John Wells, A Non-Insider Seeks Top Spot At Veterans Affairs

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VA Secretary John Wells

Retired Navy Commander turned attorney John Wells has decided to throw his hat into the right for the top spot as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

I have given some degree of print time to some of the DC insiders who’ve been considered for the top slot, and now I think it’s time to turn our focus to non-insiders who can do as good a job if not better than those inside the beltway.

If we have learned anything over the past decade, being politically connected has mattered about as little as being a West Point alumni when it comes to fixing the beleaguered VA with its legion of civilian, lifer employees.

Maybe it is time to break with the practice of the past decade to bring in some new ideas from outside the homogenous education of our nation’s military academies. After all, leading troops into battle is one thing, but taming an army of union employees has proven too tough a task for even the most skilled West Point generals.

If you agree, you would be in good company. Over 1,800 Facebook users have backed Wells to Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Rights Attorney John Wells

One of the best-known veterans rights attorneys in the nation, John Wells believes he has what it takes to push through the reforms needed to turn VA around for the sake of veterans.

As a DC outsider, Wells would likely not bring with him the baggage of other present stakeholders interested in the top slot. I have heard Wells also possesses the rare and valuable ability to recognize, know and admit to what he does not know.

In this modern era of corporate and bureaucratic politics, this is a valuable trait and something that could be an asset when compared to the previous four nominees that led the agency into and out of scandal after scandal:

  • Jim Nicholson, VA Secretary 2005-07 (West Point class of 1961)
  • James Peake, VA Secretary 2007-09 (West Point class of 1966)
  • Eric Shinseki, VA Secretary 2009-14 (West Point class of 1965)
  • Bob McDonald, VA Secretary 2014-17 (West Point class of 1975)

Desire Something Different

Notice anything similar about our past 4 leaders? Notice anything different about the mentality of VA’s Kafkaesque treatment of veterans? Who exactly are the veterans who depend on VA day in and day out?

Drilling this point home, since 2001, every VA Secretary nominated and confirmed for the head spot was an alumni of one of the military academies.

Most veterans who receive services from the agency are former enlisted soldiers. And many of those are veterans in poverty or who lack alternative health care options. And still many more of those are disabled veterans desperate for change.

How many of VA secretaries of the past decade were disabled or using VA health care? How many veterans are disillusioned with the lip service we receive in the press from these fearless leaders while our brothers and sisters go without the services they were promised?

These are factors I hope President-elect Donald Trump considers when selecting the next Secretary. Maybe pick someone with familiarity with veterans instead of those well-connected businessmen or Pentagon insiders?

None of those four names listed above had deep familiarity with veterans before being selected, and I believe that is something weighing heavily in favor of Wells compared against these picks in the past.

The man has not only served veterans for more than twenty years as a lawyer, but he has also been a veteran himself for about as long.

Wells’ Military Career, Briefly

Wells served in the Navy from 1973 to 1994, retiring as Commander of the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Readiness Center in Pittsburgh PA. Since that time, he has served tirelessly to improve the rights of veterans fighting for benefits. Wells presently serves as Executive Director of the nonprofit Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc.

READ: John Wells Bio

Of the individuals seeking to lead VA out of its present scandal-plagued status, Wells has the most detailed reforms plan of them all, which is no doubt informed by his extensive experience serving these men and women.

Check these out and let me know if it resonates.

VA Reform Plan By John Wells

Vision

  • A nation that upholds President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him [and her] who have the borne the battle and for his [her] widow[er] and orphan.”
  • A nation where the rights of all veterans of the armed forces are protected.
  • A nation where veterans receive their earned benefits without delay.

Mission

  • Restructure the culture at the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it “veteran friendly” with an emphasis on service rather than bureaucracy.
  • Emphasize outreach to veterans to ensure they are aware of their rights and benefits.
  • Working in concert with the National Academy of Sciences become proactive in the identification of diseases and disabilities unique to or connected with military service.
  • Work with Congress to ensure that funding is available to compensate and treat veterans who suffer disease or disability due to military service.

Specific Focus

  • Exempt service connected benefits from the offset provisions of the Pay As You Go Act of 2010.
  • Ensure sufficient operators are available for suicide hotlines 24/7.
  • Support passage of the Farness for Veterans Act to smooth process for upgrading discharges for PTS/TBI veterans.
  • In concert with the Veterans Service Organizations conduct a baseline review of Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations to streamline the benefits program.
  • Establish a Merit Systems Protection Board unit consisting of attorneys with MSPB litigation experience at the General Counsel’s Office to manage employment termination decisions.
  • Promulgate a disciplinary policy with consistent and specific guidelines for punishment.
  • Establish a center of excellence to research effects of toxic exposure on vets and descendants. Investigate all issues concerning toxic exposure and contract as necessary for expert assistance. Retain on a permanent basis the Committee to Review the Health Effects in Vietnam Veterans of Exposure to Herbicides and expand its mandate to include all toxic exposures including but not limited to Gulf War disease and Burn Pit exposure.
  • De-emphasize the use of standard forms within the VA and emphasize personal contact between the VA staff and the veterans they serve.
  • Assign Ombudsmen, who are veterans, to each Regional Office.
  • Revise job descriptions for VA raters to require military medical experience.
  • Require that the VA maintain a centralized database at an existing facility to identify health trends among veterans and their descendants and refer them as appropriate to the National Academy of Sciences for further study.
  • Immediately extend the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to veterans of the Blue Water Navy, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Guam, Johnston Island, Panama and Korea during the time Agent Orange was present.
  • Appoint a Chairperson of the Board of Veterans Appeals acceptable to the Veterans Service Organizations, the VA and the Congress. The BVA has been without a Chairperson for 5 years.
  • Decertify Veterans Law Judges with an excessive controllable remand rate.
  • Require all Veterans Law Judges to be Administrative Law Judges.
  • Incorporate pre-hearing conferences and scheduling orders in consonance with the practice in the federal administrative adjudication system.
  • On an interim basis, contract with retired Military Judges, after training in VA law, to hold regional hearings on veterans appeals until the 450,000 person backlog is eliminated.
  • Reconstitute and expand the VA Inspector General program.
  • Adopt the Industry Standard “Epic” medical records program for both VA and DOD.
  • Digitalize all records and phase out the centralized mailing system in favor of a digitalized intake system which can be accessed by VSOs and veterans law practitioners.

