Peter O’Rourke, the ex-CALIBRE employee and Trump campaign insider who helped stand up the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection will now serve as acting VA secretary until Robert Wilkie’s confirmation.

I made a joke a while back asking a friend, ‘Is CALIBRE really running VA?’

Maybe not technically, but a large number of its former executives are running key offices, and yes, that now includes the top slot as acting secretary of what retired chairman Jeff Miller once called the most corrupt agency in all of government. While CALIBRE is obviously not running the show in a legal sense, the company’s DNA is certainly spattered all over like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Yesterday, Department of Veterans Affairs announced a curious set of chess moves in one day that were rumored to be in the works for some time.

Inside the agency, O’Rourke went from being a transition team member to running the Accountability Office to being the VA chief of staff to now being the acting VA secretary, after which time he will assume his new role as VA deputy secretary. At the same time, Robert Wilkie went back to DOD while waiting for confirmation and Tom Bowman retired, which coincidentally set up the opportunity for O’Rourke to move into the top slot, at least for now.

I can honestly say that after covering VA news for over 8 years that I have never seen someone outside VA get promoted so quickly and into so many different roles.

So much for working your way up from the mailroom after 30 years, right?

I only say that tongue in cheek.

Many professionals are more than talented enough to rise to the top and run so many departments across one of the most corrupt agencies in the federal government. I just cannot think of any who can do it with sustained success.

Corruption blew Shinseki out the door. An inability to shut down that corruption sent McDonald and Gibson packing. Now Shulkin hit the unemployment line as the first non-Veteran to run the agency and the first secretary in a long time to get fired from its helm.

Wouldn’t it be nice to finally see one of these well-intended businessmen or former generals succeed in rooting out at least the majority of corruption and mismanagement?

My Advice To Peter O’Rourke

Dear Peter,

Congratulations. You and your team have the awesome opportunity to truly reform the agency – – both its employees and its corrupt contracting practices – – to ensure all funds allocated by Congress go to the veterans who deserve the support.

I trust you will make the most of the opportunity as Sec VA and Dep Sec.

Just between you and me and everyone reading this, I really want to help you rid the Department of Veterans Affairs of all the corruption now that you are the man at the top. I think you can do it, and I even wrote about it a couple months ago, What To Expect With Peter O’Rourke As VA Chief Of Staff.

But please be aware that some real swamp creatures exist within the bowels of VA, and if you are not careful, they will hang you up in some kind of scandal and make you look like a fool like your predecessors.

Just look at what happened to Shulkin. Yes, we all know it was dumb to take his wife to Europe on the taxpayers dime and to accept those Wimbledon tickets. However, where was his chief of staff to step in and advise him about the legal mess that might result?

You may know Allison Hickey. She had so much promise before being duped by her subordinates into signing off on their moving scheme. I am referring to Diana Rubens and Kim Graves where the two orchestrated their own demotions while keeping their pay and even receiving bonuses for moving. Hickey signed of and her ousting/resignation from the agency was complete once the House Committee on Veterans Affairs caught wind of the scheme.

It was around that time former chairman Jeff Miller called VA the most corrupt agency in the government (paraphrasing, of course).

I met with Allison once and warned her about trusting her staff too tightly for fear she would be duped and her mission canceled. Then it happened. I talked to Secretary Bob about it. Gone. Once selected, Shulkin swiftly had his staff reach out to me for insight and help, but I do not think his staff took it seriously. A couple reached out but the talks fizzled – – they did not give me the information I needed to make the opportunity the most it could be.

I assure you, Acting Secretary, I should be taken seriously, as should the few other journalists and bloggers who regularly fight against agency corruption by exposing fraud, waste and abuse. We mean business and have a great deal more insight into institutional corruption than most outsiders.

Consider my offer, and I suggest you also review the rest of this article when you have a moment.

Ben

Wednesday’s Events (for the readers who missed it)

In case you missed the news yesterday, after signing the Cerner electronic health record deal, the now nominated VA secretary Robert Wilkie moved back to DOD and present Deputy Secretary Thomas Bowman retired. The sudden move opened up an opportunity for O’Rourke to take over as acting VA secretary after serving as the Accountability Office director for around 10 months and chief of staff for two.

RELATED: Cerner Deal Signed Early, Wilkie Nominated To Lead VA

Some of you may recall what happened in the run-up to today’s announcement.

VA’s Reality TV Drama

What I am about to describe might seem more like a boring version of MTV Road Rules, but trust me, the drama and high stakes tension was no doubt even more interesting behind the scenes than anything you’d see on MTV.

