The scene of the Austin VA suicide this week turned into “a big clusterf**k” according to one onlooker at the facility.

One veteran in crisis walking into the busy lobby of the Austin VA Clinic and shot himself following a meeting with a patient advocate. At least 100 people were reportedly in the lobby with 20-30 staff standing around.

One witness described the VA staff “that were just standing around gawking not doing a damn thing.” The nurses were reportedly standing around watching for at least 30 minutes.

“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.”

Veteran Background

The veteran who committed suicide apparently received his care from the Phoenix VA system, but his case was transferred to Austin VA for some reason. When he sought care at the Austin VA, the staff could not figure out how to provide the mental health care required.

In response, the veteran walked into the lobby of the facility and shot himself in the stomach while standing in front of the American flag.

Comment On Veteran Suicide

This was one of the most perceptive comments I received on the website about the unfortunate incident. I hope by highlighting veteran perspectives on this key issue, key decisionmakers in DC will have a better idea about the problems veterans experience getting help from patient advocates.

Along with direct feedback of the scene, other veterans provided feedback about patient advocates at various VA medical centers. The consensus is that the patient advocate system needs to support the patients instead of working to support agency leadership.

I have had good experiences with patient advocates, here, at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. But, the consensus from veterans says my experience is not the norm.

Patient Advocate Function

For some background, I have long held that patient advocates function more like human resource personnel than advocates for patients.

In corporate America, many ill-informed employees trap themselves by complaining to human resources personnel with the belief that human resources is there to help the employee. But, that cannot be further from the truth.

Human resource personnel almost always serve to protect management. Always. Their goal is the reduce liability, which may include helping an employee but often serve to identify trouble employees and arrange for an exodus.

Likewise, veterans frequently complain that patient advocates act to protect the interests of management at the facility rather than help veterans.

A Swift Fix?

Now, a swift fix could be to realign the patient advocate role where supervision of the advocate would be outside the chain of command within any facility.

If the oversight were changed, perhaps the advocate would serve as a Central Office spy rather than local road blocking bureaucrats. Maybe, in that role, the advocate could be incentivized to report certain behaviors that obstruct patient access to care.

Veterans’ Comments

Here are a few of the comments worth considering from veterans addressing the article I posted earlier this week:

  • I’ve given up on the Patient Advocate all together!
  • The va patients advocate are not there for the veterans. It’s a block and tackle tactic, nothing more.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Problem with patient advocate is they take your complaint and you may never hear back again.
  • 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.
  • As for “VHA patient advocates”, they are not “Advocates for the patient/veteran!” The advocate FOR the VA.
  • 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.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. As a job description/title, is a patient advocate supposed to be ‘patient’ used as an adjective or a noun, or both?
    IMO if the person(s) don’t want to live/work the title, then find the individual(s) that will advocate for the patient(s) and in a patient manner.
    If none of that is the intent of the job description/title, then change that same to the honest purpose of that position/department.
    Believe me, ‘customer service’ won’t pass muster either!

    “https://www.thefreedictionary.com/patient”
    pa·tient
    (pā′shənt)
    adj.
    1. Bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness.
    2. Marked by or exhibiting calm endurance of pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance.
    3. Tolerant; understanding: an unfailingly patient leader and guide.
    4. Persevering; constant: With patient industry, she revived the failing business and made it thrive.
    5. Capable of calmly awaiting an outcome or result; not hasty or impulsive.
    6. Capable of bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance: “My uncle Toby was a man patient of injuries” (Laurence Sterne).
    n.
    1. One who receives medical attention, care, or treatment.
    2. Linguistics A noun or noun phrase identifying one that is acted upon or undergoes an action. Also called goal.
    3. Obsolete One who suffers.

    “https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Advocate”
    ad·vo·cate
    (ăd′və-kāt′)
    v. ad·vo·cat·ed, ad·vo·cat·ing, ad·vo·cates
    v.tr.
    To speak, plead, or argue in favor of: advocate a vegan diet. See Synonyms at support.
    v.intr.
    Usage Problem To act as an advocate: advocated for her patients; advocated for more stringent crime laws.
    n. (-kĭt)
    1. One that argues for a cause; a supporter or defender: an advocate of civil rights.
    2. One that pleads in another’s behalf; an intercessor: advocates for abused children and spouses.
    3. A lawyer.

    • Ha ha. Rosie add the word “Practice” or “Practicing of Medicine” to that.

      We have no real advocates, no civil rights for all. “Intercessors” I gotta log off and laugh this one off.

    • Nice job Rosie, as always…
      Id like to contribute my Two Cents here:
      So, ah, Who knew that U.S. Doctor Production in this country is Regulated by Uncle Sam???
      It’s no small wonder why there’s a frigging doctor shortage, it’s rigged similarly to college admissions.

      @POTUS TRUMP: PLEASE UNFUK THIS, BY OVERHAULING THIS REGULATION:

      A small but very important excerpt from the below linked article, please do Note the Last Paragraph of this quoted bit below:

      “””Some of the physician shortage problem is due to slow production of doctors, she continued. “Medical training is lengthy, so the production rate is going to be slow.” And then there is the declining workforce itself, with 40.7% of the physician workforce being ages ≥55.
      So what can be done to increase the supply? Increasing medical school enrollment and launching initiatives to attract more medical school graduates to go into primary care, especially in rural areas, would be a good start, Johnson said, noting that 50% of graduates say that their choice of specialty is determined in part by how much money they will make.
      “Primary care isn’t sexy, and you’re not going to make a lot of money,” she stated.
      Another way to increase physician supply is to increase the number of residency slots available, she continued. Roughly 8,300 students graduate each year from medical school without being matched to a residency slot, “and the gap is growing,” Johnson said. To increase the number of slots, Congress should pass a bill to lift the cap on residency positions that was included in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. This idea — which is included in several Senate bills — has bipartisan support; “there is absolutely no reason why we can’t make this happen.””””

