Secretary Bob McDonald Announces TBI Scandal Fix

54

Secretary Bob McDonald

Yesterday, the VA’s Secretary Bob McDonald publicly admitted to the scope of the enormous TBI scandal and a fix that may get affected veterans some justice.

VA acknowledged that over 24,000 veterans were impacted by the scandal where veterans who reported traumatic brain injury (TBI) were examined by unqualified doctors. According to an agency announcement, the scandal started in 2007.

For some background, I exposed it in 2015 after one of my clients was examined by two separate doctors who are unqualified. NBC reporter AJ Lagoe won the leading investigative journalist award from IRE for his coverage of the scandal, and now almost 25,000 veterans suffering from TBI will get some form of justice.

VIEW IT: PowerPoint For VSOs About TBI Scandal

VIEW IT: VA Equitable Relief Fact Sheet

VIEW IT: VA Equitable Relief Press Release

(Take a look at the last pages of the PowerPoint for VSOs. It is interesting that VA only lined through the paragraph that highlights any potential negative effect of a new TBI evaluation.)

Otherwise, the VA TBI press release went as follows:

VA SECRETARY BOB MCDONALD TBI PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald has granted equitable relief to more than 24,000 Veterans following a national review of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) medical examinations conducted in connection with disability compensation claims processed between 2007 and 2015.

This action by the Secretary allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to offer new TBI examinations to Veterans whose initial examination for TBI was not conducted by one of four designated medical specialists and provides them with the opportunity to have their claims reprocessed. Equitable relief is a unique legal remedy that allows the Secretary to correct an injustice to a claimant where VA is not otherwise authorized to do so within the scope of the law.

“Traumatic Brain Injury is a signature injury in Veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and VA is proud to be an organization that sets the bar high for supporting these, and all, Veterans,” said Secretary McDonald. “Providing support for Veterans suffering from a TBI is a priority and a privilege, and we must make certain they receive a just and fair rating for their disabilities.”

To ensure that TBI is properly evaluated for disability compensation purposes, VA developed a policy in 2007 requiring that one of four specialists – a psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon or neurologist – complete TBI exams when VA does not have a prior diagnosis.

Since 2007, medicine around TBI has been a rapidly evolving science. VA designated particular specialists to conduct initial TBI exams because they have the most experience with the symptoms and effects of TBI. As more research became available, VA issued a number of guidance documents that may have created confusion regarding the policy. VA has confirmed that its TBI policy guidance is now clear and being followed.

“We let these Veterans down,” Secretary McDonald said. “That is why we are taking every step necessary to grant equitable relief to those affected to ensure they receive the full benefits to which they are entitled.”

VA understands the importance of an accurate exam to support Veterans’ disability claims. The Secretary’s decision to grant relief will enable VA to take action on any new examinations without requiring Veterans to submit new claims. If additional benefits are due, VA will award an effective date as early as the date of the initial TBI claim.

VA will contact Veterans identified as part of this national TBI review to offer them an opportunity to receive a new examination and have their claims reprocessed. More than 13,000 of these affected Veterans are already receiving service-connected compensation benefits for TBI at a 10-percent disability evaluation or higher, which means that the diagnosis has already been established.

Last year, I never would have dreamed the scandal was as large as it is; but thank God the media is still covering veterans scandals.

I am also thankful Secretary Bob McDonald had the guts to do the right thing for so many veterans. Say what you like, I never would have dreamed a VA Secretary at any point would acknowledge such a large failure.

Source: http://www.militarytimes.com/story/veterans/2016/06/01/va-review-24000-brain-injury-diagnoses/85269570/

Lee Wissmiller
Lee Wissmiller

Great now maybe they can also look at TBI evaluations where the TBI was a result of a service connected disability. Or TBI evaluations from 1995 even though I had head trauma that led to my disability, i was never evaluated for a TBI till over 20 years after release from active duty.

