Secretary McDonald Drops Bombshell On Meet The Press

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Benjamin KrauseMany veterans advocates questioned the bombshell Secretary McDonald dropped yesterday on Meet the Press.

Secretary McDonald claimed 900 VA employees were held accountable by way of firing since he took over VA last summer, a claim that likely raised the eyebrows of every veteran advocate across the country including me.

Previously, VA only admitted to firing a couple employees while letting most senior leaders resign before consequences following investigations. When pressed by host Chuck Todd, Secretary McDonald elaborated on the numbers stating:

  • 60 were fired for wait list manipulation
  • 100 senior leaders are under investigation

This certainly does not equal 900 employees. Check out the full exchange on the subject from the transcript:

VA SECRETARY ROBERT MCDONALD:

Well, it’s not just trickling down. We’re making fundamental changes in the department in terms of leadership. We have held accountable about 900 employees who are no longer with us that were with us before I became secretary.

CHUCK TODD:

What does held accountable mean? Have you fired them?

VA SECRETARY ROBERT MCDONALD:

Nine hundred people have been fired since I became secretary.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, so.

VA SECRETARY ROBERT MCDONALD:

We’ve got 60 people that we fired who have manipulated wait times. We’ve got about 100 senior leaders who are under investigation now whose performance reviews have been deferred until we get feedback from the IG and Department of Justice. So we’re holding people accountable.

McDonald’s qualification certainly leads to questions. I can’t help but wonder if, when McDonald said “fired”, that he really meant “allowed to retire.” After all, wouldn’t such a large number of terminated employees cause a disruption?

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/va-hospital-scandal/v-secretary-900-people-have-been-fired-n306041

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34 Comments

  1. Yep! He made a fundamental change alright when he took back the money on the Veterans Choice Program thereby leaving thousands of sick and dying veterans no other choice but to stay on VA waiting lists! As far as him firing any of those VA execs, I’m not sure if that ever happened or not. As for firing anyone else he’s talking about, what did he do? Did he change the Title of their position at the VA just to show on paper that person was terminated from their position and leave him or her on at the VA and then kick them in the rear with a hefty pay and bonus increase?!

      • Robert, I hope that you get your increase faster than I did mine. It me six yrs. to finally get my increase. I kept getting denied and I kept appealing it. I still should get more than what I was given; however, the VA changed my diagnosis and by doing so the new evidence that was found and should have given me more is now a part of the new diagnosis and they found a way out of giving me what I should have received. Thanks again VA.

  2. 02/15/2015

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Now—the question is—How many professionals have been hired at the VA Hospitals during this “5 alarm fire?” All VA Hospitals are under staffed and over worked due to the years of mismanagement—the paperwork is a mess and the IT system is anyone’s guess.

    Being proud of kicking out 900 employees is one thing [was it during the American Holidays?] but not to replace them is an act of Sabotage in a “5 alarm fire.”

    What are the Numbers of Hired last quarter and what are the numbers of the fired employees [900]?

    I do not see a Help wanted sign on the Phoenix VA Hospital, nor any other Hospital Gannett Media Corporation [Carl Icach and his Goldman Sach boardmember] are showing us.

    Cincinnati VA Medical Center Director Linda Smith. Cincinnati VAMC disappeared quietly with no fanfare.

    It appears everything is just fine—-in reality all hell is about to break loose!

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  3. This guy is so full of shit he stinks of it. I saw him.and his other assholes in the congressional hearings last week. They didn’t sound any different then the last 20 years of government cronies picked to run VA monies for the taxpayers. They all play the same game…fuck us VETERANS and when it quiets down….fuck us more.

  4. “Fundamental Changes”…okay, I watched “Meet The Press” yesterday and it made me wonder why Chuck Todd did not push for more info on whether those “900 Fired” were REALLY FIRED or simply promoted, as usual, or laterally repurposed, or just allowed to retire with full pension? Why was not that qualified in this huge exposure opportunity for Sec. McDonald? What I DID like was the emphasis in the interview about the Secretary going against the tide and “butting heads” with Congressman from Colorado. However, it was so edited that I doubt most people did not get the whole context of that Congressional meeting.
    Also, surely Chuck Todd had to have read about the very recent debacle with the Veteran’s CHOICE CARDS and he should have take than opportunity to expound upon why a program in which SO MUCH $$$ was authorized, yet Veterans had JUST in recent weeks even received their VETERAN **NO CHOICE* CARD, for Congress to now say all those funds can simply be repurposed within the VA as “it sees fit”…or as the VA likes to put it, “Other Priorities”? No mention of the $10 BILLION contract up for grabs that GOOGLE is probably the winning contender in which YET MORE BILLIONS are being thrown at a project that proved to be or we were TOLD it was a fail…so where is this money really going? No more $10,000. toilet seats for the DoD these days?
    I think it was a LOST OPPORTUNITY for this particular HARD HITTING OCEAN OF RED TAPE, “Veteran’s CHOICE CARD” issue that Veterans are denied due to mileage calculated “AS A BIRD FLIES”…almost designed to fail.