Firing Drama

In February, reports surfaced that Tom Bowman would be fired to knock Shulkin down a peg or two. This turned out to not quite be accurate as a coup to unravel Shulkin was revealed in emails.

Europe Drama

Then more reports surfaced including an IG report confirming that former VA secretary David Shulkin took inappropriate gifts and misused federal resources to take his wife on a trip to Europe summer 2017.

Coup Drama

Once the reports surfaced, Curt Cashour and John Ullyot cut off Shulkin’s contact channels with the press to effectively prevent Shulkin from defending himself at the direction of the White House. Shulkin went on a public relations blitz to counter allegations, in turn, claiming he was set up as part of some internal coup by individuals attempting to privatize VA at the expense of his career and good reputation.

RELATED: Ullyot On Vacation After Failed Coup Of Shulkin

Hacking Drama

President Trump saw to it Shulkin’s trusted chief of staff retired / resigned quickly after it surfaced that she may have altered some emails concerning ethics advisements. Shulkin claimed the emails were altered through a hack, but no one has confirmed the allegation.

RELATED: Coup Attempt Allegedly Behind Chief Of Staff Retirement

Babysitting Drama

Former head of accountability Peter O’Rourke was named as the replacement for Shulkin’s chief of staff on a permanent basis. The stated reason was to keep an eye on Shulkin to make sure he implemented the policies the Trump Administration wanted (i.e. Cerner HER deal to replace VistA).

Firing Drama

President Trump complained about the negative press surrounding the substantiated allegations and ultimately fired Shulkin asserting the mess was a distraction to the agency.

RELATED: VSOs Snub Trump, Hold Party For Fired Secretary

What has occurred since is arguably even worse as far as drama goes.

Hire, Sign, Retire Drama

Shulkin put DOD official Robert Wilkie in charge as acting VA secretary, which was a move in violation of standard succession stipulations indicating the new acting VA secretary should have been Thomas Bowman. However, Bowman was noted as skeptical of the Cerner deal. Wilkie obviously was not and signed the contract two weeks ago ahead of schedule.

Withdraw Drama

The previously nominated replacement for Shulkin, Rear Admiral Ronnie Jackson, MD, withdrew his name from the running after allegations of unprofessional behavior surfaced from Senator Tester’s office.

Lawsuit Drama

A group of advocacy groups also lodged a lawsuit against the Trump Administration alleging Bowman was the proper individual to run VA in the interim, and that Trump lacked the authority to selecting his own acting secretary because Shulkin was fired instead of resigning.

That lawsuit could still have massive effect despite Bowman retiring because it could unravel all decisions made by Wilkie since he should not have been in the role to begin with.

Resignation Drama

During the interim, Scott Blackburn resigned, likely as a result of the Cerner deal being pushed through, which many VA officials allegedly opposed and some officials from DOD.

Kung Fu Chess Drama

Now, in a final chess move, likely in light of the lawsuit concerning Wilkie’s move into the lead spot at VA, Bowman announced his retirement and Trump then selected O’Rourke to serve as acting VA secretary while Wilkie works on preparing for his confirmation hearing.

Trump was able to select O’Rourke for the top slot only because Bowman retired. Had Bowman not retired, he may have taken the top slot and canceled the Cerner deal.

Now, if Wilkie is confirmed, O’Rourke will revert to Bowman’s role as deputy secretary of the agency meaning he will likely gain active management over the agency in much the same way Sloan Gibson did under former VA secretary Robert McDonald.

Shulkin claimed his staff and Trump insiders coordinated a coup against him, and it seems likely, if he was right, that the coup is playing out exactly as planned with the exception of the Bowman appointment lawsuit that could undo the Cerner deal.

Let’s not forget DOD issued a scathing report against the Cerner electronic health record that agency is attempting to implement in an effort to unify VA with DOD medical records systems costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. Some experts in the field of electronic health records believe the transition at VA alone could cost around $30 billion rather than the $10 billion currently budgeted.

CALIBRE Demand And False Allegations

Now, some of you may recall CALIBRE hired an attorney at the Virginia law firm Odin Feldman Pittleman PC who goes by the name F. Douglas Ross.

I think we all now know why the rush happened to silence my criticism of agency corruption at least in part because CALIBRE’s name was included in the IG report that substantiated allegations of improper payments that I later wrote about.

RELATED: The Swamp Giveth, And The Swamp Taketh Away: The Margarita Devlin Story

Ross was apparently directed to demand I apologize for writing an article criticizing corrupt agency officials involved in a contracting deal investigated by IG that implicated his client.

