What Is Something Veterans Can Do To Help Reform Veterans Affairs?

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VA Reforms

For eight decades, veterans have watched as the Department of Veterans Affairs evades reforms to the embarrassment of taxpayers.

Veterans feel desperate, and their desperation is well justified. VA receives $170 billion each year in funding, loads of press exposing scandals, and mountains of oversight from Congress and watchdogs.

Yet, the problems persist.

Special interests still use veterans and our data like researchers use guinea pigs to create experimental medicines.

Our benefits systems are intentionally broken by policies designed to restrict benefits payouts for various purposes.

The health care delivery system picks and chooses how to give us services in a manner that would not survive public scrutiny if fully exposed.

Whistleblowers who are well-meaning VA employees and VA executives are retaliated against by evil men and evil women intent on maintaining the status quo or padding their own pockets.

With all the exposure, interagency reforms and funding, problems veterans face never seem to go away.

And, with all that said, many of my readers are saying, “Now what?”

“What can we do to reform an agency that seems impervious to changes?”

“Is VA too complex to reform?”

I promised one of my readers last not to provide at least one thing veterans can do to encourage reforms. I have two things that veterans should continue to do. (There are obviously more, and I encourage you to write them below in the comments section.)

Remember inertia – – my proposed solutions are two of many solutions and will not reform VA immediately. Nothing can accomplish such a goal.

  1. Record VA Interactions
  2. Self-Advocacy

Record VA Interactions

Veterans are liars according to many VA employees.

Whatever we say is given little to no weight if a conflict arises about benefits or filing a complaint. VA employee testimony is almost always given more weight.

If veterans record the interaction, using either audio or video, the weight issue is blown out of the water.

Most states allow the use of recorders for veterans with disabilities to help remember medical instructions even in states that generally require consent from all parties to a conversation.

RELATED: State Recording Laws

Take a look at your state recording laws to ensure you are not violating any state laws even though state laws generally do not apply to actions on federal property. This will keep you out of trouble.

When you catch something, put it on YouTube and send it to people like me to expose to the public.

The more veterans shine a light into the darkness and catch evil people doing evil things, the more likely VA is to enforce the law.

Self-Advocacy

Albert Einstein supposedly said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.

A friend of mine said that during my divorce and it has taken on new meaning in light of the present state of VA.

For many decades, the system has pushed veterans to be dependent on controlled veteran service organizations or the agency to get justice.

This has been a largely failed relationship.

For many decades, the system has received more and more money that has not been spent responsibly.

This has been a largely failed investment.

Public use of the internet has increased the number of self-advocates who fight for their own rights and research issues to improve the system.

Platforms like mine and HadIt.com are hundreds of millions of dollars cheaper to run that anything VA or veteran organizations have put forward.

We do it on a shoestring budget and are dependent on our readers for revenue rather than taxpayers.

Veterans should continue to research their issues or concerns and publish their findings on these inexpensive solutions or create their own to publish on a specific topic.

Make a point to share articles you like on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. Cross-post articles into comment streams on VA’s Facebook page, VA’s blog, on Congress’s Facebook pages, etc.

Grab the URL from this website using Control + C and paste it into the comments section pressing Control + V.

Facebook

– https://www.facebook.com/VeteransAffairs/

– https://www.facebook.com/VeteransHealth/

– https://www.facebook.com/VeteransBenefits/

– https://www.facebook.com/HouseVetsAffairs/

– https://www.facebook.com/VAChair/

– https://www.facebook.com/HouseCommitteeonVeteransAffairs/

VA’s Blog

– http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/

Next Steps For VA Reforms

This one falls into the self-advocacy camp but could also be used whenever veterans submit recordings of interactions with bad VA employees.

I am planning to publish a new database of VA employees that will allow veterans to provide reviews of the services they provide.

Individual reviews of VA employees will force change within a few years. That is my hunch.

The website design I want to create is like a courtroom of public opinion similar to the function of the Better Business Bureau.

Veterans can file complaints. VA or the employee can provide a statement in response. Then we decide who is guilty or innocent.

Imagine that. Whenever a VA employee tries to get another job, the new employer conducts a Google search where the review page comes up for each VA employee.

Since courts have been unable to reform VA, why not use the courtroom of public opinion?

I like the idea, and my platform is big enough to get the right exposure of the plan.

But even if it does not help encourage reforms, it will help inform Santa each year when he makes his naughty list.

What are some ideas you have that can help reform VA, or the federal government more broadly?

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MurphysLaw
MurphysLaw

I certainly like the idea of your database and would love to help you with it and more than just finacially. All too often, we read only about the VA problems and most Americans are left wringing their hands asking themselves “What can I do?” so articles posting suggestions are most helpful. I also love the idea of us veterans marching or participating in some sort of “strength in numbers” demonstration. I say to my friends often, |If all the lawyers volunteered to help us veterans for just one month like they did for the immigrants, imagine what we could get done??” We are pissed and need to let the rest of the country KNOW that us Veterans are being treated poorly and that we are NOT going back on a shelf for 3 year only to be paraded around for the next presidential candidate. I’m tired of the empty promises. I may not have thought much of the current POTUS but I did believe (and sort of still do) that Trump (not his wussbag looking son in law) CAN be the person to finally unfuck this situation.
I do try to educate people daily when they say things like “well, you get free healthcare, and money every month for life? you’re all set no?” no… not for many, MANY of us. We are NOT “all set” for life.

