Positive Feedback

All this talk of reform Monday got me thinking about the art of differentiation and how veterans can help reform VA in a way most of us don’t think of when we are fired up.

I am going to get a little heat for what I am about to say, but I think it needs to be part of our dialogue as individual veterans collectively working to fix VA as customers.

One tool we could use to help reform VA may also help us mold the behavior of future VA employees future veterans come in contact with. That tool is positive reinforcement used strategically.

Positive reinforcement provides an opportunity for veterans to give constructive feedback that differentiates the good VA employees from the bad VA employees rather than merely lumping all VA employees into the “bad” category.

VA would do well to create a customer service portal where veterans can email in direct feedback about VA employees, good and bad, that would intake the information, process it, and create a path for improving employee adherence to iCare values.

Now for my disclaimer.

Okay, as one of the loudest critics of VA and its employment practices, there is no doubt what I am about to say will put off some readers. No one can deny VA has loads of problems, least of all me: a disabled veteran with a 15-year disability compensation fight forced by numerous agency errors.

I did not bump my head. I am not high on drugs while writing this.

I am stone sober and really believe the positive reinforcement model should be a part of how we, as self-advocates, assist VA in reforming how its employees treat veterans.

Said another way, this positive reinforcement model is not a “fix all” for VA, but it is one small step along with other steps veterans can take to rebuild the agency that is responsible for helping us after our military service is complete.

Let me explain and follow that up with a recent example.

Behind The Positive Strokes Reinforcement Model

Three years ago, former Under Secretary Allison Hickey opened up a dialogue with me about her employees. Knowing I was about to lodge a complaint, she first asked me if I had anything positive to say about any of the services I received.

I provided my feedback to her at the time, both good and bad.

At that time, at least one VA employee engaged in what is technically known as a fraudulent misrepresentation involving one of my claims that was fixed later by another employee after I raised holy hell.

You can imagine as an attorney trained by the VA School of Hard Knocks; I do not take kindly to federal employees making knowingly false statements about me or my clients.

Anyway, I took a minute before launching into my tirade to highlight the employee who helped right the ship, so to speak, and have thought about Hickey’s Positive Strokes initiative ever since.

Why Provide Positive Feedback?

Why should veterans injured financially or physically by VA make a point to highlight positive acts by VA employees?

The answer is simple. It gives us an opportunity to mold VA behavior around the behavior types we appreciate and away from behavior types that do not resonate with veterans.

By providing structured, positive feedback, we have a chance to mold VA culture, at least a little.

Here is what I am not talking about, though.

I am not talking about surveys.

We all know VA takes mountains of surveys and pay survey companies handsomely for the service. But I have noticed, as have many of you, that those who are surveyed always seem to give feedback as if they worked for one of The Big 6 veteran organizations.

You know the type – – folks who would never dare say a negative thing about VA or anyone in a white coat.

That does not describe me and I assume it does not describe you.

Instead of surveys, I am talking about us veterans writing short but detailed accounts of what mattered most when we interfaced with a VA employee.

Now, the same holds true for negative feedback, but I want veterans to remember we also have power by providing positive feedback, too.

Below is an example of what happened recently with a VA employee in a Vocational Rehabilitation claim. During the first meeting with the new counselor after the veteran was forced to wait one year while a previous counselor made mistakes administering the claim.

Sample VocRehab Counselor Feedback

The Vocational Rehabilitation counselor was:

  1. knowledgeable about the program my client sought benefits for, VRE self-employment services;
  1. thoughtful regarding what my client was attempting to accomplish;
  1. prepared by conducting research BEFORE the meeting to better understand my client’s business concept;
  1. probing, but gentle, in asking questions about my client’s disabilities without making him feel apprehensive;
  1. thorough in her explanation of the new M28R policy guidance that she had reviewed before the meeting;
  1. kind and patient in her communications with my client (and me)…

This all surprised me given the majority of my interactions with counselors in the same program. But, I want to qualify that statement in that most claims I deal with have already gone sideways due to an error or a bad employee meaning I do not have many interactions with the best counselors.

Nonetheless, because I was surprised, in a good way, I sent an email to VA leadership and asked them to thank her for doing such a good job.

The information I provided was received and the respective employee received a thank you email from VA leadership.

This is a good thing.

(I plan to write about why each of these six points was important to highlight for counselors in the Vocational program later.)

Feedback Structure

The above feedback was structured, quick to read, and it obviously highlights the positive behavior and implicitly reveals problems with the normative behavior.

I am not clear what model VA is working to create that will allow veterans to provide constructive feedback about employee interactions, but I hope they put it up soon.

Even if VA still does not want something so concrete, we will create one here to keep the public informed about which employees are doing a great job and which are not.

Next Steps

We were all in the military at one point or another. And we all received feedback during that time and during civilian employment.

Through either process, what worked and what did not? What kind of feedback loop could VA create that would be most effective from your perspective?

If you tried to provide positive feedback before but feel it backfired, what happened?

Right now, most veterans file complaints with VA OIG that go nowhere, especially since OIG does not investigate benefits claims problems.

VA ethics offices are supposed to help.

Check out 38 CFR § 0 to review the few ethics regulations VA employees are supposed to follow. The iCare framework also provides key points VA employees are supposed to follow.

Outside of these channels, we veterans are left sending feedback directly to Secretary David Shulkin’s inbox, which he honestly has no time to read given the volume.

103 COMMENTS

  1. I hear what you’re saying. I tried that with some agency employees and they took my kindness for weakness. I’d complement them on things they said/did, etc…and still, they would make snide remarks about me in passing and set me up. See, IMO, when you’re dealing with people who don’t care, who are selfish, insecure and who are down right evil – positive reinforcement is going to have them laughing at you and will destroy your credibility when you have to take them to court.

    Some people need to learn there’s going to be consequences for their actions. The approach needed for the VA is “consequences for actions” – not “positive reinforcement”.

    • This is be positive day on the blog! Maybe a better way to frame your comment would be to say something nice about their appearance? As for me, I think that most VA employees would look absolutely GREAT in a pair of handcuffs. Add in a pair of legging chains and a complete orange jumpsuit ensemble and I think you might be surprised at how nice that looks! It is definately worth a try and JUST MIGHT have a real shot at facilitating reform. Hell, I would even go so far as to provide them with a place to live, daily activities, charming roomates, and damn good chow that rivals even the VA chow served on mental wards!

      New uniforms and positive reform are best sought out in institutions created for the purpose of reforming humans in America.

    • Crimes against humanity by the VA, church, state, corporate, big pharma, banksters, scientists, academia, debt slavery, perpetual war for profit, injustice, and genocide controlled by rich and powerful psychopaths who have to spy on everyone for fear of a ‘too big to fail’ rebellion

    • ThisVet2017, thank you for your words cause those would have been mine too…. I’ve dealt with them since 1970/or 1971, and was told every lie in the book about not being able to find my military records…. I have been used as a lab-rat for all kind’s of pills, and today. I could have filled all kinds of law suits…. I have talked down too, yelled at from Northport VHA, Brooklyn Bronx, Manhattan, all the down too North Carolina… I have had them turn around my complaints’ on me and made me the bad guy… I even one scan-tech say to me after we both broke for lunch, and while standing in that chow line, he says to me, if you want a correct reading on your scan, you’ll be me lunch…. And that was for the removal of this bad hernia patch that has been affecting me since May of 2005…., it is now April of 2017, and they still refuse too remove this thing from my lower right side…. “Now” I know that we can’t say things like many years ago but, I grew up or spent a few years in a childrens shelter… One thing that I did learn behind those wall’s was that I had too fight back regardless of how many times I lost those fights… It was the fact that I fought back and keep fighting any an Everytime we met in the hallway, bathrooms, or just playing in Central Park, on 5ht Avenue, New York City… Now don’t get me wrong now cause I can’t beat anyone Sir, but I will fight win or lose cause I know that if I don’t you and your buddies will take everything that I own including my manhood…. The last straw for me was when this black woman from dental called me over my car phone, about using the dentist of my own choose, on 5th Avenue. Because, they are the very ones whom messed up my mouth in the first place, and she told me that I could go back too Africa, if I’d wanted too….. I have been on the war path since and I know that no matter what I do or don’t do around them… that they aren’t going too do jack-$hit for me and my Black-rear-end…., and every member of my family and that one stop light town of Trenton, Jones County, North Carolina, knows that they will not left a darn finger too save my butt, and I’m being nice as I can with my words….

