Should Veterans Be Thankful For The Past Two Years?

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Benjamin Krause

Two years ago, I challenged politicians to meet the expectations and needs of disabled veterans across the country. Did they meet the challenge?

The testimony above is an example of what we did at Veterans For Common Sense during that time. I delivered our message to the Democratic Platform Committee in July 2012.

I told them if they want the veteran vote, then they need to take action. In light of the wait list scandal, related cover-ups, and delays in cleaning house, I do not think the committee listened.

As we approach Thanksgiving, it seems timely to review whether veterans have a lot to be thankful for as politicians across the aisle had yet another two years to meet our expectations.

My charge at the time was pretty simple. For any political party to consistently win the veteran vote, they would need to meet the following five expectations:

  1. Veterans expect new solutions that fit today’s realities. This means VA would need to use technology to help veterans learn about their benefits and manage their benefits.
  2. Veterans expect to be given new leaders within the bureaucracy of the VA. These new leaders will implement existing and future policy changes. Related to VA today, this would have meant not pushing off the wait list scandal for over a decade.
  3. Veterans expect improvements in how they receive and complete their educations. Education and vocational training programs administered by VA still struggle to ensure veterans obtain the maximum gain from benefits to further their educations.
  4. Veterans expect a grassroots voice in fixing the VA. This means veterans expect VA to not ignore us when we talk with you. We are customers. Not burdens. VA exists to serve veterans and not the other way around.
  5. Veterans expect opportunities for veteran-owned businesses to compete for VA contracts. Veterans want politicians to remember that nearly 10% of businesses are owned by veterans, generate over $1 trillion, and employ almost 6 million Americans.

Now that a new batch of lawmakers will grace Capitol Hill starting next year, it is important to make note of our gains and loses so that we always move the ball forward.

What do you think we should focus on these next two years as we approach Election 2016?

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I cannot see anything in the past two years that veterans should be thankful for. The only thing I saw was public disclosure of the waiting list scandal. Maybe as a veteran I should be thankful for the media coverage on that, but the media coverage on that has largely gone away now. I won’t be satisfied nor even thankful until I see VA placed under some type of Judicial scrutiny or authority by a Federal court order requiring the VA to straighten up its act! I suppose the day when I see U.S. Marshall’s walk into any VA facility and take administrators into custody, placing them in handcuffs, and carting them off to jail; then maybe I will feel vindicated by the harm that was done to me and thousands of other veterans. But I doubt that I would be thankful for that. A little vindicated? Yes!….. Thankful? No!

  2. I FEEL THAT WE HAVE A LOT TO BE THANKFUL FOR, UNFORTUNATELY THE VA HAS “NOTHING” TO DO WITH THAT. WE ARE FREE, ALIVE,OF SOUND MIND(MOST OF US), AND WITH ALL THE “SCANDAL”, WE ARE STILL IN THE GAME.
    I SERVED AN AWESOME GOD, AND HE HAS PROMISED THAT HE WILL FIGHT MY “BATTLES”, IT IS NICE TO BE ABLE TO RELY ON YOUR FELLOW MAN, BUT IT IS “MUCH MORE” ASSURING TO RELY ON THE CREATOR OF ALL THAT IS.
    THERE IS AN OLD ADAGE: “THE LORD GIVETH, AND THE LORD TAKETH AWAY”. GOOD TIMES ARE A-COMIN’.

  3. What I know to be truth is the moment these committees adjourn they forget about everything we Vets advocates propose they do to make our DVA [workmen’s comp] type system work under the SCOUS Feres Doctrine “second rationale” or “mandate”. Even with the scandal … only 1 VA employee fired to date? DVA corruption will begin with cleaning house at the DVA-IG and compelling DOJ to enforce the criminal prosecution provision of the IG Act …

  4. The VA will never change. On just visits since the new law has passed (and the hullabaloo over VA care is subsiding), I find little to be hopeful for, let alone thankful. They still cancel appointments and don’t let you know. Some of the clerical people think you are there to only provide them with a job. Organizational and operational policies are given no thought.

    There was just an IG investigation on employee satisfaction and issues at the VA I go to at Castle Point, NY.

    Among the range of complaints in the IG review are sexual harassment involving EMS, engineering, and fire department employees, tight quarters in its Poughkeepsie clinic, and lack of follow-up appointments in specialty clinics. Complaints in the survey, ranged from staff competency issues, employees getting sick from Legionella, mental health patients waiting long periods to be transferred, poor management and problems in urgent care. (By the way this VA has several ex-felons including sex offenders working in it).

