So far, President Donald Trump is batting two for two in picking nominees for VA secretary who go on to have their careers ruined in short order.

Former VA secretary David Shulkin served for barely one year in the top role after now having his career ruined due to political infighting and ethical missteps. Shulkin is the first secretary to be fired in some time, much less to be fired over Twitter. One can imagine he will not get the big seat at his favorite Philadelphia country club.

Recent nominee Ronny Jackson experienced an immediate attack from Sen. John Tester (D-Mt) that not only pressured Jackson to withdraw but also resulted in Jackson not returning to his previous role as the President’s doctor, either.

While Jackson denied allegations against him, Washington Post acknowledged the allegations are hard to prove and disprove. The Secret Service indicated the allegations in at least one instance and Tester’s office has yet to release supporting documentation of allegations emanated from them.

Jackson Should Be “Investigated”

“I think some of those allegations do warrant being investigated,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Face the Nation.

“I don’t think you want members of Congress deciding whether or not the prescribing of Ambien is within the course of a professional medical practice,” Gowdy said. “In fact, I can’t think of anybody less well-qualified to decide whether Ambien should be prescribed than a bunch of lawyers.”

Nice. Not to say the allegations are fraudulent or not, but the hammering of the past secretary and most recent nominee should make any future nominee think twice, especially if he or she lacks support from certain segments of the veteran community.

Switching gears, an op-ed in The Hill recently addressed a major question the next VA secretary will need to answer: How will VA provide the care it claims to provide?

Advocate Rory Riley answered this question by calling into question the agency’s scam-like assertion that it is the nation’s largest “integrated health-care system” without delivering much integration despite a budget that has quadrupled in the past 17 years.

“Is VA A Scam?” Excerpt

Here is my favorite excpert from Riley’s article below in italics:

Like the public education system, the VA health-care system cannot be fixed with a simple court order or piece of legislation that demands integration.  Even if Congress ordered the VA to have the same choice and access to health care as everybody else (which seems likely, given the Administration’s repeated statement of VA-related priorities), the result would include chaos, resistance and a slow path to acceptance.

Many aging veteran don’t have the ability to let this path take its course, so, let’s start shifting the conversation from whether veterans should have the same access as those in other government health-care programs (such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and ObamaCare) to how to provide veterans with such access via a truly integrated health-care system.

By definition, an “integrated health-care system” is “a network of organizations that provides, or arranges to provide, a coordinated continuum of services to a defined population and is willing to be held clinically and fiscally accountable for the health status of the population served.”  

Although the VA currently professes to be “America’s largest integrated health-care system,” this simply isn’t true.

VA has struggled with long wait times and an inept community care program, resulting in an inability to provide a continuum of services to veterans and more importantly, has not been held clinically or fiscally accountable for veterans’ health — the VA’s budget has quadrupled since 2001, yet some veterans still struggle for access to care.

To remedy this problem, the American people must accept the fact that forced participation in a separate system of veterans’ health care, while noble in theory, is unequal in reality. Rather than attempting to maintain a separate health-care system for veterans, let’s allow veterans the choice to use the same system everybody else uses, which would also result in better care as plans and providers, including the VA itself, would compete to provide our veterans with the care they have earned. 

Riley’s op-ed excerpt above makes me wonder how much VA has paid, to date, for marketing firms to spin reality to make VA seem like its healthcare system is more “integrated” than it truly is.

RELATED: Health Net Slammed For Poor Management Of Veterans Choice

Choice Funding Mess With A Touch Of Backlog

With problems like the Veterans Choice Program mess where the program runs out of money every few months and the looming benefits appeals backlog – – when coupled with the horrific track record of Trump’s Cabinet picks hitting the pavement much quicker than in previous administrations – – do veterans stand much of a chance with any new nominee?

RELATED: Veterans Choice Out Of Money, Again, Again, Again

Anyone who would be an acceptable choice of the Big Six dinosaur VSOs, entrenched VA bureaucrats, and the majority of Democrats and Republicans, would be a major player in the Iron Triangle. And, anyone with options would likely second guess whether to take on a career bender like running VA. Apparently, even being nominated can take your career down a peg or two.

