My Black Friday

Hi y’all. I’m off today looking for podcast equipment and maybe a projector this Black Friday with family.

I already cheated a bit and bought the Rode Podcaster, and I’m pumped to finally be jumping into that arena after being on a ton of radio shows. That mic is going to work well with my Scarlet 6i6 Focusrite and 12-Core Mac Pro (that VocRehab bought :-)).

Overcoming Your Fears

Many of you may not know that I worked hard this year to overcome a fear of speaking in public about what I do. Doing interviews with reporters is no problem, but being in front of a crowd really freaked me out since I’m rather recluse and private.

So, starting this year, I committed to taking every opportunity to become better at speaking starting with teaching a room of attorneys about traumatic brain injury at the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates in Las Vegas last Spring.

The next opportunity was teaching more attorneys about the nuances of Military Sexual Trauma and discharge issues at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minn.

And the next was the scariest. Some veterans, including me, were selected to learn MOTH story tellings, which is basically learning to present a major life experience in the same way people present TED Talks.

In the fall, I was asked to present at the Minnesota County Veteran Service Officers annual training in northern Minnesota about traumatic brain injury. That seemingly went well, and I had a chance to learn from CVSO’s regarding what problems veterans are facing locally.

The icing on the cake was a later invitation to participate in a Veterans Voices forum at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington DC. There, a panel of 4 veterans had an opportunity to teach a room full of attorneys and staffers about the veteran perspective when working through an appeal. Carol Dibattiste was instrumental in getting me included, and I appreciate the opportunity.

Next Steps

Now that I’m feeling less anxious about public speaking, I’m going to push for more opportunities to speak to VA employees directly about veterans. Steps have been taken to move that ball forward.

For the past 6 years, I have traveled to Washington DC on my own dime to meet with VA executives and offer my services to help improve the agency. And for the past 6 years, I have been rejected either directly or by VA employees undercutting me when I’m not in the room.

The latter is the biggest tool VA obstructionists use to evade outside input they know might be unfavorable. They literally defame the veteran trying to get something done. Shameful.

But now, given the change of tide, my hope is that we will see more openness to break down persistent roadblocks that insulate VA leadership like Diana Rubens and Kim Graves from accountability.

The podcast will help get the word out and my readers with visual impairments will be more able to enjoy the message. And the training I received this year will hopefully make it better then it could have been otherwise.

New Guides

We are working on new guides for veterans, and I’d appreciate your feedback on each of these if you have time. The guides will help veterans become better self-advocates and better advocates helping other veterans. (Like teach the teacher).

Proceeds from the guides will help fund a video operation and auditing tools that are in development, the latter of which I plan to call MyVA Audit. I have a full listing of the VA employees who are veteran facing like in VocRehab or at the VA hospitals. The auditing tool will list them all and allow veterans to rate their user experience. It’s time to bring the agency into the light. But those tools cost money to develop, hence the need to sell guides and garner further support from the community.

Here are the guide topics that are near completion:

  • Employee rights – how to document bad managers who are harassing you
  • Get VocRehab to pay for your law school or advanced degree
  • Same – VocRehab approval for self-employment
  • Get non-VA care approval and learn How to appeal denials for healthcare
  • Disability compensation guide to win your sinusitis / sleep apnea claims
  • Win your TBI residuals claim
  • Understanding college testing accommodations

It may be important to note that the guides I write are all based on personal experience and representation of other veterans as an attorney. I only tend to write about what I know from personal experience.

These guides will be presented using a new online Learning Management Platform on this website. It will present the materials in the guides in more of a course platform rather than just eBooks.

There will also be new forums for readers on certain topics.

Bad VA Art

I just picked out some new software platforms to help create not just pictures but cartoon videos where I can poke fun at certain VA leaders and certain common experiences.

sueVA.com

I also picked up a new URL this year called sueVA.com. I will let you imagine what I’ll be doing with that over the next 12 months.

Well, that is all for now. More is going on but I can’t write about it just yet.

65 COMMENTS

  1. Good luck on holding the V.A. accountable, Ben! But AGAIN, regarding Secretary Of Veteran’s Affairs, I regrettably have to say NONE OF THE ABOVE! No more corrupt “business as usual” mofos!

  2. I think guides to benefits, flow charts and breakdown of the process is all good information. The real life experience of what a Veteran has to hurdle to receive benefits is a different reality. I would be interested in reviewing these guides.

      • Benjamin,
        The guides will be good information to help facilitate the veterans’ process in receiving benefits. I do need further information on how to deal with the VA as in most every aspect. Even after 20+ years, sometimes I just do not want any part of them because they portray such a defeatist and obstructive attitude when it comes to any veteran getting anything accomplished for his or her Healthcare or whatever the case may be. For me it has been an ongoing battle to the point that the hassle is not even worth it. My life with some sanity is more important. Actually, I get along better when they are not even involved but then, too, I am not saying that I do not need them financially to live, because I do. Until I can get into some type of substantive employment, I really do need them. The Navy as well as the VA have contributed to my being in my current position in life. The current position that I am in I do not like. Ben, I have a long recovery story similar to the one that you shared about with your public speaking fear. Comparing myself to how physically and mentally I was when the Navy retired me, my comparison is similar to that of night and day. I am an almost entirely different person. Yes, I have aged and that is a drawback when it comes to getting into substantive employment but that is life. I have noted that many companies are hiring and are looking to hire older folks for many reasons with one being work ethic. Ben, I have been further getting my ducks in order to reapply to Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation for the upteenthtime. I am finishing up a semester with hope for decent grades. I have had a lot of distractions this semester with including a friend who could die in the very near future without continued proper healthcare. I have been assisting her/my friend somewhat. She has a longtime boyfriend whom she is marrying this week. The presidential election was both distracting and emotionally abusive. So I have had my work cut out for me with much more work to come in the future pending that God continues to give me breath for each new day that comes. I am looking forward to your new voc rehab guide. How does it compare to your other one? I have your first voc rehab guide that I purchased a few months ago. The VA may believe that I am washed up and deny me again. Ben, it is going to be a fight I predict which it should not be this way. We will see what the new year holds. 🙂

