-L5 fusion). But hey on the bright side they make it right by giving me a lot of morphine amongst other meds. NOT, that's a whole other issue with the VA. Thank you for your service brother!

Salvatore R LaRosa

May 1, 2014 - 3:54pm

All of the above. Impeach Obama and Congress!!!!

Charles B>

May 1, 2014 - 6:27pm

Amen to that!!! Oblama and the "do nothing" congress can't be gone fast enough for me. They are ruining this country.

dapadest128

May 1, 2014 - 4:06pm

Their response should be "People WILL go to jail! Shinseki WILL take FULL RESPONSIBILITY and answer for this! We WILL get to the TOP of this!"

airdalevet

May 1, 2014 - 4:15pm

The lady in charge at the Phoenix VA hospital has done the very same atrocities at one of the VA hospitals in the state of Washington. VA knew of her atrocities. Rather than terminate her VA moved her to a small facility then to the hospital in Phoenix. VA allowed her to commit more murders of veteran's. VA has known about these types of problems for several years but does nothing about it. Seems like a good general knows what's going on in his command... good or bad. Shinseki knew but did nothing to help us vet's.

Spencer Bolesta

May 1, 2014 - 4:23pm

If this is true, and I believe airdalevet, then the lady who was in charge of the Phoenix and Washington VA facilities NEEDS TO BE FIRED and then NEEDS TO GO TO JAIL. That is murder. I have watched enough NCIS, and Law and Order to know she should be accused of murder due to culpable negligence.

Spencer Bolesta

May 1, 2014 - 4:19pm

Yes, I agree. All the above. How can you NOT have reform, and how can you NOT terminate EVERYONE who had a hand, ever just a little bit? How can you NOT get to the bottom of it without having REFORM????? I don't know if funding should be increased without FIRST terminating those who ARE involved and reforming the whole of the VA system? You realize, of course, the whole system is messed up. The adjudication side is messed up. NOT EVEN AUTOMATED. It need to be automated. They are still working out of veterans' files that are 5 to 8 inches thick. How can this be in the 21st Century? Of, I forget, the VA is not in the 21st Century. They still think we are in the days of Lincoln, which is when the VA system was created. How do you reform the system? Ask the vets in the seats at the clinics nationwide. I have. They will tell you. Just sit next to them while they wait to be called. They will talk. Most will talk.

Buddy Bayless

May 1, 2014 - 4:25pm

The problem is in the VA healthcare's delivery system. Here's what to do. Immediately send all VA qualified patients into the existing private healthcare system. The private healthcare system receives payment for services rendered exactly the same as the VA now charges and/or receives for healthcare delivered under the auspices of the VA healthcare system. Private hospitals, clinics and doctors will get paid for treating a veteran the same as it currently costs the VA to deliver such care. It'll be a bit like the Medicare system currently used by seniors 65 and over. The advantage here is the healthcare deliverers are the skilled experts who deliver health services to all the rest of the American public. VA patients will no longer be the recipients of 2nd class healthcare. Just lift up the framework for paying for VA healthcare and drop it on top of the current private healthcare system. Healthcare deliverers will get paid: 1. by private pay patients, 2. patients who have various forms of medical insurance, 3. patients on Medicare, and 4. the new class of VA patients whose treatment is paid for by VA funding. Problem solved.

Spencer Bolesta

May 1, 2014 - 4:31pm

Buddy, I agree. However, what is out there now is no better that what they have for us. They patterned Obamacare after the existing VA medical care system. We are much better off in the VA system, in a system that can be fixed, than we are going directly into Obamacare where we will die early for sure.

wingrider6

May 1, 2014 - 5:44pm

I agree with you 100% Buddy. This mufti-billion dollar boondoggle called VA Healthcare is a rip off to the veteran and to the taxpayers. Dump it for an insurance plan.