      And do be sure to read the rest of this article…

      Free-Market Advocate Slams Independent Practice for NPs | Medpage Today
      “https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/healthpolicy/78953?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Headlines%202019-04-08&utm_term=NL_Daily_DHE_Active”

      • Great find, K-Lar. Added the link to my reading list when you posted, but had not the chance to read until this morning. A real eye opener of an article.

        Will get that one out to my mailing list.

    • @K-Lar,
      Nice find! And there is solid information within some of the comments as well.
      I hold no issue with that in a ‘buyer beware’ society as some NP’s have specialties regarding their scope of practice, like nutrition, naturopathic care, etc.. But, as a freshly degreed, unsupervised by a physician, stand alone practicing as a primary care “Physician”, THAT is a burgeoning red flag IMO as well. I will hold that there are many very skilled NP’s in our overall society that could/might provide an excelled level of patient care within a family/primary care practice, but as yet, I don’t see hospital privileges extended as would be to a Physician.

      That said, within VHA, I have to wonder…!
      Since so many, referred to as PC”P”‘s within VHA are NP’s, it begs the questions related to lack in/of practice, scope, testing/labs, AND diagnostics toward those sc veterans forced into enduring the VHA’s lapse in care. The VHA places/allows way too much emphasis on pills for symptoms which leads to no diagnosis, and no or little continuity for mentioning of important symptoms within patient records, and don’t dismiss the difficulty to find any COMPREHENSIVE patient history within the common medical files. Standard as the VHA approach, all medical care is dictated through the PC”P”. You can not get any individualized VHA care without your primary’s referral to that care. If your ASSIGNED primary refuses for whatever reason, to do due diligence in providing all needed evidentiary support for additional or specialty care, then you will never have those needs met, or recorded completely.
      How can/does this VHA approach to sc patient hc impact the further frustrations many veterans have, related to this version of ‘beyond first-aid’ clinical care?
      How does this VHA approach impact sc patients with providers outside of VHA facilities that have ZERO time to comb through numerous pages of incomplete and scant phrasings that may not have been written by the VHA provider? Are the patient records being written by student transcribers, as is much of the patient primary care in VHA teaching facilities that is also handled by students?
      How does this VHA approach diminish the confidence a sc patient might have relating to the sometimes outright sloppy way the veteran’s needs are actually being handled?
      Stellar VHA health care provided as the very best for our precious veterans?!

  2. Good morning, horrible for some of us…. as usual.

    The VA like other institutions and establishment’s controllers are “a big clusterf**k.” Welcome to the USA home of the free land of the brave. Pardon while I puke.

    Those in DC along with the rest including the lousy lying two faced VSOs know damn well what is going on and has been for a very long time. They all sure know how to evade and ignore major issues or targeted individuals by the VA and the loving communities or college town living global villages. Even those idiot staffers and secretaries in politicians offices and all those agencies out there that come up with stupid shit and report…” not aware of all or any veteran suicides or issues with our VA.” Horse poop. Media, insulating, distracting, lying staffers and secretaries encompassing everything are paid well to shrug us off and pass the buck to others for the good ol’ fashion run-arounds till time sensitive issues are history. Or we are dead… or burned out by our own country men/women for their own preservation and employment, or to fit in. Tyranny, fascist, thuggery, treason, etc. Plenty of blame to go around I’d think.

    Ha. Human Resources, Human Relations Agencies, civil rights agencies, medical boards, name them none of them give a damn and depends on who, what, we are, our status, ratings, ranks, age, color, politics, ‘privilege,’ religion, credit scores, who we bow to, what toes we’ve stepped on and who we may have pissed off from the bottom up. All and any of them and all I’ve contacted over the years are worthless corruption and nepotism supporting evil lying thugs full of dis-cooncern, contempt and hate for those like me, or some on this board. Don’t rock any boats or dare point a finger at any of the deep rooted corruption in the under belly of good ol America. The VA, the covering-up and health care basically being obvious symptoms of the gangrene, predatory practices and rot that will never be removed from the equations of ill-repute or wants for change. Nada. FUBAR beyond fixing. Look at the mess and deep-seated, all encompassing corruption and attacks I’ve been reporting about or exposing and no-one really seem to give a damn… at all? About any of it? Nice country we’ve turned into and allows corruption and hate to run rampant legally or illegally, unopposed. With stories coming out of the VA so warped a normal person can’t believe what some of us are told or how treated even after leaving the thugs at the VA. Talk about some insanity, hard to believe realities, or the definition of it…. insanity or dealing with real sociopaths, the self-service, and thugs. College and well VA trained of course. And nope, I am not about to give the sick ones, the evil ones, any “expected” or “demanded” apologies or retractions. Don’t give a flying F who I may offend either. Why? Cause it’s PC and trendy?