RELATED: CALIBRE Blows Swamp Gas At Krause Company

That IG investigation substantiated allegations of “improper payments” to CALIBRE and other irregularities that raise a great deal more questions than it answers. So, no, I will not apologize for telling the truth and writing about facts. That would be dumb.

Margarita Devlin – Promotion to VBA #2

That contract was between VA and CALIBRE (with some subcontractors), and the VA official in charge of the deal, Margarita Devlin, was recently promoted to the #2 slot within Veterans Benefits Administration the same day current Under Secretary Paul Lawrence started his new job there.

Many inside and outside the agency were shocked by Devlin’s promotion and concerned as to how agency (mis)management may result. And, part of being shocked is that Devlin’s credentials and known performance in other roles shows she was not the best pick for the job, at least in my view.

It is believed Peter O’Rourke signed off on the Devlin promotion despite her linkage to the mismanaged CALIBRE contract deal that was confirmed by IG.

Some Coincidences?

Is it a coincidence that Devlin was responsible for that contract and that O’Rourke happened to be working at CALIBRE while the contract was being performed? Perhaps.

Is it a coincidence that O’Rourke was promoted following the alleged agency coup against Shulkin? That seems unlikely since he was placed by Trump directly into the slot of Shulkin’s former chief of staff to allegedly keep an eye on Shulkin for the White House.

Is it a coincidence that Devlin was selected to the #2 slot in this context even though she appears under qualified for the role? I will let you answer that for yourselves.

FOIA Of Devlin Promotion

I wrote the article about Devlin’s promotion May 16, 2018, and subsequently submitted FOIA requests about her promotion and the demotion of Thomas Murphy.

Nothing happened.

Suddenly, last Friday, May 25, CALIBRE took issue with my using the term “corruption” to explain how VA officials mismanaged that contract even though that term is a reference to public officials or others in positions of authority, and not for-profit corporations.

Now, do not forget that FOIA I mentioned and the concept of “coincidence.”

Adding to this issue is a curious coincidence I noticed this week involving the attorney CALIBRE hired and letters I received from VBA staff dated May 23 that I received Tuesday, May 29.

To recap, last Friday, the law firm forwarded a letter making false allegations against the publication my company Armo Press published about Devlin and her promotion May 16.

Rather than sending the retraction demand letter to the correct legal entity, this law firm forwarded the demand to the WRONG company, my law firm, Krause Law PLLC.

The difference between the two companies is obvious, as are the differences in the contact information, terms of use on this website, and the noted ownership of this website being Armo Press, LLC.

What kind of lawyer would make that kind of a mistake on behalf of CALIBRE, the former employer of the present acting VA secretary? When you are citing an article on a publication, is it not obvious what company published the story? What kind of attorney would not send a demand notice like that to the right legal entity?

Hold that thought.

Tuesday, I received not one, not two, but FOUR responses to the May 16 FOIA requests I submitted to Veterans Benefits Administration on behalf of Armo Press, a recognized representative of the news media.

Not one of those FOIA responses, dated May 23, were addressed to the correct legal entity, Armo Press. Not one. Keep in mind I have submitted and received countless FOIA requests over the years and VA rarely if ever forgets those requests are coming from Armo Press.

Let’s also not forget VA paid for me to become a lawyer and for my law practice.

If anyone knows the difference between my research company Armo Press and my law practice Krause Law, it is Veterans Benefits Administration since they created me and PAID for me to become what I am today – – a pain in their backside that encourages the agency to abandon its corrupt practices in favor of helping all veterans the way its supposed to.

Instead, two of the four were sent to my law firm and the other two were addressed directly to me, as an individual. And, again, those letters were dated two days before I received the demand letter from CALIBRE’s attorney addressing the same topics.

So what is new? Why did VA fail to respond to the right legal entity? Why did CALIBRE hire a lawyer who would do the same? Why would this peculiar process happen just days before the assentation of Peter O’Rourke to the agency’s top slot?

Some of you reading this know the answer.

CALIBRE is a contractor working for Veterans Benefits Administration whose former executive, Peter O’Rourke, was just selected to run the agency after hurdling numerous scandals within one year and numerous other executives likely more qualified for the position. That same individual likely had at least a hand, if not a foot or a whole leg, in the selection of Devlin to the #2 VBA slot despite being under qualified.

Does someone not want this coincidence talked about?

Beyond that, who is managing the VBA’s FOIA system? Did VBA’s FOIA office coordinate the responses with CALIBRE or that firm’s attorney?

Why did both Odin Feldman Pittleman and VBA FOIA send FOIA responses to FOIA’s submitted by Armo Press to my law firm, instead? What are the odds that this would happen?