    Oh, and these folks fudged appointments too. This VA has a new Director. She was transferred to Castle Point from the Wilkes-Barre VA. When she ran the Wilkes-Barre VA, I was a patient at that hospital and felt the care so poor, I moved so I could go to another VA. Now she is at this one and the word is she got the job because her husband is a big shot in the VA system. The employees also either don’t know her or don’t like her. It is very easy to get everyone from Doctors to clerks to talk about how bad things are at this VA. That is why I have switched most of my care over to private doctors even though I am 100% disabled.

  5. Given the measure that things can’t happen at a “blink-of-an-eye”, the fact that, now, after YEARS of rampant negligence, a VA Senior-Level Employee will “take a moment of pause” on the idea of “I can still jerk that Vet around and get away with it.”, for it’s no longer IF they can get caught, …it’s WHEN…

    When an Organization allows employees to consciously mistreat their customers, more often than less that Organization ceases to function, and eventually fades into obscurity; however, in the case of the VA, it was not only allowed to continue on that path, it was rewarded for the effort,
    in addition, those elite few that actually GAVE a DAMN to do the right thing were punished for not being a “team-player”?

    The long/short of the problem (IMHO) is you have “mental-health professionals” establishing policy on an individual’s Quality of Life, but you are not able to question – much less contest – decisions that in direct contradiction to said Quality of Life.

    NOTE: I didn’t say “Doctors” as in Licensed, Board Certified Medical Professionals in their prospective fields of medicine…I am referring to that Cadre of Criminals that feel that once they clear a passing grade to earn a MSW, that they are now ‘Lord and Master’ over your Life, because they are Government employees, know BETTER than you on YOUR Life, and to add insult to injury – have the GALL to exercise attitude in their interaction with a Veteran, to the point of deformation.

    In the spirit of this forum (the general problems with the Voc Rehab program), I simply state this:

    When a “Rehabilitation Counselor” proposes to a Veteran what THEY feel they are entitled to,
    as opposed to what the Letter of the Law states, there can be no higher injustice, especially when the procedures and measures to argue or correct the error can offset the Veteran’s Quality of Life for YEARS.

    My message to Sec. McDonald and Gen. Hickey?
    It’s time for a top-bottom revamping, revising and rebuilding of the Program, as a whole, and it’s WAY PAST due.

    You NOW have the Law and Foundation that can reaffirm and re-ignite the hopes of MILLIONS (yes, MILLIONS with an “M”) of Veterans:

    Within the scope of SEC. 707. § 713. (IMHO)…

    IF a VREO – either knowingly by action, willingly by participation and/or consciously by falsification – contributed to and/or participated in the direct and willful negligence affronted to a Veteran, whereby upon declaration of intent caused said Veteran to NOT have an active participation in the negotiations of his/her Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan (hereto recognized as an IWRP) to where said Plan is NOT in the interest of the Veteran’s desires for their Quality of Life, the VREO – being the “Senior Executive” in authorizing the Plan, is to be held accountable, and be dismissed from their Position, and their accompanying subordinates (hereto recognized as ‘Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors” or VRC’s), be subject to a Disciplinary Hearing, pending further action.

    To quote Bo Bennett: “A DREAM becomes a GOAL when ACTION is TAKEN toward its ACHIEVEMENT”

    However, when a VRC/VREO “tag-team” essentially and fundamentally denies the Veteran of THEIR dream, there is no goal TO achieve.

    Let’s – FINALLY – stop this MADNESS!

