MMQB: DisabledVeterans.org Founder Speaks Out Against Dept. Of Veterans Affairs

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DisabledVeterans.org Founder

Benjamin KrauseWhen will America wake up to the reality that the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA), at its core, is little more than an expensive insurance company? That was the topic of my most recent interview in Lawyers and Settlements, a leading resource for attorneys across the country.

This is a message I have worked hard to get across to the American public – that VA is an insurance company that really exists for itself and to reduce the cost of war for DoD.

Last week, one reader asked me what I do beyond merely publishing stories about VA foibles on my website. This reader said I should spend more time highlighting the work I am doing behind the scenes. So I thought I would take the opportunity to explain what I do in this Monday Morning Quarterback for Veterans (MMQB) by highlighting how my research is making its way into the media to influence decisionmakers and veterans, alike.

Hi and welcome to another edition of MMQB. I am your host, Benjamin Krause, creator of the premier online veteran resource, DisabledVeterans.org.

The focus of this MMQB will be to highlight how the nation is waking up to the plight of veterans. We at DisabledVeterans.org are doing our part, and this article will give insight into that fight.

Here is what we will cover here today

  • DisabledVeterans.org in the media
  • Work with Congress
  • Future research topics

 

DisabledVeterans.org founder in the media

Over the past two months, I have spent a lot of time working with other journalists, Congress and attorneys to help expose crimes being committed against veterans when I am not writing.

Interviewing can take up a substantial amount of time depending on the topic and medium, be it TV, radio or print. Lately, I have done radio and print interviews. Here is a recent list of current journalists from across the political spectrum followed by excerpts:

  • Brenda Craig – Lawyers and Settlements
  • Michelle Malkin – Syndicated Columnist, Fox News, etc.
  • Tavis Smiley – NPR, PRI
  • John Hudson – Foreign Policy Magazine
  • Ruben Rosario – Pioneer Press

 

1. Veterans’ Attorney Advocate Sees New Class-Action Legal Battlegrounds for Wounded Warriors – Lawyers and Settlements

Journalist Brenda Craig conducted the interview for Lawyers and Settlements last week and published the article this past Saturday. She was very interested in my commentary on VA being an insurance company for DoD.

Attorney Benjamin Krause is a powerful voice for former soldiers who often find themselves fighting against the Veterans Administration (VA), an organization they expect to be their ally.

“I would say the VA has never been honest and straightforward in terms of compensating veterans without a fight,” says Krause, who is himself a veteran and former member of the US Air Force.

“The VA has been around for about 100 years,” says Krause. “And it always fights claims tooth and nail because it is ultimately an insurance company,” he adds.

“It used to be called the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, but they changed the name in the 1920s,” says Krause. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, no matter what it is called, the VA adjudicated claims like an insurance company.”

Mismanagement, corruption, medical malpractice and delays in access to treatment that have led to reports of as many as 1,000 premature deaths have brought the VA front and center again.

“It would be shocking,” says Krause of the recent allegations, “if it wasn’t so familiar.”

[Read the Lawyers and Settlements interview here]

 

2. Exclusive: Inside the VA’s spin-‘n-stonewall machine – Real Clear Politics

Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin covered my research on this issue. I have researched how VA uses propaganda techniques for about a year. After hearing about my findings, Malkin called for an interview on this and VA’s patient flag scandal. Malkin’s coverage is significant because her writings are broadcast across many websites rather than just one.

In a string of internal email documents I obtained from last fall, several VA press staffers spent seven months dragging their feet on a Freedom of Information Act request filed in March 2013 by disabled vet and attorney Benjamin Krause. He and other vets wanted to know how exactly the VA’s communications budget was being spent on public relations campaigns, advertisements, online publications and contracts.

VA spokesman Mark Ballesteros warned his colleagues in an October 2013 email that he had read Krause’s veterans advocacy website, DisabledVeterans.org. As I reported last week, Krause’s investigative site exposed and explained the VA’s red-flag system for dissatisfied veterans and also blew the whistle on Federal Protective Service officers harassing sick veterans protesting shoddy care in San Diego.