I can assure you, the odds are quite slim.

Again, let’s remember these companies I founded years ago are totally separate legal entities with separate phone numbers, different websites, different mailing addresses, and different tax ID numbers.

So what do you suspect is going on in the narrow context of the past month? How about since February’s alleged coup? And why are they communicating with the wrong company?

Obviously someone is upset that I read the press releases from VA and IG and then ensured my company, Armo Press, published the findings of our research online.

What Company Do You Keep?

On the subject of company…

Growing up, my mom would often remind me that I would be judged by the company I keep. At the time, I thought it was fun to hang out with some friends who did not like to follow the rules as much as my mom hoped I might.

I had to learn a few lessons the hard way, and ultimately, it helped me develop a deeper faith in Jesus.

Maybe, next time around, CALIBRE might think more deeply as to which agencies it does business with should they be worried about being named in any subsequent IG investigation or report?

I now know my mom was spot on, and so was Jesus.

While we hope for accountability to suddenly shine through the corruption that has long plagued the agency, VA still has a long way to go.

The agency has struggled with corruption since its inception 80 years ago, so it is unlikely the systemic issues have much to do with any particular contractor and more to do with the culture of the agency, itself.

Speculation

That aside, the recent events in the agency reveal more of a reality TV drama than what we expect from taxpayer-funded enterprises.

As in the past, we have a lot of newcomers into the agency, not just from CALIBRE, but from a variety of other sources. These professionals are moving into positions of authority within the agency without the institutional knowledge of who the corrupt actors are within the agency.

Meaning, buyer beware – – gentle as a dove but cautious as a serpent.

When Shulkin started working at the agency, he immediately had his leading staff reach out to me for feedback about the agency. The mistake of his agency was the failure of leaders to follow through with his request, and he likely was too trustworthy of his own swamp critters blowing gas right at him.

At the same time that his staff first reached out, I exposed a massive scandal involving the agency fraudulently denying non-VA emergency room claims of thousands of disabled veterans including myself.

The agency’s scheme there impacts almost 100,000 veterans each year to the tune of $1 billion in denials, and even GAO admits the agency is engaged in wrongdoing for a large number of those claims. The story was blasted across the news in various regions across the nation, and the impact of that story is still unfolding.

RELATED: VA Emergency Room Billing Issues Still Unfolding

My suggestion to CALIBRE and our new acting VA secretary?

If you want to do the right thing, rather than bother me with your Virginia law firm, why not clean up the enormous mess within the agency’s insurance systems?

Don’t harass a small business owner fighting for the rights of veterans by exposing fraud, waste and abuse of corrupt agency officials.

If you want feedback from someone who likely knows more than you about what agency trends are who will not charge you an arm and a leg, consider reaching out. Just do not back away after I expose agency corruption during the process.

Failing to fight for veterans, my friends, is uncool, and it may put you on Santa’s naughty list.

Below is the official press release.

VA Announces New Acting Secretary, Retirement of Deputy Secretary

Today, the White House named Peter O’Rourke as Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. O’Rourke previously served as VA Chief of Staff and prior to that as executive director of VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

O’Rourke succeeds former Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie, whom the president has selected for nomination as VA Secretary. Wilkie has returned to his prior position at the Department of Defense, where he serves as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd will serve as VA Acting Chief of Staff while Mr. O’Rourke serves as Acting Secretary. She previously was VA Deputy Chief of Staff.

In addition, VA Deputy Secretary Thomas G. Bowman is re-entering retirement effective June 15, 2018. VA is thankful for Mr. Bowman’s dedication and commitment in serving our Veterans as Deputy Secretary. His contributions over the past year have been instrumental in helping VA achieve its legislative priorities.

Bowman will maintain his longstanding commitment to VA by providing valuable insight and experience as an expert consultant to the Acting Secretary. His VA experience spanned more than a decade, including assignment as Chief of Staff to two previous VA secretaries. Mr. Bowman looks forward to continuing his service to our nation’s Veterans.

###

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Really nice article explaining the entire season of “As The VA Churns”. I too, hope whomever is in the VA’s upper management rubic cube, indeed reaches out to you and actual Vets having trouble navigating it.

    I’m almost tapped-out on that thing called ‘high hopes’, so sticking with the ‘high’ part and again, playing game of wait and see, while Veterans continue to die, and the VA lies…and denies…

  2. This out from;
    “Military.com”

    “We Call Him Forrest Gump:’ What Robert Wilkie Would Bring to the VA”

    Military.com
    30 May 2018
    By Richard Sisk

    “Robert Wilkie, President Donald Trump’s choice for VA secretary, has already given the Senate a primer on his views on health care for troops and veterans, citing his experience as the son of a thrice-wounded Vietnam veteran and referencing his work managing personnel matters for the Pentagon.”

