Los Angeles VA Regional Office Shredding Veterans Claims
VA Benefits Administration would be doing such a good job if they did not keep shredding veterans claims as they whittle down the disability backlog.
VA OIG just reported catching Los Angeles RO putting claims records – these are Federal records – into the shredder file while also ignoring clear processing instruction. VA OIG reports the problems would likely stop if VA employees would follow policies.
Do VA employees just have a problem following the law and clear instruction?
VA OIG performed an unannounced inspection and caught agency employees tossing the files into the shredder bin. There is no indication of how many veterans may have been affected.
Washington Examiner reported:
“Although we cannot quantify or identify claims-related documents that the VARO may have shredded prior to our review, we found nine claims-related documents that VARO staff incorrectly placed in personal shred bins for non-claims related documents,” the OIG reported. “Eight of the nine documents had the potential to affect veterans’ benefits and one had no effect on the veteran’s benefits.”
“Of the nine claims-related documents, five did not have required initials of both the employee and supervisor and the remaining four had only the employee’s initials,” the report said. “If … staff and their supervisors followed VBA policy, these nine claims-related documents would not have been placed in personal shred bins that are designated for non-claims related documents.”
I was disappointed to read Military Times journalist Leo Shane III soft show the issue. He merely titled his article “VA investigating wrongly discarded claims forms” though the reality is VA was caught unlawfully destroying evidence.
Meanwhile, Washington Examiner hit the issue head on, “VA caught sending veterans’ mail to the shredder.” Let’s not forget sending documents to the shredder is a whole lot more impactful that merely misplacing them.
OK, on this issue here, there were 10 VARO’s that were hit with a surprise OIG inspection. Among them were Reno and St. Petersburg. Go to VAwatchdog to get the information.
Next story you should look up. According to my local news stations here in Orlando, it looks like that website “Ashley Madison” had been ‘hacked’. The ‘Hackers’ are demanding that they need to “shutdown”. Or the hackers will release information of their “Clients”! So, while I was on “VAwatchdog” this morning, There just so happened to be a “story” on this very subject! The title on VAwatchdog is,
“Department of Veterans Affairs is the Largest Non-Military Federal User of Ashley Madison”.
For you who are not familiar with this ‘site’, it allows for individuals to log on and “Cheat on their Spouses”! They have claimed, “all info is highly secure!” Evidently that was not the case!
So, I wanted to see what other articles were online concerning this NEW revelation.
What I did was reword the title to; Ashley Madison and the Veterans Administration”.
And, sure enough, I found a “treasure trove”! Seems like, on one of the sites, there are “10,000 U.S. officials on Ashley Madison”. The VA tops the group. They even had some from the White House, Dept. of Prisons and more.
Get a good laugh today. Go online and check out these and other stories.
I wonder how the spouses will react when there “better half” turns up on that list?
Oh, I forgot to mention, that “architect” that was on trial in Akron, Ohio was “found guilty on all charges” and lead out of the courtroom in handcuffs. This story is also on VAwatchdog.
Guess he didn’t turn names. Wonder how long he will spend in prison?
Jeff Jewel was a lowly VSO in the Solano County Veterans Service office year’s ago. He shredded hundred’s of medical and other personal files that another VSO or NSO said, “make sure to put your important records in the County Veterans Service Office files, they will be protected!” He is now a team leader of the Concord Vet Center, big promotion for the coward that has caused much carnage…but, then again that seems to be VA way! The Congressmen in the area are all to in hurry to see the flower’s on veteran’s graves but won’t lift a finger to aid ANY VETERAN in distress and won’t investigate in the proper manner the FUBAR VARO, VA Clinics or Vet Center’s…I have been struggling with the failed Martinez, California VA Health Clinic over a couple issues…yesterday I found out the
compression stockings I have had a big problem with over a year ago and several visits could have caused damage to my legs enough to require maybe amputation if I wore them as suggested by the FUBAR supposed to be medical Home Depot hires… this clinic from experience should be closed and a parking lot should be built in it’s place. I leave with a quote from Shannon Gaston from the Martinez, California VA Health Clinic…”this is a teaching campus and we can do anything we want!” They do and it is deplorable that they get away with it.
