MMQB: Are All VA Town Hall Meetings A Sick Joke?

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VA Town Hall Meeting

Benjamin KrauseMinneapolis VA officials made jokes despite the severity of numerous scandals plaguing VA nationally and locally during its VA town hall meeting. This twisted mindset that fails to accept responsibility for harming vets could not be more evident than in the selection of questions from veterans to the panel of Minneapolis VA Health Center officials.

The moderator began to chuckle as he read the first question with a misplaced childlike flutter in his voice, “Why are the prices so high in the [VA chow hall]?” VA staff and nonveterans alike chuckled at the kid like question while harmed and sick veterans stood by and waited for their opportunity to be heard.

So I am going to come out and ask the question that many Americans and veterans are wondering. Are all VA town hall meetings a sick joke? Do veterans seem like clowns and fools to VA staff? We already know they think all vets are muppets like on Sesame Street.

We will answer this question during this edition of Monday Morning Quarterback for Veterans.

Hi, I am your host, Benjamin Krause, creator of the community and website called DisabledVeterans.org. This is the number one place for no-nonsense coverage of VA scandals and crimes across the country along with benefits information.

Today, I decided to take some time to explain what I think is going on behind the magic show that is the whole VA Town Hall / “listening sessions” being conducted across the country after attending the Minneapolis VA Town Hall here.

Here is what we will cover today:

  • My impression of VA Town Hall meetings
  • Summary of Minneapolis VA Town Hall
  • Media coverage of Minneapolis VA Session

 

MY IMPRESSION OF VA TOWN HALL MEETINGS

KMSP-TV

Robert McDonald is gradually winning over the hearts and minds of the American public by encouraging more interaction between VA staff and veterans. One way he has encouraged greater interaction is by mandating VA town hall meetings across the country.

At first the idea sounded good until reports surfaced that local VA facilities were spending more on advertising for other things than on ads to inform veterans that a VA town hall was about to commence. Few veterans know when they are being held.

The press always seemed to know but veterans across the country fail to show up due to a lack of information as to the schedule. Dates tend to only be spread by word of mouth. This begs the question: Why does the press find this stuff out while veterans are kept in the dark?

Assuming the truth of my observation, that the press is intended to show up while veterans remain largely uninformed and fail to go, then the answer seems obvious. The VA town hall meetings are a media ploy with two goals.

First, they are intended to show the American public that VA cares and VA is doing something about it with Robert McDonald at the helm. Second, low veteran turn out does portray a message – that not too many veterans were really harmed and thus care enough to show up at a VA town hall meeting.

[see example: low turnout in Nashville]

Therefore, with ample coverage that the Department of Veterans Affairs is hard at work, America is free to go back to sleep and enter yet another war in the same Middle East region – a war which will create more disabled veterans. But this time, as the subconscious argument goes, Mr. McDonald will be able to stem the tide of corruption and scandal in a way Shinseki did not.

What do you think of the VA town hall meetings you have been to? Is the media portraying them as useful or as bitch sessions? Do veterans know about them and show up?

I believe many veterans who were harmed and would be interested in going fail to attend because they are not informed. This lack of attendance gives VA a great PR moment with local press without the angry voices of harmed veterans. Win-Win.

My position on these VA town hall meetings fits with the media manipulation that surfaced last week. There, VA OIG reportedly allowed VA Central to change the verbiage in its final report on the Phoenix VA deaths.

[READ ABOUT VA OIG MANIPULATION HERE]

The Washington Examiner exposed that VA not only manipulated the language of the final report not only with the hope of twisting media sound bytes, but that it also used an illogical investigation scheme that would never find wrongdoing.

At the center of this is the VA claim that no wait time caused the death, which seems to make sense since waiting for care will rarely causes the death of a person suffering from a bullet wound or pneumonia or cancer. The condition will cause the death – cancer kills; waiting years for a colon exam does not kill you, it just speeds up your death. Yet, no right-minded medical investigator would ever use such a scheme when investigating a death because it shifts the blame away from rightfully guilty parties.