  2. I understand your idea of positive reinforcement and i really prefer to be positive than to be negative in life because of the character of person that i want to be. If a Veteran is to do this type of positive reinforcement i would suggest that a copy be sent to that individual in a separate envelope with the va medical center address with attention in corner of the individual name. That way the good employee could attach this good feedback from a Veteran to their performance evaluation when they are to be evaluated.
    Good feedback could help with a performance bonus an advancement or stop negative remarks on their performance evals.
    The theory is possible and there is some evidence to show that the organization culture can be changed if steps are taken to change it.

    • Let’s talk about theories. A theory is an idea based upon known facts and a logical progessive argument that arrives at a conclusion that frankly cannot be known until a “proof” is provided. Once a theory has been proven out, it becomes fact. Sometimes we are really stuck with just the theory because the “proof” eludes the great thinkers.

      I believe that your supposition that a culture can change has indeed been proven out. After all, men are created equal in this age of men and are the same as any other age. Let’s look to the past to see what other men thought was necessary as “proof” to the theory that corruption can be changed throuh positive action;

      How did the Romans do it? Well, when it became obvious that one of their military men was not upholding the ideals of loyalty and honor, they nailed two boards together (which Christians adopted as their symbol of faith) and then nailed the hands outstretched on the cross member and hung them up. Surprisingly few modern folk understand the precise nature of what kills a man that is hung up thusly. Do you know? Let me tell you.

      When the body is hung by outstretched arms it take great strength to inhale and breath. The muscle need for breath need to fight the geometry of the weight and the real pain begins when the muscles to breath begin to fail from the effort. Agony, and when publicly displayed is a catalyst for change.

      China has been an ongoing culture for many thousands of years. Im hate China, because they sell on Amazon and I’ll be damned if I don’t keep making the same mistake and buy the cheap shit from Amazon (Chinese Kmart). I have a lot of Amazon paperweights from China. However the culture itself has evolved over thousands of years and thrives. Any guesses how the Chinese prove out the theory that official misconduct and corruption can be changed? They do not believe that corrupt officials should be fired and let go, they believe that corrupt officials should be fired upon which is remarkably effective at encouraging integrity in the work place.

      The thing is though, my brother, that in looking back at how corruption has been dealt with over the eons that mankind has witnessed it, I must say that the VA approach is unique in history apart from all others in this matter. VA takes the approach of fighting fire with fire! VA puts forth the theory that if only we send them more money that everything would be peach fuzz and sunshine, and that forevermore that VA sunshine would no longer just be something they blow up our ass.

    • Agreed. Send a copy to the VA employee you’re praising. In my case (at the wonderful Atlanta Regional Office), I literally had veterans ask me for my name, fill out a survey card and deposit it in the survey box (right in front of my own eyes). Until this day, the VA has not provided me with that positive feedback. The head of that department – she’s the one who appears to review what goes in that survey box and no way was she gonna let me, a whistleblower and new hire, outshine her cronies.

      But hey, at least the VA took the time to run around and ask for negatives on me when it planned to serve me with that notice of proposed removal.

      So, lesson learned, can’t leave it up to the corrupt ones in the VA to give credit where it’s due. If you want to complement a good VA employee – better make sure you do it in a way the VA can’t block or disappear it.

  3. The only positive re- enforcement the VA needs is that you will tell them fuck tards to cut their bullshit out, they have killed, maimed and defrauded our brothers and sisters. You can’t be a brotherhood and have the VA demoralize you by having your manhood tucked between your legs, dressed as a little fairy blowing kisses and shit at them.
    These fuckheads need well placed bone salad to the face (a well placed punch)
    No time to back off from this shit.
    The VA sucks and the good employees are hostages just like any other work place.
    Veterans just need to keep themselves healthy, travel with a witness. Bulk up and slap the fuck out of them whem they enter your personal space.

  4. Ted Bundy was a very polite man. By all accounts Al Capone was clever and humorous and well liked by those who kept their blood inside. ISIS is a terrorist organization, but darn it anyway they have some damn fine kids. The IRS is full of people who ariticulate very well. The prison population in general is a socially active crowd that often makes a point to sit down every day to a group meal.

    As far as VA goes, I,think that even the nurses who let their patients bleed out in favor of completing level 17 on Candy Crunch show a certain perseverence in achieving that honor. To be fair, the dead bodies found in the shower could hace been wheeled into the patient lobby instead so clearly they care about appearances. The true things they tell us that are not otherwise historically accurate are reminiscent of the stories my Grandpa might tell after one of many fishing expeditions, and the vets they maim through neglect and incompetence are treated often given extra portions of butterscotch pudding.

    The vets that they implant experimental organs into in violation of law and ethic are often placed to the front of the line in VA morgues. The devastation they bring to veterans families is a character building experience for the vets. The lies they have been caught at employ reporters, and the ones they have not been caught at speak to an ingenuity that is noteworthy.

    The attacks they perpetrate against their own provide a positive sense of divine retribution for vets who dearly would love to harm or otherwise avenge the harms perpetrated by VA over the course of lifetimes. The bodies left in the wake of VA care often look peaceful and at rest until they liquify in the morgue.

    I guess I can get the hang of painting lipstick on a pig. Its fun.

  5. Good try ben to make nice, but in my book there’s to much bad water that has already run under the bridge. The VA past the point of no return a long time ago. When the bad guys are winning the war and you try to be nice to keep from getting wiped out, I call that cowardice, and I have to live with ME. Back to the drawing board.

      • @Dennis- I did read once if you lightly patted a Nazi’s helmet they would purr like a cat, but most humans would prefer that to be indeed a cat. Not a Nazi.

      • That ‘purr’ was soon to be mistaken for the rhythmic sounds of the machinegun meets flesh splat. Cats are much more kind, usually.

  6. I tend to project as much positive energy and self-confidence with my own non-VA medical specialists for various reasons:

    1) I had one of my specialist appointments a few months back and I was my usual self, trying to be upbeat about things and admittedly, a bit of a form of projection of the antithesis of how actually feeling, and unbeknownst to me, she expressed how much she and her staff appreciated me not only as a patient, BUT ALSO for fact that I early-on took ownership of my chronic health issues and fully comply with treatment but also, I ask tons of questions. I appreciate their dept. being on top of current medical research and new options: they in-turn appreciate my engagement and ownership of my life’s shit sandwich.

    2) I fully understand the psychology involved in engaging with positive reinforcement Benjamin. However, here’s the big BUT: The VA has shown to be more or less masters at passive-aggressive behavior. Why is this an important thing to note? Because masters of passive-aggressive behaviors also are the very best liars/manipulators, and I believe you could just as easily be as nice as can be to these bastards and the VA would find a way to spin that into a reduction of benefits for a Vet by stating, “all those brain drugs we have prescribed must be working, so you are ready to work again and thank you Vet, for letting the VA save some more $$ for bonuses!” (extreme case, but it could happen)

    3) I for one am not a good liar, so when I utilized the VA medical, rather than using kindness to tame the passive-aggressive animal in the VHA white coat, I tend to treat all fellow humans the way in which I wish to be treated and if they respond by insisting on being assholes, I demand a different provider.

