‘Angry’ Billboard Controversy Exposes Backlog Bamboozle

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Backlog VA is Lying

Benjamin KrauseOutcry concerning lies from VA have resulted in a back and forth between VA is Lying and officials who claim there is no connection between the backlog decrease and appeals increase.

How is that? As you will see, VA loves engaging in word-smithery rather than giving honest responses about serious issues veterans are concerned about.

RELATED: Are VA Claims At All Time Lows?

Ignoring veterans at Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida, resulted in the group VA is Lying firing up a billboard practically in the backyard of the facility at the end of last week.

Ron Nesler, the group’s creator, put it up near Haley VA after hearing reports that the hospital’s director refuses to speak with veterans. Nesler was told, when reaching out to the director for help for another veteran, that “it is our policy that the director’s office does not accept phone calls from veterans.”

Nesler told the Tampa Tribune that the group’s focus not only pushes back against hospital misdeeds but also veterans benefits. In an interview, Nesler said VA is essentially playing a game of hide the bean by moving one claims from the backlog into the blackhole of appeals:

“Look at the VA backlog, VA claims they are fixing the backlog, but veterans know better. VA’s way to fix the back log is to move claims into the black hole of the appeals process, so VA looks a little better on paper, but the same vets are still waiting, just in a different line. And these vets are dying while they wait, and VA is lying.”

VA officials flatly deny the connection following their propaganda last week claiming they were fixing the backlog:

“There is not a correlation between the decrease in rating claims pending over 125 days and an increase in the number of appeals,” said Bruce Clisby, a spokesman for the VA St. Petersburg Regional Office. “The association exists between the increased number of claim decisions and the average percentage of claim decisions that are appealed.”

As I understand it, the ratio is not relative to the decrease at all. Instead, VA is pushing out backlog claims without ensuring the accuracy of the decision in question. So how is it no correlation exists from resolving the backlog and the substantial increase in appeals?

Surprised by VA’s persistent adherence to its propaganda?

VA’s message is clearly making its rounds across the web. The renowned Council on Foreign Relations recently repeated the message on its own Defense in Depth blog.

Yet, some groups including Veterans Warriors are pushing back against the new VA myth, and I will follow up with information about their counter-message research results soon.

According to the article, Nesler said the billboard is rotating and costs around $1,000 per month. So far, his group has raised around $19,000 in three weeks to put more billboards up around the country. The next VA is Lying billboards are going up in Augusta, Georgia and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Source: https://www.tbo.com/list/military-news/angry-billboard-brings-national-va-protest-to-haley-center-20150831/

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49 Comments

  1. That’s exactly what happened to me now I have to ride out the appeals process they really know how to hurt us and are very good at it because they’ve been doing this for years

  2. I’M TIRED OF HEARING HOW BAD VETERANS HAVE IT!!! They have EXCELLENT and FREE if not NEARLY FREE benefits that the rest of us all pay A LOT for. I am reminded of this every day I go to work at the new $623,000,000+ VA Medical Center in Orlando. We should all be so lucky as to have access to such an enormous and free amount of benefits as our veterans do. Government change is slow because literally everything takes an act of Congress and we all know how messed up those people are. These vets are sick and you’re not going to be able to help everyone as best as they think they deserve to be helped. It is DOD welfare after all. Maybe we should help our vets but not sending them to pointless wars to begin with!!!

    • Dave if you’d ever served you would know the access isn’t free. It was and always will be; paid for in blood. If there was a way for us to make people such as you understand, the problem just wouldn’t be…..To counter your logic I would say the problem isn’t Congress; it is you and your kind.

      • Hey Dave I know how pissed off you must be going to work every day at a VA facility you are helping to pay for and seeing all of those freeloading belly aching whining loser veterans with no arms or missing legs, missing eyes, braces, crutches, wheel chairs, severe burns etc. I can really understand why you are so upset with these freeloaders.But on the flip side of all this if it weren’t for these losers you wouldn’t have your job, or the freedom to cry about how much you have to pay for all this FREE stuff we get. How about walking in our shoes for a month week or even a day. The real problem with the system called the VA are fat ass do nothing jerk losers like yourself who want the jobs offered by the VA but don’t understand why there is a VA in first place.