    I expected much MUCH MORE from Chuck Todd and this interview. Kind of makes me wonder if all this was extremely scripted and dictated by the VA rather than TRUE investigative reporting????
    A LOT of people watch “Meet The Press”…but was with all things in “VA Land”, it left me with many more questions than answers. Ben, please try to get to the bottom of what “900 fired” REALLY MEANS! (Devil in the Details, as usual)

  5. AS I HAVE SAID ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS, “THE INMATES RUNNING THE ASSYLUM” .
    AND THE TALK IS, VETS ARE RECEIVING “ILLEGAL BENEFITS”. WELL, IF THAT IS TRUE, THEN THERE IS A VA EMPLOYEE WHO NEEDS TO BE “UNDER INVESTIGATION”. WE JUST “FILE”, THEY DO ALL THE “DETERMINATIONS”, SO SOMEBODY DROP THE “BALL”.

  6. A Vet frind of mine goes to the VA medical center in Philadelphia, he has Parkinson’s, they give him anti-depresents and pain pills and send him home. Is this proper care, hell no.

    • John

      I have been referred to Philadelphia VAMC from my VAMC in Coatesville, Pa The whole VAMC in Philadelphia has been investigated for years by the VA OIG which is a joke I tried to report my own problems to the OIG and they did nothing I has sent alter of protest years ago and the director covered it up… Unsupervised Interns are being used to practice on veterans in clinics there and even in the emergency room They almost killed me via gross negligence and malpractice There are supposedly congressional investigations going on Call Rep Joe Pitts office and emend hearings and congressional investigation as well as Senator Toomey and Senator Casey. Best bet is to get a lawyer I can recommend via Univ of Pennsylvania school of law – veterans legal clinic and sue them for malpractice. I would recommend your friend see in NE Philadelphia Benjamin Rush MH/MR- Geriatric Partial Hospital Program in Northeast Philadelphia ( I was director of that program at open time-specilaist in Geriatric MentalHealth) ) or also Univ of Pennsylvania

      You should find out if the so called doctor is an intern or in fact a licensed doctor in the state of Pennsylvania .

      Please feel free to contact me . There are many vets who have had it with Philadelphia VAMC Remember they also serve not just Philadelphia but the 5 county area outside Philadelphia plus so many referrals from other clinics and VAMC Coatesville, Lebanon Pa and past Reading Pa , New Jersey and Delaware !!

      Lee Horowitz M.Ed, CAGS
      US NAVY – Disabled Vietnam Era veteran
      Veterans advocate- veterans civil rights advocate
      [email protected]