In this climate, I doubt veterans will get a quality nominee, but let’s hope. However, Trump needs to rethink how he selects and treats his Cabinet members. Firing over Twitter is poor form, and when you are dealing with candidates who could otherwise be well-paid CEOs of major corporations, airing dirty laundry via tweet will shrink your candidate pool in a flash.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. BOTH The Secret Service AND the FBI have investigated the lies from the Jabba-Da-Hutt Testers office and have found absolutely NO evidence that any of the claims from Tester are truthful or factual and in fact come VERY close to slander, something that Tester CAN be sued for and does not have the protection of a Congress member as he did this intentionally. And the people of Montana are so pissed at him that he is 20 points behind in the polls, an amount that is almost, but not quite impossible to overcome. And you can tell he is worried as if he is not re-elected then he has to find a real job and actually work for a living. He claims to want to protect the Vets in Montana, and yet his voting record shows otherwise. He voted against more VA funding and putting more money in the choice program. He voted against allowing our Education benefits to start being paid the second we enroll in College or a University ( so what are we suppose to live on?) He voted against VocRehab. He voted against pay increases for Vets and disabled Vets and the Active Duty Military. He voted FOR slashing the Defense budget and closing bases and cutting the US Military Strength down to lower then what it was before WW2. He voted FOR disallowing disabled Vets to receive both social security and disability benefits. Someone should just cut his lying tongue out and get it over with. Am I suggesting that someone do it? No, but you wont see me crying about it if it does happen

    • Montana & Veterans

      Those are two words when put together remind me of the states Veterans Affairs headquarters and all the VA facilities in the state choose to remove the POW / MIA flag and raise the rainbow-colored pride flag for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender to celebrate LGBT pride month.

      All while Tester supported it. This occurred while there were serious issues about leadership at the Montana VA facilities that were actively being covered up and not properly dealt with.

      Although they say there is a time and place for everything. Removing the POW / MIA flag to put up an LGBT flag at any VA facility is not the place. To do it while the facilities are in the middle of a leadership crisis is also not the time for it.

      Now after Tester used unproven allegations to destroy Ronny Jackson’s career. It is time for Tester and his rainbow LGBT coalition to head back to broke back mountain and get out of Washington.

      • Oh and a great article about the Pillsbury dough boy from broke back mountain.

        Sen. Daines, Tester react to Trump’s military ban on transgender people
        Posted: Jul 26, 2017

        “http://cordilleramontana.worldnow.com/story/35980558/sen-daines-tester-react-to-trumps-military-ban-on-transgender-people”

      • I’m cheap — My tap shoes just have rainbow skittles hot-glued to sole of pair of jump boots. 😀

      • All you have to do to see this is an outright lie from this tub of lard is to check the Congressional Voting record. Something this brain dead seemingly thought people would not think to do

      • Tester does support the military and Veterans administration paying for sexual reassignment surgeries. So he is not total against all Veterans. He is only against strait ones. So we can only say he is totally against almost all Veterans with the exception of a few.

  2. If great communication is the key to understanding than we who are looking towards the VA for medical help are all screwed.

  3. The last time I went to the VHA, one thing I learned was: [I’m going to have to paraphrase here] “More (vets) are leaving and using their Medicare or Medicaid or Outside insurance and/or paying cash for their medical health care!”
    Why?
    Because the VA’s healthcare is egregiously horrific!

    There’s also the issue of – vets’ “credit status tanking” because the Choice Plan refuses to pay the bills in a majority of cases!
    That should tell VA exactly what vets think about the VA’s healthcare system!

    As for President Trump’s “nominees” – by last count – around “…300 have NOT been confirmed by the Senate…”! This is due to the Senate and House not having favorable consideration of what’s at stake for America and its “LEGAL CITIZENS!”
    I’m not going to go on a rant this morning. It wouldn’t do any good to get my blood pressure up any higher. I will give this opinion;
    I believe Admiral Jackson would have taken the VA, Union and the VSO’s by the ears and made them squeal like the pigs they are! Because, I believe Admiral Jackson would have made them “prove their existence to the American People!”

  4. Good article. Let me ask you something. What exactly is the job of VA Public Relations? VA clearly has employed vast numbers of people and have deployed great sums of wealth to convey messages like “integrated network”, “Choice”, “Service”, “Care”, “Mission”, “Vision”, “Core Values”, & “Goals”.