If Secretary McDonald and Rank *really cared* about making drastic improvements with the VA they would actually **listen to Veterans**, one would think.
I know this may seem like I am delusional or the like but would it not make sense to have the VA OIG conduct Open Town Halls Meetings across the USA in various locations, have absolutely no media restrictions, and televise it on Public TV or the Congress Streaming Site, and allow without restriction Veteran’s ability to speak-up about what’s going on.
As it stands, this ineffective (by design?) method the VA OIG now utilizes is not even close to “putting out fires as they occur”, because the VA OIG is actually FEEDING THIS FIRE by anytime these VA Managers get caught doing something egregious the VA regularly just relocates that employee, as what happened here, the same DAMN VA Manager that was doing the SAME DAMN THING at Philly VAMC just a few months back is the SAME A$$hole caught by the VA OIG with this story out of California VARO.
Someone on here rightfully stated it’s like the Catholic Church simply moving a child molester to another State or Parish to only rinse/repeat same crap…the VA is no different.
Sec. McDonald must really assume not only Veterans are not able to connect these dots but also blatantly assume the American Public are idiots as well.
I am almost thinking that this supposed “unannounced VA OIG Visit” was simply a planned PR Event to try to convey they are actually doing something about the VA’s problems. This same manager that’s now been officially caught twice shredding, evidence that Vet Files had been shredded, or about to be shredded, and we need to follow this story and raise HELL because if the VA simply moves this ASS around again as a form of “Administrative Punishment”, rather than FIRE, well, it again will show Sec. McDonald is NOT being sincere in wishing to make a difference for the betterment of the VA and Veterans under his watch…my trust has entirely waned for him at this point.
I personally believe that they are moving Robert McKenrick around to do what he is doing and that is eliminating the VA Claim backlog by any means necessary.
That is why no one will be fired and the IG will only whitewash his actions.
What’s being done about this?
My gd file was in there!
with what is going on within the V.A. shredding crucial documents the veteran need for immediate care and are not getting it, because the government knows about it and does nothing about it I cannot wait for Donald Trump to get elected, take over the government and teaches our politicians a well learned lesson: that will be my day to rejoice.
God willing it happens.
Can you email back what kind of UNIVERSITY YOU HAVE TO GO TO BE REGIONAL VETERAN COUNSEL…….PLEASE REPLY BACK. …….THANKS.
CorpsmanUP, will that ‘subpoena’ have anything to do with VA’s agreement over having to “report to the committee every 14 days over the expenditures” they accrue?”
I do remember that being part of VA’s contract to receive the $3.4 billion.
Of course, what makes anyone on that committee believe VA would honor any part of it?
I don’t think anyone is even surprised by this anymore. Which is also a tragedy. I know from my own experience not only did I have to support files online BUT ALSO then repeatedly was requested to send and resend forms via the mail. I spent close to a thousand dollars on printing, priority mail, and delivery signature request forms. Once they realized I wasn’t going away and that I wasn’t stupid enough to send them original copies that they could “lose” they approved my claim.
How is this ok on any level? Shredding Federal records is a CRIME.
Now I wonder if my claim was shredded? Gee, this appeal is only going on 10 years, with all the documents they need. I have attempted suicide, I am constantly defending my position. I have always been proud to be a Veteran, but I am tired of being treated like I don’t matter. They have done that for so long, you just want to be out of pain. Someone better wake up, and get this crap under control, or it is just going to get worse.
Caught red-handed, so the real question is, what, exactly are the authorities going to do about it? I’m sure these actions can carry a prison sentence. Are the employees caught doing this going to be terminated for misconduct? Is the VA OIG going to investigate this outrage any further?
IMO, the answers to my questions are; (1) no one will go to jail for this; (2) no one will get fired, and, if they do, they will fight the termination through the AFGE and probably win, and (3) no.
My wife just found a new article concerning that VA fubar in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s coming from John Boehner website, the title is;
“The President is Letting The VA Do This”
Aug. 13, 2015
The Huffington Post is reporting this.