    4) Respect is earned, not placed on the very end of the pointy stick and slid across as a peace offering to the passive-aggressive animal in the VHA white coat, expecting another outcome. The VHA whale in white coat will quickly remove the jelly donut/bear claw from the end of the pointy peace offering stick then jab you in the back with it after licking the crispy cream off end of stick.

    5) Passive-aggressive humans are generally very toxic humans and are very adept at changing THEIR approach on a dime, because they are great manipulators. Killing them with kindness is as effective as yelling at a fire ant nest and asking them to kindly relocate because they are a pain in my ass. The fire ants may even fool me in that they are ready to move right then and there…but in reality, their queen said, “kill the human and feed him to me”!
    My point is, not every human reacts to disarming the same way and some will react just as if you stuck them in one of their oversized asscheeks with a flaming hot poker.

    6) “Kindness” can certainly be employed, but be fully prepared for that kindness to be redefined by the VA in a way that will hurt a Veteran. Somehow, some way, the VA would find a way.

    7) I like Ben’s database proposal, along with feedback, positive and negative…but just remember the passive-aggressive nature of the VA at ALL levels.

    8) Mine and many other Veteran’s experiences when displaying to the VA you have taken ownership of your chronic health conditions and even took many hours to fully educate yourself on current research and more, is the VA’s reacts immediately defensively, because then that God Syndrome usually kicks-in and so does the passive-aggressive techniques. Because you may have displayed knowledge the VA hack does not have, has not kept-up since medical school, or is simply insulted that a Vet took responsible actions by taking ownership…that VA hack could then screw with you after you leave in untold ways.

    9) Idea: “Operation Cream Donut (OCD)”: The only way to fully disarm any VA hack at all levels of employment/management is donuts. Before your VA appointment, you bring the staff on your “purple team” a dozen jelly and cream donuts or even bear claws. In no time these hacks will no longer even be able to get in their vehicles to go to work or may even be trapped in their medical conference rooms and Choice will have to be given.
    The killing them with kindness will only work in this way with Operation Cream Donut (OCD), in that when you walk into the VA you have one of the donuts in your hand with maybe one bite out of it, a small bite, and be sure to take another small bite when in front of any VA staff…in no time you may have totally disarmed them with kindness or you may have been killed by a Purple Team Stampede Disarming (the OTHER ‘PTSD’)

    10) I do not know Ben, sugar and spice and everything nice may easily be perceived as an aggressive attack by the VA hacks. If I am poked with a fiery red hot poker stick it’s very hard to keep smiling and saying, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”…that then become codependency and more…(the hacks may enjoy that in a psyops way, i.e.: screwing you with a smile.

    • I agree with you about reacting to a patient taking ownership of their health condition, and becoming educated about it and asking questions.

      I can’t tell you how many VA quacks I have run in to that seriously resent the hell out of some lowly veteran asking questions. They immediately become defensive as if you are questioning their capability and competence. And some times they are right.

    • @Namnibor – – – Beautiful Post. Numbered items 2, 4, 5 and 8 were perfect. You can just bet that “the VA would find a way to spin that into a reduction of benefits for a Vet by stating, “all those brain drugs we have prescribed must be working, so you are ready to work again and thank you Vet, for letting the VA save some more $$ for bonuses!” is probably NOT as extreme or far-fetched as you might believe.

      Too tired after District Court today to do much except comment on others postings. Semi-Positive Outcome, but NOT the finale we were hoping for. Going to drag on for a few more months at least.

  7. “[Fantastic Job Alert – One Unusual Way Veterans Can Help Mold VA Employees]”

    VA employees are already pretty moldy from working in the third world cleanliness facilities. Usually Legionnaires.
    Best way to “mold” them is Carbonite. 🙂

  8. Off-Topic but relevant to Veterans:

    Morning news ‘CBS This Morning’ did a special detailed segment with -3- Active Duty Navy Seal Whistleblowers what wore all black cloths and clothes to disguise themselves because apparently, in the last 8 years under Pres. Obama the Navy Seals developed a thug and drug culture that’s so extreme it’s even higher than in it currently is in civilian epidemic of pills and heroin use…yes, heroin…in the fucking Navy Seals.
    Just LIKE the VA, the Navy Seals squashes ANY Whistleblowers, retaliate, and the thug drug culture has become a bit ‘gang like’ mentality…we are not talking any comparisons to cannabis use in jungles of Vietnam War by troops…no, pretty dangerous shit to be in a group of others on same with every weapon available!
    This cannot be blamed on Pres. Trump because the three whistleblowers specifically stated last 8 years…Obama. Again, no accountability, and it has apparently affected and infected the UCMJ because through DOJ under Obama, nothing done, so problem only grew. WTF?

    Now, as poorly as the VA deals with this, even making addicts, then yanking their meds…how the hell is the VA ready to take care of these Navy Seals down the road once they see the light and err of ways?

    That’s why I wrote this because these are future Vets and regardless of the drug use, they require help…just like the VA, it’s the upper echelon of enlisted ranks that are encouraging this and discouraging accountability…just HOW do you deal with THAT with “kindness” when your career or your being placed on the VA’s DBC list is at risk?

    WTF?

  9. In my opinion, being “nice” to VA employees, would be as to giving them a “Silver Spoon” to screw over a veteran.
    In essence, to allow VHA and VBA employees to make the veteran out to be a fool. Especially, if the veteran were to ever bring a complaint against any of them!
    They could say, “See, the veteran thinks our agency is greatly appreciated by him/her!”

    That’s my opinion!

    • This is no time in Americas history to paint false smiles on our faces and pretend VA is not VA. The agency is infested with the worst America has to offer and besides a worm has no appreciation for anything other than the shit it crawls through.

  10. this is my reply to ANutterVet on yesterdays remark of ……..OLDMARINE April 12, 2017 at 7:56 am

    ANutterVet April 11, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    @OLDMARINE – Geesh, you believe everything that is on the net. My, my, and I’ll see you a bridge in NY’s prime real estate market for cheap……………how can you make a remark about something without watching it or reading it ……. and i don’t need a bridge but if i did i would inspect it first….. and by the way i did drop out in the tenth grade but i did get my GED in 2 1/2 days…….i listen to all sides before i come to a con-clusion……..
    and by the way i am also a researcher i communicate with ants, ants you say i must be crazy. yes ants just drop a piece of whatever you want to test before you eat it. if they don’t eat it you shouldn’t neither…. i trust my ant friends not my doctor,and i don’t even need to try the placebo affect on them.WOW..HAVE A GREAT DAY EVERYONE

  11. Personally I am on the other end of the spectrum.

    Following the treatment that I received at the VA and what is still going on today with other Vets at the VA. It my feelings about all VA employees reminds me some what of a Phil Collins song with a few alterations.

    If I knew someone worked for the VA and was drowning, I would not lend a hand
    I’ve seen their faces before my friend, and I know that they know who I am.

    Well I was there and I saw what they do, I saw it with my own two eyes
    So they can wipe off their grins, I know where they have been.

    They are all full of a pack of lies.

    To me all VA employees know what is going on at the VA Health Care System yet they choose to work there. If they work for the VA they are a member of the deadliest organization in the US fighting against Veterans and causing death and suffering of Veterans.

    I honestly would just walk away rather then help any VA employee. Even if it ment they would die without with out my help. That also goes for anyone in the management of the big six VSOs.

