Kayla Williams Veteran Suicide Reporting

Did RAND Alumni Take Swipe At Veterans Advocate Over Suicide Story?

RAND alumni Kayla Williams took a swipe at my reporting on DisabledVeterans.org covering the Jim Turner veteran suicide in her call for VA to spend millions to counter the narrative using propaganda.

By implication, if VA followed her advice, it would spend millions it has withheld at the vender Reingold, Inc (aka JR Reingold).

Williams, the former VA director of the Center for Women Veterans, authored an op-ed published at The Hill titled, Veteran suicide prevention: Journalists and commentators have a role to play.

In the article, the current senior fellow at Center for a New American Security provided a critique about reporting on veteran suicides. She calls on VA to spend its millions on “pundits” and “influences” to combat the Col. Jim Turner suicide story and to educate reporters about how to do their job reporting on such tragic events before the end of the year – – I guess she wants VA to cut a check for millions… today.

Curiously, Williams focused on my recent coverage of the Col. Jim Turner suicide that included a quote from his suicide note. In that note, Turner wrote a scathing criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs related to suicide prevention and his own treatment.

Williams apparently did not like my citation to Turner’s suicide note that was also cited by Military.com and Task & Purpose from the original Tampa Bay Times news story:

“I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90%,” wrote Turner, who was well-known and well-respected in military circles. “I did 20+ years, had PTSD and still had to pay over $1,000 a month health care.”

I may or may not respond on The Hill, which depends on my writing schedule over the next week. For now, I am curious about your feedback on her desire that reporters adhere to guidelines developed through RAND to curtail reporting on veteran suicide.

An excerpt of her op-ed that includes the link to my site follows:

The quality of reporting on suicide in the United States is worsening.

Newspaper coverage in Canada and New Zealand often follows established guidelines on reporting, but the US has seen a negative trend in the quality of reporting on suicide. Stories like the one in this link do not adhere to multiple recommendations for reporting on suicide that have been developed by experts specifically to decrease the likelihood of copycat suicides, which is particularly concerning given that the suicide rate in the veteran population is twice that in the civilian sector. 

Rajeev Ramchand, Senior Vice President for Research at the Cohen Veterans Network (and my former colleague at RAND, where he did extensive work on military and veteran suicide), told me, “From a public health suicide prevention standpoint, we want to see reporters adhere to guidelines. It’s difficult in today’s competitive media landscape, but while sensationalistic coverage may draw readers in, it puts those who are vulnerable at risk.”

(Kayla Williams’ reference in “like the one in this link” was a link to my article on Jim Turner.)

Now, the purpose of her piece was not exactly to critique me. It was intended to influence VA, presumedly on behalf of a paid partner, to spend its allocated $20 million on veteran suicide propaganda. GAO just published a report showing VA has cut way back on spending on suicide propaganda since President Donald Trump was confirmed.

For whatever reason, (I explain possibly why below) she decided to take a swipe at my article instead of the multitude of other news media sources that covered it that also cited the above suicide quote.

SEE: Google Search On Turner Suicide

You may be wondering, ‘Why is that?’

I wondered the same for a little while until I reread her op-ed. For the past couple weeks, I have been highly critical of the propaganda budget. The tens of millions would be better spent hiring more mental health professionals.

Kayla Willaims On ‘Influencers’

We know what Williams really thinks within the first few paragraphs of her op-ed. She essentially stresses the importance of the Trump Administration telling VA to spend its millions on more pundits and influencers addressing suicide from a controlled approach:

This is particularly important during the stressful holiday season. It is critical that VA, which has vowed to spend its full suicide prevention budget outreach this year, include in its strategy targeted efforts to educate journalists, pundits, and influencers in the veteran space about best practices for covering suicide.

Said a different way, Williams strongly believes VA should spend millions more on suicide propaganda – – and that it must do so immediately – – without first addressing the massive problems with the program found by GAO two weeks ago. (Let’s not forget that propaganda program has yet to demonstrate any appreciable impact on suicide.)

And, per Williams, it must do so because Christmas is even more stressful this year due to reporting on the Jim Turner suicide.

By the way, ever wonder if she is one of those paid “influencers” she is referencing?

Proffered ‘Rules’ On Suicide Reporting

Be sure to look at the advice of the website ReportingOnSuicide.org. This is the source Williams linked to in her reference about breaking those rules.

Do you like this homogenous reporting strategy, or would you rather have a better understanding of suicide by blunt and transparent reporting?

As it relates to my article, I mainly cited what Tampa Bay Times already wrote concerning Turner and incorporated the GAO report concerning VA spending $20 million per year on suicide prevention propaganda instead of hiring mental health workers.

