Category Archives: Veterans’ Issues

BREAKING: Proposed VA Head: Dr David Shulkin

In a wide-ranging press conference today, President-Elect Donald Trump nominated Dr. David J. Shulkin as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin was named to the #2 spot, which is essentially a chief operating officer position, by President Obama and confirmed by the Republican-led Senate.

His background prior to that appointment was as a doctor (internist) and a medical facility and health care company manager in the private sector, in the New York City area.

Shulkin’s VA bio is here at the VA:

https://www.va.gov/opa/bios/bio_shulkin.asp

As of 1200 EDT, reporters have asked nothing about Shulkin, instead immediately interrupting Trump to ask him about tax returns and keep returning to their preferred narratives.

We’ve been critical of Dr Shulkin in his #2 position before, but we wish him all success, for obvious reasons.

A Quick VA Roundup

We haven’t time for a full post, but we’ll hit some of the high points.

  • ITEM 3 Jan 17: The House of Representatives approved the Ensuring VA Accountability Act — unanimously. What the act does is preserve evidence of wrongdoing in VA employee files. As it is, reports of misconduct are erased after two years, which goes a long way to explain the VA’s culture of wrongdoer impunity, and of “mess up and move up” promotions.
  • ITEM 2 Jan 17: VA nominees keep (sensibly, we think) declining the honor. The job needs a turnaround artist, but a turnaround artist needs command authority, and the law doesn’t give him that.  (Update 3 Jan: there remain contenders. Good luck to ’em).
  • ITEN 2 Jan 17: A columnist at the San Diego Union-Tribune identifies four issues facing that secretary, whoever the poor bastard may be. 1) Bureaucracy, especially exploding headcount in middle-overhead ranks; 2) Privatization, which the VA self-licking-ice-cream-cone will fight fang and claw; 3) Claims backlog, which they say they’re really going to fix this time, and 4) Recruiting and retaining professional staff.
  • ITEM 29 Dec 16: The Wall Street Journal has a Pulitzer-bait thumbsucker on the problem of opiate-addicted vets. (Republican wins election, and the invisible homeless and jacked-up individuals appear in the media again. Funny how that works).
  • ITEM 22 Dec 16: The Harvard Business Review offers up a B-School professor’s opinion that the VA has already turned itself around, in an article that’s mostly a tongue-bath of lame duck VA Secretary Bob McDonald. For instance, the prof uncritically accepts McDonald’s claim to have “changed 14 of the top 17 leaders of VA,” not realizing that he really means he shuffled the duds around in a game of musical jobs.
  • ITEM n.d.: The VA claims to be helping thousands and thousands of vets with their health requirements… including people like Your Humble Blogger who never darkened the door of a Va facility in 2016, but still got a tax form indicating that we could claim to have been covered by the VA.

Is it time to disband this thing yet?

How Hampshire College Celebrated Veterans’ Day

How did they celebrate Veterans’ Day at Hampshire College in the college-dense wonderland of Amherst, Massachusetts? Students, professors, and administrators gathered on the eve of Veterans’ Day, lowered the United States Flag, and burned it. It was a fitting expression of their contempt for the United States and, especially, its veterans.

burining-flag

To celebrate this display of Hampshire College values, and illustrate college solidarity with the flag-burners, College President Jonathan Lash ordered that the flag not be raised, afterward.

Ever again.

Hampshire College’s president Johnathan Lash announced neither the American flag nor any other flags will be flown on campus.

Lash is not a veteran. (His only career has been as a bureaucrat and an enviromental activist). He despises veterans. He certainly doesn’t want them, or their family members, on his campus. He obviously doesn’t want any veteran in business ever to hire a graduate of Hampshire College, thereby staining the college’s purity of message with the taint of America.

Lash is no stranger to the power of the flag as a symbol. He had previously ordered it lowered to half-staff, in protest of the election of Donald Trump.

You know, if you are an inmate of some navel-gazing Academistan, and wondering how in the Hegel we wound up with President Trump, this is what those of us in the intelligence racket call an indicator. President Trump?  Jonathan Lash is how you get President Trump, and he’s already working to re-elect the guy.