    ~~

    • That includes Joseph Chenelly, National Executive Director of AMVETS who trolled us last Thursday.

      The further I dig into AMVETS the clearer it is that they are nothing but organized crime. The majority of their claimed 250,000 members are not even Veterans. Their primary charities have received “F” ratings.

      A large number of their post have been busted for drug rings, racketeering, money laundering and pedophilia. If you have any doubts just google “Money Laundering AMVETS ” or “racketeering AMVETS”.

      ~~~

  12. @OLDMARINE – Go visit where my ancestors were murdered. I still got that bridge, certified structurally safe. Interested now?

    Our beefs aren’t between each other, and I applaud you in getting your GED in 2 1/2 days. I use to help Veterans who dropped out to serve in getting their GED, and many of them had a hard time in obtaining that certificate [which now a Bachelors Degree is required]. Fortunately, you were one of them that had no problem. Congratulations, beef over.

    • certified structurally safe. Interested now?…..NO I TRUST NOT A PIECE OF PAPER I WOULD HAVE TO INSPECT IT MYSELF FIRST….if i cant put a toll booth on it, its worthless to me anyway . but if you can get me a permit, and tell me which politician i have to pay off and how much.. and i would like a traffic count on it also. and do i have to hire union employees .and i do also have a degree in the old school of hard knocks….by the way who’s beefing i’m just replying ….. i haven’t had my pain meds yet so my mind is is still working on 4 out of the six cylinders, when its down to 2 i get on my mower and cut my grass. thats a no brain-ER..LOL .HAVE A GOOD DAY .

  13. Thos VA surveys the few I have filled out some w good comments others with bad as giving advise one can take 800mg of Celebrex a day NO ONE CANNOT! I wrote but yet when the VA puts out the total surveys it ever lists anything negative like whoever complies these survey take out all bad comments!
    To the point why fill out any survey’s anymore??

    I put good remarks down have given “attaboys” but none that helps me or other veterans too scared to loosed their VA jobs when they know the abuse of the DBC Flags against me! They tell me they all laugh at the person who placed it but afraid to speak up against the person/s what good is that to any Veteran??

    • Jane,
      When they tagged me with a bullshit DBC flag, everytime I would check in for a visit the clerk who knew the score would cough into his hand and say “this is bullshit” so as to hide the words. Yet another, this a suicide prevention counsellor took me aside and said “You are getting railroaded.” Yet another actually did not disagree but said loudly so others could hear, “I find you to be loathsome and disgusting”, referring to the fact I had gone to the press and to Circuit Court over VA abuse.

      The one that was caught speeking out of turn, Mr. Loathsome and Disgusting, was punished – his punishment (not making this shit up) was to return to me on he mental ward (yep, the nurse on the mental ward made a point to inform me I was inadequate as a human in his eyes) and speak again.

      This time he said the same sentence three times over as he had been instructed; “I love you, I love you, I love you.” while the Lead nurse looked on. I asked him if he had suddenly changed his opinion of me as he walked away, and he turned at me glaring and said, “I love you.”

      The ones speaking the truth to me behind their hands hidden in a cough or that took me aside in group were not caught speaking forbidden words, so no punishment was doled out to them. Yet another who openly, and within VA walls said, “It makes me want to vomit (to see what they are doing to you)”. She was let go.

      It isn’t that a SINGLE soul within VA doesn’t know what they are doing to vets with these DBCs that is so destructive. It is that it makes a WHOLE LOT of people either complicite through their silence, fired through their honor, or given the singular punishment that above all else (from my personal experience) VA employees fear; Thay make them tell a vet that they care. Think about it – as punishment to correct the wrong the nurse committed against me, they made him come back and lie three times. He of course got on a roll and tossed in the fourth lie out of anger…

      • Got surprise call today! DBC Flag removed not official until I get the “letter!” The former Chief of Staff who retaliated when I sent the emails for help for pain to Wash DC VA Sec and others and local VA CoS kept doing DBC Flags out of retaliation and spite; until I went to one of the US Senators and said see you where CC: on the email! So the US Senators office told my local VA to knock off sending further DBC Flags. The Flags stayed 🙁 URGH for the excessive length of time that should not be! But the now FIRED COS is under Major ADMIN INVESTIGATION (YEAH jump for joy!) needs to be medical investigation too for all the other veterans she has harmed sadly or worse 🙁 but will see how long this game goes!

  14. In the Permaculture world ( a way o farming and engaging with the world that is long time sustainable ) they believe in Positive Engagement…That is, instead of :”you screwed up and you better fix it right now and here’s what you better do to fix it”… try: I’ve got this problem…Can you help me out?…Here’s the problem and here’s what we may be able to do to fix it…”

  15. *Off Topic* – Sean Spicer is a Gaffe. He is one of the most insensitive, narcissistic Republican Press Secretaries that has ever been in back of the podium. He stated that his comments about Hitler not using chemical weapons on Jewish people was reprehensible. Words mean something [reprehensible], and coming from his own mouth, Sean Spicer should be removed and replaced, immediately.

    POTUS needs to clean up his staff, and start being concerned about losing his base of those that supported in to win the Presidency. Hmm . . .

      • Ouch, you’d have to get that shoved down your throat with a dam medical ram rodder. Is the last word a word?

    • Sean Spicer is a highly educated, brilliant, competent man. At least, according to his CV/Resume. Could have fooled me. For the last week, every time I have seen him doing a “WH Press Conference” or “Daily Brief” – – – he appears to have a few less marbles than the Village Idiot.

      Wonder where he’ll be going next? He does not have much longer with the current administration.

  16. I have a feeling the VA would black out the bad, and only the good would ever be seen again. When are they going to get it? The VA is a mess. This will be the third time I go to the VA Clinic. First time, they sent me to Birmingham. Second time, they send me to Birmingham. In those two visits, the clinician, took pain pills away, and PTSD meds away. Oh, and they know that I can’t get to Birmingham. What is it Ben, that is positive? I believe a good attitude is a great thing. For me, the VA is nothing but a racket and it’s getting worse, not better.

  17. Off topic, but very interesting.

    USA Today has an article on Shulkin touting how he believes external competition is needed to drive change at the VA. He even mentions accountability and the VA being held accountable.

    “”https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/04/12/david-shulkin-veterans-affairs-transparent-health-wait-times/100323480/””

    In the article, Shulkin mentions a new VA web site called access to care which gives statistics on wait times for various types of care, and whether same day access at the same hospital is available for certain types of care.

    It’s kind of shocking to see what they claim is offered at my VA as having same day care. Shocking because my VA hasn’t advertised any of this availability.

    What is interesting is that for some clinics like gastro, the web site says no data is available, which could mean like so many things, this VA just does not offer that care and the veteran is referred to Choice.

    With that in mind, if Shulkin wants to claim this data as accurate, then they should include statistics for those referred to Choice.

    Just because someone is referred to Choice does not mean the vet gets timely care, and does not absolve the VA from responsibility for that care.

    Shulkin says in the news article the site is new, and more data will be added, which is likely why there is no data to compare Grand Junction VA to private hospitals in the area, or other data missing.

    Now, they have a section in which they show how satisfied vets are with care they get, which I believe is a bullshit lie for my VA or can be easily skewed.

    The site suggests 88% of veterans agree they can always or usually get an appointment when needed. There is a helpful little “How we measure access” button on the page which explains it is measured using an industry standard survey, CAHPS.

    I don’t recall every receiving this survey, and the site says for the data to be shown, at least 30 vets have responded to the question.

    The problem is, and how this data can be skewed is if the VA selects certain vets to respond that have easy, routine appointments. If a vet has a routine appointment to get a long standing prescription renewed where the appointment may last 5 minutes, I could see a vet answering the survey positively.