Lem
Lem

The Veteran’s Administration>Department of Veteran’s Affairs was never intended to benefit veterans as much as other special interests. From the pharmaceutical industry to the bankers that fund VA loans more of that 170 Billion goes to special interest than to veterans. Every benefit law past is a wink and a nod. The code gives something in one place and in another it is converted to benefit a special interest more. It is all wink and nod. The nod to the veteran and their families and a wink to the special interest to be benefited.

Since that was the intent from the beginning, even before the VA was established and bankers made the money off of the Revolutionary War Warrants while the warrant owners ate shit and died of starvation was to benefit special interests nothing has changed nor will it. President Eisenhower was the only President that tried. And he warned us to beware of the military industrial complex which does things like set up insurance companies to bleed off the Choice program and Tricare program money into the coffers of huge corporations.

No, nothing will be done by this administration or the next 20. It is written in stone like the names on the Memorial Walls.

DevilDoc2017
DevilDoc2017

Amen Lem, I couldn’t have said it better myself. This behaviour is nothing new with the VA. And as Gen. Smedley L. Butler once stated “War is a Racket”

Windguy
Windguy

Right on! Another read that will twist your knickers – “The Creature from Jekyll Island”. Lengthy treatise on the formation of the Federal Reserve. And now we have over 800 bases/outposts in over 135 countries. We used to wag a finger at the Brits and called it imperialism.

lily
lily

Napoleon Bonaparte “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon”.

Warhorse
Warhorse

Amen Murph. What can we do?? At one time in all our lives, we assembled to serve what we love and hold dear. Whether it was Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corp, we were a force to be reckoned with. Now, to unfuck the current situation happening at the VA, maybe it’s time to assemble once again. Right on the doorstep at Vermont Ave, Washington Fucking D.C. Let the fat scrapple eating pogues waddling into the building see us and hear us.

For many of us our days are numbered, mine included. I’ve volunteered more than once for the research programs run by DOD and VA. Each and every time they’ve found problems associated with my service, yet I’m in my 4 year of my appeal for benefits. Yes, it’s going to take our presence to unfuck this current situation.

namnibor
namnibor

“[I like the idea, and my platform is big enough to get the right exposure of the plan.

But even if it does not help encourage reforms, it will help inform Santa each year when he makes his naughty list.]”

I like the plan as well but going back to that definition of insanity, those damn AFGE Thugs keep turning Santa’s lumps of coal into gold. Each and every time. I’m thinking Santa is in on a huge scam with the AFGE Thugs: Santa provides the lumps of coals and the AFGE Thug Alchemists turn that crap into gold. Santa splits the loot with the thugs and back North for a year.

My point is, *something* has to be done with the AFGE Union in the VA. I truly think that’s one of our largest obstacles in reforming the VA. The AFGE fights tooth and nail to keep accountability out of the picture… and since coal burns….send them all back to hell. Satan wants his coal back.

Rant Out.

namnibor
namnibor

Satan — Santa….see a pattern?

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Namnibor – Holy friggin shit Batman, find your buddy Robin, and then get to the Bat Car, and then lets clean up this dam mess, to bring the righteous medical care and proper uncorrupted claims filing for Veterans. The task is at hand to remove the dam criminals out of the VA system, and to keep the fukkers out. Set a dam line in the sand, and dare any VA employee(s) to step out of line by taking advantage of, misleading, or using any Veteran.

Is the above so complex to do? Because those with the authority can give themselves a raise, or to make changes in policies. Then these some individuals can take action to clean up the VA. Veterans need a dam Bulldog that is solely determined in changing the ways that the VA is treating Veterans. It’s not that complex if the energy or forces are directed in reforming or reorganizing the VA.

@cj – Thanks for prep call today. Our discussion was quite interesting, uplifting, and encouraging. You may also call me at any time as well. Thanks again for being there for me, and to not have to speak to someone who is trained to answer questions via a dam script. Thank you @CJ for caring for other Veterans, myself included.

cj
cj

@ANutterVet: Nutter, I don’t know what to say to that. It was a pleasure talking with you, and thank you for the kind words. You rock.

namnibor
namnibor

@ANuttervet– Paraphrasing The Joker in the first Batman movie, but replacing word ‘city’ with the ‘VA’: “This Veterans Administration needs an enema”!

However do take heed: The VA’s arch villain is quick with his words because he is none other than “The Riddler” in the VA’s Gotham. ‘The Riddler’ resides within the VA’s Public Affairs Office and can spin coal into golden fleece.

cj
cj

I agree with everything said here so far, that is “I concur”. BIGGEST PROBLEM AT THE VA IS THE AFGE. Next is POLITICALY APPOINTED HACK DIRECTORS AND ADMINISTRATORS. Next is QUACK DOCTORS. You know when quack doctors take third place, Houston we have a problem. I say put some doe scent on Santa, and let Rudolph have his way.

