Why Are Veterans Denied Access To Their VocRehab Records?
Here is the story of one Afghanistan War disabled veteran who did not back down when VA VocRehab employees unlawfully withheld his VocRehab records from him following a benefits denial.
Disabled veteran Joe Roth first received a denial for VocRehab retraining at the end of last year. When he tried to fight back, poorly trained VA employees unlawfully concluded his records were the VA property and that they could be withheld.
[Insert buzzer sound, “Wrong Answer”]
These VocRehab employees were grossly mistaken, but their mistake served to embarrass the entire San Diego Regional Office and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VocRehab) across the nation because of employee ineptitude.
Not only was their position wrong, but Roth’s heroic persistence to get to the truth is a great example for veterans everywhere. Get this, for veterans who think this is only an enlisted thing, it is not. Roth is a smart, retired officer of the Navy who at the time was in his first year of law school. He is a retired Navy Commander who was badly injured from chemical exposure in Afghanistan. He is a third generation military officer and the grandson of William Shemin, a recent posthumous Medal of Honor winner of the WWI, and wants you to know the truth about VocRehab.
Roth asked me to bring his experience to my readers (you) so that fellow veterans struggling with the same issues would know they are not alone – believe me, many veterans have had this problem. However, many of those veterans gave in to the roadblocks and gave up their benefits. In light of the value to my readers (and after reviewing his records for accuracy), I agreed to tell his story here and provided an incentive for you to read to the end.
If you read this to the end, you will find a nugget of strategy that will help you fight to get copies of your own files, if you need them, when untrained VA employees wrongfully withhold them from you. [Psst… you need them.]
VocRehab Battle For Records
Recently, Roth was fighting for his right to access his records that VocRehab keep on each applicant at the San Diego RO. He needed those files to pursue his claim against VA, and without those records, it is like fighting with a blindfold on while wearing handcuffs – even if you bump into something suspicious, you cannot take a swing.
At the San Diego RO, Roth applied for benefits from a unique program within the VA called Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VRE or VocRehab). The program is charged with helping all qualified disabled veteran applicants with finding new careers through training and other services when necessary.
According to Roth, after a few visits to VocRehab counselors, he was given the impression the program would support his goal of becoming a lawyer, which is a reasonable goal many other veterans before him followed including retired Senator Jim Webb (D-VA). The counselor’s civility changed when they learned the program cost would be more than $25,000 per year.
You see, once your training costs more than the magic number, VocRehab counselors need to get extra permissions to approve your program of training. And for some reason, those additional permissions are much harder to get than one might think.
It was at that point Roth started to fight for his rights starting with a records request under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act. Normally, a veteran is entitled to full access to the records VRE keeps about them where the person’s name or identifying information is revealed about the veteran. But Roth was not so lucky.
When Roth requested access to his VRE records, two San Diego VRE employees, Joanne Postle and Sam Quiroz, told him that his records were the property VA and that he was not entitled to see them. Fortunately for Roth, this claim was false and unlawful.
After putting his request in writing on three occasions, Roth went down to the San Diego RO last November to discuss the issue with the San Diego RO VocRehab staff. They refused to provide access to his records.
When In Doubt, Call Security
When Roth did not leave, VRE staff called security. This was done in an apparent attempt to intimidate him into leaving the facility since Roth was not acting in a threatening manner. But when security showed up, nothing else happened. On arrival, Roth stated the security could not see why VRE staff called security to begin with.
TIP — For readers, it is imperative that you keep your cool at all times when dealing with VA employees no matter what the VA employee is doing. Roth played his cards close to his chest and was able to ride out that little storm without arrest.
After the incident, he contacted both Congressman Scott Peter’s Office and Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs Bob McDonald offices to file formal complaints. Once the Congressman’s office interceded, VRE changed its tune, at least somewhat.
Once contacted, Linda Raffignone, the San Diego, VRE Officer, claimed her staff was unaware of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) procedures and the Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA), which mandates a duty to assist veterans on all record requests. In a letter she wrote:
“The employees involved have been informed of the current process and the process to accommodate these types of requests moving forward. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.”