Update

Michael Walsh at PJ Media has more. He includes an excerpt from an updated statement from the veteran-hating Lash. In it, Lash says his decision to fly the flag at half-staff was a response to “the current environment of escalating hate-based violence,” by which he apparently means his candidate losing the election. (For an academic, he uses words with the imprecision of the bureaucrat that he was before). Then, he denies it had anything to do with the election; at one point, he even suggests he was doing it to respect the war fallen, a laughable suggestion. And he culminates by saying not flying the flag lets them focus on fighting what it stands for:

…racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.

As Walsh says, you might want to think twice before sending your kids here. Not to this evil place. Or for hiring anybody else’s kids who have been subject to Lash’s hate indoctrination for four or more years.

Latest from VA: “Sorry, Trannies.”

VA-veterans-affairsIn June, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has had graveyards full of preventable deaths to demonstrate that it has completely failed to provide the minimum standard of care and treatment in life-threatening medical  situations, announced that it would become fully 2016 buzzword-compliant by providing sex-change operations for any veterans seeking a walk on the wild side.

Monday, days after a national election seems to have ousted those whose motto might be “Millions for Deviants, but Not One Cent for Defense,” the VA dropped a Dear John Jane on the trannies: sorry, we can’t do it. For the record, they didn’t say anything about the election, only that they don’t have the money. (Which is not surprising, because Congress never appropriated a dime for VA choppadickoffomies). The VA had been planning to do it by rule change, or get an executive order, which isn’t exactly legal, but what has that ever slowed them down? Military Times:

Veterans Affairs officials are dropping controversial plans to allow sex-change surgeries for transgender veterans, not because of criticism but instead due to budget constraints.

They weren’t going to “allow” this. They were going to “fund” this, in preference to treating combat wounds and other physical ailments.

The move… is a significant setback for LGBT advocates and raises questions on whether the surgeries will be offered anytime in coming years, given conservative control of the White House and Congress in 2017.

[P]ursuing a rule change to allow the long-held ban on VA physicians offering the surgeries will be delayed until “when appropriated funding is available.”

Don’t worry, though, sexually confused persons; they still feel your pain. (Not literally. That would be… it would… nope, not literally). And they’ll still try to make your world conform to your delusion, so long as it’s the right delusion.

In a statement Monday, VA officials said they plan on continuing to offer assistance to transgender veterans by offering “hormone therapy, mental health care, preoperative evaluation” and other services.

Department leaders suggested in June that they would work to overturn the ban this year, to allow sex-change operations to take place in coming years. On Monday, they indicated that they still believe the idea is worthwhile, even if not financially feasible.

“Increased understanding of both gender dysphoria and surgical techniques in this area has improved significantly and is now widely accepted as medically necessary treatment,” the statement said.

In other news, all psychiatric patients who identify as Napoleon Bonaparte will be surgically shortened to 5’3″.

“VA has been and will continue to explore a regulatory change that would allow VA to perform gender alteration surgery…”

Nothing is holding them back but the regulations. It’s not like they’d have a hard time finding physicians in the VA ranks willing to mutilate healthy patients!

Meanwhile, what’s the tranny veteran community to do? The plan to give them the chop has been given the chop, leaving them with no recourse but back-alley sex-changes using crosscut saws or pruning shears.

Today is Veterans Day

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

Found on the net: Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial [1982]. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

We know nothing about this poet, or her poem; just that her name was Margaret I. Postgate, and it was first published in 1918. Her poem is quite meaningful today, as today is the day in which we celebrate the surviving veterans, rather than the fallen — and perhaps, show a little love to those of the living veterans who were changed forever by the experience.

As the fellow to the right, who has doubtless gone to his reward in the 34 years since the picture, shows us, we are bound one to the other in a long, unbroken line of service. May it ever be so.

The Veteran

We came upon him sitting in the sun —
Blinded by war, and left. And past the fence
Wandered young soldiers from the Hand & Flower,
Asking advice of his experience.

And he said this and that, and told them tales;
And all the nightmares of each empty head
Blew into the air. Then, hearing us beside —
“Poor kids, how do they know what it’s like?” he said.

And we sat there, and watched him as he sat
Turning his sockets where they went away;
Until it came to one of us to ask
“And you’re — how old?”
“Nineteen the 3rd of May.”