      • Ben, Going back to VA providers. I am experiencing some positive efforts on behalf of the provider I recently saw. He is a new hire. Although, he is out of his speciality, he seems to be making a positive effort to provide me with some care. Received some chewable tablets in the mail today from the VA. Chewable tablets are not usually on the VA formulary. This is a good deed by the VAMC. This is a recent infectious disease private doctor who is now working for the VA in primary care. This doctor is really out of his specialty. I guess the speciality can overlap into primary care. Don’t know all the intricinicities. I know skills and medical knowledge can be transferred. Once a doctor almost always a doctor. Every doctor starts off in the general medicine path to begin with and then breaks off into his or her speciality later in residency anyway. The nurse who saw me was hired this past summer. Both times I saw her she was very respecful and concerned. She even asked me if I was a prior nurse due to the way I wrote or filled out my triage sheet. I said to her no but I wished as such. I was so upset with everything from the VA to the election to the corruption in this country that when she took my blood pressure it registered 173 over 93. This is what led me to making the statement that “What I cannot do anything about, then, I am not going to worry about it.” Things that I can change I will. Anyway, I do see improvements. I am glad they did establish a permanent doctor in this POD because until recently, there was not much continuity because I saw 6 doctors in one year in the same POD. Nobody really new what was what. The doctors who were in this POD were traveling doctors from other cities. I had requested to go back to women’s clinic over year to 2 years ago because of the no continuity. Previously, I transferred out of women’s clinic because my doctor moved to Washington state with her family. So things are settling down finally. Still not in women’s clinic yet but really that is okay because current POD is establishing some positive care. Ben, I speak both positive and negative. When credit is due, I say so and I am thankful. Thanks.

      • Benjamin, I want to share more on these topics. The reason why is I have a heart and I truly care what happens to human beings. Also, reason now is I was just listening to Fox News with them speaking about the plans for the VA. I do honestly believe the environment can be improved if everyone puts their heart into the process. So I decided to go ahead and provide input to you with my 2 cents worth.

        Starting with the departments within the hospitals and even in the clinics, create a triage process for when the veterans check in with the clerks whether via Face to face or via kiosk. Align the triage sheet with symptoms that the veterans could be experiencing for that particular medical speciality. The veteran could check off the occurring symptoms prior to the meeting with the doctor. Benjamin, if the doctor is MED board certified and is qualified in that particular medical speciality, then, the doctor could use this as a baseline for diagnosing the treatment of the medical issue. With the doctor being qualified to recognize certain symptoms to go with certain conditions, then, this could produce more accountability and could contribute to more efficient time management. Some clinic doctors start from scratch when the veteran patient enters the treatment room at the appointment. If the triage sheet is already documented with a baseline of symptoms, then, the doctor can most of the time start with this. Some nurses do triage prior to seeing the doctor particularly in primary care but other clinics in the hospitals may not such as the eye clinic, dermatology clinic, and the list goes on. I am saying this could help to increase accountability by having everything in writing. The clinics could see more veterans throughout the day or whenever. I know there is the my health vet but Benjamin some veterans cannot afford a computer nor a phone to do online with a VA provider. I am studying for an exam and will write more later when I take another break. Whether you or anyone who reads this message considers the feedback useful or not, it is okay. I am just adding my 2 cents worth in from my observations with the goal of trying to help improve the VA environment.

      • Right on track, Angela. I went 45 years with the wrong diagnosis because I didn’t have the option or the ability to write my own history. Even when I wrote letters to the Director of the facility my real history was ignored in favor of “impressions” by nurses and physicians of the history I was giving instead of reading what I wrote. In later years I began writing my history and giving it to the physician. Most of the time that ended in the circular file instead of being scanned into the computer file.

        Now I write my history and put it in my file on line. I then tell the physician that because of erroneous histories taken in the past that lead to missed diagnosis I’d like them to read my history before asking me questions. They rarely do and still miss record the history therefore do not have a correct basis for analysis.

        The check off list is an improvement but too few of the physicians and nurses use them correctly. Still checking their impression instead of asking direct questions for each statement.

  3. Ben,

    I pray God will bless you as you travel, bringing our stories to light, and dragging the VA, kicking and screaming, to the forefront of everyone’s attention.

    I can’t say it clearly enough how thankful I am, that you are using your God given talent, and personal life story to help expose the real VA to the American people.

    Semper Fi

  4. Ben,

    Your comment that you only tend to write about what you know betrays a total incompetance in your ability to represent ANY government agency! Thank goodness you are on our side, because on this side of the line it is considered an admirable thing to speak truth.

    USC Title 82, 5005, does require individuals to speak truth, unless the Undersecretary of Health determine such qualified individuals cannot be retained for service. This determination has been confirmed. Not one could be found. (and since you already have a day job the prospects of finding one grow dimmer by the minute). I wonder if the citizenship requirement for being the Undersecretary Of Health can be waived also?

    I hate to quote G. Bush #2 necause at times his genius eludes me gramatically, however a new word that he invented seems absolutely perfect here;

    America has seriously misunderestimated the competence of the Department of Veterans Affairs. (Thanks George!)