Yes that is correct. The same employees who called the cops on Roth while claiming VRE files are only the property of the agency did not know how FOIA worked.
So, you might be wondering what I was wondering when I talked with VRE Director Jack Kammerer about this on a conference call two months ago, “How is it that VA employees are in the dark about FOIA and veterans’ records???”
The sad reality is that San Diego RO is not alone. VRE employees across the country are grossly undertrained when it comes to recordkeeping and FOIA. I personally sat with one misinformed VRE counselor who believed the America Freedom Act was FOIA. Bizarre.
In that meeting with Director Kammerer, he indicated VRE would work on brining at least San Diego VRE employees up to speed on FOIA. I hope he spreads out that retraining across the nation.
Unfortunately for Roth, the apology letter did not bring immediate access to his file, and what resulted was a mess.
How Lack Of Access Affects Claims
Sara March, Congressman Peter’s VA liaison representative, was told by the VA that the delay in providing Mr. Roth’s record was due to the fact: 1) VA files are paper hard copy records; 2) His files were commingled with several other veteran’s records; and, 3) VRE needed to sort out the problem before release.
Here is how this records mess played out in chronology and why VRE needs to overhaul its recordkeeping system.
Back in November, VRE counselor Lorenza Hilliard sent a letter final denial letter to Roth even though VRE refused to provide his records so he could fight the denial. Hilliard was apparently aware of Roth’s request and further that VRE was withholding the file she had sitting on her desk.
This gets back to the handcuff imagery I called on before. If you do not know what the internal claims are against you, you cannot properly appeal a VRE denial before it becomes final.
The San Diego RO, under pressure from Congressman Peter’s inquiry, then reversed their position. They indicated they would provide an Administrative Review. VRE Officer Linda Raffignone conducted the review in January. When asked how it went, Roth reported that Raffignone was extremely rude. It was clear to Roth that she resented the process.
It was at that point where Roth was provided with part of his file. However, the file contained an email from Peggy Rodriguez, the San Diego VA Privacy Officer. Roth indicated her email to VA leadership recommended removing all counselor notes prior to disclosing the record to the veteran: “I think from time-to-time, there may be counselor notes in the folder that you don’t necessarily want to share with the Veteran.” The record copies Roth was supplied also contained unusual redactions.
How To Deal With Redactions Or Records Denials
After appeal of the redactions to VA Office of General Counsel (OGC), Roth finally received his full file, but not before his claim became completely hung up between DC Central Office and San Diego.
TIP — The special take away is to always appeal any records denial to OGC, always. Regional Offices across the country tend to get denials wrong. But don’t take it from me. That was advice I received from a retiring FOIA officer who could not take working in VA any longer.
RELATED: FOIA Request Sample Document
As for Roth, he is still awaiting a fair adjudication of his claim. VRE created a mountain out of a molehill when they wrongfully withheld his VRE file, and when they issued only a partial release of it. Sadly, accountability for the poorly trained employees is unlikely.
Making matters worse, since most of a veteran’s VRE file is paper, who is to know if Roth even received his full file before some unscrupulous VA employee shredded parts?
More broadly, if VRE would put a retired Commander in law school through the grinder, how many less educated veterans get chewed up and spit out by the system?
This happened to me when i was going for vocrehab in san diego. I even saw the voc rehad supervisor in san diego. I even requested my file to see what went wrong. I wrote to my counselor and never recieved my file. Her name is Amber Alexander, they use intimidation and theyre liars at that San Diego VA mission valley. They will lie their asses off and that VA supervisor has been their for years. How can you not know your own policies? I hope they do a investigation on this place. I even requested a claim against these people. Heartless people, we are the ones getting injured and broken down. What has this world come too?
This is the newest “website” to visit. It’s from July 30, 2015. by Danielle Brian of POGO.
The page to go to is;
“Testimony of POGO’s Danielle Brian on Whistleblower Claims at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.”
There’s an interesting fact that comes out in her testimony. That is, POGO has been around for 31 years. But it only got envolved with VA corruption last year (2014)! Just in a few short weeks before July 2014, POGO had been contacted by at least 800 “current and former VA employees + veterans” to make their voices heard.
