VocRehab Conference St Paul RO

The Department of Veterans Affairs VocRehab Program invited Benjamin Krause to sit on its veterans panel before an audience of 80 vocational counselors next week.

All right, it is time for you to get a little ‘behind the scenes’ of what I have been working on for the five years until now that is starting to bear fruit. And, I am sure some of you reading this may be surprised by the invitation.

‘Aren’t you the guy who blasts VA almost daily?’

Yes, that is true; I do blast VA almost daily. As a result, it has opened some doors of communication within various programs, surprisingly.

Most certainly, VA is moving in a new direction to include discussion from veterans and advocates who may not be happy with what VA is doing or has done. The invitation is all about improving access to veterans while diminishing mistakes that cause in veterans being incorrectly denied access to VocRehab.

RELATED: Board Of Veterans Appeals Invites Krause To Speak On Veterans Panel

Some Background On VocRehab Policy

Since 2012, I have met with heads of VocRehab to help improve the program from a policy perspective. Through direct communications with Congress and VocRehab, we have been able to negotiate or modify policies on self-employment funding access, insurance coverage and health care access, informal hearings for denied veterans (upcoming), and new criteria for notice of appellate rights (upcoming).

Recently, I pressed VocRehab to include me in training for program counselors during annual conventions and other events. Some of the problems veterans experience have persisted over the past 8 years of my veterans rights work, leading me to believe the problem may exist within training materials or techniques used by the program.

And finally, after pushing for access, I was invited to participate.

RELATED: New Appeals Chief At VA Reaches Out To Blogger For Feedback

Next week, VocRehab is holding its annual education conference at St. Paul Regional Office. This facility was recently remodeled and is a great location for practically all veteran-centric events.

Part of that conference includes a veterans panel moderated by Director Jack Kammerer and Dorothy Williams. Last week, Kammerer extended an offer for me to participate on the panel, which is obviously a grand gesture given that I am one of the loudest dissenters about VA policy and practices in the country.

Input?

That said, I thought I would ask you what you might say if you were on the panel and asked about your experience using VocRehab?

What do you think?

Your Input… On Steriods

As an aside, I am working hard to create a database of VocRehab employees with a review feature to allow veterans an opportunity to review each employee and see what other veterans had to say about their customer service experience.

This is my contribution to the new MyVA iCare initiatives to ensure VA employees are provided the Disney customer service former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald espoused last year.

I am presently testing various directory plugins to find one that allows robust reviews but also ease of searching.

These negotiations and testing on WordPress is why I did not publish a few days this past month. Lots to do, and only two hands to do it.

60 COMMENTS

  1. I never used the VA for school. I was working ona MS when I had sudden hearing loss. 1994. Now I want to finish my Masters in counseling and Voc Rehab denied my claim for Voc Rehab.

  2. “[…This is my contribution to the new MyVA iCare initiatives to ensure VA employees are provided the Disney customer service former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald espoused last year….]”

    When you go, do not be fooled by the cute Disney Characters, it may very-well be a trap. Kudos to being invited, but keep-in-mind that old wise saying that goes something along the lines of knowing whom your enemies are and enemy’s kept close, and bring some VA Kryptonite in form of a big stick, just to be safe.

    May I/we ask if they are going to reimburse your travel and/or provide accommodations and such and if you need to drum-up some extra lettuce for this? (never hurts to ask…)

    I’ve not used VocRehab but I would ask why it’s too much to ask for them all to be on the same page and educated on providing educational benefits and training for Veterans?

    Maybe you, Benjamin, should charge the VA consulting/seminar fees to teach the VocRehab how to do their jobs? (the irony of it all)

    Kudos. (still may be a trap)

    • Stick of truth. Similar to Wonder Woman’s Lasso Of Truth, but Benjamin’s Stick Of Truth is made out of pure VA Kryptonite, which shines the disinfecting qualities of daylight on fraud and obstruction.

      (Benjamin’s dauntless cape is still in alpha development, being an USAF guy, naturally he wishes to soar)

      • And Wonder Woman has that USAF Invisible Jet kind of taken at the moment, room only for 1)

    • “why it’s too much to ask for them all to be on the same page and educated on providing educational benefits and training for Veterans? same question for most ppl.

