Did Santa Come Early For Veterans Or Veterans Affairs?

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Veterans Affairs

Benjamin KrauseLast Friday, Congress passed the omnibus funding bill, totaling $1.1 trillion, which included legislation to fund Veterans Affairs and laws supporting VA whistleblower protections.

So did Santa come early for veterans or Veteran Affairs? Who will get helped more? Did all the complaining to Congress about funding while holding whistleblowers hostage pay off?

Friday, President Barack Obama signed VA whistleblower legislation written by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to provide legal protection for doctors and nurses who report misconduct. President Obama quickly signed the bill into law after it passed the House and Senate.

Most of us thought this day would never come, but will the new law actually help or will VA refuse to take action against employees who commit misconduct?

ABOUT VA WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

Senator Kirk is a 23-year veteran of the Navy Reserves. He serves as chairman of the Veterans Appropriations Subcommittee and was one of the driving forces behind a legislative fix to the whistleblower problem at VA for some time.

According to coverage from ABC 7 in Chicago:

Under the new law, for the first time, the nation’s 200,000 VA doctors and nurses will be fully protected against retaliation if they report misconduct. The law ensures that all VA employees are educated on whistleblower rights and prohibits VA bureaucrats from retaliating against whistleblower employees by giving bad performance evaluations.

In addition to the strongest whistle-blower protection in history, the legislation provides record funding for veteran’s care — more than $71 billion — which Kirk said Friday will provide for high-quality medical care and timely claims processing.

ABOUT VA BUDGET ALLOCATIONS

The legislation was part of the final omnibus package. It provided VA with a record total of $163 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding. $71.4 billion is discretionary, which is an increase of $6.5 billion from last year. Overall funding was $1.3 billion above what President Obama requested. It included $8.2 billion for construction projects and $2.5 billion to improve veteran access to care for treatments including those for Hep C.

Certainly increased funding will help so long as the money is used in an effective manner and not siphoned off for bogus projects or into other black holes. It looks like the overall strategy of admitting fault to Congress while repeatedly going to Capitol Hill with hat in hand finally paid off.

What do you think of the pre-Christmas law?

Source: http://politicalnews.me/?id=36655&keys=WHISTLEBLOWER-PROTECTIONS-VA-VETERANS

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33 COMMENTS

  1. I worry that the money will thrown away giving directors even larger kick backs for taking care of eligible veterans. Congress and the Senate has yet to put in place a budget management committee to audit VA spending at Will.

  2. When someone finds the part of the bill where it allows veterans to completely exit the VA with their benefits for better care let me know. I’ve already gone over the parts where the VA gets piles of more money for residing over a bureaucracy that kills veterans and where federal worker protections are more important than veterans.

    • Ryan, I agree with you. The same people who you might as well say allows this abuse, neglect, poor quality of care are protected. Veterans get run over by a bus, records flagged, benefits denied, defamed vilified, and there is no protection for them.

      Look to see larger bonuses going out.

      • I agree with you. I was medically retired from another government agency yet the VA claims no Disability rating submitted for position. But yet worked at higher grade at the other position for just shy of ten years. Show you if you think Human Resource is there to help you at the VA not.

    • #1 priority should be getting rid of appeals backlog! Think of it as a payout or lawsuit for then creating and causing harm and abuse to all vets waiting years on the VA errors and their fraud and illegal wrongful activity! If ir is not done for this while setting up audit teams. Then shut the place down use a vet Medicare program.The vet should have compensation to afford such care if needed. End the appeals backlog now!!

  3. I went to transfer my care to the local VA recently where I just moved. The very first thing the eligibility specialist informs me is that the earliest primary care appointment won’t be until late February and then he had me have a seat until he returned with an appt time/day. I mention this because I used to be an admissions & eligibility clerk for the VA up until just a couple months back AND the first question I would always ask was “When would you like to be seen?” and then set the Patient’s desired date for the day he/she requested so that we can keep an accurate tabulation as to how far back patients are waiting for their initial primary care appointment.