Have a thought, and a prayer if you’re a praying soul, for those worse off than ourselves, on this solemn day. And it would be meet and just to raise a glass with a fellow veteran.

VA Supremo Lied to Defend Perv PA

mark-wisner_mugshot

Mark Wisner, the pawsy perv PA of Leavenworth. Why is he smiling in a jail mugshot? Looking forward to dropping the soap?

Physician’s Assistant Mark Wisner (WISE-ner) admitted to sexually abusing veterans at the Leavenworth, Kansas VAMC. As the investigation continued, more young male vets came forward with tales of groping. Wisner tried to minimize his conduct. It was only one. It was just “touching.”

Wisner might have been charged with serious crimes, but instead, VA leaders cut a deal with him: go quietly, and you can retire. And VA officials at the very highest level continued to watch Wisner’s back, in a way they don’t look out for mere veterans.

Secretary Bob McDonald, whose tenure has been marked by management of the VA for, by, and of the employees, even lied to protect the pawsy perv.

In September, Sen. Jerry Moran questioned VA Secretary Robert McDonald on the handling of Wisner’s case. McDonald maintained Wisner resigned.

Because a pension from a VA job is a precious, untouchable entitlement — whereas veterans’ benefits are mere prolefeed for a lesser class than the exalted nomenklatura. Why, if you punished the pervs, the next thing you know, you’d be looking to fire the merely incompetent.

The VA spokesman at Leavenworth (every facility has a few, and they’re all getting six figures to lie to the public and the media) also lied about Wisner, until caught.

In previous statements from the Leavenworth VA, leaders only said Wisner “left.” The spokesperson did confirm to 41 Action News Wednesday he retired.

The difference between “resigned” and “retired” is not semantic. It means Wisner is still getting paid — your tax dollars in action.

VA-veterans-affairsA timeline established by KHSB 41 Action News described Wisner’s downfall. To that, we added a few other key moments in this long-running case.

  1. 19 May 14: VA opens an investigation file on Wisner, after he is credibly accused of groping a patient. VA interviews him, and he admits “inappropriately touching” “at least one” patient. VA keeps him on.
  2. Feb 2015: Wisner, now accused by seven vets of groping, surrenders his PA license. Wisner “acknowledged in a consent order that he used his position as a physician’s assistant to commit sexual battery against veterans.” VA keeps him on in “administrative” status.
  3. 9 Jul 15: Documents show he did genital and testicular exams that were not medically indicated, “for his own pleasure.” VA keeps him on.
  4. 12 Jul 15: Two brothers groped by Wisner speak out on KHSB. VA keeps him on.
  5. Aug 2015: Wisner accused of overprescribing painkillers. VA keeps him on.
  6. 7 Aug 15: Wisner appears in court on sexual battery and felony aggravated criminal sodomy charges. VA keeps him on.
  7. 27 Apr 16. A veteran charges that, “Wisner repeatedly fondled him and made inappropriate remarks regarding the veteran’s genitals. He also claims Wisner suggested he would withhold pain medication if he did not allow Wisner to touch his private area.” Wisner did these examinations without gloves. VA keeps him on.
  8. 24 Jun 16: Prosecutors add an additional sexual battery charge. Around this time, Wisner retires from the VA with full benefits.
  9. 29 Jul 16: Wisner is revealed to have a criminal record for sex crimes in California from 1987. He admitted this when hired by VA in 1992. VA hired him anyway. And VA kept him on. VA refuses to discus his hiring, but the Leavenworth six-ligure spokesman describes Wisner’s serial groping as, “the timely, high-quality care and services [vets] have earned and deserve.” The spokesman also lies about Wisner’s departure.
  10. 3 Aug 16: Wisner’s accusers now number fifty. Lawyers working for McDonald and VA are not working on Wisner’s criminal defense, but they are trying to stamp out malpractice suits, on the interesting grounds that when he started groping, he was magically off the .gov clock and on his own time.
  11. Sep 2016: Sen Moran asks VA Secretary Bob McDonald about Wisner. McDonald lies. To protect him? To protect the VA? Because it’s become a habit? VA keeps McDonald on.