Richard Hofacker

May 1, 2014 - 7:16pm

Buddy Bayless recommends "Just lift up the framework for paying the VA healthcare and drop it on top of the current private healthcare system." I think you'd better ask the private healthcare system first. Many private hospitals are already complaining about their emergency room costs and don't need a flood of hundreds of thousands of vets, many with injuries and sicknesses they've never encountered in the civilian panoply. The American medical system is shaky as it is, so the VA's problems are no more than an extension of the systemic failures which the owners of hospitals -- usually doctors -- are unwilling to correct.

Vietnam salior

May 1, 2014 - 4:28pm

There are to many people who received BCD's and less than honorable discharges, who paid big bucks to fancy attorney's who got them a change in their discharge and they are getting disability's even though they were criminals. One I know was a drug user the judge give him the choice jail or military. He took the military out of the two years he served all but six months was brig time. His daddy paid 35,000 dollars to an attorney. He now draws 100% disability because the military caused him to use drugs? yet it is in his juvenile record he used drug prior to going into the service.

Spencer Bolesta

May 1, 2014 - 4:28pm

I have ONE question for you, the American Legion. Do you know just how scared this makes US vets in light of the type of stuff Obama has created with Obamacare and the revelations brought about in 2009 from the VA booklet, "Your Life; Your Choice"? We now have proof positive that the VA is trying to kill off vets as we grow older, rather than just letting us die on our own. I have deep concerns. I have been in the VA system for 40 years as a Type 1 Diabetic. I am 60. With this story being brought to light, I now wonder when the VA will decide it is my time to stop sending my meds, or providing timely care. WE ARE FREAKING SCARED OUT HERE.

ChrisH

May 1, 2014 - 4:45pm

Let's be clear about this whole thing, it was all about keeping their numbers low so as to make a bonus. They, by their actions, committed DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE MANSLAUGHTER for MONEY. It was all about the MONEY and to hell with the Veterans. Any and all who had a hand in this obscene act whether directly or indirectly should and must be charged and tried for DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE MANSLAUGHTER, stripped of their jobs, their pensions and/or benefits and thrown in jail sentenced for each individual Veteran that died at their hands. NO retirement, NO paid leave and, NO transfer to another place - jail, sentenced for each Veteran they murdered, stripped of their pay, their pensions and, any and all benefits. This was about MURDER for PROFIT.

Ron Ruff

May 1, 2014 - 5:16pm

I agree

Jim Creagan

May 1, 2014 - 4:53pm

All the options on the list certainly have merit. Additionally criminal charges must be filed against the responsible administrators with harsh sentences following. This might set an example for others who might deliberately overlook Veterans in their care.

Appalled

May 1, 2014 - 5:07pm

This is outrageous. She and all above and below her in the know of this atrocity needs to be fired immediately. Further, they all need to be criminally prosecuted for the deaths of each veteran, one count each for each veteran who died. They must be made to pay for their crimes and to set an example for others. It is obvious the VA folks like her are just interested in their bonuses and not veteran'ss care.

Ron ruff

May 1, 2014 - 5:16pm

Everyone involved in the altering of the schedules so the metrics would appear that they were not backed up on appointments should be charged with and prosecuted for manslaughter.
Everyone who received a bonus that is in the chain of command from Sharon Helman on down should have to pay back all bonuses from the time that Ms. Helman started as the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system . She should be terminated immediately without pay.
Ms. Helman must be charged with third degree murder/involuntary manslaughter. Third degree murder/involuntary manslaughter is an act performed by a person that causes the death of another person. It can be a killing that results from indifference or negligence or recklessness. Statutes defining third degree murder vary considerably from state to state. Involuntary manslaughter (sometimes called "criminally negligent homicide) is a crime in which the victim's death is unintended.
She has committed malfeasance in the conduct of her duties as director. Malfeasance is defined as wrongful conduct as a public official. The stated information in the news certainly indicates that she committed a wrongful act. That act was manipulating the appointment system so she and those under her would receive a bonus.
This is such a grievous act by Ms. Helman that I feel she should not be afforded the rights that she has been afforded by the men and women that she allowed to be murdered due to her negligence.