    My point is that no matter if they set aside a trillion dollars, we are still failing our veterans from the providers all the way down to the clerks in the most basic of customer care needs. I asked to see and was shown that the specialist had put a Desired Date of late February in the system BUT keep in mind, I was never asked. That’s how the books are still being cooked AND until the whole system is overhauled OR Veterans are allowed the choice to see a private doctor, then the extra funds mean nothing. By the way, had I just been asked when I wanted to be seen instead of being told, I would have told them late February. SInce no one asked, in I went to the Patient Advocate’s office to lodge a complaint.

  4. Call me a cynic but just like the past “laws passed the VA was to follow” as in the Suicide Prevention travesty, past ‘Whistle Blower Protection Laws”, to even the recent Choice Card debacle where the VA decided to interpret the law they wished over a year+ now, and still have not complied, to not even following procedures and accountability and AUDIT of where the $$$$ was spent, like every 2 weeks as “ordered” by Veteran Committee, so………although the increased ‘money in hat’ has “potential” for good, but without a firm law for true accountability where the cash goes down to the LAST DIME, I doubt this law passed will change the Culture of the VA and it’s all hot air to justify giving the VA a few more Billion$ above what the POTUS firmly wanted in budget.

    Now-Speaker Ryan has surprised me because I thought he was always a snide wise ass extremist in his fundamentalism and conservatism but he bent like a willow tree in an ice storm to Obumer with this budget. Remember Ryan was the hard ass on the CBO?
    So as the new poster Edward rightly stated, “Congress and the Senate has yet to put in place a budget management committee to audit VA spending at Will.”

    This is like giving a crackhead a Trillion $ and not asking for receipts for everything.
    Odd metaphor, but it’s the partly cloudy mood I am in today.
    Hope I am not coming across hyper cynical, it’s just that we have seen this song and dance before quite a few times already and it’s become the definition of insanity:-(

  5. Google: Detailed Claims Data – Veterans Benefits Administration …

    INVENTORY BY REGIONAL OFFICE AS OF: DECEMBER 12, 2015

    Total Appeals Pending under VBA 324,567

  6. It’s early the coffee tastes good ’tis the season to be thankful my wife’s still loves me kids don’t owe me any money my bucket list is getting shorter along with my lifespan and it’s time to have something good to say on Ben’s site.

    Good on congress and POTUS, will it get dirty probably but for right now it’s a positive step in the right direction and at least gives veterans a chance at maybe getting some just rewards for our pain and suffering.

    Let’s use today as THINK POSITIVE DAY piss the shit out of the VA………….MERRY CHRISTMAS to our government and all of my politically-incorrect brothers and sisters………..If this pissesssss anyone off I have one thing to say too you………..

  7. All the talk is great to fill time, but even if the VA got out of their own way we’ll all be dead before it gets fixed.

    Here’s a question; of all eligible veterans, how many are actually being served? I believe that statistic would be one nice round of ammo to add to the debate.

    Seriously, I’m enrolled, and flagged, so I’ll never go back. And how many others are just plain not using the VA? Not one person, so far, has brought that topic up.

    Report these ‘caregivers’ (MD, DO, RN, psychiatrist) to your state boards, and put a skid mark on their record. Perhaps enough skid marks will take them out of play, or diminish their earning power.

  8. Veterans Affairs will take the lions share of the funds and leave the kibble to benefit Veterans. It will be a long, long time before Veterans Affairs is held accountable for retaliation against employee or veteran whisleblowers.

  9. There are laws that were supposed to protect former employes from retaliation And they ignore that law.

    There are so many different agencies connected to the VA.you write to one and each pass the buck and tell you it’s not their job and tell you to contact the other agency.

    Even if you play their game and when ones of them act.all they do is make an inquiry and what ever stupid reason the VA gives them is good enough.

