A shocking report has surfaced out of Austin VA Clinic where a veteran killed himself with a gun after an unsuccessful meeting with clinic staff.

An individual familiar with the incident said the veteran was upset after coming out of a meeting with a patient advocate just before the suicide.

Walking out of the meeting, the veteran allegedly said, “Well, I guess I’ll just shoot myself.” He pulled out a gun and shot himself in the stomach. The veteran died of the injury shortly thereafter.

The incident took place in the first-floor waiting room. Witnesses said hundreds of people were in the room when the man killed himself shortly after noon.

Ken Walker, a veteran going to the Austin VA Clinic, was in group therapy for nearly an hour after the suicide occurred.

“All of a sudden, over the intercom, they have this statement about everyone must clear the building including staff, so it was a little surprising,” Walker said.

His wife now questions whether going to the VA is safe.

“When I went home, my wife, that’s what she brought up,” he said. “I don’t know if I want you going back there if this happens.”

Veterans located in Texas are twice as likely to take their own lives when compared against the general population. The number of veteran suicides in the state is tied with Florida as the most in the country since 2016.

Problem Of Access

Jack Swope, a veteran and licensed counselor, says one problem veterans face is not the lack of resources but the problem of access to those resources.

“There’s a scheduling problem,” Swope said. “Part of it is a matter of accessibility, getting there, and frankly part of it is a matter of finances and costs.”

About Austin VA Clinic

The Austin VA Clinic opened in 2013 as the largest free-standing VA outpatient clinic in the country. It serves 23,000 veterans and hopes to serve 30,000 by 2025. Austin has one of the fastest growing veteran populations in the state.

Veteran Suicide In News

The suicide yesterday came on the heels of two other veteran suicides over the weekend in Georgia, both at VA medical facilities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has come under fire for failing to address veteran suicide in a way that substantively reduces suicide numbers.

Last winter, the Government Accounting Office reported VA cut spending on advertising money about suicide.

However, despite the tens of millions of dollars VA was spending for websites, Facebook ads, and Google Adwords, among other ad tools, the suicide number remained static for years.

Personally, I think the agency should hire more psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors who specialize in treating suicide, but that’s just me.

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80 Comments

  1. I had a conversation with another advocate, last night about this very topic. The VA is grossly understaffed and it is NOT about lack of funding. It is solely because of 2 factors; 1. There is a national shortage of advanced medical practitioners (doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, etc.), and 2. The VA will NEVER be able to attract the “best and brightest” of those who are qualified until we #OverhaulTheVA. People do not want to work for the VA and tarnish their reputations. They don’t want to dive head first, into a broken bureaucracy that has zero accountability, zero oversight and a national reputation for destroying those who try to do the right thing by the patient. Neither of these factors excuse the VA of lying about their “dedication” to reducing veterans’ suicides (when you spend less than $60K a year on it – you are NOT dedicated – you are giving lip service and “reallocating” the funds to things you WANT to do – like provide pretty new offices for your employees). We stand by our belief that VA is eating itself alive by holding tight to its pattern of conduct, in which they refuse to acknowledge (let alone fix) the multiple broken parts of a dysfunctional system.

    • The system is broken, but can it be fixed instead of cutting corners can the VA be overhauled and run efficiently, veterans are dying and committing suicides, this is a Priority Matter, Veterans Lives Matter

    • Nice job, this is true. Patients advocate are people who are hired, to try and stop veterans complaints.

      When they cannot, they will start on the veterans. The va patients advocate are not there for the veterans.

      It’s a block and tackle tactic, nothing more.

      You may ask why I know this. I am a former employee, who worked in medical administration.

      I was also a veteran, who has seen them at work and if the veterans, keep it up.

      They are reported as being disruptive and they began punishing those veterans.

    • I remember the assistant administrator at the D.C. VA, (when I complained about the $15 Million expenditure to the front lobby of the VA), when I questioned why that amount of money could not be spent on hiring more doctors, etc. he said to me WITH A STRAIGHT FACE: “Oh that money comes from a different fund….” I looked him in the eye, looked at the wall behind me and said: “Are you talking to that wall or to me?” The VA is just full of incompetent and uncaring folks who overwhelm those who do care.
      Just what happened in that meeting needs to be publicly aired. Patient’s Advocates are for the most part just an instrument of the Administration and unless they feel that you, the Patient, have some power above theirs, they will not act in the patient’s favor. Just more BS. from the professional Bullshitters at the VA…………….When that Marine Colonel blew his brains out in the VA parking lot, someone should have gone to prison, at the very least……..way too bad the Colonel’s personal integrity prevented him from shooting a high level VA Bureaucrat instead……………………

    • It’s a lot deeper and vast than mere ‘shortages.’ There are severe issues with medical care and the mind-sets of people allowed to enter the health care arenas full circle. Oh and much being ignored like safety issues just driving into larger cities and dealing with ‘big city attitudes and crimes.’ Like those neighborhoods where cops don’t even tread. Real nice for veterans trying to navigate while getting lost or in the concrete jungle due to road closures or repairs, etc. Then hear about how safe their big cities are and how perfect everything is…. and don’t dare even carry a ball-bat in the back of a vehicle for some safety… it’s a weapon to the VA clowns.

      Then why the closing of all groups in certain areas of a state or location? Then told in part was due to up-coming telehealth demands/moves, not enough “diversity” in our hometown smaller groups, to controlling topics and ensuring vets stayed “on the same Page” and not bring up negatives about the VA during groups.