Let’s recap.

VA has a narrative theme it is broadcasting to the American public. VA is sorry that it abused veterans. VA is sorry that veterans may have died but there is no conclusive proof that waiting for health care killed anyone. The American public has seen this theme repeated through sound bytes following the release of the manipulated VA OIG report. And, finally, this narrative theme is then repeated by low turn out at VA town hall meetings where ample VA managers are onsite to help all veterans needing assistance or information. But veterans do not show up or they merely complain like Oscar the Grouch.

In the media, claims that VA abused veterans appear overblown. America rests easy knowing it provides the best and most timely health care to veterans imaginable [sic]. America goes back to sleep and we send the next generation of our brave sons and daughters off to fight in another trumped up war with no end in sight.

Iconic writer Hunter S. Thompson saw the signs lining up all too conveniently following the 9/11 attack when he commented, “We are At War now – with somebody – and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.”

Could deadly and dangerous health care at VA be a part of this never ending cog in the “At War” wheel Thompson talked about? Could greater outcry encourage more accountability that discourages frivolous wars in the future?

There is no doubt that Veterans Affairs are a fundamental piece of America’s war fighting machine. Looking back to the passage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act in 1944, § 693 reads:

“The Veterans’ Administration is declared to be an essential war agency and entitled to priority equal to the highest granted any department or agency of the Government in personnel, service, space, equipment, supplies, and material under any laws, Executive orders, and regulations pertaining to priorities.” (emphasis added) Veterans Benefits, West Publishing Co, 1946

Do you think veterans truly get the treatment such an essential agency would warrant in light of this former perception of VA as a priority?

Let’s talk about what happened at this “essential war agency” located in Minneapolis VA Town Hall and others.

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MINNEAPOLIS VA TOWN HALL

“Why are the prices so high in the [VA chow hall]?” served as the icebreaker question to a room concerned about veterans abuses and a recent scandal involving fraudulent records practices. That question set the tone and switched concern to anger for many attendees.

To give perspective, two weeks ago, reports surfaces that two VA employees came forward with scathing reports that Minneapolis VA health care supervision had ordered falsification of records, secret wait lists, and more. Those on site expected talk about that scandal and not some ridiculous question about chow hall prices.

Here is the overview of how it went down.

The Minneapolis VA Town Hall meeting kicked off with around 200 people in a room. Before the start, the VA moderator called everyone to attention and led a half-hearted, insincere pledge of allegiance.

You could feel the lack of sincerity as the speaker strained through the words, making the event kick off with an artificial flavor. It made me feel like I was back in basic training or some sporting event to help us all fall in line for a great performance [sic].

Two VA executives from VISN 23 and Minneapolis VA spoke for the first 20-30 minutes, which left only 30 minutes for veterans to ask questions by note card or on the microphone during the first round. In a typical VA spin move, both leaders talked about how great VA is doing in managing its huge patient load and how well it is managing taxpayer dollars. They threw out numbers without comparisons with private sector, which left me concerned that the example was merely a ploy to make the agency sound huge and to diminish the size of the scandal and those veterans who were harmed.

The second round focused on benefits, which was much less eventful. Half of the room emptied out.

Back to the health care portion.

VISN-23 head Janet Murphy said, “We probably have some work to do to regain the trust and confidence of veterans and our stakeholders.” Probably? Do you live on Mars?

Hell yes VA has to regain trust and confidence of veterans and America after knowingly breaching that trust for over a decade leading up to the scandal that all insiders knew was about to burst. Keep in mind, VA knew the wait list scandal was an issue back to 2001 at least if not earlier.

Minneapolis VA health care director Pat Kelly repeatedly said veterans and the public need to be patient with VA while it makes adjustments after the scandal was exposed. “Please be patient, stand by us and support us while we make necessary changes.”