Robin Mitchell
In 1995 it was called “residuals of brain injury” and according to Bob’s acting assistant undersecretary they didn’t have to have anyone in particular examine the vet. His letter is above. I should be lucky my husband was at the time…1991. Funny he admits that because the DRO hearing and the C&P doctor they sent us to clearly says TBI exam on the paperwork. It seems Bob is saying if you ARE SC for TBI any doc can examine you… Read more »
Anna Chacko
Anna Chacko
Dr. Van Boven who had been hired as the Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury lab in Waco Texas in ?2007exposed the enormous malfeasance where large sums of money were spent on a contractor where it should have been spent on TBI research. He exposed this at great peril and suffered hugely for this, while the perps got away scot free. He tried to get the attention of the leadership of the VA with little success. Where was the IG… Read more »
cliff jokinen
cliff jokinen

Ive contacted i.g. and was asked as i was complaining this so called blackman in charged attitude asked me does this have anything to do with. Claims,i said yes…. then he hung up the phone on me, i was pist off,im sick of the levels of abuses

namnibor
Great reporting, Benjamin. Sec. McDonald must have had much pressure to make this announcement. However, now we have to wait and see if the VA actually FOLLOWS this “Equitable Relief Measure” and *properly* conducts TBI Exams and DOES NOT LOWBALL Veterans!!! I say this because granting a 10% rating for TBI and then letting the 1000’s of Claims sit and live, collect much dust, in the VA Appeals Cesspool is NOT a tidy nor desired outcome of this and can… Read more »
James

I think veterans that do obtain their disability for TBI. Will automatically be given 10% rating across the board.

No matter how severe. ! That way they can start the process of telling the veterans If you disagree. You can file an appeal and must present new evidence.

That we have not already used.?

Second. Start the process to take it away. Your better !

We have seen this way too much and that’s their MO !

crazy elf
crazy elf
@Ben Krause Great report and reporting!!!! I’m sorry, I have to agree with ‘namnibor’ over this. I believe “…McDonald has been pressured…” to do something. Because of “…all the different scandals…” coming into the light. I do not believe McDonald has had a change of heart. His “track record” shows this. For a long time now, we on here have said, something ‘horrendous’ has to happen. To “wake up” the American Public over this outrage! namnibor and others, including myself,… Read more »
Robin Mitchell
I talked to someone that was very close to the firing of Bobby at P&G. He hasn’t quite agreed to come out publicly yet but I am working on it. Know how Hillary was fired from the Nixon impeachment committee because she was too dishonest for the job? Bobby Baghdad makes her look like an amateur. Bob doesn’t care one iota about veterans. He cares about Bob. If the public wanted him to kill us all he would oblige smiling.… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran
I sent McDonald a rather scathing email before Memorial Day on his offices lack of action or response to several emails I have sent since March. I finally got a condescending, smart ass response from him where he was saying he was going to be paying respects to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice that weekend, but he would look into it. I responded with enough details letting him know I fully understood what sacrifice meant and the name and… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Oh to be a fly on the wall at that meeting. Competing with all the flies attracted by some members.

If I were a AFGE member I would be asking what was being done to protect members from retaliation, what was being done to insure the IG took complaints seriously, and what was being done to insure federal laws were followed.

As it is now, AFGE seems to be nothing regarding the hostile work environment throughout the VA.

Robin Mitchell
Bob never emailed me back from his taking the happy gas 5AM answer right after the Disney remark. I emailed him right after the first story broke to point out that it was not 8,000 as they were trying to limit to but that the BVA brief filed May 9, 2016 showed my husband was one from Indiana. A state they were trying to say had none. Still crickets from Bob. Still no call to Rep Lee Zeldin saying he… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Those are very good points and a key question at the end.

Why should this be limited? If an employee at one VA hospital can get confused over policy, what prevents other VAs from getting confused?

Robin Mitchell

You can see the answer back from Bob’s guy above. Just as I thought. It literally is ok that my husband saw a doctor that wasn’t on the certified list because he was already 100% for TBI and it is ok for ANY doctor to examine him afterwards. Even to try to reduce the SC for TBI or deny SMC T…aid and attendance for TBI!.

Bob is lower than snail slime on a sidewalk.

Airman Diaz
Airman Diaz
It really hurts to see what VA is doing with reducing educational requirements for providers, I have a Bachelors, a MD degree and 3 years of residency. I have experience and I am a disabled veteran. VA has not hired me to work as a physician after applying for the past 6 years. Yet they want to hire Nurse Practitioners to do MD work level care. I also see McDonald using residents in Ed. institutions to care for Vats as… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Keep your chin up brother and keep trying. Things tend to go in cycles, and I suspect after the next election you will see things going more in your favor.