      Depends on locales but civilian care can be just as bad if not worse than the VA or their retribution carried on by the ‘associations’ or those professions and unions protecting their own. My E-vet secure messaging was wiped clean due to it showing how horrible communications and games being played by the PAs, IT staff, and others. How long it took some of them to contact me back after stating it would be mere hours but months instead…with laughter and excuses. It had several game players and the incompetent, the un-caring, caught with their teats in the wringer and showed how some things really are and how some of us are treated over the smallest of issues turned into very serious ones. Told when contacting the CBOC and IT people I had no business or rights to dare question a highly educated and VA trained female doing her job? Kinda rude and way off base, snap judgements, knee-jerky reactions and circling the wagons to me. Plus the activist bull shit coming out which is NOT rare at any VA I have been in or around to listen in on things.

      How is it that I couldn’t get a civy dentist or oral surgeons to give me a simple X-ray of a shattered jaw over a tooth pulling at the VA? Since the VA dentistry was not included in the 40 mile driving rules? But didn’t seem to mind the many surgeries, and costs, to try to correct all the damage done to my jaw, etc. To then having to deal with the local civilian care jokers over continued phone calling, harassment and threats over it all? I was and am the trouble maker or “whiner?” Or then to a civilian hospital doing the same things that the VA and staff did? Omitting things in my file, bold face lies to them refusing to give me copies of my new files and those from the VA at the civilian hospital and their clinics. A nurse and PA not putting info in my E-file or new med folder for the MD or new PCP to read over but all was lost, or due to new staff just forgot and lost it all? I had to contact the states AG to see why HIPPA rules and my rights were being trampled on and med files impossible to get. Then after months the one oral surgeon sent me out just one sheet of paper of what they did which was far different than the paper work and illustrations shown me in their office. Then everything being snubbed and ignored by the medical and dental boards and every politician, VSOs, and agency I contacted over anything I was going through from the VA on out to the civy sector. Very long and many stories/reports that no-one wanted to deal with or even hear of let alone investigate properly. It was and still is hassle after hassle and covering-up to no end. Plus the attacks on me and my property over just what? Then I am supposed to just eat it all, curl up with fear of the establishments, politics, thuggery of it all, the nepotism, all the activist included, and love all the corruption? To be a target and enemy of the entire state, town, to the country clubbers, unions, affiliations, and all those poor victims of my complaints and truth? We are supposed to be ignored cause we are ‘too negative’ or show no respect? IF we offend we are supposed to be destroyed or ignored by all? It can all get pretty deep and debatable.

      Oh, and lets not forget the wants of the Feds, unions, to hire those with fairly bad criminal convictions.. per Fed news/reports. Don’t check that box when going for employment with the Gov or VA. Being illegals or criminals or incompetent don’t mean a thing today. Sheesh. Piss me off.

  2. The only thing the VA is good at is sweeping as much truth as they can under the carpet. I’m surprised they didn’t drag that poor Veteran’s body off the floor and dump him somewhere else and claim he was never a Veteran receiving care within the last 30 days, so as not to count as a Veteran Suicide. Ms. Price claims the problem is shortage of Professionals, and no one wants to work or tarnish their reputations. Obviously, you have never been a patient of this “reputable system.” Real Professionals have ethics. Those at VA as “Professionals” couldn’t get a job anywhere else. Most barely speak English, and could not give 2 cents to the comfort or well being of Veterans; or even a dog. They have brought with them the attitudes of their 3rd World Countries, if you are sick and dying-hurry up and die so I have one less patient to see and a bigger bonus for me. The cancer that grows at VAHCS across this Nation is the same, employees at the VA don’t respect Veterans. Period.
    Access to care? We all know about the lying Wait lists, the scheming twisted Hot Line, labeling Veterans with true life long injuries as “Drug Seekers,” and now drumming up new lies to prevent Veterans to this New Choice Program.

    • I have 1st hand experience at Austin VA. It is not a good place behind the ancilliary services. Some of the practictioners have been there 26 years and attempt to tamper with your medications and even so bold as to attempt to rediagnos you to something else, and they practice no more than “cook-book” medicine. Those long term practitioners, also “handle” all the business of the new interns, and subordinate medical staff, similar to a gangster mentality. Strange people and crude, not the type of people that are safe to put your life in their hands. If you go to the patient advocates it does no good, they will call you a liar, and they offer to escalate to supervisors, and it never goes anywhere. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a meeting with those folks without a bodyguard present. If I would have relied soley on Austin VA to treat my ailments I would be probably dead right now myself, and have told them the same.

  3. Kansas City made me wait 6 months for a mental health appointment and the suicide prevention coordinator never called me back. The patient advocate did nothing to help. I can understand how suicides are a problem.

  4. You should really learn the facts before making assumptions. Don’t place blame on the patient advocate, you don’t know the full story. Makes me sick, especially after we all had to be here through all of this. It is a highly emotional time and you are blaming others making them feel even more terrible about the incident. You should be a better “investigative” reporter. I’m not going to go into details about the facts because the truth is, we should all respect Veteran’s privacy.
    It is true that the VA is highly understaffed. And I can vouch for my clinic, we all highly care about the Veteran’s. Most of us are Veteran’s or choose to work with Veteran’s.

    • And you should not be babbling on about how great the VA is or whether Ben is a worthy reporter when the VA is made up of hundreds of treatment facilities, with a large majority of them completely disastrous.
      The veteran suicide rate is a testament to that disaster.
      You are concerned about your feelings? What about the feelings of the family of that veteran? How many years have they watched him struggle with lousy care from the VA? How many family activities has the veteran missed because of their health condition that goes untreated by his VA?