Put a different way, Kelly might as well have said, “Please stand by and support us while we abuse and possibly kill you to save a buck.” Or, “Will you support our abuse with your lack of action and outrage?” Or, “Will you turn your head and ignore that we will not punish the evil doers?”

Once veterans took the floor, some of the media immediately started to leave the room. For those that remained, they were witnesses to countless veterans voicing concerns over failures to provide care and verbal abuses of many veterans, including minorities.

One Marine veteran, Levi Jones, hammered VA executives with the following:

“The VA should be ashamed. You’ve been bullying me for so many years.”

“You don’t have a 5-star facility up here, you have a one-star and let me tell you, if you had a 5-star facility providing quality and consistent care you wouldn’t have a room full of people here.”

“Why does it take somebody with a claim to go on Fox News and 9 days later miraculously their back claim shows up and they are taken care of? Why does that have to happen?”

“If we want resources we’re heading out in the community because the VA is not providing them.”

“By far, this is the worst VA I’ve attended.”

“The senior leadership of the VA is here for show. My own experience, as I relayed in the meeting, was that they are inefficient. They are untrained to provide quality health care at this time.”

This kind of claim was the norm in addition to other statements that questioned local VA spending on building beautification instead of functional MRI machines that work.

In the end, I am not convinced veterans got their points across.

A defiant Pat Kelly later told reporters that he did not suspect the veterans voicing concerns were the norm, in an apparent attempt to diminish the importance of what was stated. “I don’t think that is the generally-experiences phenomenon amongst our veterans.”

 

MEDIA COVERAGE OF MINNEAPOLIS VA TOWN HALL

The big deal relates to how local media interpreted the town hall meeting and what they relayed to readers and viewers.

Overall, reporters varied the number of veterans at the VA town hall meeting:

I would say there were around 200 attendees since there is no way any person could know who was in attendance as a veteran versus a VA employee or the press. Plus, if you use a bigger number, it sounds like the town hall meeting was more important than otherwise.

So I am concerned that the other two sources (ABC and Star Trib) included the actual number of veterans since there is no way of knowing how many were actually there. Why not just report the number of people in the room?

Nonetheless, coverage overall slanted the issues relating to scandal in a way seemed to avoid the more severe issues such as fraudulent record keeping and secret wait lists. Instead, some of the reports and news footage, particularly ABC, took on a tone that the veterans voicing concerns were mere complainers and in the vast minority. This kind of position supports VA’s proposition that the complaining veterans were in the minority.

And the Minneapolis VA Town Hall meeting was not the only one perceived as a gripe session. At places like Columbia, South Carolina, local media flatly said the session turned into a gripe session, Columbia VA town hall meeting turns into claims gripe session. Any reporter has the ability to choose words wisely. Here, the author selected “gripe” instead of “voiced concerns” in much the same way ABC selected “75-100 veterans” instead of “200 attendees.”

Let us not forget the story where VA trained its employees to not think critique or honestly about veterans’ concerns. Instead, VA employees were training to reclassify our concerns as mere “perceptions of problems”.  Instead of taking us seriously, they believe veterans are muppets who complain and should be laughed at like Oscar the Grouch by literally comparing us to Oscar in training materials.

This begs the question, are veterans really muppets? Or, are we heroes who were willing to at one point hand over a blank check to Uncle Sam for a price up to and including our lives?

Nothing can be more plainly concluded – that veterans are muppets – in light of the very first question out of the shoot about chow hall prices instead of dead veterans. How appalling and insulting in light of the scandals?

That kind of question was inappropriate and sick since it was selected with the intention to lighten the mood despite the deadly serious nature of the VA town hall meeting on the heals of a huge fraud scandal.

In the end, VA gets to look like it cares, veterans’ real concerns are diminished, and America can go back to sleep because all good muppets, er I mean veterans, are being well cared for [sic]. VA staff thinks veterans are foolish clowns who will just go along for the ride except for a few loudmouth complainers.