    Doesn’t it just give ya warm and fuzzies knowing what the public/VSOs/fellow vets/Americans thinks of us, what the gov or media thinks of us or about some truth and realities here in ‘Murica?’ I think Iv’e done a fair job of exposing Indiana and all it’s evil ways and no-one to be trusted here… none. Everyday it’s the suffering, pain, no safe spaces, no networking, no aid, censoring, being ignored, wondering how many actually died today due to the state of affairs in the Gov, VA or civy world today. We are the “targets” and problems, the evil ones? Still waiting for that “lazer dot on my nose” to happen. Failed at the house burning attempt. Ha ha, still got my recordings scattered around fools. How many other states and towns are just like mine and how much truth is buried. Shit, gut shot painful smelly stuff. Sitting on train tracks, jumping in icy river waters, premeditated death by “accidents” or death by cop, or death by the VA or civy supporters and the PC crowd. Forced to some just drinking themselves to death…100 proof or more, ugly way to go too. Or as told to do by VA staff counselors. Nice. The youth that hate us today and being true to their own plus all the activists? The highly VA trained leaving just after to seek positions in colleges or opening shop on their own? Nice country we live in.

    PA turds. It was years before I was told each clinic has their own PAs to use instead waiting on those with their pretty faces adorning the walls of the atrium. Then the real games begin among them all. Then the phony crap about them having PA triage from complaints while others stated there never being such a thing and on that crap went on too. Oh we have patient triage not PA triage, talk to another idiot, get a number and no-one ever answers or calls back then hangs up on ya. Yeah, real nice people to deal with. Instead of going to using Vi Coactus or (…) I should be using alphabet soup additions like Esq, MD, Phd, DDS, DofPsy, etc. Order some degrees online. Back in the USSR…

    • you’re insane fucking narrative is yet another discredit the rest of us who have legitimate issues. Do us all a favor before you post – think about all the meds the VA has you on making you crazy. I bet you take all those pills like a good little boy. Especially the pain & psych medicine you’re obviously on. Do yourself a favor and flush them down the toilet the get a really good night sleep and come back to this gobeldegoop and edit it into something viable. One thing I can tell you this sounds like a ranting paranoid lunatic and the VA is not worried about you no sir You are absolutely no threat. The meds will keep you in a paranoid psychosis until you free yourself. Wake up!

      • whatever. Yeah, whatever. You assume much, doubt if you’re even a vet, can’t read, don’t care and sound like a two-faced VA staffer, unionist, or phony VSO do nothing clown. I can prove everything I report and have ever written. This is ALL you have or to write??! Where is your real name at? Your complaints or what has happened to you? What have YOU done PUBLICLY, written to or communicated with over the years? Or stood up with or for others? Which nerve did I hit with you piss-ant communist? Bet you are a local, a poor poor PA? Union scum? Clearly lefty activist since all you can do is complain, label, call names, boo hoo about editing or imperfections, gas-light, attack, and other things little activist worry about while skirting the issues or actually doing something in real life…. keyboard commando. A college kiddy? Ahh I know…. Well of course I am no “real threat” and told that many times. Can’t harm the evil well protected ones in court or out of court, and not insane enough to try. Wish I were. All you have done is expose yourself…. again. And helped expose what many of us are up against in commie run communities and well protected corrupt trash at the VA and of course ….. full circle. Next… you clown?

        Next activist or agent provocateur, communist Marx thug up?

      • T is a lot sharper with his observations about what is going on in modern day ‘Murica than most . Yes, you have to be willing to do the work to read through his posts which admittedly are “more than a thirty second sound bite”, and you have to have a modicum of cognitive ability to connect the dots that he lays out. But T is a valuable asset, supporter, and friend of many on this board.

        Were I to have to give an ‘intel briefing’ today to some Highmukkamukka’s – – – when I had my final written draft together, T would be the FIRST guy I would e-mail it to with the question: What did I miss?

        And I damn sure would take note of his answer.

  3. Since VA Patient Advocates are VA employees, work in a VA facility, interact with other VA employees . . .

    Having a VA Patient Advocate is a conflict of interest. The VA Patient Advocate can’t properly serve the Veteran with most VA matters where there is conflict or disagreement.

    Like other areas of service, VA should contract-out Patient Advocate services. The VA knows this that this is biased. Its just another way to disservice Veterans.

    Folks most of the issues covered in Ben’s articles about the VA, should already be resolved, or on the road thereof.

    Such a scam and downplay by VA. There’s no urgency to seriously look into and to fix VA issues.

    VA = Veteran Abusers playing a major role in Veteran Assassinations assisted by outdated VA Policy’s. Policies that don’t properly service & protect the health & lives of the 21st Century Veterans.

    CongressCritters, Senators, VA Employees responsible for VA oversight . . .

    You’re failing miserably. Veterans are losing trust in VA, and once the Public turns on you VA, your unfit ass for employment will be terminated.

    Remove VA from under the corrupt protection of Tort Laws. Once suits are easier to be filed & then won, you’ll then see the VA’s butt tweak up and better serve Veterans.

    VA until you REALLY change, you’re still an asshole. Watch it now VA you’re ignorantly doing the same, and one day the Authorities with power will be coming for you and prosecute your slimy skanky ways.

    • Veterans are losing trust in the VA??? We all LOST trust a long, long time ago. We are beyond the “process of” losing trust. Let’s do away with the VA now that we lost any trust.

  4. Loma Linda VA in southern California is a playground for corrupt VA employees, fro. the janitors up to the most senior “leadership” (though does not exist). Complaints go into the ears of patient advocates, the second a veteran leaves the “patient advocate’s” office, the “patient advocate” stands up, tilts their head, grabs their ear and proceeds to shake everything they just heard, out of the opposite ear. This is truth based upon fact for medical and vocational rehab. About 7-8 years ago I was waiting, inquiring, and waiting further for doctor requested tests, from primary care dr.at the Rancho Cucamonga VA outpatient clinic and after numerous phone calls and failed followup, I was somehow referred to the lying ditz with title of office or facility manager. When I spoke to her, she was boasting support to include “I will make sure the chief of staff is informed of this”. Long and short, she just filled me with “get him out of my hair language” and that was the end of that. I vowed at that point to avoid the VA Loma Linda like the plague based on other experiences as well. I am so very happy to have my “other than VA” insurance. Loma Linda is the poster child for lying to veterans, manipulating care and records, and distorting the facts. The ONLY positive I get from the VA is the psychological care. Everything else is lihe AIDS, useless!!!!

