Category Archives: Veterans’ Issues

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?

How To Explain Why You Hate Poseurs

stolen-valor-SF-phonyCall them what you will — poseurs, wannabes, walts, blowfish, or the World War I vintage term, “four-flusher” — but we hate ’em. Doesn’t even matter if they’re faking our service. A guy who pretends to be a Naval Aviator or a Marine Scout Sniper infuriates us just as much as some goon rockin’ an unearned Green Beret, and we’re pretty sure that the beret goon also gets up the nose of our Navy, Marine and Air Force bros.

That said, it’s easy to discuss this with fellow vets, because we’re all pretty much on the same page, regardless of what heights we scaled (or depths we plumbed) during our time in uniform. But it’s hard to get it across to most civilians. That’s probably why the Supreme Court invalidated the Stolen Valor Act. None of them are actual vets, are they? They’re all Yarvard lawyers. They would never find against a prohibition on practicing law without passing the Bar Exam — that’s something that hits them where they live.

But military service? Meaningless, foreign, distant and contemptible — that’s how the Justices of the Supreme Court see you, and how the vast majority of judges and lawyers see you.

So this article by Scott Faith at Havok Journal, which is almost a year old, is a pretty good resource when some judge, lawyer, or other non-military person looks at you in complete puzzlement when you’re ranting about the medieval tortures you have in mind for some poseur. It’s called “Why Veterans Hate Posers So, So, So, SO Very Much,” and that’s just what it is.

Faith makes a real effort to explain why we loathe poseurs, and who is and isn’t one:

So who isn’t a poser under this definition?  The short answer is, outward appearance on its own doesn’t count, it’s all about intent.  People who wear military-style fatigues to do rugged work like hunting, or simply to stay warm, are not posers.  Children who are obviously too young for military service aren’t posers.  People who wear military-themed clothing, including unit- or qualification-specific shirts or hats, are not automatically posers (do you think everyone wearing an NFL jersey played professional football?).  Legitimate re-enactors aren’t posers, and as for Airsofters… well, that’s debatable.  Anyway, even celebrities who wear stylized military uniforms or hipsters who wear military-style jackets or hats to be “ironic” aren’t posers, they’re just douchebags.  That’s an important difference.

He even creates a taxonomy of four classes of the scrotes. And he runs through the possible solutions, including the all-time favorite:

Unfortunately, the “summarized ass whipping” is not recognized as a legal course of action, so most of the time military posers do not get the punishment they so richly deserve…. So now it’s pretty much an open invitation for military posers, to include well-known celebrity actors like Shia LaBeouf, to carry on however they want.

The fact of the matter is, what most of these guys need is a personal and particularized beating, but the lawyers (see above comments about the vet-hostile ethos of the Supreme Court) won’t let you do that.

So… Big Boy Rules are in effect. Don’t get caught.

A VA Roundup

VA-veterans-affairsAh, the Veterans Administration. Few things are more dependable, for certain values of dependable: it is a veritable Old Faithful of scandal and all the naughty -feasances. The Department of Veterans Affairs always produces more bleak news than a scandal-weary public can consume.

This post could have been double the size, with treble the specific entries, and we last covered VA problems Friday. 

ITEM: What Medical License?

Philadelphia Veterans HospitalThis is from someone known to the blog. Her Grandfather is being treated by a VAMC (Philadelphia) and ran into problems with a specific physician. He insisted Gramps go to dialysis,  something she (with a medical background we won’t specify) thinks is unnecessary. This led to a disagreement with him doing the MD equivalent of pointing at the rank on his collar.

So she looked up his board certification. What board certification? He didn’t have any, even in his specialty (which wasn’t nephrology). That’s not that big a deal, we argued: lots of good doctors aren’t board certified, even though there’s been a push for it for decades.

Then she looked up his medical license. What medical license? It turned out (if we have the story straight), the story was that had had one, but not in Pennsylvania; in any event, his license half a continent away had lapsed. But that story was not true: Dr. Dialynsist appears never to have had a license whatsoever.

It is not a requirement at the VA and at some other .gov medical jobs.

He didn't have one of these.

He didn’t have one of these. Us neither, but then, we’re not seeing his patients.