    “He was tapped for the position after Trump’s previous nominee, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, withdrew amid allegations of drinking on the job and other improper conduct.”

    “Wilkie was acting VA secretary until Wednesday when the White House said he was stepping down from the post to get around a section of the U.S. Code barring an acting secretary from taking the permanent job.”

    “Wilkie has maintained a relatively low profile amid the chaos. But his statements to lawmakers at a confirmation hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee last November offer clues to his background and priorities.”

    “I have been privileged to see this military life from many angles: as a dependent, as the son of a gravely wounded combat soldier, as an officer with a family in the military health care system, and as a senior leader in the White House and the Pentagon,” he told the committee.”

    “Wilkie made the remarks in testimony and in written responses to questions at his confirmation hearing as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ pick to become the Pentagon’s under secretary for personnel and readiness.”

    “In that post, he had charge of the Pentagon’s sprawling Defense Health Agency until he was moved to the Department of Veterans Affairs in March as acting secretary amid turmoil over the angry departure of VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin.”

    “Wilkie’s most recent job on Capitol Hill was as a top aide to Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina. In backing his nomination as under secretary, Tillis described Wilkie as a wonky workaholic devoted to the military’s mission.”

    “He has a grasp of history that is unparalleled,” Tillis said. “We play a game in my office called ‘Stump Robert.’ We haven’t figured out how to do it yet.”

    “We also call him ‘Forrest Gump,’ ” the senator said, a possible reference to Wilkie’s ability to exceed expectations.”

    “There is not a single story he can’t put in context with some experience he had in his working career or dating back to the Roman times,” Tillis said, prompting laughter from the committee.”

    “When Wilkie was nominated for the VA post, Tillis said, “Robert is one of the most honorable and decent human beings I’ve ever worked with, and anyone who knows him has seen his drive to serve his country and his passion for honoring our nation’s veterans and service members, qualities that will be tremendous assets at the VA.”

    “Wilkie, a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, formerly served as an intelligence officer in the Navy.”

    “In both his oral and written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Wilkie referred to his father, retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Leon Wilkie Sr., who died last year.”

    “His father’s awards included three Purple Hearts, four awards of the Bronze Star (one with Combat “V” device), four awards of the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the senior Parachutist Badge and the Ranger tab.”

    “Wilkie also expressed views on accountability for personnel working in the military health system and options for private care that put him in line with the Trump administration’s plans for the VA Mission Act, which passed the Senate last week.”

    “In addition, Wilkie said the military’s health system is too reliant on paper records. Earlier this month, as acting secretary, he awarded a 10-year, $10 billion contract to Cerner Corp. of Kansas City, Missouri, for electronic health records at the VA.”

    “For our families, the military health system has been slow to keep up with modern medical advances for conditions like autism and other behavioral disorders,” Wilkie told the committee.”

    “He also said he is determined to bring down the veteran suicide rate, which was Shulkin’s top priority at the VA.”

    “We still have military families making their medical appointments on paper. And P&R [Personnel and Readiness], in accord with the direction of this committee, is consolidating our multiple military health care systems into one streamlined and efficient military health care administration,” he said.”

    “That effort appears to track with the VA Mission Act, which aims to consolidate seven community and private-care options under the existing Veterans Choice program at the VA into one program.”

    “When asked for his opinion on the greatest threat to the sustainment of the military health system, Wilkie said it is “the inability to transform the military health system into a much leaner and more efficient organization that still meets the warfighters’ and beneficiaries’ needs.”

    “He added that he is looking for “increased efficiencies that result in substantially enhanced care for service members and their families, as well as the more effective allocation of resources.”

    “I believe we need to look at all options to managing the cost of DoD health care,” including more reliance on the private sector, Wilkie told the committee.”

    “The potential for greater efficiency and effectiveness is substantial,” he said. “It also includes looking at how the department buys health care from the civilian sector to emphasize outcomes and promoting healthy lifestyles among our beneficiaries to reduce the demand for health services.”

    “As opposed to Shulkin, who was the only Obama administration holdover in Trump’s Cabinet, Wilkie was a long-time Republican aide on Capitol Hill and at the White House.”

    “He briefly came under scrutiny at the Republican National Convention that nominated Trump in 2016 over allegations that he worked with two other Republican aides to keep a mention of Russian aggression against Ukraine out of the Republican platform.”