        Go collect your fat pay check, stuff your big mouth and remember one thing, I go to sleep at night proud of who I am, a veteran, while you’re just a freeloading chicken shit fat ass do nothing.

      • Dave, you came on this site and said your tired of vets complaining.
        Well, maybe you should go enlist in any service. Then go to a freaking war zone. Get shot at and maybe even get shot. Or have your butt put up close and personal with the enemy. Lay in a hole you dug with your own hands to hopefully believe they won’t lob something your way. There’s all kinds of dangers I could mention. That’s just a few.

        Then, come back to “The World”, as we called the U.S. and have some puke ass S.O.B. call you a “fucking liar” because “You weren’t there!” Or how about, “I’m looking at your records, and there’s no record of you even being in the Army!”
        WTF, OVER, is what I want to say to some asshole that doesn’t even have a college degree, and he’s looking right at a computer screen that isn’t even conected to a VARO. If it were, he’d see my “multiple years in TWO militaries”! Plus ALL my awards and medals.
        As far as that $650+ million dollar overbudget and still not operating at 100% yet (mainly because no intelligent physician or nurse wants to work for VA) Lake Nona, Orlando, Florida hospital, It seems that it’s one of the worst taxpayer complaint here. Just wait, there’s a big surprise coming soon. You ain’t going to like it one bit….,

      • As far as Dave’s comments, I am so sorry to all the veterans and their families. You have suffered great sacrifices for our country. These sacrifices continue when you return home and for many it never ends. I am guessing that Dave is NOT a combat vet. NO ONE likes war but vets did what their country asked them to do and for that many are extremely grateful. I don’t think I’d have the courage. I’m guessing Dave doesn’t either. And Dave you said that these vets are sick (why else would the vets be there?) and you’re not going to be able to help everyone as best as they think they should be. THINK!? I hope anyone that is going to a hospital is THINKING and praying that they (every one of them) is going to receive the best care as they SHOULD. I’m not surprised that these remarks are made anonymously (coward) by a VA HEALTHCARE (?!) employee. And to the VA employees that DO care and are good caring employees where are you? Especially the good VA employees that are combat vets, why do you not help? If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Do you think Dave that a VA health tech letting a vet lie unconscious and not breathing on the floor for at least 7 minutes without CPR as the “best care?” It is NOT any care at all. Do you think Dave that this VA health tech giving NO CPR for this entire length of time is “good care?” Do you think the fact that this VA employee KNEW this vet had a respiratory code blue call hours earlier and did NOTHING but make two MORE code blue calls “good care?” Do you think, Dave, the fact that this VA employee knew about the earlier respiratory code blue, WITNESSED vet becoming unconscious, was CERTIFIED in CPR, AND it was his DUTY to provide CPR but did NOT, is that what you call “good care?” Vet did not die that day but everything that was him did. “It was a lot of work for staff” to send this vet to a higher level of care as so stated by one of the VA’s physician assistants!! Is that the EXCELLENT and FREE care that you are speaking about? Well, I don’t think any of these vets need that kind of EXCELLENT care. Sad but true that this vet is not the only one. There probably are many others and many we will never know about. Guess not giving CPR (who doesn’t know about CPR?) is EXCELLENT care. Don’t sign any of us up. I would think when a person goes into combat they would know of the potential to lose their life. Do they now have to face the potential that they survived combat but may not survive the very system that is supposed to help save them? Shame on you Dave. How do you face any of these vets? I bet you do not tell the vets that you “care” for how you really feel!

    • Your comment is one of the most disgusting I have ever read or heard, and explains everything anyone needs to know about why veterans cannot get proper care. It is arrogant jerks such as yourself taking up space at a VA believing veterans benefits are welfare paid for out of your own pocket that results in veterans being denied proper medical care.
      Your disgusting comment says clearly you have never read details on what veterans go through when dealing with the VA. If you had read them, it actually LISTENED TO VETERANS TALKING TO YOU TRYING TO GET GELP, you would NEVER had made such an ignorant comment.
      Quit your job if it bothers you to see veterans get proper medical care.