Google it to show what the whole article says…
Again, what’s the name of the “VA Book” that has all the rules and regulations in it? I haven’t been able to find it on the web.
It is employee handbook 0735 go to their website, each employee has a position description, but all are bound by government ethics. You can report to the office of government oversight and reform which has jurisdiction over all federal agencies. We will be working soon on a short film that will give veterans testimony on egregious offense commited against them soon. I will keep you posted. The goal of the film is to let the veteran speak uncensored.
Thanks Brother, next question, why is it when a vet/patient brings up to any VA physician to look at the past medical histories, they say either, “You have to put in a C&P!”, or “I’m treating you for what I see today!”
Isn’t there something there that’s either morally wrong, or possibly ethically wrong.”
The one I love the most is, “I’m not here for the money. I’m here to help veterans!”
Are any of these “statements” in that “handbook”?
The best thing you can do is to draft a letter that points out the condescinding tone in which he speaks to you. There is also a grievance process at the VA.
Here is what I copied verbatim.
Concerns or Complaints
If you need advice on how to resolve an ethical concern about the Veteran’s care, you may speak with the Medical Center’s Ethics Consultation Service.
You are encouraged and expected to seek help from the VA health care treatment team and/or a patient advocate if you have problems or complaints. You will be given understandable information about the complaint process in your preferred language. Any privacy complaints will be addressed by the facility Privacy Officer. You may complain verbally or in writing, without fear of retaliation.
If you believe that you or the Veteran has been neglected, abused or exploited by VA staff, please report this promptly to the treatment team or patient advocate. You will receive help immediately.
If you have concerns about the quality of the health care that the Veteran is receiving, you may contact the VHA Office of the Medical Inspector at 1-800-634-4782.
If you believe the organization has failed to address or satisfy your concerns about health care quality and safety, you may contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring at 1-800-994-6610. If you believe that the organization has failed to address your concerns about suspected criminal activities, fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement, you may contact the VA Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-488-8244
Are you talking about the Veterans Benefit Handbook ? VA hospitals are given cases of them to give to vet’s , guess what , never happens . I buy one every year from government printing on line .About five bucks . Only way to find out what our benefits are .VA will not inform You .
They got caught again,someone tell me why nothing ever happens to them?
I have a “friend” who says there’s NO such law for someone “telling his/her subordinates to manipulate data within the VA computers”! I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain what was happening up in Augusta, Georgia. How a “VA manager had been arrested on fifty counts of fraud”! I explained he had violated his bond by contacting a VA employee. Was rearrested and was just let out this week. With the express warning, if he violates his bond again, he will remain in jail until his trial.
Again, this “friend” remains steadfast in his belief—There is no law covering VA employees because it is a “private company”!
How does one explain this to a person who doesn’t want to listen to facts!!!!!
The report is on OIG website, but it is restricted. They listed it as “inappropriate use of collaborative technologies” what that means is that the VA has an intranet that is an internal network they use to communicate. i.e messenger VA website that can connect facility to facility. I am guessing either sensitive data was transmitted, porn or even something to do with contracting persons with the IT systems and system redesign which covers the scheduling issue.
“IT infosec” positions were posted yesterday in 161 different locations.
The VA and OIG are so ill prepared in their investigations that they are going to get themselves in hot water with Congress because there is also another looming subpoena coming from the House Vete Affairs Committee.
CorpsmanUP, the incident I referred to was the “VA manager who was caught manipulating veterans medical data” in Augusta, Georgia. He was arrested in mid-July 2015. He was out on bond. Then within a week to ten days he violated his bond, (by contacting a VA employee). He was then re-arrested and was just let out recently.
This can be found on many websites.
The article has came out on a Augusta, Georgia newspaper.
The “friend” I have believes no one can be arrested in VA for that act. I cannot get him to understand, manipulating wait times, changing information within a veterans medical file, etc., etc., is a “felony”! Ben had, I believe, had a blog on this. If not, I remember putting the article in one of his comment section.
