MMQB: Rep. Bruce Braley AWOL At 75% Of Veterans Affairs Hearings, Runs For Senate

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Bruce Braley

Benjamin KrauseAfter an unforgivable dereliction of duty, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) is finding out just how unpopular it is to shirk one’s responsibilities to veterans.

While serving on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Mr. Braley skipped a staggering 75 percent of its hearings in 2011-2012. Now, he wants to run for Senate.

Concerned Veterans for America now pledged to spend $2.4 million against Braley to hold him accountable for missing an alarming number of hearings.

Should Braley’s AWOL be rewarded by Iowa voters with a promotion to Senate? Or, is Braley’s dereliction overshadowed by some other amazing legislative accomplishment?

We will get into this and more during this edition of Monday Morning Quarterback for Veterans. I am your host, Benjamin Krause, creator of DisabledVeterans.org. This is where we hit on relevant topics pressing right now to give readers a quick update on numerous topics.

Here is what we will touch on today:

  • Does Bruce Braley + Dereliction of Duty = Senate seat?
  • Gainesville FL VA health care linked to 40 veteran deaths or injuries
  • VA reports 70% jump in “adverse events” from 2010 to 2013
  • VA chief claims Phoenix VA is improving

 

Does Bruce Braley + Dereliction of Duty = Senate seat?

In the run up to some of the most pressing scandals in VA history, Congressman Bruce Braley was AWOL during 75 percent of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearings from 2011-2012.

Some major issues during this time that come to mind were:

  • The growing Disability Backlog
  • Misspending of IT budget
  • Broken GI Bill software system
  • Build up to health care wait list scandal
  • And more…

Now, he wants Iowa voters to repay his dereliction of duty by electing him to the Senate. Should they?

[Read full attendance report from Des Moines Register]

Bruce Braley’s camp is caught in up in a shoot out with Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) over the AWOL issue. CVA grabbed onto the AWOL issue after the Des Moines Register reported the 75 percent number last week. Now, CVA has dedicated $2.4 million to railroad Braley’s campaign through various advertising highlighting the narrow but important issue of dereliction of duty.

In response, the Braley campaign has labeled CVA as a Koch brothers front group that is “misleading Iowans on Bruce Braley’s long record of delivering results for Iowa’s veterans.” Apparently his campaign places little value on showing up for work.

The Braley campaign claims Bruce Braley has placed Iowa veterans issues number one on his list of priorities. Yet, when he had an opportunity to make a difference on the most pivotal committee that can impact veterans benefits in Congress, Rep. Braley was AWOL.

Nonetheless, it is possible that Mr. Braley missed three fourths of those Veterans Affairs hearings because he was helping veterans directly in some way that is equally as important (though I doubt it since little is as vital to veterans as those hearings).

However, I am disappointed by his use of a logical fallacy (ad hominem) to discount the viable claim by CVA. The accuracy and truth of the organization’s claim, that he missed three quarters of the hearings, is valid and important regardless of who paid for the advertisement that highlights his dereliction.

On a bigger picture, if elected, what kind of message would this send other politicians who shirk their responsibilities to America and to veterans? These committees are damn important.

Is CVA wrong in spending money to railroad Braley’s campaign? Does Koch funding diminish the importance of the message?

These are all important questions we need to ask this election cycle.

Read More: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/elections/2014/07/25/conservative-veterans-for-america-tv/13171707/

 

Gainesville, Florida VA health care linked to 40 veteran deaths or injuries

A report obtained by NBC revealed that the number of adverse events at the Gainesville Florida VA Medical Center was the highest in the country with 40 reports since the last quarter of 2013.

Gainesville was followed by high numbers at Los Angeles VA Medical Center with 34. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania VA Medical Center was third with 28 adverse events.

By comparison, the San Diego Health Care Facility was linked to 6 adverse events.

Adverse events are events that result in either deaths or disability that is caused by VA actions. VHA Handbook 1004.08 contains standards for disclosure of adverse events to patients.