    But have you wondered just exactly what the mission is of all these folks at VA that come up with this flowerlike meat free organic meadow pasty in the form of words? Let me contrast it to a PR firm say employed for a large health maintenance organization. The sole purpose of the use of PR money is to increase profit margin for them. This is measurable quarter to quarter fiscally and generally the PR money is used to recruit new patients which brings in more money. PR is seldom used as damage control for a very simple reason – insurance takes care of that function and is specialized in all aspects of it.

    In other words a PR firm outside VA has the job of increasing the workload which gives management the tools financially to grow the company and become prosperous. In a sense the job of the PR firms hired by my local hospital is in hopes of increasing the backlog of customers. An increased backlog for any service organization means increased profits and stock value.

    Logically the motivation for the use of money by VA for PR reasons cannot reasonably be for the same reasons a private firm uses them for. An outreach to stakeholders in an effort to increase the demand for care (backlogs) can only result in reduced resources and bonuses seen by VA management who authorize PR expenditures. My evidence is the ongoing wait list scam and phenomenon that just keeps unfolding in different flavors as time goes on.

    VA PR money and the slogans and fritzy websites and such they generate are designed to speak to the sole source of income for the organization just like a private hospital’s PR money does. For a private hospital the sole source of new revenue are new customers who are the patients getting the care. For VA the source of new revenue is Congress and through them the general taxpayer but in any case the new patient represents a drain on resource and maybe bonus and in no way boosts anyone’s bottom line at VA. New customers at VA hurt the bottom line of the management responsible for spending PR money. PR and words from VA serve the needs of VA alone and never the needs of The People against which the PR money is directed. VA has no need of the veterans approval at all to prosper and arguably the higher the approval rating and use of the system is the worse off management becomes. They need general public approval to grow and prosper, not new customers or serving their needs and PR money is directed solely at this.

    VA public relations and all these slogans and bullshit can only possibly be motivated by the pressing need to keep milking the cow even after she kicked the bucket over and burped up some uncut hay. Cows burp out the back because they have too many stomachs. This is projectile material. Sometimes a bit gets on your face if your not quick enough and the tail sort of makes it squirt sideways kind of random. Sort of like VA explanations.

    VA Public Relations would issue a statement regarding the projectile cow burp splatters on your face, in the milk bucket, and all over the stall technically not constituting “bullshit” as defined by VA directive. Then they would talk about the world class milk at VA, talk about Integrity, Respect, and Excellence, and come dinner time at the VA hospital they would fire up the candle and grill up some farm fresh chicken for our honored injured warriors to go with the fresh whole milk.

    Bon Appetite.

    • RE: In other words a PR firm outside VA has the job of increasing the workload which gives management the tools financially to grow the company and become prosperous.

      Hate to dissagree, but the VA doesn’t need to draw patients in. Continued hostilities in Afgahanastan and a renewed bombing campaign in Syria will assure continued growth in patient load.

      Continued use to spin and befuddle will probably continue since this is the logical use for an otherwise useless appendage.

    • Dennis, I will never read any information from or about the VA again without looking for the sideways squirt.

  5. The only thing well-integrated at the VA is the deep-rooted nepotism,corruption, indifference, and the fucking AFGE Union as the catalyst that keeps it all humming on the very best office furniture taxpayer $ can buy.

    ^^THAT^^ sure seems like a dying systemic mess by definition and it can be rolled-out on all their industrial weight-supporting office furniture & integrated into open traffic…set and forget…..

    • @namnibor
      In my town the problem was and still is where to put the crap. Step one is the stakeholders responsibility to flush it into our well integrated network of system service access points. Use of the system outside of public housing projects is estimated at 98% positive outcomes for the stakeholders who depend on those services.

      HOWEVER……

      I think the PR budget from the public funds devoted to this local integrated service network I speak of is pretty slim. I can’t recall a website encouraging use of this highly integrated network at all. Maybe it was on radio?

  6. “Veteran’s photos of dirty VA clinic room go viral, prompts apology!”