Y’all need to read her “plea” to the Veterans Committee last Thursday. Concerning the way VA has yet to correct major problems within VA.
I hope y’all find her words of hope as inspiring as I did.
Here’s another “page” to visit. By Linda Lewis on August 1, 2015.
“Whistleblowers testify that VA whitewashed healthcare scandals, retaliation persists”.
This is from the Thursday meeting of the committee. Only the “Whistleblower’s” testified. What they gad to say was just as bad as what POGO testified to.
This is another “go to” article!
I also want all to know the following, no matter the subject. I will try to leave anything having to do with VA on here. If I believe it’s important, y’all should have the opportunity to view it!!!!
Here’s another story,
“VA quietly drops criminal investigation of whistleblower after year of intimidation”
by Tori Richards / July 14, 2015 /
Part 13 of 13 in the series Veterans Affairs
This story comes out of a Louisiana VA. Where according to the article “2700 vets languished while awaiting appointments” and “37 died”!
The following has to do with what was being discussed on “The Herman Caine Show” yesterday, 31 July 2015.
It concerns POGO & Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) vs. The VA & VA OIG.
I was curious about what was going on. Especially since it concerned a “VA watchdog group” pitted against VA & VA OIG.
So this morning I googled:
POGO/veterans administration watchdog group
What I found was disturbing. The many ‘sites’ tell of “actions” being taken by VA OIG against POGO. And POGO’s response back to them. It Started in May 2014. Then continued on for a month or more.
On Mr. Caine’s show yesterday, it was just now being discussed between the “Washington’s Veterans Committee” and VA & VA-OIG this past week, July 2015. Why is this “act” just now being discussed?
These two groups, POGO and IAVA, had combined their forces and set up the web link;
This “link” is a way for anyone to state any and all “concerns” one might have of VA’s wrongdoing… your “statements” are then protected by the Constitution!
The following website should interest you.
“VA Inspector General Issues Subpoena for POGO Whistleblower Records: POGO Says NO”
In this article, it has been revealed 700 complaints (nationwide) had been lodged against VA. Of which 25% came from former and current VA employees.
There was more, much more. I would suggest y’all Google this and if you have complaints and/or concerns over wrongdoing by VA, contact VAOversight asap. It seems they are doing what OIG is not doing!!!
P.S. When you go to
“Help Us Hold the VA Accountable-U Tube”
This site has multiple videos concerning VA’s egregious acts against veterans. Veterans who defended their rights to be free. Yet, VA is going against every veterans constitutional rights.
The many videos describe, in detail, what has been done to veterans.
Please, check this out. Send what you find to everyone you know, please…,
Guys and Gals, It’s just great what everyone here had said, especially you Ben. I was previously denied in 1997 by the San Diego VRE, Director because I just got hire by the County as a Veterans Service Representative. Well it’s been five years now since I have been on IU with PT rated at 90% back to the day after I retired from the County after 12 years and 9 months. My disability was just overwhelming to me. I retired in 2010 and haven’t seeked any employment, but just medical appointments, counseling ect. I finally decided to take up the VA on their VRE program here in San Diego RO. I met with a VRC and was told that I was entitled. Now that was almost 2 weeks ago yesterday. The VRC informed me that at least 4 to 5 VRC had quit and their so much back logged. Ben, I know what I want to do with my VRE. Especially when I did my internship with the San Diego RO VRE for 12 weeks for my Bachelors in Work Force Education and Development from SIU at Coronado, Naval Air Station back in 2003-2004. So I know what they are suppose to do which they may not. As for the Director, VRE, I’m not surprise at all. Especially since I’m John to her. No pun intented here, but it’s the truth. My ultimate goal is to get a Law Degree and Help Veterans period.
Yours In Need,
Good report Ben!
Keep it up.
My husband has filed suit in federal district court for access to documents proving the VA perjured themselves. It is amazing how obtuse they can be!