Read More: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Hundreds-of-Vets-Died-or-Injured-Under-VA-Care-Data-Shows-268677582.html

 

VA reports 74% jump in “adverse events” from 2010 to 2013

Hundreds of veterans were harmed by VA health care from 2010 to 2013 according to the same report given to NBC by VA referenced above.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, NBC reported:

575 [veterans] were affected by adverse events, up 74 percent from 330 in 2010.  The VA did not disclose details or individual outcomes.

Of course, VA has been known to manipulate the data it reports to news agencies and Congress, so it is likely that these numbers are also lower than the reality of VA misconduct, negligence, wrongful acts, and malpractice facing veterans on a daily basis.

According to one family, VA lied about he nature of their father’s death from Legionella disease. Initially, VA falsified reports to family members as to the cause of death of one 83-year-old Korean War veteran. Only later, following a Congressional inquiry, did the agency get a dose of honesty and admit that Legionella was the cause.

The Legionella was likely the result of human error at the Pittsburgh VA. CBS covered the story well where one wife of a victim complained and was discredited by VA in a typical character assassination campaign:

An internal memo shows a top doctor at the hospital knew that Legionella could potentially be in the hospital’s water system, and recommended the use of bottled water. Though staff members were told to test patients for Legionnaires’ disease if they exhibited certain symptoms, there is no evidence to suggest patients or their families were informed of management’s concerns about a potential outbreak. (Read the memo.)

An email dated September 30, 2011 shows hospital staff had received lab tests indicating that the hospital’s water system had tested positive for the lethal bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. John Ciarolla, a nursing home resident at the Pittsburgh VA, died in October of 2011, just one month after this email was written. His daughter, Maureen Ciarolla, told CBS News that hospital officials told her he had tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, but that he must have caught it while visiting her home. She says they even sent her a kit to test her water.

In a November 2012 memo, a VA employee wrote that the wife of “one of our probable [Legionnaires’] cases” who died at the Pittsburgh VA was “very disgruntled” and that a social worker should visit her and sample her water.

What will happen to those VA officials who knowingly lied to the family or harassed survivors? Will they ever be held accountable for their crimes and unprofessional behavior?

Or, will America through its Congress fail to pass laws to encourage honesty within this scandalous agency?

I have no doubt that some of the victims will be successful in suing VA for the negligence at play here. However, VA employees that lie to victims should also be held accountable by either VA or by the law, but will they?

Read More: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Hundreds-of-Vets-Died-or-Injured-Under-VA-Care-Data-Shows-268677582.html

 

VA chief claims Phoenix VA is improving

Last week, VA chief Sloan Gibson told Congress his agency was making improvements at the Phoenix VA following the interim report from VA OIG.

The report indicated troubling behaviors at managerial levels that included, “numerous allegations daily of mismanagement, inappropriate hiring decisions, sexual harassment and bullying behavior.”

While there is no doubt that Phoenix VA has done some things, there is no clear indication if the agency fired the criminals at the facility who were falsifying wait lists and committing fraud.

Nonetheless, Secretary Gibson claims he is optimistic. However, should this optimism be more aptly labeled “irrational exuberance” in absolute defiance of reality?

You tell me.

Read More: http://www.cvbugle.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=43265

 

Want VA reform? Challenge 38 USC § 511

So what do you think? Will VA turn around or do we need to lobby Congress to revise 38 USC § 511 to allow veterans to sue VA employees when they clearly break the law?

The statute reads:

(a) The Secretary shall decide all questions of law and fact necessary to a decision by the Secretary under a law that affects the provision of benefits by the Secretary to veterans or the dependents or survivors of veterans. Subject to subsection (b), the decision of the Secretary as to any such question shall be final and conclusive and may not be reviewed by any other official or by any court, whether by an action in the nature of mandamus or otherwise.
(b) The second sentence of subsection (a) does not apply to—

(1) matters subject to section 502 of this title;
(2) matters covered by sections 1975 and 1984 of this title;
(3) matters arising under chapter 37 of this title; and
(4) matters covered by chapter 72 of this title.