Don’t give up!

PS. One way you might help veterans is if there may be a way for you to consult on claims or other issues for a fee. Would help put food on the table while waiting on the VA to get their act together.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly
Airman Diaz, Impressive accomplishments Airman. I know that they don’t just let anyone into Medical Schools to become a Doctor. Many who apply are weeded out before being accepted and many more are weeded out while in school. So I know that you are not only an ethical person but also of a higher moral standard. The current push to allow nurse practitioners has been an ongoing fight at the Veterans Administration for more than a decade and started long… Read more »
namnibor
Wait…what’s missing here and ultimately forthcoming, will be Sec. McDonald sending Gibson with open hands to Congress for $$$$$$$ for the “fix” to “FIX” the ‘fix’ of the idiots at VA simply not following Directives and Regulations. Call me a cynic, but the VA is very creative in providing ‘fixes’ that eventually needs more $$$ to ‘fix’. As example it could go lie this: The VA needs to hire X # of Neuro Specialists or some kind of research crapola….wait… Read more »
crazy elf
crazy elf

@namnibor
Or McDuck could “secretly” give a “Hail Mary” to all those “Nurse Practitioner’s” he’s hired. Then say they are “qualified to perform tbi exams!”
Then he could,
a.) get them to deny, then put ALL the claims in the “backlog abyss”! Or,
b.) lowball all claimants. Or,
c.) “lower all claimants compensations” and take back monies given out!

I do not trust that “ASSWIPE!”

namnibor

You and I, Brother, think way too much alike 🙂 The Nurse Practitioner thing with VA to replace/substitute ‘real M.D.’s’ was right at tip of brain after more caffeine. Ditto.

crazy elf
crazy elf
@namnibor, Seymore Klearly, Robin Mitchell and everyone else who reads these blogs. The “Wisconsin Watchdog” just came out with a scathing article this morning, (2 June, 2016), concerning Tomah VAMC! They spoke to Ryan after the meeting. I would seriously request y’all google and read it. Also, read the “comments section”! This “single payer” healthcare system, like Obamacare, is a complete dismal failure! Until vets get to “shop around” and get the best price for healthcare, as Ryan Honl has… Read more »
crazy elf
crazy elf

P.S. Robin Mitchell,
I bet ALL 50 states, and territorys which have VAMC’s, had mistakes on this “TBI SCANDAL!” Not just the ones McDuck is claiming.
We all know how much of a “LYING SACK OF DUNG” he is!

cliff jokinen
cliff jokinen
The home grown terrorist work at the v.a.’s, am also sick and tired of the blacks that work at these places that say under thier breath…. we getting even on whites. For slavery,,, and then when i go off,i get labeled a problem vetearn,ive had security. Tell me to leave a few times as i crossed the states to find a v.a. that was up to taking proper care all the way around from health,housing,claims, i could go on and… Read more »
namnibor

cliff- Nobody takes issues whether any given VA employee or Veteran is Black, White, or Polka-Dotted, or Plaid…it’s the corruption and fraud, which has no “ethic identity and we Veterans are MUCH taller than to bring ‘race’ into the picture.
Peace, Always.

Robin Mitchell
elf, I have mixed feelings about that. I have been made to follow spy tradecraft to communicate with some of my contacts. Others like the ex-drug interdiction guys that found the 115 year old Robert Reynolds running around Maryland doing business I told to just keep looking but don’t contact me for now. I am sure they are and they are very, very, very good at what they do. This is McDonald’s guys answer to “TBI equitable relief”. It is… Read more »
crazy elf
crazy elf
Isn’t it sad the “National Football League” takes TBI’s more serious than the VA! Their physicians are working harder than any VA healthcare employee to try to protect their players. On that note: “Isn’t it sad a man with a helmet and ball, has better healthcare coverage, than a man with a helmet and rifle protecting our Nations FREEDOMS!” ____________________________ Sure hope some asswipe TROLLS come on today. Hope they read the scathing articles, from the past few weeks, about… Read more »
namnibor

@crazyelf- I think I caught the scent already. It may have tried to lay a snare but I cut the ropes that was trying to incite racism here. 🙂

crazy elf
crazy elf
@namnibor Yep, I left that one alone also. Yet, after I read it a few more times. There was a resounding “screw the VA tone” about it, big time! The commenter wasn’t implying something “racist”, it was what was “over-heard” at one of the VA’s by someone “of color” that was racist in nature! That, in itself, is not “baiting us” as a “troll” would do, but letting us know there are those in the VA who ARE racist against… Read more »
Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Hey Namnibor,

I know what you mean about that scent. Its pretty strong and urinal smelling. Not a very bright one.