Rene Roy

May 1, 2014 - 5:36pm

If true, I see no compassion here, all that person wanted to do was to save their own skin by spreading a lie. This is the problem, the government is so big o one is being held responsible for their actions anymore. They are supposed take care of our veterans, not let them die. Where is the compassion?

wingrider6

May 1, 2014 - 5:40pm

You mean to tell me that these guys were deathly ill, couldn't get seen by the VA so they just waited until they died? Waited months? Were they not smart enough to seek medical help else where? Even if destitute, ER's have to see them. I think their stupidity trumps my feeling sorry for them!

MSGT LEROY FOSTER

May 1, 2014 - 6:03pm

I wanted to mark more than one item on your list to include a full criminal investigation immediately for murder. A full criminal investigation from top to bottom starting at the white house, the va secretary,members of congress both house and senate who could have been involved with this SECRET LIST WHICH IS MOST PROBABLY A NATIONAL POLICY and is happening at every VA REGIONAL OFFICE AND VA MEDICAL CENTER AT THE DIRECTION OF THEIR TIGER TEAMS and WHITE HOUSE AND CONGESSIONAL LIASION OFFICERS the entire thing stinks of conspiracy and cover up just like AGENT ORANGE which most of those vets were probably denied AO CLAIMS and dying with cancers, heart disease, autoimmune diseases like LUPUS, MS, PARKINSONS, ALS and more FIRE THEM ALL AND DO IT IMMEDIATELY this is OUT RIGHT MURDER AND IT IS BEING CONDONED ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Greg Mahoney

May 1, 2014 - 6:33pm

It is absolutely pathetic there has not been a major statement from Shinseki yet. He should resign! This is not the first time Shinseki has been virtually silent on major veterans' issues.

Bill Gowans

May 1, 2014 - 7:38pm

Bonham,TX VA insisted on means testing me before agreeing to seeing me. That occurred in 1996. The problems in the VA have been around for many years. The recruiter didn't means test before signing me up for four years. I never did get to see a VA doctor.

Ricky

May 1, 2014 - 7:59pm

I just left the Regional VA Medical Center Approximately 12:45pm. I had a conversation with the Patient Advocacy Head lead person and things are not looking good at the VA. I wrote a letter directly to Sharon Helman office 3 weeks ago and she has refused to response to my letter dealing with medical care. I have been writing these letters since 2010 and beyond. It is understandable as to why she has been asked to step down from her position. Veterans are losing a battle on proper medical attention along with other veterans needs. If you are a veteran and you do not know which direction to go please contact me and I will do my best to assist you. I am working with John McCain's office on these issues along with other issues so it it very important that we as veterans stick together. Please sign up on Azvets for vets to voice your opinion.

Larry Passano

May 1, 2014 - 8:34pm

Terminate and press charges for murder. The greed of the administrators so they can get their bonuses and causing the life of these Vets is beyond just a being terminated.This needs to be a message to the people that work for the Vets and tax payors and remind them we are their employer and the goverment is there to serve us. Hold all of them accountable.

MSG George S Sinko Ret Special Forces

May 1, 2014 - 8:58pm

I retired from the VA and worked in a great hospital in Columbia, Mo. When I hear stories like this I vote all of the above and the responsible parties should be held accountable. The word has to get out that we the vets will not tolorate this form of care. They should suffer the consequences of their actions.

Billy Ray

May 1, 2014 - 9:21pm

I am a member of the DAV. The VA does not make it easy regarding claims and medical attention. The process in filing claims can take years with the same form letter responses. It's been my experience with the VA that negligence and complacency is the norm. Anyone who got a bonus while Veterans died should be convicted and serving time.