    • I will say this so you know you are not alone with these who “think” since they are with the VA that treating veterans wrongly is never a good idea. Now, I shall tell you, my knowledge is very expansive and I do know quite a whole lot, and know when to bring a “witness” in. Trust me, this circus in Dallas isn’t over, I offered up my records and will gladly let them know all the wrongs that are documented, and it is highly illegal to code something for a test but wrote up a lie to do it, that is called “fraud.” It is also abuse when any professional does not act like one, witness for that, nor is it right to tell a patient what they are getting and as an adult I can say “no thank you” and you sent it anyways? Trouble maker I shall be, I am thankful Ms. Hickey listened, but my regular doctor of 19 years stated “SUE THEM.” He sees what they are doing is negligence and trust me he is no slouch he ran a hospital himself, so he knows the score. I have myself to blame maybe? But going to live on a small island and pregnant I wasn’t thinking about the nagging pain, I was thinking damn it’s hot here in December, but he was born 12/25/1981 and an apgar of 4. You see, this one doctor ignored the fact I was late, ignored the fact it was more than 24 hours which means a c-section should have been done. So a small room full of people, a good doctor knew, to watch your new born getting CPR is not cool. Good thing he made it, because my temper can go real hot and I would have hunted that jerk down, hey, locals no what to do, and it is a massive ocean!
      What you do is report it to the OIG HOTLINE. Now, trust me a bit here, when I say we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors? We don’t. But don’t think for one second people won’t be replaced. Hey, band together, change will happen. You see, I think I shall write a quick letter, then show proof of what has gone on. Realize I am no dumb wonder, so I knew exactly how to handle it, but don’t piss me off. When you piss off someone and she as in myself knows you manipulated records, you charged for a test with a diagnosis I did not come in complaining about, oh you are so had. Besides working in my war zones of the ER, ICU, CCU and TELEMTRY, I also know and was certified in Medical Billing and Coding. So, just think, I have a copy of my records and my C-File, “life stressors for PTSD?” Okay, so I wonder, did this moron even think to ask me how I handled stress? I have been meditating since I was 17, and maybe I am just strange, but that job never stressed me out. Now I had to adapt with my changes, a bad shoulder after a heavy patient and I wasn’t ready for Mr. Muscles across from me to pull my damn shoulder out! So, you adapt, you change, but one thing I’ve done most my life has been medical or insurance related. I shall bring pictures, it will show the younger me loving on my sisters, my braces off day, and also my kids in their younger years, they do not need to see them as adults, privacy matters. I also sewed and quilted, I shall bring in the dragon flag for my youngest soccer team, damn that makes two that people did not give back! Life is meant to be fun when your kids are young. I had my stressors like anyone else, but I also knew how to let it go and enjoy my hobbies. My children are all water babies, that is surfing, yes my daughter too, my youngest sailing, surfing, boating, life guarding and yes two that do scuba. So I imagine they enjoy living near water, all took swimming lessons when young. So the tradition continues as my granddaughter is also becoming a water lover. Pick and choose your battles, I take what I see written and done very seriously. It is illegal? What do they think there choices will be if people had ever looked at their own records, or have someone who knows help you catch the wrong doers. TRUTH-a nurse who knows I am on her ass because this is how she greeted me, “WHY ARE YOU HERE AGAIN?” In a very rude tone. My husband was my witness for her one day, gee bad move on her part when he answered just in kind. Now, she added a note, “I would march into the halls of congress and I will report the wrongs.” It isn’t an argument but I do not give her much credit for being a nurse at all. It was a stated fact, I do not joke around when you play with anyone’s health, and as I stated many times before, “IF IT IS HAPPENING TO ME THEN HOW MANY OTHERS?” Do you want the realities of that one? We shall see, but I am no where near done yet, and you bet the OIG MIGHT NOT LIKE WHAT I PRESENT HIM WITH BECAUSE HE SHALL SEE A WHOLE LOTTA WRONG!” I QUESTION EVERYTHING, BUT I AM ALSO WISE IN MY VAST KNOWLEDGE. DON’T TREAD ON ME I AM NAVY NOT A TEA BAGGER WHO STOLE OUR FLAG “cough and gag Palin-can we get rid of stupid yet?
      I do not give up easy, you see if you just poked my beastie, she will go all out and does her homework well enough to know how to get you, as one liar shall find out. She doesn’t know “when” it will happen because so far I am at 20 ethical violations, several lies stated, and oh, changing my answers. Bad thing to do, and I know how to turn her in. You can do this with anyone, it has nothing to do with the VA and the VA cannot protect you because you screwed up. You can pull up anyones lisence and if they have an NPI number, then go to the APA for psychologist or any doctors, each have a professional combined board. For Social Workers it is the NASW. Because the intake social worker I had? I have no idea who story she made up! Go figure! But you have more power than you think, just think outside the box! Good Luck! And always happy to help another, my life is one of service. Let’s hope if I do end up in a wheel chair I can stand to sit! But keeping a positive outlook, that is half the battle!