      Until VA employees realize what some of these veterans are going through at their VA, you will not get one damn ounce of sympathy from me!

      The poor veterans advocate? Many veterans have horror stories about dealing with those worthless ass-covering hacks. My own includes being lied to multiple times by one over a serious medical issue. Then lied to by another, who claimed she couldn’t return multiple phone messages left because she was rearranging her office. Their supervisor covered for them, then lied to my Senator about what was going on.

      That unethical bastard was and still is the head of Public Relations for my VA as well as the head of the patient advocates.

      Your feelings? Multiple veterans have committed suicide in VA hospitals just this week, and you are whining about your fucking feelings?

      A veteran is dead because some worthless VA employee didn’t put in the effort to ADVOCATE for the veteran.

      • God Bless you. Everything you say is true . The Politicians who are in charge and have no clue, we are “just so sorry, and we have to do better,” are empty words with no accountability.

    • I meant to add…the VA is not underfunded or understaffed. The problem is funding being used for the wrong priorities, and staffing not being used efficiently, or found to be worthless, with a supervisor that ignores their worthlessness because they are too lazy to put in the effort to get rid of the dead log.

      As for VA employees being veterans, all 3 of the patient advocates who lied to me or my Senator were veterans.

    • Sally,
      After being in the VA system since the early 1980’s, I’ve NEVER met a “VA patient advocate” which advocates FOR the patient/veteran!
      So take your praise of the VA to someone who really cares!

      • Right on, Elf: The only time I got patient advocates to do their job is when they knew that their ass was at risk because I always carried a blank “Order to Show Cause” why their ass should not be fired & locked up……Only when we flood the system with thousands of lawsuits at the very slight by VA will they pay attention. A Mule only pays attention when you whack it in the balls……………

    • Sally you should learn the facts! 7 v.a. hospitals, 12 years, many near death incidents for me personally at the hands of the v.a. never any help from so-called advocates. The only advocating done is at the direction of and for the v.a. administration. If you truly are working for the veterans, you will be the first person I have met to do so in 15 years of coast to coast v.a. hospitalization.

  5. The VA is trying to change, trying to modernize and catch up with the times. The problem is mid-level supervisors do not support the change and try to block Executive Leadership attempts to make it a better place. I work at the VA and see it every day, supervisors are more concerned about doing as little as possible while waiting for retirement. There are some very good people in the VA. Some of the best are retired military who no how to lead, no how take care of people and are experienced supervising personnel. But that scares the older supervisors who got their job from a buddy.

    Veteran Suicide should not be taken lightly, Monday 04/10/2019 I called the crisis line for help and only got a non-stop recording, your call is very important to us, please don’t hang up, you call will be answered by the next available person. After waiting over 10min… I hung up…..The Veteran Crisis Line is broken

    • A personal appearance at the call center was appropriate and then raise holy hell. take reporters and secret photographers with you. Tell them to “GET OUT!”…….. We need thousands of Attorneys each to volunteer for one veteran to sue, sue sue. Platoon leaders up, snipers take your positions.
      Sue, sue, sue, (and I don’t mean “susan”). Anyone who doesn’t get with the new program should be forced out of the VA………

  6. If the problem/s lie with mid-management supervisors, why isn’t Executive Leadership replace the broken links. The veteran community, at large; in my opinion, is tired of excuses! Resolution with Results — The “system” is broken. Regarding a more than 10-minute hold for an “operational” crises line? Really ??? And, Congress proclaims veteran suicide and mental health is of highest priority? How about starting with automatic transfer of incoming calls to a “person”. This can easily be accomplished.
    However, missing is the “will” to make the system better!!!
    “Status Quo Equals Failure”.
    Oh, but another “I CARE” campaign should fool the American taxpayer and veterans a little longer. Words are Empty Vessels … Fill the Words with Action! Fooled No More!!!

  7. The veterans administration so-called advocates do advocate for veterans. They advocate for administrators. They do what they are told by their masters. The veterans administration considers the veterans to be their enemy, rightly so in my long toxic experience with the v.a.

    • You are absolutely correct, and the only reason I get compliance from these bastards is that they know I have an “Order to Show Cause” under my arm, that I really don’t give a shit, what happens, cause I can hold them responsible, and they know that their Bullshit will not work with me……..

  8. Totally agree Miller you go to advocate to complain to them about there employer. Problem with patient advocate is they take your complaint and you may never hear back again. Had a nurse that falsified records caught red handed a cboc va took displinary action than gave her a full-time job at new va. Filed a complaint spoke to patient advocate months later saying boss got it they don’t have to respond. If it was a veteran he be in prison. The only people the government gets rid of are whistle blowers veterans and the disabled. Totally waist of time.

    • You are so right. I’ve been waiting nearly 10 years now for a returned phone call from patient advocates. Save yourself times an frustration, and file a congressional inquiry. It has been my only way to obtain assistance. Initially, the chain of command, to include the Director’s office, was utilized. No movement until the congressional was filed and received by the Director’s office.

  9. I spoke with a VA patient advocate a time or two regarding medical procedure or the lack of. It pretty much fell on deaf ears. The Wyoming, MI VA clinic has a couple of the fellows. Let’s see, they were hired by the VA, they get paid by the VA and supposed to write of misgivings of the VA. Does anyone see a flaw in this equation?

  10. Here we go again (Ronald Regan). The VA is like the SW Border where nothing real is getting done except Veterans. This is a metaphor for America- nothing real is getting done but America.