In my experience, knowing your rights and using sources such as this site are extremely helpful. I agree that many veterans simply don’t know their rights or merely accept denials and other info that is told to them by VA. Education is the key, but unfortunately, our society is not inclined towards that. Additionally, we are all are own best advocates and that is why it is important for Veterans to understand how these CFRs apply to their specific situation. You must be able to describe and articulate your story and how the laws VA uses support your claim. Understandably though, that can be difficult without the help of an experienced claims service officer for example. However, what is possibly more important (in my experience), is locating a VRE counselor that actually listens and is willing to propose and “argue” on your behalf – if you have done your homework and it’s legal/ethical. I was able to secure an M.Ed. through VRE after a business management undergrad (Post 9/11). I was denied intially, for my masters and when I switched to a new counselor, I was approved. She was surprised to see my VRE file so disorganized (by my old counselor – 30 years VA) and very happy that all the documentation needed to support my claim was already in my file. VA needs work in many areas. It truly is a shame that Veterans aren’t informed better in programs such as this and compensation, and others. Like Ben said, sometimes reaching out to the Big Dogs in DC can help. I’ve personally corresponded with VBA Chief, Allison Hickey and other senior VA staff. Stand up for yourself and do your homework – it can really pay off.
DisabledVeterans.Org is a great site!
Just recently, while meeting with my POA and the VRO, at the Baltimore MD Office. My VRE rep aggressively stood over me and called me incompetent and uneducated! I have spoken to someone at the Central Office about this (They called me) to see how I was doing and how things were going. To say the least, It was a devastating moment. After leaving the office I broke down in tears and exhaustion with my POA by my side. It was a low blow, one that has been hard to recover from!
No Veteran should experience degradation and humiliation at the hands of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee regardless of the DVA employee’s grandiose, narcissistic and self ascribed lofty position.
Someone needs to have their ass handed to them via the proverbial paper dagger by documenting the experience, noting all witnesses present and working fast and furious through your Congressman’s Veteran’s Liaison Office!
I can appreciate that an experience such as this can not only be humiliating, but can also be a terrible blow to already fragile and frazzled emotions.
Please, for your sake and for the sake of any other Veteran who has to deal with this miscreant take immediate action against this DVA employee. In my opinion this person violated your rights under the American With Disabilities Act and I am sure violated any number of Federal Regulations that the DVA operates under. This VRE counselor has created a hostile and unsafe environment for you. This VRE person has acted in a manner that violates your trust and sanctity.
I am on it! Thank you for this! I will certainly move on this!!
Just because VA employees are hired doesn’t mean they are trained correctly or are professionals. That responsibility goes directly to the top head of the VA AND the unions involved, The top of the unions will go along with whatever the top of the VA gives orders to do. This is why today’s unions are called business unions. They’re in business to do the bidding of the top of the VA..or other employers, in both public government and private businesses..The days of real unions has been over for about 3 decades just as the having real governmening is over too..
You are right, the problem is the lack of training.
I agree Irene, from what I understand about the wait list scandal people were being forced to falsify records by the administration.
For me the problems I had with VA Health care were caused by several Doctors, a Physicians Assistant, a security Guard, Regional Councils Office at VAMC Minneapolis and the Regional Councils Office at Milwaukee . Dr. James H House and Dr. Kydee Sheetz who used me like a laboratory animal and then tried to hide the fact they performed an experimental surgery on me, without my consent, that was design to restore pinch factor in the hand of a person who was tetraplegia called a split tendon transfer.
I am not a tetraplegic and was at VAMC Minneapolis to have a tendon repaired at the IP joint of my thumb not to be used as a guinea pig.
Irene~ In Sept 2011, the VA successfully eliminated the unions by contracting all the work out to xerox document company and affiliated computer services, etc, etc… privatizing the VA made sure no one had to answer to unions like in the olden days… By eliminating the unions through subcontracting out services like VA each employee “hired” is paid less than the former federal union employee. These “new” employees are paid less and barely trained. Basically, contractors and sub-contractors at the VA are costing tax payers three times as much to get the same job done because the current form of privatization relies on value engineering… we can all see how well that doesn’t work. It just makes life worse for vets!