That statute serves as an almost absolute prohibition against suing VA employees while administering benefits, including health care benefits in certain circumstances.

While medical malpractice may be allowed in certain situations, other forms of legal remedies are tough to obtain for most veterans.

For veterans who want to “sue the VA”, you really need to read through this legal decision from the 9th Circuit that VA is sill hiding behind like the cowards they are. Read Veterans For Common Sense vs. Secretary Shinseki.

 

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9 Comments

  1. While this is an appaling # of absences, it only brings up more questions in my mind which includes but is not limited to: A.)What are the absence rates of everyone on that committee. Why review only 1 persons absence rate? I am implying: are there more than just him with this level or higher? B.)Does he have a response to this report? Was he or his wife having cancer/medical treatments or other reasonable excuse C.) Who are the CVA (Concerned Veterans of America)? My 42 years of being active in the veterans movement has never led me to hear of this organization. Anyone else heard of them? I am not dismissing them. Just saying: who are they and what do they do? Are they an advocacy agency, service agency, 501 (c) (3) organization to help/assist veterans? Have any veterans participated in one of their events or received assistance. No matter as the problem remains with this Congressman’s major absence issues.

    • Tom, You have some good points. I`ve never heard of them either.
      I do believe this “Absents” from Duty 75%, If true, Is something to consider with this one man`s attempt at a senate seat. Also, I agree that we should Know about ALL of them and Their “Day`s Off”.
      He WILL (If elected) have substantial power to be either “Good” or possibly “Destructive” by Even, Having a vote on Veterans Issues.
      If his record is any sign on how he truly views Veterans, And their Health & Livelihood, His VOTE could be a deadly Blow that could affect millions of Veterans.
      Again, IF TRUE, I`d avoid him like a landmine.
      We have no shortage of trip wires already in place. Like the Jungle, Things come out of nowhere. So you have to be on your game in order to survive.
      My father (Navy WWII, also Not Wounded or hurt) But, After the War He was a Coal Miner with (After Unionizing ) Had Great Ins. Benefits, Etc.
      He, Would and “Did”, See my going to the V.A. as like “Asking for a Handout” Like applying for Food Stamps. He along with Most WWII Vets have sense deceased. BUT,
      My point is, There are still A TRAIN LOAD of people (Old & Young) That still feel the same as “My Pop”, Some with “Clout” or “Big Medicine” in Washington.
      I`ve been in the V.A. Healthcare System for 43 yrs. I have an Interest in the V.A. and Who is there and Who votes on What, And How.
      When it`s all said & Done, If this guy was`nt on the Job, (His Duty) Even half as much as 3 out of 4 % of the “Roll Call” Then my vote is, NAY

      • booksbenji, Thanks for the link. Now I too have “Heard” of CVA. I also noticed you mentioned that they were only (2 years old), There are veterans support org`s springing up. That`s good, But in today`s world I`d be VERY cautious as to which of these I`d send any money to.. I think that was maybe “your” point also,
        Note:( NOT SAYING Anything Against the CVA)
        BUT, Nowadays, A Teenager can build a website. As Tom said above, Check out their 501 (c) Tax Exempt Stats. Etc. to find out what they actually DO FOR the Veterans. I`m sure you heard the Rumors of Vet org. Founders Paying themselves & Their Wife six figure plus, salary`s out of the funds they receive.
        I`m not saying they should get nothing for their efforts, But, if they pay themselves a HUGE % of the “Donations” They can`t be doing much to help the Vets. or The Disable Vet`s, Are their “Product”.
        Me, I do some checking, Before I`d write any Checks. THEY ARE OUT THERE.
        IN GROWING FORCE SO BE CAREFUL.
        Thank you booksbenji, For your post and Link to their Facebook page.

  2. Here is the solution to this whole thing: Ben, we need to band together and start doing some networking, to find just one elected Sheriff somewhere in America who will go to a VA hospital and arrest three incompetent doctors. At the same time on the clock, arrest three VA regional office staff members.