What I wrote was in no way “sensational,” but I did address poor use of taxpayer dollars on propaganda in light of the high suicide numbers for veterans. Reporting on facts is simply not sensational even if it makes VA insiders uncomfortable during the holidays.

That term, as applied to reporting, means:

Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are overhyped to present biased impressions on events, which may cause a manipulation to the truth of a story.

Was Turner’s suicide an overhyped event? Was the truth of the story manipulated?

It was not overhyped or manipulated on my website.

Turner’s suicide was tragic, and I cannot imagine what his children must be going through right now. I do not condone suicide in any situation, and everyone writing about Turner likely feel the same way.

Nonetheless, this was a man who needed intervention and help. He obviously did not feel he received the help he needed from VA, and he told us as much in his suicide note. It would be improper to not address his critique of VA in this context.

I am sure VA does not like that his suicide received as much attention as it did. I am also sure the vendors, the ones that profit from selling suicide propaganda, do not like it, either.

Kayla Willaims Breakdown

Personally, I found her overall critique to be rather pedestrian. Further, her conclusory coverage of the issue, in itself, seems to be an attempt to “manipulate [] the truth of a story” by pointing fingers away from her former employer, RAND, and the vendors who stand to profit from both organizations. (We view RAND as a taxpayer-funded generator of propaganda, at least some of the time.)

Williams failed to support her allegations with a specific argument and generally circled around with one conclusory statement after another. She also engaged in a bait and switch and appeal to authority, both of which are logical fallacies.

Instead, she appealed to the authority of RAND without diving into the actual allegation concerning the specific breaches of suicide reporting suggestions, which in itself is a form of propaganda, when addressing my website. Further, the topic of the article suggests mainstream press is responsible for unsafe suicide reporting… to then highlight my blog.

My blog is an example of independent news media aimed at giving disenfranchised veterans like Jim Turner a voice – – albeit post-mortem in this instance. Here, we tell the truth regardless of whose feelings we hurt, and we shed light into the dark spaces.

My blog is literally as far away as one could get from MSM. 

Why Is Kayla Willaims Blameshifting?

In 2012, during my time with Veterans for Common Sense, I became familiar with how far VA will go using propaganda and even lying to judges to obfuscate the truth regarding PTSD and veteran suicides. We lost that lawsuit, in part, due to at least one VA official lying about suicide benefits and prevention.

Now, VA is generally beyond the reach of the Article III courts for anything related to benefits including provisions of health care benefits. Veterans are far worse off, and it expanded the power of the Secretary over veterans, inappropriately.

Since 2016, I have been painfully aware of VA’s approach that manipulates reporting on veteran suicide in favor of avoiding public scrutiny, all together. The agency spends tens of millions each year, at least until this year, on suicide propaganda including paying “influencers” to use targeted messaging to the American public.

Now, many in the American public are unaware of the problems veterans like Turner face seeking mental healthcare after retirement because reporters frequently avoid covering suicide due to pressure from RAND and academia.

And who benefits from wiping news of veteran suicide from headlines? Who has an easier time recruiting if the American public believes veterans are well cared for by VA?

In 2014, DOD became acutely aware of the negative impact negative news stories concerning veterans has on recruitment. The topic at the time was the wait time fraud where veterans died waiting for access to VA healthcare.

Over the past 4 years, vendors have profited handsomely by selling propaganda to the American public. Rather than hire more doctors, propagandists tell the American public to go back to sleep.

Should reporters follow the RAND approach to suicide reporting? To what extent should reporters curtail accurate reporting in favor of this other approach?

SEE: Recommendation On Suicide Reporting

Basically, the RAND approach literally believes reporting like mine is not “safe” and even “sensational,” but who really benefits from any manipulation in this instance? I find relevant topics to write about every day, and VA is never short of some scandal of one kind or another to write about – – people read my website regardless of the topic to stay informed.

At the end of the day, I focus on giving veterans a voice, and I believe in doing so in a responsible way that is true to the facts written from the perspective of the disenfranchised veteran – – which I am.

Jim Turner, a veteran, had something he wanted the world to know concerning his views on VA and its failing suicide prevention program. Turner was also a disenfranchised veteran.

Tampa Bay Times wrote about it. I wrote about it. Many other websites wrote about it.

But, curiously, Williams selected my blog as an example of deviant reporting on suicide while suggesting VA waste tens of millions in tax dollars on more talking heads to better educate us and the public about, in my estimation, 1984 newspeak concerning suicide.

Who Profits From Kayla Williams’ Approach?

What contractor profits if VA spends the millions it is currently holding?