What have you experienced at your VA town hall meeting? Was it useful or did you come away wondering what the whole procedure was all about? Did VA employees crack any inappropriate jokes at the beginning of the question and answer session?

Read More:

http://kstp.com/news/stories/S3559784.shtml?cat=1

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/274962251.html

http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/26515834/veterans-have-a-voice-at-minneapolis-va-town-hall-meeting

 

 

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16 Comments

  1. AS I HAVE SAID OVER AND OVER … AND OVER AGAIN, HAVING THE “CROOKS” INVESTIGATE THEMSELVES WILL NOT BRING ABOUT OR FOSTER “TRUE” CHANGES. LET THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY BEING “MISLED, LIED TO, ETC.”, BE ALLOWED TO TAKE THE VA TO A COURT THAT DOES NOT GET IT’S AUTHORITY FROM THE GOVT.
    I AM SURE THERE ARE QUITE A FEW ex-JAG, OR MILITARY VETS WHO HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO JUDGE “IMPARTIALLY. TRUE JUSTICE CAN ONLY BE REALIZED WHEN THE PEOPLE ARE GIVEN LEGAL RECOURSE THROUGH “CIVILLIAN” SYSTEM. THIS MAY ALSO GUARD AGAINST FUTURE MISREPRESENTATIONS.

  2. Hello, in some cases the only way for employees to tell the truth is to put them in front of a judge and reminded they are under oath and can be held in contempt if they are found out they are not telling the truth. Federal Authorities I believe have the authorization to request a polygraph test on federal employees. There has to be jail time for those employees that harm the veteran, thats the only way the rest of the employees know that they can and will be punished for their misdeeds. I am having a very big problem with my local v.a., reporting that I had been disruptive on many ocassions at least twice a month. Even though I had never been disruptive, they could not provide any proof that I ever been disruptive. I spoke with a retired v.a. employee, who told me he know that I was set up and other v.a. employees know that I was set up by higher management at my local v.a. outpatient clinic. Many laws were broken Slander, libel, using the color of law, hearsay, conflict of interest, vicarious lability. In the words Justice Louis Brandeis offers a view: Decency, security and liberty alike demand that Government officials shall be subject to the rulesof conduct that are commands to the citizen. We are a government of laws, existence of government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrulously. Our government is the potent, OMNI present teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious, if the Government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law and it invites Anarchy (united states vs Olmstead 277 us. The Supreme court held that, Government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct “does not violate clearly established Statutory or Constitional rights of which a Reasonable person would have known 16 indat 818, 102 sect 2738 see also Robinson vs V.A. 821 f2d, 920 (cd cir 1987). The doctrine “is not” however a license for lawless conduct and its purpose is to force officials to hesitate in situations where they should have known that certain conduct will violate clearly established statutory or Constituational rights. In my case (my opinion) there were many laws broken to consist of Dafamation of character, Defamation, civil due process, Procedural due process, Confrontational clause (related to Hearsay evidence), civil liberties, bill of rights, 1st Amendment, 5th Amendment, fourteen Amendment and Clause 39 of Magnacarta, Corercion, Intemidation, color of law, 1346 Amendment 5 rights of person. Fear Mongering, abuse of power, fabricating evidence, bully in the work place, Coercion ( a criminal offense), Conflict of interest, Official oppression and lynching, the term is derived from the vigilante justice and self-fulfilling prophecy.

  3. David Shelton I happen to work at the Indianapolis VAMC. Known as Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Medical Center. Some Town Hall meetings in my experience are very serious business, and others seem to be a place where employees can have a voice to the establishment mainly the Director of the facility, I assure you, There is no laughter, it’s seriousness business about what we all do at this facility. We serve our Nations Veterans, with Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence – defines our culture and strengthens our dedication to those we serve. These are our Core Values. I am also a Veteran/Patient, Disabled person who is still serving my fellow Vets Proudly! There is problems with all health care in America, There is usually individuals behind any trouble, so Please Don’t summarily judge the individuals who like myself are making a positive difference One Veteran At A Time!