 

Soldier and Achmed the Dead Terrorist Team Up

OK, he’s not really Achmed (Jeff Dunham’s famous ventriloquist’s dummy), but you can see the family resemblance.

veteran-and-skeleton

The dead guy in BDUs is, in fact, a dummy, made of a craft-shop skull and some pillows for stuffing. The live neckbeard is one John Newcomb, “who served as an infantryman for two years,” and who is trying to raise awareness about veteran suicide.

Newcomb is tired of losing his friends to suicide, and he wants fellow veterans to know their struggles are never too heavy and that he will help carry them.

That’s why he marches through different cities in upstate New York with a 20-pound skeleton dressed in a uniform on his back — he wants people to know veteran suicide is still an issue and he wants to raise money to help.

“I am not naive enough to believe that I will ever be able to stop this sadness in its entirety,” Newcomb said. “But I have to try.”

We’re not exactly following how you get from a dude walking with a dummy to suicide prevention, but whatever. You can go Read The Whole Thing™, and let us know if you can figure it out.

We’re not averse to the idea of preventing vet suicide. Indeed, we prevent vet suicide every day, by not killing ourselves, and giving other vets the benefit of assuming that they, too, are not suicidal or otherwise damaged goods. But that’s just us. If Newcomb wants to stroll around with Achmed the Dead Terrorist on his back, it’s a free country.

VA: Another Set of Secret Waitlists; Vet Info Leaked to Ruin Critic

VA-veterans-affairsITEM: Veterans have charged that in Colorado, too, the notorious practice of secret waitlists was used by Veterans Health Administration managers to present a false and misleading picture of the services provided to vets there.  This is identical to the corrupt practice exposed in Phoenix, Arizona, and like the Phoenix case, it was exposed by a whistleblower.

The St.Louis Post-Dispatch:

[Senators] Johnson and Gardner asked for the inquiry after a whistleblower told them the lists were allegedly used at the Denver VA Medical Center and VA health clinics in Colorado Springs and the Denver suburb of Golden.

The inquiry by the VA’s inspector general also will look into the whistleblower’s allegations that records at the Colorado Springs clinic were falsified after a veteran took his own life while awaiting treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unofficial or secret lists have been used at VA facilities across the country to hide lengthy delays in care for veterans. Forty veterans died while waiting for appointments at a Phoenix VA hospital.

The reason for the secret waitlists seems to have been to manipulate service metrics and fraudulently claim performance bonuses. Since a job at the Veterans Administration, unlike health care for veterans, is an entitlement prized in Washington, no one has been held accountable.

Well, except for the whistleblowers. There’s always a handy cross to which they can be nailed.

A similar story ran in the Denver Post.

ITEM: They Leaked to Harm Him, Now they’re Sorry-not-Sorry. The Post also had another story recently, about the Denver VA’s leak of patient information. The VA, after blowing a vet’s information out to hostile media, admitted it in a snide we’re-sorry-you’re-angry letter from someone with the passive-aggressive name Sallie Houser-Hanfelder.

Houser-Hanfelder, director of VA’s Eastern Colorado Health System, said in a two-page letter to Michael Beckley that while his protected health information “was impermissibly disclosed to the news media, resulting in a privacy breach,” the misconduct was just a gaffe in paperwork rather than malicious.

The underlying misconduct was, well, misconduct:

VA public affairs officer Daniel Warvi told The Post in June 2014 that Beckley, 70, suffered from what Warvi described as severe mental illness. That came as part of the agency’s response to accusations it had mistreated Beckley when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer years earlier.

Beckley said his work as an expert witness in ski-accident lawsuits has nearly dried up.

“As soon as Warvi mentioned mental issues, I was done and that was the end of my career,” Beckley said. “They were trying to defend malpractice by the VA by trying to make me look like a nut, and it worked.”

It’s funny how all this “not malicious” keeps happening to VA whistleblowers and critics, and nothing ever harms a hair on the head (or a buck of the bonus) of the payroll patriots running this thing.

Warvi has not been held responsible. Hoser-Manyletters has not been held responsible. Why would they be? It is the VA: no one is ever held responsible. For anything.

Is it time to disband this thing yet?

VA Still Delaying Care in Phoenix

VA-veterans-affairsThe VA Medical Center that became the poster child for an out-of-control, corrupt, and failure-prone bureaucracy is still a mess. The Washington Times:

Two years after they first sounded the alarm about secret waiting lists leaving veterans struggling for care at the Phoenix VA, investigators said some services have improved, and cleared the clinic of allegations that top officials ordered staff to cancel appointments.

