ALERT: VA Email System Broken For Two Months

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VA Email

Benjamin KrauseFor that past two months, problems have existed within the VA email system where emails were not received without explanation. This problem likely impacted veterans and lawyers sending documents to VA employees for benefits or torts claims.

Yesterday, a high-ranking government official confirmed problems with the VA email system. The problem has been persistent for the past two months. The agency is considering a press release on the email issue.

VA email problems can seem innocuous for most people but can have negative effects on due process and court cases.

Personally, my emails were not going through to one VA attorney connected to the email servers in or around Hines VA Hospital. My VocRehab counselor was also not receiving emails that included attachments.

According to various sources within VA, attachments and forwards were not going through. Numerous court notices from electronic notice databases were not able to contact VA employees, either.

The impact of the email problem on a person’s rights should seem obvious. But I cannot guarantee that VA will appreciate the complexity.

MY ADVICE ON VA EMAIL

For veterans, you have a few options that become even less if you are unable to call the VA employee you are communicating with to verify receipt.

If this is you, I strongly encourage you to resend the communications via fax and include copies of the previous emails.

You can also send your communication and copies of previous communications via mail but be sure to send it using certified mail with return receipt requested.

In either of those communications, be sure to explain that your previous communications were likely not received due to unannounced IT problems within the agency.

For due process issues where the failure to receive you communication resulted in not turning in a document in time or a denial in benefits, you can rebut the presumption of regularity. Since VA’s IT systems were not functioning with regularity, be sure to include the argument in your claim.

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Stuart Steinberg
Stuart Steinberg

If you’re talking about the Secure Message system on myHealtheVet, this just happened to me. I sent my doctor an email about a meds refill and it never got there. I ran out–it was a narcotic–and have been withdrawing since Sunday. The message I sent right after that one, about an appointment, made it through. Not the first time this has happened.

crazy elf
crazy elf

This goes directly to what 91Veteran heard at the VA/American Legion town hall meeting the other night.
After receiving $22 BILLION to install a new IT system, one has to wonder what really happened to all that taxpayer’s money!

Dennis Parker
Dennis Parker

I do not email. When I need to send documents I send a FAX. They must accept faxes and if it goes to the release of information office they even keep a log of incoming faxes. My advice is NOT to call the person and rely on them to tell the truth. Simply call the office of the place and ask for the Release Of Info fax number and send a FOIA request for all info about yourself, tell them you recently sent new info and you request that be returned as well as any memos or notes that exist by that person with your personally identifiable info on them. Put your telephone number on it! Their new tactic is to call me at my comtact number to ask I rescind the FOIA (I have it recorded on my iPad from the telephone), or ask absolutely pointless “clarification” questions. They will not do this to you unless you go to the press, but be advised the tactics are in full play. Simply state the following if they ask you to rescind he request like Roseburg has done to me;”I want the perfected FOIA request fulfilled as soon as possible. Thank you. Have a nice day.” then hang up. Do not get sucked into a conversation.

Of course I am skittish because my government, the VHA part, knowingly made a false accusation to mu congressman that I threatened to mirder an entire clinic staff. I used FOIA to get the manure on all of them and the manure is still piling up – but FOIA is a sword that was gifted to us by our fathers. I suggest you use this precious bit of freedom while it still lasts.

Dennis Parker
Dennis Parker

Also, if the fax is about medications, I suggest mot sending a typed fax. These are placed in a scanner, or rather a scanner pile. Human fraility cannot be dismissed and things in stacks and piles get misplaced and lost. I myself have receive letters with others vets stuff on it, clearly a machine jam from the looks of it. What
I do is write my simple requests with a marker on white paper. I make the letters large and blocky and fax it. It works miracles.

namnibor
namnibor

Call me a skeptic but I think the VA’s email problems could very-well be by design. Two months is a long freaking time for *any* company or entity to have hit and miss email system in this information age, let alone for -1- whole day. See where I am going with this?
If it’s really true that the VA is already running out of ca$h mysteriously again this year by end of April, what better way to save $$$ by simply stating the VA did not receive ‘X’ documentation or prescription refills or fill-in-the-blank?

I propose this is the VA playing passive-aggressive AND attempting to control the damage control….on steroids. I say this because these -2- months of VA email problems may be an underhanded attempt to even control the flow of FOIA requests and such and makes me wonder *what* the VA does not want to get out to the public in these crucial months leading-up to POTUS election??!!!

Too much a cynical skeptic? Experience has taught me to look under the box as well as all around it because it’s the VA. The VA could also be trying hard to justify that $22 BILLION IT “FIX” by providing a problem. Just saying.

