Senator Calls Out Veterans Affairs Secretary For Agency Touting Falsified Data

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Veterans Affairs Secretary

Benjamin KrauseSenator Richard Burr (R-NC) gave Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan a verbal slap over Under Secretary Allison Hickey’s embarrassing testimony and resultant data falsification contained in a VA press release the very next day.

Yesterday’s Senate hearing, The State of VA Health Care, focused on testimony from Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson and longstanding problems Veterans Benefits Administration has covered up in recent years. It took an unusual but prudent turn when Senator Bernie Sanders let questioning by the committee shift focus to irresponsible testimony and press releases coming from Under Secretary Hickey’s Veterans Benefits Administration days earlier.

Senator Burr hammered, “How smart was that press release? Did you sign off on that press release? … How can [VA OIG] refute the numbers and then the next day have VA come out and tout them?” To these questions, Gibson repeated a bunch of quick positive VA stats followed by repeatedly stammering, “I got it.”

How can Veterans Affairs win back the trust of veterans when senior VA executives tout and promote falsified data?

In case you missed it, Monday’s House Committee hearing confirmed for many Americans that the Veterans Benefits Administration has likely falsified its success numbers on tackling the disability compensation backlog. VA OIG’s Linda Halliday told Congress she did not think the numbers could be trusted. Whistleblowers also repeated similar disbelief in VA statistics touting success.

Meanwhile, Under Secretary Hickey proceeded to provide data during her delusional testimony that ignored the crisis and the likelihood that the data was falsified. She basically bragged up VA for its great job in tackling the backlog despite knowing the numbers were likely fudged.

It was like watching a small child beg her parents for chore allowance for cleaning her room after everyone verified TO HER that her room was in fact not clean. Still, the next day, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs blasted out a brazen press release that touted the same falsified and clearly unreliable numbers exposed during the hearing. This kind of act can only be taken to be an intentional attempt to mislead the American public.

Is VA so out of touch that its leaders now believe their own untruths? I think the answer is “no”. No one alive can drink that much cool-aid, but they repeat the mantra anyway.

Read It: VBA Data and Accuracy Actions Final

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23 Comments

  1. It is like peeling back the layers of an onion. They are still on the surface. After fact finding com
    es the real work.
    Or, maybe not if the repairs are only token in nature.

  2. There is only one thing of importance in this faux hearing, that was rehearsed in secret session prior to filming. Namely, note how Senator Burr sneaks in the “in some cases veterans were overpaid, and taxpayers are due back that money”. He said this because Gibson forgot his lines, so Burr had to say it for him. This factor of an alleged significant problem of overpayments is going to continue to be beaten to death as it has been for the past couple of weeks. Why didn’t Burr stop Gibson when Gibson claimed that the backlog is down by 350,000 claims and jam the hell out of him on that BS? Because the mission of this hearing was to continue to build up the alleged overpayment story which sets the foundation to go after vets in other ways. F these sneaky shits! Burr, shut up and ask the right questions instead of playing softball with this Gibson prick like you did, especially at the end. Or, stop the lies midstream like you should!

    • I agree. Also, why did it take them over 5 years to grant me my service connection. I was in VN in 69 and got that Agent Orange all over me several times. Then after 8 years while on active duty I cam down with Type II diabetes. I had gotten out and joined the National Guards. I was on active duty in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. They put me out of the NG on a medical discharge after we came back. Then the VA told me that I was in the NG and wasn’t allowed to have a Service Connected Disability. I kept appealing their decision and finally after more than 5 years later they gave me a 60% disability with only $23,000.00 back pay. They said that since I had worked up until 1999 I wasn’t allowed back pay before 1999. After 9 more years the paid me another $13,000.00. Still fighting.