Learn More: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JohnWellsSecVA/

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Ex va
Ex va

Didn’t hear anything about reopening mental health beds inpatient for Veterans in crisis and not stable on medications. What about managers and administrators who sabotage programs and Veterans care with the created waitlists across the va systems. No accountability in the va system for criminal acts against Veterans. What about the clinical performance of a doctor or provider even with their poor clinical performance they receive performance bonuses. What about whistleblowers who do the right things why do they get labeled, harassed, and threatened from the criminals who are committing the crimes. These criminals are never held to any accountability they just ge transferred. How do they keep licenses or pass the credentials and privileges in new va to practice when they are in trouble with serious allegations in other states.

namnibor
namnibor

All good ambitions but still, to be frank; none of which realistically obtainable as long as the AFGE is entrenched within the VA and unless I am missing it, am not seeing anywhere it states an ambition to renegotiate the terms of contract with the VA AFGE Union. As long as they continue to have the employee’s by the balls, nothing will change.
I realize the next POTUS and Congress would likely have to do that but the next VA Secretary needs to be down with that. Where’s John Wells’ stance on that 800 LB gorilla always in the room but nobody dares poke it? Otherwise, Wells has some great ambitions but non of which obtainable while the VA AFGE Union continues to steer it more of an Incompetence R Us org., rather than for the very Veterans there to serve.
The head of the snake needs severed, nothing less.
When VA employees continue to brag that it’s near impossible to fire them and they rub it in our faces by playing whack a mole simply cannot continue.
Again, maybe I am missing that but at least in my mind this seems like the -1- thing not tried yet because nobody has had the balls to stand-up to that 800 gorilla in the room called the VA AFGE Union and it’s high time for that.

namnibor
namnibor

I should add that when one has focal points and ambitions that mention the VSO’s you may as well be talking about continuing the same meat and gravy train and symbiotic relationship the VSO’s and VA currently employ and the AFGE is like the cement keeping that broken system in place on the VA side.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I agree on that. Having the VSOs involved in anything just means whatever comes out the other end is watered down.

The next SecVA needs to recognize that, and be damn clear that the VSOs have not been speaking for many veterans for a long time.

Slicjoc1
Slicjoc1

I completely concur with your comments. Every VA Secretary since the AFGE took hold has been constrained by the same issues that are currently exposed. A corrupt AFGE union sponsored by the democrats and if that’s not enough to screw things up throw in the completely anti performance/accountability rules of the civil service review board who reinstate terminated employees even when the union contract process has been followed. I’ve personally seen employees sitting reading newspapers blatantly flaunting their refusal to do any work while management does nothing. Whoever takes over needs to hire a small army of efficiency experts and get rid of redundancies and non performers top to bottom. Nothing will happen without presidential focus to irradicate civil service laws protecting non performers and neutralize the AFGE.

Without changing the business model the same corrupt culture will continue to fester. The military business model for running the VA isn’t cutting it and never has.

VETSFORJUSTICE INC
VETSFORJUSTICE INC

VA AFGE UNION RATS OWN @ RUN VA DC HQ VETS YO ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SCREWED BY AFGE UNION CONTRACTS FROM HELL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

91Veteran
91Veteran

In response to your comment nam, and ExVA above yours, I disagree.
Wells point about reconstituting the VAIG would likely take care of many of the points made by ExVA, and forming a group experienced with the MSPB process would streamline the firing of employees that are AFGE. Management does not have protection using MSPB, so he would have to form a separate group for them.
His plan citing the MSPB tells me he wants to streamline that process, which will be greatly aided by Trumps Labor Secretary.
Given the details laid out here, if implemented, I believe they would bring serious reform.
But Trump and Congress would have to get on board and support it. The AFGE will scream.

namnibor
namnibor

Thank you for providing more clarity on these things as I clearly did not consider that snowball effect of his proposed plan.
I still worry about the all too cozy VSO relationships. They need the VA teats removed or completely refocus their agenda to at least put their mission statements into real action for Vets and not the VA and VSO interests.

Thanks again for further clarity. Most of us have no working knowledge of how things work with the upper VA SES management. Your insight is very appreciated. I easily stand corrected. Just not exactly eager to blindly trust again for a future letdown.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I hear you nam and maybe I am overly gullible, but his plan would create a great deal of change for the good for veterans if fully implemented.
As for the VSOs, they can either become allies and start fulfilling their congressionally chartered purpose, or they can get the hell off the gravy train. That depends on whether their leadership is smart enough to recognize which way the wind is blowing.

Ex va
Ex va

@91Veteran you are correct and i hope that would be the idea in streamlining the termination process. I just cannot see this option because of how protected these so called doctors and administrators are without the AFGE. When they go before boards, reviews, etc. They use their peers, colleagues and politics for protection. When they are escorted off the grounds by security they come back a few years later. That is sadly the truth. The directors are sent to another va because their jobs are valued more than a Veterans life. I wish i could be more optimistic about this and try to hope for the best.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I hear you. His proposal is very much pie in the sky, and greatly dependent on WH support. Any reform of the VA by any SecVA will be dependent on that.
I just found out my own weasel director is the new director at Hines, VA. He was here less than 2 years coming from St Louis.
Rearranging the deck chairs.