  6. I have to say that progress is being made. As I wrote out a very rude letter regarding my own story, well I learned a valuable “lesson,” reel in my temper and be “TRULY THANKFUL” for the work being done to serve Veterans. I had emailed Ms. Hickey, upset thinking lord no not the same woman from last time, damn me! It wasn’t so I “own all my mistakes” and let Ms. Hickey know. SURPRISE! She emailed me back, and hopes my pain issues get resolve, me too! I use to joke about that hoveround commercial and stated to my children, “see that will be your mom with her hoveround.” Well darn it! Becareful what you say lord only knows the thought of a wheel chair reminds me so much of my brother who has been gone for twenty years. Oh he was a pain in the ass, but, no matter what he was my baby brother first. I live with the river denial, and was refusing to believe that something was going wrong again with my back. Don’t worry, it really does remind you!
    So, one day before the day we celebrate and give thanks, I really encourage everyone to give the VA transition time to work, and YES REALLY! MS. HICKEY IS READING EVERY EMAIL AND TRYING TO HELP EACH VETERAN, AND EASILY SHE FORGIVES.
    Anytime throughout your life you begin to notice those slight changes and one day you look at yourself and wonder, “where has all the time gone, my children are all grown!”
    I will say this, PTSD IS NOT ALWAYS RELATED TO COMBAT, SO NATURALLY A PERSON WHO CALLED CONCERNING AN EMAIL SHE MISSED THE BEEF OF MY LETTER, MY BACK IS HORRIBLE BUT IT REALLY DOES CREATE MORE MENTAL ANGUISH, AND BEING AT MY OWN DOCTORS OFFICE MOST OF THE MORNING ALL I THINK ABOUT IS HEATING PAD AND CALM MY BODY DOWN!
    PTSD IS SOMETHING I AM TAKING SERIOUS STEPS WHEN I CAN, HOPEFULLY THOUGH WE FIX MY BACK!

    So, BEN, I think you sure have done a tremendous job, I think the OIG is busy as well, we just don’t know all that goes on behind closed doors.
    I was looking something up and I saw comments regarding Ms. Hickey in a very negative light, WHY? We have no idea completely if her hands were tied to do anything, but I am telling you, she is working very hard for every Veteran who writes her. I admired her to answer and assist Veterans so quickly I bet we can’t even imagine the outpouring of Veterans writing and her responding to get the needs met for each and everyone of us.
    I think if you are old enough to remember the transitions that took place in the military from forms galore to transitioning to computers it isn’t an instant transition without a few mistakes we made in learning how to understand them and realize the realities its a bumpy ride.
    So, reeling in that fire temper switch and understanding that changes will be made, so if your old enough to remember a commadore 64 computer. We didn’t have Microsoft we had DOS and commands we used, joke? Dos, see Dos run. ( yes a bit nerdy,) but it made me learn quickly to accept the new realities that the computer age was upon us, and teaching my young ones how to use them long ago, we’ve come a long way from a past of learning, correcting errors, and the big one, “except and accept change will happen.”
    So, my hats of to Ms. Hickey, to those who are fighting hard to create change and get Veterans the care and her understanding that this woman Ms. Hickey, “she really does care and has a really big heart.” My desire was to assist Veterans and gee whiz my back really has driven me nuts! Because every time I am accepted to TEXAS A&M ( yes I like the Aggies!) which is twice now, my dang back goes nuts! I really wanted to do Social Work and Advocate on a Macro Level for Veterans, it’s never about how much will I get paid to do so, but how well I can be of service to others, and always will be. I’ve been holding back a note from my doctor, because I am not ready for acceptance that I may never be able to work again, well, finally I sent it in and one breath at a time, no matter what, I hope in some capacity to help Veterans, because we are one huge family!
    I give thanks to Ms. Hickey, but I do hope she takes a break tomorrow and enjoys the day, and I do give thanks as well for you BEN with the plethora of knowledge to keep Veterans informed.
    For me, the mind and the body have always fascinated me, ask my friend the scientist in Scotland, we posted favorite books, both of us had the “coloring book” for anatomy and physiology, YUP, we science minded wonders are nerdy, but hey at least we admit it!
    So, to each Veteran, I am thankful for all of you as well, we each have had different trials and tribulations to deal with, but remember changes do not ever happen overnight.
    Blessings, Love and Joy for each of you tomorrow, my children all spread out and doing their own thing, I will leave you with something funny, my 25 year old texting me about forgetting to email and not a super long text message, I write and complained and then I get the “lecture” as he knows what I am dealing with, so imagine he gets this long text, here is his response: “OMG! Email! JESUS text message train!” ( me, oops! I forget!) then the lecture; “Also, that IS NOT THE CORRECT WAY TO HANDLE THAT. I am going back to sleep, goodnight, love you.”
    So I guess it is safe to say, I must have done something right? I turned my son into a leader, a hard worker, and damn it bossing and lecturing ME NOW, when did the role reversal begin?
    A little bit of humor, lord I fear when I see him again because the child will lecture the parent, and the parent ends up making promises just to hush him up!
    Blessings to all,
    D