      Although I am using Ch 31 now, it took raising holy jihad to get it approved. Appeal and raise hell when others can walkin in with a 20 per cent and get approved? A lt. col can ask for a schedule A letter and get it emailed in 5 minutes, I have been asking for months with no response?

  3. Hi Ben,
    I am in Voc Rehab for my doctorate of nursing practice degree. My Voc Rehab counselor never responds to any of my desperate pleas to contact me regarding administrative issues in my program. I had to email Mr. John Riskovich 10 times, leave three voice messages, contact his co-worker who resides in the office next to his, and finally email the Regional Director just to compel this guy to contact me. I have been told the VA will not pay for doctoral capstone project, despite it being a bonafide program expense. John argued that my doctoral research cots constitutes a “supply expense” and I needed to contact him prior to implementing it because, after all, it’s too expensive. Wait a minute, I thought the VA is paying for doctoral education. Because I need to complete this research in order to graduate, why in the world would my research program consist as a “supply cost” (like books, pencils, paper, and the like) and not a “program cost”? The VA is trying to screw another veteran over in an effort to keep their costs down. Please ask them to keep their focus on the veteran. It’s difficult when Voc Rehab counselors shift their focus on the VA’s pocketbook instead of the veteran’s academic success. Thank you for advocating for us!

  4. Proud of you Ben and your efforts. Even prouder to call you a friend. Gosh if they are including you on panels to help fix the VA, maybe they will continue to get all wild and crazy and actually acknowledge whistleblowers and being noted whistleblowers to the table to make sure the mess of the last three years stops happening?

    As I have said many times…. the only ones who have faced real punishment from the VA are the brave whistleblowers who continue to report the truth about the many problems with VA healthcare & benefits.

    Keep up your efforts Ben! Proud of your progress!

    Brandon Coleman
    Phx VA Whistleblower
    Addiction Therapist Anthem AZ CBOC

  5. I just wonder why it is that counselors fail to inform veterans, when creating one’s initial plan, that one can in fact obtain a graduate degree? I think it should be mandatory that counselors inform the veteran of all of his or her opportunities, not keep one in the dark, purposely and when the veteran finds out that one is being cut-off from reaching one’s full potential, to then hit one over the head with the regulations. It’s wrong and flies in the face of the government’s intent. This money was set aside by the federal government to rehabilitate veterans for entry level positions. It isn’t the counselor’s place to decide what that position will be or to trick the veteran into accepting a plan that will stifle or limit his or her potential. What are the true, underlying motivations for doing something so ugly?

  6. Off topic

    THE VA HAS A NEW WAIT TIME SCAM

    Utilizing sub contractors to get c&p appointments done the va is able to say their wait times have all but disappeared. With me, they have intentionally used a company called QTC to schedule appointments FOR me, well out of my range of travel and without my consent or knowledge. Then when I don’t show up, they send me a letter stating that my claims are denied since I Refused to show up for the appointment(s).

    They (QTC) just called me today to inform me that they had scheduled a comp and pen appointment for me 56 miles away. When I asked them wtf they were talking about they said that’s how it is and if I didn’t like it they would just send my packet back to the VA. The manager told the person I was talking to that they should keep the appointment scheduled even if I didn’t want it or couldn’t show up.
    !!! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!
    It gets better…when I called the VA benefits number QTC gave me……wow