That rank urine smell I am pretty sure its that one that claimed to be an attorney before. Guess he came back for some more day light disinfectant. Hopefully if no-one feeds it then it will go away.

namnibor
@crazyelf and Seymore Klearly– I may very-well had come to rash judgment on the ‘troll call’ but like Seymore Klearly stated, I got the exact same feeling when reading/rereading for syntax and content of that Troll claiming to be a VA attorney that has repeatedly posted to attempt to agitate. I too, am an equal opportunity “asshole racist”, but I quite literally took that post as Troll Baiting, as if you recall, we have had in past year some BLM… Read more »
cliff jokinen
cliff jokinen

I stopped going to v.a. so i may survive what they have done to me, where are all these so called lawyers for the vets,ive been turned away alot by those who advertise they help vets, just how big is the scam???? Ive got t.b.i. on top of alot of other things im beyond. Disquest……

Comfygirl
Comfygirl

I’ve stopped going too. After being deemed “red flag-difficult” for just speaking (not yelling) out for myself, all 90 pounds of me now requires a police escort to my appointments. So now I’m selling stuff to be able to pay for REAL doctors to treat my disabilities-not medicate them!

James
The disruptive committee is illegal and the VA Is punishing veterans at will and are not required to provide any proof. ! Veterans are not given any way to defend themselves against false allegations ! They are acting in a judiciary manner and they have no business or training to be accuser. Prosicuter. Judge Jury and executioner. ! All veterans civil and constitutional rights are being taken away. ! I too was accused and the VA lied over and over… Read more »
FLB
FLB

I think that the Fire Department is a little to late to save the Structure!

namnibor

It’s only the fraud and corruption that’s keeping the VA sticking together at this point. Kind of like a really old apartment where it has so many coats of paint it becomes earthquake proof.
The AFGE Union is working diligently to keep all the pieces together again…with fresh sticky corruption, secret meetings away from public, but VSO’s to “save the VA from we Veterans”….LMAO! These clowns need to just do it and go to circus school. 🙂

91Veteran
91Veteran
Not to be overly cynical, but history and experience shows its a valid viewpoint….yes, McDonald doing this should be lauded, but I don’t think he had any choice. That it is happening as fast as it is should be lauded because history shows the VA will fight like hell in the face of clear evidence. What irritates me about his statement is the BS about confusion over policy, which he says is now all cleared up. There were policies against… Read more »
namnibor
@91veteran- There’s on place on right side of this page in red box. Just click and it will give you payment options. It’s how I have been doing it. You do not need a paypal account. Hope that helps while Ben may be pretty busy. If you use paypal, there’s a place to type/insert a message with your’s or anyone’s contribution to help Ben fight the good fight. (I should note that I view this website on my laptop, not… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Thanks nam, I thought it had been posted before, but I couldn’t find the right button to push. I will look around again.

ronald
ronald

I also tried to donate Through paypal But don’t show it Taken out of my account .

FLB
FLB

Ben, I would like to know your opinion about the relationships within the DOD and the VA construction contractors mentioned in the budget. There are a lot of new projects amounting to millions and millions of dollars that are unrelated to direct care for veterans. Thank you.

crazy elf
crazy elf

Google the following;

“Tomah Hospital VA Whistleblower, ‘It Will Not Work'”

From “Wisconsin Watchdog”
2 June 2016

Cantigny
Cantigny
well Ryan Honl isn’t saying anything veterans, past & current, haven’t said or written for decades, “it will not change”. isn’t that the truth! by actions, we see we have a WH & Congress(past & current) that don’t truly want it to change either, or they would have fixed it a long time ago. they control the purse and make the laws. they could have forced fixes at the drop of a hat if they had wanted to. and this… Read more »
anna chacko
anna chacko

With Attorney General Lynch overturning the VA’s decision to terminate Sharon Helman, casts a new light on justice in America. Bottom line – there is no justice for veterans. Even if Secy McDonald was inclined to change the culture of organization – he is hog tied and hamstrung. Why would anyone want be working for an outfit that would make a cabinet secretary look stupid.