    • @Dave-

      And to think that we Veterans even fought to protect YOUR rights to remain as ignorant as you have painted yourself to be and reinforcing the not-so-cliché of: “You can’t fix stupid”!!

      How IS that “Ignorance is BLISS” thing going for you? Your attitude displayed here in all it’s glory personifies the over-all attitude and adversarial attitude that the VA has as a SYSTEMIC PROBLEM.

      If you cannot read your own post here and realize through self-assessment that YOU are definitely part of the problem, well, it’s sad to know that many Vets have died or come back in pieces JUST so you can have your freedom to remain ignorant.

      These current Wars from just after 9/11 to the present on-going Wars were NEVER PAID FOR nor let alone even took into consideration of the COST of the returning soldiers from same Wars…FACT.

      Dave, perhaps you SHOULD walk in our shoes for a while. How about a nice 24 month sunny vacation to the very worst arm-pit of the Middle East to give you a new-found appreciation for your “Freedoms” you seem to think just falls from trees.

      (FYI–only thing falling from trees are NUTS such as yourself)

      Now, stop embarrassing yourself and get back to your game of Mine Craft and ignoring the Veterans around you!

    • I wouldn’t even fall for Dave’s comment. It may be a troller to get someone to say something violent or deemed as a threat. I have resources to find out who the user is and if they actually do work at the VA he claims. His statements constitutes “patient abuse”” and “conduct unbecoming a federal employee”. I am pretty sure it is a bogus claim. Maybe part of the training he needs at VA is to watch a few CQB videos where there are KIAs and make him watch them for hours.

      • They call that “video game time” at the VA, and it’s engineered as DE-Sensitivity Training, as displayed in Technicolor by “Dave”. It’s really sad that there’s a mentality that we Veterans are part of Mitt Romney’s 78% “Takers”…while all along, Dave probably has absolutely NO remorse receiving his fat bonus for remaining ignorant.
        I also thought of the “Troll Factor”, so minced my words with gritted teeth and reservation. He is really the ‘Poster Child’ of ALL that needs to be FIXED in the whole VA System. To think that “someone” trained him/her to think this way is not only scary but the ugly truth. Given the aforementioned, this is a SYSTEMIC problem and adversarial attitude that needs addressed with replacing these loathsome employees such as “Dave” with a Veteran that KNOWS better and one that will NOT drink the VA’s Kool-Aid.

        Please forgive me for insulting law-abiding TROLLS in this Great Nation. Your “Freedoms” matter too, but not at the expense of hurting Veterans!

      • From this day forward, I hope Dave wonders if every veteran coming to him for any reason has read his comment here and has found out who he is…and by treating them kindly, the veteran will not give him what he deserves.

        Treat them kindly and with respect Dave, because you never know…they might return the favor.

      • @ crazyelf, this Dave does work at Orlando. a url showing vaww is the intranet used in VA systems. You can screenshoot his comment and send a copy to the Orlando Director and a copy to the local Congressional office. He shouldn’t be using a government e-mail address to conduct himself in this manner.

  3. Unfortunately there are some in congress who do have the same attitude as Dave. It’s because of congress, is why vets and other Americans wait forever to get redress or any righteous resolve. Congress says aye or nay to it all because they hold the power and the purse strings. Judging the way, nothing is getting done for so many years. Dave obviously doesn’t understand what it is like to be an American soldier but the way he looks things, he doesn’t even know what it is like to be an American as in dedicated loyal, faithful and honorable but what is worse is he has no moral code or compassion for those who fought so he could have a cush job with the govt with all kind of benefits including retirement and medical care..

  4. I know what you’re saying will be filing through another appeal after I see my regular doctor next week.

  5. I cannot fathom how the backlog of claims can be reduced so fast other than rubber stamping them denied, and moving them to appeals. If the House and Senate VA committees had any guts, they would be demanding specific numbers from the VA in how many claims have been approved/denied and for what reasons. They should also ask when in the history of the VA have they ever cleared a backlog this fast. In times past, the VA always complained about rater staffing levels and training to excuse the backlog, and it has always dropped much slower. This time, it dropped like a rock without the usual complaints.
    As for some arrogant Director refusing to talk with vets…they need to be fired. Veterans are their sole reason for having a job, and refusing to talk with vets means they could give a damn less about any problems in their facility. I would (and have) document in writing any refusal by a director to speak or address an issue, and make them wish they took a few minutes to listen.