Timothy
Timothy

Your like me, I exam ever thing they say and do. They are so deceptive you must look at them this way. It is just to hard to believe a group with almost unlimited resources could be so screwed up. They spend tax money and get nowhere fast year after year.

Robin Mitchell
Robin Mitchell

-CANCELLED- Legislative Hearing on Draft Legislation, “To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the appeals process of the Department of Veterans Affairs”-CANCELLED-

This was cancelled abruptly..very. I was told it is coming back soon in a bigger way. All I am going to say because I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag. If it comes to fruition I expect to see one of the top three to do a Hickey. Maybe resign for a family emergency. But, remember the first one to jump ship makes it harder for the other two to do the same.

Vic
Vic

Just the other day I tried accessing my VA email, and I found emails I had saved – conversations with upper management at the Tucson VA – are absent… Funny how that works considering the head of the Tucson VA ‘unexpectedly’ retired, and one of his ‘inner circle’ seems to have retired as well…the two I had exchanged emails with.

My belief, many are running for cover, and the emails – like Hillary’s – are being deleted to cover their slimy arses. All part of a bigger plan, and Ronald “Robert’ McDonald just sits there with his thumb up his arse drawing too much money for what little he has delivered.

My thought, time to fire McDonald and get someone that wants to work for the service member…not this ineffectual ‘so called’ leader.

crazy elf
crazy elf

Vic, what I do is make copies, ‘hard paper copies’, of all emails. Or anything else for that matter. Reason: I’ve read where government entities have done exactly as you’ve mentioned.
If you don’t have a computer w/printer set-up. Go to the library and utilize theirs!
Cover you ass always!

91Veteran
91Veteran

I always send or forward a Blind Courtesy Copy (BCC) to a personal account if I send a sensitive email like that.
Having printed copies helps, but having the actual emails with the full headers are what is needed. A full header on an email shows the time and date it was sent, the name of the computer sending it, along with the names and IP addresses of the servers that it passes through.
Another helpful feature is to turn on “Read receipt requested”, although that is not as always useful. When you do that, as soon as a recipient clicks to read that email, a return receipt is sent to you notifying you that the recipient read it. The problem with this feature is that the recipient often has the option of choosing not to send that read receipt.

Robin Mitchell
Robin Mitchell

Hickey did to the VA what Lewinski did to Bill.

A new term to add to the conversation. So who does the next Hickey?

91Veteran
91Veteran

That is shocking. And likely a federal felony. Not only is someone essentially hacking a federal computer system, but they are also destroying a federal record.

If you want to scare the hell out of several people, file a FOIA requesting those emails. Emails sent by you to xXxX and yyyy around xxx time and date.

Depending on how long ago they retired, those emails are certainly archived somewhere, or may even still be retained in someone’s inbox.

Depending on how the email is set up, I don’t know of any way an email from a sender can be removed from a sender’s account unless someone logs in to that sender’s account. Unless an Email server administrator is involved.
Email accounts can be set up such that a user can download emails locally and be removed from the server, download emails and be left on a server, or just access emails on the server without downloading them at all. In any manner they are set up, emails passing through a system like at the VA are archived no matter what the user does. If you download an email locally then delete it later, it is still on a server somewhere within the VA. Even if you are accessing it directly on the server before deleting it, it is still archived somewhere regardless of what the IRS says.

My point is, if you had emails sent from your account that were removed from your account after sending them, that is only possible if a server administrator is helping.

Which would not surprise me at all given a previous post on Ben’s blog showing that VA emails sent by certain people were being copied to the Secretary’s office without the sender knowing it.

It also wouldn’t surprise me given the number of comments from other vets who say emails they had stored on myHealthevet have disappeared.

Toxic Veteran
Toxic Veteran

The Airforce FOIA office was holding info about my prior Army base, which they have since taken over. I saw an email but wanted to wait until I was out of a work meeting to read it. By the time I could get to it, there was an email stating FOIS office would like to redact the prior message .. AND the prior message was GONE from my personal email account. BUT one of their personnel sent me reports via mail that were outside the scope and dates that I requested. The reports were undeniable proof that I and about 1000 other troops were poisoned at Fort Richardson, Alaska. The system is corrupt – some of the people are not. The system has no problem with hacking into a private citizen’s email and deleting what they want.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Were you using their computer accessing their server?

