MMQB – Did Obama ‘Snub’ Phoenix VA Vets?

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Phoenix VA

Benjamin KrauseSome veterans in Phoenix, AZ cried foul when President Obama’s motorcade sped past the scandal riddled Phoenix VA on his way to speak on the supposed housing recovery last week.

But can they really be “snubbed” by the president not stopping while traveling to speak on an unrelated topic?

After all, if he stopped at every scandal riddled VA facility, he would never get around to being presidential, at all. But then again, the housing crisis occurred everywhere but he chose to speak at Phoenix, AZ, which was certainly one of the hardest hit cities in the US. Likewise, the Phoenix VA scandal was equally acute there.

So, can these disgruntled veterans expect an Obama appearance at the Phoenix VA soon? Apparently ‘No’ if the criteria for a presidential speech is the successful ending of a crisis.

Curiously, some predict the housing market will double dip soon due to forecasted interest rate hikes that will make housing at today’s prices significantly difficult to buy. Future buying will be inhibited due to higher monthly payments from interest rate hikes and in turn force housing values to go down to meet the spending ability of American families. Perhaps the increase can be offset with the decrease in oil prices for now.

Welcome to this edition of Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) for Veterans. I am your host, Benjamin Krause, creator of the DisabledVeterans.org community. This is the number one place of unadulterated veteran centric news, analysis and benefits strategy on the web. MMQB is where I hit on recent news from the weekend and talk about upcoming news this week.

Here is what we will cover today:

  • Some Vets Cry Foul When Obama Motorcade Sped Past Phoenix VA
  • Isakson to chair Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
  • HVAC Chair Jeff Miller Announces Subcommittee Chairs

 

OBAMA ‘SNUB’ OF PHOENIX VA VETS

Last week, President Obama traveled to Phoenix, AZ to speak about the current perceived housing recovery following the huge crisis that almost destroyed our country’s financial system.

He drove by Phoenix VA without stopping on his way to the place where he was scheduled to speak. Some veterans and politicians including Senator McCain called this a ‘snub’ related to the huge and currently unfolding crisis where veterans were killed by an illegal and fraudulent wait list delay practice of VA employees.

Arizona Sen. John McCain also criticized Obama, saying it was “deeply disturbing” that he didn’t stop at the hospital.

“Unfortunately, President Obama missed another opportunity to do right by those who have served and sacrificed on our nation’s behalf,” McCain said in a statement.

The Phoenix VA became the epicenter of a national scandal over the quality of care for veterans early last year amid allegations that patients were dying while waiting to see a doctor. A VA investigation found that at least 40 patients died while awaiting appointments in Phoenix, but officials could not “conclusively assert” that the delays caused the deaths.

Phoenix veteran Mike Woods said he was disappointed Obama skipped an easy visit that could have sent a message to veterans and hospital staff of his interest.

“He’s the commander in chief of our armed forces, and we’re veterans, we’re guys that went to war for him,” Woods said. “And he (doesn’t) have enough respect to see that we get care that our taxpayers paid deeply … for?”

The story came across a couple news sources, and it seemed like a stretch at first – something like trying to turn a molehill into a mountain. So, I initially chalked this one up to a non-story based on unrealistic expectations.

After all, is it reasonable to think Obama would stop at Phoenix to address a crisis? Wait a sec.

Obama traveled to Phoenix to talk about the housing crisis and its recovery. Many consider Phoenix as the place where the bubble was most impactful and harming. So, him speaking at Phoenix now that there is a perceived recovery makes sense.

But those crying foul by Obama speeding by the Phoenix VA have a point – but the point is somewhat misplaced. Obama should stop at the Phoenix VA at some point, in my opinion. We at least know he knows how to get there. But, it is probably unreasonable to think he would stop there on the same trip.

Now, will Obama ever travel to the Phoenix VA to speak about the scandal against those he asked to sacrifice so much for his own national security policies? I sure hope so.

Last year, veterans were killed as a result of VA employee misconduct. They were also killed a year before that, and even a decade before that due to VA employee gaming of the wait list system to look good for performance reports.

Republicans and democrats were equally culpable and guilty of doing nothing about the well-known scandal. Of course, the wait list gaming issue was well known in VA dating back to at least 2001. One can reasonably infer that the problem likely existed long before 2001, otherwise it could not be considered a well known problem.

I would hope Obama would think it wise to add a notch of good will by solving the VA crisis since no solution was found for so many years.

Regardless, veterans prepared for the snub proceeded to the place where Obama was scheduled to speak in an effort to protest the continued corrupt rot still embedded in VA that was exposed by the press starting with Phoenix VA.

Did Obama snub veterans in Phoenix? No, I don’t think so. But, I hope we see him speak on the issue once the crisis is averted.