    • I write about lots of things, but when it comes to my guides, I write on benefits with which I have some degree of personal experience. I enjoy using personal reflection when writing lengthy things.

      • Hi Ben,

        I would like to comment on your guide topics a little today but will eventually go in great depth about each one later.

        First, I would like to start with a wonderful piece of advice that was recently given to me. I was told by someone that “What I cannot do anything about, then, do not worry about it.” Ben, being in the VA and dealing with the VA almost makes most anyone almost sick. Until I am in a position to implement positive change in other areas that I do not see as ethical, I have detached to change the areas that I can change and just walk away from areas that I have absolutely no control over. People such as VA employees will not listen anyway because they think it is their way only or hit the highway. I am bringing this up to lead into the statement that you made about VA leadership undercutting you when you are not present. This is who they are. They are snooty and arrogant. They are very demeaning to veterans and talk down to them most of the time. If you are not a veteran, then, then respect does start to come into play. I have even, had some experiences recently that have happened to lead me to further validate this perception. Ben, honestly, there are veterans who have accomplished well beyond what some VA employees have ever even dreamed of accomplishing but yet the vets are disregarded and disrespected by most VA employees. I have really been trying to understand why and what is contributing to this perspective. I just do not get it.

        Second, your topic areas for the guides are right on target. Let’s start with the employee rating system that you are developing. There are rating systems for companies, professors, products, and actually, almost everything outside the VA. How is it that the VA has been able to keep themselves from out from under a rating system? The VA does need to be further exposed. I am speaking of actual factual research of every aspect of the VA. Ben, though, even, with a rating system, extentual accountability will not occur be cause it is the
        government. It goes back to the regulations. Ben, the regulations need to be changed, updated, and some eliminated. For example, some providers are actually decent providers but they cannot make a decision one way or the other because of the restrictions of the system. The VA is over regulated and needs more flexibility. I am speaking about accountable flexibility. The VA is so overregulated that nothing really gets done in a timely manner if there is even an attempt to get some work done. There are situations too where the provider will not make a decision at all because they probably believe that if something happens then they will be on the line but I do not see even how this could be the case because the providers are protected by this corrupted union. So I really do not know why a provider can’t say one way or the other; but, however, even by saying nothing and doing nothing, the provider is actually making a decision. I guess this would be a case of neutrality. There is alot of this in the VA or just plain incompetence. Actual research needs to be done to conclude what is actually happening with these providers. Going back to the implementation of your developing rating system, like I have mentioned, rating systems are applicable everywhere except the VA, but are not always regarded with substantiated factual evidence. For example, in a university or college, the rating system for University professors called rate my professor is used by students to choose their professors but only offers a glimpse of the professor. I have even heard professors make comments to students not to even pay attention to the rate my professor online software program to decide their professors because the system seems to not hold much validity of the ratings of professors in regards to whether they are quality professors or not. When a professor is actually rated is when a credible echelon of the educational system evaluates face to face by actually being in the classroom to note the content, presentation, and responses by students. When speaking about responses from students, look at grades, future degree completion and future employment. This applies to the VA as well. I am trying to make some correlations here. This face to face rating of providers could be applied to the VA and not just online. When it comes to the government, it is really hard to hold any employee accountable because they find some statute or some way around it. This is why we need capitalism applied to all aspects of this country. In the private sector in regards to rating systems, look at consumer reports, these ratings do hold validity about products. The consumer reports are highly regarded and people do heavily rely on these reports when they go to purchase a product. This also applies to private sector medical professionals. They all seem to have a rating system. If they have poor ratings and law suites sitting beside their name,
        they will not be able to keep their practice open very long and will fall under. In the government such as the VA, these providers are not held by the same standards and rarely have malpractice lawsuits. With all this being said, Yes, I love your rating system that you are developing.” I really believe it will be helpful in exposing poor doctoring, in exposing poor retraining and in even further misallocation of financial funds. The VA does receive tons of money but vets do not even probably receive a 1/4 of the money applied to them. This leads into another topic about Congress needing to open up more categories how the money can be allocated in the VA. I do not know all the intricinicities of this process, but I can comment from my experience. Ben,
        I have seen VA leadership use money to paint offices, buy new furniture, and lay down new carpet when it was not needed. They have even told me that they do this so the money will not be reduced by congress for the next year. Ben, this is squandering taxpayer money. Ben, the offices did not need painting, new furniture was not needed and new carpet did not need to be put in. This money could be towards hiring of new Medically Board certified specialist physicians, retraining of veterans for substantive employment, and putting APA approved psychologists back in Chapter 31 to determine employability, to determine both academic and work accommodations. Actually, ways on how this squandered money could have been spent my list could go on and on. I am speaking about ways to benefit both the VA and the veteran here. Ben, Chapter 31 only has one test they use and it is called Career Scope. This test is so vague. I have had to pay a civilian psychologist to get my own academic testing done for an academic curriculum accommodations. I will elaborate on this later when I can go further into this. The point I am getting to here is the VA has a CRC for at least a 100 veterans minimum on the case load. Not only does the CRC administratively do the awards but has to do testing and everything else to. Even when the CRC sets up Individualized evaluation plan, the CRC may not even follow up on it. I see a lot of unaccountability happening due to not of enough staff. Even, if the staff has appropriate certifications, cases fall beside the waste side because one person cannot keep up with numerous veterans. The veterans need to be invested in more than what is happening currently. They deny veterans not only because not knowing the policies themselves but because the VA – VBA just seems not have the resources to offer a smooth retraining process. They appear to be so under staffed that minimum accountability can occur. I have seen CRC handle the financial aspects of Voc rehab when a Accounting or financial person should be doing this. The CRC needs to focus on retraining aspects of the vet. Ben, I am not beating up the VA but I am just trying to understand where is all the money going and why do they not care about improving the VA with a passion.
        The VA does not have to be second rate health care or second rate anything if appropriate people are hired for the jobs. Ben, I tell you one thing if the VA would have Accounting and finance employees handling Accounting and financial tasks instead of CRC’S and Social workers, there would be more accountability with the financial aspect of the VA. Ben, also, too, if the current employees do not know their own job well, then, they should be required to complete updated training. Anyway, Ben, your guides have opened up a can or worms for discussion. Exposure is good. The future rating system that you are developing is also excellent. I know this message is extremely long; but, I have a lot of experience to express because I want the VA to improve so the needs of the veterans will be met and as well as the employees. Employees do not even realize that if accountability and pride is part of their work ethic, that they will actually be happier. They do not know this until they experience it. This will lead to a more quality VA all the way around. More to come. Thanks.
        Ben, and all, I hope everyone had a blessed thanksgiving. We are on the countdown to the start of a new prosperous year. God Bless this country and the VA. 🙂