JR Reingold aka “Reingold, Inc” is one of the primary contractors standing to lose millions if VA does not spend money on those pundits and influencers. I addressed this last week as it related to the former head of VA Public Affairs Rosemary Williams. (I have no idea if the two are related.)

RELATED: Is VA Playing Politics With Anti-Suicide Ad Budget?

Is it any wonder someone with Kayla Williams’ connections would target my website instead of the many others that did, in my opinion, engage in more of what she references as “sensational” journalism?

If my views prevail, VA might reallocate the funds to hire more mental health professionals rather than purchase more social media ad spots to propagate the agency’s agenda.

If we followed Willaims’ suggestion to its conclusion, reporting on veteran suicide would be more minimalized than it already is. Many reporters never report on the topic due to pushback like this. VA would win with further manipulations as would the vendors who profit from selling their influence to VA.

Should VA spend its tens of millions on “influencers in the veteran space,” or should they hire more mental health professionals? What “influencers” has VA already been paying? If the program was working, why are the numbers still at 20 suicides per day?

The reality here is veteran suicide is a blemish on VA that more spending has not resolved. And why? Because someone thought spending that money on “influencers” and talking heads would reduce suicide numbers, which it obviously failed to accomplish.

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  1. 01/01/2019

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Happy New Year to all!

    My first question is —Who is RAND alumni Kayla Williams? Is she sitting next to one of the “Gods”—Henry Kissinger?

    I remember Maureen Reagan and I discussing issues at the Rand Center near the LAX back in 1992 [Rand Forum].

    We all know that Baker and Kissinger still have their fingers on the pulse of the Nation [saw the action in 2008].

    Of course the Nation “leaders” do not want bad press or any press—especially when it points directly at them.

    What would the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism say about eliminating facts before the story is released? Even James Box Senior Editor at the Daily Breeze [Torrance, CA] would bite down on his pencil.

    “As anchorman of the CBS Evening News, I signed off my nightly broadcasts for nearly two decades with a simple statement: “And that’s the way it is.” To me, that encapsulates the newsman’s highest ideal: to report the facts as he sees them, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue.”
    Walter Cronkite

    Really, What would the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism say now?

    The Nation/McDonnell Douglas was illegally selling off the C-17 before it took its maiden flight; well before Kayla Williams understood where the enemy really sits [1998 Cox. Report]; and this was years after Robert Kennedy wrote The Enemy Within Book [1960], and after the C5-A Scandal book by Berkeley Rice in 1971.

    If we listen to Trump on one side, and listen to Williams on another side, and not to forget about the Chinese and their Confucius Institutes infiltrating our schools, and the Russians hacking everywhere and anywhere, and our British/Canadian/Australian friends who move mountains when necessary—what kind of Media would we have?

    Pretty close to what you have right now.

    So to spin it downward further is an act of Treason if you know all the ingredients in this toxic stew! According to Kayla Williams bio she is well informed and well connected–but it does not mean she connected the pieces together correctly.

    She just might have gotten off on the wrong foot.

    It is up to her to understand that men are at stake not money or buildings or supplies. Does she not understand that the VA abusiveness/neglect has cost thousands of men lives already?

    And if she thinks limiting the information to the American Public is a good thing; an infraction on the U.S. Constitution, well there is no Hope.

    The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.


    Don Karg
    A clear attack on the First Amendment
    “Look outside to see if the American Flag is still Flying”—Judge James M. Ideman [LA, CA U.S. District Judge] Student Newspaper the Hawk vs. LAHC 1985 [Even now under Google Search the events are tainted—-the kids won the Case at the College and the College President still closed the paper under extreme pressure from above—LA Times never made the corrections]

  2. I cant stand all of this much longer. I was treated without respect and the pnly reason i am here today is that what it would do to my family. For others to add salt to our wounds will only cost more lives. It brings me back to a place where i promised others i would nit go. I just hope i am not challenged by the VA again. For i will not take it again. I would not trust myself to not to react to the treatment i received. For i fear no one. The VA tried to declare me mentaly incompeteng but i beat that rulling. But i will never be pushed and preyed upon as before.

  3. I saw nothing wrong with your article reporting on the Colonel’s death by suicide. Most certainly he was sending a message, both in his note and the manner in which he died.
    If anything, I would say that whoever was supposed to be your editor in this article let you down, spelling half the section headlines incorrectly. Fortunately, the importance of the story itself is not lost by the distraction.
    Keep up the good work on your reporting–sometime MSM gets so wrapped up in floury speech and hyperbole that the clear and concise truth escapes them..

