House And Senate Seek To Reclaim Ill Gotten VA Bonuses

VA Bonuses

Benjamin KrauseThe Senate just followed up on a bill to recoup VA bonuses after House Republicans pushed forward the same in response to VA employee profiteering on erroneous performance data to award each other via fraudulent VA bonuses.

According to Stars and Stripes:

The measure is being introduced just one day after legislation passed a House vote that would allow the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs the ability to take back bonus money of senior executives for their role in manipulating wait times or other wrongdoing.

The bill would require the repayment of any bonus given out in 2011 or after to those found responsible for the largest scandal in VA history. It is sponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

The proposed legislation is intended to punish those who profited while committing fraud as VA employees. Sadly there is little the American public can rely on to this point to prevent such frauds in light of previously existing legislation:

“VA personnel should be accountable for their actions — otherwise the current culture of manipulation will remain,” Moran said in a released statement. “This legislation will help make certain that those who put veterans’ lives at risk will be held responsible and return bonuses they unjustly collected.”

The Senate bill gives Secretary McDonald unprecedented power to ensure accountability if he so chooses:

The Senate bill gives the VA secretary the power to reclaim the bonus payments from employees who directly hid the delays — and from managers who reasonably should have known their subordinates were guilty of the wrongdoing, according to Moran.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-FL, pushed through the legislation on the House side using a voice vote. No official in the House of Representatives opposed the vote to reclaim VA bonuses.


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  1. Hello Ben I have been writing about the Disruptive Committee and how they let one Employee ruin my life, by her telling lies about me a former V.A. employee that worked at the same facility and said something about her performance as Hispanic leader chair person. She did not like what I said and she became lead Administrator at our local V.A. clinic, She took it upon herself to report me to the Disruptive Committee and reported that I had on many occasions would come in and become Disruptive. The Committee Believed her and did not require her to produce one piece of evidence to support her findings and they acted upon her allegations and punished me and threatened me that if the V.A. ever hears that I again become Disruptive or do not add hear to all staff requests with Arrest and Federal charges placed on me and they will Banish me from all V.A. care. This started in 2004 and placed into my official Medical records and is still in force as the record states EVER, that word is the key to their threat.

    I have sought help from the D.A.V. and Senator Bennets office. The Denver Director let the very same person who made the allagations answer all inquires herself and let her keep telling her lies about me and no one ever making her provide them with written documation that supported her allagations.

    The V.A.M.C. Denver Disruptive has never offered me any one to help defend myself, nor included me in any part of the procedure. They forced me to go to another V.A. for Two years and was told after those two years I would be able to return to my clinic which is Two blocks from my home. That Two years turned into five (5) years. After the Two years was up, I requested that I be able to return to my local clinic and the V.A. once again let the person (employee) who started this whole mess answer the request.

    She stated that since I would not admit to being Disruptive, I would not be able to return to my local clinic. How can an employee try and make a person admit to something they never did. I would not admit to something I never did and as a result I was not able to return for five (5) years.

    Yesterday was my Birthday and I received a Great Present from the Denver V.A. Acting Director it is as follows:

    Dear Mr. …………

    Your message to Secretary McDonald was received and referred to me for response as the Acting Director Eastern Colorado Health Care System, which includes the La Junta VA clinic. We have previously responded to your concerns through your Congressional Representative, Senator Michael Bennet, in May 2010 and April 2014. we received your bound documents. As you indicated duplicate packages were also sent to the Secretary, department of Veterans affairs, and the VA Office of Inspector General, We had no action to take.

    During a conversation with Dr. Laurence Haburchak, Psy D, Chairman of the Disruptive Behavior Committee (DBC) on May 12, 2010, you updated your personal accomplishments in self-development, and requested that your medical care be transferred from our Pueblo VA Clinic back to the La Junta CBOC, A review by the DBC was conducted in June 2010, you have been receiving your primary care at the La Junta CBOC and there have been no disruptive, inappropriate or threatening incidents. You have not been required escort by Va or local police.