Lem
Lem

The salaried physicians are protected more by low pay and benefits than any union. Who wants their job? Poor pay and benefits compared to the corporate alternatives and an ungrateful clientele because of the union protected lower staff. The good physicians leave quickly these days because the VA hasn’t kept pace with the civil sector except for staff that is able to thumb their noses at the clientele.

Ex va
Ex va

The afge didn’t help me when i needed help. I really do not what they do. Drink alot of coffee.

Dennis
Dennis

The AFGE does what most labor unions do – they collect dues. They make sure that contracts made outside of their realm (VA) go to affiliate brotherhoods (AFL/CIO). They make sure that the status quo is maintained. They use the union dues you pay to provide what I would call over priced whores for Congressmen and Senators to enjoy an evening meal with at a “five star” restaraunt.

They make sure that nobody is embarassed by allowing a fellow union employee to out-performs the other union employees. They arrange transfers. They demand higher wages, and higher wages, and higher wages. They threaten and embarass the folks who choose a different path, and they call them “scabs”, and they run their keys across the paint jobs of the scabs cars and leave messages on a scabs voicemail that inform them the scabs children are at risk.

Union hate scabs.

They drink coffee and drive Rolls Royce cars, and they arrange for medals to be pinned on their chests by the very highest ranking officials that money can buy.

In short, the AFGE does exactly the same things that any good national labor union does. Why would they act any different?

VETSFORJUSTICE INC
VETSFORJUSTICE INC

AFGE UNION LEGAL CONTRACTS RUN VA DEATHCARE FROM HELL VETS YO ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SCREWED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CorpsmanUp!
CorpsmanUp!

Here is a link to Senator Carpers editoral in the Wilmington News Journal about the Director there. Talk about lipservice and surrogacy. Fucking douchebag….. http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/11/09/tom-carper-thank-you-your-service/93551314/

Dennis
Dennis

Restructure the culture….

In a famous psychiatric experiment, a doctor decided to try to find out why prisons were still so violent despite massive reforms. He set up a prison in the university basement and hired kids to be divided into two groups – prisoners and guards. Himself the warden. Make it through the experiment and the kids would get paid.

Within 36 hours the first prisoner left, desribing that he was “burning up inside”. Within 72 hours the guards became convinced the other prisoners were plotting against them and planning to escape. Lock down procedures were implemented. Less than a day after that, the professor himself called local police to report his own suspicions the student prisoners were planning a breakout and feared violence. At that point the professor made the horrible realization the experiment had gone terribly wrong and terminated it immediately. The guard students protested vigorously against termination.

In less than one week ordinary students changed into prisoners who hated the guards enough to hurt them, and student guards that began displaying a variety of sadistic behaviours – guards who then refused to voluntarily give up the power they had been granted. This study has been much reported.

What is the point? The point is that it was NOT the culture that made the place, it was the place that made the culture. In the case of prisons, the student culture aligned itself with the actual prison culture of prisoner violence and sadistic guard behavior.

There is no evidence I have ever heard of that cultures evolve independent of the surroundings they live in. Once a crack house gets to be a crack house the only way authorities have learned to stop it is to bulldoze it down, thus changing the culture in the house.

I once saw protesters set up tents in a farm field near Cresswell Oregon to protest the treatment of the milk cows. The tents grew into a small city which developed a culture of defiance. The local police tried to change their culture with reason, offers, and threats. Yet, the tent city kept growing.

Farmers who milk cows harvest the waste of the cows and spread it on their crops with giant water cannons. It is good for soil. It adds culture to the soil. The water cannons are automated and spray very high up in the air a liquid brown rain that soaks to the bone instantly. One morning,after weeks of negotiations between authorities and the tent city leaders, the farmer on his own volition drug his cow shit cannon into the middle of that field and turned it on. Then left.

The culture inside the tent city changed within seconds! They determined quickly that nobody in the tent city knew how to turn off the poop cannon, so they took their culture down the road and the farmer got his field back. He changed the culture of that city. I guess the farmer figured that the approach of “winning their hearts and their minds” wasn’t working out well enough and he knew something that the police and the tent city folk did not know – he knew how to turn on the poop cannon. Problem solved, and field fertilized in just one try. Double bonus.

John, if you think you can change the culture inside monuments of treachery, deceit, and death is possible, then maybe you should have been the police negotiator at that tent city? Maybe you can run a better prison experiment? Perhaps you can change a crackhouse into a wholesome home?

What we need is a man who KNOWS how to change a culture; I say we hire that farmer and rent his poop cannon and have him tractor the thing into the middle of each VA facility and then we give that AWESOME American farmer the green light to let the brown water cleanse the cultural fields of the VA! Historically the newspaper reported that the farmer saw astonishing results within seconds of the grape sized brown drops descending organically upon the city culture and soaking every inch of the field, so history is on my side with this plan.

John, I say let us give the farmer from Cresswell Oregon another shot at fame and culture restructuring. Then fire up the crack house bulldozers, and send the sadistic guards home – and call off this failed experiment called VA.

Please, please, PLEASE Mr. Farmer, let me be the one to flip the switch on the poop cannon!

namnibor
namnibor

@Dennis- 🙂 🙂 Thank You! To the point, myself originally a good old Indiana farmboy, the huge pig and cattle farms also called it “THE HONEY WAGON”. I am pretty sure I would prefer the velocity and trajectory of your Pacific-Northwest Oregonian Poop Canons. Brilliant.
But remember to take into consideration that the VA AFGE Union may infiltrate pearls to be poop cannoned onto the AFGE Swine and I still quite prefer your suggestion of high-yield tactical logistics 5k from orbit. Maybe the poop canon and tactical logistics can be incorporated to be thorough?