    On the other hand, if a vet like me calls the audio clinic, leaves voice mails and never hears back from them because the clinic only sets aside 1 hour per week to return phone calls, and I or others are never surveyed, how is their data accurate?

    What’s irritating is this site looks like its little more than a sneaky PR move by Shulkin to offer bullshit stats to offer ignorant politicians.

    Why offer stats on one page that are specific such as access to the gastro clinic, but then on another part of the site, only break it down by “Specialty care”? Is it because it’s easier to hide how long veterans wait for that specialty care because the hospital does not offer it and the vet is referred to Choice?

    In many respects, if you can accept the word of Shulkin, this looks like a step taken to try hold hospitals accountable.

    As a vet that has found out the hard way that the VA cannot be trusted, I see this as little more than lies offered to the public and politicians.

    Fix the data gaps and it might be useful.

    One other thought. I wonder if the VA is trying to get ahead of any quality of care database Ben is planning, or trying to cut off vareview dot net before that site becomes too popular.

    This access to care site looks like they copied the vareview dot net site, complete with maps, but left off any ability for veterans to comment.

    In addition, why not review other parts of the VA? VocRehab? VAROs? VACO? The IGs office?

    The VA is a much bigger monster that needs accountability other than just clinics.

    Shulkin does mention he will be setting up Trumps hotline for VA complaints which is a shocker. I wonder how many months and how many millions that will take.

    He also mentions he is planning a task force to investigate fraud and abuse in the agency.

    Should be interesting, and I think vets should be prepared to hold him at his word.

    • “[One other thought. I wonder if the VA is trying to get ahead of any quality of care database Ben is planning, or trying to cut off vareview dot net before that site becomes too popular.]”

      My initial thoughts as well, an evasive move to true accountability. Notice how quickly the VA can crap out new websites when there’s danger of it being done correctly elsewhere? The VA *never* moves quickly unless they are owed money or are threatened with accountability.

      I hope to be wrong, but that meter is reaching countdown digits quickly.

      But like you, my Hope Timer is entirely out of minutes waiting post June 20th. Seems reasonable to give them 6 months but also am not holding my breath with anticipation.

    • @@91Veteran, clinic wait times are manipulated and they can make them look efficient or meet criteria for funding by scheduling controlled by unethical doctors and scheduling managers. It is a scam, i know their methodology concerning scheduling.

      Shulkin obviously knows something is not right when comparable data of clinical performance is collected off the Veterans records there is a huge deficiency, the Veterans are not being seen or treated by providers/doctors, but the scheduling show doctors/providers clinics as being double booked. And yet the waiting rooms are half filled with Veterans waiting for their appointments. Shulkin will not rock the boat or stop this gravy train because he doesn’t want to listen to a whistleblower who knows the schemes and crimes and supports the abuse against whistleblower with his inaction in Phoenix.

      The taxpayer pays in the billions for these phantom appointments that Veterans do not know they have and are given a no-show for missing the appointment. No appointment will be sent to notify or a phone call made to tell a Veteran he has an appointment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to fix this problem. The doctors/providers work and actually have productive clinics or they should get “your fired”. The collaborative effort that it takes involves many va employees. They are disgusting subhuman creatures that are willing to do anything to keep this fasad going as business as usual.

  18. I had a Veteran friend go to Birmingham VA, with a gall bladder infection. The Dr. There prepped him for heart surgery. He was screaming to let him go. He was shipped to another hospital and they removed his gall bladder. I’ve had two Veteran friends OD. Both died, the hospital said that they had pneumonia. I can’t think of one aspect of the VA that isn’t corrupt. We shall see about Dr. Shulkin and President Trump. I agree, too soon to know.

  19. tried to complament a va employee once. called customer service after 45 minutes on the phone waiting to speak to someone…i gave up.

  20. Well Ben, after reading the comments, it looks like Carrots 2, Sticks 35. Makes me want to break into a Roger’s and Hammerstein musical – Let’s try South Pacific. Everybody now

    Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk,
    talk about things you like to do
    You got to have a dream
    If you don’t have a dream
    How you gonna have a dream come truuuuuuue.

    • @Windguy – – – Always liked South Pacific. Ray Walston as “Luther Billis”, LOL. Here’s an old Cher song:

      If I could turn back time, If I could find some way
      I’d be the Bombadier, on the Enola Gay.
      We’d change our course, I’m headin’ for the BIG VA
      I’ll improve the lives, of a million vets today.

      The target draws near, it is the AFGE
      The AC calls, “DV – – You got weapons free”
      I watch the donut drop, gonna’ clean up this mess
      All my Brothers and Sisters will be soon feelin’ Blessed

      • OK Dis, I’m the one who brought up a musical show tune – which – is teetering on the edges of being gay ‘n shit. My bad. But Cher? Really? Cher? I mean – that’s OK, if… you know…. you ahh – go that route. But – you should know – Village People, George (he daayd) Michael, and Cher are kinda off limits….. Now, I’m not really a homophobe. But, two decades ago by teens were bugging me about getting tattoos. I said yes and took them to an “artist” asked him that for son 1 if he could do a highway sign on his but just below the waist-line saying “No Entry”, and for son 2, authorized “Exit Only” in the same location…. To this day, neither of them have tatts…

        Some enchanted evening
        you may see a stranger
        you may see a stranger across a crowded room

  21. I agree. Letting the VA know what has worked gives them a idea of where to start in changing their behavior and practices. I liken it to my children and discipline…one child learns from my punitive discipline while another just shuts down altogether. That child responds better and does better when she knows what she is doing RIGHT and therefore she strives for that positive reinforcement. We’ve complained and complained…they know what is wrong but do they know what practices are right? The complaining seems to have “shut them down” in resolving issues. It hasn’t worked thus far so a new approach doesn’t sound crazy to me.

  22. @Shannon, I also compare many of the VA employees to children. But, they are not children. They are full grown adults. They are callous. They are vindictive. They close their eyes to atrocities committed by their co workers and in too many incidents, they are committing the atrocity. Administration is stealing from the VA, taxpayers, at well over a billion a year. I know the VA would rather see many of us dead. My original claim goes back to 1999, and I haven’t had a hearing. It would be nice if I could spank my VA children, or send him/her to a corner for a time out, but, THEY ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE. Wish it was that easy.

  23. I tried to share my positive experiences in both emergency services and my surgical outcomes and the people who made them possible. Ben, I know you can look back on my posts and see how I felt then and still do today. I was called a few things for telling the truth about my treatment at the VA. I would like to see a new path of communication for both the veterans and the people on the frontlines of their care, however, the reaction to your column is not surprising. Just too many negative headlines and experiences I guess. Surely, trying nothing will not bring about change for Veterans or the people who care for them.

  24. Benjamin and All: Breaking News: Washington D.C.. VA is under serious investigation and scrutiny for unsafe conditions and…all I just heard on news is that “…the VA facility had life-saving medical equipment REPOSSESSED FOR NON_PAYMENT and more….WTF?

    “[…
    hospital in Washington, D.C., is so unsafe and poorly managed that the agency’s internal watchdog issued an “immediate” warning to high-level agency officials on Wednesday.

    The “serious and troubling” findings included “dirty” storage conditions for sterile medical supplies, dangerous supply shortages and millions of dollars in potentially missing equipment, the VA inspector general noted…]” (much much more…)

    WTF, VA?

    “http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/veterans-face-dirty-and-troubling-conditions-at-dc-va-hospital/article/2620132”

      • That’s why I wanted to quickly highlight fact they even had medical equipment go missing…repossessed, to be more accurate, dirty, infections, nothing sterile in medical storage, all dirty, mold…WTF VA?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Makes it even harder to kill them with kindness, right?

