Oakland Regional Office ‘Lost’ 14,000 Veterans Claims

Oakland Regional Office

Benjamin KrauseIn 2012, VA OIG found 14,000 informal veterans’ claims jammed in a cabinet at the Oakland Regional Office. Management at the Oakland Regional Office then lost those 14,000 informal claims after being notified, according to a recent follow up VA OIG audit.

And by lost, I think we can safely assume the documents were destroyed in an effort to evade negative performance reviews. Or maybe the shredder ate the documents? Many of the claims dated back to the 1990’s meaning the value of the claims, if granted, could have been well into the millions. This might explain why they were ‘lost.’

How much longer will veterans allow VA to put its employees ahead of veterans needing benefits? Isn’t it time VA propagate a regulation punishing criminal conduct of VA employees who destroy Federal records? It is a crime to do that.

Sloppy practices were uncovered and then reported by representative Doug LaMalfa. LaMalfa took office in January 2013. Allegations against VA management piled up quickly including oppressive management tactics against those trying to improve the facility.

About the missing files, LaMalfa said, “If those records are unfindable, ever, then someone needs to pay a price for allowing that to happen.”

According to Bay Area News:

According to the Office of Inspector General, a VA management team came to the office in 2012 to help sort out its problems and found about 14,000 informal claims — those requesting initial assistance — in a filing cabinet that had not been processed. Some were over 20 years old.

But when the Office of Inspector General arrived for an unannounced site visit last July, nearly two years later, none of those records could be found. Investigators did find a spread sheet with a list of old, unprocessed claims. A sample of those found “staff did not maintain adequate records or provide proper supervision of trainees to ensure informal claims received timely processing.”

LaMalfa promises to push hard for answers. “We need the answer to where did they go and why. This report cannot end here, and we won’t let it happen.”

Rep. Jerry McNerny, a Democrat sitting on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, also provided criticism of this clear attempt to defraud veterans of their benefits:

“Losing these letters and other records is completely unacceptable,” McNerney said in a statement. “This report is yet another unfortunate example of mismanagement at the VA and illustrates the need for transparency at the department.

Source: https://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_27561325/investigation-oakland-va-office-lost-thousands-veteran-claims

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    1. High crimes against our wounded vets. I am also a wounded vet , my country wrecked my life again after I got out of the service. I still need help but no one responds. Also see fundly.com click on search and type in ” Wounded vet in crisis” Domestic torture and gross human rights violations by the U.S govt.

    1. The VARO and the medical system of the FUBAR VA is broken and has been for decades. The VSO and NSO as one Under Secretary puts it, “The VA Medical System is in partnership with the VSO and NSO!” This explains more of why we do not get a fair shake as veterans. Piss poor service from all who are supposed to aid you. FTVA!

  1. Sadly, Its not just the VA that are so flippant about the reprehensible acts.

    When I was a pilot in the Army in Germany a few ago I was injured and pulled from the line to fill the BN adjutants position as she was prego and moving to BDE. She spent a month training me up on my duties and such and let me get used to the office. As I started organizing and updating the office (I’m anal retentive about these things) I found NUMEROUS awards, certs, LoA’s Ect ALL OVER – dating back as far as 10 years or more. Being active in my community I was able to track down most of the intended recipients and get them their long overdue accolades. (I don’t necessarily blame the young Adjutant, as these awards were nearly older than her, lol. BUT she could have done the same house cleaning I did and found them – But again, I forgive her on this and you will see why in my next point).

    Next came the coup de grace – a WHOLE filing cabinet of a BN’s worth of award recommendations from a recent deployment! These awards had been caught in a bureaucratic mess since before even returning back to home base. caught between “major unit” change of commands and nearing the end of their tour they were stuck in these catch 22 loop holes between the major commands and “regulations”. Upon returning to base, they tried again to get them submitted, but because the unit commander PCS’d and could not sign them they got stuck again. The new commander wouldn’t sign them and no one wanted to retype all the awards (or maybe they HAD to be approved by a commander that had been down range, not sure, not my area of expertise). This Adjutant had continued to fight the fight in addition to her duties. was able to track down the old commander and… (gets fuzzy here, but there were more issues). The next step was an appeal board or something according to her.