Dr. Dialynsist did, in fact, complete medical school (and unlike several of his Philly VAMC Colleagues who are products of Monterrey, Grenada, or Santo Domingo, he did it in the United States!) but he never served an internship or residence. VA classes him as a “fellow,” and roughly like a PA or a nurse practitioner, he’s only supposed to be practicing under the direct supervision of a licensed MD.

The situation is more complex and involved than that. But here’s whee we see a glimmer of light. The lady in question left a long voicemail for the head doc of the center, expecting the usual VA stonewall. Imagine her surprise when she got a call back with an apology  for delay — Doc had had a rough period on call, and this was his one day off before things started up again.

He listened. He asked questions. He talked. He explained.

He promised that Dr Dialynsist will be “removed” from the position he’s in. Exactly what that entails, we’re not sure. And that he will take a personal interest in the health of her Grandfather.  And he convinced her he means it.

Now, the old veteran is an old man, with an old man’s ills. (Although not, yet, kidney failure). The long-run prognosis for him is the same as the long-run prognosis that that notable physician, Lord Keynes, assigned to all of us: in the long run, we are all dead. But she, at least, is convinced that someone at VA cares about her family member, even though she previously had face time with a guy that visibly did not.

There are good people in the system. There are even good people who haven’t burned out yet (which is as fine a testament to human resilience as there ever was). There’s just always a strong correlation between socialized systems’ disruption of incentives, and bad luck. 

ITEM: Suuure, The VA is All on the Up-and-Up.

Dateline, Cleveland, 24 August:

A Buffalo-based company has agreed to pay a $12 million penalty and to divest itself from a large federal project in California to resolve criminal liability from a kickback scheme for which the former Cleveland Veterans Affairs director was sent to prison.

Cannon Design, in an agreement announced Wednesday by the Justice Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs, admitted to criminal conduct by more than a dozen of its employees who took part in the scheme.

The sweetheart deal, cut by the cronies with VA IG Michael Missal, lets all 12 of the admitted criminals avoid charges and consequences: only the company’s stockholders will take the hit, along with one executive, Mark Farmer, who got two years something for bribing a VA official. (The company has to divest itself of only one ill-gotten VA project. It keeps anything else).

Morgantown FCI -- the country club for connected Federal inmates.

Morgantown FCI — the minimum security country club for 800 “connected” Federal inmates.

Their partner in crime (literally), head of the Cleveland VAMC and later the Dayton VAMC WIlliam Montague, pled guilty in 2014 to 64 felony counts of taking kickbacks into a bogus consulting company he’d set up on the side. In June 2016 he was sentenced to 57 months (4yr 9mo) in Club Fed. He’s now inmate number 59119-060 in Morgantown FCI, dancin’ to the jailhouse rock, just down the hall from his buddy 60514-060, alias Mark Farmer.

This is how the VA works. Is it time to disband it yet?

ITEM: The Union Won the Civil War in 1865. But Against Whom? It Erases the Losers from History.

burningconfedflagThe Washington Times reports today:

The Veterans Affairs Department quietly moved this month to ban flying of Confederate flags from fixed flagpoles at the cemeteries it runs, striking yet another blow against the controversial emblem.

Congress had debated and rejected that change, but the Obama administration decided to move forward anyway, saying it was unilaterally imposing the restrictions.

“In particular, we will amend our policy to make clear that Confederal flags will not be displayed from any permanently fixed flagpole in a national cemetery at any time,” wrote Ronald E. Walters, under secretary for memorial affairs at the VA.

Walters was writing to an individual Congressman, Administration ally Jared Huffman (D-CA), who has sought such a ban, but could not win a majority for it in his house. Emboldened by the victory, he is now free to seek the desecration of Confederate graves in national cemeteries, long an objective.

Like most Washington nabobs, Jared Huffman himself never served in the military of the United States. No ancestor of Rep. Huffman fought in the Civil War.

The VA has politicized the cemeteries of our fallen soldiers — and their honorable opponents. Is it time to disband it yet, and put this sacred ground under apolitical administration?

ITEM: Wisconsin DVA is Channeling the Fed Version. This is Not Good.

The Wisconsin DVA allegedly has been sticking its fingers into the trust fund of a separate establishment, the King Veterans Home, for its near-$40 million surplus, to support general WDVA operations, according to one WI politician.