    Maybe the Veterans should go to Disney Land for health care- they’re used to be treated like rats by RATS.

    Are we going to put more lipstick on it?

    • Ronnie said,
      Believe it or not, Former Secretary of VA – McDonald actually compared the VA to Disneyland! Especially the wait times/lines!

  11. LMAO, sure they care … they care to do bad things to you … they sent me a Denial of benefits letter reducing me to less than 50%, accusing me in writing of filing a fraudulent claim.. and basically called me a liar with an undiagnosed mental illness.. WOW, and then they blamed my trauma on my dead 18 year old son (suicide 01/18) …any excuse will do… Meanwhile my Dr’s were telling them something else completely different … they ignored their own staff and their notes I have in writing and made their own conclusions… all because I complained about mistreatment.. and reduced my benefits to less than 1/2 of what I was recieving (soon to be homeless) … LOL the letter may as well have said “why don’t you just go kill yourself loser!” It’s all done by design.. Sure they care! NOT. And they wonder why we are killing ourselves in their parking lots and entry ways??? No I think they just don’t really care at all… its all by design. Why dont you consider the rammifications of what your doing when you make life changing decisions for vets … Seriously .. you wanna know why we are killing ourselves why don’t you start with how the VA treats us!

  12. Couldn’t agree more with your last comment. In the last couple of years I have had providers changed multiple times, not because it was best for my treatment, but because there weren’t enough providers. I have also been “encouraged” to stop going to therapy because “I should have been better by now, so they need the space”. Thank God I can still get meds and they work for me.

    • This is common throughout the VA. The longest I ever had a PCP was about 3-4 years at the Madison VA.
      Before Madison, it was a different provider (NP, PA, clerk) every single time I went.
      Since 2013, I have been assigned to 8 different PCP’s. The 1st PA I saw once, then the VA lied to me and said he retired. I saw the same guy working there years later.
      There were 2 PCP’s I was assigned to on paper, but I never saw them before being reassigned.
      One NP I saw falsified my records claiming she did certain things during the exam which she never did. The Chief of Staff and Privacy Officer got involved because I put it in writing, and she admitted in writing that she falsified my records. Her false information was redacted from my record, but nothing else happened to her. She still works as a PCP at my VA.
      The next PCP I saw twice before she got promoted, and claimed to be too busy to continue seeing patients. She was the very first PCP who was an actual doctor I saw at my VA.

      The last PCP I was assigned was another Nurse Practioner. He was hired locally, and after checking into his history, its clear he could not make it privately because he is such a pathetic practitioner…so the VA hired him. I never saw him in March of this year because I canceled my appointment with him. The VA never asked why.

  13. A few days ago, I received a letter from my VA clinic saying I needed to contact them. Because their attempts at contacting me were fruitless.
    I called and told them that was bullshit and they were wasting taxpayers monies and their time on something which was not true. All the person could say was: “OK!” “OK!” “OK!” over and over.
    As for “VHA patient advocates”, they are not “Advocates for the patient/veteran!” The advocate FOR the VA. They advocate to get Congress to give them more of the taxpayers monies! It’s that plain and simple!
    The VA wants us dead!

  14. So Sad – Good bless Ken Walker’s tortured soul – Amen

    Like the State Farm commercial “We know a thing or two cause we’ve seen a thing or two”. I am the most compliant, non-violent, health conscientious, diplomatic person one can be. After a VA misdiagnosis by a NP, wrongly prescribe medication, I became chronically ill. As a result, I have experienced everything listed below by other veterans in this discussion.

    The poor veterans advocate? Many veterans have horror stories about dealing with those worthless ass-covering hacks. My own includes being lied to multiple times by one over a serious medical issue. (I tried this and now I am a being punished)

     I called the crisis line for help and only got a non-stop recording, your call is very important to us, please don’t hang up, you call will be answered by the next available person. After waiting over 10min… I hung up…..The Veteran Crisis Line is broken. (Same with National Help line & Good luck with contacting some clinics for an appointment)

    We all know about the lying Wait lists, the scheming twisted Hot Line, labeling Veterans with true life long injuries as “Drug Seekers,” and now drumming up new lies to prevent Veterans to this New Choice Program. (The VA is reluctant to refer to Non-VA providers and for Mental Health, forget it! You will be on the hamster wheel forever)

    The problem is mid-level supervisors do not support the change and try to block Executive Leadership attempts to make it a better place. But that scares the older supervisors who got their job from a buddy. (Been there seen that)

    I work at the VA and see it every day, supervisors are more concerned about doing as little as possible while waiting for retirement. (Same experience)

    We stand by our belief that VA is eating itself alive by holding tight to its pattern of conduct, in which they refuse to acknowledge (let alone fix) the multiple broken parts of a dysfunctional system. (read stories all the time on this site – no change)

    The only people the government gets rid of are whistle blowers veterans and the disabled. Totally waist of time. (Keep on Keeping on)

    PEACE OUT

  15. Yesterday’s report and Ben’s article mentioned “protocol” for fear of copycat suicides. There’s no doubt in my mind that the recent spate of on-site suicides had been inspired by others. Ideation + desperation + frustration + demonstration by example = suicides. Why on site? The common thread – and reality in most cases is “no one is listening to me”. Once you leave the cocoon/hive/collective/ant-farm of the military, the VA becomes a very poor replacement for what people used to identify with, but it’s the only replacement. These guys are making a statement.