      • Wes, I am really and truly sorry you are suffering all this after all of your honorable service to our country during Viet Nam and then Desert Shield on the NG flim-flam excuses. If its any consolation, I have been on appeal since 2004 after getting only 60% as well. Won my appeal at the CAVC on my prior valid PTSD claim in October 2012 and remanded to BVA who merely remanded to VARO St. Petersburg/Bay Pines, FL. Got jammed there again with a flim-flam denial of PTSD and went back up on appeal to BVA who then remanded again for failure to fulfill the BVA remand order, and now I’m on appeal again to CAVC to fight the corrupt BVA judge, Michelle Kane, who I had accused of Misconduct. Her game here is to keep me on the remand merry-go-round to effect her retaliation against me. Due to my complaints against her, she did lose her position as one of the chief BVA judges. BTW, there are no veterans who are judges or lawyers at BVA. Its a club for the privileged sons, daughters, relatives and friends of the politically-connected in the Washington, DC and East Coast legal communities. Read: lawyers whose kids couldn’t hack it the real private sector legal world.

        The VA-VBA is nothing more than the Insurance defense outfit for DoD, and engage in the exact same tactics that private sector insurance defense lawyers use to defeat valid claims by clients. The BVA judges and VA lawyers simply carry on where the VAROs and BVA judges left off. That’s why Willy Gunn, the VA General Counsel just recently cleaned out his desk and resigned. He knew if he stayed he would get roasted by the House VA Committee. So much for civil rights when guys like Willy Gunn get on up into the house. Its only about their civil rights and no one else’s.

  3. Elmer, you are correct, the VA does rehearse it’s “PUBLIC RESPONSES”. They do not want the PC to get too far out of their control. You can not rely on the HEAD crook to turn on his/her crew.

  4. I think that the Senate should be worrying about how to fix all of this instead of trying to find out who did it. I’m a veteran who is waiting on the results, Fix it and then find out who did it. They are as bad as the people who did it.

    • I see your point, but the hearings are necessary to find out who the Big Fat LIARS are at VA so when the new VA bill finally passes and allows the VA secretary to fire dishonest and nonperforming executive staff we all will know by them who they are. And if they are not fired, then we can raise further outcry that they stop getting paychecks after engaging in such outright criminal behavior and fraud.

  5. Boy howdy. I guess it’s a good thing Congress is headed into adjournment soon so all this can blow over. It’s getting pretty heated up on the Hill. Pretty soon they’ll discover this has been going on at all VAMCs and VAROs for aeons. Perish the thought. Glasnost, anyone?

    • Very good point. Apparently these VA officials cannot understand that they are covered head-to-foot from the tidal wave of vomit from the national outrage over this utterly horrifying scandal that resulted not only in the untimely deaths of thousands of veterans, but also certainly serious medical complications and aggravation of existing disabilities and medical conditions needing treatment that was outrightly denied or delayed. I was shocked that Hickey SHAMELESSLY sent out her press release the very next day after the hearings that simply repeated the LIES she got exposed telling during the committee hearing. The VA-OIG, Linda Halliday flatly stated that she neither believed nor could trust and of the backlog data that Hickey had signed off on.

  6. The sad but undeniable truth in this story is that the undersecretary for VBA, Allison Hickey, did make some major improvements in the computerization of the benefits review and rating process, BUT then she lied about the backlog statistics to make her accomplishments seem much larger than they really were. In bare essence she Lied to inflate the success of her work.

    This reveals a clear failure of leadership and Hickey’s own lack of ethics and blatant immorality. I say this since she clearly has no conscience over the suffering veterans endured by not getting the compensation ratings they were owed under the US Government’s contract obligations to them. I have to wonder if her love of her bi-weekly paycheck of $6600, or $165,000 per year has more to do with lying on such a grand scale . I doubt anyone who lives on that kind of money has the slightest clue what the lives of impoverished veterans are like. And her brazen arrogance during her testimony shows it..