State Senator Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, is calling for a federal investigation of mismanagement and a ban on any future transfers of funds from the King Veterans Home to the Veterans Trust Fund or any other state fund.

[R]esidents, staff and family members have reported severe nursing and staff shortages, broken wheelchairs, urine soaked carpet and have raised the possibility that residents are being overly medicated.

“We have veterans who served in Special Forces saying they were treated like cattle and like children,” Hansen said in the press release. “Such treatment is disrespectful and these claims deserve immediate investigation by no less than the federal government.  Until that happens not one dime should be used for any purpose other than fixing the problems at King.”

We’re not personally aware of any SF vets at King, but we don’t know the whereabouts of all our tens of thousands of brothers, so there could be a couple in there. Hansen doesn’t seem like he’s asking anything unreasonable. The WDVA has released a statement that does not seem to be directly responsive to Hansen’s points. It cites US DVA approval of the facilities at King (which is a bit like lobbying Yad Vashem for a medal with Josef Mengele as your character reference).

 

VA: Millions for “Art,” Because…?

VA-veterans-affairsThe Veterans Administration might kind of stink at taking care of veterans, and they might be a little too loose with the purse strings to phonies and wannabees claiming questionable disabilities. But there’s one thing they’re good at taking care of: state-approved, government-funded “artists.” Neil McCabe at Breitbart:

“Included in the expenditures is a 27-foot artificial Christmas tree for $21,500 delivered to Chillicothe, Ohio and two sculptures costing $670,000 for a VA facility in California that serves blind veterans,” according to the report produced by the government spending watchdog Open the Books. Open the Books was established as a legacy of Dr. Tom Coburn’s vigilance over government spending during his Senate career.

Other examples of the VA’s art spending spree include $6.3 million in taxpayer funds expended at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. There, $483,000 went for a large decorative rock and $807,000 was for the site preparation for the rock outside the building. Inside the center, the VA built a $330,000 half arc in the lobby of the mental health clinic, spent $365,000 for a sculpture at the entrance to the pool, and $305,000 for a sculpture in the center’s main lobby. Maybe, the most ambitious of the health center’s art programs was the $285,000 spent for the wall of dozens of rocks that light up to spell out quotes by President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt–in Morse Code.

And the trend of art spending is just going up.

VA_artwork_spendingRCP_Chart

Half a million here, quarter million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. In fact, Congress forbade them for spending more on art when they’d racked up an $18 million bill on things like this:

At a facility in nearby San Francisco, Veterans Affairs spent $32,000 on 62 framed photographs from the local area, roughly $500 per photo.

A VA facility in Puerto Rico spent $610,000 on artwork and one in Alaska spent $100,000 on a sculpture.

And so the VA stopped, right? Ha. It’s the VA. It just kept on motoring for a couple million more:

In his July 26 letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald and Sen. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) pointed out that one year ago, the VA issued a moratorium on art purchases, and then went ahead to spend $1.8 million on artwork. At the same time, the VA is sandbagging billions of dollars in unpaid invoices associated with the Veterans Choice Program. The program is a recent reform that allows veterans to use private sector medical services to mitigate long waiting times and distances between residences and facilities.

VA-Graph-of-High-End-Arwork-Spending-by-Year

(Yes, the two slides appear to show the same numbers, but different totals. The second chart total purports to be exclusively “big-ticket” items). They’ve got the whole thing line-item-by-line-item in a .pdf if you want to dig into it, and one thing we note is that the $17, $18 or $20 million they’ve blown on artwork has been blown only on things that are explicitly labeled “artwork.” If they called it “art work”, “art”, “painting,” “sculpture,” “installation” or just about anything else, it didn’t come up in this search, so these numbers may well be understated.

Of course, it’s nothing compared to the near $100 Billion that the VA spends on salaries. And while they’ve hired ~40k newbies, almost all are bureaucrats, not doctors — and the doctors’ peak salaries are not what’s driving spending; they’re about the same as they were in 2012.

VA bureaucrats vs doctore

In at least some cases that have become known to Congress, they end-ran the art moratorium by billing the art as “special projects”.

No one has yet looked into relationships between the free spenders and the artists. Wonder what they’d find? So far, every rock turned over at VA has exposed waste, fraud, failure and corruption. What combination of those VA Core Values do you suppose lies under this rock?