  5. While I have not as yet needed to use a patient advocate here in Texas, my experiences with them when I was living in Honolulu receiving VA care from late 1995/early 1996 to June 2018 led me to conclude that the Honolulu VA, or the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VISN 21) in general did not know whether it had been shot, fucked, powder burnt, or snake bit.

    And the VA’s own infamous ‘star’ ratings report not to be taken literally under former SucVA “Disneyland cures War Trauma” McDonald confirmed it. It was the happiest and most fortunate day of my nearly 64 years on the planet when I went wheels up from HNL in August of 2018. Didn’t even bother checking out with the VA. Just left. Truth? The damn Honolulu VA with their incompetence, laziness, and general “I got mine, so fuck you – – – you miserable fucking veteran” caused me at least as much trauma, if not more than the war did.

    While I have been receiving better and more timely care here relative to what I had in Honolulu, the first real test will come in about another two to three months when the first claims with evidence go in here. It shall be quite interesting to see how the Texas Veterans Commission/VA Healthcare System are capable of effecting professional level Command, Control, Coordination, and Communication (C4) functions. Hopefully it will not be the clusterfuck that Honolulu was.

    I can already see some cracks in the foundation and am slowly building my network of useful contacts for when they are needed. I have not yet given up the fight.

    I still stand by my original Ten Point Plan for dealing with the VA. That should either be effected or the whole damn thing should be killed off, and its functions placed in the hands of other agencies better equipped to handle what the VA cannot.

    Shame our national media turns their backs on those who have honorably served and paid a high price for it, all to focus their time and energy on those who would be the next slop-jowled piggy feeders at the public trough. Taking the best, while getting precious little done for America writ large.

    Makes me want to puke.

    Patient Advocates? Patient Aggravators more like it . . .

  6. My experience is that patient advocates are a sounding board as far as the Directors are concerned. Nothing is ever expected to be reported anywhere. The exception I received was one advocate at the Black Hills Hot Springs facility. In the same over all regional VAMC including the Fort Meade Facility there was only the one that would actually pick up the phone and talk to the person who could resolve your complaint. Including the Facility Director if necessary.

    The rest are just holding down desk space and gathering a pay check. The same is true, often for the Veterans’ advocate in your Congressman’s Office. The only Congressional or Senatorial Veterans’ advocate that I found responsive was Senator Feinstein’s. But after I moved from CA that was no longer available to me.

    Congressman Lummis, when she was Wyoming’s Congresswoman had one who tried. But now the VA essentially ignores all Congressional inquiries. We’ve stoned them to death with complaints because of the sounding board patients’ advocates. So now we have nothing. No wonder there is a group forming called Group 22. I don’t know how wide spread it is or if it will gain any power to accomplish anything. But it is a group like PTSD groups, where some tell war stories as if they actually happened and when confronted with actual facts questioning their veracity, the wanna be warriors step out and commit suicide. If you attend a group and you realize a war story doesn’t fit the facts you experienced on the ground please don’t challenge it. These wanna be warriors who likely never went to combat have a need for recognition that is very fragile. I remember a few years ago a Colonel committing suicide because he wasn’t qualified for the combat ribbon he’d been wearing for years. Served in Country but never under attack.

    I remember receiving a letter authorizing a combat ribbon. It was a mistake and never made it into my service Jacket. When I heard about the Colonel’s suicide I thought this could have happened to him and that he had never checked his service jacket or his latest DD 214 (how I discovered I couldn’t wear the V). Apparently, the personnel clerk at NavSupAct Danang presumed everyone got one not just the 15 that were at the China Beach (not called that then) Hospital when it was attacked with satchel charges. I was safely out on an Troop Carrier (can’t remember the ship designation) in Danang Harbor at the time.

    There is no ID check at a Group 22 meeting. They happen on the 22nd of the month every month. The one here happens at Godfather’s Pizza and is supported by Godfather’s Pizza. It is also an outreach of the Scottsbluff Community College and is funded by grants from Churches and the like. Not a great expense. 2 out of 3 meetings funded by grants. The third by Godfather’s.

    An article subject for you Ben. You could track this down.

    • I have to say this again. You speak about want to be combat soldiers and when asked they commit suicide.

      In 1972, I was stationed in Germany and ran into a Nazi Germany civilian. This Nazi blind sided me, when I was out and about in civies.

      The Nazi pulled out a gun and shot me in the head point blank. The va lied and told me all of my official military records were distroyed in the saint Louis fire.

      Which was not true. Denied treatment for over forty years. Now during that time, I told a few people about me being shot.

      They to my face called me a liar and told me if you were shot in the head while serving your country, you would be service connection for it.

      After a while, you quit telling anyone. Fast forward 40 years. Found an attorney and within months, like Magic those official military records were found sitting on the shelf at the va.

      Went from being called a liar, to 100% permanent and total. Finding out I had suffered a traumatic brain injury that I didn’t know I had.

      Don’t mean to be rude. But calling veterans fakers is a little much. Now if this comes up, I, if I wanted to could provide the written evidence.

      But now I could care less, what they say as long as I know the truth. Va staff had also called me a fake and milinger.