The VA already has their counter offensive poop canon on the anterior of it’s meat grinder.

Thanks for morning endorphins.

namnibor
namnibor

Still maniacally laughing. 🙂

namnibor
namnibor

The Midwest Honey Wagon is equiv. to USAF A-10 jets, whereas your Pacific-Northwest Oregonian Poop Canons are clearly ICBM’s. (Incontinence Covering Bowel Movements)

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

@Dennis,
You basically described, “The Lord of the Flies”!
Two groups wanting control of each other. Only, one group was docile, the other violent or considered barbarians.

I also don’t see where he wants to bring the AFGE ‘to heal’! Until that happens, the VA will continue to be that train wreck. Unless the contract with the union is renegotiated, well, we all know the answer to that!!!!

Lastly, I’ve learned recently, “polls” don’t really reflect what the total of America truly wants. We have seen how “polls” were manipulated during the last election cycle to favor one candidate over another. Massive voter fraud, not withstanding!

Ex va
Ex va

@ Dennis you are an artist. Great story.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Here’s additional articles from; “Military.com” this morning, 9 Dec. 2016. Google the titles:

#1.) “VA to Let Vets Pre-Select Cemetery Burials Before Death”

by: Amy Bushatz

#2.) “Sound Off: Should the US Privatize the VA?”

posted by: “Under the Radar”

#3.) “Sound Off: What Happened to Trump’s Veteran Hot Line?”

#2 has additional articles to examine.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

P.S.
I forgot to add this one from “The Doctor of Common Sense”! It’s hilarious, even though it shows how Obama has ‘flip-flopped’ over what active duty members are allowed to do! Especially when it comes to disregarding the Chain of Command in the military.
titled;

“WTF? Obama Tells Troops They Have A Right to Protest Against Authority and Criticize The President!”

Utube video dated 8 Dec. 2016

I would truly advise anyone on active duty to NOT try this! I can see the JAG officers lining up enlisted personnel for many court martials! If not court martials, then 1,000’s of “Article 15’s”!

namnibor
namnibor

I am appalled at this. This is Obama giving the green light to the BLM within the military whom have been acting-out. Butthurt Snowflakes. All of them.

I bet Obama would feel differently about his words if all the sudden the white hut is welcomed with the National Guard to clear house for President Elect Trump. GET OUT…NOW…and make sure to pack-up that mother-in-law that’s also cost the taxpayers a chunk of cash.
Fumigate and redecorate. Done.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Yeah, that was a truly stupid thing for him to say. As of he can just overturn the UCMJ.
I will be so glad when that nitwit is finally out of office.

John Cokos
John Cokos

Ben:: Just what the doctored (VA?) ordered, another lawyer in the mix. Thank you sir, may we have another ?

Dennis
Dennis

To be completely accurate – “Ben:: the disabled American veteran who was trained as a lawyer at VA expense and through his own determination to succeed, and who is now using his skills to help undo VA injustice done to his fellow vets using computer equipment and skills paid for by the VA.” My God, it does not get ANY sweeter!

Yes Please! May we have another? (Just don’t get that VA lawyer that Bob McDonald proudly pinned a medal on…)

namnibor
namnibor

Right-On!! If any further attorney were to be in the mix of this mess it better-well be none other than JD Benjamin Krause, Disabled Veteran and Superhero Extraordinaire in Blue (not tights, please not tights) 🙂

John Cokos
John Cokos

I’m concerned about about possible contamination by close contact with a suspected contaminant (VA).
Can’t be too careful these days, might need an NBC team deployed and conduct field tests….:-) put on your NBC gear, we’re going in.

namnibor
namnibor

” JD Benjamin Krause, Disabled Veteran and Superhero Extraordinaire in Blue” would carry that VA Kryptonite called Accountability to weed the rats from the V.A. Titanic. A modern day pied piper of sorts. 🙂

Lem
Lem

Anybody who uses or has used the VA ever met a major or lieutenant commander or above who has used the VA for health care? What can anyone who has not used the VA bring to the VA?

Dennis
Dennis

The same thing that they have always brought for decades; a new slogan, a new picture hanging in the VA lobby, a new promise of accountability, and a new generation of veterans being left behind. This is what any new VA Sec has ever brought and will ever bring to the VA.

Sec. VA is simply a label on an expensive overstuffed office chair, in a marbled floor office, in a building that rivals the Taj Mahal. To expect anything to change beyond the pictures that hang above the VA workers and face the veterans when we check in for care, is like expecting VA dentists to use clean drill bits. Good idea, but it aint the way it is.

Unless Sec. VA shows up with a bulldozer and starts from ground zero. He can hang his picture in the center of the bulldozers blade.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

@Lem,
I have not seen hardly any officers, as you describe, or high ranking enlisted, (E-8 or 9), personnel at all in the VHA or VBA.
I’ve seen a few, very few, “Warrant Officers”!
You can bet they have ‘special healthcare insurance’! And, you can bet they have some sort of civilian financial goals already set up prior to their retirement. As in “Lobbyists” positions!
Or like McDuck, Shinseki and others have done.
Seymore Klearly said Shinseki went back overseas doing something. Granting him a lucrative $$$$$ position. McDuck will probably, (?), go into a “big pharma lobbyists’ position.
What’s to stop these ingrates to/from becoming more of a negative liability than a positive liability?!?!!?!

VETSFORJUSTICE INC
VETSFORJUSTICE INC

AMEN BRO

Angela
Angela

True, True, and more true. Agree.