The organization that launched the investigation, Open the Books, has this on their home page, at the moment:

While up to 1,000 veterans died waiting for VA healthcare; while many calls to the suicide prevention hotline were answered by voicemail; while the healthcare claims appeals process was described as “the hamster wheel”; and while the VA created 40,000 new positions, but hired only 3,600 doctors (2012-2015) – the agency managed to spent $20 million on artwork.

Included in the expenditures is a 27’ artificial Christmas tree for $21,500 delivered to Chillicothe, OH and two sculptures costing $670,000 for a VA facility in California that serves blind veterans. Blind veterans can’t see fancy sculptures, and all veterans deserve to see a doctor.

Open the Books’ Adam Andrjewski has an op-ed at Forbes based on this research, and it’s been picked up elsewhere in the media, too.

Is it time to disband this thing yet?

When Veterans’ Charities are Rackets

snidely-whiplash-close

“I just say ‘for the vets,’ and the money comes rolling in. Mwahahaha!”

It seems like one of the most common types of charity fraud is the bogus veterans’ charity. Here. we’re not even referring to something like the Wounded Warrior Project, which basically aims to enrich insiders and professional fund-raising scamsters, but does incidentally help vets. We’re talking about scams that never help anybody but the guy collecting the money, who pockets it.

A scam charity seldom ends as it should, to wit, with indictments, trials, and prison sentences. Who’s going to investigate it? The Department of Justice is maxed out as the legal arm of the Black Criminals Lives Matter movement; the FBI has its hands full as the partisan political police,  if we’re to take recent appearances of James Comey at face value.

If you’re lucky, it’s exposed by ambush journalism, but journalists are more likely to share a social milieu with the charity Ponzis and Madoffs, which is why there is the balance there is, of laudatory and cautionary ink spilled on the Wounded Warriors Foundation racket.1 That is the task of a journalist in this twenty-first century: to fellate the comfortable and micturate upon the afflicted.

So when a reporter actually does his freakin’ job, it’s a glory to behold, as in this persistent reporter for a Los Angeles TV station, facing charity scammer Jason Wirtzer, who collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for a fake charity that was supposedly going to teach vets to fly.

CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein asked Wirtzer how many veterans he’s been able to help through the charity.

“We’ve got about 25 in the system right now,” Wirtzer said.

“How many vets have you trained?” asked Goldstein. “None, right?”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you talk to my attorney if you want,” Wirtzer replied.

Now, a guy like Wirtzer, who’s up to no good, may actually have an attorney. But it’s more likely that his “attorney” is what internet wags call a “cartooney”: the imaginary lawyer behind most internet “I’ll sic my attorney on you!” threats. Reporter Goldstein found real people ripped off by this soi-disant “charity”:

Paul Williams, a retired Army pilot, told Goldstein he still has his raffle tickets purchased, he thought, for a good cause.

Via Skype from Alaska, Williams told Goldstein he twice bought raffle tickets from Winged Warriors.

“Well, even if I didn’t win, I am still supporting troops,” he said.

Williams may not have won, but San Miguel resident Mark Donnelly told Goldstein he saw his name on the Winged Warriors Facebook page as the runner-up.

“I got a phone call saying I was the second-place winner,” said Donnelly, who added he was supposed to win a pair of pilot headsets worth $1,000 but never received them.

“Anyone that uses veterans or any other type of organization to try and run a scam to make money for themselves, that is just pretty upsetting,” Donnelly said. “It’s too bad that those type of people exist.”

Yeah, we’d support the death penalty for this, but we’d never get it past the supreme court. Social milieu and scammers, again.

The plane Donnelly and others were hoping to win was this 1975 Beechcraft Sierra , which had been put up for sale by Bob Hancock of Lake Havasu.

According to Hancock, he cut the price and agreed to sell the plane for just under $50,000 when Wirtzer offered to buy it to raise money for vets.

“I thought it was awesome,” Hancock said. “A lot of military in my family, and I’m a flight instructor and I even volunteered to give free instruction if they wanted to come out to Lake Havasu, so I was thrilled.”

But the transaction never went through after all three Winged Warriors checks bounced, meaning Wirtzer never owned the plane that claimed was being raffled off to raise money for vets.

A spreadsheet included in a lawsuit filed against Winged Warriors by the website designer who claims he was also stiffed shows nearly 4,500 tickets were sold across the U.S., bringing in almost $175,000.