      • Angela Johnson,

        It is difficult to find the word that can truly express the emotions I feel when reading your post. You choose to work in the most corrupt Department in America and most likely pay dues which support the most corrupt union in America.

        To top it off you choose to come to a website that is Veteran centric and try to justify your working their so that you can express your opinion. You truly are one sick twisted individual.

      • Seymore, I do not work for the VA. You are misunderstanding my message. I am pointing out my experiences as a veteran patient for over 20 + years. You do not even have a clue as what I have been through with the VA. I am pointing out areas of discrepancies in the VA that is leading to poor service and deaths of the veterans. I am commenting on Benjamin’ s guides that he wanted us to provide feedback input on based on our experiences. I want to revamp the VA or shut it down. You have totally misunderstood me. Thanks.

      • I was talking to my niece yesterday about private care for her daughters. She is have the same or worse problems with care givers in the private sector that we have in the VA. It is not where you get care, it is the competency and entitlement and condescending attitude of the care givers. “You idiots don’t know what is happening to your body. We’ll tell you your symptoms and when we miss diagnose you have to take it and whatever goes with it. We are the “Doctors” etc.

        It is rampant and goes with “you should be a doctor young bright person because that is where the money is.” What ever happened to encouraging young people to serve and put service above entitlement?

      • I totally agree. The private doctors are just as negligent that is why there are rating systems in the private sector like Benjamin Krause is currently developing. One thing about in the private sector is the ratings produced by the patients can determine whether the medical professional will sink or swim. One aspect about the private sector is a private sector medical provider can be held accountable but the VA medical providers at the present time can’t be due to the protection from the union and the regulations. If the facts can be presented and proven, a private sector medical provider
        can be sued for malpractice. I agree though that the private sector providers can be just as negligent. Even though a person is in the profession does not necessarily mean they are there for service to assist people with their care. For example, a doctor prescribes a
        medication to block acid in the stomach. Well, if the doctor really knew his or her speciality area, the medication should not be prescribed because some of the medications contribute to additional health care issues. Some anti acid medications can contribute to damaging the cognitive functioning and can contribute to other disorders. I am not saying we do not need some medications but they need to be streamlined and researched before taking them. Some everyday home remedies can assist a person
        instead of taking prescribed medicines that could just create more problems. I am not saying to not take prescribed medicines but to research the situation. For a further example, Greek yogurt has good bacteria cultures that can assist the digestive system.
        Greek yogurt has probiotics that really help.
        There are alternatives for many issues. Yes, I agree the doctors do throw it out there and it may not be in the self interest of the patient.
        This is why it is very important for one to be informed of their own situation. If not informed, one should research the medicines that are prescribed as well as the medical issue itself. I have had to learn to be very vigilant with not saying that I am perfect but anything I can take care of myself I do. I know myself better than anyone else. It does not matter if they are a doctor or not, it pays to march to my own tune if feasible. Nobody should be put on a pedestal to put trust in for one’s life whatever profession. People are humans and can make mistakes whether accidental or intentional. I trust Donald Trump somewhat but not a 100 %. I trust and have faith that there is a Almighty above.
        I know Donald Trump has good intentions and he is taking action as best he can. I know he does see the issues, has great leadership experience which is transferable and if he has the Republican support as well as some Democratic support, this country might have a positive turnaround to benefit all Americans. Although, I have truly learned there are no guarantees anywhere on this earth. We are guaranteed 2 things in our lives
        which is birth and death. Thanks.

      • Angela,

        The VA loves more regulations! They feed on the idea that a simple paperwork boondoggle is the source of all wrongdoing, maiming, illegal transplants, liquifying corpses, prostate surgeries on women, Ovarian sections on men, and gloriously written fictional tales worthy of Mark Twain written by Disruptive Behavior Committees.

        What regulation on Earth can you possibly predict will take corruption out of the AFGE, affiliate of AFL/CIO??? What regulation will stop your drug addict employees from being addicts? What regulation will allow VA to recruit doctors other than the lowest 8 percentile acedemically to work for vets?

        What regulation would you pass to convince Hillary and those like her that the problem is not just a conspiracy theory? Would you pass another regulation requiring US citizenship of VA doctors, or just ammend the one that has already been passed but ignored? What regulation would ban ignoring regulations? Would you pass one that requires sterile instruments? How about one that bans making a false teport to federal agent?

        Yep, VA Loves regulations. I heard that some of them even read one once, but RAND needed creative math to determine that.