NiteWish
NiteWish

The officer who approved my disability suggested I use some of the back pay & obtain counseling outside the VA. Impossible, the order to never speak about it is embedded as deep as the PTSD it caused.

FLB
FLB

I heard a lot of love for Veterans Service Organizations. I”m done with that!

Dennis
Dennis

“In concert with the Veterans Service Organizations conduct a baseline review of Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations to streamline the benefits program.”

I have a novel idea. Let me change one of his sentences from the above to the below. He is close but it needs one minor change;

“In concert with the Department Of Justice and The Circuit Courts, conduct a baseline review of Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations to streamline the benefits program.”

namnibor
namnibor

AMEN. DOJ….the *real* DOJ will have to wait until the clown acting POTUS is out of office so REAL justice can proceed.

Since Obama is over the VA and VA Secretary, we have not heard one *peep* of that thing called an apology for say, recent death of Veteran inflicted with maggots and sepsis. Not one peep. We have no real leader and have not for 8 years now.

Angela
Angela

Yep!

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

I had not heard of John Wells prior to today so I did a little research on Mr. Wells. Only focusing on the link to Mr. Wells Bio provided by Ben in his article. From the information on his bio, website and blog articles I do not feel he could ever be a good choice to lead the VA.

Basically, I found that Mr. Wells quotes to be well known out dated rhetoric as the problems within the VA. He makes no mention of poor quality of health care, VA failing to follow the rule of law or the failure of the VSOs system to support Veterans. In fact, the only problem he seems to see at the VA is that the Veterans Help line is not answered in a timely manner.

From the information gleaned from his website I believe that if he were to head the VA it would only get worse. Although I mean worse for Veterans. The VSOs would certainly see more money and the legal department at the VA would certainly grow in the number of lawyers. Of course, those would be lawyers whose ethics wouldn’t prevent them from working out new ways around the laws written to protect Veterans.

All in all, he would be a very bad choice for Veterans.

Although I believe that there would be some very positive changes for Veterans if Ben were selected.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Wow! I like everything about this guy’s reform plan. It clearly shows he has detailed knowledge of the problems that have been plaguing the VA for many years that no Secretary or Congress has been willing to fix.

If nothing else, he certainly needs to be an Undersecretary or veterans advisor to get this plan enacted as much as possible. If you think of just a few of his issues being implemented, it would be a night and day difference in what we have to put up with now.

Its also a huge contrast with those who have been suggested for SecVA to date.

John Cokos
John Cokos

The VA mafia will devour his flesh and leave the bones behind to bleach in the sun, as a reminder for the rest of us . You would need Tony Montana and his little friend for that job….

91Veteran
91Veteran

That may be the case no matter who is nominated if Trump and Congress don’t support him.

I recall years ago watching Jesse Brown testify about Gulf War issues. I recall Congress essentially saying he could have a blank check to fix the problems with Gulf War vets. He declined. I liked Jesse Brown because I believe he had empathy with disabled vets, but he declined because that is what the White House wanted him to do.

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

Commander Wells has a sound plan to begin reforms at the VA – – – and is a tough, fair-minded man who (given appropriate political-fallout cover) will make substantive changes that will benefit all veterans. His introduction will go something like this:

“Ladies and Gentleman,

This (dis)Organization is fucked up. It does not remotely serve the needs of our veterans. You are going to unfuck it. If you do not unfuck it, I am going to fuck you.”

End of Meeting.

He will not be afraid to take a hands on approach, and will spend some time down below the deck plates talking with, not at the troops. And he does know how to listen.

I hadn’t thought about Ben as SecVA until I read some of the previous posters comments. I agree that Ben would make a great SecVa. But would he accept the position if offered?

Time to revise my Top 3 Picks for SecVA:

1. John Wells
2. Ben Krause
3. Jeff Sessions

Dennis
Dennis

You are hereby nominated for the speach writing position within Sec. VA Office! Perfect.

It would really be more effective though if he also wore some snake skin cowboy boots and initiated boot therapy applied directly to the prostate via the most appropriate entry point. A free cancer check!

Words can scare, but a cowboy boot in the ass makes the point in a way that words cannot describe. Good post.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I’m picturing the boots wearing a poncho and a thin cheroot dangling in a Josey Wales style.

91Veteran
91Veteran

You sound like you have personal knowledge of Wells, and if so, it sounds encouraging.
I agree Ben would make a great SecVA since he knows what weasels so many can be.
Sessions is at DOJ, where he will likely end up helping reform the VA whether he wants to or not.

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

@Dennis – – – First meeting needs to be the fishing expedition to ascertain who the “slow learners” will be. The Cowboy Boots happen in the second meeting. Just like you said. John will not waste good snake-skin though. Scuffed-up old bull riders boots is what he will be wearing. Justin’s, if memory serves.

John knows how to root out snakes and weasels. And he well understands the word “Expedite”.

No matter who fills the slot as SecVA – – – without Presidential Protection from “Politics as Usual”, their talents will not matter. With Presidential Protection, much can be accomplished.

@91Veteran – Guilty as Charged.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Thanks for the insight.

John Cokos
John Cokos

Not for nothing, BUT MickyD , Ex CEO of Proctor & Gamble has a huge position in the pharmaceutical business, might need to check out their corporate overseas interests and just how much business they do with the VA.
The VA is a vast cash cow, multi-level marketing scheme. No one is going to give that up. I’m too lazy to really go into this in any detail, but you can check it out yourself…

Angela
Angela

It is about the almighty dollar. Many of pharmaceuticals are a waste of taxpayer dollars. Not saying that they are not necessary in many cases but need to be streamlined. And then maybe VA could invest in real quality health care for vets. Benjamin, you would be excellent. Why do we need an officer for a choice? W

Angela
Angela

Officer who has come up through enlisted ranks as a baseline for VA secretary. Ben, how about you?