      Now they have to eat Crow.

      • The VA ultimately does not give a shit. They loose some and win some and the day goes on for them and they get their paycheck.
        I have to take acceptation with you on the fakers. There are a few out there looking for a pension, that’s all.

  7. Shaming can be a powerful motivator to suicide. Wonder if that wasn’t the case in this case. An advocate saying he didn’t have time for a mental. Too many who had lost limbs needing his help.

    • No, this PA is not that type. This one will tell the patient straight out that their job is to “Represent the VA to the Patient and the Patient to the VA”—but NOT to be an Advocate.

      What likely went on was the PA explaining how the Veteran had no options because Choice has no funding and the Veteran had been evaluated by Mental Health Clinic Staff. The PA may have gone on to explain to the Veteran why it was their fault—that’s not uncommon with this PA.

      This PA is the classic example of a career bureaucrat, in uniform or out. The PA covers all the required bases, makes all the required calls, and documents everything as required, all while sandbagging the veteran.

      I have walked out of that room feeling exactly as that veteran (apparently) said. That PA is an expert deflector and dissimulator. That PA uses “chat” rather than email, because intra-clinic chat requires a FOIA application to see, as opposed to a records request. Nice.

  8. Patient advocates never get back to you or get an answer. I have contacted them a number of times, including a complaint of a doctor who doctor in Minneapolis emergency who when I had AFIB and was sent there by my regular doctor and told I would be spending the night. She decided since I could not breathe to just give me a large dose of Lasix and a urinal and tell me to have a nice drive. A urinal is worthless in a small car and it was 5:15 Friday rush hour. Have you ever had to drive 110 miles in wet clothes in cold weather, then had them tell you it never happened. Prior to this I had collapsed in my driveway, went to a local emergency room where they found out I had AFIB and gave me Lasix and sent me home. The VA considered it an emergency and paid the bills, except the chest XRAYS which a lawyer is now trying to sue me for. 2 years of fighting to get this paid, patient advocates did nothing. Minneapolis had moved their billing to ST. Cloud, MN where they were outsourcing to a private firm. As a guy in St. Cloud billing told me, he was given 2 weeks to train in a person from this private company and then he was done, no job. He told me, do you really think I am going to teach someone who is taking my job and has no idea.

  9. I agree with many here that the VA needs to get its act together and show veterans that VA is our ally and not our enemy. If I could recommend one thing at this difficult time it’s for veterans to be familiar with regulation 18 U.S.C. 245 (B)(1)(b) known as Federally Protected Activities. This isn’t a civil rights issue, this law is on the books for anyone who feels their rights are being denied as it pertains to the enjoyment and privileges of access to a Government run program. The Circuit courts are in some disagreement over instances where the regulation is applicable but the Circuits have held firm so far { read United States v. Domingo Pimental, 979 F2d 282- (2d Cir.1992 ) }. The time might be close for a class action lawsuit because of these Patient Advocates and their obnoxious attitudes. The culture in many of these VA facilities must change.
    Veterans have the power to change conditions, we have to attack on many fronts to get the VA to acquiesce to our demands, this is chess this isn’t checkers the VA has knowledge and money and power of authority, but Veterans can checkmate the VA– we can win this battle. I am 67 yrs, ( U.S. Army 72-76 ), I am battling VA for mental health claims I ain’t going out on suicide, many Vets feel as passionate as I do when I express this.
    There are over 20 million veterans in America we must organize. Law enforcement has the Police Benevolent Assn., NFL MLB, NHL pro sports can organize, Attorneys have the American Bar Association, women have the National Organization for Women and the Relief Society which is an international organization, truckers have the Teamsters. Many of the aforementioned come together irregardless of race, color or creed so why won’t veterans? More than likely race is a central issue ( this is my own opinion not that of the Disabled Veterans. Org). Suicide is not the answer, and I am not marching to Washington DC either. One foundation I always wanted veterans to consider was forming a Legal Defense Fund so we could fight in the courts and in the streets if necessary because the VSO’s are not going to help us. Take care and God bless.

  10. You do not die from a gunshot to the stomach in a hospital, it’s that simple. It was the classic not my job. The same goes for all employees, when first hired or a doctor or resident everyone is supposed to have a class on mental health on how to handle. Almost no one does now and another overlooked procedure.

    • Just to be clear—the Austin Clinic where this happened is my clinic. It is NOT a hospital. The Olin E. Teague centre is an Outpatient Clinic. They do not have an ER nor do they have an OR or trauma centre. And the nearest actual hospital is 20 minutes away. Veterans in Austin are authorised to use the UT Austin-Seton ER, because the nearest VA hospital is in Temple (near Fort Hood), some 91 miles away.

      That doesn’t excuse supposed inaction by the medical staff, nor explain why so many administrative staff felt the need to mill about the place watching.

      I REALLY want to know the facts of the response, because right now the “word” is that it was “hands-off until the EMTs arrive”.

      I have to admit, I have a lot of trouble believing that. Not as much trouble as I wish I had, but I still want to believe that the health care workers that I depend on for my care, would do the right thing and act immediately to try and save the veterans life.

      Is there a VA policy prohibiting action in cases like this? Did the Clinic PD not secure the weapon? Did the veteran hit an artery or organ?

      • Probably in the CBOC Contract because there weren’t any EMT trained medical personnel under the contract nor none provided by the VA. If it is like the CBOC in Scottsbluff, NE there is a MD there only 3 days a week. The next best EMT is a Green Navy Corpsman who draws blood and she isn’t there every day either nor is it likely she was a field medic even though she went through the training probably to serve with a Marine Air Wing.