  7. @Benjamin, this invitation is absolutely outstanding. I hope change in the positive direction can soon start taking hold in the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program. Benjamin, with you breaking through the barrier made of steel maybe they will facilitate changes in the best interest of the veteran based on your recommendations and from your deep insight that you gained from your own experience while participating in the program yourself. Benjamin, I am getting back into the workforce via internships and
    co-op educational within the degree. Benjamin, this is the only way for someone who has been out of work for a long time. A person who has been out of work a long time is not competitive for reentry back into the workforce due to both the disability and loss of a current skill set that would meet employment demands. Benjamin, it is entirely possible for long-term unemployment individuals get back into the workforce. Benjamin, my mother worked for 52 years up until she was age 72. Benjamin, my mother is healthy with now pushing 80. She goes to the doctor and her blood work is top notch. My father is 80 years old and still lifts weights, runs and works maintaining a large farm. I have many members of my mom’s family who have retired from the military and go on to other professions after retiring from the military. One who retired from the Air Force as a Colonel with now working for NASA in Los Angeles, CA one uncle who made 5 trips to Vietnam and then many years later got shot down in the first Gulf War. He retired as a Marine Warrant Officer. Then, after all this he got a Masters in Math with going on to teach Math at the College level. So Benjamin, age should not matter at all if one has a skill to offer an agency or company that is in demand such as in the STEM fields. I moved my medical out of the VA so I could get things done so I could get back into the workforce in a company. Benjamin, the VA does not have efficient time management or dependability to meet the needs of someone who wants to go back to work. I have established a new baseline for my care outside the VA to really see what is what. I am about finished in getting my care updated to determine if the feasibility exists for my reentry into the workforce. A couple more appointments. About to get myself an updated laptop, registered for Calculus 1 and some other classes for Fall semester yet to be determined. Soon meeting with advisors. Strong desire to be hired into the Defense Industry. I have current GRE scores that are good and decent that meet criteria for entrance into most programs at the University of Florida. Yes, I require academic accommodations and soon getting those updated in July. I have a plate in my right arm so I do not lift over 25 – 30 lbs. I am looking at Electrical Engineering Technology with the ABET accreditation. May even actual engineering but the Chemistry is heavy in certain engineering areas. With some engineering and engineering technology the Calculus sequence and the Calculus based Physics are only required.
    Picking up certifications possibly in the Advanced Manufacturing, etc. on top of my old Bachelors degree dated 1984 achieved prior to entry into the military. Benjamin, if God willing, I am going back to work. Chapter 31 has denied me forever. It is passed the 12 year eligibility time frame for me since my last rating decision. Benjamin, when I was eligible, I was to sick to participate and my records document this. The academic accommodation testing I get done myself by a private psychologist. Benjamin, I would like to participate in Chapter 31 but their current law blocks me now. A waiver would have to be advocated for. I do have other options though such as the Society of Women Engineers who have grants for women reentering the workforce for both engineering and engineering technology.
    Also, the AAUW has grants for reentry into workforce, career changers, and professional development. Although, this grant is the one where only dark skinned individuals are eligible for certain degrees like a graduate degree or PhD. or are given priority. Benjamin, this is what I have mentioned before to you. The minorities say the white folks have all the opportunities but here is one example of many that is evidence that whites do not. Many of these protesters just want to create havoc, chaos, and violence acting like victims. Anyway, Benjamin, this is another whole topic and did not mean to get off topic. Anyway, Benjamin, the bottom line is that I would love to be in Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation headed back to the workforce if feasible and if the VA would allow me to breathe with some individualism that is reflected in Capitalism. Will discuss more a little later. I praise your efforts Benjamin. 🙂

    • @Benjamin, I am back to finish my comments for the topics of Voc Rehab, medications, and optometry in the VA. As for Chapter 31, Benjamin, more types of testing should be applied. Many years ago VBA had actual Psychologists testing the veterans but now all they have is the Career Scope Test. This test only offers a snap shot of the veterans capabilities. As for the Voc Rehab Counselor that I had in the extended evaluation, she was lazy. Benjamin, I did all the leg work with all aspects within my extended evaluation such as acquiring my Math tutoring volunteer job at a college, Math tutoring at the Ministry, and ambassador to the veterans in the VA. I did all the researching of schools and careers with providing information all to the counselor. I arranged everything about everything. Of course though, I really like the individualism in the process anyway. However, though, when it comes to funding the veteran is when they really intentionally screw the veteran. The VA does not want to train the veterans for a career fields that really require an investment on behalf of the VA. The Voc Rehab counselor wants to send them to housekeeping for a jobs in the VA. Then, the veteran gets stuck in housekeeping to eternity because of the demeaning attitudes by VA leadership and VA employees towards veterans. Even, with the Veterans Preference, Senator John McCain, is the one of the individuals who wanted to almost take Veterans Preference away from the veterans due to limiting the veterans preference to be applied to only one job and only used in a lifetime. Will continue to add more input. Need to stop though. Waiting on a phone call from the Toyota Corporate Office in Texas. Check this out folks. I got stuck in my car seat belt that would not unlock and release. This is a tremendous safety feature. Had to call Triple AAA and they had to cut my seat belt for me to remove myself from the seat. What if there had been a fire or car accident or whatever??? This is not good and this happened on a 2013 Toyota. Anyway folks later and will return to finish input on Chapter 31, Medications, and Optometry in the VA. The VA is really behind the private sector in eye care. I will explain with documentation why I say this. Best.