  7. The Buffalo DVA denied my claim(s) as late as December 2013. The Buffalo DVA claimed that of government records, including their own INtraNET, The Buffalo DVA couldn’t find my service…in Vietnam…exposed to herbicides (etc.). Yet, I found the information on the INterNET: The DVA January 2000 (yes, 2000) Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) Information on Vietnam Naval Operations…provides presumption of exposure to herbicides (etc.) to the crew of ships that operated on “rivers” and “deltas”. The history of the USS Newport News CA-148 includes operations in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong “DELTA” December 1968; And, the June 2010 (yes, 2010) Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) ADDITIONAL Information on Vietnam Operations…ships list…Received by The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs…lists the USS Newport News for Operations: Cua Viet “RIVER” April 1969. Originally, in February in 2010, the New York State Veteran Service Officer refused to take my information of my service in Vietnam. The NYS VSO refused ton take my claim for PTSD, also. Both the NYS VSO and Buffalo DVA created terrible “TORTS”. I also wrote to DVA – Compensation & Pension Service (211A) (note: Jan. and June C&P Bulletins Policy 211 indicated Above)- Attn: Nehmer Working Group- 810 Vermont Ave. Washington D.C. 20420 three times over many past months. I have not received a direct answer from the Nehmer Working Group; I haven’t even received the green card / Return Receipt Requested for any of the 3 certified mailings from POST OFFICFE 20420. Nonetheless, My claim has made significant progress, but has very significant loose ends to tie up. And, of an examination/ review of my medical records April 2014 at the Bath Hospital (Bath, NY), the Buffalo DVA Decision of June 2014 includes that the Buffalo Examiner diagnosed my ischemic heart disease to as early as 2000. The Nehmer Court Order provides that the RETRO Compensation has to be paid within 21 days following the Buffalo DVA June 2014 Decision. Of the 3 letters I sent to Nehmer Working Group Washington DC, I addressed the issue : Yes, The Nehmer Court Order states: VA compensates class counsel for it’s work on Nehmer claims. Then, Instead of The Buffalo DVA and Nehmer Working Group taking care of the loose ends and awarding RETRO COMPENSATION, my claim(s) have been sent to the Board of Appeals; back-logged to 2012 defying the Nehmer Court Order that Nehmer claims have priority; the Board of Veterans Affairs Board information officer indicated my claim isn’t docketed “Nehmer”; to have it docketed Nehmer, the information officer claims that: I must write a letter. The Nehmer Court order clearly reveals that “VA must” search it’s records to find eligible claimants and award, without any action on the claimants part. Is Mr. McDonald going to fire all those that did not or do not conform to Compensation & Pension Bulleitns, The Nehmer Court Order(the Nehmer Training Guide (211A) February 2011 Revised)( yes, 2011), and/or Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions (by law clerk Nichols October 2010)(yes, 2010). The Nehmer Court Order infers” sanctions” against also the Nehmer Working Group ,Of all the “TORTS”. Yes, I am going to request sanctions against them all of to equate $40,000 a year RETRO Compensation to December 1968: of to include incubation period for all my illnesses ( see Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions (Oct. 2010 for incubation period(s). Yes, feel free: [email protected]

    • If you hear what McDonald is saying I don’t believe him!! Sorry MCDonald did not tell the truth !!. He says of that 900 who he claims are all fired , 100 senior VA officials are under investigation!! Well if one is in fact under investigation it doesn’t mean one is fired until there is wrong doing found and even then they maybe kept on in the VA. !!

      Its just like the VA to play with mistruths and lie AS an example ask a so called doctor if he is an intern or a licensed doctor in the state the VAMC is in and he will just tell you a “lie”. Yes I am a doctor!! You asked if “Are you a licensed doctor in such and such state?” Your answer after more questioning and the original lie told to you is ” Well the VA allows us (interns or residents) to be called doctors and sees us at doctors” Unfortunately state licensing sees these interns as interns training to be doctors .

      Its like a law student claiming he is lawyer or any law student who graduated law school claiming he is allayer Yet they cannot go to court nor represent anyone This is another mistruth /lie out of VA officials. I dopnt believe any of them unless then can prove what they say and open the “books” which they wont do.

      Lee Horowitz, M.Ed, CAGS
      US Navy- Disabled Vietnam Era Veteran
      Veterans advocate/ veterans civil rights advocate

      • Big disappointment with the 900 number. Just when you think there is hope it disappears as fast as it appeared.

  8. Very easy way to find out what McDonald meant by 900 VA employees are fired Send him ( let him sign for it) a certified limited delivery to Secretary McDonald Federal Freedom Of Information Act Request -FOIA that requires a limited amount of time to get an answer.

    Lee Horowitz M.Ed CAGS

  9. Well you know what they say “Loose Lips Sink Ships”.

    After all the main thing that we have heard about is the “Wait List Scandal”, with a few exceptions and we all know that there is a lot more to problems at the VA then just the “Wait List”. The only people we hear about being fired are the ones who people put into the news and that is mostly for fraud or theft. Yet we all know that there is are bigger problems at the VA.

    When I Google “Whistle blower complaints veterans administration” there certainly are a lot of complaint being filed and hitting the headlines. But it seems that a lot of them are for people who filed a complaint with the VA after a veteran died.

    But like they said during the Manhattan Project “Loose Lips Sink Ships”

    Oh by the way; Ben didn’t you ask in an article “Just What Veteran “Research” Goes on At Yale Affiliated West Haven VA?” I see they are doing business with a company called Alexion. But Alexion seems to only be selling a new drug called Soliris that is for an “ultra-rare life threatening blood disorder”

    Treatment per individual cost about $600,000.

    Ben if you would like to know more please send me an email with an email address I can send an attachment.

    “Human antibodies from immunized donors are protective against anthrax toxin in Vivo”, (Wild MA, eta…) Nov 2003. Alexion

    “A human antibody against anthrax protective antigen protects rabbits from lethal infection with aerosolized spores.”, (Wild MA, eta…) 2007 Alexion

  10. Why does the VA take two years to compensate for a change in dependent status. Married 12/12/2012 and put requested upgrade 3/13/2013. Next month will be two years before any compensation will be realized. Why is this simple adjustment so difficult ? and what can I do to help change this situation ?