    So, I made that my pet project as well. because the files were a little disheveled from her old assistant, I spent a lot of time in those files making sire they were in order so I could hand of a workable issue to the incoming Adjutant. I had also re-located the disks the files were on, saving much time having to retype new signature blocks and edits and such.

    An adjutant never replaced me before going back to the line. I did inform and hand off to the (now) BDE Adjutant. I believe she cared, but I also believe she just didn’t have the time anymore between her new responsibilities and family.

    When the new Adjutant did arrive, I visited the office and personally showed her the cabinet and briefed her on what needed to be done for these guys. Anytime I was near BN HQ I would drop in to check on them. She had done nothing with them. I informed the BN CDR. He gave a passing interest, but was more focused on the upcoming deployment.

    Fast forward again a few months – Post surgery and I cant work in my job anymore due to complications (Surgeon cut my nerve) so I was moved back to BN HQ to take over the S-2 while the unit was deployed. That job was more time consuming for me. Between that job and my constant medical appointment, I couldn’t focus on that filing cabinet as well. But I did let the sitting CDR know – and being there daily, let him know frequently that someone with more knowledge than me (er, their MOS) needed to do the right thing, and no one would if he didn’t care enough to declare it. He basically told me he wasn’t going to order his ADJ to work on menial tasks that were by now way late to be submitted or approved. My counter was if that were true, how are we still seeing old war vets at the white house getting awards that were put thru MANY YEARS later. He told me I could pursue it if I wanted, and that was the end of it.

    I made an appeal to BDE – nothing. Its old news and most of the soldiers had moved on, why did I care. WHAT!!!!

    I filed a complaint with IG. They followed up, but again their bite is only as hard as those who support them. Nothing. I was forced out due to my medical condition – really forced out – my unit tried to have me separated BEFORE Ides got me to a WTU. They were 1/2 successful, but that’s another story.

    I went back to the office as a civilian after the unit returned from this past deployment. They were just back and still in transition, but I let the ADJ, Commander, and even show Staff duty these files. Given the “thanks, we’ll look into it.

    Last June I went back to the office again (about 6mo after the previous visit) again. The room was open but no one there, so I went to staff duty and asked if he would watch as I went in and checked the cabinet. He did (the unit was at a post meeting/event apparently). The cabinet was empty. I was informed that the offices had changed, and maybe the records had moved into the new office. SO I came back a few weeks later to check. The ADJ was not around, but the S-! NCOIC was. When I inquired, she replied – with an authoritative – I shredded them when we moved offices. They were old and taking up space. Way past submission deadline and no one would waste the time to push it thru anyway, so yes I shredded them!

    I was hot! I had no problem getting into an argument with her, and letting command know. When nothing was done, I went to BDE again. The BDE verbally reprimanded her for her actions informing her she should have at least forwarded them to his office (so her hands are clean and the files could “properly” disappear – sarcasm based on his attitude about it as well).

    Who knows, maybe I’m wrong here and there really was nothing that could be done. But I don’t believe that. From what I read in those files there were many honorable acts deserving – Including to a downed aircrew. A part of that UNITS history was lost and those families/service members will never get that recognition now.

    Something could have been done. At the very least they unit could have sent the files to the SMs or parsed them into a local level award (and maybe an explanation/apology as to the circumstances) and done the legwork to track these guys down at their new units.

    I sadly have to hang my head and conceit defeat for these guys. I had saved a backup copy of the files on other disks in preparation of this happening so I could take it congress when I returned to the states. Unfortunately, I have a very hot headed eastern EU wife that take pleasure in destroying things when she gets angry about anything. I was able to get MOST of my important mil records to an offsite location before she went completely off handle. Unfortunately, I believe I lost those backups in addition to some of my own important document in her latest tantrum’s. (We are now separated, no desire to be repeatedly subjected to that)

    You wonder why the VA can be so bad – They get their stock from these give a damn S-1s and others that learn how to hide behind the red tape and shift accountability while in service.