    I have communicated directly with Ms. Hickey via her official VA email address and even her personal Gmail address requesting corrective action by her for the gross violations of her VA regional office VBA staff in denying my compensation for PTSD — even after Judge Bartley at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims granted my appeal and spotlighted my PTSD diagnosis from April 2003. Case No. 10-597 (CAVC). However, I never got so much as an acknowledgement of my contacts with Hickey or from anyone on her VBA staff, even after calling her at her home phone number in Virginia.

    What all of this reveals to me is that Allison Hickey has very little ethics and morals, if any at all, to say nothing of her typical arrogance which has been seen in several past House VA committee hearings. Rep. Bob Filner quite boldly reamed Hickey’s butt when she came before him touting her “provisional award” policy in early 2013. Filner lambasted Hickey for showing up for the hearing without any written plan detailing exactly what this policy would do, who would benefit by it, and how long it would last. The answer to the last item is that Hickey herself nixed the provisional award policy or program just six months after it began in April 2013. And she further lied in the hearing with Filner claiming she sent the committee staff a copy, which was dispelled when Filner asked a committee clerk if she had. The clerk quickly answered Filner that nothing had been received. What executive would show up at a corporate board meeting without bringing along their own personal copy of “the plan?” Hickey didn’t even have that with her either. Filner at that point told the committee members Hickey’s proposal was “a bunch of bologna.” Indeed, and Hickey was the chief sausage-maker.

    The policy was supposed to grant all veterans with fully developed claims or evidence in their claims file a minimum provisional award of one full years payments for whatever their rating would be. But the reason that it was stopped so soon was that the alleged 12,000 provisional awards granted were causing a major drain on the compensation Budget and threatened to break the bank. So the reason it was stopped had nothing to do with the claims backlog, but more so since the VA would simply run out of money to pay other claims if it continued. The simple conclusion is that it was nothing more than a grandstanding public relations ploy than a genuine effort to reduce the backlog and relieve the financial suffering of thousands of veterans.

    You have to believe these VA officials or support staff that work for Hickey did some basic math when this policy or pilot program was created to see just how far it could go before encroaching on the VBA’s overall compensation budget and requiring them to stop it before other serious complications occurred. As Senator Burr noted in this hearing, the VBA budget is the lion’s share of the entire VA budget and easily eclipses the Veterans Health Administration budget by far.

    So what is the final conclusion? Just more monstrous, hideous lies to manipulate the opinions of the general public and veterans themselves, like me, who were awaiting compensation on their pending or remanded claims. And that Allison Hickey is a shameless LIAR — who goes to sleep each night without the slightest real concern for how veterans continue to suffer as a result of her own LIES.

    • When you see him before (Under oath/ On Record)The Senators, Gibson is very calm and cool. BUT After in a Press conference He goes “Nuts” It`s like he has a split personality, He Blast a guy/ Reporter for “mentioning Bonuses ” He Say`s Everybody wants to Fire Everyone Block their Bonuses… We have 160,000 GOOD people that deserve being rewarded for their hard, Caring, Dedicated Work. (Not Quoted Exactly) But He flies off the handle defending Bonuses. You can see the RAGE in his eyes. Like he is a different person. MONEY Sets these Execs off. Can`t give up my Bonus “I`ve been looking at a better Boat….. I NEED Stuff… Lot`s of Stuff… Gibson Is NO DIFFERENT FROM ANY OF THE REST, WE`ve Had 5-7 New V.A. Sec. Sense 9-11 We ALWAYS GET THE SAME GUY BASICALLY. You have to get them off the tree, The Barrel is rotten.