    The VA could write the little riding hood story per batum and the agency who sent the inquiry wouldn’t look at it and say.oh that’s why and that’s good enough to clear the VA from wrongdoings and nothing furher is done.
    And the veteran never gets real action on his case or former employee.

  10. To be honest, I have seen some wonderful and caring people at the VA. But that loses some of its luster when you encounter a few of the rotten apples there, and let me tell you those very few (rotten apples) can take the shine off things rather quickly. As for whistleblower protection, just let me add that protection is sorely needed.. Not only is it good for whistleblowers but it’s also good for veterans. Bob McDonald is a huge disappointment because of his position of muteness on the subject now.

  11. I’m wondering as to how and to whom the lions share goes to. Did unions lobby congress so as to fatten some paychecks of their workers within the VA system ? Were big fat bonus checks for the top brass included ? I say this because the general public,(taxpayer) never find out these things until after all this happens.

  12. Dear Mr. Krause:

    I started reading your article,”Did Santa come early for veterans, or Veterans Affairs,”
    I am beginning to think, it was, with Congress’ blessing, to the Veterans Affairs.

    And I do not see any improvement until, with GOD’s help in next years Presidential elections, when we could revamp our whole government3al system.

    Yours for GOD and Country
    Frank P. Calderon

  13. The whole VA system in a giant FAILURE. I thought we all already agreed to that on this site. The MONSTER is still being fed more food than ever, is all this is saying. Close the whole VA down by Xmas. Just get out of town and out of my life. That’s all.

  14. Color me skeptical, but I fail to see what passing another law will do to prevent whistle blower retaliation when there are already laws against that. The federal Whistle Blower Protection Act was passed in 1989 and revised in 2012. It’s like passing another law against bonus fraud, or passing another law against travel fraud, or passing another law against beating a veteran to death.
    Congress can pass all the laws they want from now until VA freezes over and it will not matter until Congress steps up and does their job of oversight and holding agencies accountable.
    As for the billions more provided to the VA, same thing. Until Congress performs its oversight function, VA bureaucrats will continue wasting millions. I saw on VA is Lying a poster who could not get her power wheel chair fixed after 2 months of calling the VA. Billions more did not improve her care one bit.

    • @91Veteran-

      Agree completely. It makes absolutely making new “laws” when the existing laws are being ignored…just as these “NEW LAWS” will be as well.

      This is systemic to our entire government. Take Immigration as but another: ALL the LAWS are on the books to fully deal with Immigration and Border Control as well as all the “Visa Programs” along with stipulations and guidance for these measures when and if at WAR. Yet, these government employees and our so called leaders act as if nothing has ever been done to address these issues, and same with the VA.

      If the Laws and Regulations. Title 38, et al, were ALL followed, we would certainly HAVE accountability but they are all acting as if tomorrow will never come and only living for the moment.

      Locally, there were a few Vets that also have been waiting for a good while for replacement wheelchairs and one family has waited over a YEAR for an accessibility ramp that was approved but then family was told the VA “ran out of $$$ mid-Summer” and guess what?
      It was NOT ANY “VSO Groups” that rectified these problems. No! It was a combo of private church group that BUILT the damn ramp for this one Veteran…and the clincher was the VA’s contracted medical provider would NOT come out without THAT RAMP, but yet the VA stalled and stalled, hope to forget, and the few locally that were waiting on new wheelchairs…one of which had his home vandalized and set on fire early this Summer, late Spring even…and has been waiting on the VA for a replacement….these things were provided by anonymous private citizen…NOT one VSO Group and definitely NOT the VA.
      My brother in an entirely different State told me these type of stories are ALL OVER the USA where Veterans have waited patiently to no avail on the VA and it took private citizens stepping-up to help. Another Veteran actually had a thug come into his place and steal what little he had, prescriptions, AND his prosthetic LEG!! WHO DOES THIS? These are fitted ONLY for THAT person!!! Yep, he is still waiting on his damn prosthetic leg…was on local news a few times and NO VSO Group stepping-up to help these Vets negotiate a closed-walled-in VA that’s more concerned about their damn bonuses.
      Is the VA waiting for Barney Rubble/Fred Flintstone to carve the wheels and chair out of limestone and marble?
      WHERE IS THIS $$$$$$ ACTUALLY GOING WITH MANY MORE STORIES LIKE THIS IN ALL 50 STATES????!!!!!!!!!

