Emmy We Get No Choice

News Coverage Of Veterans Choice Debacle Wins Emmy

Emmy We Get No Veterans Choice

Benjamin KrauseThe “We Get No Choice” Veterans Choice news story that highlighted the plight of on dying veteran seeking non-VA health care won an Upper Midwest Emmy this weekend.

KARE 11 reporter AJ Lagoe covered a client of mine, Paul Walker, who is dying from liver cancer. That client was unable to get access to non-VA care in his area because he lived near a VA dental clinic. The story highlighted a phone call between Walker and VA where he explained the problem but VA refused to listen.

The story of Paul Walker caught fire and was even covered by Jon Stewart.

The embarrassing coverage resulted in a quick change in policy that did away with the “crow flies” rule. That rule used the straight line 40-mile distance measure rather than driving distance.

VA claims it was already panning on the change, but perhaps embarrassment from the news coverage encouraged the agency to make the change quicker than planned. Regardless, this was a great example of media collaboration with advocates to force VA policy changes and greater issue awareness.

Since the release of that story, KARE 11 has proceeded to blaze the trail for reporters working with advocates to force change within Federal agencies like Veterans Affairs.

RELATED: VA ‘Greatly Regrets’ Using Unqualified Doctors

The newest story highlights a Minneapolis VAMC traumatic brain injury scheme. There, unqualified doctors gave traumatic brain injury exams that resulted in improper denials.

Source: https://midwestemmys.org/20151003/2015-upper-midwest-emmy-recipients/

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  1. Finally after being jerked around since spring, I will get the surgery I need only because people from the small staff at my Vet Center are going to drive over a mountain pass to get me and over another pass to take me to Reno VA. And another trip a few days later to bring me home to heal. There’s a little outpatient clinic 24 miles away that gives the system an excuse. I want to “share” Paul’s story and repeatedly FB says there’s a problem. WTF!

  2. Breaking News on CBS EVENING NEWS.
    It seems Germany isn’t fucking around anymore when it comes to Syria’s Refugees. If they come there to “escape poverty instead of political reasons, they are taken to the airport and returned [to Syria]!”
    Now, why can’t we do that here with our “Illegal alien problems”? Take them to the airports and return them!

    1. Since they will be coming from Mexico to USA (the Syrian Refugees) first, we could use one of the very HUNDREDS of tunnels from Mexico across USA that come up in warehouses right outside border, the USA should just install long ass conveyor belts to send them back and not waste the petro on airfare…plus, cannot tell me the enemy does not already have sleepers within those “refugees” just as we in USA have already found out and counting, with the African “Blackhawk Down” murderers we let into USA under ‘Political Refugee Status’ (Somali’s)…and the terrorists have been not only recruiting them from USA but also these “political refugees all on the Public Dime” have been caught sending arms over to Syria…I seriously think there’s been a TOTAL LACK of proper military strategic plan with these wars we are in…now Russia/Iran…having like most of you all here, been in military all through the 80’s Cold War specifically, it does not seem like we have learned from history…

      Yes, I said conveyor belts in already existing illegal’s tunnels… Enough of this madness!

  3. Breaking News,
    “Government Executive”
    by, Charles S. Clark | October 5, 2015

    “After 640-Day Wait, VA Gets a Nominee for Inspector General”

    y’all gotta google this article. He’s an attorney out of Washington D.C. with lots of experience on government.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean he will do what’s right!!!

    1. I read an article a couple days ago on that crazyelf and was encouraged, but he will do whatever the WH tells him to do. Same as the ones there previous to him. If he digs in as hard as the article suggests he would, there should be many in the VA worried about their corruption.

  4. Congrats to you too Ben since I am sure it took your help steering the media to get this changed.

  5. I was invited to be on a veterans forum at Ann Arbor a few moths ago to discuss veterans choice
    I was table/group #3. on our panel was a veteran who was also a VA employee she advocated for more employees and VA hospitals. I argued for more CBOCS in remote areas and the end to the VA gatekeeper for the civilian MD appointment
    How to fix this?
    I argued that the folks who qualify for choice receive tricare or civil service plans or an enhanced ACA or obama care
    I am on obama care now so a federal plan without a VA gatekeeper is in order

    1. Great to hear some veterans are still having that “forum”! We here in Central Florida had one. It lasted about 45 minutes. Then the “person in charge” canceled it. Because the veterans were telling the truth, and VA couldn’t handle it!

  6. Good job, Ben! I wish I could get my local media more engaged in the abuses of the VA. I’m trying to follow in your footsteps and get my law degree from Voc Rehab, but they are stubbornly adhering to “policies” you have debunked. Whoever finally reports my story might also get an award or two if I had the clout to make them listen.

    1. Stephen, do as I did. Bombard your local news stations with articles every day. Show them it’s a ‘taxpayer (veterans) problem’!
      You never know, someone might pick up on it. I know it sounds like I’m minimizing the veterans plight. But, at least you can coverage.
      People out there aren’t stupid. Just like here in Central Florida, people wanted to know more about the “Obama Phones”! So Mr. Holfeld is obliging them.
      Question, did your state, one of 39, give away “free phones” to veterans? If so, your local news media might be interested in the article I gave on here today.

      One thing I’ve noticed. The media has basically turned its back on veterans. But they haven’t turned away from the taxpayers!