    From “Listening to you”

    See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

    These men are unseen until it’s too late.
    The cold part of any bureaucracy does not feel for these men.
    Rules and procedures and protocols cannot begin to touch on what ails the forgotten warrior.
    Healing? Well, suicide does indeed stop the suffering for the individual.

    Thoughts and prayers aren’t cuttin it.

    • wind guy, Good comment about the ant farm, but I would like to add…

      In the military, if something was wrong, you had the ability to get it corrected by working up the chain of command. It didn’t matter what rank, the problem would be addressed. It might not be immediate, but it would be addressed.

      In the VA, it does not matter how serious a problem is and how high up the chain of command you go, you run into the same dumb as a post bureaucrats who refuse to correct the problem, if they don’t outright blame the veteran for the problem.

      I suspect a huge number of veteran suicides have run into these bureaucrats, and eventually realize they are hopeless and helpless. They give up and check out with suicide.

      • Amen! Yeah and when the VA screws it UP who to you go too .. Ohh wait I know nobody! There is no chain of command!

  16. You are absolutely correct, and the only reason I get compliance from these bastards is that they know I have an “Order to Show Cause” under my arm, that I really don’t give a shit, what happens, cause I can hold them responsible, and they know that their Bullshit will not work with me……..

  17. This is not only a problem in Austin but every location under VISN-17. I have had problems with the Austin location so I moved my care to Cedar Park. They are just as bad as the Austin location. Cedar Park advocate agrees with my assessment of the problems but says “I can not do anything” then offered to go to court as a witness for me if I would sue. Would love to but can not find a attorney to take the case because it is not in the million dollar settlement range. Looking into it by myself I have found it is the same problems at all VISN-17 locations and appears to be related to the bonus money.

  18. The VA sucks plain and simple. Useless overpaid medical workers walking around in scrubs and kissing the doctors ass. Meanwhile our supposed warriors are just carted around like human waste baskets. The DOD is a factory of bodies. If they need bodies they will just concoct up another way to improve their production quotas. Meanwhile there is not any long term investment in the long term success of any armed service member. It’s a point of contention when you hear all these VA employees laughing joyously all the while they still receive 6 times the amount of money by being their beuracratic leeching selves. The enlisted service member who served for minimum wage and actually sacrificed he just gets a useless social worker or medical provider if he isn’t first incarcerated. It’s one big prison and the wardens are horrible managers.

    Walter Reed is horrible as well. Go in with a chest cough come out with a missing testacle.

  19. The VA sucks and they don’t treat you as a patient, they treat you as a veteran who gets everything free. There are good people, but they fight a system that doesn’t support them and mental health is the worst of the worst.

    The last place should go is the patient advocate. There are too many that use the information given to make sure their asses are covered instead of correcting your problems. Some VAs you don’t see an advocate to help, they are overwhelmed and with complaints that they sit where can’t be seen and have one person in a office in an office that will only hand you a form to fill out for whatever your complaints might be and say will get to the correct person and say goodbye.

    It is a crime the way they treat people, beyond sickening. If someone has a severe mental health problems that create major depression and horrible anxiety, how do they expect anyone to get themselves out of bed to make a journey to have medications thrown at them expecting one to work? They already know that these medications do not help most people but shows treatment is offered and blame the patient when doesn’t show. They should be on the phone trying to reach the patient to find out the reason missed and try to treat them over the phone. Nope, if lucky you will get a call from an irritating person in the call center while the person supposed to see does what they do best, waste time.

    I feel so angry when reading or finding these veterans are given the cold shoulder. I have been in the same situation and wish was my time. I have tried to help myself and others too, I know how they operate and what door needs to be kicked in. The part I had no idea that would happen is they are use to having their doors kicked, the news, Congress and they don’t care. What they will care about is you making waves, they have a playbook which includes changing all your medical notes, appointments and full exams that never went to, knew about or heard of the doctor’s name. They will label you a drug seeker, problem maker and even a new diagnosis. When in place they call their buddies in the regional office and send everything needed with a big bow to have your compensation lowered. When said they are very good at wasting time, they do crap like this and get their jollies ruining a life and don’t care how it ends.

    They have people in the advocate’s office, nurses in your firm, the call center and the hotline going into every social media site, veterans organizations and watch every single move. Write on Facebook that had a great week and felt good, next thing your medical notes says shows progress using information to steer conversation. Could go the other way way to posted that feel horrible and wish would end. An hour later the police and ambulance is there yanking out of your home no matter how you feel. They know what to do and happens so fast you don’t know what to do but get angry which will use as putting you as a threat. Then the call comes, they say that you need more care than the VA can provide and put you in the Choice Program. You feel like hit the lottery and finally get real care, but it’s worse. These places are sometimes non profits or barely open and when they get you it’s an open checkbook and no delays in payments. They will provide a diagnosis to whatever the VA tells them, put you in detox and when kept as long as can, throw you out without any medication an a appointment twice a week or more being seen in groups so can bill for 20 appointments with one doctor.