        If it is possible to regulate malfeasance, incompetance, and criminality to an acceptable level, then tell me please, what level should we be willing to accept?

      • I agree with you all the way. Yes, the VA is over regulated. Many need to be eliminated.
        The VA healthcare system is socialism and needs to be integrated into more of Capitalism. The regulations are designed for a socialist governing system. This is why the VA healthcare might could be changed to where the focus is entirely veteran centered.
        Right now, it seems as though it is entirely taking care of the employees. For example, I had a doctor say to me, “I was in private practice but decided to come to the VA to get my life back.” Yes, the VA is attracting medical professionals sometimes for the wrong reasons. Healthcare is a disaster for the whole country not just for the VA. We are all having to deal with this current state of our country. As for Hillary Clinton, if she had been elected president, the health care in this country would eventually go to a single payer system. With this type health, people would be waiting for ever to be treated. The lines would be long and even more people would be dying. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, this country would probably have gone further to the left towards Communism. 100 percent. Our religious liberty, freedom of speech, and second amendment would be eventually removed from our lives. The governing focus I do believe would come from international law instead of the U.S. Constitution. Mrs. Clinton is so intertwined with other countries from receiving money from them for the Clinton Foundation that I do believe this could happen. She would finish selling out the United States with all the outsourcing, our resources, and even us the American people.
        With what I am saying, I totally agree with you. It is not just the VA that is a mess, it is the whole country. Our healthcare system, educational system, our economical system, and the list goes on needs capitalism restored. This means getting rid of many regulations, revamping the tax code, bringing education back to the control of the states where the curriculum is on learning and not just teaching the test to students so they can
        pass a class, and the list goes on. I do honestly believe if Mr. Trump can accomplish just some of his policies, our country could make some progress towards success in all areas of our country. The left wants to create chaos, dependency and more regulations with forgetting about the
        poor and the middle class. They say they do but they don’t. Anyone who has a basic understanding of Economics knows that the Clinton policies are to continue to bring this country down to the bottom. One policy for example is higher taxes and even keeping the death tax. There are many people who have brought themselves out of poverty from when they were young by working hard, being self reliant, and frugal. These people have saved and saved over the years to later in life they have assets. All the assets have had taxes paid on them and when they die taxes should not have to be paid again to the government. This is robbing the American people who have fought tooth and nail to make it and have not have one dime handed to them. They have become professionals from poverty. This is capitalism with having the opportunity to achieve the American dream through hard work, passion, and good ethical values. I am saying all this because I know in my heart that this country and the VA can be turned around with the right leadership. I know from experience that just because a person is in a given place in their lives does not mean that they will always be there. This applies to every aspect of life. The bottom line is I have hope today for myself and all. All is possible in God’s eyes. I am praying that Mr. Trump can lead our country to where the American people can see the light of day again. Thanks.

      • Both “fee based” medicine and socialized medicine have incentives, especially financial incentives that run contra to good health. Accountable care organizations with bonuses for health and enough accounting controls to keep individuals from gaming the system is the way to go.

        Your computer is cheaper and far better that my first $2600.00 computer in 1983 because the economic incentives push toward better for less instead of “fee based” medicines economic incentives for worse for more. And the HMO system, as it is now, is socialized medicines no economic incentive for anything therefore lazy uncaring poor outcomes.

      • Again, the VA is much like the Vogons, a race of unpleasant and bureaucratic aliens in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’, and each and everyone of us Veterans is an Arthur Dent fighting the Vogons’ bureaucratic love of making new problems for tomorrow’s solutions.
        Maybe the Vogons are building a superhighway through the center of the earth at the Aurora/Denver VAMC? Too many similarities to go unnoticed.

      • Angela Johnson,

        Simple minded me, how could I have confused you for being employed by the VA. I guess we all should just accept your “CrazyKhazei” style post. Where you are saying Veterans just need to accept whatever the VA offers and not spend time trying to change it.

        The same “CrazyKhazei” post where you are calling for less regulations, less accountability, more money for the VA for research, more educational dollars for VA employees, additional hiring at the VA and the need for Veterans to just accept what is being done and not fight for change.

        Oh, and what an elegant closing. Your statement “God Bless this country and the VA.”

        In Closing let me just say:

        God Bless America and the Men and Women who have served or are currently serving.

      • Double check my post. I did not say the veterans should accept what the VA is dishing out. You misread my post. I said the VA should be revamped or shut down. I am disgruntled about the VA as you are. I am not a VA employee nor really wish to be. The VA can be improved with the right leadership and yes reducing regulations with having the appropriate regulations. Accountability needs to become more apart of the VA. The
        power of the Union needs to be reduced. Positive changes need to occur. This is the whole jest of my post and all my posts.

      • I was reading what you thought I wrote about and you are really off target with what I expressed when I was writing.a

  5. Looking forward to the podcasts, Ben. I sent you a longer email than usual with some helpful links and offers to help.
    I have been using my synth-based music set-up as a partial replacement for PTSD meds that were simply toxic and making ambient (boring to most) music for calming the nerves and also to help keep my agility in hands and keep my brain muscle memory exercised.
    Hoping to help other Vets that may have a musical background to utilize it as a very powerful coping tool. Hope I can assist in whatever small way I can.
    Everyone, have a safe day. Be careful out there if you are caught-up in the Black Friday Madness…the crooks are also out in full force…be wary of your surroundings! Always.

    • namnibor,
      Maybe Ben could use some of your music?!
      I think a lot of us would like to hear something from you! What do you say Ben?!?!

      • Eventually, as I am still more of a mad sonic professor finding my own way and also am actively teaching myself via video tutorials to use recording methods.