    • @namnibor, repossessed medical equipment, hahahahahahahahahah!!!!!! A purchasing agent screwed up that one. LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!! Stupidity at its finest!!!!!!!!! @MarionVA, Marion, Illinois they had approximately 6.4million, 10% savage value of 640,000 in missing medical center equipment, never mentioned in the news. This stuff happens all the time and it’s usually stolen by the employees.

  25. BREAKING NEWS;

    The VHA in Washington DC has now hit “World News with David Muir” on ABC.
    It hit the airwaves at approximately 6:45 pm est!
    (Google it, to see the whole story)

    Seems the staff was using outdated medical equipment and a bunch more things.
    The director was “…relieved from duty!”
    The “article” was about 30 to 45 seconds long!

    • @Crazy elf- We were riding the same thought wave again. Link is up there.

      Kind of great they are taking immediate action to this ongoing cesspool of a VA in our Nation’s Capital.

  26. Benjamin, I know you have not heard from me in awhile. In regards to what you are saying, Benjamin, I have already been giving them positive and constructive feedback for a long while. I have even commented many times on how to improve different areas of the VA. There have been times when I have complimented about different employees to the patient advocate and the patient advocate has personally mailed me a thank you card for the feedback. Benjamin, yes positive feedback is important but like I have said many times it is not necessarily all the providers. I will say it again million times. It is the system. The system has got to be modified and reformed. It does not matter how motivated that I am or how often I encourage positivity, I still get slammed or denied. Benjamin, the VA is not up to date on anything. I am serious. I can send you a whole list on different areas that need to be reformed. And I do not agree with Secretary Shulkin with the budget decrease. Benjamin, the VA cannot manage the vets because they squander resources, the vets rarely see a full fledged doctors but only see interns or residents. Benjamin, this tele- mental health issues not good. Benjamin, this approach is just wasting money. I am serious. Mental health is not to be dealt with with technology. Benjamin, mental health needs intensive therapy and minimal medication usage. I am serious unless the vet is totally out of control but still the same concept can be applied after due time. Benjamin, by your article today you opened up a can of worms that I have already been doing myself and also providing input to a state gov. service officer on a regular basis. Benjamin, I was actually told today that I am like a cup of coffee. I radiate positive energy and stimulate conversation with lots of humor. Benjamin, I get things done today. I am like night and day as compared to when the Navy retired me. Benjamin, though, I had to get myself out of the VA most in all areas because the VA has a defeatist and sabatoging affect and attitude. I am serious. It does not matter how positive one is, they will deny or still try to step on me or the vets. Benjamin, I am about getting things done today and the VA drags around and evaluates forever or does nothing at all or procrastinates. Benjamin, I am telling you now, the positivity only goes so far. It still does not change the dinosaur medication formulary, medical doctors are no where to be found with leaving an intern in charge and international can’t contact doctor during an emergency, still Voc rehab has only one test for testing vets, even with positive efforts and top performance in extended evaluations Voc rehab still denys the vets and does not contact the work supervisors. Benjamin, my list could go on and on. The 38 USC 511 has got to be changed or modified or eliminated. The vets need to be allowed to get an attorney at the get go instead of having to wait to be denied. Benjamin, I have lots of feedback and input on your article today. I am getting more accomplished being away from the VA. I am serious. If you want to hear more, I could email you but where would you like me to further comment to you about reforming the VA. I could write a book on all areas of the VA and to promote positive change. Though, Benjamin, it all starts with attitude, ethicality, accountability, humanness, compassion, genuineness, leadership, conviction, passion, and above all being really to oneself which leads to the Golden rule. Treat others as we would like to be treated. Let me know if you want more input. Angela

  27. Nana use to say you catch more bees with honey but when the bees are Africanized for personal safety reasons I’d never give them any honey.
    My son had one of those easy, routine yearly appointments & he got a survey code number by post card in the mail to fill out the on line survey which he did & I asked him how’d he rate them & it was all good & fine. I then reminded him of how many times the appt had been CXL by VA & how hard it was to re-schedule, he said I forgot about that, I then said to him what about how the VA has treated me, & again he said I forgot about that too. So surveys get fine reviews this way.

  28. Here’s another article about the VHA in Washington DC.
    From;
    USATODAY NEWS
    by: Donovan Slack | USATODAY
    “updated 3 hours ago”
    Titled;

    “Veteran patients in imminent danger at VA hospital in D.C.!”

    It’s got a lot more information!
    Wait till you read it.

    • D.C VAMC Director Released from Duties [where are they *VA leadership* gonna transfer this one?]

      ‘https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2885’

      This ‘Hot Off the Press’ information about the VA should bring National attention and an investigation into the ongoing criminal, corruption, and other downright despicable actions and behaviors committed by many VA employees.

      @Benjamin Krause JD – Ben, the issues in the VA are too deep and too fucking widespread even for a complete military branch to invade and repair. Sorry, so much for your social engineering experiment in getting Veterans to believe that they can possibly change a Federal Agency, that is racked with wicked employees. Looks like I don’t have to comment much at all today, DC’s VA Medical Center almost says it all. Except for the lives of Veterans that the VA had direct action in murdering. The worst criminal offense of mankind.

      Ben, I’m not upset with you, I’m just concerned about the power of this Federal Agency. Seems like they can’t do anything wrong that keeps them in the spotlight until the VA system REALLY is fixed. Geesh, how many Veterans lives do we have to read about that was cut short?

      Lets watch and see what comes about from the incident(s) in DC. Another do nothing? Then something else effects Veterans? We’ll see, or won’t we?

      • @ANutterVet- Yeah, the constant “whack-a-mole” approach with the VA only makes them even more encourage able…like gas thrown on a fire, expecting the flames to go out.
        When will they finally realize it’s not just a Phoenix VAMC or D.C. VAMC problem; it’s a SYSTEMIC VA PROBLEM.

        Where were those Big Piggy VSO’s crying foul with this long-standing problem WHILE they were even in D.C. for their SECRET PIGGY VSO MEETING?
        I’m willing to gamble that a few of the bad hat wearers and reps of VSO’s stopped-by that VAMC in D.C. and I bet ALL was just SWELL….

        So, is this VA Sec. Shulkin’s first taste of mass crow soufflé, VA style?

        President Trump should make every upper management SES’er go down at that VAMC in D.C and give each one of them a brand new toothbrush and pallets of bleach and make them clean that…but only allow them to drink the water from the facility, which is bound to have some surprises later on popping-up. 🙂

        I have to ask: would this happen to be either VISN territory Diane Rubens or her cohort preside over in their wicked travel kingdom or do I have them confused with other female duo? (Hard to keep track)

        WTF VA?!!!!

      • @ANutterVet, you are right on brother!!!! @namnibor you both understand the problem is not isolated incidents its business as usual.

  29. Quick question: Who is this Director, and where will we see him next? Not even Alabama world news is carrying the story. Figures, AG Sessions has a lot of control over the News here

  30. Here’s the OIG preliminary report on the Washington D.C. VAMC:

    “https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-17-02644-202.pdf”

  31. @Namnibor – The same topic of synergy is swirling in the air. We were thinking the same about the VA’s publication on the latest criminal activity at a VA Medical Center. As a Biologist, this type of behavior makes me pissed the fuck off. Shoot ’em.