Dave Zimmerman
Dave Zimmerman

AMEN, Brother. Knock those two issues out would solve 75% of problem

Jane
Jane

@Ben forgot to the VA veterans are dishonest, liars, druggies and oh yeah crazy 🙁 that about sums up what veterans are to the VA besides waiting for us to DIE 🙁

cj
cj

@Jane: They ever say that about you in my presence, they can add “violent” to that list 🙂

cj
cj

<<<>>>
c[_] COFFEE BREAK c[_]

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

C[_] Take Pain Meds w/ Java, wife Practicing CNA Techniques, Recover from Pain, then Give Thanks C[_]

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

It’s starting all over again. Somebody help me, oh please help me, Omarosa is in the building.

MurphysLaw
MurphysLaw

Most Americans prove don’t know that the VA is unionized and the whole system is a money making (money sucking) endeavor for the 1 percenters but we could help let them know. Bell let’s pool our money and hire a PR firm. Like it or not the LGBT community banded together and got a LOT done. We could model off them and they have come a long way and have lots of rights now. Granted its not prefer but it’s better than waiting to Xie and suffer in pain. I say “let’s!”

fred locke
fred locke

Probably the best way to reform a system like the VA is through self advocacy. I have been thinking along the lines of filing a class action lawsuit. I did some Google research and came across an article written by Attorney Ben in 2014 titled: MMQB How to Sue The Dept of Veterans Affairs, February 3, 2014.
After reading Ben”s article the reality hits home, hey you realize that this type of litigation costs. Class Actions can cost upwards to a million dollars. Still, I was hoping some of the commentators at this website might feel the way I do. If you file a claim with the VA and you have to wait 10-20-30 years to have the issue adjudicated then there’s a problem ( I had to wait 14 years and I lost my case to boot.)
I still want to file a class action lawsuit and I hope one day to have other veterans involved. Step one is to set up a GoFundMe page/website find an attorney, law clinic, legal service advocate etc and go for it.
Look veterans I am serious. When the Board of Veterans Appeals Issued its final ruling in 2012 for my claims I never gave up. In 2016 I contacted the ACLU via their website regarding my case. And although the ACLU politely declined my request I have not stopped searching because I know there are half-a- million veterans out there who filed claims and received the same treatment I received or worse. What pisses me off about the ACLU is that if you burn the American flag they will flock to represent you. Recently someone sent President Trump a Tweet and apparently it got government officials angry. The government contacted Twitter and demanded to know the name of the person. The ACLU got involved in this matter and it appears that this issue is going to go quietly away. The ACLU is not totally to blame, there are hustlers and scam artists that are allowed to pimp out veterans and collect money for bogus causes and rake in millions of dollars.
The Veterans Legal Service Clinic at Yale University Law School filed a class action in March 2014 called Monk v. Mabus. The issues in this matter consisted of veterans with PTSD as well as upgrading and correcting wrongful discharges. The law school had some success in this matter and I believe it is still being litigated. ( case no: 3:2014cv00260 Connecticut District Court)
I know I said a lot today and maybe to some folks this seems like a rant, well it’s not. The reason I contacted the ACLU is because I have a story to tell. Hell, it could be worthy of an interview on the CBS program 60 minutes if I could have found an advocate. My anger lies in the fact that the military fails to properly do background checks on new recruits. I did not have a birth certificate when I enlisted, the lady that raised me was not my mother etc. Things got really messed up for me before I even joined the military I had psychological issues that needed to be resolved. I served 3 years and got an honorable discharge but I got in to serious trouble 90 short of ETS and it resulted in a court martial.
Anyways I look forward to reading the comments today. Veterans its about the money, and the only way the VA is going to respect us is if we begin the process of monetary enterprise, call it what you like but right now its like David vs Goliath and the VA is winning big. And until we Veterans organize and put some money in the game the fight for compensation remains long and arbitrary.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Fred Locke – What exactly do you mean when you wrote the following statements, and how to go about exposing the hustlers and scam artists, how they rake in the millions of dollars, and how to start a monetary enterprise? Thanks for explaining. ANutterVet

[1.] “The ACLU is not totally to blame, there are hustlers and scam artists that are allowed to pimp out veterans and collect money for bogus causes and rake in millions of dollars.” and, [2.] “. . . and the only way the VA is going to respect us is if we begin the process of monetary enterprise, . . . “

MurphysLaw
MurphysLaw

Yes! Organize! Class Action costs a lot but there are a lot of us. Spreads the money out.