    (sorry for the rant)

    1. Mr. Brown your heart was in the right place and for that I thank you. It is sad that so many only care about me, me, me. At the same time there are people like you that shows there are some people that do care and that Sir means a lot to me. I am 100% disabled but only after waiting forty years and hiring a lawyer out of Topeka Kansas. So the V.A. told me that my Military records had been burnt up in the St. Louis fire, which could not be true as I was discharged after the fire. I had to suffer with P.T.S.D. and a traumatic brain injury and with out the proof the v.a. kept turning me down.
      I started drinking, but was able to pull myself togather and was able to hold a job for 25 years with the V.A., It was very hard for me to remember all my duties, so I wrote the very important things down. Anyway after getting the v.a. to listen to the laywer, I was able to attend the Alcohol and drug program and I have not touched a drop in 7 years, life is much better with out the booze and I think back, if only they would have treated me back in 1973 I may have not had to drink to cope.
      I was also able to attend the P.T.S.D. program in Topeka Kansas that program is number one in my book, they let you be you and treated you with respect. But there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and I hope they are done by people like you. Have a great day, God bless you and your family. James

    2. That reminds me of when my Reserve unit came back to the States from the first Gulf War. Months after we returned, we had a new unit Admin who decided he should go through everyone’s 201 personnel file. He was removing any record anyone had in their file of us being in the Gulf. Luckily he was caught and the records restored before they were destroyed. His excuse was we were a Reserve unit, and they were not pertinent. He didn’t hold the job long and eventually was thrown out after showing up drunk.

      When the unit found out those who deployed were supposed to receive the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), HQ did not want to make any effort at getting the medals. There was a lot of jealousy from several at HQ over our unit getting them which fed into the problem. We had an old CW4 in the unit who seemed to know half the Army who made some calls, and the medals showed up to the unit one weekend. HQ put restrictions on them requiring they be handed out and signed for that weekend, and anyone not there that weekend was out of luck, and the medals were supposed to be sent back to HQ. I made damn sure every soldier that had deployed received their medal, and not one was sent back to HQ.

  2. Why do we need a separate hospital system for veterans? There are lots of community hospitals distributed over the country, and in many cases they would be more convenient for veterans. Nowadays hospitals and doctors are actually advertising for patients.
    Eligible veterans could be given the equivalent of an insurance card, with the paper work handled by the VA.

    1. Edgar, the card thing was done by the VA and the govt. to get the civilian population to think that the VA cared about the vets. In reality, they did not care about us and as a result the VA is now pulling the plug on the “choice card”. It was something that the VA cam up with and knew that hardly no one would be able t use this card. They are now wanting (or have done so) to take the money that was allocated for this and are now wanting to move it into the VA’s black hole never to be seen again.
      This is the link to Ben’s Blog about this. You can see that many vets complained about how terrible this card was. A few did get to use it and had a good result using it.


    2. It is not like the VA says about the “Veterans Choice!” If you can make an appointment with a private doctor under the Veterans Choice the VA has say over the type of medical care you will receive. If the failed VA Medical System says something like, “that is too expensive,” it will be business as usual! Meaning no medical care will be paid by the failed VA! All talk so the public perhaps will think, the Veteran’s are finally getting a fair shake! The VA is FUBAR and the only cure is to fire all the dead wait and doctors that harm veterans every day! Only people I know that have had good results fom this veterans choice card are, are, crap I don’t know of one…

  3. So….I guess we know how it’s now plausible our Secretary of VA actually MEANT to say what he did on Meet The Press as far as so many people supposedly “fired”…the mincing of words has been already well-played regarding exaggerations about what he did exactly in Svc….NOT! BUT, all is okay, since the President accepted his explanation. WTF?!