Oh! And Bobby McDonald drove P&G to the brink of bankruptcy with his value engineering over there… no shock it isn’t working here
If you believe what your saying on here and on facebook would be tolerated by an employer. Please, supply us with your name, place of employment and facebook account name. So we here can e-mail this info to your employer!
Your callous remarks are not being accepted by many on here. Just like comments you have made on facebook, I will bet.
You are “no saint”!
This just in on “The Herman Caine Show” about 20 minutes ago. So far the only VA bill that was passed through Congress was the one to “Fire all VA employees”. It is not expected to pass the Senate. There will be a “filibuster” to prevent a vote.
There has been NO mention of any monies being allowed to be transferred from “one account to another account”, YET.
Also, y’all may not be aware of the following.
1.) There was quite a heated discussion yesterday between Congress and VA managerial employees. They want to know why VA OIG subpoenaed information (veterans names) from POGO (a veterans ‘watch dog’ group) who had been given a great deal of info of wrongdoing by VA employees… Congressional leaders were peeved over that issue. What would VA OIG do with the names of veterans who gave derogatory info about VA employees? Three guesses and the first two don’t count!
2.) Also, According to the Washington ‘insider’, speaking to Mr. Caine, Congress and the Senate have become less compliant towards VA. Evidently, they are not happy VA top dog Ol McD is accusing Congress of “cutting VA’s budget” for next year. Which Congress has flatly denying.
3.) Again, so far NO NEWS RELEASE ON VA GETTING ANY MONEY, or BEING ABLE TO TRANSFER MONEY, YET! Don’t y’all think VA would be yelling it to the world? That VA will not shutdown next month?
There’s more, but I remembered only the “highlights” of the conversation….
Unfortunately The amendment was attached to the Hwy Bill and did pass in congress overwhelmingly on Wednesday and is expected to be put to a vote in the Senate late this evening.
The president has already sign the bill and it is already law.
Here is a link that shows the amendment was attached to the HWY Bill by the House of Representatives.
On an interesting and related note TriWest Healthcare Alliance, founded by a former aide to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., issued a press release stating they were now opening a new Health Care Administrative Service Center creating 500 new jobs handling the administration of VA’s Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) program and Veterans Choice Program (VCP). Hiring to being immediately. As of July 31st, 2015.
Also an interesting and related note, the lead lobbyist from the Atlantic Strategies Group, Jennifer Dionne, who signed the LD-2 disclosure forms for 2014 and 2015 lobbying, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), to promote the sale of the Pershing Hall, is also the former Deputy Director of Government Affairs at TriWest Healthcare Alliance.
With the resent bill past to enable the VA to fire employees and the this recent amendment to the Hwy bill now past into law which also includes measures to expand access for Veterans to the Veterans Choice Program.
One word comes to mind “Privatization”, and for at least 500 VA employees say good by to your jobs.
I wonder why all the local news stations here in Central Florida hasn’t reported on it?
I heard on the Herman Caine show this morning that Congress AND the Senate ain’t too happy with VA right now.
I sure wish Congressional leaders and Senate leaders would stand up to VA and protect our basic civil liberties!
I’d be curious to hear how many others had a similar experience to Walt’s below. Very impressive result.
Ben, SPrice has put another comment on which I think all on here are unaware of. It’s even more ridiculous than the first one. Please, check it out.
I had a similar experience to Walt’s. After years of the VA ignoring my FOIA requests, Senator McCain filed one on my behalf, to get my entire VA and military records. Most of them finally arrived, starting with a small group of documents that McCain’s staff had picked out for me to focus on. To show you what you might really be up against, as in my case, those few documents started with restricted documents that the Marines had sent to the VA many years ago. They specifically stated to not show them to the Marine/veteran, in this case, me.
Why would they do that? Well, it was a nice little conspiracy between Headquarters Marine Corps and the VA. One such letter that it took the most senior member of the Armed Services Committee to get after many years of me trying on my own, stated that I was ‘100% service-connected disabled for VA purposes’ at the time of my placement onto the Temporary Disability Retirement List. I spent many years trying to get the VA to formally admit to and approve me for service-connected disability when they had it right on the top of my VA file all that time!