Read More: https://www.sunherald.com/2015/01/08/6007047_vets-upset-obama-skips-phoenix.html?rh=1

 

ISAKSON TO CHAIR SENATE VETERANS COMMITTEE

Senator Johnny Isakson, R-GA, was named as the official chair to lead the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Isakson is a veteran, which is certainly a good start. Let’s hope he pushes legislation that encourages accountability of Federal employees.

About the selection, Isakson stated:

“I am very proud to be allowed to chair these two Senate committees on which I have served for several years. The work of the Senate VA Committee is so important to our nation and to my state of Georgia. The work of the Ethics Committee is critical to maintaining the integrity of the United States Senate.”

Source: https://www.wtoc.com/story/27783237/isakson-to-chair-senate-veterans-affairs-committee-in-114th-congress

 

HVAC SUBCOMMITTE CHAIRS

On January 9, 2015, HVAC Chairman Jeff Miller announced subcommittee chairmen for the upcoming 114th Congress. The selections become final January 13, 2015.

Rep. Jeff Miller stated:

“Whether providing much-needed oversight to the Department of Veterans Affairs or championing legislation designed to improve the care and benefits America’s returning heroes have earned, our subcommittees and their chairmen fulfill vital roles. This Congress we are fortunate to have a talented roster of both new and returning chairmen. I am confident they will help our committee continue to set the standard for congressional oversight while working to improve the lives of veterans and increase accountability and efficiency at VA.”

We can look forward to an interesting year as VA scandals are evaluated with new vigor by the following chairs:

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19 Comments

  1. Ben, On Jan. 2 I wrote in your article, “va-employees-call-philadelphia-va-probe-big-joke” if anyone has had any difficulty getting the VA Drs. to fill out a social security disabilty questionnaire and if anyone continues to get several letters from VA for gun locks. The same day the individual Namnibor responded to me of same difficulty in getting VA to comply with SSD form. I since recieved a letter from VA Dr. refusing to comply to a VA policy and unassisting me in getting my earned benefits. The VA is my only healthcare.
    On Jan 9 and Jan 10 I wrote in the article as to why my post and Namnibor’s post was removed from your website. No one has answered. Why has our comments been censored?

  2. @Dawn
    Our comments are still there and was January 3, under “Lobbyist Fired Immediately For Involvement With Helman” topic, rather.
    I have YET to see Ben perform “scrubbing” in the forum aside from perhaps the isolated disruptive case and even that is being generous, as I really feel this is an equal tempered forum to show various views. Just look at the last few day’s comments back and forth to and and about Lt. Col. Gade, whom thinks VA Disability Compensation is “dangerous and unhealthy” for we genuinely Disabled Veterans.
    It’s all good here and check those aforementioned articles, as comments are indeed still there and for the record, my experience with neither Social Security nor the VA talking to each other was in the 2006-2010 time-frame and if it’s still going on, it certainly makes it incredibly hard process for the Veteran. They are indeed both Gov’t. Agencies and they indeed should both freely communicate because in the rare instance, a Veteran that’s 100% P&T Disabled AND fully qualifies for Social Security Disability Income should not have to fight the very regulations that state you can qualify in very specific situations as long as one is “fully vested” in Social Security, meaning a solid 10 years of work credits AND found Disabled under SSDI and Perm. & Total 100% Military Service Connected Disabilitie(s).
    @Dawn–you can search for more info on this very subject within hadit.com and hope this helps.

    • @Namnibor, I was checking under the wrong article. My memory is a mess! Thank you for letting me know. My apologies to you Ben.
      I think SS and VA do communicate, but they only ask for records and nothing more. Comp and Pension exams may be excluded. They even were given my BVA approval writen by a Federal Judge ruling my unemployability but they still denied anyway

      • @Dawm:Those very C&P Exams and a BVA Judge’s ruling **SHOULD** be things Soc Sec take as more than supporting evidence that you cannot work…but alas, they still do NOT talk to each other! You cannot be passive about it because can guarantee you when and if someday to request your VA C-File, you will NOT find a single communique from Soc. Sec. as it’s as if they exist in different realities.

        @Pres. Obama not visiting Phoenix VA: I almost BET that if there had happened to be some huge golf course of notoriety *right next to that VA* the Pres. probably would have played golf and even made a bunch of Veterans go away so he could “play through” as he did *exactly* to a marriage party in Hawaii when he decided to do same and made their long time in advance reservation of the area MOOT just because.
        This President has lost his way and arrogance has set-in. His non-presence in Paris on such an opportunity to show true compassion AND solidarity with rest of world on this “war on terror” was not as important as him showing-up in “da hood” for photo ops.
        This President is now more concerned with so-called “Disenfranchised Youth” than he is the very Veterans that could use his help and authority as well as opportunity to truly clean-up this mess called the VA.
        Anyone recall the Pres. just recently decided he did not want to go to a Disabled Veterans Memorial being opened in D.C. and where he went instead? Yep, disenfranchised youth event instead.
        He is more than a ‘Lame Duck’…perhaps simply ‘Lame’.