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

@everyone;

91Veteran and Seymore Klearly have opposing viewpoints over John Wells as Secretary of VA.
Could you two please expound on why you have these differences?
IE; Could you give more specifics?
The reason I ask is simple, I respect your viewpoints, always have, always will!

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Elf thank you for the respects!

For me it is simple. I visited the mans website and read through his blog.

At:”http://www.johnwellslaw.com/index-4.html”

In articles he only recites dated rhetoric that was acceptable at the time the articles were written. Basically pandering to the VSOs and the Veterans administration. In his articles he even goes so far as to defend the VSOs and claim that more money is needed for training them and providing them with additional resources out of the VA budget.

Personally I have never received any meaningful help from any of the VSOs and that has been going back for decades now. As for them needing more resources. I have to ask what are they doing with the resources they are already being provided? How have they used any of the money made off the Lotto game tickets, pull tabs, donations, members dues or grants from the VA? The only thing I have seen is it is being spent on little league teams, parks and items like that and not on Veterans.

He is merely some one the VSOs would want to see running the VA.

He also has not addressed the lack of quality health care or righting so many of the wrongs already done to Veterans.

Lem
Lem

You forgot the top 5 of the VSO’s salaries on top of their 100% VA disability compensation. Same for most of you VSO representatives. They have their 100% compensation plus a salary of $70,000 plus on top of it.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I could easily defer to Seymore if he points out why.
I was previously against Wells because he was unknown to me, and I think we need a real ball breaking hardass as SecVA. I didn’t think from the little I saw of Wells that he was it.

My comment above is simply based on the details of his reform plan that Ben posted.
The following reasons are why I would support him.
As a veterans attorney, he knows the law, and would quickly recognize those throughout the VA that are violating it.
His plan to work with the National Academy of Sciences would bring years of medical proof to the table for veterans rather than BS internal VA research, or hacks like Tom Murphy overriding medical evidence on Agent Orange exposure, Gulf War illnesses and Burn Pit problems.
His MSPB proposal is a direct shot at reforming the process of firing hacks.
His proposal on a disciplinary policy suggests he is well aware of the grab-ass, double standard used today.
His proposal on a center of excellence for toxic exposures would likely mean demanding those established now actually start producing results rather than just continue wasting millions and no results.
His Ombudsman proposal is brilliant in that it would be staffed by veterans, and likely follow a civilian model of giving them the authority to quickly cut bureaucratic red tape. Imagine a backdoor direct to the Secretary rather than the number of hoops one has to jump through now…with no results once you jump.
Specifically requiring VA raters to have military medical experience would be a massive change from what we have now where some VA hack worked their way into the position by being around so long.
His proposal on a database for health trends should have been set up years ago, and used for the benefit of veterans rather than some hack repeatedly telling veterans they are the ONLY ONE to report such problems.
His proposal on expanding the presumption for other AO exposed vets recognized the lunacy of an exposure affecting 1 veteran differently than another, or ignoring it altogether.
All of his points on law judges are exactly right on, particularly contracting with retired military judges.
His proposal on the IG office recognized it is broken and useless to vets, and served to protect the VA.
His proposal on bringing a civilian model of record keeping to the VA would eliminate a problem the VA has ignored for over 30 years, yet costs them billions by various contractors proposing to fix it. Get rid of the garbage and use an off the shelf process.

All of those points and more suggest he would do well, particularly if he proposed his reform points publicly as a road map he will use once confirmed. Whether he is or not, veterans should still use it as a map to start reform.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

91Veteran,

The Why for me is simply as I stated. As quoted from my earlier post.

“For me it is simple. I visited the mans website and read through his blog.

At:”http://www.johnwellslaw.com/index-4.html”

In articles he only recites dated rhetoric that was acceptable at the time the articles were written. Basically pandering to the VSOs and the Veterans administration.”

For me this man is calling for more changes to the code of federal regulations not enforcement of the existing Regs. An example “•In concert with the Veterans Service Organizations conduct a baseline review of Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations to streamline the benefits program.”

I see the VSOs fighting against changes that would allow veterans to receive proper health care elsewhere. Even though the change would help save the lives of many Veterans they are fighting against change because they will lose power over Vets.

I am not hearing how he is going to enforce the rules on the books but instead he is calling for changes to again work around the rules. If the code of Federal Regs was enforce the VA would not be in the sad shape it is today.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I hear you about the VSO’s. That does give me pause, but VSO’s are an entity that will have to be included up until Congress yanks their charter. I don’t see any way around that. A plus for Wells is that he doesn’t have a long list that I can find of VSO memberships suggesting he is an insider. The VSO can fight positive changes from him or other veterans, but it is up to Congress to actually change it.
As for Title 38, I could see an effort to make it clearer if that is what his intent is, or to actually codify what is needed, or even to make it clear to VA employees what is in Title 38.
As for enforcing the rules, I take his proposals on the IG office, MSPB, law judges, etc., as an action to do that.

Again, his proposals above, as I perceive them and outlined in my response is what gives me encouragement. They are not simple window dressing statements that don’t mean anything that we usually hear, but actually have some meat to them.
I think veterans could be stuck with much worse.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Hey y’all, if you’re for “the Wall” check out this article from “The Political Insider” dated, Dec. 8, 2016.

“Congress Has Approved the Wall Trump Wants to Build in 2006 – Construction Could Begin NOW!”

That’s correct. Congress passed it, and the President signed it into law in 2006. There’s even a picture (drawing) of what it’s supposed to look like.