Anyway, I have a suggestion as to what should be done with the entire VA problem. People like Crazy Elf and others here that are computer literate can maybe help put together a petition to remove Secretary McDonald. To make it more likely to succeed, and quickly, a generous compensation package for his immediately effective resignation should be included. Basically, give him anything he wants just to get rid of him.
If such a petition was successful, we would then have to be prepared to deal with the clone replacement, new VA Secretary, that is sure to come, considering the present Administration’s lack of interest of holding this cabinet member, McDonald, accountable, or anyone at the VA accountable in a significant way.
So, Elf and others, how about if we look into the idea of the ultimate ‘golden parachutte’ for McDonald, just to get rid of him?
Bruce, what you suggest (petition) won’t do any good. Our government officials don’t care about that sort of thing. Unless it’s over something superfluous!
The only thing I truly do think will work is for more government whistleblowers coming forward and combining their resources. Let the American People (taxpayers and voters) know what’s going on NATIONWIDE and WORLDWIDE with their tax dollars.
These acts by our government needs to be brought out in such a way, where civilians (taxpayers and voters) who have never served within the government needs to become so angry at the political parties, they tell them they will never be elected again.
Now, what “thing” do you think will cause civilians (taxpayers and voters) to be that angry?
The taxes people are being forced to pay the government to keep up their lavish lifestyle. Let the people (taxpayers and voters) know how our government officials spend their money. This includes all of the government agencies. Not just VA. Which has caused the worst deficit in our nation’s history, bar none!
You’ve heard the old saying, “if you break the bank”? Well, our government officials are breaking our bank. They need to be stopped!
The civilians (taxpayers and voters) have to say to our elected officials,
“The Banks Closed”!
“Enough is Enough!”
That’s my opinion, and thought for the day!
P.S. Brother, if it weren’t for my beautiful wife helping me, I’d be lost on here.
A good book to read is “Common Sense”, by Thomas Paine. Great reading. You can, or should be able to pick it up at any book store. That “pamphlet” was the reason for our Revolutionary War of 1776! Remember “TAXATION. WITHOUT REPRESENTATION”! Check it out….
S Price’s blog says ‘all Health Professionals are not saints’. That is very true, especially of VA gatekeepers who slam the door in your face on any earned benefit you are trying to access. They are not only NOT saints, they could be fairly characterized as demons.
Expect to see more and more prosecutions of VA staff, for fraud and other criminal charges, like this week’s report here by Ben of the VA staffer going to prison on 50 counts of tampering with records. Do not be surprised to see criminal charges against Bob in the very near future. He was created and cultivated by SF and Intel spooks at the Pentagon years ago, then deployed as their cut-out.
Just like these same Ops managers use foreign dictators that they create as monsters to justify multibillion dollar invasions, then remove them from power — like Sadam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden, they will soon drop Bob as a bad habit. His egotistical, sociopathic, self-serving, hyper- arrogant personality will be his downfall. He is truly the ultimate Hitler of the VA.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Bob will grow in power a little bit longer then go down in his own self-inflicted flames. Then these spooks who do funding diversions will have to look elsewhere for funds to steal for things like the F-35 program, and the Gruman Intruder Flying Warthog program that billions of VA dollars were channeled into.
These things have been pointed out here because to stop the graft and corruption you must first know where the billions in fraudulently denied claims are being diverted to. It is painfully obvious, but it does need to be pointed out. Indeed, you can’t cut off the snake’s head unless you first find the snake.
Very interesting and valuable story. I also have one that may just save some other veterans life, in all probability it saved mine.