fred locke
fred locke

To ANutterVet or anybody else, I am trying to express a viewpoint that deals with class action lawsuits and veterans. It would be nice if 250,000 vets would organize and put some money into a legal fund to pursue VA grievances. IF the veterans who post on this website and (Haddit.com) as well ever organized we could raise money and maybe get some VA benefits for ourselves and a lot of people. Ask Ben if his firm would represent us Veterans in a class action if a million or more dollars were available for representation. He might mull it over.
My anger at the VA and the ACLU as well has been explained in my post. Read it again!!
Look I ain’t got no beef with you dude. I am thinking about money and how I can get my rightful compensation I am owed by the VA.
Ben Has done numerous articles on fraudulent VSO who parade around collecting money for veterans but pocket this money instead of helping veterans. And I am not calling the ACLU a fraud or a hustler. I respect them even though they declined to take on my case. Listen ANutterVet, were both on the same team, the VA fucked me over pretty good. The Army did a good job of screwing around too. (72-76).
All I am trying to say is if there are any individuals at this site or other places who would like to begin the process of real litigation and putting some cash down let’s try and figure out a coherent way to do it and start talking.
Me… I am 65 years old college educated and nothing to show for it. I am mad as hell and I ain’t going to take any more. Let’s fight the VA not each other.
Peace Dude!

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Fred Locke – I read your previous post concerning your anger with the VA, and I understand how you feel, but anger [an emotion based on feelings] is very well in difference compared to law [not a feeling or expressed emotion, doesn’t change as frequently as emotions]. Fred, I also felt a little frustration when you stated, “Read it again!!”

Hey Brother, I reread my post, and there isn’t any ill contests mentioned. I know you’re taking my post like I’m giving you some sort of attitude, and this IS NOT the case. Sorry you took my comment this way.

I’m in the same situation as you, college educated, with a lot of fucking bio-research, presenting seminars in front of hundreds of my peers, mentors, and other scientists, and then writing or editing research papers, and then submitting the paper(s) for review to possibly getting published. I understand all of this.

There is no anger or attitude from me to you. I’m concerned about the same issues that you are. An attorney can be presented with a plan of legal action, then review it for possible further proceedings, then decide if there is a case, then tell us how much it is going to cost.

After presenting a possible class action suit, the attorney will know if it is feasible or not to pursue such, and then tell us the possibility of kicking the VA’s ass for compensation(s) and pension(s). Make sense to you?

Never was any ill feelings on my end. You should reread my previous post. Thanks Brother, ANutterVet

Thom
Thom

It is frustrating to feel like self-advocacy is our best option in trying to uncover & rectify the corruption. I say that because I think many Vets Advocates are overwhelmed with requests for help. I tried contacting Benjamin last year when having issues with the V.A. & had plenty of documented evidence of V.A. wrongdoing. From Leadership, Admin., & medical providers. I could never get a response. At some point, if no one seems interested, even advocates, you give up. Luckily I did not. I’ve kept up the pressure & even worked to expand V.A. Health Town Halls to the CBOC level in my area. I know I’ll keep fighting, not just for myself, but also fellow Vets. Hope there’s enough like-minded Vets & Military Families out there to join us.

Just Another Combat Wounded Veteran
Just Another Combat Wounded Veteran

Problem with Class Actions is the law firm gets the vast majority of the settlement, if any. The members of the class rarely get much of anything.
In the case of suing the VA, I think it far better to try a case in the “court of public opinion”. I can tell you that in the Twin Cities (MN), television station KARE11 has run a number of excellent investigative reports. These need to be iterated to other markets as well as get a national audience through shows such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, et al.
If anyone has contacts with investigative news teams in their area (market), let’s hear about it so that a functional approach can be developed and implemented.

Dennis
Dennis

“Albert Einstein supposedly said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Nice quote, but what is lesson from the quote? Is the lesson that we should be listening to people more intelligent than us? Or is the lesson that somebody more intelligent than us is sane? Is the lesson that we should learn is that persistance is a form of insanity?

Well, I suppose the answers to any of those questions first relies upon whether Albert Einstein was in fact a genius, right? He WAS the first to come up with idea that in order for the whole universe to click right, that the closer a person gets to the speed of light that the persons mass would increase in direct proportion to his velocity that upon reaching the speed of light the mass would need to become infinite.

He reasoned that a mass of infinite proportion was not possible as that would preclude any other thing existing. From this the obvious implication is therefor that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. E=MC squared. It was precisely this simple equation that filled in the blanks on chalkboards and notepads across the acedemic world which promptly and with alarming rapidity solved equations that put mankind forever on a different path. It unlocked for science the secret of the atom.

Einstein had a remarkable gift indeed and this idea led to many others which he passed along freely. His ideas of course solved MANY problems, not the least of which was necessary to solve in order to learn how to split the atom. From this mankind was gifted the gift of nuclear power. From the waste of nuclear power, mankind was gifted nuclear weapons. Einstein was smart enough to provide the key to unlocking nuclear weapons.

….and then he passed along the information to other men whom almost certainly he must have known were not as smart as him.

I think that pretty much tosses him out of the category of “genius”.

How do we reform VA, is like asking how do we reform politics. The question presupposes that anything at all that exists and thrives through the donations of public money can ever be anything except corrupt. Remember Harry Potter? “The Wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter.” The wand of corruption always chooses the wizard with the dough and the dough is made in the federal bakery. The VA may be the answer to vet healthcare but so far this has not proven itself out in favor of corruption. The VA might be the best at adjucating claims, but again where is the proof? Albert Einstein might have been a genius, but how smart is it to pony up the recipe for nuclear holocaust?