      • Curtis, if you can, please let me know when you saw this press conference with Gibson where he made these remarks. It would be very helpful for the work that Ben and me are doing to spotlight these corruption issues in the VA. Please let me know & hope you signed up for notification of follow-up comments

      • Sure, BTW Thank you for your work (Glad “You” Found me) & Yes I have got you guy`s plugged in. 100%
        I saw a Fox & Friends Vid. and Another one along the same time.on Youtube Both was recorded about a month ago.
        “Fox & Friends/Acting Sec. Gibson Loses his cool” (And Another one),..
        “WNCN Investigates/ Acting Secretary Defends System” (This one was a better show)
        Not sure but, This (Is) Two different sound bites from Different Press Releases, As he`s wearing Different Ties.
        But, It was something to hear……. Hope this helps, Thanks Again, Curt. Cotton

  7. While they Talk, We Suffer. If “EVERYBODY” Is for helping the Nation`s Vets Why do we have to Die to get their attention. I think it`s a Talking point or a way for the Lawmakers to beat their Chest and say” I`m For Helping OUR VETERANS” It`s A SHAME, They Deserve Better!! It`s Talk, That`s all. Nothing is getting done, Nothing WILL BE DONE, IF ALL OF THEM WANT IT WHAT`S THE DAMN HOLDUP? Where`s OBAMA`S PHONE & PEN? or does he just use it to break the LAW and Disregard the Constitution? You can Call it Anything But, I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN S%$# & SHINOLA. And This AIN`T SHOE POLISH! …Can I Get an AMEN?

  8. Wow! Sure glad somebody whom can do something is watching. At least we hope he can and will do what is needed. It was typical only after all the untruth more money was requested / made known as needed for their supposed “as so far” successes.

  9. I saw the Senate Hearings on CSPAN. What I thought was interesting is how the Senator also pointed out to the Secretary his concerns were not only about the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) but also the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). He did point out that point out too as being a part of his job description. I loved the fact that he stated there should be some type of cohesiveness between them because Veteran’s were getting denied eligibility from VBA to access VHA benefits.

    • You may find this hard to believe but, I Called the Veterans line in D.C. or Va. and asked a question about Something that my V.A. Doctor told me. He said that “V.A. Doctors that are contracted to the V.A. such as Clinics That they are “Banned” from sending ANY Medical evidence to assist a Veteran in a V.A. Claim” I could`nt believe what He said.SO, I called the National line and (HERE`S THE BEST PART) The guy I was talking to Admitted this! He said “Yes, That`s true” I was Recording the call, Because you ask ONE Rep a question and The same Question to another and you will get TWO different answers. So I started Recording my calls to the V.A. Claims office. I Have it recorded!! So, Being the “investigator” I call the Washington Post. I Wrote my Congressman Randy Neubauer Tx. (R) I Told EVERYONE that would listen, And to date there has been nothing. Nothing said. No Denial AM I the ONLY Veteran that DID`NT KNOW THIS?
      I ONLY see V.A. Dr`s And have for over 43 years. THESE V.A. Contracted Doctors can`t send my info to the Pension Mgt. People. This thing they say on the application for a claim,
      ” or,TELL us where we can get the Info we need and We`ll get it for you” THIS IS A LIE.
      I Called The Patient Advocate at my V.A. Hospital. HE Says” They are`nt going to dig up a reason to Pay You” I am Wheelchair bound, Live Alone,Can`t pay someone to cut my lawn, or Clean my house, Handle my Meds, etc. I`M STUCK HERE.
      I CAN`T GET “Home-bound or Aid & Attendance” Because They say they have`nt got the Necessary paperwork Showing I Qualify. WHAT?? I filed this Claim November 2012. My V.A. Specialist says “Yes, You`ll get A&A No problem, I can put in for that” THAT WAS LAST AUGUST. A Year soon, Nothing. I`m almost ready to call it a day, Give up. Surrender. That`s exactly what they want at the Claim`s office. I`m staying in this fight Because I Have no choice, AND, BASICALLY, JUST TO PISS THEM OFF.!!!