Ballesteros wrote that Krause’s website “appears to have a distinct anti-VA tone.” He advised the VA’s taxpayer-funded public affairs specialists: “We should proceed cautiously with this one.”

What exactly did that mean? Ultimately, the office supplied data in response to Krause’s request — but not before Ballesteros imposed what appears to be a selective, pre-FOIA release policy based on viewpoint discrimination. “Let’s ensure the material is socialized before we provide it to the organization,” Ballesteros told his colleagues.

[Read more about the VA Propaganda System here]

 

3. Exposed: How the VA red-flags “disruptive” vets – Columbia Tribune

Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin covered my research VA’s patient flag scheme. My law firm is focusing on problems veterans have in obtaining health care due to this apparently unconstitutional program. Like the “socialize” article above, this was broadcast across many websites. Columbia Tribune was the most recent publisher to pick it up.

Imagine how much better off America’s veterans would be if the federal government spent more time delivering actual care and less time compiling tyrannical lists. The death-inducing, secret waiting lists for patients are just the tip of the iceberg.

Did you know, for example, that the VA keeps a database on “disgruntled” and “disruptive” vets that results in arbitrarily restricted care?

Disabled Air Force veteran and veterans advocate/attorney Benjamin Krause has been raising questions about the system for months and warning his peers. Under the VA policy on “patient record flags” (PRFs), federal bureaucrats can classify vets as “threats” based on assessments of their “difficult,” “annoying” and “non-compliant” behavior.

[Read more about VA Patient Flags here]

 

4. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Scandal – Public Radio International

TV and radio personality Tavis Smiley interviewed me on his show that gets broadcast across the country through Public Radio International on NPR and related radio stations.

The scandal that led to the resignation of Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs was back in the news this week with the release of a devastating internal audit on the scope of mismanagement at VA medical centers. Attorney and journalist Benjamin Krause, founder of disabledveterans.org, joins us to offer his perspective.

[Listen to the Tavis Smiley Interview here]

 

5. It Gets Worse: Latest Bad News for VA Shows Scandal Nowhere Near Over – Foreign Policy Magazine

Journalist John Hudson picked up a clip from my Monday Morning Quarterback where I hammered President Obama for his selection of already scandal prone leaders to run VA back out of this current scandal plagued administration.

Obama “will need to address the apparent and embarrassing incompetence of his staff regarding its inability to properly vet candidates in [a] timely manner,” Benjamin Krause wrote in a blog post on the DisabledVeterans.org website on Monday, June 9. “The second, and most difficult, is that he will need to address the fact that being an executive at VA is a very unpopular career choice in the middle of a major scandal.”

[Read more in the Foreign Policy Article here]

 

6. Ruben Rosario: Veteran has fought the VA, but he’d rather help fix it – Pioneer Press

Columnist Ruben Rosario at Pioneer Press here in St. Paul, MN asked me some questions about the current VA scandals. He wanted to get a nonpartisan take on the issue and wrote a great article about the issues. He and I previously talked when he interviewed me about my work at Veterans For Common Sense when we sued VA over bad mental health care policies, in 2012.

One of them is Benjamin Krause of St. Paul. The Wisconsin native, lawyer, investigative journalist and U.S. Air Force veteran lives and breathes veterans disability and benefit issues. He operates an online nonprofit — disabledveterans.org — and writes a blog that provides fellow veterans with news stories and benefits advice. He uses the site, as he explains it, to help veterans become more knowledgeable and better advocates for their own health care “as opposed to encouraging dependence on a system.”

Krause describes himself as not only a military veteran but a veteran of what he calls the “Veteran Wars.”

It took him 10 years of battling inertia, red tape and the “deny, deny and defend” attitude before the VA granted him a 100 percent disability rating for a traumatic brain injury and related conditions.