Corpsmanup, the name of the individual who committed these acts is,
He is facing 50 counts of fraud. Each count carries a $250k fine & 5 years in prison EACH.
I think it has to do something with the IT program systemically because of the wait times. This report is separate of that incident.
There are controls in place that capture metrics in the VISTA system where the appointments are made It gives the veteran the “desired date” , that is what you want, vs what is actually available.The clerks have been telling vets that so and so date is available, which is not the correct way of doing it.
When you request a certain date and it is not available, this is how VA can request $$$ needed based on demand.
I hope this helps
Ben you have certainly covered this problem before at different locations such as the problem in Philly.
After reading your article then following the links to articles you provided I found comments that were very enlightening.
One poster from Penn State — Dickenson Law pointed out that the current director who is responsible for the shredding at Los Angeles VA Regional Office is Robert McKenrick. The same Robert McKenrick who was the director that was responsible for the shredding of Veterans Claims at the Philly VA Regional Office.
An attorney who worked for over 7 years for the Philly VA Regional Office that turned whistleblowers stated just how bad it got there under Mr. McKenrick, she said
“In our office we would receive emails… They (administrators) were instructing us to change the dates on any claims – regardless of the circumstances if they were older than a certain date,”
also she stated
“I went down to the file room and I wanted to see for myself what was going on, and I saw these (96 of them) boxes that were labeled 2010 claims, 2011 claims, 2012 claims to be shredded,”.
After reading her statement about Dates being altered on claims I checked an sure enough there is a IG’s whitewash report on altered dates on claims at the Los Angeles VA Regional Office while Mr. McKenrick has been the director.
Have to wonder what kind of bonus McKenrick receives for screwing Veterans and what regional office the VA will send him to next.
If anyone happens to find Robert McKenrick home address please post it. I know that there are a few thousand Vets that would like to send him some mail.
They will probably send him to Hawaii. They sent the current Director Pfeffer here after he botched up a case with Dr. Lerner in Kentucky.
Like pedophile priests, VA recycles the worst of the VA.
Ben, seems we’ve heard these stories before.
I have a couple of questions.
1.) Since a “VBA Policy” supposed to be followed by everyone in VA, wouldn’t this also include the ‘administration’ side of the VAMC’s? Therefore, isn’t it true the clerks and administrators at all medical facilities have a “hand book” which describes their duties?
What about physicians, nurses and medical technicians, don’t they fall under some form of “regulation handbook”? If so, what is it’s “title”?
This “handbook” you speak of. Isn’t there another ‘book’ of specific “rules and regulations” where VA employees can go to to get more information?
I do see one major flaw in the VA’s hiring practice. Whether it be on the administration side or the medical side. That is the majority of hires are/were from the civilian sector. Individuals who have never served in the military. Thereby causing a “rift” by not understanding the military mindset!
When a physician says to a patient, “I want you back here in, say, no longer than three to four weeks!” That’s a good thing, right? So, then the patient goes out to the “scheduler” and repeats that request. The scheduler then says, “I have an appointment on xxx day!” The patient realizes thats six to seven weeks out. The patient reiterates the physicians request. This goes on until the patient goes back to the physician and explains the problem.
So, now It’s a problem between the physician and scheduler. The patient feels put out again by the administration side of the VAMC.
Now, I know this happened, because it just happened to me yesterday…
I would like to also explain, that back in either 2006 or 2007, while I was a patient at the VAMC in Orlando, Fl. a dentist was upset because the administration side of ALL vamc’s took over the “scheduling”! He informed me that since that happened, the appointment log in’s were a total mess.
That’s my ‘rant’ for the day. Unless someone defends McD, like someone did two blogs ago….
Also, it seems Ol McD is only going after the employees on the bottom rung of the ladder. Why is that? Doesn’t he realize he’s going to get “bad press” no matter who he sends to the “gallows”!
Just like that “lowly architect” now on trial in Akron, Ohio! I see him pulling a LONG PRISON TERM if he doesn’t start naming names.
Or how about that “lowly manager” on trial soon in Augusta, Georgia? His attorney says he got the “orders” from up above. And it will come out in the trial.