        Now the CBOC contractor will face the law suite not the VA. The VA is insulating itself to say it wasn’t the VA’s fault.

  11. I have often wondered how private hospitals can have Ombudsmen who work so well with patients, yet the VA who calls their patient advocates PATIENT advocates do such a lousy job.

    I would go one better and have local patient advocates report directly to one person at the VARO level, and that VARO level person directly report to a single individual in the IGs office.
    Each would be required to submit electronic reports daily. The VARO would be required to submit weekly reports to not only VAHQ, but directly to congressional offices.

    I had been going to the VA for 7 years before I ever found out the VA had patient advocates. I was going to my 3rd VA hospital by then, and I only found out about patient advocates through another veteran. That patient advocate was the best one I ever encountered. She worked at the Madison VA and addressed problems immediately.

    Every patient advocate I have encountered since in the last 8 years has refused to do their jobs unless forced by putting things in writing or through congressional action.

    Accountability for patient advocates needs to change, or funding for their positions should be zeroed out and they should be fired.

  12. Agree tort needs to disapear. Va can deny all wrong doing and if you dont have a approved federal lawyer you cant sue 90 percent of lawyers cant sue the federal goverment so they get away with litteraly murder

  13. My two cents: I’ve had several incidents since 1997, that required me to go see a VA patient advocate at the (recently redesignated as a 5 star facility) VAMC in Salem Virginia.
    VA patient advocates have left me hanging multiple times over the years; left me with out a PCP 3 dif times, over a year in two of those cases. Left me with out psych care several times, one lasted over a year,others months before reassigned to the next student doctor in training from the VA pipeline of doctors in training.
    Six years ago I had no choice, w no other medical care options available, or affordable, i went to the patient advocate filed a written report of VA PCP sexual abuse, that I needed reasigned to an English speaking PCP, due to his utter failure to provide adequate evaluation, diagnosis, or any effective pain relief from my then severe to acute sciatic pain problem, which was when the abuse occurred, after going to the VA Emergency room first (no Dr assigned, from last patient advocate failure), the E.R. sent me to see that quack hat. Six months later, still no PCP reassignment, was set up to see the same shitbird PCP that abused me in the first place. At check in to that apt, in serious distress, I told the nurse if she put me in a room with him I’d likely hurt him for what he did to me. Nurse secluded me, an on call psychologist (not assigned psych care then either) spoke with me, told her everything that had happened to me. She even helped me word my written complaint that i had been too scared too file till the pain got too much to handle. I filed it right after talking with her. Later I got a copy of the psych record of that encounter. It didn’t mention being abused, neglected, malpractice, or even mentioned the PCP abuse at all, blamed it all on other stuff going on in my life at the time I had also told her about. She never mentioned anything in that record at all about my horrible PCP encounter.
    For six months straight, every week, I went back to the patient advocates office to ask when I would be reasigned to a new PCP. Each time I was told “the committee has not met yet”, “nothing they could do for me”…
    After six months of that crappy lip service (a year after first asking patient advocate for PCP reassignment, I sought out the director of my facility, encountered him as he was leaving his offices w a group of others. I asked to speak with him immediately in private, about an urgent problem. He said that he was on his way to a dinner party, but I could go speak with his secretary, which I did.
    Explained my situation to her. She told me would be resolved with in two weeks. A few days later I went back to give her supporting documents, only to find her desk was cleared out, was told she no longer worked there, and when I asked, my complaint folder had mysteriously disappeared, other workers in that office wouldn’t speak with me either…
    A few months later I got wind of a VA town hall meeting at my facility, [good luck finding out about those, only advertised them a few days prior, w little media coverage announcing them btw] so i went, still in great pain w every step I took, my life then falling apart all around me, with little to no help from friends, family, relationship at the time. I couldn’t find a lawyer or a TV station that would take me seriously, or lift a finger to help me.
    At the town hall meeting (which local media WSLS 10 had a reporter, a video camera rolling, and audio recorded everything said in the room that evening.)
    A microphone was passed around to several veterans/family members to voice their complaints, were many, am certain if meeting was better advertised would have been a lot more vets there.
    When my turn came, I struggled to explain my situation, my very poor patient advocate exps, verbally abused by one of them.
    I explained how the senior patient advocate then verbally humiliated me in a public area w numerous others nearby. (I’m skipping some details here, too much to explain) some of his words were “…you act like you own this place…”, after a confrontation w him literaly unlocking the door I had locked myself, breaking in on my private meeting with a different advocate I was trying to speak with. When he unlocked/opened the door, the door hit me on opening (tiny very cramped office space added into a main hallway area). I asked him to leave, he refused, so I stood up asked him to move out of the door way so I could leave since he was interrupting private meeting (was a huge very dark skinned dude, obviously was being intimidating, was instigating me, blocking my exit).
    I expressed as much as I could about that event, on the microphone, at the town hall meeting, even asked why he was still employed as a patient advocate, he was in the room at that town hall meeting.
    Local News channel 10 has audio records that anyone can request a copy of my comments, and mine and other scathing remarks about piss poor medical, psychiatric care, mine by mostly student doctors in training w little to no exp that were rotated ever few months, so my continuity and trust never developed between me/psych providers, PCP drs refusing to do basic blood work tests or others I needed, repeatedly changing psych appointment dates, I could go on…
    End of the town hall meeting, I sought out then Director and Chief of Staff (both gone now, suspect my situation may have had something to do with that), engaged both in same conversation, explained my by then aprox year long wait for medical care badly needed. That’s when I got “qualified for on the spot” the then new wiz bang “Choice program”…
    Took them 6 months to get me seen by a outside PCP, w no real choice of Dr or facility. Saw that PCP 3 times, still didn’t get problems addressed. Learned why later via this site {thank you Ben and all regulars that clued me in to the VA Disruptive Behavioral Flagging: I’d been flagged.)
    To the best of my knowledge, that VA flagging has followed me into the civilian community medical care arena…
    I was treated rudely and poorly by that facility, was discriminated against on mental health grounds, just as was done to me at VA, w very similar end results. My conditions continued to deteriorate just as my life was doing, still is for most part.
    My care at the next Non VA care facility has been better, but not by much to brag about.
    Took me until getting T-boned in an auto accident 4-6 years after initially seeking treatment at my VA, to finally obtain the Chiropractic care that I needed but was refused multiple times by VA (i could not afford it), which has greatly reduced my sciatic problems.
    Still in collections for lab work and something else from my “VA Choice experience”, still can’t get those resolved.