All function of our Constitutional Republic that are not purely clerical in nature, of military necessity, or necessary for enforcing federal laws, will always be corrupt. There is no fixing this in my opinion and my proof is that every President I can remember has said they will fix it and not one dent do I see has been made in this regard and evidence clearly shows that the drain of corruption on our resources by VA has grown steadily. In America nearly community provides health care. So VA healthcare is simply not necessary yet continues to exist and grow as an entity, enriching more and more and more people all the time.

Once the cycle starts it cannot be reformed. It must be removed.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Dennis – At this point, I agree that the VA is so damaged beyond repair and control, but if it is removed, there are still Veterans that are in need of health care, so it [the VA] must be replaced with something. Access to Private Sector Health Care since the VA’s Choice Program is rattled with internal, physician availability, scheduling, and monitoring problems? What gives, any clear cut alternatives?

Dennis
Dennis

The alternative for veterans entitled to healthcare is to give them identical access to healthcare as every other American who is also entitled to healthcare..

We do not provide special govermrnt hospitals for the elderly or the otherwise disabled. We instead send them a card and it is up to them to choose from the multiple options available in every community.

If the private sector doc maims a vet, the vet can hold hem financially accountable on a personal level. If the vet is unhappy about waiting they can take their business down the road. There is absolutely zero reason to continue allowing the VA to attempt to compete with the private sector because they simply cannot as has been proven beyond ANY reasonable doubt these past few lifetimes.

What on Earth can justify attempting to duplicate the services already provided in such a vast array of options, complete with the assurance that any misconduct on the part of your provider will be dealt with under the same system that every other American enjoys?

Furthermore, the staff at VA also duplicates an entire legion of workers who have demonstrated for Social Security the ability to adjudicate entitlement claims correctly. Since VA has failed miserably, and since nearly every single VA claim is also processed at the same time as the Social Security claim, it make perfect sense to simply add the VA claim to the inventory of Social Security products the government already offers.

What I am suggesting is simple. The VA has failed time and again to achieve its mission. America is well beyond the need for any services it provides, even if that service was stellar. Plus the added benefit is that equal protections under the law are already in place outside of VA so the need to maintain a massive security force independent of community law enforcement would evaporate further reducing costs.

We would lose all need for the million vet program. We would lose all need to maintain at enormous expense redundant healthcare facilities in our communities slated only for veterans, and the healthcare community at large would benefit hugely owing to a much larger customer base along with assurances that treating vets was no riskier financially than treating any other Medicare recipiet or patient. Vets would benefit in a multitude of ways, not the least of which is that they no longer would have to beg congress to make a grossly unfair system offer the due process under law that every other American enjoys. Congress would benefit because it is geometrically easier to legislate and understand a single healthcare product and industry, and the endless hearings to determine how to fix VA decade after decade would no longer occupy their time, nor require them to perpetrate further falsehoods to cover for a system so horibbly broken that even the untimely deaths of our nations heroes through neglect and incompetance cannot seem to stop it.

The cost saving of shedding a duplication of effort cannot be simply equated to the vast number of $$$ spent soley on the overhead of maintaining such a huge duplication of effort, but clearly a saving of lives, honor, and faith in America would be the reward for this generation of WE THE PEOPLE grow a set of balls and step up to the plate and fix this. Or are we all so spineless that we are going to tuck tail and simply pass his horror down to the generation being born today? … and more vets die.

VA must end and in its place vets need to take their own place alongside of the millions and millions of Americans entitled to pensions and medical coverage as it is deployed by the Social Security Administration. Vet status would simply be known as SSV, and would supplement SSI or SSDI as appropriate. It is my firm belief that no solution otheriwse exists if the horror is to cease.

Just Another Combat Wounded Veteran
Just Another Combat Wounded Veteran

@Dennis: There’s not a “Reply” button at the bottom of your eloquent statement; so I’m actually responding to your comments with this one:

Dennis: You are so very correct! Veteran’s Choice is a disaster, given they don’t pay their bills to all medical facilities.

There is no reason for the VA medical system, or the VA as a whole, to continue. Role it into the Medicare or Social Security system, including their billions-upon-billions of $$$ in budgets. Simply create an identifying class for Veterans (if even that is necessary). Issue an account and ID, and it’s done. Only benefit I see worth saving from the VA system is the competitive pharma system. That too could be passed to either agency.
So simple, so easy.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Good start on reforming the VA.

On recording, I have an app to record phone calls on my cell phone, or to use as a stand alone recorder if needed. It doesn’t matter if I plan to release the recordings or keep them private, the recordings come in damn handy when the bureaucracy decides to address an issue months later.

I also have another stealth recorder that will record audio and high resolution video.

This also ties into self advocacy.

Yes, veterans need to advocate for themselves, but it needs to be done with knowing the kind of monster we are dealing with.