    • Remember, the VA recently this year “found out” that at least 1/3 of those on their backlog have actually DIED already?!!! Many DIED while WAITING.

      How convenient for the BEAN COUNTERS at the VA…SPIN CYCLE ON! That is how the VA suddenly has this magical lower number, coupled with the Bean Game of Appeals and Notice Of Disagreements. Nothing less.

      • I wonder how many veterans died while still on the first list. You know, before they were transferred to the appeals list. That would be interesting to know???
        don’t cha think!

  6. I know it is all a scam !
    I had to go on the appeal list also !
    The claim was three years in the making , they made a quick ‘NO’ decision a day or two before the date I filed !

  7. And even when an appeal goes to the VBA, it is not put on their docket for hearing for months so they can delay it even further. Mine was turned over to the VBA in June and they still have not put it on the docket to schedule a hearing date

      • Evidently he’s never met a true combat vet. He may one day though. Someone who will act like a “drill instructor from hell”! We’ve all been there.
        Does anyone on here Remember the “Vietnam Village” at Ft. Polk, La.? In 1969, I was a D.I. there. Had lots of fun “teaching” all kinds of people techniques that may have saved their lives. At least I hope I did!?

  8. Got a couple things to say here.
    1.) First–Fuck Dave. Because VA is going to go down in flames sooner than later. Their lies and deceit can’t go on forever. We on here, and many other websites,(including Facebook and Twitter and more), see their demise slowly approaching.

    2.) Please Google,,,,

    “VAwatchdog”

    There are two articles on there which pertains to today’s blog. One is from the ‘VA-OIG’. The other is from the G.A.O.
    If I remember correctly, they talk about the “St. Petersburg VA” and they contain opposing viewpoints against VA.

    3.) Check out this article. It came out August 27, 2015.
    The title is—-

    U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne Blasts VA data showing a reduction in claims backlog as ‘self-serving propaganda’
    by John Sharp. | [email protected] dot com

    If your interested that newspaper article has a comment section, and I’m sure Mr. Sharp wouldn’t mind receiving an email or two or ?????? also.

    4.) I think it was yesterday someone put a link on here about McCain. It seems a bunch of people are crisscrossing the U.S. to converge on Phoenix Arizona. They want him to not only take care of the homeless veterans population out there. But they want him arrested, tried and convicted of crimes he’s alleged to have committed. I say more power to them.

    4.) I’ve been in touch with a channel 6 investigative reporter, Mr. Mike Holfeld. Who, in about a week, is going to take VA to task.
    Right now, he’s still working on a story concerning how veterans and taxpayers were scammed over a free phone here in all of Florida. I told many on here about this scam. Millions of dollars of taxpayers money was paid out.
    I talked (by email) to him today. He’s very interested in this story. Only thing is, he wants to keep it contained to Central Florida. I believe WE need to change his mind about that. WE need to make sure he understands this is a NATIONAL EMERGENCY.
    The only way that can be accomplished is for US to let him know how much $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    is involved here. Remember, you get more accomplished with honey than vinegar.
    Here’s his email addresses
    a.) [email protected] dot com
    b.) [email protected] dot com
    He’s actually going to help. He’s also asking FOR help. We need to give him this help.

  9. Now the Veteran death count is at -7- for a Legionnaire’s Disease Outbreak I posted about a few days ago here at a Veteran Home Care Facility in QUINCY, ILLINOIS…and way over 30 Veterans there are currently infected…Google it…this is SO BAD that the CDC has had to get involved because the VA is obviously doing a piss-poor job of things there!!!!

    My question is: WHY are ONLY the Veterans getting infected there? The law of statistics state that this is highly questionable since it’s NOT passed from person to person as it’s AIR-BORNE, so it EGS to question how the VA Employees manage to stay UNINFECTED, while now SEVEN VETERANS HAVE DIED AND OVER 30 MORE INFECTED!!