    Your request for reinstatement at the La Junta CBOC was accomplished in June 2010, so there is no futher action to be taken on the issue. The notes in 2004 regarding the incident that resulted in your transfer of care are a matter of record, and while you may disagree with them, they were the facts reported at the time, Sufficient time has lapsed that “unless given reason to research over 10 years of records, that would not be readily apparent to current review.

    Although we cannot “alter” historic documentation, you can request that your statement of events be entered into your medical record. I am attaching a Patient Amendment Request Form and VA Form 10-5345, Request for Authorization to Release of Health Information for your use in requesting such a notation.

    All indications are you are active participant in your care and treatment at both La Junta CBOC and the Denver VA Medical Center, We thank you for your service and trust you find our service helpful in maintaining your personal health.

    Natalie A. Merckens
    Acting Director
    Eastern Colorado Health Care System

    Mr. McDonald, has never contacted me to get my side of the story or how this has effected me and my family. Not a phone call, a letter, an e-mail, nothing. I have been writing him via E-mail no response. The letter from the Acting Director does not respond to the problem at hand where I charge that, the V.A. has let an Employee in a position of power, to use those powers to attack me and do so with the blessings of the Denver VA and do nothing about it.

    I wrote back to Mr. McDonald via E-mail, advising him that the Reply from the Acting Director is A slap in the face and the Acting director still did not Address my concerns that I was unjustly victimized by an employee that was in trusted under oath to care for the veterans, not to destroy them. The requested that Mr. McDonald Force the Denver VA and the Employee that made the charges that I had been Disruptive produce the written Documation the VA used as evidence that collabated her story. And if they can not produce any evidence for the VA to correct my records via their own letter, signed by the Director that there is no written evidence to support the Employees claim that I have ever been Disruptive and that it be placed into my official Records that an error was made and they are sorry for the trouble it has caused me.

    I asked Mr. McDonald has the VA sunken so low that they are willing to cover up a lie, instead of being a real leader and admit an error has been committed and then rectified to show the Nation that there is justice and that our Civil and Constitutional rights are being ad heard too, with out retaliating against the Veteran.

    I had wished that they would have placed charges against me, at least then the truth would have came out and I would not have to look over my shoulder every minute, wondering when they are going to send Federal officers to my home and for what an Employee did not like me. How can I go about fixing this as a layman and a veteran who was shot in the Head and told has a T.B.I., Is there any justice in these here United States or is it only for a few.


    If someone know a Lawyer that can and will handle this injustice please let me know. can you all see how this is hurting me and God only knows how many others they have hung. Many laws have been broken and no one seems to have the power or morals to correct the injustice that I have had to endure.

  2. I think the MPLS VA should be even more looked at then it is for it’s wrongdoing. That facility is the worst of all and is one of the largest and supposed to be one of the best yet it appears that its a nightmare. those whistleblowers are hopefully taking action against them and get their jobs back. The VA in MPLS needs to be held highly accountable and now with more stories out against that VA really makes me question the rest of them.

  3. 03/07/2015

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Do not be discouraged. I had seen a veteran come out of the Arizona Capitol Building when I was dropping off the Letter about the Veterans Funds that were being “moved around/Ted Vogt.” This elderly veteran was discourage and the fight was gone—I told him its not over until it is over! Within 24 hours the Governor reversed his decision.

    “The Senate bill gives Secretary McDonald unprecedented power to ensure accountability if he so chooses…” remember VA Secretaries shelf life is very short; and if opened prematurely, the content will spoil every quickly [recent comment].

    I see more action on your blog and the comments are informative—everyone is doing a fine job here at this blog; however, I am very concerned with the control Gannett has on our Journalism [How many Newspapers Gannett controls are in the same cities as the VA Hospitals?].