  7. Ben, that was very powerful testimony and the answer to your question did the politicians follow through on their promises is a resounding “NO.” It would be interesting to know what the DNC platform committee put in the platform as its solutions to the problems with the VA and if the DNC has done anything to modify whatever it included in light of the ever widening VA scandal. Your blog is widely read and Facebook sites like THE VA IS LYING rebroadcast your columns, so it would appear that you are getting broad interest.

    Veterans constitute a significant voting block and it would behoove the DNC to pay attention to the needs of veterans. It would be an interesting study to determine what percentage of vets vote in elections. If a large percentage of veterans vote the way large numbers of senior citizens vote, then fixing the VA problem should become an even greater concern of the DNC.

    As a Vietnam vet, that I consider myself to be a Democrat is very ironic considering that it was the DNC that demonized Vietnam vets and then treated them as an embarrassment once the war was over. For several election cycles, I voted what I consider not to not have been in my own interests. I was one of those who deserted the party to vote Republican. It only took one complete presidential election cycle for me to realize the error of voting for those of that party. They weren’t interested in anything at all like the economic interests of Middle America.

    However, I am still bitter about the treatment that we Vietnam vets received at the hands of the Democratic Party. I don’t think that the Democratic Party has done nearly enough in establishing that it, in fact, never issued a mea culpa to those vets that it helped demonize, nor did it make any effort to insure that the vets were served and the USA kept its promise that was made about veteran benefits. It isn’t until the last several years that the Democratic Party made any effort to be proactive in veteran affairs. That is why I think that it would be an interesting column for you to write about: What the Democratic Party Platform is on producing veteran services that were promised to each and every person who served this country since the establishment of the VA.

  8. 12/08/2014

    https://www.disabledveterans.org/2014/11/26/veterans-thankful-past-two-years/

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Ambushed—Sabotaged is a better word to use.

    You are taking about Genocide—in Torrance, CA I heard it from the Assistant City Attorney during an Aerospace Crime in 1988 [1998 Cox Report] U.S. Senator Feinstein open up a case in 2006 –so did the State Department that year.

    Does the DoD, the VA, and the Congress & White House have the INTENT????

    After reviewing 5,000 article and Large Court Cases—-like the 2007 73 page Case from Mofo.com—Hundreds of issues nailed down in writing and addressed to the courts—–grassroots will not work unless there is a hard nudge.

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

    12/07/2014

    http://www.freedommag.org/write.html

    Dear Editor,

    You will find this very interesting —-

    To all Veterans please read the 2007 73 page Lawsuit found at Mofo.com

    This will take out the BS out of your U.S. Senators and U.S. Congressmen.

    This will make the next 6 months of this VA Disaster focus on real corrective actions and not a fly on the wall issue or an event or who is getting fired—more was said in these 73 page document than what has been said in the Last Past 6 months in all the hearings in Washington DC and all the Journalists articles put together.

    I call it Treason like I had did back in 1988—-1998 Cox Report [900 Pages of Treason published by the U.S. Congress].

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg
    Happy Holidays
    Remember the USS Arizona

    12/07/2014

    If I were the IAVA I would looking into the 2007 Lawsuit Mofo.com immediately.

    221. By discharging troops under Chapter 5-13, as opposed to diagnosing them with
    PTSD, the military will likely save upwards of $8 billion in estimated disability payments and $4.5
    billion in medical care over the course of the service members’ lifetimes based upon discharges prior
    to 2006.

    I find this Current 2014 Disaster as a firm step into full blown Treason.

    The Case in very good—73 pages, covering hundreds of issues— Mofo.com.

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg
    Happy Holidays
    remember the USS Arizona

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