    Yet we are amazed at people taking their lives, it’s a horror story that doesn’t end. When you beg for help and get nothing because you complained and posted on social media your doctor prescribed suppositories for a cough. Or could be like a friend who complained about his doctor, PCP and from a different country, he had for 7yrs and they found her credentials were not real, never a doctor. She saves every penny leaving immediately to her home and rich. Or could be the VA hired a firm to read radiology reports and has no staff. Everything is sent to a different country where a radiologist trained 6 people who never heard of aspirin and now reading MRIs. It’s far worse than we will ever know. God Bless

  20. I wholeheartedly agree. Why? Because I live with the reality of today’s VA. I will say this up front, I served over thirty years ago in peace time. Never saw a day of combat. It is only in the past three years, I’ve ever even considered my self a veteran. I won’t go into my personal story of service. I’ve been told by other vets, because I signed on the dotted line and raised my hand in
    oath, im a veteran. Well that doesn’t compare to what the men and women who have served unselfishly, are going through today. The statement above says it “ALL” The VA, nation wide, is broken!!! Yesterday in Austin, proves that. And if you don’t believe that, go ahead and sit back and watch. VETERANS ARE NOT KILLING THEMSELVES BECAUSE OF THEIR COMBAT ISSUES!!!!! they want help, and the personnel at the VA not only are so overwhelmed, INEPT, and, racist. they just dont care. NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU SAY, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!!! It doesn’t cut through the BULL SHIT a veteran has to go through to just get in to see a primary care physician. Let alone a specialist. DO NOT GET ME WRONG, There are some very careing folks within the VA. I’ve been lucky to have been able to meet them. However, they are far and few between. I struggle every day with chronic pain and lung disease. I’ve been trying for over two months to see my doctors. Yet the phone lines tell me it will be another thirty days before I can see them. And political correctness hamstrings them from treating me like a human being. Folks are looking in the WRONG direction when it comes to REAL QUALITY CARE for VETERANS. Make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, YESTERDAY IS ONLY A WAKE-UP TO WHATS COMING. Veterans are tired of the BS.

  21. The Austin VA staff did a terrible job handling the situation after the man shot himself. Instead of having just the necessary number of people needed there trying to help him out, there was a crowd of staff, 20-30, that were just standing around gawking not doing a damn thing. It happened right around 12 and was called shortly after 1230, so for a good 30 minutes there were nurses just standing around watching, “they all want to be a part of it,” is what one nurse I spoke to commented on them when I mentioned it.

    Then you have Austin Police, Austin Fire Department, Austin-Travis County EMS, an EMS Physician, and others that all came into the VA during the minutes following the shooting on top of the staff of doctors, nurses, VA Police, etc who were already there working the scene.

    It was just a big clusterf**k of a situation that could have been handled in a better manner and just shows that the VA doesn’t have its sh*t together and can drive Veterans over the edge.

    • I suspect several of those VA employees will be filing claims for PTSD in a couple months. And their buddies will insure the claim is approved.

  22. All of the information is NOT true, this is an issue with incorrect reporting leading the public to false information. Many of the staff irregardless of perception, goes above and beyond to ensure the best care. Everyone always has an option to care on the outside of the VA is sooo horrible. My husband gets great care in Austin and have has a great experience with staff caring for him. People have to understand if you are not happy? Change the behavior! Some people are also expecting magic to happen and that is impossible expectations, but to those that are willing to listen and work together, to accomplish their best care.

    • so basically your the typical “We get great care so everything is wonderful” type? Stick your sunshine and your blinders straight up your fucking asshole.

    • M, am glad your hubby gets great care, is good to hear something positive. Ancillary staff are always fabulous, though I have gone to advocates who do nothing, and doctors who don’t want to be the lead in my healthcare, nor will they follow the civilian physician who has, and they are tampering with my claim, have changed doctors and everything. There are some good people there, though the majority of them CYA each other’s bummies instead of providing first class health care. It is a shame, and that is definitely the truth, so I pray for them and keep them out of the way of my health care. The folks there have impeded my quality of health since 2012, and they are NOT a blessing for me. Thank the good Lord, I have someone who knows what they are doing, and actually wants to do it for the benefit of my better health. My ailments ended up extremely severe waiting on Austin VA to keep turning me away. Terrible, and shameful.

    • Thank you for not knowing too much, the best choice I have is to mute you. It is incredible what people say.

    • Speaking of listening….

      Why are you not listening to veterans who actually are describing in detail their horrible experiences at other locations?

      Your comment is blaming the veteran for bad behavior and not working with the VA for better care, and it is disgusting.

  23. Not sure why soo many are unhappy with the care VA gives since their are other options??? Change the behavior and you change the outcome, you may be happier!

    • The only way you have an option for care outside of the VA is if you can’t get seen within 30 days, live 40+ miles away from the nearest VA facility or you pay out of pocket and see a civilian doctor.

    • You are shockingly ignorant and refuse to admit other veterans may have a different experience, regardless of how good their behavior is.

      STOP BLAMING THE VETERAN!

    • So, M….

      “Everyone always has an option to care on the outside of the VA is sooo horrible.”

      Firstly, you’re statement is factually incorrect. You are making a presumption about the availability and affordability of medical care that has no basis in fact. I am a Veteran who has no choices. I do not have private health insurance; I do not have income from anything other than my pension. I have no choices in health care, other than to not receive it (not actually a choice).

      Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, as a Veteran crippled in combat while in the service of my country, I am ENTITLED to quality health care, IN RECOGNITION OF MY SACRIFICE.

      I understand your point—it is inherently unfair to paint all persons working at or for the VA with a single brush. What you seem to be unable to intuit is just how badly many veterans have been treated by the VA, and how that can—and often does—embitter one. We go into this place that is supposed to be Our House. It is supposed to be For Us.

      What we find, instead, is that it exists for the people who work there—all the rules, and the structure, all of the culture, are oriented towards the people who work there, and not toward serving Us.