    Don Karg

  4. I agree with payback of bonuses. Does Title 18, US Code, Section 241 apply?

    Specifically, ” … if two or more persons conspire to injure, opress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; … They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, .they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death. … ” [downloaded 12/21/2014 from…%5D

    I am sure many conditions on the service connected list progressed in severity while those veterans were waiting for an appointment. (A wanton disregard for life?) It has been reported in the media that manipulation of data did in fact result in deaths. I am also sure that many service connected conditions progressed as the prime factor in the eventual deaths of the veterans. (This also deprived the surviving widows and children of their just benefits.)

    My personal involvement with bonuses: As a Vet Center counselor (readjustment counseling therapist, GS-11) I received a $1,000.00 bonus in 1998. I was told it was a “performance” bonus, and EVERY clinical person in the Vet Center system received one. I did not ask for it. At that time I asked why the money was not returned to the general treasury as surplus, and I was told to [shut up]. That was the only bonus I ever received.

    I think NO ONE in the government should received a bonus for doing their job — not even senior executives. I suggest that bonus money be used for hiring additional claims personnel OR return it to the general treasury.

    I propose all who are guilty of data manipulation be brought up on charges under 18 USC, Sec 241.

    Jim Cockerham
    US Army (Retired)
    Vet Center Counselor (Retired)

  5. How about the known, and secret, bonuses McDonald got for lying his way into the job as new Secretary of the VA, which carries mandatory prison time?

    1. This bonus issue is just sick. You must have to be the offspring of a GOP dodger in order to get one. Then reject a years worth of legitimate claims.

  6. Lottery regulations require that tickets are purchased in a member state “AND” from a licensed retail location. Hence, the lottery ticket is a “bearer” instrument; the licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt is a (the other required) “bearer” instrument. The licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt is the means to audit all payouts. The licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt is the means to jack the pot. Hence, the licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt is the JACKPOT TICKET. It was said that the best way to hide (bank) something (perhaps offshore) is to make it seem insignificant of to placing it into public view: such as, the sleight of hand “drawing” in FLORIDA. Yet, imagine, that of purchasing a lottery ticket, the licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt (JACKPOT TICKET) was free for the asking to all. I sent copy of 7-Eleven Elmira, NEW YORK licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt for the purchase of 3 (yes,3) Power Ball Lottery Tickets via certified mail to NEW YORK Lottery / NEW YORK Lottery signed for receipt of the substantive evidence 2-17-2015. Yes, the licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt is the means to audit all payouts. Such is to say: if the lottery AWARDED (anything) TO THOSE (to anyone) that did not have the licensed retail location cash register “machine” receipt for the purchase of any lottery ticket is: identity theft, constructive fraud, money laundering, counterfeiting, bank fraud, and/or “TAX EVASION”.
    The Buffalo DVA denied my claims for compensation as late as December 2013. I was released from active duty July 3, 1969. The Buffalo DVA claimed that of government records, including Buffalo DVA’s own IntraNet , the Buffalo DVA could not find my service in Vietnam exposed to agent orange (herbicides, etc). However, I found on the INterNET : The January 2010 DVA Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) Information on Vietnam Naval Operations…provides the presumption of exposure to the crew of ships that operated on “rivers” and “deltas” …without further development; The history of the USS Newport News CA-148 includes operations in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong “DELTA” December 1968. And, The DVA June 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) ADDITIONAL Information on Vietnam Naval Operations …ships list…Received by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs…lists the USS Newport News for operations: Cua Viet River April 1969. While my claim has made significant progress since then, the Buffalo DVA has not attended to loose ends: the Buffalo DVA did not rate my two aneurysms, one upper large artery and one lower large artery. The Buffalo DVA has my erectile dysfunction only secondary to Diabetes Type II. The Buffalo DVA Examiner diagnosed my ischemic heart disease as early as 2000. Ischemic heart disease is the lack of blood flow; secondary is shortness of breath, anxiety and depression, weakness of legs, and impotence / erectile dysfunction. See Nehmer Training Class March 2010. The Nehmer Court Order (the Nehmer Training Guide (211A) February 2011 Revised) clearly indicates / infers that of the Buffalo DVA June 05, 2014 Decision, that compensation must be paid within 21 days following The Buffalo DVA June 05 2014 Decision / Examiner diagnosis of my ischemic heart disease to as early a 2000. At 100% disabled, the Buffalo DVA should have awarded Retro Compensation back to 2000; The Nehmer Court Order states: The claimant need not file a new claim or a claim for earlier effective date when a new presumptive is added. VA must search it’s records to find eligible claimants and award benefits, without action on the claimants part. Also, Medical records noting the existence of a condition later made presumptively service-connected can in some instances, result in an award without a formal claim ever being filed. A claim can be by VA of review of medical records (such as already mentioned).
    I have written to DVA-Compensation & Pension Service (211A)-Attn: Nehmer Working Group-810 Vermont Ave. Washington DC 20420 three times over the past many months. I have not received a direct answer. However, I have been notified otherwise that my claim/ / appeal has reached the Board of Veterans Appeal (board) back-logged to 2012. The Nehmer Court Order instructs that Nehmer Claims have priority. Yet, the information officer told me that my claim is not docketed as a Nehmer claim; And , to have my claim docketed Nehmer, the information provider said that I would have to write a letter. Get this: My appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeal on Form 9 is to have my claim processed to the Nehmer Court Order: the Nehmer Training Guide (211A) Feb. 2011 Revised. Also, I have the Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars; The Vietnam Campaign Medal (at least 6 months at least contiguous South Vietnam); And, the Combat Action Ribbon. According to Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions I am a “Veteran” ; not a “Claimant”.. Likewise, of CRS /Statutory Presumptions, the VA has to consider incubation periods. I told the DVA Nehmer Working Group in Washington DC that I should not need a lawyer (or group of lawyers) to enforce the already laid down and laid out Nehmer Court Order: Nehmer Trainiing Guide (211A) Feb. 2011. I would really love to seek sanctions against the (Buffalo) DVA for all of it’s “TORTS” retro to July 3, 1969 when I was released from active duty: to the amount of $3500 a month Retro Compensation to July 3, 1969. The money should be clawed back from all the incentives, bonuses, and promotions from the merciless mercenaries for not complying to The Nehmer Court Order; Likewise, for not complying to Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions. Vietnam Veterans were poisoned by their own country, left to suffer, and abandoned by merciless mercenaries to profit. Feel free: [email protected]