    • Hello David, Thank you for your service and thank you for being there for our fellow veterans and I bet you do a grea job. I am also a former v.a. employee and a disabled veteran, I do not know where you work Administration ect. But if you have been there a long time, I am sure that you have seen or heard about someone, doing something to a veteran who speaks their mind. I worked 24 years in Administration and during my employement, I had made reference to an employees performance, that employee was not a veteran and she did not like me saying anything about her performance. They shut down the v.a. where we worked Hospial and this effected me greatly and my P.D.S.D. kicked in and I had to take a medical retirement and after I became service connected for the P.T.S.D., The V.A. opened a clinic in my home town and the V.A. hired the person as head Administrator of the clinic, the same person that I made comments about her performance and she took it upon herself to contact the main office and tell them that I had been disruptive on numerious ocassion and the V.A, believed her and punished me, without one shread of evidence that showed that I had ever, ever been disruptive at any time or place. And it is still going on with threats of jail and banishment. You are a veteran, so I know you care, as we know what they have been through. Yes there are many V.A, employees, who are outstanding. But David you have to admit that there are also a lot of bad apples, who are not veterans and could care less about them and those people that harm veterans, need to be held acountable for their actions, Not just a slap on the wrist, but real jail time. I am one that would love to see the Whole V.A. run by veterans. As I put it Veterans for Veterans. So many veterans homeless, Drug dependent and other conditions, Clean them all up, train them and then hire them. What a great dream. Only one way to fix the problem, Fire those that are beleiving that the V.A. is their own personnel play ground and their own facility and you better not cross them or they will come after you, in one way or the other. I am living proof. Inecent until proven guilty, really. (NOT) They are Gods. (NOT). God bless you and your family and keep you eyes open and one day you will see what I am speaking about.

  4. I recently participated in the Helena, Montana, Town Hall Meeting, via sending my questions in by email. I could not be present as I was undergoing a Stress Test at the Heart Institute late that afternoon. So I prepared a short list of four or five key questions, and mailed them to the individual who had solicited them on behalf of the Montana VHA.
    I never received any form of acknowledgment that they had received my email, or signification that any of my questions had been chosen to be read into the proceedings. My questions were ALL about the legitimacy of the so-called Disruptive Behavior Committees, and how they disrespect veterans by denying them due process and cloaking adjudications behind a shield of anonymity. Their avowed role is to restrict access to health care & treatment, and they are routinely used to retaliate against veterans who are frustrated or disappointed with the way they are being handled. My questions led off with a hard ball: how many of the veterans who died awaiting care had had their medical records flagged PRF or otherwise by their DBC? My summary recommendation was as always: open up this process, make it transparent, and provide any veteran who stands accused due process so they may defend themselves in a proper hearing atmosphere.

    Since no one recontacted me to even acknowledge receipt of my questions for the Town Hall Meeting, I am of course decidedly skeptical that any of my questions were presented to this august gathering. These sideshows are superficial P.R. ploys, and not to be taken seriously.

    Bitterroot Valley Veteran

    • Please, write to the I.G. or congressman, ect. This committee must be disbanded, the committee does not do any fact finding at all, they rely on hearsay and if an employee, does not like you for what ever reason, they will and can tell the committee anything and they will believe it and distroy your life. The other sad thing is when you try and fight the matter or a senator or the V.F.W., makes an inquary, the V.A. refers them back to the same person, who said you did something wrong and they let them answer the inquiry themself, of course they are not going to admit they just wanted to get back at you. Its called the Fox watching the hen house and the V.A. lets them get away with it, without doing any investigation at all, nor will they offer you any recourse. This person is still working and is laughing at me, the senators office and the V.F.W. and you and other veterans. This is not just happening in one clinic or facility its all over america. If someone with legal expertise they would find that the committee is disallowing veterans of their civil and constitutional rights, and due process. Its a civil rights matter and good luck finding a lawyer, they only want money making claims. I got tired of all this and started writing to the I.G., who has not responded, the senators office, V.F.W. and what ever the V.A. wants to tell them, its good enough for them and case closed. You are left blowing in the wind. Oh well its just another veteran, they will go away now. Continue. Sorry about the spelling have a T.B.I. shot in the head. Oh well, who cares.

