MMQB: Another VA Fail – Burn Pit Mandate Ignored

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VA Fail

Last week, two Senators slammed VA for failing to set up a burn pit registry despite the law signed by President Obama to do so.

After 15 months, VA has continued its path of intentional ignorance of President Obama’s mandate that the agency create a burn pit registry within one year. While few veterans are probably surprised from VA’s lack of urgency, the President and those on the Left may be concerned about how these failures will impact the mid-term elections this fall.

Hi and welcome to another edition of Monday Morning Quarterback for Veterans. I am host of MMQB and creator of DisabledVeterans.org. This web platform provides educational tools for veterans focusing on current events and actual benefits strategy that impacts our lives in VA Land.

Each week, I write a column on a few pressing issues from a variety of news outlets affecting veterans. I pick a few that are the most interesting. This week we will talk about the following here:

  • VA Burn Pit registry failure
  • VA Social Worker fired for inappropriate relationship with veteran client
  • Oklahoma bill to give free help to veterans with traumatic brain injuries

VA’s Open Air Burn Pit Registry Fail

Fifteen months ago, President Obama signed Public Law 112-260 into law. Section 201 of the law created a mandate for Veterans Affairs to create the Open Air Burn Pit Registry. The registry was to identify and monitor veterans exposed to toxic pollutants in those pits.

Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., are behind the renewed charge of VA’s failure. The two slammed VA leadership over VA’s failure in a strongly worded letter to Secretary Eric Shinseki last week. Ironically, the practice of Congress sending letters to VA in admonishment have been equally as ineffective as any mandate from the President on veteran issues. No matter how strongly worded, these letters have a proven track record of failing to encourage VA to act. VA insiders have confirmed that they view Congress as little more than show ponies who trot veteran issues out whenever politically convenient.

Nonetheless, the letter called for VA to provide an accounting of the reasons for the delay and remaining benchmarks VA has set for completion of the registry.

In a separate communication, VA provided NextGov.com with an answer to the inquiry. “The registry launch has been postponed until spring 2014 to allow adequate time to develop and test the software and hardware as well as to ensure data security and accessibility.”

This statement rings about as hollow as the letter from the Senators. It is likely little more than a smoke screen for larger failures at the root of the delay. According to the Senators, “This delay is deeply concerning, particularly when similar registries exist within the United States government.” Since everyone knows VA is flatly failing at every major turn in its ability to care for veterans of the modern war, little more than a full reform of the agency will likely inspire timely change.

Like many programs, such as the new GI Bill website, VA acts like it must reinvent the wheel for every project rather than merely building upon what already works. VA probably rushed out and spent millions on yet another defunct contractor whose best efforts will prove to be as big a failure as the ACA launch last October.

VA still denies the long term affects of exposure to burn pits on its website, citing an Institute of Medicine report from 2011. While the report confirms some degree of reduced lung function, it claims that no long-term impacts were sufficiently proven:

The report found inadequate or insufficient evidence of a relation between exposure to combustion products and cancer, respiratory diseases, circulatory diseases, neurological diseases, and adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes.

Source NextGov.com

https://www.nextgov.com/defense/2014/03/va-fails-set-registry-troops-exposed-burn-pits/81007/

 

VA Counselor fired for intimate relations with veteran client

One VA social worker was fired in Roseburg, Oregon, after admitting to allegations she had a sexual relationship with one of her clients, in 2011.

Jamie Carlson, 32, surrendered her license after admitting to the inappropriate behavior. She is now barred from practicing social work for three years and is fined $15,000 for having violated various ethics rules in Oregon.

According to the Washington Times:

Carlson admitted she had an intimate relationship with a man who attended 19 group sessions she led at the VA between 2007 and 2011 for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She told investigators the relationship began in 2011, after the last session he attended.

Carlson said the man twice asked her to marry him, but she turned him down.

State ethics rules forbid social workers from entering into a relationship with a client within three years of counseling.

The VA barred Carlson from counseling patients as it investigated her case between August 2012 and November 2013, when her dismissal was made final. During that time, Carlson remained on the payroll and collected her $65,000 annual salary.

Source: Washington Times

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/22/roseburg-va-counselor-admits-to-sex-with-client/

 

Oklahoma bill to provide free treatment for TBI veterans

Lawmakers in the OK state have recently passed a bill in the State Senate to help veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) with a free unique treatment. The bill is Oklahoma Senate Bill 1604.

The unique treatment is free Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Some medical experts have considered the procedure very effective in treating victims with traumatic brain injuries.