    “The allegations were never proven, and there has been no evidence that Wilkie has been targeted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.”

    “I come from a family with military service going back over 175 years,” Wilkie told the Senate Armed Services Committee last November, adding that he was raised at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.”

    “As a young aide, Wilkie said he learned from Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, a bedrock conservative known as “Senator ‘No,’ ” that “to truly represent North Carolina, one must understand Highway 24,” which runs between the Marine base at Camp Lejeune and the Army’s Fort Bragg.”

    “That is the road that connects 45 percent of the entire Marine Corps in the eastern part of our state to the place [Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island] calls the ‘hub of the universe’ — Fort Bragg,” he said.”

    “Wilkie previously served in the Pentagon as assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs in former President George W. Bush’s administration. He began serving as under secretary for personnel and readiness last Nov. 30.”

    “Wilkie’s nomination to head the government’s second-largest department after the Pentagon drew accolades in his home state.”

    “Robert truly has a heart for veterans,” his friend, Rep. Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina, whose district includes Fayetteville next to Fort Bragg, told the Fayetteville Observer. “That, coupled with his deep understanding of what management and policy changes need to be made to clean up the VA, is what we need to keep our promises to veterans.”

    *****************************************

    We’ll see, won’t we!

    • “He also said he is determined to bring down the veteran suicide rate, which was Shulkin’s top priority at the VA.”
      They gave some so called non profit group something like 88 million for that cause not to long ago for something like 8,000 homeless vets, Another take the money and run, You could have given those vet’s a home and a new car…You can’t ask for more money if the problem is fixed

    • It’s a bit like waiting to see if that weird spider that just bit you in the ass again is going to be negatively affecting the central nervous system.
      Remember: Spiders may be scary, but they DO serve a greater purpose. – ‘Charlotte’s Web’.

    • All I see so far is credibility based on dead relatives. The rest is easy to figure out.

  3. Very interesting about the FOIA responses Ben. I don’t recall being promised health care for service connected injuries by CALIBRE, but I do recall VA mentioned somewhere.

    I can’t believe the VAHQ FOIA office began running a grab-ass operation simply because of some leadership changes. One would think their protocols for handling FOIA’s would have remained the same.

    ….which has always been just a little above the grab-ass level.

    As you know Ben, FOIA’s are logged in and tracked using a numbering system. I can’t understand how they could screw up who requested documents and which address they should respond to unless they are farming out some FOIA oversight to a certain contractor. This is like a USA Today reporter submitting a FOIA and the VA sending the response to the editor for the Lifestyle section.

    I wonder what their response would be if you submitted an appeal as if you never received the documents. Put things in writing that they run a sloppy FOIA operation.

    If the swamp rats on the House VA committee requested budget documents concerning CALIBRE, would the VA send them to some House Sub Committee on EPA Oversight?

    As for VA leadership wanting your feedback on agency corruption…I think the letter from CALIBRE makes clear they don’t want to hear a peep from you.

  4. The only people that should be apologizing is flunky VA management and calibre mismanagement systems, to each any every veteran. As I’ve said before, these animals don’t play fair, watch’em, watch them like a bug on a table, and take note of every move they make, because odds are they’ll step on there d**k, they always do, there too big not too. Pardon me I have to go take a VA, where’s that VA paper.

  5. AFGE sues Trumpster?
    “https://federalnewsradio.com/unions/2018/05/afge-sues-trump-administration-over-recent-executive-order/”

    “https://federalnewsradio.com/tom-temin-commentary/2018/05/youre-fired-have-a-great-weekend/”

    “https://federalnewsradio.com/commentary/2018/05/whats-really-in-those-new-executive-orders/”

    “https://federalnewsradio.com/hiring-retention/2018/05/what-changes-and-doesnt-under-trumps-new-employee-removal-executive-order/”

  6. Very nice job on the reporting Ben. Very informative.

    Now that not only is the VA management inundated with former Calibre employees and Peter O’Rourk is temporarily in charge. Clearly the CIA is now fully in charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Given Calibre was formed by the CIA.

    I would like to point out several coincidences that resulted in this CIA takeover of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Well may not a takeover, given Thomas Bowman was also CIA, but more on him latter.

    Remember how the need for the office of Whistle Blower Protection was realized and came about. As you might recall USA Today became the champions of VA Whistle Blowers. Running article after article on numerous VA employees that had been retaliated against. Also, highlighting some of the problems at the VA.

    After the need was established and the creation of the new office of Whistle Blower Protection was opened with Peter O’Rourke, the ex-CALIBRE employee, in charge. USA Today went back to not publishing much on the VA including any articles about Whistle Blowers.