  3. I’ve got no doubt O’Bama’s motorcade drove right by the Phoenix VA without stopping. That doesn’t surprise me. Then I have to wonder if the George Bush motorcade ever drove by the Walter Reed Medical Center without stopping. Have we forgotten the Walter Reed medical scandal back in 2007 when DUBYA was the President? And doesn’t Walter Reed sit on 113 acres in Washington D.C.? I’m wondering how far that is from the White House. I’m sure it’s the same distance now as it was back in 2007. I don’t know, maybe DUBYA visited Walter Reed back then. I honestly can’t remember whether he did or not. But I do remember him cutting almost 30 billion dollars from veterans health care right on the very eve of the Iraq invasion.

  4. Obama also snubbed the rally in Paris after the attack on Charlie Lebdo newspaper last week. In fact the only US official to attend was the Ambassador to France

  5. Yes, without a doubt he snubbed those in or at the Phoenix VA. This is truly one of the only things that Barack Obama has done well. Veterans all over the country have dealt with his snubbing in many aspects. Everyone knows that has ever been to any kind of speech by a President that they constantly change their plans and are late so stopping before or after would not have harmed him but then he would actually have to look the American Veteran in the face. The last thing that this President would ever want to do unless he is told to do so. He took money from those veterans that were using Vocational Rehab for school yet he wants to spend money to make community college for all to be free. Are we as Veterans not a little more important than taking from us and give it to the rest of the country? This sends a very powerful message that the veterans are nothing to this man that supports ADAM and STEVE, KILLING BABIES (abortion), lying to the American people on nearly everything, and TURNING HIS BACK ON THE FOUNDATION OF THIS COUNTRY the US Veterans of this wonderful country with a black eye and wounded pride. .

  6. And I thought Jimmy Carters brother “Billy” was the village idiot,however,this one was elected twice. I don’t think history will remember Obama or his following kindly,I know the Vets won’t.

  7. Since the Phoenix VA was the epicenter of the ongoing “VA SCANDAL”, The President could have make a token effort to address the progress in improving the VA, senior personnel changes, etc.

  8. Anything they do does not surprise me. NOW. I was excited that I lived 40+ Miles from any V.A. Clinic. As They pay travel of 96 miles Round trip. to get to the closest Clinic. .
    When I got my “New Choice card” I was told I did`nt qualify because They count from the top line of my Zip code to the Beginning of the other Zip code (In a straight line) or “As the Crow Fly`s” As I have to stay on the road and can not fly OR, The fact that the Clinic is on the far edge of the other zip. I fell short. of the 40 mile limit. (They did their Homework) To come up with the Magical Number 40.
    Also, I`ve been trying to see my Neurologist (Ok. City From Home In TX. Just under 400 miles. They get around the 30 day limit. By simply Canceling and Rescheduling my Appt. From Aug. 15 to Sept. 12. Then to Oct. Nov. My last appointment was Scheduled for Dec. 15. I got a card the 10th that It was Canceled Not, Rescheduled Because My Consult ran out of time. Yep, That`s Right. (Now, I need a Consult by my PC Dr. So We start all over).
    The V.A. Is running just like before. By Manipulating Appt`s
    In short, It Ain`t Worth a Damn. Choice?, If I had a Choice I`d go to the New Clinic or Hospital 3 Blocks from my front door. I do get my Meds mailed to me. For that I`m Truly Blessed.
    So, I should be grateful. And, I am.
    Gen, Allison Hickey, “We just love our Veterans Sooo Much, That`s because WE at The V.A. Care So Much for our Veterans.”