    Heads-up!

    • namnibor, great question. Why is it no VA employee has contracted it?
      Can’t it also be contracted from contaminated water? Isn’t that the reason VA gave in Philadelphia and down here in Florida?

      • Yes, by contaminated water as well, and reason it is SO often simply linked to poorly maintained industrial air conditioners/ductwork. The Philly VAMC was a very special out of control complete water system had to be sterilized.

        This was on my local news each day this week and made the World News ABC this evening, so word is getting out. This *is* on-topic, because :”The VA IS Lying”!! Why were these Veterans even KEPT there when the first case came-up positive?

        I am *betting* some VA Hack Dr. kept stating it was only Bronchitis rather then even Pneumonia, let alone Legionnaire’s Disease. Hoping truth comes out because they should have evacuated that VA Healthcare Home and news stated they had *not* and only that the “CDC has been CALLED-IN and taken over”!!!

        How’s that for competence?!

        “Veterans Are Dying”!!! This is an example of such happening now in Illinois!

      • To put that into perspective of an ‘outbreak’, Monday, when it was firstly reported, at that time, two days ago, FOUR Veterans had died of Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak…it’s now Wed., two days later, now SEVEN Veteran’s have died from it and about THREE DOZEN infected Veterans.

        Just how could the VA Spin Dr. do a number on this? How can they ignore the billboards? (I would be really leery of that Chinese Buffet behind that VA like a dumpster in picture posted)

    • That might be very helpful for those that do not wish to do a quick search to do so. This site seems to choke a bit when trying to post actual clickable links.

      Benjamin would perhaps help by having such a list as a sticky on this blog’s front page to empower people to show this billboard is not some catchy slogan…Veterans Are Dying! Not naturally, either.

  10. There are many directors and management personnel that will not speak with veterans, who have been harmed! I had a doctor hurt me during an examination on purpose and when I went to the patient representative and told him, what had happened to me and told him I wanted to speak with the director or chief of staff, it never happened, so I went to the director suite and each time, I was told they were not in, could not even make an appointment. Then one day I walked into the director suite and seen the chief of staff in his office, he heard me ask to speak with him and the director. Once he heard me, guess what he did! , he RAN out of his office and not two minutes later a guy approached me and I asked him if he was the chief of staff, he replied, I am for the outpatients? ,I asked him if he knew why I was there, he stated in a very angry voice, YES! And what you’re stating is outrageous, that doctor is one of my finest doctors I have. Since I was in a complete different state, no vehicle and the way he was acting. I felt a fear, that I had not felt in a long time, so I excused myself and went to the chaplain and told him, if something should happen to me while a patient at the hospital, he would know why! My wife told me get the hell out of there, I told her no, it took me fourty years to get this treatment, so I keep to myself and finished the drug and alcohol treatment program, I was told that if I wanted to stay for the PTSD program, I would have to stay at a homeless shelter for two weeks, that’s when they scheduled the PTSD treatment. I told them stay in a homeless shelter, why I have a home, no you need to stay in the state! , after the way I was treated! , I told them you know what I’m a 100 percent disabled veteran and you will fly me back to my home state and told them I would return in two weeks, they sounded really surprised that I said I would come back and they authorized the travel. I didn’t sleep all that night and got the hell out of Sheridan vamc fearing for my life. Went back to my home state VA, told the psychological doctor and social worker, when they told me I didn’t have to return to the Sheridan va, I felt a lot of anxiety go away, they sent me to Topeka Kansas vamc PTSD program one on one with the head of psychology, he was very good, listen to what I had to say, did not try and intimate me and that goes for the rest of the staff! If I had to give Sheridan vamc a rating from 0 to 10, they get a 0, Topeka vamc 10 outstanding! Thank God some really do care! It just takes one bad employee to harm a veteran and if our concerns are not addressed with respect and dignity, all the good goes for not! Get rid of the bad actors, you know who you are, go back under the rock you climbed out from! Dave! Are you any relation to Hester “yup”

  11. Okay just to let everyone know. I took up for the VA a few days ago on here. I am fairly new to there system and thought it was working out.