    9:50 PM EDT U.S.
    BY PETER MARTINEZ / CBS NEWS

    “One veteran’s post on social media has prompted a VA clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah, to apologize for the disarray and dirty conditions found at the facility. CBS affiliate KUTV reports that Army Veteran Christopher Wilson — who served two tours in Iraq — was subjected to a room he couldn’t believe.”

    “He took pictures that included “debris on the floor, a full garbage can, cutting tools, a soda cup on a counter and medical kits left open.””

    “Wilson had a podiatry appointment scheduled April 5 and had to wait 45 minutes before he had discovered the filthy room.”

    “I figured they would say, ‘Oh, this room’s not clean,’ and take me somewhere else, but they kind of just blew past it — didn’t acknowledge it,” Wilson told KUTV.”

    “Wilson expected better treatment. He took to Facebook to post the photos which were later shared on Twitter by his father Stephen Wilson — who even tagged President Trump:”

    “VA Salt Lake City responded to the incident Saturday saying the room appears to be where casts are applied to patients with diabetic ulcers, according to KUTV.”

    “KUTV also writes that the VA Salt Lake City’s chief of staff Dr. Karen Gribbin responded and apologized for Wilson’s experience. She took notes that may help with an investigation.”

    “I was taken aback by the condition of the room,” she said. “Mr. Wilson should not have been placed in that room in that condition.”

    “In a thread on Twitter, Stephen Wilson wrote that the VA clinic in Salt Lake City will “review policies” and they said that “sometimes medicine is messy.””

    – my note here. If this is where “casts are put on”! Why would it be so damn filthy?
    Ever employee, including the director, who works at that VHA clinic – should be FIRED! It’s disgusting to say the least!

    • Crazy Elf, you would not believe the number of responses to his fathers tweet saying the VA didn’t have enough staffing or budget.

      • 91Veteran,
        Evidently the American taxpayers aren’t getting the correct information about how much the VA spends; ie: fraudulently!

  7. Yeah, the integrated health care claim by the VA is a joke. How the hell can they claim its integrated when they can’t even integrate or coordinate care between clinics let alone hospitals? How can they claim its integrated, unless one just ignores their inability to pay Choice bills in a timely manner. One could argue a veteran being harassed by a collections agency is detrimental to their overall health.

    As for Jackson not returning to his job, I wonder if this is the case because another Navy Captain had been appointed after Jackson was nominated.

    Who knew some fat loser would blind side everyone with smears, with the full approval of the head swamp rat on the Senate VA committee? How do you prepare a candidate for that?

    I have heard rumors of John Kelly being on the list of nominees. I don’t know whether that’s good or not. He had over 40 years of service and lost a son in combat, with another son a Major in the Marines. I doubt his intention is to become a CEO somewhere.

    Jackson is back working at the WH in the med unit, but he is no longer in the same titled position as he was.

    As for firing over Twitter…in some respects it might be good to weed out those who may only want the position as a stepping stone to some CEO position after they warm a chair for a while.

    If someone is truly committed to reforming the VA to return it to its mission as their motto claims, they shouldnt have any concern over what is tweeted by anyone. They might be reluctant if their intention is to sit on the fence or play with swamp rats.

  8. Back from down town about protest permits that are not called that any more. Forget what she called them, too damn much pain and distractions to pay proper attention. Again more confusing reports and nothing solid. So I reckon no one man permits are needed, I just can’t ‘offend or slander anyone.” Stay off private property and don’t litter in the smallest way. (?)

    Time for a needed lay down.

    Report from down town during primary season with Demoncrats and Repukes over Admiral’s attacks and the other oppressive big win on us being forced to get pain meds once a week if allowed to get them at all not being in a clique, high social status, etc.. “Mission Accomplished.” “You think it’s bad now buddy?” “More to come.” “We progressives have to stay on the same page on every issue.” Ug, okay nation wreckers and real fascist.

    Following.