Phone calls at one time used to be sufficient when dealing with things. That is no longer the case with lazy employees that either don’t answer their phone, refuse to return a voice mail, or will flat out lie about what was said.

FORCE ACCOUNTABILITY ON THE VA!

PUT. THINGS. IN WRITING!

If you record a call or have any other problem you are trying to address with the VA, PUT IT IN WRITING!

It’s much harder for a lazy bureaucrat to deny something if they have it in writing, and you have a record of that letter/email being sent.

That record can be used by you for addressing problems in the future by showing, I sent this letter, you did nothing about it, now when are you going to deal with it?

It can also be used as a reference when you contact a congressman or senator. Attach your letter as an example of how you tried to address the problem.

Send emails. Each email you send provides a copy of a record in your Sent file. It also has the time and date stamped on the email you send.

Use the Secure Messaging in the myHealthEvet application. If that is not working, call their tech support. If that is not working, have your congressman help sort it out. Use it, because it goes directly to your provider…even if just sending a message clarifying what was said during an appointment.

I recently got notes from when I saw my PCP. In the notes, she said I could not take a certain test because I was incoherent or some such nonsense.

I cut and pasted from the note into a Secure Message to her asking about it, and got a much faster response than if I would have just called. She said it was a mistake on her part by selecting an option in their software, and then not being able to change it.

Fine. I have it in writing, and took screenshots of the message in case it disappears from Secure Messaging.

Unless veterans start putting things in writing and start contacting their politicians, then there will be no reform.

The VA will lie about you contacting them, and politicians might not respond, but if you have things in writing, neither will know if that problem will bite them in the ass in the future.

Finally, one other area that can help force accountability is veterans using requests for information under FOIA or Privacy Acts. Ben has written helpful columns on this before, and it does greatly help. Search the VA web page for the VAs list of FOIA/Privacy officers. Every VA in the country has one, and they all should have email addresses, so sending a FOIA/Privacy Act request is as easy as sending an email.

It sucks that we have to go to these lengths to get what we need from an organization that never wastes an opportunity to publicly claim vets are their number 1 priority, but we have to in order to try hold them accountable.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@91Veteran – Can you post the name or where to get the application for your cell phone to record conversations? For me, I hardly ever directly answer my phone without a message that states, “this call may be recorded for learning purposes.”

91Veteran
91Veteran

ANuttetvet, it’s called Smart Recorder and it’s on the Google Play store.

I don’t know if there is an Apple version.

The drawback is the phone has to be on Speaker for it to work, otherwise it just records your voice. It does work very well.

Jo3n
Jo3n

@Dennis, you paint a bleak picture and future for Veterans using the VA. Also, Lem made some good points. I know quite a few Veterans,, with a hundred percent, that pretty much stay away from Veterans and the VA. I like the class action, but; I don’t believe the VA can be fixed. Shoot it.

cj
cj

That is because Lem is one smart cookie.

MurphysLaw
MurphysLaw

I say we plan on a day. I was thinking June 5th or June 7th or whatever. If we spread the word, as fast as possible, on every site including sites like “Together We Served” that help veterans find and keep in touch with other veterans with whom they’ve served in the past. It would be best on Washington, (I would go) but most of us have mobility issues so march in your states capital. This is exactly how the Women’s March started. That was pretty successful. But we can put the information that we think needs to be put out like letting the rest of the country know that the VA is being held hostage by the UNION, or that Shulkin is a puppet and so on and so on. But that’s the purpose of those witty signs, to “click bait” peoples attention while getting information out at the same time. Other than getting the word out, all you have to do is show up with your sign. I’m sure that with a pool this large, if we do it on a Facebook page, then we would have LOTS of collaboration. Sure beats sitting around and complaining about it!

Jo3n
Jo3n

I wonder if they would allow me to put a flier up at my local VA clinic. All of, “Murphy’s Laws”, ideas, I’ve heard before. I’ve not heard of any of them following through. I’m near 70, and don’t look forward to marching on Montgomery Al., in muggy and HOT weather. Sounds like an excuse. It is. A nice long drive to D.C., is another story. I’ve always wanted to go to the Wall.

doug constantine
doug constantine

VSO’s should all have minimum qualifications starting with a College Degree from an accredited institution. They should also have supplementary legal experience, medical experience and the ability to work with and apply pertinent Federal Regulations.

Timothy Ramos
Timothy Ramos

I filed a lawsuit against the VA here last week, after breaking the following laws below. Even my VA Neurologist, blew the whistle writing a letter stating that by not providing this FDA APPROVED PROSTHETIC ITEM, that I have 3 letters of Medical Necessity, and 2 trials with unbelievable positive results, the Prescott VA is causing my disability and home life to worsen, but they can care less. Even with the following laws, and VA regulations.

Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104- 262, significantly changed the eligibility of veterans to receive hospital care and outpatient medical services, including prosthetics, medical equipment, and supplies. For complete details on eligibility rules and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enrollment system, reference should be made to the regulations governing VA’s enrollment system and medical benefits package. They are published in Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Sections 17.36 – 17.38. Generally all veterans enrolled in the VA health care system are eligible for all needed prosthetics, medical equipment, and supplies.