Several months ago I requested a copy of certain parts of my medical records to include a copy of the actual images of an echocardiogram that I had done at the VA. The VA records clerk was very polite and printed a copy of the medical records that I requested, but did not burn a copy of my echocardiogram. When I asked where, “where is the image of the echocardiogram,” the clerk politely replied, ” wait just a minute,” at which time he exited and left me sitting in his cubicle. In about five minutes he returned with his supervisor who informed me that, “I was entitled to a copy of the radiology report but not the actual echocardiogram image.” I responded to this supervisor, “make no mistake, by law I am entitled to every thing that the VA has with my name on it, to include echocardiogram images.” This supervision then said, “wait just a few minutes please,” and left her subordinates cubicle. She returned in about ten minutes, apologized to me, and said that she had expedited my request for a for a copy of my echocardiogram images and that I would have the CD in a few minutes, which I did receive.
When we left the records department with everything that I had requested, I said to my wife, “I wonder how many other veterans had been denied access to MRI, echocardiogram, and other images by the Boston VA and just accepted this nonsense?
Now, why did I need the echocardiogram image? I needed it to give to my private sector cardiologist who already had reviewed my radiology reports from the Boston VAMC, had told me that they were worthless, and asked me to get the actual echocardiogram image from which he would write the radiology report. I gave this image to his office and scheduled appointment to see him in two weeks.
When I went to my appointment with this private cardiologist he first told me that the VA had done an excellent job and that the image’s from the echocardiogram were “beautiful.” He then proceeded to tell me that I had had a heart attack and that I also had coronary heart disease. The VA radiology report indicated that my heart was fine and this was supported by a letter from my VA primary care doctor. After reading this letter, my private cardiologist asked if the letter was written by a cardiologist? I responded no, he was a primary care doctor. My cardiologist then said, “it really makes no difference, the echocardiogram images were so good that an intern should have been able to see that you have had a heart attack and have coronary heart disease.”
So here is the upshot to this entire episode. Most of the medical screw-up’s at the VAMC’s are not fatal, i.e., they will not kill you. Not so with your heart! This is the kind of screw up that can land you in a coffin.
To all veterans, please know that by law, you are entitled to all of your VA records, yes all of them, Voc Rehab, C&P reports and notes, your C file, all medical records and notes, etc. Do not take no for an answer from the VA – this may just save your life.
BTW, I am a disabled Vietnam vet finishing my masters degree at Harvard through the VA Voc Rehab program, and yes, they tried to deny me this benefit also, telling that maybe I was too old. When I pointed out to them that their own regulations stated that “age was not to be used as a factor when determining eligibility for Voc Rehab, they replied, “yes, you are correct,” and moved forward towards my final acceptance into the program.
Know both your rights and the VA regulations before you request anything from the VA, their standard answer is almost always no, so to avoid the lengthy appeals process that the VA so loves, arm yourself before the fact!
Thanks for the great feedback Walt. Many veterans DO give up along the way, and your accomplishment as a result of not giving up is impressive. I hope you enjoyed Harvard!
I wonder how many veterans even know of this program? I bet the number is low, to say the least.
This Naval Officer, grandson of a MOH recipient, evidently wasn’t going to give up without a fight. This should be a lesson to us all.
We have to continue to bring VA corruption to light. Every veteran deserves to be treated fairly, honestly, honorably and any other positive adjective one might use.
I would’ve thought all VA employees, from top to bottom, were to be trained for the job they were hired for. Evidently, this is far from the truth. When they take a position in VA, are they trained to do the best for the veterans? Or are they given instructions on how to make it as hard as possible for veterans?
If the “later” is the case. Then veterans need to make as many complaints as possible. Treat VA as an opponent. This saying comes to mind, “Do unto others, as you want others to do unto you!”
There’s a new comment on yesterdays blog by SPrice. Check it out. He must be a VA employee.
Yes, I saw that and it was quite evident that that person as well as a couple others must be associated/employed by the VA. Interesting how the ignorant come out from under their rock to ignorantly defend the VA’s inherent ignorance.
That person claimed “Health Professionals are NOT SAINTS”…that is so laughable because all we are demanding is INTEGRITY and ACCOUNTABILITY…in the civilian medical world, it’s the very malpractice insurance that helps instill this, whereas the VA is “bonus motivated” and ignorance seems to be not only taught, but highly encouraged.
namnibor, she’s added an additional comment. You should check it out too. FYI, I think she’s lost all common sense. And she definitely needs a reality check!!!!
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