  4. Ben if what you report wasn’t the absolute truth they wouldn’t give you house room. Keep up the good work.

  5. It is shameful how the true nature of this brother was maligned, maligned not in a constructive way to reduce suicides but to increase $ to contractor, just shameful. We all have stories of VA employees shamefully lying to protect their jobs. Keep trying, fighting for all of us Ben. Hand Salute Colonel for your service and ultimate sacrifice for those of us still In the mix suffering, plodding thru mindful of how our commanders thought fought and perished with us.

  6. Lem…..“spying”…This Air Force vet will tell you all about it.
    Look this one up.

    MrCati’s New Years Eve Prelude to the 2019 Tesla Mind Control – Discussion –

    u tube

  7. IF I were to contemplate suicide I certainly wouldn’t call the VA. The VA has a lot to do with veterans considering it in the first place and most of it is either attributed to 1) Feeling abandoned immediately after getting off active duty and not being in the VA system to turn for mental health help. 2) Not being able to talk with someone reasonable once finally getting into the VA system 3) The current suicide support system in place is a total fail as the VA will call the local police and have the veteran detained for 72 hours which just pisses them off. 4) The suicide recordings in the VA phone system indicating to call a different number if you’re suicidal is a complete joke because few who are suicidal are ready with pen and paper to take a number call someone else.

    Apps, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the communication outlets these days. It should be a 2 click process to help. Articles written by journalists will do little. A veteran in dire straits doesn’t subscribe to the daily paper anymore. Our best communication is veteran to veteran online. But the VA money machine wants to do closed door contracts that get nowhere. We’re not turning to the subsidized veteran organizations like VFW or DAV. We’re turning to online veteran groups that answer our questions which are spied upon by the VA to extract info about us. When we’re screaming out in those groups we’re not receiving adequate care and we’re feeling abandoned, sick or lonely and stuck in our homes and would feel better having a safe zone..that’s where a suicide assist belongs… not on the VA med center phone constant recordings about suicide when we’re getting appointments or med refills.

    Putting suicide prevention where it will be most effective… on our phones a click or two away, will help better than the status quo. Having the support behind it with qualified staff that help immediately will render more results than journalist articles and continuous recordings the non-suicidal veterans are sick of hearing.

  8. “Further, the topic of the article suggests mainstream press is responsible for unsafe suicide reporting”

    I got back on SPYBOOK
    And here’s what they told me when i post my shit. And all along i thought we had free speech…LOL

    We’re committed to making sure you have a safe experience on Facebook
    Thomas, we wanted to let you know that we have a set of Community Standards that help us keep everyone safe. Our standards outline what types of sharing are allowed and what can be removed by us once it’s reported. If you’d like to learn more about how our standards help to make Facebook a welcoming place, we can help.

    And my reply was
    Don’t worry about me Facebook You ass wipes .
    And kick me the fuck off anytime you like ..???????.Like I give A Shit.
    Fuck you and your Community Standards.

    I’m just trying to give you a few Tips BEN …..LOL,,,HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE.

    1. If the VA was actually “spying” on our groups it would be good. Especially if the Assistant Secretary for Medical was. He might learn some of the problems, assess them and direct some fixes.

  9. ~~Gurgle~~ Holy crap, (faking PTSD?) I smell rotten cabbage. New Year’s cabbage rolls or Anna Mann Kayla Trolls?
    Boo Hoo, poor AFGE furloughed workers…BOO HOO!!
    Keep-Up the good fight, Ben! If you’ve got their rotten attention and can smell their breath, you’re hitting them correctly, now increase the barrage of incoming disinfecting VA kryptonite called accountability!

  10. You can bet the farm that the VA spends a lot of $$$ to keep any negative press out of the public eye. Most of the terrible things the VA does is because I see it coming from this site, and other Veteran sites, not my local press in Milwaukee. I mean there are a few articles here and there about the VA employees stealing opioids from Vets and reselling them, or employees selling them from the VA loading dock etc., that actually made the paper. But there is never any followup on what was done, anyone held responsible, etc. because the VA probably has a “No comment-under investigation till it fades away” type policy, or a bigger blunder/misconduct is discovered and it becomes the new focus and everything else is soon ‘forgotten’…

  11. Newspaper coverage in Canada and New Zealand often follows established guidelines on reporting wrote Kayla Williams. I don’t give a rats ass how Canada or New Zealand Or any other country report the news, this is the United States. Damn bitch triggered me.

  12. 1. I’m a female veteran – Kayla Williams, the former VA director of the Center for Women Veterans – another worthless organization that gets paid to slap themselves on the backs while doing very little to support the veterans.
    2. It is true that any public information on negative topics can have a negative effect on someone such as, people/children playing violent video games, movies about terrorism plots and bomb making, and movies and books about heinous crimes, on and on an on. Like they say it is not the content (gun etc) it is the person. Which leads me to my final observation and opinion.
    3. I agree with Ben, “The tens of millions would be better spent hiring more mental health professionals”. And the majority of currently employed health professionals would agree also!