    • Although your claim is simple to process, VA benefits staffing is directed to prioritize working new claims to award veterans who are not yet receiving benefits at all. Hence the staff allocated to process your additional “add-on” claim is thin at best. You have one of say 10,000 exact same claims in front of you, with a paltry few people designated to work them. Your claim falls into a “bucket” that has a lower priority, and very few people are allowed to work them. It is a serious staffing problem. A dependency claim can be filed through a Veterans Service Organization, which is free (VFW, AMVETS, DAV, etc). They can file a dependency claim for you electronically, and if it meets the criteria, you can have a decision and payment within 24 hours. You can go to ebenefits.va.gov for more information. I’m sorry for your struggle, the VA is a massive behemoth of a government agency, and wheels turn very slow. Trust that is highly frustrating for employees, many of whom are veterans who face massive wait times as well. I wish I had a magic wand. Many thanks for your service…

    • Its now May 2015…and still no change in status ????? I volunteered my help as a retired vet but was turned down. What more can we do to help ??

  11. I think the VA (Starting from the C&P) should be eliminated completely and go under the SSA as a Department! This means that the “draft” should be back, and EVERY American Citizen should show their “Love For The Country” and How they appreciate the Freedom! No exemptions! for at least 4 years, or life time Reserves Obligation (Like in Switzerland) So Everybody will be a VETERAN
    VaM

    • i am in almost the same boat married in may 2014 filed in same month july im told they lost the claim refiled had baby in aug filed that claim in nov told case closed as my combined rating missing reopened in dec to have it closed again went to service rep they got it reopened and told me they lied to me there was no problem with combined rating also in may was told 6-8 month now being told it is still 6-8 months do these people even work in the claims department? or play golf every day. and the 800 # is no better they have a caned speech they read to you so you can never get the straight truth heaven forbid they tell you the truth

  12. Bob has only been in six office for six months. Can we judge him for this amount of time? I was thinking that maybe he needs more time to get things going and then we will see a difference. Now I am not so sure. It seems after this that maybe Bob will be like the rest and become a “yes man”. I was really hoping that he would make a difference. He seemed to be acting as if he was making a difference and maybe he was hoping that the reporter would not ask him about the details of Bob’s “900” people fired. After seeing that the numbers don’t add up this makes me think that things are going back to the way it was. If so then we have nothing more to look forward to as it was clear form Bob’s initial start that he was concerned with the veteran and was going to do what he could to try and fix the VA system. If he did fire 900 employees as he is claiming one would think that this number is such a high amount and that having to do with the VA that the news would have made this amount of people a new article. I don’t remember hearing anything about any amount of employees getting fired. Maybe they were not fired but re-assigned, retired, or given some other option within the VA system and that would explain the reason we never heard about these employees. Maybe we now know where the “(no)choice Card” money is going.

    • I sure have noticed the difference in VISN19. Not that I have had to see all of the Doctors that I have in the past. But they pay much more attention to the patient than the status quo.

  13. I am afraid most of you are right. it is not going to change. you can contact them and they are doing the job the 800 827 1000 gate keepers do. When call me Bob starts lying well remember who he is working for. The biggest liar in the country. He can not let a white man do a good job. I have been thinking all this time when will the charade be over. Well I think we are there.

  14. Public corporations just fire people to make the stock go up. I just hope he doesn’t fire some of the few people who are doing all of the work! P&G was a cut-throat organization that continually fired people, while continually looking for new talent at schools like GA Tech.

    The clock is ticking. He needs to do a whole lot more than that though. It’s only when the press on top of the VA that the Vet’s get anything at all! All the people in positions of power are ready to go back to square one in a moment’s notice (it’s easy to do nothing at all.)

  15. As far as the VA firing 900 employees causing a “disruption,” I don’t think so. They would be non productive or counter productive employees. The only way that long term change within the VA is go to take place, is with continued observations by the press, other outside organizations, prosecution and law suits. “The VA System comes before the Veteran!” It has taken a lot of years and multiple administrations to allow the VA to sink to its present very low level with the GAO listing the VA as “HIGH-RISk.” Lets give Secretary McDonald a chance and support his efforts. There is no way an organization the size of the VA is going to be turned around in 6 months. As MTP, Chuck Todd, noted if the VA were in the private sector it would be in bankruptcy or out of business.