  8. Benjamin, by the way, that is a really ominous VAMC in your “Bad VA Art” today. That could be any building in Buffalo, N.Y. or Batman’s Gotham.

  9. Kudos to getting invited, but still someone has to address that illegal DBC shit that goes on in VA. Shulkin ir no one has addressed many civil cases that have merit in which DOJ and VA have covered up over the last 3 years. Meghan Flanz is now in charge , for the moment of OGC. That new hotline is only to gather information about who is calling in. The dude on the line asked me for my last 4 , despite telling him that I am not enrolled in care. Completely dishonest of VA as usual

    • Congrats Ben!!!!, Yes @CorpsmanUp! the DBC illegal Kangaroo courts need to stop ASAP!

      When vets have to travel overnight be it to another VA or out in town provider vets and their caregiver reimbursement was changed Oct 1 2016 from 50% down to 25% cant even get reimbursement for coffee! URGH even worse for hotel lodging of 50% of Govt Rate try doing that in Winter Prime Time for Tamp Bay! NOT disabled vets 50%-100%+ loss every time 🙁 we already can afford even at the roach motels or bed bug infested places need to either throw out all clothes etc taken or now newly bed bug infested 🙁 not good either way!

      VocRehab got some long ago but newly changed back again home bound what does a veteran rate other than NO from VocRehab program / counselors?? More limiting on computer Dragon Speaking?? help life a lot.

  10. @Ben, congratulations….. This is why you do what you do. Now, after many years of…..experience dealing with some of the most crooked folks in our country, you’ve been invited to ????. Share your common sense, with those who are not interested in common sense. Make sure it gets recorded…, don’t take notes. Remember Ben, what’s important to you, is important to all of us. You’ve earned all the good things that come to you. You have more knowledge of the issues than any one of them. We’ll be praying for you, and take charge Ben. It’s your time. Thank you.

  11. If I could give one suggestion it would be to ensure that ALL job postings for Voc Rehab counselors are open to all special hiring authority’s like VEOA and VRA. Way too many job postings are only open to Current Permanent VA employees which is a legal work-around for skirting Veterans preference and special hiring authority laws. Further many hiring managers seemingly have no desire to use special hiring authorities despite the VA’s public EEO and veteran hiring initiative stance.

    • Many jobs are only open to employees for two reasons, one is that employees get new jobs which result in a higher grade, almost like getting a promotion, that they otherwise can’t get in their previous job. The other reason is to limit government employees, often times new jobs filled by current employees result in the old job never being filled or eliminated completely which always happens anytime they talk about downsizing. It is not a way to skirt laws it is legal to do this,, in fact I was hired as a disabled veteran under appointment authority as a Vietnam veteran. When I had reached the top position of my job, I watched for open positions into different jobs so that I could keep increasing my grade went from GS 6 to GS 11 doing this and this was perfectly legal. In fact many jobs must be open for current employees before it can be opened to the public.

    • Let me add , to use special hiring authorities requires special justification paperwork , that is why a lot of supervisor won’t use it, others just don’t think veterans should get preference. In 1988, when I applied to work for the Post office, and was interviewed in Killeen Texas, I was told by the Post Master that he was concerned my service connected back disability would prevent me from doing the job… and he used that as his reason for not hiring me… Illegal as hell but he did it,,, at least he was honest about it.. I was hired in the next town 2 weeks later.. and quit 6 months later because while the pay and security was good, the job actually sucks and was the most boring job I ever had.

  12. Ben, as namnibor says, “Kudos for the invite!”

    Only, because it’s “former Secretary of VA”, Robert McDonald’s “Disney type of confab”, I’d be careful.