  32. Benjamin, 38 USC 511 has got to be eliminated. The AFGE union has got to be eliminated. The patient advocate needs a separate chain of command out from under the directors of the hospital. Veterans do not have fair representation. Always decided to protect employee. If veterans are to be represented, vets have to find outside representation. Medication formulary needs to be updated. Tele-mental health care should be changed to one on one face to face intensive therapy with limited use of medications. The eye care in the VA needs to update their Eyewear with defense lenses for protection against blue violet light that is emitted from the technology such as computers, cell phones etc. The military is now using these lenses for eyeware which will save them billions of dollars in the long run. By doing this, macular degeneration will be slowed down or will not occur at all. The blue violet light emitted from technology blocks the melatonin in the brain and contributes to one not being able to sleep. The defense lenses protects the eyes from being damaged. Anyway, the military is now using these type lenses and the VA does not have a clue. Cancer drugs are dated back to the 70’s. They need to reform Chapter 31. The Trump administration hotline needs to be set up. Benjamin, it takes forever to get anything done in the VA and too with what they do still may not meet a decent standard to help keep the veterans above water in regards to school, employment or even saving one’s life. I had to move most of my care out of the VA because a single payer system does not offer enough flexibility and accountability for one to attend school and try to get back into substantive employment. This is a fact. Benjamin, one can offer positive constructive feedback and still get stabbed in the back. Benjamin, I have been paying for my own eyeware. I moved my care to the Lange Eye Institute in the Villages so I can get appropriate care. This medical eye doctor is on many radio stations out of Atlanta, Birmingham, Gainesville and Tampa Bay. He speaks on topics regarding the eyes and nutrition. Benjamin, I now take better care of myself by myself. The VA really now just gets in my way because they are defeatists and sabatogists. Benjamin, I have even had a primary care doctor put in a consult to podiatry then to learn later they canceled it. l just decided to go to a private podiatry physician because the VA seems to not look into anything about anything. They do not research anything to get facts. They just haul off and make a decision similar to political activitism but yet they will evaluate a claim 10 million ways and will most of the time never make a decision but stay stuck. Anything that goes through the VA goes through 10 million hands. They need to cut out some of the adjuctation process or streamline the process. Really, Benjamin, I do not have much faith in the
    VA. I just can’t take the VA for me to stay sane. I am hoping to eventually get into some employment at the James Madison Institute. Hope one day at a time. Benjamin, socialism is never the answer. I am really not sure the VA wants to improve because many pockets are being lined. There are some decent providers but Benjamin, all situations always point back to the single payer socialistic healthcare system. A socialist system never delivers success and preventative
    care. Veterans hardest hit by opioid abuse ——–Laws and Regulations are archaic in the VA. Like I have mentioned over and over Benjamin, it is the bureaucratic system with all employees doing whatever they want. All the positivity in the world will not make one bit of difference in the VA. It boils down to eliminating 38 USC 511, getting rid of the AFGE union, and using Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I have no hope for the VA at this point in time. I can’t take it. I have to stay away. It breaks my heart. I guess I will end for now.

    • Benjamin, I have some more reform suggestions and some issues that need to be considered. Expansion of the Choice program to its fullest financial capacity. Eliminate the milage eligibility requirement for use of the Choice program. And here are some other things to consider. Benjamin, it does not matter how positive the employees are or how positive the veterans are. What most of the issues are boiling down to are the facts that the VA is not up to date on medical procedures. Most VA psychiatrists are trained on the medical model which dates back to the lobotomy days and use of thorazine. And it is true that anti psychotic meds and anti depressant medications exacerbate the symptoms or psych issues. This why. When psych meds are prescribed, what is solved. Nothing but a bandaid. The person’s life is still messed up. Benjamin, it is better to go ahead after just a short period of time and get down to the nitty gritty with intensive therapy which entails developing new coping skills. Within due time after working through the thoughts and feelings, after living in a stable environment, after getting into some volunteering, school or work or whatever or removing oneself from a situation, one’s life can improve to where one may not need medications. If there is TBI or cognitive impairment, then, sometimes accommodations can improve one’s life to be able to function without assistance 24 / 7. The VA financially cuts back so on eye treatments or eyeware that it does not matter who is nice and who is not nice. If the VA cannot afford the appropriate medical procedures, then, they just can’t and with this the veterans get hung out to dry and this has nothing to do with being positive. If the VA surgeon performs surgery but does not do the operation procedure correctly, this has nothing to do with positivity. This has to do with incompetence which there is alot of in the VA. However, though, some of the incompetence might could be reduced if there was increased accountability. The not top of the line doctors or the doctors who graduated low in their class as a M.D., would be forced to improve their doctoring skills or medical knowledge if the accountability was enforced. If the expansion of the Choice program occurred and if the accountability did not improve with VA doctoring, then, the VHA could be shut down with only the Choice program left as the existing entity in the VHA. VBA could stay as is and serve as a veteran insurance agency or benefits agency for Veterans. Benjamin, I never wanted to be in the VA to begin with. My existence in the VA is what had to happen at that given time. Best, Angela

      • Even, further comments, the psychiatrists need to be updated beyond the medical model. They need to be more recovery oriented or trained. Medication formulary needs updating. More preventative care needs to be applied to prevent crisis doctoring care. When physicians or medical professionals are in crisis mode is when most errors probably occur with the malpractice setting in. All for now. Benjamin, though, I really do not know why I am even taking the time to provide you feedback. I really believe that nothing will change in the VA. The VA really does not give a shit about me one way or the other. And too, really does not even care about most veterans. The agency is so dysfunctional, overloaded, and really does not know which way to turn. I am not taking up for the VA at all because they have billions of dollars allocated to them but where does it all go. In my small scope, I have witnessed funds that were not used wisely but this is just from my perspective. Best, Angela

  33. Ben, I think what you are proposing would be helpful, but it seriously depends on who is looking at that feedback.

    It also seriously depends on the individual.

    If this feedback is only going to the local director, will it reflect well on the employee? Or will it be used to target that good employee? I think it’s clear that there are hospital directors currently in the system that would have no qualms targeting good employees. It happened here in Grand Junction, which I have mentioned before with that local American Legion officer being fired by the VA before her probation was up because she stood up for her patients.

    Could this feedback be shared with AFGE thugs who target the employee since they are making the rest of the dead weight look bad? I have no doubt if it was shared.

    For the individual, I think it would be unrealistic to expect a recent, young veteran used to military structure, people following the rules and doing what they are told giving positive feedback when faced with so many cold-hearted, lazy bureaucrats throwing red tape at them. I know what you are saying about surveys since they are usually designed to provide answers those giving the survey want, but if the survey was designed in such a way that a veteran could provide short comments, then it would help lead them into both providing positive and negative feedback where needed. Young veterans may be dealing with several departments or clinics in a VA, and it’s not fair for anyone to be rated generically rather than specifically.

    For years while I was in the military, I understood positive feedback, particularly after an old Chief Warrant Officer told me you could catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I wouldn’t have believed him because using honey with lazy bureaucrats seemed too much like kissing ass and submitting to their laziness. When we were waiting at Ft. Sill to deploy, I watched him use honey with some civilians there to get things done for the unit, and believe that guy could schmooze a squirrel out of an acorn tree.

    In every interaction I have had with the VA, I have tried hard to be civil, courteous and willing to listen. The frustration comes from doing that and getting run over and scraped off their shoe like dog shit. I try continue to do the same with everyone new that I see at the VA, but it doesn’t take long to recognize when that is being taken advantage of. I don’t like to give these clowns second chances.

    After running into a bureaucratic brick wall for many months with the billing department, the first woman I dealt with there always treated me like I treated her, with courtesy, respect and professionalism, same as with the Privacy Officer there. It was the bureaucrats in charge at their level and higher that caused significant problems. When that problem was resolved, I sent an email to the director and may have even included McDonald on that, but I made clear how helpful those employees were throughout this problem.

    Did it make a difference? I don’t know. There was no response, and no indication my email was ever read.