      • James,

        Don’t worry about your spelling, I understand you fine. I have written all those “authorities”, to no avail of course. I wouldn’t expect anything less. I happen to believe in the premise of the book: ‘Non-Violence Protects the State’. Let us never forget for a minute that the VHA were placing their greed, i.e., their “incentive bonuses”, before the health and welfare of we veterans. Then to add insult to injury (literally!), they even acted to sweep the resultant deaths under the rug, and destroy records so as not to reveal their black lists and so-called secret waiting lists. They disrespected us all for their own self-serving, petty little aspirations. And trust me, I don’t expect them to change one iota. Be strong, brother…and thanks for your reply.

  5. Good feedback about the Minn. Town Meeting last Friday. I was hoping you would attend and comment on what they are like. I think these events are very important since this is how McDonald & Co. will get some info, somehow, on what’s bugging us. If you ask me, I think he should just sign up to your forum – disabledveterans.org – and really get an infusion of reality and of the many problems and failures of the VA when we all try to get something done there.
    Nobody shows up (veterans) because hardly anyone knows when they are being held – but also because most of us are fed up with the VA and we know the bs we can expect at these meetings. We are busy doing other things we have to do in our lives to make these meetings a priority, especially when they announce them only a few days or so prior. I read that the officials at the hospitals are crying that their budgets to send everyone invitations (and get them to us in a timely mannor) just won’t allow it. It’s always something with them. All of them.
    It’s impossible to speculate on how all this will be assessed by McDonald & Co.in the months to come, and there is no comments by him about these meetings on the web.
    To me, correction of the VA is much more than the headline issues of April about vets dying because of scheduling malipulations. It’s about everything from their phone system
    communications, worth-nothing advocates (shills), travel reimbursements and travel heads who don’t want to spend money because they are rewarded a bonus when they don’t spend, the dental services, and thousands of more issues that come from “the belly of the beast”.
    In the meantime we read about these stupid town hall meetings and they are tight lipped about what changes the VA will really make as we go along here. I will questionably say this… I think McDonald wants to prove himself to be of some help in his position there, and I really hope he is. But cleaning out all the crap that makes up the VAHS? I can’t imagine how that will be done. Kudos to him and his people if I see things change as we go along.

    • I agree with you about many of the points you raise concerning veteran’s services administered through the V.A. I completely disagree with you about having any faith in the corporatist they’ve positioned at the helm. In fact, IMHO one of the problems with the toxic culture of the V.A. is that it has become modeled after the corporate structure. “Performance bonuses” is a prime example of where that leads. These monetary incentives have no business in a federal bureaucracy designed to provide services to America’s veterans. Appointing a corporatist C.E.O. is not a step in the right direction in my book. Now let’s watch what happens?

      • I don’t have any faith in all of it. However “Bob” is in and you and I are not. We will all have to see what happens. Right now they are doing the “town hall meeting” bullshit and I don’t feel that it is fruitfull at all. What’s next? We’ll see – we’ll whatch what happens!

  6. 09/17/2014

    Good Work,

    I am finding out who really gives a damn in this Nation, very few!

    I will be on my Sixth book in October [May, June, July, August, September] and I have gone to the authorities like the Media suggested —-with Snowden. I had personally handed the first Four (4) books to VA Secretary Bob McDonald, when he was here in Phoenix; Governor Brewer of Arizona, and my old friend from the Sabotage of the C-17 in Long Beach, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, has been sitting quietly on the First Book.