  13. The idea that the world would be a better place if the VA put a spin on bad news is merely one more glaring example of what has happened since the successful assault on the Fairness Doctrine. Don’t like reality? Flood the media with a twist, spin the shit out of it, and by all means, stay on message, regardless of voracity. A vet suck-fires his side-arm while sitting on a pile of dis-ambiguous VA docs in front of his local VA hospital – didn’t happen. It was just another tragic loss of an American hero, and the your government is working hard to obfuscate the issue and redirect Amerika’s attention to the Kardashians or your favorite wife-punching multimillionaire athlete. Damn you people for paying attention. Damn you I say!

    And what the fuck is Center for New American Security? A so called bi-partisan …. it’s a fucking lobby. It’s a message machine with a niche that comes in handy when spin is needed. New American Security sounds like defense industry to me. If it’s defense, it’s about money.

    How many times do I have to tell you hayseeds to follow the goddamn money? If you are a piggy at the Beltway trough, the VA is this unfortunate distraction that sucks up a significant amount of taxpayer dollars that could otherwise be corrupted and wind up in the pockets of the entitled.

    Need I remind you – this is a non-partisan opinion, gleefully illuminated by the CNAS – a bi-partisan think tank “Developing strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies…” Gets me all flag wavy n’shit.

    1. “Developing strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies…”

      THAT part when I read it on their website, gave me a huge chuckle. CNAS is nothing but a mental masturbation tank for selected individuals to get their tickets punched on the way to good positions within the power-elite circles of Washinoscow.

      Best be at MOPP-4 within twenty miles of the place.

    2. Windguy ….
      Look this one up.
      Demystifying the “New World Order” | Mackinder’s Heartland Theory, Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics, Bünting’s Clover Leaf Map & Bernstein’s NYC/Moscow/Tel Aviv Triangle –

      On ……..Securing Our Interests ….with a dot and a org

  14. It’s not just the lack of care for PTSD afflicted vets, but it goes across the entire healthcare system. On many occasions I have been placed in the waiting line only to give up after several hours. My pain level is at a point were choosing to end it all it all would be a relieve. I been treated that way in Boston, Tampa, Jacksonville and many of the places that I travel to. My wife and I travel south during the winter cause cold gives me an increased amount of pain and Michigan has lots of cold months. The various VA clinics and hospitals have some outstanding departments. PT, optical, blood work as well as pharmacy, but when it comes to dealing with veterans on an emotional level they fail to muster up. Vietnam vets are running out of time, would be nice if in our last years we could find some quality painfree time.

    1. the lack of care for ptsd vets is because they are lying about ptsd. it’s not a mental illness, it’s a physical reaction to stress response. physical. dr. russell blaylock proves it. they want us to think we’re “mental” or “behavioral” when the problem is the physical response. that’s the elephant in the room nobody talks about, not even ben. he still promotes “mental health” like it’s a real thing. just more opposition and controlled opposition.

      1. calling me a Lier about my PTSD ! Let me shoot you in the head at close range and see how you act. 40 years of dumb ass people thinking this way. While the Veterans such as myself have to fend or self medicate to survive. If you call it surviving !

        Go To where the sun does not shine. Another VA Employee. Secretary Shulkin Was Right the VA is Very Adversarial towards veterans. You are the type of person, who will offer the veterans something to Kill themselves.

        Nazi !

      2. @Hanna – – – I most certainly agree that there are physical responses associated with PTSD.

        It’s normal to feel traumatized by significant life events such as surviving a severe car accident. It becomes pathological when the feelings of trauma, anxiety, panic, or sadness don’t fade with time.

        People who experience PTSD may feel like they are forever changed and suffer constant panic attacks, loss of sleep and social isolation.

        Trauma and prolonged stress inevitably have a negative impact on overall health. PTSD has been linked to more physician visits in veteran populations.

        It should come as no surprise that being in a constant state of arousal is hard on the cardiovascular system. Stress increases heart rate and blood pressure. When common stimuli (such as a car horn or a dish dropping) elicit this response, PTSD patients often find themselves in arousal states. Studies are consistently showing that PTSD victims — and specifically war veterans — have an increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease.

        The long-term effects of PTSD influence lifestyle choices that in turn, negatively affect health. Feelings of depression and constant anxiety may cause PTSD sufferers to turn to illegal substances or smoking to alleviate the symptoms. They tend to smoke more than non-PTSD sufferers.

        PTSD also seems to have implications for the immune system. Sufferers typically have more inflammation within the body and a higher white blood cell count which, in turn, can lead to a blood disorder or serious infection.