[Read more from Ruben Rosario here]

 

Current research topics

I am currently researching scandals in Pennsylvania and Illinois where veterans were harmed by poor choices of mental health care providers. VA’s mental health care system is a mess. I just received an insider’s report on mental health care across the country. My goal is to create a database of issues veterans face when seeking VA health care and VA benefits.

Stay informed on VA news, scandals and benefits. Get our daily newsletter via email.

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9 Comments

  1. There is only one branch of the government that’s been consistant, now for over five yrs., in helping us Veterans, long ignored or denied issues by those served, as well as Military personal and their Families, the Executive Branch and it’s Cabinet!! They don’t control the Countries purse strings and the VA is the Responsibility of the Country Served, Poser Patriots!!

    “We are dealing with veterans, not procedures—with their problems, not ours.” —General Omar Bradley, First Administrator of the Veterans Administration

    Ahhh yes, it’s just so easy to, Peoples Representatives, Rubber Stamp, wealth enhancing through investments, War Costs that are all borrowed, no offsets mentioned, on our credit with interest payments and in these recent two kept off the Countries books till Executive Administrations changed!! Then use same, Political Poser Patriotic Theater, for the decades of ‘scandals’ created by ignoring the Veterans of who served in and the issues from and doing patch work on which create more ‘scandals’ to use, including making sure the agency stays years behind the technology advances causing extremely costly problems that are then obstructed in fixing!

    Meanwhile, DeJa- Vu all over again, the Veterans Bill sits in the House going no where!! They got the Gen. “Mission Accomplished” , their, problem solved!!!

    ‘Congress Scrambling to Lower Cost of Bill to Fix Veterans’ Health Care’

    “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

    Poser Patriots, the 99% Served, especially conservative ideology, like it that way, been so for decades and wars from continuing the stand for them flag waving patriotic free wars, Afghanistan and Iraq still not paid for, and ignoring the results from. Decades of under funding, while ignoring many issues, the peoples responsibility the VA. Still grossly under funded, two tax cuts with these wars, in just recent history as Shinseki, with help from the entire Executive Branch, sought to bring it into the 21st century and as the people served promised from beginning, budget still mostly borrowed!!

    Sen. Bernie Sanders told Conservatives: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, than don’t go war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.” February, 26th, 2014

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  2. And Who Says Politics Doesn’t Play From Within the Agencies to the Branches
    Especially to the Legislative to keep the costs, or create costly ‘scandals’, way down in the VA.

    Oh and they got Bonuses too!!

    Prior too this present Executive and Veterans administrations:

    October 23, 2008 – And now VA investigators are trying to figure out if this one-time survey points to the likelihood that documents have been improperly destroyed for months or even years.

    “Whatever this problem is, it didn’t just start in the last two weeks,” said Dave Autry, a spokesman for Disabled American Veterans. “It’d be unreasonable to assume that. Who knows what’s been destroyed.”

    The documents, which didn’t have duplicates at the VA, would have been critical in deciding veteran pension and disability claims. As a result, many veterans are asking whether their delayed or denied claims were affected by lost paperwork. read more>>>

    Oct 16, 2008 – VA claims found in piles to be shredded

    October 24, 2008 – House panel will target VA shredding

    February 11, 2009 – Veterans’ Claims Found in Shredder Bins

    ProPublica and The Seattle Times Nov. 9, 2012 – Lost to History: Missing War Records Complicate Benefit Claims by Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans
    “DeLara’s case is part of a much larger problem that has plagued the U.S. military since the 1990 Gulf War: a failure to create and maintain the types of field records that have documented American conflicts since the Revolutionary War.”