    It is now war with the VA, they sent me a bill for 1080 bucks and I filled out a waiver. I get 400 in a month and thats it while I fight the rest of my disability, they sent a letter back saying since they think I have a hardship they will waive 120 bucks of the bill.

    This infuriates me and quoting Abraham Lincoln,
    “With the words, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” President Lincoln affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who perished on the battlefield.

    I understand my bill is from when I first signed up with the VA and didn’t have disability but now I do so the bill should be waived since it is for the meds that I am disabled for.

    I can understand why everyone bashes the VA now.

    Plus I was in Prosthetics / orthotics this afternoon. A man probably from the Korean or Vietnam era was in a w/c and had a prosthetic on his leg or stump I should say. He went to the desk and ask the lady “I was taken back to the room back there and have been there two hours, can you tell me if they forgot about me?”

    She was very rude and at the end of the conversation she stated, yeah everyone has been waiting a long time. He then proceeded to ask three more people trying to get help, not one of the employees took the time to take his name and check, they all just told him to go back and wait.

    I am very outspoken when someone treats people with disrespect and loudly stated that she and the rest have a very serious problem of not caring, it would be different if they were busy but as we all know they have more conversations with each other than the veterans. I went up to her after loudly displaying my disapproval and stated, what is your name, She stated Judy I took it down and turned her in. She worked at the Dallas VA so if you go to Prosthetics please do not be nice to her. You think anything will happen, hell not.

    Anything I can do to make the VA a better place is my duty from now on. Being a Nurse and seeing how there health care professionals treat the Veterans is inexcusable. Not only that quite a few of them have not even seen the inside of a training tear gas chamber. There suffering is having to go to work and work 8 hours bullshitting with other employees and getting the best federal benefits they can.

    • Nick,
      Welcome to the real world of the VAMC. I was that way as well. I thought the VA was so great and then after a couple more visits, I then saw how it really is. You will find out that the VAMC is so broken that you can not fix it. You can try but in the end you will know that it will take all of us to bring this place down.
      It really sucks that they treat you like that with the copay stuff. I fought them for almost a year on me not having to pay them. I was receiving a little more than you for my disability and nothing else. I was told that they were “looking into it” and to call back in a month. I finally had to pay the $400+ amount because they finally sent me a letter stating that they sere going to take it out of my disability because I had not settled anything with them. I was in the process trying to get this straightened out and they sent me this. It is a no win situation with them. Good luck in getting your waiver accepted.
      f8f

  12. To all on here.
    This is a list of email addresses to many investigative news reporters……..

    1.) [email protected] dot com
    -Howard Altman (Tampa, Fl.)-
    2.) [email protected] dot com
    -John Sharp (Alabama)-
    3.) [email protected] dot com
    -Mike Holfeld (Orlando,Fl.)-
    Also,
    [email protected] dot com
    4.) [email protected] dot com
    -Terra (Orlando, Florida)-
    5.) [email protected] dot com
    6.) [email protected] dot com
    also,
    [email protected] dot com
    7.) [email protected] dot com
    -She’s out of Alaska-

    I hope y’all write your stories short, sweet and to the point to ALL these people. Even though y’all may not live in these states, send emails to your news stations with C/C’s to everyone one on this list. That way your news stations will realize your not fooling around anymore. Once the newspeople down here start asking questions in your neck of the woods. They won’t be able to hide the truth.
    Now, I need y’all to start putting your news peoples email addresses on here so I can C/C to everyone also!!!
    If y’all haven’t figured out what’s happening— it’s called “using their pride against them”! As I’ve said, “PRIDE” is a weapon which can be used against VA to bring them down.
    Any questions brothers and sisters???

    • good list. i suspect many of us have over the years written to people like this only to never get an acknowledgment or at the most, “we’ll keep it on file”.

      i’ve written to quite a few. cnn nor fox, nor a few other reporters has ever replied with even an acknowledgement. local guy who reports on va stuff returned with he’ll keep on file. but times are a bit different now and my story isn’t unique in relation to most veterans and their neg experiences with VA an RO benefits.

      anyway, glad you posted the list. i may write a little note again to some on that list.