But confusion and bureaucratic bungling remain prevalent, long wait times are still a problem, and veterans are having appointments canceled for questionable reasons.

More than 200 veterans died while waiting for appointments, and investigators said at least one veteran would likely have been saved if the clinic had gone ahead with his consultation.

“This patient never received an appointment for a cardiology exam that could have prompted further definitive testing and interventions that could have forestalled his death,” the inspector general said.

The VA is still reeling from an initial 2014 report that found top executives cooked their books, canceling appointments and shifting others onto secret wait lists to try to make their backlogs appear less drastic, hoping to earn performance bonuses. The problems were first reported at the Phoenix VA, where dozens of veterans died while waiting for care, but investigators found similar secret wait lists and botched care at clinics across the country.

The Times is referring to a new report from the Office of Inspector General. The report does not seem to be on the OIG website yet, but there is this report about consults at Phoenix, with this little gem in the summary:

VHA does not require staff to complete prosthetics consults immediately. We substantiated that one patient waited in excess of 300 days for vascular care. A patient received vascular care in October 2015 following a consult request from a clinician in Vascular Surgery in June 2013.

And this bleak conclusion:

During the past two years, the OIG has reviewed a myriad of allegations at PVAHCS and issued six reports involving policy, access to care, scheduling and canceling of appointments, staffing, and consult management. Although VHA has made efforts to improve the care provided at PVAHCS, these issues remain.

No one has been held responsible, except for one heartless, greedy manager (who is suing for her job back).

In another case in Phoenix, the VA dallied so long over a cancer diagnosis that by the time they got around to it, the treatment was: hospice. The OIG thought they should at least get credit for making the hospice call correctly: that’s government service for you, participation-trophy tee-ball. No one has been held responsible.

In other recent OIG releases, the Fayetteville, NC VA played fast and loose with surgical protocols, but the OIG was not able to substantiate the charge that this led to patient deaths — because the VA never conducted the mandatory investigations of the deaths. No one has been held responsible.

And in Madison, Wisconsin, the VA blew $100k a year on a surgical device it can’t use, and sends patients to other facilities if they need; and blew $300k on two robots without checking to see if they’d work in the facility (they don’t). And the VA has so mismanaged the GI Bill that it’s blown half a billion, and is on track to blow $5 Billion in the next five years. And in Salisbury, NC, the backlog of radiology exams was 3,300, and 15 vets died waiting for the exams, but it wasn’t the lack of exams that kilt ’em, and the backlog is down to merely 1,500 or so, so it’s all good, right?

Is it time to disband this thing, yet?

VA Apologies for Art-Buying Spree. Then Buys More Art

VA-veterans-affairsYou remember the art scandal, including 2/3 of a million dollars squandered on art for a VA facility for the blind? As Adam Andrzejewsji writes at Forbes,

Just last month, a VA spokesperson stood in front of the infamous $1.2 million “cubed-rock” sculpture in Palo Alto, CA and argued that this type of artwork “creates a healing environment.” Yes, nothing creates a healing environment quite like long waiting lines that are in part the result of resources being misallocated.

The VA issued an apology…

And stopped the spree, right? Uh, wrong:

…and instituted new rules governing artwork purchases going forward.

Oh, great. At least they fixed their previous habit of selecting only non-veteran artists for their largessed, right? Er, no, they:

…ignored a proposed policy that veterans’ art be displayed in VA medical centers.

So what do they do? Andrzjewski explains:

the new rules are weakly designed, and don’t stop future luxury art purchases. The VA now merely requires just a few more administrators to sign-off on the transactions.

So, why didn’t the VA institute a permanent moratorium on pricey art?

Well, it could be personal to the top administrators. Oil portraits, busts, and self-named buildings have a certain appeal to bureaucrats.

We can see a sculpture of George Washington in a Federal building. Maybe Ike or Halsey, or Grant, Sherman or (quel horreur!) Lee. But the VA’s been spending tens of thousands each on sculptures and oil paintings of VA bureaucrats and obscure, undistinguished Congressmen.

Is it time to disband this thing yet?