NOTE: d. Major Medical & Special Equipment Committee (MMSEC). A committee composed of medical, therapy, engineering and allied health personnel who are knowledgeable about prosthetic equipment and rehabilitation responsible for reviewing requests and determining medical need for major items of prosthetic equipment. 
ee. Major Medical Special and/or Experimental Appliances. Any newly developed or unusual non-contract orthopedic appliance, therapeutic or rehabilitative device, regardless of cost, which has not been previously issued by the health care facility. )

November 2, 2000 1. PURPOSE 
VHA HANDBOOK 1173.1 
ELIGIBILITY 
This Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Handbook establishes uniform and consistent national policy and procedures for determination of eligibility of veteran beneficiaries for prosthetic services. 
2. ELIGIBILITY 
a. General. The Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104- 262, significantly changed the eligibility of veterans to receive hospital care and outpatient medical services, including prosthetics, medical equipment, and supplies. For complete details on eligibility rules and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) enrollment system, reference should be made to the regulations governing VA’s enrollment system and medical benefits package. They are published in Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Sections 17.36 – 17.38. Generally all veterans enrolled in the VA health care system are eligible for all needed prosthetics, medical equipment, and supplies. Certain veterans are eligible for needed prosthetics, medical equipment, and supplies even though not enrolled. The two most significant groups of veterans who do not need to be enrolled are: 
(1) Veterans needing prosthetics, medical equipment, and supplies for a service connected disability, and 
(2) veterans with a service connected disability rated at least 50 percent. 

Laws:
1. Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Sections 17.36 – 17.38
2. Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Sections 17.36 – 17.38. 
3. VHA HANDBOOK 1173.1 
4. Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104- 262, 
       Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act                                    
       1996, Public Law 104- 262, 
        Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)             
        Sections 17.36 – 17.38. 
1. Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Sections 17.36 – 17.38. 
2. Title 38 CFR 17.115. 
        k. Contracting Officer’s Technical
        Representative 
And more…

This, I feel is the only way to get reform.

jessie phillips
jessie phillips

in my opinion, the va should be comprised of veterans, and not a bunch of civilian deadbeats that care nothing about veterans, from the top to the bottom hire only veterans. Who else is better equipted at helping veterans than other veterans.

Frederick L. Payne
Frederick L. Payne

One of the Major reasons we have the problems and corruption in the VA is that there is no independent accountability structure that can force the change needed to reform the agency. If Mr. Krause is really set on effecting change with the agency the veterans need a reform plan that effects the change needed. As someone who has been fighting the Disability Claims process for 25 years, my particular claim is one of the poster child’s for how the system is broken. I believe that there needs to be a totally separate agency to quality control both the claims process and health care services. By establishing a totally independent organization with authority to over ride deficient decisions the veteran would have a voice in the game. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has exactly the type oversight needed to clean the VA up. The Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board type Offices with OPM are independent and have legal authority to hold federal agencies accountable and the power of removal of employees. The gist of my proposal is to review Regional and Board decisions for technical and legal errors that could be reversed by independent agency. The new agency would also have a complaint process with investigative capabilities to ferret out problems with VA agencies in the administrative process. One of the Largest problems is the political process that drives each federal agency. When the most current Administration in power wants cuts it makes changes to the process, and that caries over to each successive administration that is then compounded by each additional administration. What becomes lost is the Veteran, Agent Orange is the classic example of where the Political Process corrupted the Veterans benefits entitlement. How many veterans died before the VA/Government finally acknowledged and started to compensate after the Nehmer decision. Independent Over Sight and Quality Control is the only way to have any form of accountability in the VA. It is a General Idea the would put teeth into VA reform.

Quancidine Hinson-Gribble
Quancidine Hinson-Gribble

The VA OIG should be shut down for starters. They are just “Circle Jerking” and taking notes when they feel like it. These people are not actually doing anything to help the Veterans and their Surviving Spouses. Just this morning, April 10, 2017, I called to file a complaint and to see where the complaint was that I filed a couple of weeks ago. The response was like a deer in headlights. These people are not following through on our complaints and are surprised that we are still calling about our benefits. My Compensation and Pension is showing an “EFFECTIVE DATE” as of August 23, 2016, and not one dime has gone into my account. When I asked Michelle what account was showing on the e-Benefits Account that someone had opened in my name she informed me that I would have to do a “FOIA”. Like all the other FOIA’s that have not been answered as the VA and the VA OIG believe they are above the law. With this being said, this is why I believe the VA should be run by Veterans and not Civilians. I believe that the VA OIG should be shut down and that all complaints should be made to the FBI, GAO, ICE, Homeland Security and other Federal Agencies. One last things about the VA OIG, I asked to speak to the Supervisor. I was denied that right as well. I was told that the supervisors name was Sheila Brown, however no Sheila Brown has called me back nor does she intend to call me back. Nothing but, “FRAUD”, “IDENTITY THEFT” and the “RE-ROUTING” of dead Veterans Compensation and Pension as well as their Surviving Spouses. This “dog and pony” show is robbing the tax payers not to mention the Veterans. What a National Disgrace. Quancidine Hinson-Gribble, (910) 748-7079.

cj
cj

For those wondering what Quancidine is talking about here is a video explaining it all, go to 16:34 of the video and watch from there. Your not going to believe what your about to hear, so pay attention. Here is the link to the video: “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6OAzGMV_wQ” remember start watching at 16:34 about the theft of benifits. Watch then entire video for some enlighenment.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Do as Dr. Ben Carson did with HUD!
He found OVER one/half TRILLION DOLLARS in fraud!