      Can you see that? It isn’t a present to us from the Federal Government. It is an obligation imposed on the Federal Government by We The People. The VA is meant to exist ONLY to serve that obligation. It is not a career opportunity, nor a means of paying down college debt, nor a “safe” job for marginal health care workers. It is a cost of making War and of Readiness.

      Maybe if everyone understood that, the adversarial relationship between the Federal bureaucracy and the women and men it exists to serve would go away, and we would become less resentful and less ready to see the worst.

  24. Most vets don’t have options and are always in fear of retaliation if they speak uP. Some of us are tired of the B’s alot of vets are more pissed off at bennifets side and the years of waiting blue water legislation was past but the denials are on the way. We have vets in Indiana that had issues va tells vets after 2 years of medical malpractice practice tells all the vets file a claim than denies everyone telling them 2 years is up. So they filed class action these are the games.

  25. I go to the VA in Austin. I also went to a group therapy session on the date of the incident, only to find a police officer at the gate telling folks that all appointments had been cancelled. Surmised that something bad had happened. Sucks. I should note that I find the mental health staff at the Austin VA to be caring, professional, and reasonably accessible (e.g., you can see a psych once a month and do group therapy once or twice a week there). It’s actually been a big help. One only needs to show up. Can’t speak for the other services there, but the Mental Health group is a good operation with good folks.

    • Glad to hear you receive helpful assistance. Now, if that same care plan blueprint can be replicated to all VA facilities – – –

      • I will second Micheal’s view. And it’s true about almost all the Drs. and Treatment Teams at the Olin E. Teague OPC.

        But not of the supervisory administrative staff (that was what I was trying to say before!). Whew.

        You have to remember, though, that Austin had a tradition of great care. Despite all the setbacks under the new-ish MCD (who was discplined, btw, a few years back), the place still tries to focus on the veteran when you fight your way through the supervisory administrative staff—and I do not mean the people on the desks, they are great.

  26. Veteran out Indiana lost his leg due to va home healthcare scheduling mix up.just released probly been top story tomorrow. We have more vets dieing at va than at war dieing from the war at home

  27. Remember the old saying,”follow the money”? The advocates are paid by the V.A.! Maybe,”don’t bite the hand that feeds you”,would be a better analogy.

  28. I’ve given up on the Patient Advicate all together! I once called scheduling several years ago to try and make an Appointment, my medication for my ptsd & pain meds, sometimes affects my speech, so the female scheduler starting poking fun at me, I told her I was sorry for my poor ability to communicate, she was relentless! She not only started laughing and mocking me, she got her cohorts to join in ? Needless to say, I was livid as hell!! So, I called pt. Advocate ( when they use to return my calls ?) and complained, which the advocate said her investigation ( if there was one ?) was unfounded, so unresolved!! Later, I found that a flag goes up if the pt. Advocate receives additional complaints by a given Veteran! So, as a result, they never return your calls!! It’s true! Their nothing more than a bartender listening to your rants !! And, you get the same results for your effort, except, a bartender serves you!!

    • I wish all veterans would do 2 things.

      1. If there is a problem, put it in writing and give the letter to the patient advocate. They cannot deny knowing about a problem if it is in writing.
      2. After handing the letter to the patient advocate, demand they report it to upper management using their internal reporting system. Demand a print out of that report to be sure it is accurate, and that it mentions the letter you gave the patient advocate.

      The VA gets away with so many worthless employees not doing their job because they can deny problems exist. Unless it is in writing.

      If you have to escalate the problem to someone higher, you can show the letter proving you tried to get the problem corrected.

  29. And VA is set to receive over $220 billion taxpayers dollars. Gonna be a lot of new millionaires come Oct 1st!

  30. So….

    This VA Advocate is known to me. This VA Advocate is a career administrator, which is proudly announced by the many Staff Awards displayed on the advocate’s office walls. This advocate calls themselves a “Patient Representative”, because, in their own words, they “…represent the Patient to the VA, and the VA to the Patient”.

    An attempt to point out the duties of an advocate—say, for example, a lawyer defending a client they personally dislike, but bound by honour to do their best—or a sergeant ensuring the executing orders from an officer who is a poor leader, but still the Company Commander—met with an explanation of how hard it is to be this person in their job. This person gets very resentful if not met with gratitude even when “representing” that nothing can be done. This person has mis-stated the facts both to veterans and to the VA, in my personal experience.

    All of that said….it is not accurate to paint the entire Austin VA OPC—called the Olin E. Teague OPC, by the way—with the same brush. The single best Patient Advocate I ever met works there. She is the now the Women veteran’s Advocate. I have had, in the 17 years I’ve been there, three great Primary Care Drs.—all of them long-term VA professionals, btw—and one decent PC Dr. who was just out of their depth (and quite new). Only two were poor, and honestly they were very, very poor.

    The main issue at the Olin E. Teague centre is that the Medical Director holds all of the real power, and the Medical (Clinic) Director is utterly disinterested in anyone else’s input—or anyone else’s life, for that matter. The MCD has therefore eliminated long-time staff who have expertise, and replaced them with retired practitioners—like the Primary Care Dr. who told me, as a means of treating the residuals of combat injuries, that they would “…pray god for you”.

    As someone else noted, the problem with the Oline E. Teague OPC is almost entirely administrative. IF you can get to one of the few remaining decent PCT, you’re going to get solid care. Same with the specialists. But the MCD is a classic mid-level bureaucrat, afraid of being wrong, angry when “made to look bad”, and vindictive. And I expect there is a strong level of money-making (bonus collecting) involved. Many of the MCD’s pronouncements are reversed by clinic staff—once you get to them.