    It is at this point that I would like to point out that the CEO of Calibre Inc., Joseph Martore and the recently retired CEO of Tegna, Inc. Gracia Martore are a married couple. Gracia was also CEO of the predecessor Gannett Company before its split, both of which owned USA Today. Gracia also got a $45 Million-dollar bonus on the day she retired.

    So not only did they published the right news to see the department of Whistle Blower Protection was created they also had the man to lead the department.

    Links

    Executive Profile
    Joseph A. Martore
    Chief Executive Officer, President and Internal Director, CALIBRE Systems, Inc.
    “https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=20935013&privcapId=4772429”

    Gracia Martore
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gracia_Martore”

    “Gracia Martore of Gannett Joseph Martore Calibre”
    Sharyn Bovat DoD Whistle Blower
    Published on Feb 25, 2014
    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RJAnRhzwtQ”

  7. Chairs, musical ones at that. Enough fucking said while VA plays with our lives, like little kids breaking their new toys.

  8. Retired Army General calls on VA leaders to take responsibility for anti-malaria drug side effects
    A retired United States Army General is now calling on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and other senior military leaders to step up and take responsibility for any psychiatric or physical side effects caused by the antimalarial drug, mefloquine.
    Author: Andrea McCarren
    WUSA9 INVESTIGATIONS
    Published: 4:40 PM EDT May 31, 2018

    “A retired United States Army General is now calling on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and other senior military leaders to step up and take responsibility for any psychiatric or physical side effects caused by the antimalarial drug, mefloquine.

    Veterans from around the world have told WUSA9 the drug they were ordered to take caused devastating side effects.

    “You hear many presidents and many leaders say what we owe them, we can never pay them back. Well, here’s a way to pay them back,” said Brigadier General Donald Bolduc.

    The highly decorated veteran led ten deployments, survived a bomb blast, a helicopter crash and several firefights. He received two combat valor awards, five Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

    But his most challenging battle may lie ahead: holding the United States government accountable for any life-changing side effects that may have been caused by mefloquine. It was ordered for tens of thousands of American service members.

    “We owe it to those who served our country to treat them properly when they have side effects,” said General Bolduc.

    Veterans allege the drug caused life-changing, career-ending symptoms. Side effects that have lasted for decades. Among them: gruesome night terrors. Depression, anxiety, and paranoia that mimic symptoms of PTSD. Ringing in the ears. Memory loss. Hand tremors. Balance issues. And gastrointestinal distress that often comes without warning.

    As a Brigadier General, Bolduc was the Commander of Special Operations across the entire continent of Africa. In that role, he was responsible for more than 1,700 military personnel operating in 28 countries throughout Africa and Europe.

    Of our military leadership at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Defense, he said, “Well, I hope they have the moral courage to own up to it. Whatever the liability is, we need to own up to it. It’s about taking care of the health and welfare of our citizens and particularly those who served our country.”

    From the 1980s to 2013, the Department of Defense ordered service members deployed to Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to take mefloquine to prevent malaria. The mosquito-borne disease can be fatal.

    In an interview at the Pentagon earlier this year, Colonel Andrew Wiesen said, “We attempted to give folks the best possible agent to protect them to the highest degree. To do any less would have done them a disservice.”

    But starting in 2013, the DOD backed off mefloquine, using it only as a last resort. That was after the Food and Drug Administration issued a black box warning. That’s the FDA’s strictest alert on a drug label when there’s evidence of a serious hazard.

    General Bolduc knows the side effects firsthand. He took the drug during multiple deployments and experienced devastating symptoms including night terrors and paranoia, even after he returned home.

    “I couldn’t drive. The reason I couldn’t drive was because of hypervigilance,” he recalled. “I thought that I had to drive like I was in Afghanistan. Every stimulus around me was a threat.”

    In 2008, drugmaker Roche stopped producing the brand name version of mefloquine, called Lariam. Two generic forms are still available in the United States by prescription only. Three other generics have been discontinued.

    So, how does our government make this right? General Bolduc says the VA should start by contacting every single veteran that took the drug and letting them know they may be experiencing some symptoms. VA doctors need to be trained to recognize them. And, he believes, every health assessment done on a service member or veteran should include questions about mefloquine.

    “Please, please senior leaders, take this on. It has to do with the health of the current force and the health of our veterans, later on in life. And that’s hugely important for our country,” he said.

    The General is one of a growing chorus of voices demanding government accountability on this issue.”