        When the body is in a constant state of fight or flight — as with PTSD — the immune system is overactive. It follows that PTSD sufferers miss more work days than those who do not suffer with PTSD. They may also see a higher risk of cancer and autoimmune disease, as well as early mortality.

        This does not even begin to address the ‘self-defense’ aspects of PTSD that are present in some combat veterans. I will not go into great detail, I will simply say that I am the LAST person you want to walk up behind unannounced and tap on the shoulder or try to hug from behind.

        And yes, very few are willing to discuss those aspects. Certainly not those at the VA ‘Mental Health’ clinics – – – who feel ‘threatened’ by such talk. Their response to such is to steer veterans who broach such subjects into the arms of the DBC’s.

    2. @Peter – VA PCP’s don’t even make adjustments for colder more damper months. Bring up the change in your pain level and spadms, and its above their heads.

  15. @Anna Mann,
    The gist of Ben’s point IMO is the blatant proliferation of sweeping any and all non-favorable press about the VA/VBA/VHA and in this case veteran suicide under some imaginary rug… as if that fixes all related issues.
    It honestly seems that there are millions of people that tongue-wag sentiments about caring for the welfare of U.S. Military Veterans, and I do get it that many haven’t a clue about what can be done to ease the stress borne by way too many in today’s world. But, in disguising falsehoods in a very public way is surely not helping the situation. IMO, that is precisely what Ms. Williams is wanting every press release on the subject to conform to… minus reality, of course.
    There is NO sensible reasoning I can pull together, to put a stamp of “That’s Brilliant!”, on the constant “If ya wanna kill yourself” recordings we are FORCED to hear at every extension related to VHA, mainly because NO ONE will answer the phone so an appointment or cancellation/reschedule can be made. Leave a message you may suggest… that is also completely ignored, with written admonitions to follow.
    You say you are a long time supporter of Ben’s blog, well I can safely assume you have read many comments related to the articles provided here. If you are among those who passionately care about veteran’s dilemmas with VA/VBA/VHA then please use your keyboard to help bring some common sense to this board that will assist in answering positively to this massive monopolistic and very expensive problem known as the VA.

    1. Rosie – that’s always been one of my favorites, “if you thinking about killing yourself – hang the fuck up”. Brilliant.

  16. Ben, obviously you’ve stirred up a mild hornets nest cleaning out the waste of taxpayer dollars on propaganda.

    When I call VA they always offer a different 800 number if you need help for suicide. We should spend some of the money set aside for suicide prevention to make it as easy as possible for veterans in crisis to reach a counselor. It would not be very hard to have a option To press a number and reach a suicide prevention counselor immediately. But the VA apparently thinks that someone will dial a second number to get that help and forcing them to do so does not increase the veteran who is in crisis’s anxiety stress and disappointment. Keep up the good reporting.

    1. The second number is a Contractor, not the VA. They have responsibility but no authority. They can’t even call the area emergency number if you already have a bag over your head. Total waste to call that number. Another reason the Vet suicide rate is nearly 2.5 times the national average. The Contractor is “pork” for some congressman in the rush to privatization. If it went to a psychiatrist exchange similar to those attorney call ups where you pay to get nothing it might be better. If the psychiatrist called didn’t get you emergency care and you died at least your family could sue. These contractors are insulated. And their purpose is to insulate the VA.

  17. Wow. You all don’t know Kayla at all. If you think a stint with Rand, or how much money she makes, influences how passionately she cares about her fellow combat veterans, then I’m sorry for you.
    I’m also sorry you got butthurt Ben. I thought you were tougher.
    I’ve been a supporter for a long time. But the comment section alone on this long ass whiny tirade is making me cancel my support.

    1. She may care but she is not effective. She needs to raise the cry to stop kicking vets out of PTSD therapy. Cognitive Process Therapy (CPT) cannot possibly be effective the way it is now practiced. I’d almost bet Turner was kicked out in the same manner I was kicked out twice. If you don’t brood, obsess, or ruminate the “Process” doesn’t fit your needs and it is not right to kick you out of CPT or put you in any therapy that doesn’t meet your needs. The other choice these days is “Prolonged Exposure.” There is nothing for “conditioned responses” or PTSD combined with TBI anosognosia. Only a kick out of therapy.

      So I’d say you are wrong. If she really cared she wouldn’t be trying to get the focus off of the problem. Yes we can know her by her actual response.

    2. Talking about butthurt. What a piece yourself. Fucking typical when Ben goes against the swampy swine. I’ll take Ben’s word thank you very much

  18. Personally I think zero tax payer monies should ever be used for any kind of propaganda, especially if it effects the lives of any Americans, in any negative manner.