    What is most effective? Any feedback where a veteran can see that it has been taken seriously. Providing feedback for the sake of it being filed away would get old real quick.

    • Too many dependencies as you pointed out. These just create more bureaucracy. Just close it down and roll into Medicare and Social Security with special benefits for Veterans, especially actual combat Veterans.

  34. @91Veteran, I found your post to be very sad. I kinda felt a “I give up on the VA attitude” in the words. I am almost done with the VA. I am sure they want me (all of us) at the very least, dependent on them. I’ve believed that I NEED the VA, I don’t. I truly believe that mediocre care anywhere else is an upgrade. Shoot it….

    • I’ve done battle against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Regulars. The VA is the WORST enemy I’ve had to battle. What makes it so is that the powers to be (congress and the president) won’t do anything, beginning to end, to make it right. Therefore, EVERYONE join together as a single force and EVERYONE lobby their representatives, senators and president to close the VA and roll it into the Medicare and Social Security systems, identifying Veterans of all ages and their dependents, and of Honorable Discharge, for their service.
      IT WILL WORK!!!

  35. I recently had interaction with a VHA employee, who seemed to be putting noticeably less effort into trying to kill me, than other VHA employees, with whom I have interacted.

    • @ron nester, ROFL!!!! Hahahahahahaha! Must be the kindness that interference is beginning in the new administration of the va.

  36. I got some kindness for them right here:
    …………………./´¯/)
    ………………..,/¯../
    ………………./…./
    …………./´¯/’…’/´¯¯`·¸
    ………./’/…/…./……./¨¯\
    ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
    ………\……………..’…../
    ……….”…\………. _.·´
    …………\…………..(
    …………..\………….\…

  37. Off Topic:

    Q: What is the three differences between a VA nurse and a bullet?

    A: 1. A bullet can draw blood
    2. A bullet can be fired.
    3. A bullet can only kill one person.

  38. This idea might be good and all but when you’re not even allowed to contact your team via their secure messaging system in not going to bother. All I wanted was to get an appointment about my feet. I got a snippy voice mail telling me all my problems were my fault. So I sent them a secure message telling them I was offended. They didn’t like it I guess because they shut me off. I was professional and no foul language.

    But I guess veterans having free speech is gone now too….

    BTW, I never did get the appointment.

    • @Franklin Bounds: Franklin, keep after them till you get the proper care. I never give in to their BS. This isn’t a gentleman’s game. It’s dog eat dog, and you gotta be the Rottweler, turn their punk asses into the foo foo dog.

  39. Just for the record. After reading the above posts I’ve made a decision. I’m a disabled vet and get SSID plus I get Medicare. I’m only 57. I believe that I’m just going to start using my Medicare. It’ll cost me money, but maybe my care will be better.

    • Franklin, your care will be much better, but still, don’t let them off the hook for what they are responsible for.
      I go for service connected injuries, and I use medicare for everything else.

  40. Long day tomorrow.
    God Bless and
    ∩ │◥███◣ ╱◥███◣
    ╱◥◣ ◥████◣▓∩▓│∩ ║
    │╱◥█◣║∩∩∩ ║◥█▓ ▓█◣
    ││∩│ ▓ ║∩田│║▓ ▓ ▓∩ ║
    Goodnight Ben’s World

  41. Just as corrupt while you’re still serving!! After 37 years of service, a coronary condition that’s being treated so poorly as to now cause me to become pre-diabetic and on the verge of diabetes..recommended by a board of three active duty physicians for a full MEB board who also limit me to duty only 8 hrs per week -2 four hr days…… The NGB this week, denied an MEB and returned me to duty! …….un F’ing believable!!!!………They do everything possible to preclude medical retirements!! Why, they think it costs NGB money and of course it feeds right into your disability rating. BS.

  42. Benjamin, what you are proposing is good but it only goes so far. There is going to have to be implementation, changes, and elimination of many regulations and laws before the VA can really make a dent into the bureaucracracy to ignite a positive change. Benjamin, as for the veterans who are disabled, well honestly they all need to be 100 percent service connected regardless of disability. I know this is really far fetched. However, though, if we were not taking care of illegal immigrants with providing medical care, housing, education, food and the list goes on, more veterans might could then receive appropriate assistance. The reason why I say the disabled vets need to be a 100 percent service connected is this: When one is in the VA, this is all they can do is be in the VA. Benjamin, a single payer system does not offer flexibility and does not live up to accountable standards. I will explain even further. If a veteran is in school, trying to work or whatever outside the VA, it is impossible. If a veteran has set time for an appointment to be seen 9 times out of 10 the veteran will not be seen at the established time. The veteran could be there a half of day or even a whole day or may be told to come back the next day or another day due to doctor being called away to see about another patient, or have to come back for more testing or whatever. The VA employees are not accountable with their time. Now, this is some not all. There are some providers who do adhere to their patient appointment schedule but some say one thing and do another. I know this because I have experienced it. Benjamin, an employer will not wait on the VA nor will a professor hold up a class or reschedule a class due to the VA. The world does not wait on the VA to do their jobs so the veterans can function out in society. What is so puzzling to me is that the AFGE union really values right to work, education, scholarships, work ethic but it seems they are hypocritical.This why I say this. When a VA employee is not able to fulfill the standards of his or her job, nothing happens to the VA employee. One thing though when this does happen it affects veterans who maybe in school, working, or fight for their lives. If the AFGE union really stood by the principals or values of right to work, wouldn’t one think that the VA employee would be meeting work standards which would then enable the veterans to be able to work themselves or attend school until employed. If the AFGE union is about right to work and a good work ethic, then why isn’t it being applied at all times. If this was being applied, this in turn would reflect across the red line boundary between the VA employee and the veteran patient. It would be across the board. The VA employee would then be meeting work standards which would then entail the veteran to be meeting his or her standards in school or work outside the VA as well or would then entail one being able to live a life without being left to lay as a corpse. Benjamin, veterans should not have to fight with the VA about care irregardless of status. The VA is really a mess. A veteran who is fighting for his or her life should not be having to fight the VA too. The veterans who are in school should not be having to fight the VA to get medical procedures done because one cannot stay enrolled in school and be struggling to get a little medical care. The school will not get accomplished with a high success rate to include a great GPA. The veterans who are trying to work would probably lose their jobs unless they have tons of sick leave because the employer will not put up with it. Even with accommodations, being gone alot of time for medical appointments does not jive with an employer. Might as well not be working or even trying to work. What I am saying here is all pointing back to the disabled veterans being awarded a 100 percent rating. If the VA is not doing its job, it all flows downhill. Now, if the veterans are working in the VA, well, then they might have more flexibility to stay forever at a medical appointment or maybe not even have to show back up to work. If a veteran is in the VA, well, honestly, this is all the veteran can do because the nature of a single payer socialistic healthcare system. This type of system does not jive with the rest of the country. The single payer system is sabatoging, defeatist, and does not offer enough flexibility to meet the needs of really anyone. I will continue later. Getting my carpet cleaned. Got to get ready for my technician.

    • @Lem: Nope you haven’t been dropped. The “comments closed” is now missing, and it looks like it caused other problems. Nobody is getting any email notifications. You have to leave a comment, and then keep refreshing the page. Even the new article, I didn’t even get a email till later in the eventing, well after everyone else already recieved it.

  43. The VA set up feedback lines in the past. total disaster for the Veteran. All it came to be was a blank wall of ears with fake platitudes and and ridiculous assurances that the input would be taken seriously.

    Honestly Ben, have you switched sides in this war?

  44. There’s only one solution: Close the VA Medical System and the VA Administration as a whole. Roll it into the Medicare and Social Security System. Identify Veterans as Veterans in Medicare and Social Security. Period. End of problem.

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