    • If I`m remembering correctly, I think Hickey said There are about 70.000 V.A. Emploies out of that about 400 were Exec`s 900 is probably what take a day off every day, or use Vacation time every day, I can`t see where there would be ANY disruption apart from “Normal” day to day operations. As It`s almost impossible to get fired (STILL) and, What they actually DO while at work, 900 keeps getting smaller & smaller . Thing is, NOTHING Has changed and is not likely to. Gibson, When talking to the Press Saying “I`m not just going to fire a bunch of people” But, In front of Jeff Miller, They rattle these useless incorrect numbers off like reading from a script. SO IT Sounds like something is actually being done.
      I`ve been in the V.A. health care system sense 1972. I was there when the “Born on the Forth of July” Type Crap we had to endure Guy`s out of their minds wandering the halls Piss in puddles in the floor, Baby`s crying Waiting rooms FULL of people Yelling & Fighting.
      So, I have seen SOME Changes. From the “Article 51” movies BUT WORSE.
      Point is They don`t give a rats ass about you You are a number. SOME, People I have gotten to meet that actually Genuinely CARE in over 40 yrs are about 50 to 100. Those, People are THE ONLY Thread holding the place together. The rest could give a crap less. Here or there, Sami-Same. Good Luck Brothers.

  16. As long as its the people that are holding back the benefits that the veteran should be receiving good for him. our brothers didn’t hold back when it came to serve.

  17. Martinez, California VA Medical Health Clinic, should be investigated and what prior doctor’s and administrator’s have done that have caused much grief in this veterans community. I find the VARO and parts of the VA Medical System in Martinez,
    California if not the entire Northern California, VA Medical System FUBAR! They try to take care of a few but at the same time totally ignore the rest of the Veterans that struggle to attain EARNED benefits! I have seen prejudice, favoritism, and bullying at this VA Facility. Nothing will happen, these people who hurt veterans, LIE to veterans need to be fired now! It won’t happen because to quote a VA Administrator, “The VA can do that because it states so in regulation Blah, Blah, Blah!” FTVA!

  18. I have been writing about the V.A. placing veterans on the Disruptive committee list, where they punish veterans if they do anything they do not like (va), My local clinic Administrator reported to the Denver V.A. that I had been Disruptive on numerious occasions the director or former Director of the Denver V.A. told officials Senators office that I had never been punished by the Disruptive committee. She stated ” Mr. …. records were never coded for disruptive behavior, his records were never red flagged and there was never any investigation. This started in about 2004 and they did punish me and they did red flag my records, they did code into my official medical records Disruptive Behavior on numerious occasions and yes an investigation was never done, If one had been done they would have determined that I have never ever been disruptive even once. When the V.A. was asked for any evidence that I had ever been disruptive their reply there is no written evidence. Now come on no written evidence and I was to have come in on numerious occasions and became disruptive and twice a month and the sad part is the staff at the Denver v.a. believed the person with out one shread of evidence. I did write to Bob Mr. McDonalds office and gave him all the proof to clear myself, no answer. But I did see him walking with the Director of the Denver V.A. just before she Retired (RETIRED) and now I hear that the person Employee that started this whole mess is also Retiring. She hurt me for the last 14 years by having the V.A. Threaten me with Arrest, banishment from the V.A. healthcare system and Federal Charges placed against me, where is the justice in this. She may be retireing but I get no relief from what she has done to me, it is still in my chart and I still can face being arrested and federal charges placed against me and for what because she felt like hurting me. If someone anyone really cares someone will help me, I have heard nothing from Mr. McDonalds office. It was stated 900 were fired how about making it 901 and fire this person and or put her in Jail and let her get a taste of her own medicine, she should not be able to retire after whats she has done, I can not retire this will follow me until I am no longer here and then if my Grandchildren ever see this they will think that I was a bad person and nothing can be further from the truth. I guess if their is a God he/she will have to handle these types of people.

  19. Late last year we lost a solder and hero not to mention a awesome human being a truly great friend and an outstanding Vietnam veteran (two silver stars, two bronze stars + many more metal for his bravery in putting himself in harms way many time to save others). This past year (early 2014) he developed a lump in his esophagus and learned it was esophageal cancer The VA had him and his wife drive 200 miles for each chemotherapy and then had too wait 4-6 weeks for the results. This went on for about 7 months. When he was told that the treatments he was getting was not helping he didn’t falter. Then the VA told him there was another treatment available but it would be a while before he could be treated. Bear in mind this veteran was very very positive person, never complained and had strong perseverance. But he because of the way the VA handled this issue he became so disappointed that he just gave up and 2 months later we lost him. He did not complain – it was after he passed away that is wife told me that. He will be missed for a very long time!!!!!!!!!!!!

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