  9. I wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs – Compensation & Pension Service – Nehmer Working Group (211A) – 810 Vermont Ave NW -Washington D.C. 20420 : three times, certified mail and Return Receipt Requested; to have to get on the internet to verify delivery each time; and, go to the post office each time for a photo copy of signatures. I did not receive any direct answer from the Nehmern Working Group of all three letters. Instead of awarding retro compensation, as ordered by The Nehmer Court Order, The DVA sent my claim to the Board of Veterans Appeals ( backlogged to January 2011) as another delay / denial. Today is January 12, 2015. The Buffalo DVA Examiner made a diagnosis of my ischemic heart disease to as early as 2000; indicated in the Buffalo DVA June 2014 Decision. The Nehmer Court Order is that The Buffalo DVA has to pay the retro compensation within 21 days, after June 05, 2014; Today is January 12, 2015 ( : )The Buffalo DVA does not strictly comply to The Nehmer Court Order ( The Nehmner Training Guide (note:211A) ; And, The Department of Veterans Affairs does not comply to Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions (by law clerk Nichols October 2010). Congress, SCOTUS, The President, and The “TOP COP” are all dysfunctional. Yes, The Buffalo DVA should be sanctioned for not finding for my claims as late as December 2013 (yes, December 2013) :The DVA January 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (note:211) Information on Vietnam Naval Operations and June 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (note:211) ADDITIONAL Information on Vietnam Naval Operations (received by Senate) that approved my service / claim as : ” Substantive Evidence”. Now, the DVA defies The Nehmer Court Order; And, The Nehmer Working Group (211A) has left me in the dark. To have been poisoned by one’s own country and abandoned is of the worst types of PTSD. Such is the works of The Department of Veterans Affairs; I should not need a lawyer (or group of lawyers) to enforce The Nehmer Court Order already laid down and laid out: The Nehmer Training Guide Policy (211A) February 2011 Revised ( VA compensates class counsel for all it’s work on Nehmer claims). Hence, I salute The ( Buffalo ) DVA with both hands, middle finger extended.

  10. We need to look at root causes of VA abuses and failures. Also, for their to be real change and significant improvement, America is going to have to enter a major world war, lose that war to the point of barely surviving, then Americans will again understand this: We need to go back to basics, with this at the top: Most members of Congress used to be veterans, and it was very common for the President to also be a veteran. Now it is the other way around, and it has been for many decades. Most congress members are now not veterans, and we have not had a President/veteran since Bush 2, and he was only a reservist. His father was an actual war vet, but even during his time as President the change had already taken hold to where most congress members were not vets. It is going to take a disaster of catastrophic proportions at the national security level with grave damage to America and our way of life before people really get it. The President, whoever he or she is into the future, along with the vast majority of members of Congress, will speed by VA hospitals and flat out ignore obligations and commitments to vets until some sort of Armageddon comes along. Ironically, many experts on the subject of global warfare currently believe such an event is just a heartbeat away, and it won’t take much to kick off the big one.

    • I get rather PO’d every time I see someone refer to anyone serving in military uniform as “just a reservist.”

      It reminds me of those killed in Saudi Arabia when a scud hit their barracks. They were just reservists.

      It reminds me of the body I helped load into a refrigerated truck after he was shot and killed. He was just a reservist.

      It reminds me of many others, National Guard and Reserves, since 1990 that have been activated, and killed in a war zone.

      They were just reservists.

  11. I (STRONGLY) Think that we have to go back to the “Draft”! A real “STRICT” draft where EVERYBODY will have the chance to “show his or her love for the USA”
    (Not like the one that was during the Vietnam era- where pilots in Texas NG never made it to Vietnam and their training files got lost…)! When somebody “thanks me for my service, I feel like a sucker!
    And then we will not need a VA (because everybody will be a veteran!)
    Everything will run under the SSA which is doing much better job from the VA! (especially the C&P)

  12. I sort of agree with Ben’s comments about not being necessary for the whole presidential motorcade to unload his ass off at a pit stop Phoenix VA the other day. However, I will say that presbo should have told his driver to blink the car’s lights in front of the dump when passing by – or find another route to go where he was going. That would be the sign of an intellegent man, a thoughtful man, and a man who is indicating he is aware of the ongoing situation. That’s all it would take – the whole story would have been completely different as reported by the news people then. And veterans wouldn’t feel “snubbed” completely. But we don’t have intellegent people as “our leaders”. We have instead people who are as stupid and one-sided as the people who brought them to “power”. America the Stupid.

  13. I really don’t feel that President Obama stopping at the Phoenix VA would have actually accomplished anything. In fact, I think it would have done more harm than good. What would he do? Walk into the waiting area of the general clinic, shake a few hands of the veterans waiting there, thanking them for their service? Doing so in a VA medical establishment now considered the most corrupt VA in the country?

    No time for the questions that would have been fired at him, no time for any sort of conversation, no time to address the veteran’s at large–he was scheduled to be elsewhere.

    What people need to keep in mind is that Presidents do not make their own schedules. Their schedules are made for them and they usually don’t have much say in the matter. And how many places can Obama be at one time? Where he’s scheduled? Paris? (oh, I can already hear how the cries of foul of how the President was using the crisis at Paris as a PR stunt), How about every single VA medical center in the country? And then there are those who would say something like how he should be at the White House taking care of business, not gallivanting around the countryside.

    A President of the United States is wrong no matter what he (or possibly she) does so no, Obama did not snub the Phoenix vets. But there will be those who will always cry foul no matter what any President does or does not do.

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