    05/29/2014, ” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams asked Snowden, “When the president and others have made the point that you should have gone through channels, become a whistleblower and not pursued the route you did, what’s your response?”

    “I actually did go through channels and that is documented,” Snowden answered. “The NSA has records. They have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities.”

    “Now, I had raised these complaints not just officially in writing through email to these offices and these individuals but to my supervisors, to my colleagues in more than one office,” Snowden added. He said he had gone through channels at Fort Meade and in Hawaii.

    Snowden claimed, “Many, many of these individuals were shocked by these programs. They had never seen themselves, and the ones who had went, you know, you’re right. These are things that are really concerning. These aren’t things that we should be doing. Maybe we’re going too far here, but if you say something about this they’re going to destroy you. Do you know what happens to people who stand up and talk about this?”

    Williams asked for specifics. “What did you report? What was the response?”

    “I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities and the response more or less, in bureaucratic language, was you should stop asking questions,” Snowden responded.”

    Keep pushing!!!

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  7. The vast majority of American’s have never served in the Armed Forces. Even of those who have served, only a minority of vet’s need the services provided by the VA. Of the vets who do need the services, the majority “don’t get it” and ask silly questions when given a chance to voice their concerns – or the questions are ‘planted’ by staff of the VA and made to look like they are coming from legitimate vets to “prove to the public” that vet’s have only silly concerns and are overall happy with the services provided.

    The VA scandal has been an embarrassment to the President. Even his own cheer leading mainstream press has been forced to put in a few articles condemning the sloppy and criminally dishonest practices of the VA that have resulted in murder by deceit. That lasted for about a week and nothing since. They understand the public has a short memory, particularly when what is reported on doesn’t concern them.

    Now that the President has spoken and provided his buddies – the mainstream press cheerleaders – with sound bites on how he would fix the problems at the VA, the Town Hall meetings are there to show that when the President speaks everyone at the VA jumps and ‘all is well.’

    While the President, members of Congress, the press and the public really could care less about what goes on at the VA, parents and gullible 18 year old’s do want to think that our country will never put our military in harms way, and if any are hurt or disabled by their service, they will be taken care of by a grateful and caring nation and VA. The President and Congress need them to believe this. Otherwise the government may not be able to fill the ranks as our never-ending series of wars continue all around the world unabated and seemingly with no end in sight.

    The only ones who have a chance of actually changing the VA for the better are veterans. There is no united leadership among us. We’re used to taking orders from the person in charge. Who is in charge of organizing the vets? No one. Ben is as close to this person as anyone can be. We need to get the word out to all former military and support each other to force the change that is so desperately needed.

    Thanks, Ben, for the update. It sure didn’t come from Obama’s cheerleaders who are responsible for keeping the American public informed.

  8. The VA is a horrible waste of time. I have been desperate to get their help and resources and the only response I get is silence. If I make enough fuss I am given a form to fill out and submit, which I never get a reply to until I call them several times. At that point I am either told I must continue to wait or am directed to meet someone from the VA at the office, who will give me another form to fill out and told to wait.

    I have heard of others having a smooth process with the VA, while others do not. The types of issues those who get a smooth ride seem to be those whose injuries are obvious and visual, things the VA cannot dismiss or deny out of hand. These the VA must take care of or risk visable proof of how little they care.

    For the rest of us, I can only come to the conclusion the VA is making a safe bet we will die long before they can be forced to address our issues. Either a vet with PTSD not getting the care he needs/deserves will become just another who takes his own life (saving the VA from having to provide any care), or a vet with a medical issue that is not plainly obvious, allowing the VA to ignore it in hopes it will run its course and allow the much less expensive to the VA words of condolences to the dead vets family.

    The VA puts on a good front, but after years and years of waiting for them I am just about done. You win VA, I am tired of trying.

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