    Charge them with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, fraud, impersonating physicians that cause death on purpose, and about 5 other major felonies that they can choose at random but will surely fit. They go in in plain clothes, make the arrests quietly without warning, then drive the detainees away in unmarked cars. This way they will avoid a conflagration from VA police who would otherwise shield their “hit team” members from arrest.

    Now, for Barley: he will make a perfect Senator, a totally useless ass, no, worse than useless, a detriment, not just to veterans but to all of America. This makes him a shoe in. Hopefully not. And, on the “adverse events” at VA hospitals, you must understand that thousands of such events go totally unreported.

    For example, a vet at Mather VA Hospital in Sacramento, California, died while undergoing shoulder surgery, identical to the surgery that I was blocked from by VA incompetence, which is just as well as the VA would have either killed me on the operating table or maimed me even worse. The doctors and surgeons at Mather VA told me and my wife that there was a valid excuse for why the vet died in surgery.

    Here it is: He was a very strong, young, healthy vet who was unfortunately taking supplements, and that is what caused him to die. So, we are supposed to believe he bled to death or had a massive stroke during surgery because he was using a carbohydrate and protein shake, that is identical in ingredients to regular food, two or three times a week, which is what the VA specifically claimed.

    I was denied surgery after they had me wait over two years while I waited over a year to be scheduled for an MRI. Then they lost my MRI results and replaced them with another vet’s results after initially showing us the large clump of shorn shoulder and pectoralis major muscle in my chest on the MRI scan results. I could go on and on, but the VA in my case, in the vet’s case that they murdered due to total incompetent doctors who work for them, is totally pathetic.

    Will someone here, Ben Krause or anyone reading this, give me a good reason why this plan by using local sheriff’s will not work? It is on the basis that felonies are being committed under a cover of conspiracy, and that the county sheriff must intervene because federal police/VA police have failed to do so, are being intimidate threatened with job loss if they do. Can we get over the “I don’t like Bruce Wallace problem and work on this together?”

    That problem is very similar to the “I don’t like Jesse Ventura problem where he got in a bar fight a while back with some Special Forces operators over a bunch of trivial crap and now they are suing each other.” No one here sues anyone, tells anyone they have worthless ideas unless it is patently absurd what they are saying, and no matter what, we work together. Let’s get this going and get these arrests made. The legal principle is: “badly taken, soundly held”.

    That means even if it is a false arrest it can and still sticks because you put the detainees in secret location that is secret to the arresting officers, and no one gets released until they go to court under no-bail, and then they are only turned over to a state prison that will lock them up and throw away the key, because a federal prison sure won’t do a damn thing to help vets be protected to the ongoing slaughter we are facing on a daily basis.

    How about it Ben? Please start with, “I will take it under advisement and we can do some checking on how to get this going.”

    • Don’t know the legality of the sherrif arresting staff out right.

      But I will tell you what the sherrif told me after a doctor hurt me while in the hospital and the chief of staff yelled at me.in a threatening manner.

      The a sheriff’s office told me to call the fbi.as they would have a better chance of prosecution than they would. Since the assault happened on federal property. I did call the fbi.that was 10 years ago.nothing ever done.

  3. TO READ THESE ARTICLES IS VERY ” DEPRESSING, BUT TO THINK THAT THESE MANY PEOPLE ARE AWARE AND NOT A THING IS BEING DONE, WELL THAT TAKES THE CAKE.

  4. I have mentioned in here before.i watch cspan and every time.i may see about 10 people total.

    They wait their turn and complain about now things are going and sound upset.that’s fine. The problem is there is no one to hear it or join in on the subject.

    That shows me 90 percent of our elected officials don’t show up for 90 percent of meetings.

    To busy listening to special interest. Lobbying and lining their own pockets.I guess.

    You hear nothing about our elected officials doing anything for their citizens of the United state’s. What are they doing.just picking their ? nose.

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