      • That is why I keep bitching about Miller and Isakson not doing their jobs. There is absolutely NO reason for a veteran waiting on their wheel chair to be fixed, or a ramp to be built, or waiting on any other kind of help like that when the VA has been given billions, handed out hundreds of thousands in travel pay, handed out $142 million in bonuses, are cutting off meds to veterans, etc. There should be NO bonus handed out to any of these worthless fucks if a veteran cannot get their damn wheel chair repaired.
        I still believe a veterans channel on YouTube would get more attention, or posting those videos to the VA is Lying FB page. People are visual. Look at the VA is Lying billboards. A video showing a veterans wheel chair and how broken it is would get people’s attention. A veteran shown at the door of their house in a wheel chair unable to leave because the VA cannot put in a ramp, or the same showing a veteran missing a leg and their prothesis would get attention.
        Veterans could bypass a worthless media and put out their own videos to get others attention.
        Imagine seeing a video of a broken wheel chair next to the news that billions more was passed to give Syrian refugees housing, food, clothing and medical care. Imagine a veteran being unable to leave their house next to a video of all the solar panels installed on VAs around the country, while the director drives away in their Cadillac. It may not get Congress’ attention right away, but it might stir some further interest from the public and the media. I believe the public generally supports veterans and would be absolutely outraged over these things.
        It would be easy enough to do. A veteran with a smart phone or a friend with one could easily record that video and post it.
        Look at the attention the Planned Parenthood videos got. Or other under cover videos. I believe these would do the same.

      • I hear you. It was through some of the local news reporting that churches and private, and even anonymous donors stepped-up but even with the story where the thug robbed the Veteran and even took his prosthetic leg, that still is unresolved. There was a blip of a scandal beginning of this year at my local VAMC where the prosthetics dept. was telling vets to just live and deal with ill-fitting devices and turned out that out of the 5 working in that dept to include the head of prosthetics, ONLY -1- employee was actually certified and properly trained with prosthetics and the Head of Prosthetics had NEVER been trained and had been working about a decade like that…he got fired and it was a local Veteran Para Group that exposed this crap…that same VAMC Director oversees it…as with all things VA, unless you get rid of the entire infection it only spreads.

        Sorry, stuff like this really bugs me when like you point out, Veterans should never ever be dealing with such things when the VA has such a huge budget. Wondering if VA Employees all got a raise next year while no COLA for rest?

      • @91Veteran,
        I’ve been going on, and putting on, Facebook and the wife “Tweets” anything and everything we find from Local and National News sources.
        I’ve been seeing lots of new people commenting on here. I’m not sure if it’s because of us or not.
        But, I’m trying the best that we can. That’s all we can do.

      • Everything helps! I have noticed finding news stories that are often reported locally have been getting better coverage. It used to be a local newspaper or TV might cover a veterans issue, but wouldn’t get wide coverage unless one of the news wires picked it up.
        Ben and others like you help to get that wider coverage.
        An example is that veteran beaten to death. Many would not have known of it without Ben posting on it here and on FB. Searching even now shows it has not gotten much coverage beyond local news or veteran blogs.
        It truly shows how easy it still is for the VA to control the media message.