      My wife ran across an article, story, on Facebook. Where a Marine was spat upon at LAX. His mother posted it this past weekend. Also, if you read between the lines, civilians (who never served) are increasing in numbers protesting the current anti war sentiments.
      In my opinion, Obama, and his wife, has caused this crap due to his decisiveness on all the things he’s done.
      1.) He’s helping race relations to be further apart.
      2.) He’s weakened our military.
      3.) He’s brought our National Debt to over $18+ TRILLION. With no excuse or reason!
      4.) He’s made our country a laughing stock, and we are hated, around the world.
      5.) He’s basically told the news media “what” to report!
      There’s so much more he, and his cronies, have done. It makes me want to puke! as the old saying goes.

      1. what are you ranting about? how about our country is weaker because of the war cheny and bush started and it is still going on…they provided no exit strategy and no money to pay for the needs of our vets…the obamas have had to try and clean up the mess.

      2. Our country is weaker because of a war Cheney and Bush started? Is it weak because of that or weak because Obama totally screwed up the SOFA because he wanted to make a political statement by pulling troops out? Or is it weaker because Clinton was too busy getting a blowjob while UN member countries were busy ignoring the 14+ resolutions requiring Saddam comply with after the first Gulf War, because they were making under the table deals with Saddam in the oil for food fiasco which Clinton also started? Or are we weaker because Obama allowed ISIS (JV team) to grow while he and Hillary were acting tough in Syria? Are we weaker because Clinton allowed oil for food corruption, then allowed Saddam to kick the UN inspectors out? Or are we weaker because some community agitator wanted to prove he earned a Peace prize by giving Iran a path to nuke weapons and $150 billion to further finance their terrorism? We have dealt with fanatics in Iran for over 30 years because of the weakness of Carter, and will be dealing with well financed fanatics in Iran for many more years to come because of the weakness of Obama. Speaking of well financed and weakness, a news article yesterday said Clinton knew Iran was behind the Khobar Towers bombing, and wanted to ignore it, for politics. 100s of US military members were injured or killed in that bombing. A weak Clinton ignored that evidence, and a weak Obama ignored those injured servicemen who had claims against the Iranian assets Obama just unfroze and handed back. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

  7. Nice to hear the reporter got some kudos, but I would personally be more interested on what is happening with Paul Walker…Is he getting care? Is the VA or anyone else helping him get to appts? Is he even still alive?

    1. Also, still having trouble with scrolling with my mouse center wheel…only way to go down or up is the grey nav bar…is it just me or is it the sire? My scroll wheel works everywhere else…

  8. That’s great! Kudos on that award, as that was a great one and if it did not pull at any human beings heart-strings or basic empathy, then a person has to be cold as ice and also satan himself. The fact it made The Daily Show, and the excellent way he conveyed the circus music going on with the VA, it got great exposure that’s been ramping-up.

    Note: I really believe the “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” would be an EXCELLENT place to submit future VA blunders and current plights of Whistleblowers, and such because he has carried-over that excellent political side to this show and just last night, Sen. McCain was on there. McCain did not say one damn thing about veteran issues. Nadda! It would have been really great if Stephen Colbert asked him about what’s going on with the VAMC’s in YOUR State, Sen. McCain? LOL!!!

    I like the idea of a “Go Fund Me” button but unless I am mistaken and please correct me if I am wrong, but I think that those are ‘goal-specific campaigns’ as have never heard of a more ‘general’ Go Fund Me as that could open door to these dastardly scammers like more than a few already, women feigning they have cancer or other terminal illness and raking-in dough, only to thankfully be caught. (just an example of protective measures these great things like GFM and others now have o take)


    I looked and saw that Chicago has in just the last *two weeks alone* had no less than 68 deaths from mass shooting incidents, with Chicago now in neck and neck most violent cities, specifically, black on black crime as Detroit and Memphis. Obama was politicizing the Oregon shooting tragedy before the total body count was tallied and at that same time frame there’s a mass shooting of few dozen all gang violence in Obama’s own home city…and The Mayor, Emanuel, whose ex-Obama Staff, is doing nothing…and those areas of city this is happening are actually ‘gun free zones’…in my city last week there was a black funeral and at the outside of church cars went by spraying bullets at the funeral attendees outside…no Obama apologies or tap and dance…just sharing this because we Veterans seem to be in the list of priorities/accountability, below the very refugees and illegal thugs living in USA.

    Rant Over.

    1. namnibor, Chicago had 111 shot in the past two weekends, 68 were murdered. Yep, Obama really cares about “his town”!

  9. Bruce, that’s one great idea. Even though I don’t send money over the internet, I do have Ben’s P.O. Box number.

    I’m glad to see newscasters getting involved more now. For example, here in Central Florida Mike Holfeld has taken on what many have called the “Obama Phones”! Channel 6, out of Orlando has been involved since these “free phones” were discovered to be a “multimillion dollar scam”! Last night at 11 pm, Mr. Holfeld did another story on it. Seems now the “FBI is investigating” it because it wasn’t confined to Florida. There were 39 states that a company was illegally giving veterans, law enforcement, residents et., etc., phones. Instead of it being a multimillion dollar operation, it’s now believed to be multiBillion $$$ fraud.
    The FBI wants to know “how high the fraud goes”, according to the report.
    I believe we’re going to hear a lot more on this issue. I believe someone, or many someones, in the VA was involved in this scam.

    1. If y’all want to read the article and see the video, Google,

      “Feds investigating free phones for vets scheme”
      Author: Mike Holfeld
      date 5 October 2015.

  10. Could we get a sort of internal “Go Fund Me” button on Disabledveterans.org? It would for the most part do things like get a few bucks together to buy a nice gift for someone like Paul Walker in this story. I mean like enough for him and someone he takes to go out for a really nice dinner, things like that, for guys and gals that we see having a really bad time from the VA.

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