AUDIT the Veterans Administration by that same outside firm!
WHEN the MASSIVE WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE IS FOUND – THEN BRING CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST ALL THE PERPETRATORS!

There, that was simple, direct and to the fuckin’ point!
That’s my opinion brothers and sisters!

namnibor
namnibor

An Amen to that!

Genius H Kennard
Genius H Kennard

Fire almost everyone at the VA and start over with extremely trust worthy individuals such as senior citizens

but not too .old maybe starting at around 55+ with no signs of heart disease or any type of illness. I would

like to be Superman and handle all of VA’s problems my self from medical diagnosis to actual disability

payments but I am only one individual and they have many, many individuals who don’t know what they are

doing. I can guarantee that they have been trained to disrupt a Veterans life with the constant back and forth

process of sending his or her case from 1 state back to Washington and the regional office!

Chuck Vroman Jr
Chuck Vroman Jr

Honestly, I think that reforming the VA first has to start with the end of the absurdity that is government employees being able to unionize and hold agencies like VA hostage to the disadvantage of Veterans alone. Then, the entire upper echelon of VA ‘Executives’, who are really the ones that perpetuate the culture the VA is always criticized for, needs to be let go without any further benefits or payments for their lack of services from the Taxpayers. Thirdly, set up the ‘New VA’ with Veterans being heavily involved in the process and not just lifelong bureaucrats. This would include having each VISN in constant communication with every other VISN making transferring facilities when a Veteran moves a nonissue. Oh yes! Let us not forget to skew the VA’s Police force’s mandate changed so that, in disputes between VA employees and Veterans, they are required to fall on the side of the Veteran more often than not until an investigation into the matter is completed. Having a VA employee be able to have a Veterans movements restricted without the accompaniment of a VA Officer in any VA facility on ‘their word that they feel threatened’, is damned ridiculous. No, we Veterans are not all angels with the patience of a Saint, but sometimes we are pushed by VA employees purposely into a state of agitation with the only outcome is the Veteran being penalized. I know that none of this will be changed in my lifetime, but hey, this is just my opinion.

namnibor
namnibor

Very well-stated! Also, I too, am in Columbus, OH area. Good to see you here.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

6:25pm April 10, 2017, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelly – Veterans go scuba diving for the treatment of PTSD. Is the VA giving out FREE round trip tickets for those that don’t live near an aquarium or reside close to sub- or tropical waters? Please keep my updated on the VA’s new PR strategies. I never received an email that explained this treatment since it has been used by over 22,000 Veterans since 2008. Its only now getting media attention. Geesh!

namnibor
namnibor

Your name gets on a list then the VA will mail-out a pair of scuba goggles and a really fine glossy 3D underwater photo taken while some VA upper management were in Caribbean.

Instructions: Place Goggles on.
Sit next to the toilet.
Now stare at the VA’s vacation underwater scuba paradise while flushing toilet.
Repeat as required.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Namnibor – I liked it when I pulled down on the handle, and but only once did I see a few odd shaped brown tropical fish go around circles, then drop out of site. Haven’t seen the fish since the first time I looked. What’s up with this? Any reasons that I don’t see anymore fish? And, these people didn’t tell me to bring a towel, nor offered me one. Did I do something wrong? Repeat flushing doesn’t help.

namnibor
namnibor

The toilet flushing is for the quasi-ambient relaxing sounds of the surf hitting the breakers, and you can make it even more diverse by dumping a bunch of ice cubes into toilet and enjoy the arctic while Coast Guard Icebreakers are paving an imaginary path to Antarctica.
Remember to only LOOK at the glossy photo, do NOT stick your head in toilet. You do not know who’s shat there. 🙂

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

“Who shat there,” friggin funny guy you. Sit plus shit = shat.

JOHN COKOS
JOHN COKOS

Let me be brief:EVERYONE just opt out of the system. No lab rats to work on, no need to show up at the office….

cj
cj

@ANutterVet,@Ex va: You guys around?

Ex va
Ex va

@cj, how are you doing? I hope well. Good day here in the 70s wind and threat of storms was making me crazy today. Can’t do much of anything on days like that. I hear thunder no rain yet.

cj
cj

@Ex va: Had good storms here this morning, till about noon. Went from the 70’s to the 40’s. I was going to ask how your doing, but you already said your having a hard time. Did you get my email?

Ex va
Ex va

@cj, the temps drop that stinks i will check my e-mail thanks.