  15. Flag their records, Take their benefits, Take their money. Deny them healthcare AND BOGUS BONUSES ! Bet they might think different than they always have? [ THEY ARE PROGRAMMED & GREEDY] F#[email protected] the vet!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. “There is nothing sadder than a young Pessimist” (Mark Twain)
    I PRAY it don`t end up in EVEN BIGGER bonuses for Upper Management. Or EVEN MORE “ART” That don`t help anyone but the A-Hole that made it. (IF) They can talk the Civilian Doctors Who, Were willing to step up, But, Got screwed on the “Choice Program” to get back on board (Once Bitten) You would think that that kind of money could have Healthcare in ANY Hospital licensed to operate in the U.S. (It`s Coming, I wont live to see it But it (will) come, One day). As long as a Veteran gets treated like a human being, ASAP I`m All Good with that. These “People” That see to it we are in Perpetual War, Without understanding the “Cost” In both Blood & Treasure, To keep Lockheed – Martin, Texas Instruments, & Bell Helicopter to name only a few, on the “nipple”. The young that have Made that Ultimate Sacrifice sense the Korean war, After we pull out & leave the enemy in command of the Battlefield. These young Patriots are still just as dead. The survivors (will) one day ask, For WHAT? Money? or “Another Country`s Interest” the COST of Vietnam is still coming in daily, By the train load, But Sending these Combat personnel Back, 3, 4 & 5 Combat Tours. These Military Personnel that will hopefully live to one day become Veterans, These people (will) have “Needs” & These folks are better educated than they used to be. They wont take this Shi% And the lid is going to blow off. Think about it,…. Trained Combat Veterans that are ALL Pissed off?…. All at the same time, All hell will break loose, And Rightly so.
    Point is, There will be Cost for the next 60 – 70 yrs if they ALL Came home today. I`M PRO Veteran, Pro Military, But I WANT Something in return (Except Dead Kids) if we MUST be at War. HURT Them I mean HURT them so bad that they`ll NEVER let Jackin with the Americans inter their Freakin Minds…………. OUT OF FEAR!

  17. The monies are being dispersed. No one knows where or to who’s pockets it’ll end up in?

    Laws are in place, AGAIN, to help whistleblowers. They never followed the previous laws. What makes anyone believe they’ll follow this NEW law?

    VSO’s, McDonald and the rest of our government is sitting back being silent! Lots of inaction from just about everyone (veterans & TAXPAYERS) out in LALA LAND.

    Vets are dying at a record rate. I wonder if it’s above 22 each day, yet? Mortuary owners are making record amounts of monies off of VA. So are the folks who make the “head stones” (markers). Unless some puke is taking them home to pave his driveway.

    That “black hole” in Aurora, Colorado hasn’t been brought up again in some time. The pain management articles about how VA will help veterans hasn’t been discussed for some time. Veterans who have drank from the “Camp LeJune” (sic) “Fountain of No Youth” are still being thrown to the wayside.

    God help the helpless! This comment could go on and on and on. But, I better stop here. My head and heart is hurting.

    • Being “pro-veteran” drives the votes. Billions “to” disabled vets drives votes. “Protecting” whistleblowers drives votes.

      So who cares if veterans rank below bureaucrats and unions. It’s all about the votes.

      That’s the realpolitik. Until veterans really start pushing for the choice to completely exit va care with their benefits then we can expect more of the same year after year.

  18. This newest “legislation” is just a rehash with more money of the old. I have been trying for a few years to get a higher disability rating and they just change the codes around and keep it the same. I say we fire every single politician, kick all the lobbyists out, and reestablish the correct way of doing things. The only people getting help are the high echelons, and people who are consistently denying our veterans what they need and deserve. We as veterans should not have to stand in line behind every single lazy beaurocrat that is making money off our sweat blood and tears to get the care we need.

    • @Suzy, what you’ve just asked for is exactly what only ONE Presidential Incombant is stating he will do, That is
      “Mr. Donald Trump!”

    • That makes to much sense.they will never fall for that our officials are making money on the side or setting up future jobs with companies.so they can lobby.you see it all the time.

      If they would get ride of special interest.lobbying and stop people companies giving money to our elected officials.this would stop a lot of this you scratch my back.I’ll scratch yours way of doing business.

  19. Do you realize that this Omnibus bill was full of “pork-billing” allowing more help for illegal refugees than veterans health care

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