    Moral of this story is simple: VA patient advocacy is a total complete joke. It has absolutely failed to address my multiple very legitimate complaints. It left me in unnecessary terrible and very debilitating pain for years on end.
    Not one of my several different patient advocate experiences ever resulted in anything near to resembling a resolution of any of the different problems I went to them for help with, and certainly not in a timely manner.
    Currently gone with out PCP care for two years, due to severe distrust issues caused by shitty VA issued PCPs, and because of unknown to me then flagging that followed me to civilian hospitals. No idea how to resolve that. Any ideas???
    Some non va care has been good, helpful, but underlying all of my non va care, has been an all too familiar to me level of implicit bias, discrimination, stigma on mental health grounds, which has effectively rendered my care almost ineffective, because they refuse to take me seriously, to believe what I tell them, or what has happened to me at VA.
    Through out my non va care the civilians providers have had huge problems w getting authorizations needed too care for me properly, timely, or effectively, nor have they been getting paid in a timely manner either. My psych care alone , such as it was, was interrupted 3 times by provider due to VA failures to pay the bill, was 11 months behind 1st time, 8 mo the 2nd time, 6 mo the third time, all in span of 2 years.
    No lawyer will help me, local veterans council can’t or won’t help me with VA matters, and those in positions too help me, that could help me, are simply brushing me off as a wack job, for having severe PTSD, which VA C&P provider has denied need as even having, so can’t get help there from VA, go figure.
    What is the point of tax payers wasting their money on VA system that can’t do the job they are being paid too do??? Same question for why are taxes collected to find our government being sent to Afganistan (hundreds of millions per year) might it just be where big pharma is getting the opium from? if not, where did it all come from, too make all those bazilions of pills already sold?
    To those saying to me “thank you for your service”: one and all, past present and future, I say: “thanks for your time wasting lip service, now go back to your selfish noncompassionate, unempathetic lives, where you all have all the freedom to do what ever you want w your lives, exactly because vets like me decided to better our own lives, get an education via GI Bill, earn a descent living after service, so others like you didn’t have to. All I’ve gotten has been shlt on and shoved into it… So please;
    Don’t thank me for my service, unless you have written an email to each of your states politicians, asking, no; DEMANDing:
    ★Equal rights for veterans,
    ★Equal access to quality doctors,
    ★Equal rights and protections as afforded all U.S. born citizens under the Constitution,
    ★Absolute Abolishment of the Feres Doctrine (sp?),
    ★Abolishment of any and all other Federal and State laws (like the one says i can not have my neuropsych medical testing records so I can make fully informed decisions about my future in many areas) designed and implimented just to screw veterans over, or out of, any and or all justly earned benefits of every kind…
    Don’t thank me for my service, instead; Thank me for Sacrificing my life, which has been utterly destroyed by VA shit care, including VA “management” of my non VA care too…

  14. In this case where this particular veteran took his life, I believe he no intentions of ever going home alive, first he brought his hand gun with him, 2 apparently his advocate must have given him the round and round, obviously he had issues comming in but didn’t get the answers he was hoping for, 3rd why was he transferred from Temple to Austin, those at the Temple VA had enough of this Veterans troubles so they in turn threw him out to a different facility knowing dam well those folks didn’t have his history or anything upfront, this could have been prevented but the Temple VA just didn’t give this man the care he deserved so now they can put it on the Austin’s VA, and as far as the nurse’s go or the entire group of onlookers, you should be ashamed for not helping this Veteran

    • No way a Veteran gets transferred FROM Temple (the main regional centre) TO Austin (an OPC), UNLESS the Veteran moves. There are shuttles going TO Temple every day—it’s one of the ways VA avoids travel pay or actually staffing Austin.

      Also, Ben’s OP asserted the guy was from Phoenix, AZ. So????

      Facts are in order. Not VA facts, but actual facts.

  15. Va fuck up vet looses leg va reasigns va employee. So a employee fuck up caused a vet to loose his leg and noone terminated. Ri h va rih va. Only eople va gets rid of are whistle blowers vets and disabled

  16. Hey Guys , I dug this up as a reminder for what the Gov in general really thinks of us:

    Napolitano stands by controversial report

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that she was briefed before the release of a controversial intelligence assessment and that she stands by the report, which lists returning veterans among terrorist risks to the U.S. (2013)

    Gee , with hate speech like that at the top you know where we stand. 16,000 Veterans have committed suicide in the last 2 years. So is this terrorism?