    Remember, “Disney’s land” is a “Fantasyland full of all kinds of imaginary characters!” Some good, yet, many can be very deceptive in nature!

    • Especially deceptive in nature are those underfoot seven dwarves and that greedy wretch snow white. Seek-out the evil twin sisters, Graves and Helman travel in order to follow the path of fraud you seek.

      Oh, also avoid entirely Minnie Mouse. Once in her sadistic ratty claws you will awake after the roofy, to find yourself ass-up trapped her in torture chamber inside a mouse trap right next to Mickey.

  13. In September 2016, as a disabled Veteran , per ADA, I asked the VA counselor if OK to use my tape recorder for our next counseling.

    (1) I was in recovery from a TBI ( being seen at VA Boston),

    (2) had new haring aides, which I was not comfortable wearing.

    (3) sleep disorder and other physical ailments results in confusion at times ( if I don’t get sleep )
    She denied it.

    I asked approval from her Voc Rehab Division Chief—who denied it.

    In an email to me, saying use of recorder had to be approved by both parties by Connecticut law, which is not the case. moreover, Connecticut law is not applicable on federal VA facility.

    The Division Chief advised he was supporting the counselor’s her decision.

    In writing, he writes:

    “There is no VA or VBA Directive in regards to the recording of our employees during Counseling sessions. I have requested information from our central office staff. In the meantime, since we have no law. Connecticut state law allows the other party the right to refuse or accept to being recorded by another party.”, which is not true in a face to face conversation.

    The Division Chief refused to identify to me who in the central office staff—or where this central office staff was located.

    Shortly thereafter, I filed a Department of Justice Complaint on September 2016, case number CTS #571719, who referred it to VBA, Office of Diversity Management and EEO (20M2), Washington DC.
    After numerous calls on status ( Nov to Dec), Feb 2017 I finally received a letter it was referred to VA Office of Resolution,

    I received one call on Feb 8, 2017 and was advise the investigation was ongoing, and someone would get backed to me.

    March/April , I made numerous calls and left message on number which was provided to me. NO CALL BACK.

    May 2017, two weeks ago I received a call and was told a letter was sent to me —-which I told her I never received.

    May 2017 The letter arrives dated Feb 16, 2017, in envelope postmarked May 2017, which was just acknowledgement of the complaint received by DOJ.

    June 8, 2017, did a FOIA request for documents in file of the DOJ complaint filed 9 months ago, the FOIA request is to VBA, Office Of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, Washington DC.
    e complaint, emphasis , has a DOJ Number on it , going back to Sept 2016————-9 MONTHS ago.

    Question 1 to the panel, what is the law. A Veteran, submitted written request , per guidance ADA format, to record counseling with VOC REHAB counselor, and for the record, NO OTHER VA employee ever denied my request to record ( ie doctor’s appointment, etc…)—most encouraged it.

    Question 2 If Division Chief emails to a Veteran he sought guidance from central office staff, it takes 9 months for this guidance, or did the Division Chief lie to the Veteran; mind you, I have FOIA request for this information since April 23, 2017, and filing a congressional inquiry tomorrow on status.

    Question 3 If a Veteran , who disabilities are covered under ADA, a tape recorded to be used during Voc Rehab counseling not considered a reasonable accommodation, in the MyVA system.

    Yes, as late Paul Harvey said, theres more to the story. Like, less than 45 days after signing up for Voc Rehab , and numerous call unreturned by VA Voc Rehab, sending me a letter my case was being closed for not contacting Voc Rehab for six m0nths—–hard to contact them for 6 months, only signed up less than 45 days prior to letter.

    Or, discontinuing Voc Rehab by stating since I refused employment services , which was not the case-EMPHASIS, and VA not responding to FOIA request for evidence to support this claim I refused employment services ( FOIA submitted April 23, 2017—to date, no acknowledgement( filing congressional inquiry on status).