        In any case, again, Crazy elf, you and I think alike often, I had already sent Ben an email with an offer for free music snippets or transitional music chords down the road as well as I have some extra equipment he might be able to utilize as a donation to the cause.
        I make no airs about what I am doing with ambient music as being interesting to anyone but myself and my cat. 🙂
        Also sent Ben some links for saving $$ and some free audio editing tool programs.

      • Sometimes, of often, what I do are sounds that “drone” and change over time, along with Berlin School style synth music. I am simply a nerd benefiting from my musical background at this point in life with chronic health crap. Some of my drones sound very much like a B-52 Stratosphere’s engines at cruising altitude. (USAF Rules) 🙂

    • *Namnibor
      My favorite comes from the youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNuoGeD9Qeo
      Cognition Enhancer For Clearer and Faster Thinking – Isochronic Tones by Jason Lewis – MindAmend
      By listening to this & coloring a Mandela using color pencils I’m able to turn off the internal dialog in my brain which calms me into a trancelike state.
      A housecats purr promotes healing too which may be why cats don’t get arthritis, purr relieves pain, heals tendons & muscles, respiratory problems, headaches. I’m hoping you find the right vibrations or frequencies that cause healing changes in your body/mind & eventually will share them with us. Finding the right tones that work on the individual is key.

  6. Can’t wait, Ben. It’ll be interesting to see your new “podcast”!

    ——————–

    On a side note;
    It seems we may have jumped to conclusion over President Elect Trump’s not wanting to pursue charges against Hillary Clinton.
    In reality, he’s doing/saying exactly what he should! It will not be his job, once inaugurated to influence either the FBI or the DOJ. Their job is to investigate, and if charges are warranted, bring to trial perpetrators of criminal activities!
    There’s an “update” from a “right wing news source” titled;

    “Update 11/22/16.. Trump: Hillary Being Brought To Justice Not Off The Table”

    Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016- 18:39
    “Alex Jones reporting”
    (05:38 minutes long)

    There are links to confirm!

    • Here’s an article from “Personal Liberty”, dated 25 Nov 2016 explaining what a President can and cannot do. Especially when it comes to getting involved in the investigations of Hillary Clinton as Obama may have done!
      Titled;

      “Is Donald Trump Already Committing Impeachable Offenses”

      by Bob Livingston

      Again, I’m still 100% behind Trump. Even if his picks for Secretary of Education and Secretary of State is not to my liking. I feel we need to step back and wait. He’s a very shrewd individual.

  7. Will there be live entertainment during the podcast breaks? Intermission entertaimnent keeps em coming back! I heard Hillary is sponsoring a new swimwear line that she designed and models herself. Maybe some of those short takes during intermission whith her dancing real sexy will stimulate a nationwide cry to for Trump do do SOMETHING! ANYTHING!

    Plus you could sell popcorn in the lobby at VA procurement prices. Butter on top on approved credit only. Armored cars to ship the cash to your account on standby…

    Let me manage your career, kid, and the stars are the limit!

    Your Friend,
    The Colonel

    • Entertainment also provided by the soon-to-be duo baking team, “The Hillary & Obama Baking Show”, where they present daily tutorials on how to ‘cook the books’ and Obama’s special recipe of “Nobel Peace Prize Social Dissent Casserole”. (nothing like an oxymoronic recipe to get your day going) 🙂

      • Must not leave out live webcam footage of VA Employees around the nation playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Would sell tons of popcorn.

        Then there’s the pin the correct toe tag on the body bag before it’s liquefied contents explode in the VA’s experimental labs.

        Above all, cannot wait for great interviews and guests Ben has as the podcast evolves.

  8. Namnibor, wouldn’t it be something “IF” McDuck were to show up on Ben’s Podcast. Especially right after President (Elect) Trump says, “YOUR FIRED!”
    I can see it now. Ben, and maybe another guest(s), tearing into McDuck’s abysmal record as Secretary of VA!
    Asking questions about how he lied so much on how many VA employees were fired. Or, why a sexual deviant was still on the payroll. Or, why an armed robbery suspect was still employed. Or, why a murderer of a veteran was still employed.
    There’s so many questions McDuck needs to answer for!
    McDuck sure has as much blood on his hands as HI-LIAR-Y!!!!!!

  9. There is only one thing Bob could do to save face under such duress – he would pin a medal on somebody. I mean it always worked before, right? Or maybe just a nose stud or ear ring this time as a nod to the LGBT without offending the straight community, the vegatarian community, the meat eaters, or the anti-veteran community….

    How are you with a nose stud labelled “VA” Ben? Let’s help Bob make ammends….plus the marketing aspect alone would be GOLD!

    The Colonel

  10. congrats on the podcast equipment. Be careful with the focusrite gear. Not a lot of consumer confidence in their equipment, tends to drop signal for a couple seconds here and there.

  11. I”d like to help! I’ve been working on your specialty (a little broader, you are TBI and I have been working on Organic Brain Syndromes)

    See Bray v Brown renamed Bray v Derwinski. Never realized it had been forwarded to the CAVC. Also Bray v Shinseki at the CAFC erroneously first filed at the CAVC which didn’t have jurisdiction. I think you’ll agree pro se petitioners don’t get a fair read.

    Not really intending to Spam this but I have essentially posted it twice today on different threads. Hope to get a read from Ben;

    Lem at [email protected] 307 316 8568

    • Lem, maybe this could be useful in your Organic brain syndrome research. My Aunt died in 2015 age 98. We were told she had dementia but after autopsy her cause of death was listed as Encephalitis.
      Before she stopped writing letters & talking to her children she spoke of maltreatment & abuses in the home she was put in. They didn’t believe her because they were told she had dementia & was delusional. I wonder what the relationship is, if any, to living in a Care Facility, suffering abuses & having them wrote off & ignored as delusion dementia. sad these things don’t come to light until after death.