  17. Are you listening America? Or are you doing the 3 monkeys? Not my job. Right? We’ll be in hell waiting for you.

    • Nex. America what ever that is today does not care much about anything but self and destroying others. If any entire state, community, Feds, VSOs etc., et al, can sit by knowing what some of us are dealing with or trying to exist in this fallen country… it is all cluster F beyond repair. Suicides, intentional professional gross misconduct to health care workers allowed at the VA or civilian sectors to ruin or kill patients is beyond belief and any decent human being’s understanding. Top to bottom it’s the ‘three monkey’ treatment.

      I’m in fairly bad shape. Others I keep encountering dealing with the VA or not, huge numbers, are suffering and many considering the final options. Those that were doing fairly well are now home-bound, bed-bound, or mobility decreased to pathetic levels. All intentionally.

      The only way to get pain meds locally is to see one clinic that has two shifts to deal with pain patients and get their meds while playing games, sitting in some office that makes VA waits look reasonable… like six to over eight hours per visit as required. And the pain med game and the mental health professionals, colleges, are making money hands over fists including all the sickening grants and tax dollars shelled out to them all. Why do “Americans” stand for such abuse and treatments by so-called professionals, LEOs, and the rest?? Yet all money making freaks, the corrupt, et al, are swift with smiles repeating it’s for the common good or for our best interest. Oh, and while college kiddies, the elite, city to county politicians and affiliated unions or civil service workers have their own private, secretive, care akin to what Congress has. Claimed to be for saving tax dollars.

      One years time alone I lost count of the amount of vets coming up to me telling me about them being toyed with and dealing with what should be simple procedures for hernias and such. But seems the VA can’t get a fix on that issue either with claims of the mesh used keeps failing or some surgery failing to keep their guts in or up. Shuush, media won’t report on that either like suicides or the lousy pain med issue causing suicides and distress.

      Getting letters about how the same medical universities and those told to us that if we discussed the VA in any negative light “we’d never find health care in Indiana again since the VA, DHS, med schools and medical universities run it all.” Shortages? When they are building new med and nursing schools all over, sucking up grants and more tax dollars and claiming they are full of students and long wait lists? All coming from activist colleges and major hospitals our master who now own and control the works… like some of our communities today are? All we need is “5G and more TeleHealth, the new and improved ACO and affiliates?” “To protect your medical records and privacy?” “To coordinate your care according to your needs?” Medicare, health care, the VA and governments/corporations/universities/med boards, DC way?? Bull shit! That throws some writing on the walls people don’t want to read or care about. Or, like the public statements that they all “want international students with major focus on that desire alone” for them and tech colleges? Why, American’s too stupid or just more globalism and hate for “America?” Just what we need more of like filling quotas, affirmative action or those buying or connected getting their medical degrees? Or like news reporting the illegals or floods of immigrants wanted by the state to fill government and VA positions? Huh? And automatic hate for some veterans and the public that seems to be sucking up to the VA and DC ways and demands….Kool-Aid?

      They also don’t mention the number of VA staff going to universities to teach and preach or the seemingly constant flow of staff that has been trained by the VA to hang up their own shingles or to work elsewhere instead of the VA or some CBOC or their contractors. Left the VA or some CBOC to be health care workers after being forced out of some contractors position with “burn out” or having some newly found personality disorder and should not be in power positions or care providers for any human being?

      DC and locals seem more worried about passing more laws to hang us all with or take more freedom and rights away from us. More censoring, no recording or videos. More lies and propaganda. Now locally they are bringing in casinos for area revenue and to draw tourism. Big constant news instead of vet news. Ahhh… but along with that more laws, more regs, and Big PLUS, more grants and tax dollars to fight “Gambling Addictions.” More scanners city wide for public safety and more cameras and mafia too. Oh my. Dismissing the reports on what comes along with gambling joints, the addictions, multiple addictions, amounts of bankruptcies, divorces, etc. And again the mental health hospitals, counselors, rehab joints, MH hospital CEOs, LEOs, unions, politicians, media are all for it… while providing for all that money, job security and playing activist too. A long line of them hiring and having needs to police us more while allowing us to be attacked or faced to just go-away or die off. Oh and to help with pain and all the rest we can buy alcohol now on Sunday if needed for our ills and pain or the many to try to wash away their suicidal ideas. Might help I guess with dealing with scum PAs to torn hernia meshes claimed to be un-fixable now, etc. Then to think DC has time to play or sign stupid crap into laws like it being illegal now more than ever to eat kitties and dogs in time of famine or poverty. Yeah, the PAs, VA, locals to DC really have our best interest at heart. It’s all a game and cluster for fun, fascism, for the tyrants, for the sociopaths, bullies, thugs, and a big money making machine to boot.

  18. Land of the free there no privacy in this country every corner you walk to has cameras the goverment will try to discredited you. But if your put in court they will use every scumb bag on earth with false alligations against you. Amazing how our system works . look at justice kavanough and all the false alligations the machine tried . this same with the va if you try point out there wrong doing they will go after you. Thousands die nothing is ever done. News story after story. Our goverment is corrupt nothing done more will die. Put the other 70 percent into the va and suicide will skyrocket

  19. Va suicides

    Cia distribiting 1.6 billion in coke

    Social security deliberate denials

    Gun running killed americans

    Post office email get rid of disabled employees list goes on

  20. Supreme court stops feds from legal theft guy driving with 100 in illegal drugs they cant steal your car and sell it

  21. We always joked that every 100 denials va employees get a toaster. Social security dr make over 100.000 on denials and some cant even practice medicane one dr had a cocaine conviction thanks cia. Va will use there deliberate denials to deny vets. Sad thing is there chief judge acknoliged there deliberate denoals people are loosing there homes destroyingvthere credit and commiting suicide. Noone doing anything

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