  9. i have a conspiracy story i dont know if will happen but my story goes like this:

    how much do u want to bet after the September shutdown that there will be a democratic women worse than hillary Clinton and Obama combined to lead the veterans affairs in a hush operation, she will be a doctor that is more experienced in psychology and psycho matrix analysis to divert money back in congress pocket by killing more veterans with counter implied suicide(in which the veterans commits suicidal acts because VA denied his/her decision from this new law for medical P.T.S.D assessments reverting back to medical standards of personality disorder under subjective information.) .

    she will work out a deal with GOP and democratic officials to pay certain assets to close off sea accounts to let the media think shes guarding money for our veterans. the media will also be trick to because they will market more recruiting commercials for the military since we are in dying need of personnel.

    those personnel will think that P.T.S.D was a fake diagnosis under the so called past corrupted prestige of veterans and be mislead to join and be discharged under a new order of how P.T.S.D is assessed in the military . i smell the Vietnam era again on how most of the Vietnam vets where discharge on the false accountability of P.T.S.D from doctors that gave them Borderline personality disorder, which denied there claim leading into the first epidemic of suicides of veterans .

    the united states is going to start phucking around on this new agenda of PTSD. the lady will some how change the laws on how we think what it actually means in exchange to send new fresh members in the military.

    the democratic s are going to make this false representative of a lady of our vets look so good that trump will second guess himself and will have no option but to support her because the democratic s will cut out a deal to take away mental illness service connect pensions .

    major depression will be be taken off for a service connected disability. because major depression is so common the medical field will disregard it as the new normal. or she will implement a plan disregard PTSD as a personality disorder or bi polar disorder itself. watch the VA will have no choice but to disregard mental illness and you will see law enforcement start murdering veterans because government has deemed them incorrigible by new medical standards givng the hunting season against veterans. media will look away as usual and everyone in the government gets paid while new lobbyist usher in the new VA under this technicality of disputed medical vice.

    so in the next 3 years when she takes the leading role for VA secretary they will course a mandated plan to create an medical assessment separate from PTSD to warrant PTSD veterans into a personal disorder therefore denying vets either for an increase of SC or rule out service connected disability of PTSD to warrant out such mental illness from this new law. which mean u will have to either have more requirements for PTSD or simply be called bi polar with a personality disorder and disregard your whole claim together .

    if this happens you will see more mass shootings in American while the hostility encourage the youth to join more military operations because home is that bad. with in the next 7 years the VA will consider mental illness something they cannot handle anymore and throw it in the shit hole. you will see north Korea scammed out of his peace deal going to war with china . at that point you will see Russia and Israel at war with each other as well i feel but that is another ca- ka- me- me of a theory,or America eventually will have to fight Russia.

    • Ted- Well said. Its sad to read this, but stated believable. When will Riots, mass burnings, protest walks with Military berets (instead of cute little pink kitten ears) for VETS LIVES MATTER. #METOO?

  10. Curious reads and a little from local scuttle-butt I was unaware of. Jackson was okay under past admins but not for the Trumpsters or scum-sucking two-faced lying Pence and his circle of clowns around him that helped ruin Hoosier and veteran’s freedoms and voice? And among the many who supports the chronic censoring going on in the state and my totally corrupted town?

    The long list including the mentioned Amvets and other VSOs who think they have the right to speak for us or to the point they ALL think it’s a good thing to stand by while some of us have to suffer in pain daily? Or think it good now to have to make “weekly” trips to a MD for pain meds? And guess who gets to laugh all the way to the bank during all this oppression and new demands? Extra personal files release forms for all to see, the more spread of our info around the world, more fascism and police state living? Locally more like living in a large prison camp or the Gaza Strip or old Soviet Union under the Bols. No Constitutional Republic or rights in Indiana ….. for sure. Fear, retaliation, oppression, Satan rules this joint, not the people, while the media to VSOs turn their ugly little heads.

    The scum in DC will keep putting off VA picks and messing with Trump until we are all dead, in a globalist war in the Mid-East for the sacred cows and shadow government, and we are over-run by third worlders and gangs to point we won’t recognize the new upcoming “merika’ at all.

    “https://saraacarter.com/vp-pence-physcian-behind-ronny-jackson-attacks/”

    “http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/03/29/doctor-is-in-white-house-physician-nominated-to-lead-va.html”

  11. Ben, Excellent article. I assumed it was a reprint written by a Wall Street Journal or Washington Post journalist, only to discover from the byline that it was authored by you – and truly as good as any Pulitzer-prize winning journalist. Thanks for a balanced and informative article, and all the 1k other things you contribute to advance the voice and bring attention to bet issues.

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