I believe most email applications have a recall message feature, but that may only work if the recipient is accessing email right on the server.
The Air Force used to use Microsoft Exchange servers, and Outlook. Whether that is common throughout the Air Force, I don’t know. I don’t know what the Army uses. In that instance, if someone sent a message and the recipient accessed their email on the server and it was left on the server, then recalling a message may work. If the recipient has their Outlook configured to download email off the server, you can recall a message all day long and it will not work.
The only way to then get rid of that email is to have access to the account.

namnibor
namnibor

Just thought of this: What if this 2 month email problem is going to be the scapegoat for all the reported Choice Medical Bills not getting paid? Just saying this smells like a prelude for something else in the pipes

How about a massive audit? $22 Billion for IT, all that Choice $, the list goes on…how freaking difficult is it to fix the email glitches? And these are the same folks we are trust with our lives? Right.

Timothy
Timothy

I received a training schedule from another Timothy Coffey working at VA now apparently, I live in Indiana, I think he lives in California? But sent to bob and few others as it is not first time they have mixed us up.

91Veteran
91Veteran

It is disgraceful that a veterans benefits can be impacted by their email system broken for 2 months…and the VA is “considering” a press release on it.
Seriously? Considering? That is the kind of problem that should be mandatory to be posted in clinics throughout the nation, posted on VAMC Facebook pages, communicated through their Twitter account and any other manner they can think of to communicate to vets. Why have employees and those social media accounts if they are too stupid to use them?
I can understand an email outage or hardware failure causing an outage of maybe a week, but 2 months with no notification to veterans is flat out ridiculous, particularly if the VA encourages use of email, and refuses to answer the damn phone.
A 2 month outage is not a failure. Its flat out incompetence.
Like any federal agency, where the hell is their disaster recovery plan? Even a serious hardware failure should not last more than a week, and 2 months is beyond words.
Given those with attachments are not getting through, it sounds like some IT flunky flipped a switch to increase their spam filtering, then never bothered to see what effect that had.

So typical.

But hey, let’s spend a few more days considering.

Ps. Another video showing the directors response to the town hall is up at www dot westernslopenow dot com. Its also typical. Nothing but excuses.

Paul
Paul

Huh? What did you say? I got my earplugs in. Could you speak up?

Berta Simmons
Berta Simmons

S& F
SNAFUed and FUBARed up the Ying Yangs.

This might have medical implications as well as buggering claims.

Frank P. Calderon
Frank P. Calderon

Dear Mr. Krause:

I don’t believe that to me it sounds like one of the now famous political excuses.

Yours for GOD and Country
Frank P. Calderon

crazy elf
crazy elf

@Ben,
Since this has to do with a myriad of aspects within VA! Could it also affect veterans not receiving ‘travel pay’?

Bob White
Bob White

Charlie Norwood has posted at the VA center that travel pay is not paying out travel pay for 5 to 6 weeks. You can still file . I asked why the delay they told me that they had people retiring and they had not been replaced and that’s why its it was backed up. Just another day in the VA world. Got to get better.

91Veteran
91Veteran

You can bet your life that if anyone retired or there was a problem with a system in which VA employees were not getting their paycheck, it wouldn’t last more than 2 days let alone 2 months.

David A. Gates
David A. Gates

How convenient…..It’s like the Three Wise Monkeys… VA employees don’t like Email… That leaves paper trail…. They, like most of the Federal executives use their personal Email so it can’t be monitored by the VA and is harder to subpoena (as Hillary Clinton has shown us). Why would you believe anyone from the VA?? They’ve lied to Congress and the public for decades. The more money they get the bigger the lies.

Maybe the VA should take all the overpaid Doctors that are in management and put them back into patient care and hire qualified business and hospital administrators. Although I’m sure the emails work better than the nonexistent “customer service” the VA claims to have. No matter how serious the complaint, the IG wont touch it unless it’s reported by a member of Congress or Senate. Otherwise you’re referred right back to the facility that caused the complain, and not to be investigated, just “looked into”. In most cases you wont get an answer at all. If you take them to federal court (ran by Feds) they will lie and withhold evidence, because who’s whose going to stop them?? The Feds?? NOT

If this were a business, the government would have shut them down a long time ago….

Frank P. Calderon
Frank P. Calderon

Dear Mr. Krause:

The quote, in your opening comment of the Alert: “VA Email system Broken for two months.” is precisely what I alluded to in my comment of, April 28, 2016 3;44 P.M. as to how the VA could ascertain the exact time the system will be down and be inoperable unless it was planned that way; instead of just saying, the system will be down for an undetermined time,in other words it might be down two months, one month, one and a half or one, until it is repaired.

Yours for GOD and Country
Frank P. Calderon