    Or despite my request for administrative hearing in August 2016 ( documented acknowledgement by VA), nor hearing or written notification ( I requested status and copy of written notification of hearing and or outcome thru a congressional —–only to get email from congressional liaison their inquire VA advised no open hearing, however, congressional office has not responded to documentation from VA who advised them of this)

    I can email you every document to support aforementioned( Dept of Justice letter, FOIA letter, request for admin hearing, etc….all with supporting postal receipts being received or acknowledgement by Voc Rehab —-and possible could travel to present first hand my BATTLE with VOC REHAB, which continues, and till the resolution, I receive no benefits, unless I cave in and just resign up.

    • Just a note, I recorded my conversations with counselor in Georgia.. when I went to his supervisor with the recording which clearly indicated a run around, his boss said too bad, I don’t tell them how to do their job.

  14. Great news!

    My time was in the eighties so of no use today.

    Talking to a guy last year about his life and going for a Masters, Human Services, Dope Counselor. Same as my time was the really long waiting time to see someone while sitting in an empty waiting room with multiple VR staff. Always.

    Then he said he had to cease school for a while due to red tape, paper work, and getting benefits due him back into some order. Seems the gov didn’t cover some expenses in time, and monies due him on a monthly basis. I didn’t get into specifics with him. Other than that he enjoys it minus the hassles. Plus they started requiring a higher degree for what he’s after. From a batch to masters. Hell, I got a slew of PHDs from elsewhere, and after I had finished paying off my student loan. lol Life long learning or experience that doesn’t mean squat today.

  15. Are you trying to come up with a “Rate My VRC” like “Rate My Professor?” I think that’s a fabulous idea! I’m also proud of you!!

  16. WHERE does the VA get its Voc Rehab counselors and what schools did they get their degrees. (in a bubble gum wrapper or cracker jack box still doesn’t qualify!
    How is that Vic Rehab money allocated?
    Why do so many vets NOT get rehab approved?
    OR would these ?’s be asking too much for VA oversight to answer?
    Does the VA Voc Rehab program have any oversight oris just another money sieve for Kiaser?

  17. Ben,

    Is this a brunch affair? Are they serving chicken?… One point of clarification, is this panel conducted by VA folks pushing each other around on a gym floor to gather balls up off the ground? It takes a lot of balls to do that sort of thing I guess and Trump promises efficiency so maybe he took their balls away? Please report back if VA has been left with any balls, ok?

  18. Would be nice if some things could be changed, especially since I applied for an Independent Living Program thru 3 different regional offices ( Waco, Georgia, Houston) between 2004 and 2011 and never got pass the initial discussions. In fact one regional office ( Georgia) strung me along for 2 years before telling me to screw off. As I have mentioned previously, in 2004 I purchased your you book about Vocational rehabilitation, it did not have one thing in it concerning the ILP, which I have readily admitted was not your fault since note one of the offices I had dealt with would actually provide a program or anything about a program. I hope since then you have added something of value to your book, but more important, I hope someone can teach these yahoo’s a little something about ILP’s.

  19. Truth is Rehab counselors just don’t understand what they are dealing with in TBIs. I remember one asking what I wanted to do. And I couldn’t answer because I didn’t know what I could do. And I couldn’t even think to say that I didn’t know what I could do with some effectivity.

    I think if I could have gotten that across there wouldn’t have been much help. but I remember the tests going in to the Navy as identifying skills. Unfortunately tests are not actually doing. So I couldn’t even go back to that road to finding something I felt competent at.

      • What I tried to say is the Rehab counselors do not know how to help a person find a vocation that they are competent at.

  20. I’m going to go off topic. Only, in my opinion, y’all need to read this article!

    From:
    “Military.com/Daily News”
    Dated: 8 June 2017
    Titled:

    “Some Vets With PTSD Are Scamming the VA: Testimony”

    By Richard Sisk (Military.com reporter)

    I’m not sure how to respond to this “issue”. The only thing I can agree with this soldier on is, “YES!” There are scammers out there wanting something for nothing!
    Whenever monies is involved, the “rats come out to play!” Look at the allocations of monies VA receives each year. There’s plenty of proof VA employees, from top to bottom, are scamming the system – they want their piece of the pie! This isn’t something new! It’s been going on for decades!

    I’ve actually been informed, and my wife has witnessed, over the years, by Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Social Workers, my % should actually be higher than the 50% I’m currently receiving! I guess I’m more fucked up than I realize!