James
Stupid is as stupid does. And Bob has done this to himself ! Veterans needed someone with trumps mentality. Take no excuses. Take no prisoners ! Hey you. Your fired. ! I want trump to be president. ! He will make sure the draft is implemented and every American will be forced to serve. No exceptions. Send thousands to the middle east. Russia and north Korea and China and Africa. Any elected official who is of age and can pull… Read more »
Robin Mitchell

Don’t get excited yet David McLeanChen emailed me today reniged on equitable relief. VES doctor they admit has been doing TBI exams in Indiana since 2003. He could have done 1000 alone

Peter Greene

When is Secretary Disney…..er…McDonald going to announce the Gulf War Illness Scandal fix? I’ve been waiting 25 years for that!

Comfygirl
Comfygirl

Amen! If I hear “there’s no such provable injury or illness” one more time…

dennis
dennis

The way I see it a lot of people at the VA need to go to jail. They should be placed under arrest, jailed, and then placed on trial and sentenced to do hard time! That will never happen because of the amount of corruption that permeates that government agency from top to bottom. The entire government is corrupt.

namnibor

This just on Stars & Stripes, JUne 2, 2016: “Veteran (Jason Simcakoski) called congressman (Ron Kind, WI), others, before death at Wis. VA Center” (he made DOZENS of calls)

Just remove the quotes before and after link:

“”http://www.stripes.com/news/veterans/veteran-called-congressman-others-before-death-at-wis-va-center-1.412826?utm_source=Stars+and+Stripes+Emails&utm_campaign=Daily+Headlines&utm_medium=email””

James
Ben. I have a question ! I read from 2007 to2015. I believe I tried before this date. So am I reading this right. Those who applied before 2007year’s will not get this benefit. I was not able to receive my disability for fourty year’s and because the VA lied about my records being destroyed in the big ?. And I not having care since 1973 due to the lie and me not knowing I had been living with a… Read more »
Merri Busch
Merri Busch
Excellent article, Ben. I believe the Secretary will do the right thing whenever he can. He took the job that was the equivalent of stepping into a warm copies, and has been doing everything he can, from my perspective to wrangle in the outlier conditions that keep the VA mired in scandals. But the main thinking still is illogical. For example: a well performing office can get a staffing increase based on numbers. A low performing office, which might be… Read more »
Merri Busch
Merri Busch

Warm cowpie, not copies. Auto correct!

Sandy Hale, Disabled Combat Veteran, Retired Nurse
Sandy Hale, Disabled Combat Veteran, Retired Nurse
WAKE UP PEOPLE- This is a form of Hegelian Dialectic. You are being manipulated. Problem-Reaction-Solution, is a variation on the classic Machiavellian fabricated external-enemy strategy for manipulation of public opinion and society, usually by the government. The general theory is based on the Hegelian Dialectic method; Definition: Problem-Reaction-Solution is defined as the strategy of creating a crisis (the problem), waiting for a call for action to resolve the crisis (the reaction), then taking action (the solution), supposedly in response, which… Read more »
Lemuel (Lem) Bray
Lemuel (Lem) Bray

Trying to continue stiffing prior war veterans. What is the difference between an IUD and a mortar round or artillery round in your immediate area? The injuries are the same. Just still denying they occurred during prior wars and that veterans lived a life time of misery being treated for behavioral problems when they had organic problems.

James
I wonder who us going to notify the veterans and how much. Not every veteran reads this blog. How is this going to work. I’ve been turned down. When once of their very own neurologist confirmed the TBI. From s ? shot. I’m worried about many who don’t read sites like this. Many don’t even watch ?. I’m a hundred percent service connected and it seems they will automatically make the disability at 10 % and no higher. If people… Read more »
wpDiscuz