Marsha & Bill Sumal

May 1, 2014 - 10:55pm

What about OBAMACARE???? Healthcare for ALL? And we neglect the most deserving? Abominable! If VA cannot provide care on a timely basis, and I mean TIMELY, NOT a month or a week for potentially dangerous problems (ie:bladder ca) then we MUST accomodate them at local physicians and hospitals. I am appalled at all the FREE care we pro vide to illegal immigrants and our Military is neglected and abused!

DocDug

May 1, 2014 - 11:04pm

Get a real investigator in there like FBI and if warranted, file criminal charges. Then start thinking about revising the whole VA health system. Give every eligible vet a medical credit card. Let them go where they want for their care. Close down all of the VA facilities. Bet if they ran that through the congressional budget office for an analysis we would save taxpayers billions. Vets would also get more timely care.

Michael Sullivan

May 2, 2014 - 7:18am

Until and unless we write laws (not regualtions) and identiify and prosecute individauls in the VA for these type of gross disregard for human life - this will continue. The administration in the VA is terrible. The head of the VA should be fired or resign. WE must get rid of enough of this culture that is doing this for the VA administrators to finally take notice. Since nothing is usually done they just sit back and laugh.

James Leavitt

May 2, 2014 - 9:11am

Before anyone is fired a through investigation should be conducted. No! Not a six month study with corrective action never being taken. This will be SOP under Obamacare. "They" will never be able to afford the AFA until the Millennials kill off all the Baby Boomers. Get rid of that mindset NOW. We, Baby Boomers, are not going anyplace for awhile. After all we paid our dues, did what we were supposed to do financially, and are now being punished for having done so. Enough said NO KNEEJERK responses please.

Richard J. Lomas

May 2, 2014 - 9:54am

Is it a surprise that a person who reveres the military as much as our president is ultimately in charge. And now he has taken over the health care of the whole country. Anything larger than a neighborhood in beyond his capacity to organize.

Mule

May 2, 2014 - 10:42am

I don't know what time frame you were in the service but when I was discharged in 1970 from the Air Force the colonel stood up in front of us and told all of us we had free medical care for life.

responsible veteran

May 2, 2014 - 12:35pm

Hey Mule if you believe everything they told you in the military I've got some ocean front property right by the VA in Phoenix to sell you

Watsonsbag

May 2, 2014 - 3:57pm

They should indite the top administrators for gross neglect, if found guilty. They should be striped of their pensions, benefits, bonuses, and sent to a real prison for the rest of their lives.... But they won't. Some little guy will pay for the big wheels wrong doings and life with go on as usual. After all they were only Veterans -Broken Toys of War- that died. It's not like they were movie stars or something

Frank Breen, MD, FACP

May 3, 2014 - 9:32am

My military service was completed on July 4, 1970. I was proud to have served. Years later I worked for VA Hospitals across America as a locum tenens. My wife accompanied me and volunteered on the wards. We were both proud to serve our veterans. The working staffs within these hospitals are hard working, devoted employees who give their all for our wounded warriors. The disgrace that has now come to light is as much an insult to these hard working, devoted people as it is to our veterans. Those involved in this finally unearthed horror should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law with no cover up by any administration, either by our miserable representatives in Washington or by the despicable, incompetent liars within the hierarchy of the VA System itself. Our VA representatives must keep up the drum beat for reform without cessation until the system is finally and completely fixed. Anything less is a slap in the face of all of us who truly care about our veterans who have served this country so nobly.

LieutenantCharlie

May 3, 2014 - 10:32am

As a Military Veteran, that uses the VA for my primary health care, I can say that since Obama took Office, the quality care at the VA has been going down.
In 2007 I took two Veterans (I have been taking Veterans to the VA to sign up for health care since the 1960's)to the VA to sign up for health care, and it took one week to get their VA Card, and two weeks to get a Primary Care Doctor.
After Obama took Office it quickly jumped up, to a year just to get a card. And two to get a Primary Care Doctor.

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