      • Thanks. I wonder if the autopsy showed the route of the encephalitis infection. Possibly sinusitis or ear infections. Like the untreated maggot infestation the septic infection had to get in to the brain.

      • My cousin told me Auntie told her a man was coming into her room, locking the door & assaulting her sexually. An STD was also found at autopsy, something she should not have had. That may have been the transmission route. I didn’t see the report, I only know what my cousin told me.

      • How long was she in the facility. It would take years for STD to migrate to the brain. Was she in a “Lime Disease” area? Could have missed the early onset and it could have been mistaken as an STD. I don’t know how prevalent syphilis is now.

      • About 4 yrs. She first entered a Care Home in Jan 2011, was moved to another in March 2013 & with her savings used up they moved her into her third & last home in March 2014 with her death in Aug 2015. I first thought maybe Lime Disease as she lived in Butte County, Paradise CA until the STD came to lite. No STD in the uncle who died in 2008, complications from a broken hip & these people did not hanky panky around.

      • I wonder also. I’ll need to send a snail mail letter to NJ & ask her, I know it bothers her, she couldn’t help her mom due to distance & age.

      • Seems most encephalitis (google search) is from tick born viruses. The only STD is syphilis. Also Herpes is a route for secondary encephalitis as well as childhood viruses. And then there is West Nile.

  12. Seems you are spreading yourself out a bit thin. I truly wish you the best in all your endeavors. Although, it does sound like you need a staff. Hopefully there will be a lot of unemployed ex VA employees to choose from.

      • P.E.T.A. changed the face of American education with one FAX machine, four founders, and a whole lot of First Ammendment FAXing.

        It is not the size of the staff, or the number of cores in the computer, and it is not a glitch free podcast that matters AT ALL – it is the will to carry through on something you believe in with a passion, with perseverence, and a belief that the greater good is being served, that drives the message and impacts the reader. The reader lends creadence to men they admire because if we can believe in the man then we can believe in the message. Example; I believe in a veteran called Nesler – and I believe in his message. I believe he changed America, and I want to be like him.

        I look forward to looking whatever the hell a “podcast” is. I have an iPad only – does it also work as a “pad ast”?

        As an control systems engineer I designed and programmed deterministic real time operating systems that controlled complex motion control robotics in four dimensions in real time and implemented the machinery into legacy environments. That is nowhere near as confusing as this damn iPad at times!

        I’ll smoke a joint and maybe a padcast faiery will explain to me…

        Spoken from the heart,
        Dennis

  13. Ben,
    Bought the book!!!
    VA in Newark just scheduled me for
    CP follow up after 10 years of No reviews and letter stating from May 2008 –
    That Upon review of wartime military
    Rating of 100 Percent Permanent and total
    Has been assigned May 29th,2007.

    When I enquirer …the 3rd day response from the directors office was
    As quoted ,”I received a copy of the letter you attached in the prior email.

    I forwarded it this morning to have someone review your full records.

    As I stated yesterday there is a possibility this letter was provided to you in error.

    In the meantime I’ve forwarded the information/letter so your records can be reviewed more thoroughly.

    I would allow for at least a week for them to review your records.

    Thank you and have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.”

    I was 100 percent scheduler already before the letter ….

    Now they want to give me a 3rd Party CP
    Exam on my lungs…
    Can you contact me or comment on my next step?
    Respectfully,
    DVB
    ..

    • May be the result of a law suit. Lot of marines have went down with cystic fibrosis recently. My 75 year old brother in law was one and a high school classmate another. Are you sure it was a C & P exam? Even then it may be a mistake because they were just sending out to everyone who had a lung problem like they did in 2009 for the TBIs.

      I have an award for hearing that cannot be changed because of the length of time. Will have to look it up from a recent decision that said a rating couldn’t be changed after a certain number of years. Also applied to my organic brain syndrome known as 8045-9304 Mixed Organic Personality Disorder (which was essentially a TBI award) “A disability which has been continuously rated at or above any evaluation for 20 ,or. more years. cannot be reduced except upon a showing that such rating was based on fraud. The evaluation of this disability is protected under this provision of the. law..” From the rating decision which then allowed them to give me a 40% TBI rating on top?

      That period is about 17 years longer than it was in 1987.

      Also they may be playing you. My PC’s father is a Korean War Veteran that got his lung condition reduced years ago because of his lack of response. May be hoping you don’t show for the examination or that you won’t contest an adverse decision. Do make the examination though.

  14. On the VA guide for “Bad Managers” how about Toxic Leaders get rid of them! Bad moral for VA Employees let alone veterans cant get the proper medical care, even if email call Wash DC VA Executives or utilize ones US Senators or US Congress person.
    How do we get rid of lying Drs/ PAs/CNPs/ & RNs? as well would be great too!

    Congrats on moving up into podcasts n having others speak as well on various subjects too!

    Non-VA Care is great but how about adding or help adding a medical code that has been around for 100+ years yet the VA still has not put it into the VA Rating System Disabilities 🙁 such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) we, those with CRPS in 2012 at a VARSD Meeting in NYC held by the VA for such inclusions, it would be added by Jan 2016, sadly another lie to veterans.