Dan
Dan

I’d like to see someone like General Stanley McChrystal

Jo3n
Jo3n

Ben, I am curious as to whether you would consider the post. Or, does VA Secretary kinda scare you? I am sure that the VA Sec would be like tackling a bull. How does one accept that position? The VA is all about them. We Veterans are in their way. “Lord of the Flies” a good example of what the VA is turned into. Ben, you are most likely the best option. I just wonder if…? At this point, I have no opinion on John Wells. I will soon. Who, in America will be able and willing to grab the poop-cannon, and pull the trigger? So far, Ben is my first choice, by far. I think it’s up to Ben. God Bless the Veterans.

Stephen LeMaster
Stephen LeMaster

I’m still all about Jeff Miller. I’m open to other suggestions, but this guy’s background looks a little similar to Shinseki’s. McDonald’s no prize, but he was an upgrade.

If we want a REAL outside, how’s this for some outside-the-box-thinking — how about Mark Cuban? He & Trump has their differences during the election, but Trump is reaching out to people who opposed him. I don’t know how tough he would be with the union, but I have a feeling he would stand up to them pretty well. One thing we know for sure — the tech issues that have plagued the agency would be fixed with a quickness if he took over the top post.

Jo3n
Jo3n

I noticed that the VA is honoring the Veterans of Pearl harbor, with virtual reality. Is the VA doing that? I had appointment on Tuesday, never heard a word about it. I am not sure how I feel about that. Why does the VA honor the dead, and screw the living? Guess I am just a bit confused about this.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I just got off the phone with my VA calling to schedule my annual checkup with my PCP. I said I don’t care to do that.
Dead silence. Then she asks if I found another provider, I said not really. She said, well, you are not eligible for Choice…I interrupted and said I am eligible for Choice, having gone to them once already.
I then told her why I didn’t want the appointment…that for the last 2 years, the VA has billed my private insurance over $12,600 for service connected care, and I can’t trust they will not do it again.
Dead silence.
She then said she would just note that I declined to schedule an appointment, and I interrupted again and said I wanted her to note the facts…That I declined because I cannot trust the VA to not bill my insurance for service connected care.
Dead silence…Then she sounded like she was reading out what she was writing, then said I should have a good day, good bye.

namnibor
namnibor

@91Veteran- Perfect snapshot of VA Nightmarecare in motion…*dead silence* when confronted with the correct thing to do.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I could almost hear the hamster wheel spinning in her head as I waited for her to say something.
But then, perhaps she was making notes in her recommendation to the DBC for me.
I don’t care. I am following up with an email to the director, VISN director and Shulkin on why.

Ex va
Ex va

@91 Veteran, good job today. I always wondered how they can bill private insurance for service connected disabilities. If the acknowledgement is that there is substandard care they are delivering how can they bill ones insurance? If it was medicare it would be considered fraud if they could not deliver health care to private sector standards. It brings up the whole credentialing and privileging issue if these providers do not have the licensing to deliver healthcare. Anyways i always wonder how the va does this. At registration one of the first questions they ask veterans when the enter the va system is if they have private insurance. After that the billing begins.

91Veteran
91Veteran

It gets better. When I first went to the ER and was told I needed surgery, I filled out a form. A couple months after the surgery, I found out they billed my insurance, and they claimed signing that form allowed them to do it. I FOIAd the form and they couldn’t produce it. I asked how they got my insurance information, and was told the VA gave my personal information to a 3rd party contractor to find.
I had a PCP appointment some months after that with a new nurse practitioner PCP. She falsified my records, and my insurance was billed for the appointment.
They also billed for a service connected follow up after that surgery, and the knee brace the ortho doc said I should have.

Rosebud
Rosebud

They bill your private insurance cause that’s the law Congress past even for service connected conditions. If your insurance does not pay the full amount, unlike treatment at a private hospital, you are not on the hook for what they did not pay.

91Veteran
91Veteran

You are wrong, the VACO web site even says so, and is why the VA is reimbursing my insurance company over $12,600.

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

“Why does the VA honor the dead, and screw the living? ”

Good question. Often asked that myself to many folks at the Compensation and Benefits Office here in Honolulu. They, of course – – – have no answers. But they do thank me for my service prior to placing me on a disruptive list.

As a lot of folks in this forum have observed – – – the whole damn stinking VA system requires a cold-start reboot.

namnibor
namnibor

“Cold-start reboot”= VA requires a massive enema then drain the swamp and power wash.

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

@namnibor Precisely.

Dennis
Dennis

They place a lot of people on that list. I have studied the law that authorizes that action. It will blow your mind what federal law says the criteria is.

In short, Federal law says they may do that if you; make a credible threat against a specific person(s) or property that places the person(s) in immediate danger of physical harm, and this threat must have occured while on VA property.

“Credible threat” means that you have the intent, the means, and have initiated or announce that you are going to initiate harm. Furthermore the person so threatened must actually believe the threat of physical harm is real, imminent, and unavoidable.

This law was meant for our brothers and sisters who want to spill VA blood. It was meant for those who show up with a weapon and want to shoot the place up.

Now let me ask you, which specific VA employee did you threaten to murder? What weapon did you have with you? How close were you to carrying off this threat?

Or did they label you a traitor to your country because of butt hurt feelings? Did they do this because they did not like the speech you used? Did you cast a scornful look?

There are THOUSANDS of vets flagged as being among the most violent humans that still remain at large in society. If every single one of the flagged vets knew what the actual criteria was for a DBC flag I think there would be a roar of anger unprecedented in America.

Not only does VA decide who gets the dirty drill bits, the experimental organs,
and the untested drugs, the VA is also now a judicial body that defines its own laws, selects its own juries, and defines punishments as it sees fit – completely independent of any law in our land.