      • Curtis Cotton: I was really upset and angry to hear you are wheelchair bound and going through this. I don’t know what part of the country you are in, but please consider calling your local news media, FOX is the best place to start, and tell them what is going on. I’m struggling on just 60% and been fighting on appeal for my 100% for PTSD since 2004, even though there is a valid PTSD diagnosis in my VA records from April 2003. My prayers are with you Curtis. Keep your spirits up and don’t give up. My cell phone is: 352. 461. 9200 if you need to call and talk to someone. Be sure to pray yourself and ask God to help you. He will for sure. My faith in God is the only thing that has kept me alive for the past 10 years now.

        The VA has become a criminal organization that pretends to be a benevolent healthcare and disability benefit system. As Ben and me have finally realized, VA is just the insurance defense outfit for the DoD, and all the VA lawyers & BVA judges are the thugs they use to raise phony claims against us to defeat our claims.

        Keep your spirits up and try calling one of the bigger Baptist churches in your area to ask for some help. You don’t have to be member attending each week to get help from them. Also call the Catholic church in your neighborhood and ask them to put you in touch with their St. Vincent DePaul Society staff for any help you need. The SVDP society is very good and responds to help veterans. They have helped me here twice without any hesitation or questions. They are really dedicated Christian people.

      • Thank you Lawrence, It helps to know Someone cares. Don`t worry, I am also a Christian, I will not sacrifice my soul By Giving up. Or I would have long ago. That is what I meant when I said “I`m stuck here.” It is Frustrating tho, But, They`ll NEVER get that. They can`t HAVE that.
        As you know.yourself,I`m sure.
        Things WILL change “Some day’ If not for me, Maybe the Veterans that WILL follow me will have it a lot better. I`ll be happy for them even if I am no longer in the fight. I`m old so, I doubt this will happen in my time. The Veterans behind me Will see to it that this will change. They Deserve Better and won`t take this.
        Thank you Lawrence, Keep up the great work Brother. This cause is worth fighting for..

      • Thank you Lawrence, I printed your post. I may have to seek help from other sources as the V.A. is like (To use the punchline of an old joke) “Like Shooting Pool with a Rope”. I get angry also. The thing is There are Thousands of Veterans In MUCH worse Shape than me. I can`t walk, But, I count my Blessings, I can See, Use my hands, Hear, Feed Myself, Don`t have to wear a Diaper. or Tied to an Oxygen bottle, And I could go on and on. I`m ok, And, Compared to some I`m doing Great!!
        I still have my Pride, It really bothers me to ask, It PAINS me to Beg. These people THAT WORK FOR US.That make a hundred seventy five thousand Dollars a year taking Bonuses, While we Die,
        I can`t understand how they can look themselves in the Face when they shave. Their only concern is how they can skim off the top. Taking money, OUR MONEY, That most Veterans never see in a lifetime.
        Gone from a Proud strong Member of the Greatest Military on earth, To a Homeless Drunken Vagabond or Cripple, Begging for food and a place to sleep, Because OUR Country would rather send Billions to other Countries that Hate and Despise us, And Burn our Flag. How can this be?
        Don`t get me wrong, I don`t think the world owes me a living because I served in the Military, I am Blessed I survived. But, I do believe, We as a Country Should Help our Sick, Cripple and “Damaged by War” Veterans. WE DID OUR JOBS. OUR Political Leadership “Riding the Gravy Train”
        I Always Thought things would change, For 43 years Well, it HAS a little BUT, It`s FAR from the V.A. I Think We SHOULD have.The “WHOLE” V.A. Healthcare And ALL our Benefits.
        Until they start thinking about the Veterans as HUMAN BEINGS, IT WILL NEVER CHANGE..
        TALK & Numbers, That IS THE V.A (And their Famous MATH)
        Thank you Lawrence, For checking up on me, I AM very grateful. I am also grateful for your and Ben`s hard dedicated work, Please, Keep it going. We Need a Voice, God Bless you my friend.
        Curt Cotton

      • A comprehensive Quality Process Review is in order here and now. What in the world are we doing, better yet what are we not doing? The government needs to catch up on these processes that work against what is in the interest of Quality of Management and Effective control

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