    • Sarah, I agree with you. The VA providers are
      not held accountable for their mistakes even if accidental or intentional. How about being almost transported by plane to another facility for a liver transplant? The liver transplant was not supposed to be for me. I had to stand up to them and advocate for myself the facts to them that my condition was not warranting a liver transplant. What had happened was erroneous progress notes were entered in my chart intended for another veteran. Errors like this is happening all over the healthcare system. During this particular time frame, if I had not already started trying to take note of what was going on with my care, who knows what could have happened. I was fortunate to have already started regaining my sanity when this happened. I do have a liver condition but it did not and doesn’t warrant a transplant. The list goes on.

      When I was recently in the VA, the nurse triaged me and got to the doctor for discussion about issues. At that time, he had another person’s chart open while he was seeing me initially. This is not good.

      I will share more later about some of the VA employees not even noticing what they are doing when they are even attempting to do a job. Negligence.

  15. My first step as VAAKIC (Veterans Affairs Ass Kicker In Charge), would be to offer $2 for the text of every article held in the archives of every newspaper in the United States that told ANY story about VADB (Veterans Affairs Dead Beats).

    Two dollars is the going rate for archived articles at our regional newspapaers online and most offer the text for much less even going back sometimes decades. Unlike a gazillion FOIA requests, the newspapers would be eager for the $$$, honored to get their by-lines known, and never, ever, EVER use a Sharpie Pen to mark out names….

    Then, as VAAKIC I would contract a junior high school nearby (the most competent) and ask them to develop a simple program to extract the names of VADB. Knowing the current crop of kids within 8 hours the Beta version would be online and in two days a full blown app that can even predict with 97.3% accuracy who the future VADB articles will be about will be available on the App store. $0.99 – with in app purchases for Privacy Act requests and Civil Rights Complaints already filled in from your address book! Just click ALLOW.

    Kids these days? What are ya gonna do, but my point is that the information is out there and online and it IS FOR SALE. Pick one VAAKIC and hunt down the VADB and then apply a new acronym –

    “GOAWAY”, but only after you explain they have the right to remain silent.

  16. Exciting news with the podcast. This is a great way to reach a new audience. I’ve been doing one for a couple years now and it has had a very positive impact on my audience my business. I’m happy to discuss the tools and software I use to make it as easy as possible to get started (a lot of podcast guide recommendations are overkill). Hopefully that can help you save a lot of time and money. Hit me up on email if interested.

    And thanks for what you do. There aren’t many who hold the VA accountable.

    • Here is a copy of so,e text from the vets Accountability Act of 2016;
      `(2) A determination under paragraph (1) that the performance or
      misconduct of an individual warrants removal or demotion may consist of
      a determination of any of the following:
      “(A) The individual neglected a duty of the position in
      which the individual was employed.
      “(B) The individual engaged in malfeasance.
      “(C) The individual failed to accept a directed
      reassignment or to accompany a position in a transfer of
      function.
      “(D) The individual violated a policy of the Department.
      “(E) The individual violated a provision of law.
      “(F) The individual engaged in insubordination.
      “(G) The individual over prescribed medication.
      “(H) The individual contributed to the purposeful omission
      of the name of one or more veterans waiting for health care
      from an electronic wait list for a medical facility of the
      Department.
      “(I) The individual was the supervisor of an employee of
      the Department, or was a supervisor of the supervisor, at any
      level, who contributed to a purposeful omission as described in
      subparagraph (H) and knew, or reasonably should have known,
      that the employee contributed to such purposeful omission.
      “(J) Such other performance or misconduct as the Secretary
      determines warrants the removal or demotion of the individual
      under paragraph (1).

      Is it just me, or does it seem odd that it took 240 years of America lawmaking to come up with the idea that a public servant doing A) through J) should be fired??? My God, the vote even had people who argued against it!!!

      God and Congress work in mysterious ways that often exceed the lives of mortal men…

      • ….and want to know why docs at VA arent prescribing needed meds anymore? Because there is no prohibition to under prescribing needed medicine, only over prescribing… what is wrong with THAT picture???

        Do you see the folly of government controlled healthcare?

      • @Dennis- With that exact same logic, The RAND Corporation recommends that the VA now should measure distance for ‘The Choice Program’ by “As A Buzzard Flies”, since crows are now out of the equation, and the VA OIG concurs because ‘As A Buzzard Flies’ is much more convenient for the VA since buzzards are known to fly in endless circles and are ecologically friendly in that the buzzards will do a better job with deceased Veteran than the VA’s own morgue. VA=Happy/Buzzards=Happy=Win/Win.

  17. I don’t know much about Podcasting but will figure it out. I guess it would be like listening to a online radio station and having various options to listen in?

    A little birdie told me about some trouble the Danville, IL VA hospital is having with whistle-blowers. That’s all I know, or heard, from the family member of one. Law suit, I guess, is pending on one or two. Maybe some legal researchers can find out more.

    WE need, the younger vets need all the real information they can get instead of the run-around or trying to get info from some college person, or state VOC Rehab people I am told is still worthless in my area.

    It would also be nice to find a decent forum for us to use since most others are heavily moderated and censored. Those like Topix or Military dot com are about useless and the Military one is all but finished due to the activist and VA supporters. Well, actually their forum is gone really. Trying to connect on local levels and such is nearly impossible unless we want to get set up for more crap and activist.

    The VA stopped physical meeting groups here long ago. Going to veterans groups/clubs here us useless and I don’t drink so that is out. Plus folks here don’t want to discuss more serious matters Or much at all. And most playing the “community” game to put on a happy face and pretend all is well in the state and town. I’m not good at putting on a front or happy face, or pretending to live in a phony globalist communist society that hate America, or to support those who support the very evils I stand up to, or deal with.

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