    Only, I myself have never “put in for an increase or decrease in compensation”! Because, I’ve always wanted to be “normal”! I believe that’s what most Vietnam Veterans want: “to be treated as NORMAL human being”! Not as something we’re NOT!
    I won’t repeat the vile things that are still being said about us today. Even though it’s been 42 years since the end of the “most unpopular war in U.S. HISTORY”! A war that divided the country more than anything else during that era!
    This is something, in my opinion, these new “non- combat”, and “combat veterans” haven’t had to deal with on a large scale – YET!

    If y’all want to discuss anything with the writer of this article, here’s his email address;
    (Remove quotations)

    [email protected]

    • P.S.
      If the Secretary of VA, Shulkin, really was interested in stopping the scammers. He would start with Rubens, Graves, Helman and a whole host of other high profile VA SES’rs, Directors, Contractors and others “Scamming the system”! Instead of trying to take away our benefits, ie: Individual Unemployablity!
      Make these “Scammers” pay back the taxpayers monies they stole!

      That’s all I have to say about this bullshit! RANT OVER FOR NOW!

      • It’s not just the VA. The whole of government and our commerce is now focused on “taking”. “I got mine, eff you”. Healthcare seems to be one of the more lucrative troughs from which to feed and engorge. We wouldn’t need the VA if we had a functional single payer system – NOT MEDICARE. Every system we have has been financially engineered and lobbied to perfection allowing thieves unbridled access to everyone’s pockets.

        I just spoke with my brother in Australia (he’s been there since 73). Walk-in (no referral) MRIs – unsubsidized – $250. Local clinic here just opened up a new imaging center – I asked about MRI costs. Couldn’t get an answer. And asked. And asked. I finally got shitty and got an answer. “It’s around $4500 if you’re uninsured, and sometimes less if the insurance company pushes. I still didn’t get what they charge Medicare.

        We have myriad government programs that were designed to help people. All of them have been corrupted by those who can afford access to create niches designed to rob.

        Greatest country on earth – my ass.

      • @Windguy-

        Speaking of Australia, and keep-in-mind the inflated $$$ conversion: A name brand, no generic infectious disease RX I have to take to stay alive that has 3 drugs in the cocktail costs retail here in the USA $ 3,200. for -30- TABLETS, ONE MONTH SUPPLY.

        That EXACT SAME DRUG is marketed under an entirely different name brand, same company, and Australians get this same RX for USD equiv. of $75. a MONTH.

        Guess who is still paying research and development? We USA citizens. No generic because just before 2 of the 3 drugs were to have their patent expire they came-up with BRAND NEW WAYS to use SAME RX, so NEVER EVER going to be a generic here in USA.
        I have to use my Medicare for that and Part D Drug Plan, because the VA would force me to use Medicare and also the VA would bill Medicare, but if the VA were to do this, for some reason it would not count entirely for my yearly out of pocket to get out of the Medicare Pt D Donut Hole because it’s a Federal Program….even specifies this.

      • @namnibor: nam, I too am on an expensive med, I get mine for free. Most expensive drugs, you can go to their website and print out a drug assistance program form, you fill out your part, the doc fills out their part, you double check to make sure doc filled it correctly, including refill amounts. You may already know all this, just throwing out there for others as well.

      • @CJ-

        I was kicked off of any Drug Assistance Programs once I started receiving VA Comp. 100% Svc. Connected, along with my SSDI, and use Medicare.

        NONE of those drug co’s assistance programs count towards one’s Medicare Pt. D Drug Plan’s out of pocket expenses, meaning I would still continue to pay outrageous Medicare Copays as if I never went though the Donut Hole onto to Catastrophic Coverage by April, as I do each and every year.

        If I utilized Drug Co. Assistance Programs, my copay for just that one RX each month would be around $1200. for 30 tablets.

        Oh, and in the past, I have been able to view ben’s podcasts even on facebook, without me being a member of facebook….not now, FB aggressively locks you out if you even try.

        I’m not ready to go down that rabbit hole of FB, but it’s something I will give it some more thought about.