According to California Franchise Tax Board, Winged Warriors is not recognized as a charity, and the Attorney General’s Office told Goldstein it’s not registered to hold raffles.

But Wirtzer was doing just that when we caught up with him a few weeks ago in Marina del Rey, this time offering another plane on the Winged Warriors website being raffled.

“Can you prove that you’ve trained 25 vets?” Goldstein asked. “You can’t, can you?

“I’d like to, I’d like to,” Wirtzer said.

“You’d like to but you haven’t, right?” replied Goldstein.

When asked if he’s scamming people, Wirtzer said: “Absolutely not.”

“You claim to be raising money for vets, you claim to be training vets, raising money for veterans,” Goldstein said. “Where’s the money going?”

“To the programs,” Wirtzer replied.

“What programs? You basically said you weren’t training vets, were you?” asked Goldstein.

At that point, Wirtzer sped off on his bicycle, pedaling away from any more questions.

Wirtzer: "Curses! Foiled again." (File photo).

Wirtzer: “Curses! Foiled again.” (File photo).

Wirtzer could learn some lessons on “brazening it out” from some of our public figures, eh.

But for Hancock and likely many others who may have been caught up in Wirtzer’s raffles, there’s no question about Wirtzer’s motives.

“He is the worst scum of the earth,” said Hancock. “I can’t imagine anybody being worse than what he has done to these veterans.”
David Goldstein

via CBS2 Investigates Licensed Pilot Linked To Veteran Raffle Scam « CBS Los Angeles.

Note that while the guy is violating just about every charity solicitation law in the California state penal code, none of the state’s small army of regulators and cops could be bothered to look into it. Steal $175 from a 7/11,  the police will at least take a report and look at the surveillance cameras. Steal $175,000 from veteran-supporters with a scam charity, and the sound of crickets is deafening. Wirtzer is exposed not by the vast resources of the multibillion-dollar state government or of the trillions-throwing tribunes of the Fed, but by some local TV station’s news shop where you can probably count the investigative reporters on your thumbs. Kudos to Dave Goldstein, for scooping the slumbering FBI.

Charity Navigator, the  nonprofit watchdog, maintains a list of scam charities. (They put it a little more mildly, “Fake Charities,” and they like to say the charity has a “Donor Advisory” on it).  Not surprisingly, Wirtzer’s “Winged Warriors” is on the list. The whole list is here. It has 35 soi-disant charities on it; these 10 purport or purported to be servicemembers’ or veterans’ benefit charities.

Care Package Campaign
Disabled Veterans of America
I Care Foundation
Paralyzed American Veterans
Spotlight on Heroes
United Soldiers Outreach LLC
United States Disabled Veterans
United States Handicapped-Disadvantaged
Veterans Helping Nevada Veterans
Winged Warriors

Bottom line: before you give, check Charity Navigator, and your state’s registry of charities, first. Not to mention giving the charity’s name a bing with your search engine of choice.

Notes

  1. For another example, consider charity racketeer and socialite Pari Livermore, who received a laudatory profile about her work as a matchmaker who fund-raises for “Spotlight on Heroes” — a nonexistent charity — in the New York Times. Written, as usual, by a reporter in her own cozy social circle — a “lifestyle” or puff-piece hack. When a reader investigated and found the charity nonexistent and Miss Livermore a fraud, the Times haughtily refused to run a correction and still continues to promote Miss Livermore and her bogus charity. Dean Baquet, then Times editor, contemptuously dismissed a critic, saying, “You will notice in the stories about this particular charity that there are some people quoted praising its work.” — in other words, testimonials offset facts, when the Times is defending one of its staff celebrity-fluffers.

The Eagle has Landed

Safely. In a clump of brush. After being saved with 150 precisely delivered rounds of .22LR from a scoped 10/22. Jason Galvin, an Army vet of Afghanistan, stepped up to do the right thing for the national symbol.

If that’s all pretty confusing to you, maybe you better just watch the video.

The eagle, named Freedom (what else?), is recovering and vets at the University of Minnesota are cautiously optimistic about his chances. If he comes to be released back into the wild, Jason and Jackie Galvin have asked one thing: could you bring him back home, to our lake?

Without the rope, this time.