    So, as usual, the pointy end of the stick is filled with people who care—and yes, by a few career-oriented do-nothings who know all the rules and all the plays—and the next-back level is filled with essentially useless place-holders. Whether they even think about what it is they are doing—dealing with women and men who have fought and suffered for their country, and have therefore EARNED this care (it isn’t “free”)—or just worry about pleasing the MCD and moving up the ladder of place-holders, I don’t know.

    I do know that, inexplicably, the place is an extremely hostile environment. My wife absolutely refuses to let me go there without her or our oldest friend or one of my daughters with me. Like any other VA Clinic—I would guess—they throw one roadblock after another in front of you, in order to slow down, defer, or refuse, treatment or diagnosis. You never really see these people. They never speak to you. But they inflict misery on veterans apparently without remorse.

    It’s like the lady above, who claimed the VA was full of great people. And you know, the clinic staff—the people behind the counters, and most of the PACT, and most of the Specialty teams—really are good people doing a tough job. Because the truth is, we are not the easiest people to get along with. You’d like to think someone warned people of that, but it doesn’t seem to happen. And the “inner bureaucracy” of place-holders are easily-ruffled—maybe guilt?

    I dunno. I’ve rambled, I expect. I just know that PA, and I know how it feels to leave their office, and I have felt exactly the same. And that’s fucking wrong, guys. You know? It’s just fucked up.

  31. BTW…

    At our old clinic, everyone entering had to go through e metal detector; all purses, bags, and etc… were looked through, and if you had anything against the rules, you’d be respectfully searched—like if I forgot to remove my work knife, like an idiot).

    They do not do any of that now. I’m guessing that will change.

  32. Mostly a failure in facility security that allowed to happen. Austin never complied with VA Policy requiring an officer at entry monitoring entries, nor did they follow policy of magnometer, metal detector at front entry. I was there as VA cop. I complained to Senator and Office of Special Counsel. Nothing was done. A handgun waltzed into the mental heath clinic uncontested. How easy could this have become an active shooter? The VA will find the easiest target to blame and make scapegoat. The medical center director and Central Texas Chief of Police are to blame for letting this happen

    • the medical complex up my way is the same exact way. If I had wanted I could have gone in armed with a couple of handguns through an unsecured side door and had my merry fucking way with the entire oncology department or probably most of the C&P department. Hell I even stopped a pig and asked which way to go. “oh through that door up the stairs and take a left.” No question no nothing just handed me instructions on where to go to cause a potential problem and went on his merry way. Security theater is rampant in the US. Sad but true.

    • It wasn’t always that way. At the old clinic everything you note as non-compliant was present. For some reason the new clinic let all that go.

  33. The VA does not care about veterans killing themselves. If they lost one wink of sleep on the issue, attention to stopping guns in the mental health clinic would be the first agenda item.

    Sad and sorry or corrupt and dirty. Either one fits to describe VA COP Txxxxs Cxxxxes and WTF ever is the Medical Center Directors name

  34. Instead of stopping a weapon from being brandished in the waiting area of mental health. Va policy calls for an officer at the entrance to VA. It’s part of police service SOP . The one that Carnes pretends dosent exist. The other issue that num nuts like Carnes and Smith can’t figure out is that Police Service SOP calls for lazy assed officers to be out walking around checking shit out. A fucking VA cop can ask to inspect a bag anytime he wants.
    I saw Carnes drive right out the gate and run the other direction when possible active shooter was en route to Austin

    WTF kind of chicken shit COP is that?

  35. The other undeniable issue is the amazing amount of near miss active shooter incident that have occurred at the VA Austin Outpatient Clinic. There was the Army PTSD troop that said drones were monitoring his activities. He went into a Georgetown gun shop and tried to purchase a shit load of 50 cal ammo.
    His last known remark was comming to VA Austin Clinic. I scrambled to distribute his poster all over the clinic
    The next day, he waltzed into Austin clinic , went to his appointment and departed before Austin VA cops realized he was even there. Got in POV and drove to entry so he could flip off VA
    Even with all of the advance BOLO warning Central Texas VA Police leadership violated policy and failed to man front entrance. This shits been going on for years. I don’t know how these fucks keep their jobs. Must be under the Medical Center Directors desk taking care of business like a Chief of Police knows how

  36. Call the CTX AFGE if you want to here all the mistreatment going on. Another problem is CTVHCS hires retiring Baylor Scott White doctors that are looking for a quick 2nd retirement check. A few years at the VA…then they can cash in on a government GS-12/15 retirement. Its a racket, they hire all their friends then retire and the cycle continues. Its not what is best for the Veteran. Its about MONEY.

    Last comment, the CTX Interim Director is a good person that cares about CTVHCS. The problem is the mid-level career supervisors (the old guard) under him that resist change.

    It is BEST to privatize the entire VA and so Veterans can get the care they Veterans.

    • The Medical Director (the Clinic Director) at the Olin E. Teague OPC is the principal problem on the Patient Side, and the prime-mover in the decrease in the level of care, the poorer quality of service, and the new culture of reprisal and harassment—it starts with his arrival. Sadly, you don’t have to read too many blogs to realise we were just lucky at AOPC, as the current CD seems to do it the VA Way, while the previous CD did it the Ethical Way.

      But privitisation isn’t going to fix anything. All that does is make care worse for veterans who most need the VA (no outside insurance, 100% Permanent and Total Disability). The care worse than the VA is Medicare. And that’s exactly what privitisation is.

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