      • @namnibor, Geez, you can’t win sometimes, they do make it tough at times. Wish it wasn’t so.

  21. This is a good idea of having you there to advocate for a better VA services and exposing scams, mistreatment of vets etc.

    • @William DuFour – – – Do you know of any non-pw Politicians that jump in and clean the VA up? Thanks for your post. – – – Nutter.

  22. An official free pass from the Department of Justice for everyone involved with the Aurora money pit.

    “APNewsBreak: No prosecution in over-budget veterans hospital”
    Published:Friday, June 9th 2017
    “http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/35625994/apnewsbreak-no-prosecution-in-over-budget-veterans-hospital”

    • Seymore,
      I guess that’s our “Friday dump” of bullshit from one of our Premier Government Agencies; ie: Department of Justice!

      Did anyone ever doubt there would be no indictments over the: “misuse of”, “mishandling of”, “misappropriations of”, “scamming of” taxpayers monies by ‘contractors’ of VA!

  23. Hello, I am a USMC veteran and Disabled, If I am currently getting my Bachelors under Voc rehab and I want to pursue a Masters because my Bachelors I seem to find I cannot do any of the jobs and want to do Mental Health counseling for our brothers and sisters. My counselor tells me that I need to finish this bachelors and then well try entry employment and if not employed, we will seek further education. What do I do????

  24. Congratulations Ben! I am proud of you!
    However I will be very careful because These MFs will try to use you!
    (You know better then that)
    Always remember: “TRUST NOBODY”
    This is not the VA alone, but the WHOLE political SYSTEM, against the Veterans and their Benefits! (in contrary from what they say!)
    Good luck
    MSG VAM

  25. A new study published in the Journal of Personality indicates that open-minded people literally see things differently than their close-minded counterparts. Openness is measured by creativity, imagination, and willingness to try new things. It is known as the least understood aspect of personality.

  26. Ben, The questions I would ask are as follows: 1) What is the role and function of the Voc. Rehab Panel, how do they assemble the panel, where do the panelist come from? 2) What has the VR Panel done in the last few years to stream line the program and provide resources to the VR&E service, Staff, and the Veterans they serve? Accomplishments of the panel? 3) What problems has the panel found and what is the plan for resolution? 4) What are the immediate needs of VR&E? 5) Is the VR&E service appropriately staffed? 6) Do you feel case load size is appropriate? Based on what? – These are questions 80 VR&E Counselors will not ask. Are the VR&E counselors true counselors are management staff?

  27. Please ask about any plans to improve and institute more Self-Employment case management training for VRCs. The inconsistency of VRC response to requests for this Track, even to just explore this goal, is a problem. For example while some VROs have processes in place that provide a phased process for both approval and implementation of a Track 3 Self-Employment Plan, others expect the Veteran to prove out the business viability of the plan before examining feasibility. It not just about a linear approach to implementing a business plan. The objective should be to help the Veteran build toward the feasibility of his/her goal. A consistent Self-Employment process for all VROs would be very helpful. A required global training module for all VRO would be outstanding.

    Even though the M28R has recently been revised many of the VRC are still discouraging qualified Veterans. And even though Category II up to $25,000 is available to most VRE participants by law, many VRCs still steer Veterans away from this option citing a history overwhelming difficulty getting approval for the goals. VRCs seem to have a fear of internal cost controls. Ironically, this track can actually be a cost saver for VRE.

    Maybe a private task force with input from prior Track 3 participants might be helpful to improve the processes?

  28. I am currently utilizing VocRehab attaining my BA and my VocRehab counselor is very correspondant, BUT does not lay down EVERYTHING/ALL that VR has to offer. So every time I approach her regarding VR, I make definite that all my documentation is in place. This way there is less room of her making excuses or stating something that is over her head.

    In regards of being on PANEL, I would definitely have some kind of TRACTION from start to finish with VR Counselor. So that all communication can be verified and through electronic or hard copies for both parties. This way if a dispute arises, there is a structure to fall on.

    Continue to do the AMAZING/UNBELIEVABLE work you are doing for us Veterans. I/We TRULY appreciate all that you do & the COUNTLESS hours you put into it.

    God Bless, Gil & Sammi

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