    Full Article At: “https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/investigations/retired-army-general-calls-on-va-leaders-to-take-responsibility-for-anti-malaria-drug-side-effects/65-560357867”

    Addistional Information Links:

    PART 1: Veterans allege devastating side effects from anti-malaria drug they were ordered to take
    “https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/veterans-allege-devastating-side-effects-from-anti-malaria-drug-they-were-ordered-to-take/65-547252165”

    PART 2: Veterans say anti-malarial drug they were ordered to take isn’t in medical records
    “https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/veterans-say-anti-malarial-drug-they-were-ordered-to-take-isnt-in-medical-records/65-547667488”

    PART 3: Anti-malaria drug blamed for massacre by Army Sgt.
    “https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/health/anti-malaria-drug-blamed-for-massacre-by-army-sgt/65-552559845”
    PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI filed with the Supreme Court
    “https://www.scribd.com/document/379411150/180504-Petition-for-E-Filing#from_embed”

    PART 4: Concerns over new anti-malaria drug fast-tracked by FDA
    “https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/concerns-over-new-anti-malaria-drug-fast-tracked-by-fda/65-553751590”

    PART 5: Australian MP calls for inquiry into antimalarial drugs after WUSA9 reports
    “http://www.wusa9.com/news/investigations/australian-mp-calls-for-inquiry-after-wusa9-reports/557829777”

    ____________________

    To the Vet who posted about Parkinson like hand tremors. You really should check into this information and see if it applies to you.

    • To Peter O’Rourke. I would like to point out that the investigative reports are from WUSA 9 INVESTIGATIONS. A station owned by Tegna, Inc who’s recently retired CEO, Gracia Martore, is married to your former boss at Calibre, CEO Joseph Martore.

      How about helping some Veterans who are hurting badly find some answers quickly. Show us what your are made of.

      • You’re asking for too much, but we’ll see. At this point its looking really good. while going through the dark tunnel of the VA’s mess, there’s no plan, and no light at the end of the tunnel. So, we’ll just travel down the VA’s sewer of change, while our shoulders become black, blue, and bruised from banging against the walls of the VA’s pipes. I’m too fucking sore and beat to put up with anymore bullshit.

      • ANutterVet,

        I have been where you are at right now. For me it was hard but I had to quit having anything to do with the VA. After what I have been put through by the VA I will never be able to trust them with any aspect of my Health.

        You have to get outside of the system if you want real health care. No matter what anyone says. The VA Health Care system is in fact the deadliest Health Care system in America.

      • That’s true Seymore. Although afterwards is only when I found out just how much worse that I’ve become under the VA’s care. It’s late, and I’ve got to attend to a couple of amendments added to VA complaints.

        I can assure you of this, that the White House has contacted my local VA, I’ve contacted a State DC Critter’s Office, plus stirring up inside VA employees, abd I’m trying to finish up some videos about my negative VA experience, and still need to finish filing a formal complaint with my State’s Professional Regulatory Office.

        And I don’t know when or how you made the transition out of VA, or the resources that you had to do so, or if you were dealing with health conditions that you could manage being without or outside of ANY care for the ailments at that time. For me, it’s complex, and we’re trying to make the transition, out of VA, plus overcome some things that is non-related to the VA.

        Wife is working 3 jobs, taking care of me, plus she is taking care of my service dog. And no one can’t tell me that the VA isn’t aware of the trickle down effect, on how the VA can add so much additional problems, cause issues, and put a load of stress on ones household. This is the real stuff that’s going on in the lives of Veterans. VA is missing the health boat big time.

  9. The whole CALIBRE thing is no new news to me. In past agencies, I’d see contractors and/or law firms send in their people to get lower positions, and eventually worm their way up the management chain where they wrote polices/procedures to favor the “steakholders”. So yes, private companies/industry are pretty much running the government and they are slick on how they get their people in and make things happen in ways to work around the law (i.e. drafting/approving of in-house memorandums, procedures, etc….think of it as a president using an Executive Order, to circumvent passing a law for something).

    So O’Rourke is a fake. The VA Accountability Office is a joke, and good luck getting his (and other CALIBRE people) slimy fingers out. They are disgusting swamp creatures and like all slithery and slimy creatures, they are good in moving around in filth (a swamp) to get their way.

  10. THE OUTSOURCING OF FEDERAL FOIA SERVICES
    by Clara Hogan (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)

    [http://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/news-media-law/news-media-and-law-summer-2011/outsourcing-federal-foia-se]

    Revealing (and troubling) article on the issue of federal agencies farming out FOIA request operations to contractors of questionable suitability/accountability. The article is from 2011, so likely this practice has only gained in frequency and lack of transparency.

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