  13. Found this on stripes dot com: “VA’s McDonald seeks support of American Legion in budget battle”

    “[BALTIMORE (Tribune News Service) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald asked American Legion members in Baltimore on Tuesday to help him push Congress for more money and greater flexibility in how he runs his sprawling and troubled federal agency.

    Addressing the national convention of the American Legion, McDonald said the cuts that lawmakers have proposed to President Barack Obama’s spending request would undo the progress he said he has made since taking on the job last year, when the department was dogged by a long benefits claims backlog and shaken by a scandal over the manipulation of hospital waiting lists.

    “That’s why we all need to make sure our voices are heard and that we press forward in putting veterans first, not ideology,” he said.

    Some 10,000 members of the influential veterans organization are in Baltimore this week for its 97th annual national convention. With about 2.2 million members, the American Legion is a sizable political force. McDonald delivered a statistics-laden appeal to claim successes since he took over the department and to warn of future challenges as he made the case for extra cash.

    Obama has requested a 7.5 percent bump in the department’s discretionary budget — which is used to fund health care and other programs — but legislators have proposed smaller increases.

    McDonald, a West Point graduate and former president of Procter & Gamble, said Tuesday that anything less than the level of funding and discretion over how it is spent sought by the president would hurt the department.

    “It leads to a place where the needs of veterans are secondary to ideology,” he said. “Where scoring political points and short-sighted budget polices are more important than veterans — a place where VA is set up to fail.

    “That’s unacceptable to me and it should be unacceptable to anyone that claims to actually care for the sacred responsibility that we as the nation have to care for those who have borne the battle. That’s why I’m here and that’s why you’re here.”

    McDonald, who started work at the Department of Veterans Affairs in July 2014, said the agency has made significant advances in connecting veterans to health care and in reducing the backlog in disability benefits claims.

    He said veterans had 7 million more health care appointments in the last year. And agency figures show that the benefits claims backlog has been cut from about 600,000 in 2013 to 90,000 last week.

    But he said some of those gains were made using short-term budgetary tricks or forcing staff to work overtime, measures that cannot be carried on indefinitely.

    In the long term, McDonald said, the department faces significant challenges as the average age of veterans increases, driving up their health care needs and the number and complexity of benefits claims. He said improved battlefield medical care means that even younger veterans often have major long-term health care needs and disability claims.

    At the same time, he said, the VA is struggling with facilities that in some cases are almost a century old, and other buildings that are vacant or underused.

    Amid all the challenges the VA faces, some have called for eliminating the department and significantly changing the way the country cares for veterans.

    Ben Carson, the former Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon now running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, said last week the VA should be shuttered and its functions transferred to the Department of Defense.

    McDonald said that was out of the question.

    “There is no substitute for VA,” he said, to applause. “Veterans need the VA, American medicine needs the VA and Americans everywhere benefit from the VA.”

    Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who also spoke at the convention Tuesday, said the nation needs to plan for the newest generation of veterans — an anticipated 1.5 million troops who have served in the military since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    Carter said the government has already taken some steps — such as helping service members carry their professional qualifications into the private sector — but there is more that can be done.

    “We have a responsibility to defend those who have defended us,” Carter said.

    In a wide-ranging speech, Carter described a future in which the military shifts from counterinsurgency missions against terrorists in the Middle East and seeks to check other nation states including China, Russia and Iran and maintain international stability.

    Carter said the United States will continue to operate in waters claimed by China off its coast, bolster the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to defend Europe against Russia, and help Iraqi authorities defeat the Islamic State terrorist group.

    “Today the U.S. military has no equal, we’re the best,” he said.

    To meet the challenges, Carter said, the military will need to develop new technology and recruit high-quality troops. But he said uncertainty over budgets is also hampering his department’s ability to plan and he called on Congress to provide the government with a long-term budget and end the sequestration spending caps, which he said are “embarrassing in front of the world.”

    “Our troops need the best training, the newest equipment, and the right compensation,” he said.

    “For too long we’ve been forced to make painful trade-offs, often on short notice, critically undermining our mission.]”