    Any PR the paints the VA in a favorable light must be stringently balanced agains the scandals and the substandard care and treatment of all Vets. Especially those of us dealing with disability related claims, treatment and care.

    All those scandals occurred for a reason…none of which benefited any disabled Veterans. Also the retaliation against Vets and whistle blowers is quite evident of the truth really being as shared/exposed by whistle blowers. Williams come across as a paid shill…crowing for her masters.

  19. Is Rand the source of the obviously deficient “CPT” as it is now practiced? Kicking people out of therapy has one result. Reducing the daily suicide rate without reducing the 29 per 100,000 per year rate. It reduces the daily rate by reducing the pool of veterans through die offs of WWII, Korean War, & Vietnam War augmented by suicides from current wars being kicked out of therapy.

    Mr. Turner had a mission–to get us talking about the failure of the VA to address the combat vet situation adequately. Will the Hill listen or will some of us have to take our records to the Capitol Steps and imitate.

  20. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 1987 but the VA would not treat me because I made to much $. (I worked on a railroad.) when l finally got my 20 0/0 disability the VA could not find a combat veteran counsel in the southern system to treat me and other Viet Nam veterans. So they fell
    short of our treatment, talking to a PHD or paper doc’s as we like to call
    These “counselors “ shows that there is no wonder we have 22 veterans taking there own life every day. We’ll never solve veterans suicide until we understand ALL suicide. I’ve known
    Three friends that have taken there own life and I was with them shortly before the incidents and they showed no symptoms of there plight. But I am NOT a shrink not do I know any.

  21. I have no problem with her writing her “opinion” as thats what the 1st Amendment is all about Ben. My problem with her is this statement she made “and to educate reporters about how to do their job reporting on such tragic events before the end of the year” sorta sounds to me like an old Soviet Re-education camp where you write what they want you to write and nothing more. For that reason and that reason alone I find her whole article not worth the ink it was printed with. As I said she has the right to question you just like you have the right to question the VA. But when she starts wanting to tell you what to write and how to write, then she has stepped over the line.

  22. Ben the issue isn’t how you reported on it but the fact that it was even something you were compelled to write on. The issue of veterans suicide is a national disgrace frankly and the VA isn’t helping matters by not having enough counselors to treat these people on a regular basis and enough Psychologists and Psychiatrists to know when medication is needed or when the medication they prescribed isn’t or is working. This gal is playing CYA when she should have been hollering “Why did the VA let this man down and more importantly how are going to fix this?” 22 a day is serious and if it were a disease like the flu or measles it would be called an epidemic.

  23. Again, sounds like everyone already covered the crap VA and Williams are spreading about “veterans suicide”!

    And that “swaybacked old hag” y’all rode in on!

  24. She obviously is riding the VA’s Meat Grinder Hungry, Hungry Hippos Brigade and she’s doing it doggy-style with a bile smile.
    RAND Reports: Fuck off and die, Kayla!

  25. Ms. Williams took a very undeserved swipe at Ben, and his fine reporting of the truth. Ms. Williams objectivity, not to mention her motivation and true concern for the well-being of America’s wounded warriors leave more than one question mark in my mind.

    According to Federal Pay dot Org, for the years 2016 and 2017, Kayla M. Williams was a Miscellaneous Administration and Program Director at the Office of the Secretary (Department of Veterans Affairs) in Washington, DC.

    Ms. Williams began working at the Office of the Secretary (Department of Veterans Affairs) in 2016 with a starting salary of $152,500. Since then, her salary has remained the same. Kayla M. Williams was an ES-00 under the senior executive service pay scale.

    Miscellaneous Administration and Programs for SecVA? Might some of the programs she oversaw and helped to develop have had anything to do with the VA’s stance on minimizing and down-playing the importance of reporting veteran suicide truthfully, in addition to her duties as Director of the Center for Women Veterans?

    Hmm . . .

    She left VA, and now works for CNAS, where her salary is most likely quite a bit more than what the VA pays, although I have been unable to obtain a reliable figure on her current salary.


    I do not want to pre-judge before I have all the pertinent facts. What I have uncovered thus far, yet not shared – – – indicates a veteran that has been seduced by the system. I am still gathering information and will report back.

    Veterans are long overdue for some real leadership from the Veterans Administration:

    Leadership that speaks truth publicly about how bad things have really gotten for the veterans they are supposed to be serving.

    Leadership that develops practical and efficient solutions to take better care of all our nations warriors.

    Leadership that recognizes that when they are doing a good job, veterans will be singing their praises rather than the VA spending millions of taxpayer dollars on Public Relation Agencies to put out ‘fluff pieces’ to mislead American citizens about the stellar job they are doing to care for our nations veterans.