    Army Says War Records Gap Is Real, Launches Recovery Effort

    The War On Military Records

    12/10/2013 – The era of big data has arrived on the battlefield and we need to find new ways to deal with it.
    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  3. I THINK WE NEED TO FIND SOME OF THE “POSITIVE” POINTS IN A VERY “NEGATIVE” SYSTEM AND BY IMPROVING ON THEM, WE MIGHT ERADICATE THE NEGATIVES.
    NOTHING CAN EXIST AS 100% NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE, BECAUSE THAT WOULD MAKE IT “PERFECT” AND WE ALL KNOW BETTER THAN THAT. SO KEEP A VIGILANT EYE OUT FOR THOSE THINGS THAT ARE “RIGHT” ABOUT THE VA NAD LET US IMPROVE ON THEM. IF WE SPEND ALL OUR TIME MAKING “LEMONADE”, SOON WE BECOME INFECTED.

    • I think you missed the point. VA spends millions to propagate the positive stories across media. I am not part of that payroll. The problem is that the agency tried to cover up the negative stories and veterans were killed. Here, we try to get out the truth because we are a “veteran-friendly” website that could care less about the feelings of VA insiders and their cronies.

  4. Nice website redesign, Ben! Much, much better than your old one. Has a better UX design to it.

    The only advice I would give to you would be to place a permanent scroll-to-top-button on the lower right side of the view-port and above the fold. This way I can reread your article faster after analyzing the posted comments. 🙂

  5. Ummm. dude. you are confusing the liberal Democrat-lite Republican Party straight-line ballot voters for conservatives.

    There is nary a conservative today in this country that would identify with the anti-veteran Republican or Democrat agenda.

    Conservatives ARE ALWAYS pro-veteran, mainly because so many of us are veterans ourselves.

    In fact, when was the last time a conservative was in office? Ahem.

    The liberal Republican and Democrat political leadership makes sure pro-veteran conservatives are marginalized every election cycle. (See what happened to Ron Paul)

    If you understand politics like I do, you would divorce your emotional blindness for facts, and realize that the true patriots in America are typically conservatives, because they are the ones that pledge rational obedience to the U.S. Constitution when they take the military oath and then pledge their allegiance to the Flag as citizens.

    And when they receive their Honorable Discharge papers, these conservative American citizens then continue supporting Ol’ Glory, the U.S. Constitution, and full benefits for disabled veterans.

    However, the way your man Obama is going with erasing our national borders, you might as well pledge your fealty to Los Estados de Undidos Criminales.

    BTW, Sanders also downplayed the veterans who die at the VA by comparing the “200,000-400,000 people a year (that) die in American hospitals” because of medical mistakes.

    Finally, Sanders had the audacity to proudly exclaim, ““the VA holds up as good or better than private hospitals. By and large, veterans throughout America believe that they’re getting pretty good health care.”

    Unfortunately for you, Ben always proves my point almost every day in his well-researched articles about how bad the VA is, under either a liberal Democrat or liberal Republican President.

    Put a conservative President in office and veterans will be revered once again for the sacrifices they make every time they solemnly swear that they will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic (including illegal invaders).

    So the political defense of our country against liberalism and the illegal invaders starts with voting out these corrupt, anti-veteran, pro-war, and anti-American politicians, like Bush and Obama.

  6. Like this?

    http://www.eeoc.gov/decisions/0120113591.txt

    “He wrote that the Savannah clinic did not have sufficient administrative and medical staff to handle the patient workload. He stated that while there was no psychiatrist available, management wanted him to schedule fictitious appointments for one, and refused to allow him to put patients on a wait list that could not be seen within 30 days. He wrote that that while there was an Agency mandatory electronic waitlist policy, management did not want people on the list, and when he created one got very upset. He stated that in Directors meetings in October and December 2005, which are attended by department chiefs and supervisors, he was blamed for the supervisors not getting bonuses because he would not make dishonest mental health appointments. In a September 2008 pre-hearing statement on compensatory damages, Complainant wrote that the biggest stress placed on him from August 20004 to April 2007 was his superiors trying to force him to accept a no wait list policy and make false patient wait time reports.”

  7. There are to many people working for the v.a. that know nothing about what veterans are really going through and do not care. There are so many veterans that are out of work, we need to have veterans that care of veterans, they have all the skills needed to care for each other. Non veterans only care about themselfs and their bonus for lieing. call it veterans for veterans

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