    1. YES you DO NEED a Lawyer! GET ONE Already instead of wasting your time posting your story continuously. GET A GOOD ONE and SUE the Shit out of them!

  7. I am a veteran who worked at Audie L. Murphy V.A. hospital in San Antonio, Texas from 2008 to 2009. I found a lot of incompetent employees some veterans themselves that didn’t give a dam about the medical care or welfare of veterans. They only cared about collecting that bi-monthly pay check and a lot of back stabbing each other In order to obtain that next promotion or bonus.

  8. Whimpie: ‘I gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today!’
    Popeye: AAAHuuUUH GUhGuhGuhGuh…

    Dems will never pass it, check is in the mail.

  9. This is a great idea but it should not be up to Secretary McDonald. It should be a written in stone formula neither the union or the little miscreants themselves can tweak.

    I am trying to get SMC T approved for my husband. The VA has taken an 8 line law passed by congress and turned it into something not even the Director of the Indianapolis VBA can seem to even understand or find any employee under him that can explain it either. Isn’t even worried or ashamed at that fact either.

    And, both Undersecretary Allison Hickey and Robert McDonald have answered the emails I have sent them about the moronic Kabuki theater they call the Indy VBA and neither one of them seems concerned enough to really do anything either.

    Yup, take it out of the VA’s hands. Deduct the bonuses and get rid of the dead wood.