    The truth is that the VA is doing a piss-poor job.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has one of the largest budgets within our federal government. This is used to provide veterans less than third-world medical care and benefits. It is about twenty years past time to seriously address the corruption, malfeasance, incompetence, and criminality that infest the Veterans Administration.

    Here is a plan to accomplish that goal:

    1. Immediately recognize the problems inherent in the Veterans Administration are system-wide, not just limited to a few discrete locations.

    2. Fire all the incompetent and corrupt Workers. Fire every single AFGE/SES employee. The VA prides itself on service to the veteran. However, the American Federation of Government Employees Union makes it nearly impossible to rid the VA of corrupt, incompetent employees.

    3. Sell off all the VA facilities. Alternatively, they may be converted into military barracks-style housing for homeless veterans. These will be run with military-style rules to promote good order and discipline.

    4. Issue all veterans a card that allows them to choose their own doctors within their community that they can trust.

    5. The United States Government will pay those doctors promptly (Within 45 days) for the care they provide veterans.

    6. Eliminate the ‘Federal Protection’ clause in the United States Code for incompetent medical personnel that the VA sends to other states where they are not licensed to practice. Going to practice medicine in a given state? You need to be properly medically licensed in that state.

    7. Rapidly reduce the years long backlog of Veterans Disability Claims. Any claim a veteran submits to the Veterans Benefit Administration that requires more than 90 days to adjudicate, is automatically found to be in favor of the veteran. Should a veteran file a false claim to defraud the system, the Veterans Administration will be required to prove in civil court that the claim was falsely submitted. For filing a false claim, the veteran will be mandatorily subject to all the following:

    (A). The claim shall be denied. If the veteran has received any form of benefits due to filing of a false claim, they will be required to fully repay those benefits with interest.
    (B). The veteran will be banned from all VA facilities for the remainder of their life.
    (C). The veteran will lose any benefits they have and will not be allowed to file for further benefits.

    8. All veterans shall be allowed to seek/retain the services of a Veterans Rights Attorney from their first initial contact with the VA. This will help to protect the legal rights of veterans against corrupt, incompetent VA employees.

    9. No AFGE, or any other labor union business will be allowed to take place in any federal workplace. Conducting union business during working hours will be strictly prohibited and enforced. Should any government employee be found violating this provision, it will result in immediate lifetime dismissal from all federal, state, city and county government employment.

    10. Attorneys for appeal for cases of ‘wrongful termination’ will be retained at the former VA employee’s personal expense. U. S. Taxpayer’s will not be subject to payment of legal bills for incompetent or dishonest personnel with regards to governmental employment.

    Were the above ten measures placed into rigorous ethical practice, these would over the next few years ensure major performance improvements within the Department of Veteran Affairs.

    Jim “Clem” Clement
    1973 – 1976 USMC
    1978 – 1993 USN

  26. It appears she has wrapped her mouth around the VA’s tit like so many others. Better suck hard and fast cause it won’t last. Her kind usually silently fade away into the background without any fanfare. Sic’em Ben.

  27. One aspect of Ms. Williams perspective that is glaringly obvious, is that there is zero comprehension of the expense related to the cost of health care for Joe Average with modest means in this country. Her salary is such, that any medical related expenses she might incur, are aptly covered. Not so, with the majority of the American population. As an aside, did you know that the pc nurse you are forced to get your care from is being paid over $10,000.00 each and every month to provide no diagnosis for your health issues! Col. Turner stated that it was costing $1000.00 per month for his health care. We aren’t privy to his actual expense related to his premiums, deductibles and non-covered care but, I’ll wager it cost him 25-33 percent of HIS income to pay that non-diagnosis each and every month… for substandard medical care awarded sc veterans, whether or not provided/directed by VHA.

  28. Veteran Warriors has long believed that the most bloated budget line item in the VA is the PR machine. The very fact that this woman (for intents and purposes, getting PAID to shame others in the VA’s name); should come out against ANYONE reporting honestly on a veteran’s suicide, is a testament to how low the VA will go to “spin” anything that smells like a scandal. We stand with you Ben, and the few others in our community who are brave enough to tell the truth, no matter how bad it smells. “I never gave anyone hell. I just told them the truth, and they think it’s hell.” (Harry Truman). ~ Lauren Price, Founder and Managing Director, Veteran Warriors

  29. The day of VA horn blowing while exaggerating how “GREAT” they are, is over. Someone in the administration should really talk to the Vets about how they feel when keeping the truth and frustrations a secret. She chose you because your work calls out the VA in so many ways. Keep up the great work, Ben.

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