  14. @Dave is way off base … the majority of Veterans who utilize VA due to service connected injury/illness and the bizarro black-holes most have been tossed into when they file a claim … Dave and others who share the sentiment he wrote in this thread, aren’t viewing the whole picture clearly regarding us veterans and our concerns.

    i take it Dave’s attitude is what permeates throughout VA, especially VARO-Benefits Office and VA Central Office legal types, not to mention the majority of VA doctor’s that ignore medical evidence to enter in medical records in order to ensure deniable claims, on and on and on?

    there are always a few scammers into any system, and we all get that. but don’t lump the Veteran community as a whole with them.

    and Dave, you do see the federal gov and Congress backing the union and protecting them more so than the veteran, yes? who is held more accountable in the VA world, the VA employee or the veteran? just asking.

    would you like the manipulation of your and/or your family’s medical records in order to deny you the benefits afforded legally by Congress?
    do you get workman’s comp at VA Dave? just wondering. if you do, and you get injured/illness on the job at VA, would you expect your benefits afforded by law granted by Congress? would you dance to the same tune as what your words expressed in your post if you found yourself in that situation? that scenario is no different than the VA world doing the same to many in the Veteran community.

    granted, many VA employee’s hands are tied who want to do good for the veteran community and the veteran community knows that .. though that won’t alleviate the frustration the veteran community has towards an out of control corrupt system rooted at the very top of the VA that rains down on the veteran.

    Ever read Title 38 Dave? do you adhere to it as a VA employee to help the veteran?

  15. Dear Mr. Krause:

    I can not understand how they {the V.A.} are allowed to get away with what they do, there are two sayings, one originated in Persia, I understand and the other one is in Spanish which are almost identical in meaning they are { the Persian first} ” the first one,{ meaning time one is taken for a ride} is their fault the second is my fault.” Now the Spanish, “No le echen la culpa sino al que lo hizo compadre.”

    That is all I will say for now.

    Yours for God and Country
    Frank P. Calderon :

  16. Dear Mr. Krause:

    I meant to say in Spanish ” No le echen la culpa al indio sino al que lo hizo compadre.”

    Yours for God and Country
    Frank P. Calderon

    P.S. a correction to my first entry

  17. Brothers and Sisters
    Every single day The VA (and their C&P section) proves their TRUE mission: “Delay, Deny, wait till they Die” (as Brother Rick Weidman of the VVA said)
    This is their Mission and their “Job Description”!
    And I will add: “…and if the don’t Die, Kill them”
    Till last July (2015) , I was 100%, while I was awaiting the P&T classification , and after July my Rating dropped to 90%! I submitted an “appeal”!
    I requested also, If was possible to go through the “Court of appeals” directly,
    But The “system” dictates that we have to “Follow the procedures”
    This is an (easy) 8 year time period, procedure!
    DELAY, DENY, wait till they DIE!
    That’s what I think!
    MSG VAM

  18. I think It is TIME TO GO BACK TO THE DRAFT!
    Everybody has to SHOW THEIR LOVE FOR THEIR COUNTRY!
    (maybe that way they will REALLY APPRECIATE US)
    MSG VAM

  19. Something that seems to fly under the radar on this article is the line that the director does not take phone calls from veterans. Well, why the hell not? I know that this is a common practice, and those of us who have been at odds with the VA for many years are used to it, but it’s so illustrative of the mindset at the agency.

    We shouldn’t become desensitized to it, though. It’s an outrage. Everyone in an organization ostensibly committed to serving veterans needs to have contact with us. Allison Hickey is one of the few exec’s who listens, and she has done quite a bit for me, There’s no reason that — if the undersecretary for the VBA has time for vets — these lords and ladies of their own little fiefdoms can’t also find at least some time for veteran contact.

  20. I just received an email from Ben. Saying three billboards are coming to his area up north.
    Also, I wanted to let y’all know, on 1 Sept, A new billboard went up in Augusta, Ga. Right across the street from the VA where Cathedral Henderson worked as a “Manager”. Y’all remember Cathedral? He’s the VA PUKE who was arrested on 50 counts of fraud against veterans for manipulation of veterans medical files. Then he was rearrested on a “violation of his bond” by contacting one of the VA employees there. STUPID A$$HOLE….

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