“And when we put a patient in the chamber we basically create a high-enriched oxygen state and the high enriched oxygen state has multiple wound healing benefits,” said Dr. Aryan Kadivar, Medical Director for Southwestern Medical Wound Center.

Many patients treated with the procedure experience dramatic improvements in their conditions. According to the news report, some patients even gain their cognitive and social skills back after ten to forty treatments.

I am personally thinking of making a trip down to sunny Oklahoma should the bill become law to check out the procedure for myself.

Bill 1604 now awaits a vote in the State’s House of Representatives.

Source: KSWO.com

https://www.kswo.com/story/25031961/senate-bill-aims-to-help-veterans-with-traumatic-brain-injury

 

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3 Comments

  1. I was diagnosed with Constrictive Bronchiolitis (by a lung biopsy) in 2008 while still on AD, by a civilian provider the DoD sent me to. Then confirmed again by 2 more civilian pulmonologists since getting out in 09.

    The VA has steadfastly refused to acknowledge this and has even refused to treat my lung condition (stating that they would not do so until my PTSD was “cured”). My lung function when I got home was at 73% by the VA testing. It is now down to 27% and I have been turned down for a lung transplant – because the disease was chemically induced and they cannot be sure if it will reoccur in the new lungs since the chemicals are in my body.

    I am rated by the VA at 100% but only 30% for my lungs – (rated as “Asthma”) because of their steadfast denial of care. In spite of specific instruction by the SECVA on April 26, 2010 in the “Environmental Training Letter” issued to all Regional Offices. (Have a copy if anyone wants it).

    My team met with Congressman Bishop in November and told him this story. He did not believe me at first. Until I sent him copies of the letters back and forth between me and the Director of James A. Haley VAMC on my complaint about the refusal of care. We also sent him the VA Training Letter in December 2013.

    This disease MUST be added to the Schedule, the protocol to determine lung conditions must be changed to not solely rely on Pulmonary Function Tests and the Regional Offices must be ORDERED to comply with properly rating those like myself.

    My husband and I founded an organization whose sole purpose is to overhaul the VA because of the widespread dysfunction which consistently results in a denial of benefits and services to veterans who have rightfully earned them.

    Forgot to mention that the Navy refused to grant me service connection or rate me for my lungs. Even at 73% lung function then and on 3 heavy duty meds for the lungs, they did not find them “unfitting” for duty.

    They found my hands having partial amputations on both to be “unfitting” (I would think so!) but not Combat Related – even though they were destroyed from driving a HMMVE on over 350 missions! Yeh…Go Navy…

    Very respectfully,

    “One Family, One Fight”

    YN1 Lauren Price USN, (Ret.)
    Founder and Public Affairs Representative
    VeteranWarriors
    727.247.8141
    [email protected]

    https://veteranwarriors1.com/

    Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VeteranWarriors1

    Petition – https://www.change.org/petitions/the-department-of-veterans-affairs-overhaul-the-claims-processing-create-mandatory-claims-deadlines?utm_campaign=share_button_mobile&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

  2. I think Shinstinky and co. are a huge failure. This is not the first time the VA wagged it’s ass at Congress and any mandates signed by President. It is a common occurrence and the VA is never punished in any way. The letter from the Senators simply “urges” an answer on why the Burn Pit Registry wasn’t established. The VA knows damn well they can prolong anything, wait for a letter down the road, and prolong some more before they do a half-assed job that doesn’t work. You have to ask yourselves – who are the stupid ones – the Senators, the public or the VA? I don’t think “urging” is enough at this point. The letters have to be more forceful and state consequences loud and clear. But then again, Shinstinky can always go to his Hawaiian buddy O’Bama and work out of it.

  3. I have been so surprised at the things the doctor’s (and I use the term lightly) at the VA in Martinez, California and the coward leader of the Concord Vet Center who is a mere puppet of the devil get away with violating Title 38 of the code of Federal Regulation and even when reported when even’s occurred nothing was ever done…I lost my job because of a doctor Richardson who told me ” you have no right’s!” I just acquired medical records from 1986 to 1990 and the “perjury” that both my supervisor at Chevron U.S.A. by the name of Don Culbertson lied up the ass as did the supposedly doctors at the VA in Martinez, California. I believe they all must have had a circle jerk instead of telling the truth but, in the end I was the one to get screwed. Wounded with a penetrating head wound by shrapnel and a bullet in my side while working on wounded men May 14th, 1967. Treated like crap like most all veterans I know…elected private health care I have to pay for but, I don’t mind because with the Veterans Administration Medical I may have already died! FTVA!

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