The law takes some time to hound dog the meanings and such but read the law and ask yourself brother, is this you?

Title 82
§ 17.107 VA response to disruptive behavior of patients.
(a) Definition. For the purposes of this section:

VA medical facility means VA medical centers, outpatient clinics, and domiciliaries.

(b) Response to disruptive patients. The time, place, and/or manner of the provision of a patient’s medical care may be restricted by written order of the Chief of Staff of the VA Medical Center of jurisdiction or his or her designee if:

(1) The Chief of Staff or designee determines pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section that the patient’s behavior at a VA medical facility has jeopardized or could jeopardize the health or safety of other patients, VA staff, or guests at the facility, or otherwise interfere with the delivery of safe medical care to another patient at the facility;

(2) The order is narrowly tailored to address the patient’s disruptive behavior and avoid undue interference with the patient’s care;

(3) The order is signed by the Chief of Staff or designee, and a copy is entered into the patient’s permanent medical record;

(4) The patient receives a copy of the order and written notice of the procedure for appealing the order to the Network Director of jurisdiction as soon as possible after issuance; and

(5) The order contains an effective date and any appropriate limits on the duration of or conditions for continuing the restrictions. The Chief of Staff or designee may order restrictions for a definite period or until the conditions for removing conditions specified in the order are satisfied. Unless otherwise stated, the restrictions imposed by an order will take effect upon issuance by the Chief of Staff or designee. Any order issued by the Chief of Staff or designee shall include a summary of the pertinent facts and the bases for the Chief of Staff’s or designee’s determination regarding the need for restrictions.

(c) Evaluation of disruptive behavior. In making determinations under paragraph (b) of this section, the Chief of Staff or designee must consider all pertinent facts, including any prior counseling of the patient regarding his or her disruptive behavior or any pattern of such behavior, and whether the disruptive behavior is a result of the patient’s individual fears, preferences, or perceived needs. A patient’s disruptive behavior must be assessed in connection with VA’s duty to provide good quality care, including care designed to reduce or otherwise clinically address the patient’s behavior.

(d) Restrictions. The restrictions on care imposed under this section may include but are not limited to:

(1) Specifying the hours in which nonemergent outpatient care will be provided;

(2) Arranging for medical and any other services to be provided in a particular patient care area (e.g., private exam room near an exit);

(3) Arranging for medical and any other services to be provided at a specific site of care;

(4) Specifying the health care provider, and related personnel, who will be involved with the patient’s care;

(5) Requiring police escort; or

(6) Authorizing VA providers to terminate an encounter immediately if certain behaviors occur.

(e) Review of restrictions. The patient may request the Network Director’s review of any order issued under this section within 30 days of the effective date of the order by submitting a written request to the Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff shall forward the order and the patient’s request to the Network Director for a final decision. The Network Director shall issue a final decision on this matter within 30 days. VA will enforce the order while it is under review by the Network Director. The Chief of Staff will provide the patient who made the request written notice of the Network Director’s final decision.

Note to § 17.107:
Although VA may restrict the time, place, and/or manner of care under this section, VA will continue to offer the full range of needed medical care to which a patient is eligible under title 38 of the United States Code or Code of Federal Regulations. Patients have the right to accept or refuse treatments or procedures, and such refusal by a patient is not a basis for restricting the provision of care under this section.

namnibor
namnibor

President Elect Trump is now giving his first public news event from Louisiana and he is Veteran and Military STRONG…and cleaning up VA and more…restoring…restoring the military…….making law that does not allow these snowflakes to burn and stomp on U.S.A. FLAG…Trump was particularly vocal about that and reinforcing our POLICE and LAW AND ORDER….tons more…rats should be jumping very soon…still live but there you go, watch/listen to news tonight or youtube will have it as well.
Been a while since I was this pumped-up about a new POTUS.

stress leave
stress leave

In fact no matter if someone doesn’t know then its
up to other viewers that they will assist, so here it
occurs.

namnibor
namnibor

Bot attack?

namnibor
namnibor

Link to President Elect Trump speech

“https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esYbcrssEGc”

Jo3n
Jo3n

Like Seymour said, John Wells does appear to be years behind. The VSO’S have become useless. They tell me the Veterans administration has tied their hands, and cannot do their job. The applications I submitted a few years ago didn’t get anywhere. They told me the representative I turned my paperwork in to, had a heart attack. How they knew he was the one I gave my paperwork to, they wouldn’t tell me. I didn’t know any of this for 4years. I obviously don’t know how the VA system works. Still trying to;get it. The VA and all that are connected to the VA, are detrimental to my mental state. Does seem like a lot of ex officers want this job. Honestly Ben, I wouldn’t take this job at gunpoint. I don’t trust anyone who would volunteer for Sec of the VA. Perhaps our new POTUS could do both jobs. At least someone like him. Tough job.

namnibor
namnibor

“I don’t trust anyone who would volunteer for Sec of the VA”– That’s where I am with my trust level because I guess I just assume it would be not so unbiased with vested interest if someone is jumping up and down for the job, which people have NOT been doing, and still, the lack of mention of renegotiating the AFGE VA contract…makes me view Wells with trepidation at best.

Don Avant
Don Avant

Whoever we get they need to:
+ Decertify AFGE like The Great Communicator did the flight controllers union…
+ Remove the OIG from the VA entirely and give it some enforcement teeth…
+ FIRE AND PROSECUTE anyone caught altering records or manipulating wait lists…or just doesn’t do their
job…
+ Completely do away with the disruptive list unless person is a clear danger to themselves or others
Disagreeing with the VA or advocating for their rights in no reason to be put on such a list without recource
to due process…
At least in MHO…

namnibor
namnibor

Here, Here!

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Totally Agree

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