There are probably more out there, we just haven’t heard of them YET!
We veterans have a LONG MEMORY! It may take something to jog our minds, but when that occurs— watch out!!!!
May I add this suggestion that may offer the VA clarity through analogy since Disney owns portion of Sesame Street as well and since Sec. McD just loves Disney, so:
1) The VA will need to of course acquire an over-the-top contract that will be guaranteed to go over-budget by 500% or more for a company to repaint ALL the shredders they own in VA Land to look like “The Cookie Monster and his Cookie Jar”. I stress they must be accurate representations, along with full-color brochures conveying that “The Cookie Monster” **lives in there**.
2) The VA will need an additional contract with a totally different company that will be guaranteed to go over budget to print-up training brochures explaining that ALL VETERAN FILES ARE ***not*** COOKIES, with the focal of training the employees from the stance that “The Cookie Monster” ***only*** eats cookies, not “Trash”, nor Veteran Claims, nor Veteran Mail…again, these are NOT “Cookies”. Maybe add another VA Contract that changes ALL Veteran Files to look like chocolate chip cookies printed on them all. Add scratch and sniff cookie to these files to ensure it gets across…maybe even a lick strip for the incredibly challenged by these all so complicated analogies.
3) Now with one additional VA Contract (guaranteed to be over-budget), in which the company uses “Oscar,The Grump” (who does live in a “Trash Can), and have pictograms conveying that “Cookies” **never** go into “Oscar The Grump’s Trash Can”, **only trash**….maybe have a 4th contractor develop a scratch and sniff VA Ink Stamp Block that will only smell like COOKIES, so that the VA Employee KNOWS that only files with the cookie approved stamp actually go into the Cookie Monster Shredder.
^a bit over the top?
Just HOW difficult is it really for these employees, to include management, to get the concept that Veteran Files, Mail, Medical, and Claim Files are **FEDERAL DOCUMENTS** and how to differentiate between real trash and real viable information?
Yes, this article put me over the top into a “mood” this morning. I just find it hard to fathom why they cannot get these basic things correct.
This also places emphasis on how “you cannot fix stupid”!! (but you certainly can throw money at it and hope it sticks)
Nothing else really to say, so rant over.
Ben, It is the Gannett news source. The Wilmington Journal reporter does the same thing. I gave him evidence about the Wilmington VA and he totally did not report it.
The most interesting thing about this is that Biden ‘s home state is Delaware. When I reported to the Delaware Board of Professional regulations about a psychologist flagging my veteran record and writing in it without even seeing me, The Attorney General refused to even investigate. (Beau Biden’s previous office)
I made disclosures to Coons, Carper and Carney, In a whistleblower hearing in June, Carper never mentioned the issues at Wilmington, including a contractor who contracted Legionella.
Finally, while I think it is all political, there are the ties with the press that is a threat to National Security, and that Security is Integrity in Journalism.
There is one thing I forgot to mention. There have been reports that surfaced that the Police Chief at Wilmington is serving also in a capacity as HAS CChief, that is he oversees scheduling, the clinics and so on. My question is that if he also sits on the Disruptive Behavior Committee, how is it that a law enforcement officer is also granted access to your medical record. Isn’t that a conflict of interest or not in accordance with the law?
How do these employees even manage to operate a stapler?
Even a caveman could work at the VA.
That’s perhaps what the VA OIG would LIKE Veterans to think. The terrible truth not being told is that these employees simply are NOT TRAINED PROPERLY and this is a systemic problem…meaning, it’s a system-wide HUMAN **problem**…and I am betting that whomever manages those people ALSO does not know the regulations, thus, wrongly teaches new employees…like a STUPIDITY VIRUS.
However, keep option B open: That they knew **exactly** what they were doing while placing files in shredder. I know option B is a bit more sinister, but this is definitely not the first handful of shredding incidents with the VA or VA employees blatantly tossing files in dumpster, as of just recent report.
Interesting that 7 out of the 8 files had viable claim info for the Veteran. However, even if it was other odds, it’s damn wrong and yes, more thinking about it, a caveman could work at the VA.
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