      1. [email protected]

        [email protected]

        I think they just have zero ability to fight the beast. We would be better off closing the thing down and letting private insurance companies do the claims with veterans voting on their satisfaction to base the bonuses on not how many they crank out no matter what the mistake rate, how much they spend doing the right thing, etc.

        I sent Benjamin a copy of the email going back and forth the last several weeks. The list of their “mistakes” would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious. They include giving my husband a hearing date and the Indy VA not being ready for the hearing, no one being able to explain what they will be basing their approval or denial on, what they need, etc, forgetting to turn the tape recorder on for the first two hours of a 4 hour hearing, having a VA employee playing a VSO for the day to “assist us” and then spending the hearing time running out into the hallway where half a dozen top VA employees and a pile of VA cops were standing while they discussed my husband’s details in front of anyone passing or standing in the hallway, on and on.

        He was declared legally blind last week by both the regular optometrist and Indy’s low vision specialist who teaches at IU and comes over a few days a month to see vets and even that is not enough to approve the SMC T by their standards. He is TBI SC already.

        I have never seen such a collection of challenged people in one employers place at one time. And, yes, I think someone is gunning for the directors spot themselves. Only way to explain why they make their boss look so incompetent over and over again

      2. I have one question and I would like a response from Benjamin Krause. Bemjamin I have been writing about how the v.a. is letting an employee deface me or slander me using the Disruptive Committee as her cops, judge and jury and the v.a. letting her do it with out one shread of evidence. I know I need a lawyer, but I do not know what type of lawyer and where can I find such a lawyer. I have looked at lawyers for civil rights and it seems no one does this type of work. I see that you are a lawyer, will you take my case or look at my case or do you know someone that will take a case like mine. I am 100% disabled for p.t.s.d. and t.b.i., I am able to pay so much a month and if we and when we win I will pay you what ever the law lets me pay you. Ten years I have been living a nightmare and the v.a. is glad I am and I need to get out from under their thumb and live a free live, without fearing retaliation from the v.a. Administration. Again a lie is a lie no matter how many times it is told. If anyone else knows a lawyer in this country that will stand up for me in a legal way. I spoke with one lawyer and all he said is you need a lawyer. If anyone knows someone who is smart enough and has the courage to fight the v.a. please let me know. Thanks

  10. Great move I think! Money has been a huge motivator as well as these Dr.’s at the VA that KNOW that they can do heinous medical error and even kill people and all the while they know it’s very hard to even fire a poorly performing Dr. or even a admn. person, so they have NO FEAR of even losing anything, thus we Veterans suffer from their lackadaisical work ethos.
    Perhaps this will make the rats jump ship and PLEASE do not put some damn clause in there that makes it so they can “grandfather” it, as I could see the VA’s Union or even the VA itself writing their own fine print of exceptions and exclusions.
    This will be a wait and see kind of thing and perhaps Secretary McDonald really actually has a plan and I believe this next year and half remaining of President coupled with a brand new dynamic in House and Senate, that we may see action rather than words because these are also the kinds of things that like to be touted about by those running for President in 2016…and YOU KNOW the whole VA scandal after another WILL be a part of that important election…and getting the hell out of the Middle East and the USA’s now long business of war.
    Let’s give Bob the benefit of the doubt while realizing there’s also those that would love for him to fail for political reasons. Politics suck. It brings the really scary crazies from the woodwork and boardrooms.

  11. This sounds good; however, I’m sure that this will be tweaked in some way that if anyone gets their bonus taken away it will be a lesser amount or will be a slap on the wrist. If it does get passed and they take away every penny from every person who received a bonus then this may be a start of the govt. doing something to help us vets.
    I am almost sure that this is another attempt of the govt. to make the civilian population think that they care and are trying to do something but in reality it is nothing more than another “choice card” show and if they take the bonus away, they will give them a “severance package” or a “performance award” or some other name to give them back the money they in no way deserve.
    It will be interesting to see how the govt. will work their “magic” and make it look as if they are punishing those people and they will still receive what they already got.

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