  4. bullshit. no more investigation is needed. the Oakland regional office and all VA regional offices are hopeless fucked up and it will not be fixed, ever. at church yesterday, with hundreds of people listening, and hundreds of their sister churches across America and the world telling their congregations the same thing, the pastor speaking said that ISIS is coming. wrong, ISIS is here along with many other similar groups. the VA is a big reason why, as the second largest federal agency in America, second only to the Dept. of Defense. when we see heads rolling at the mall at least we will know why, because the VA has done their best to make sure vets are too fucked up to be an effective part of a viable Total Force Defense Policy in conjunction with the Pentagon’s main battle plan to stop a full scale invasion that is here. it will get worse and worse, so get ready for it. and don’t expect the VA or your representative to do jack shit about honoring the government contract the DoD or the VA itself made with you. the VA is ran by a worthless piece of shit who said last week that he approved the immediate gutting of the Clay Hunt marine sniper suicide prevention act to use those funds for “more important reasons”. what a piece of shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he is on his way out and doesn’t even suspect it, because his shit ego is even bigger than Shinseki’s.

  5. The VA Western NY Healthcare System in Buffalo, New York had hundreds if not thousands of improperly filed, retired or stored medical records that were found under grossly disgusting condition, which were misfiled, contaminated, in disarray and contributed to gross delays in serving veterans. Many Veterans were told that their medical records were not available. An OIG and VA Central Office investigation was conducted after Health Information Management employees at the VA facility blew the whistle. The facility’s associate director, after being told to look into the protected disclosures responded by claiming falsely that there was no problem. Subsequent Inspector General and VACO investigations however, discovered hundreds of misfiled, wet, moldy records that were being stored improperly and had a green biological slimy substance on them.

  6. Nothing to do with above article, but…..What’s up with the fibbing lately, Bob?

    WASHINGTON — Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s.

    U.S. special operations forces (SOF) are composed of exhaustively trained and highly capable troops from each military service, including the Green Berets, Army Rangers, Delta Force and Navy SEALs — but not the 82nd Airborne. They are certified to undertake the most dangerous and delicate missions, including, famously, the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Special operators are a close-knit community deeply hostile to outsiders who try to claim the coveted mantle of special operations.

    McDonald, a retired corporate executive who took over the VA last June as the agency was sinking in scandal, made the claim in late January as he was touring a rundown Los Angeles neighborhood during a nationwide count of homeless veterans. He was accompanied by a CBS-TV news crew, which recorded an exchange between McDonald and a homeless man who told McDonald he had served in special forces.

    “Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!” McDonald told the homeless man. That exchange was broadcast in a Jan. 30 CBS News story about the VA’s efforts to find and house homeless veterans.

    In fact, McDonald never served in special forces. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975, completed Army Ranger training and took courses in jungle, arctic and desert warfare. He qualified as a senior parachutist and airborne jumpmaster, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until he retired from military service in 1980. While he earned a Ranger tab designating him as a graduate of Ranger School, he never served in a Ranger battalion or any other special operations unit.

    “I have no excuse,” McDonald told The Huffington Post, when contacted to explain his claim. “I was not in special forces.”

    McDonald’s remark came to light after several retired military officers noticed his remark on the CBS tape, days after NBC News anchor Brian Williams was suspended for fabricating stories about his reporting experiences in Iraq and elsewhere.

    McDonald told The Huffington Post that he “wanted to clear up the confusion I probably created — I did create” in the exchange with the homeless man in L.A. Saying he was in special forces, McDonald said, “is not right. I was not in special forces. What I said was wrong.”

    McDonald said he has many friends in the special forces community “and I have great respect for special forces.” But, he added, “as I thought about this later I knew this [claim] was wrong.”

    When the homeless veteran claimed to have served in special forces, McDonald said, “I reacted spontaneously and I reacted wrongly, [with] no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is.”

    “It was wrong,” said retired Army Col. Gary Bloomberg, a former senior special forces commander who had not seen the video before being contacted by The Huffington Post. When he first watched it, Bloomberg said, “I thought, ‘What a boneheaded statement — is this what we want from our senior government officials?’”

    Bloomberg said he checked around with others in the special forces community, which is normally quick to jump on SOF impostors in the same way that the Stolen Valor organization hunts down and exposes people who wear unearned military decorations and honors.

    Bloomberg said he talked to several other former special operators, “and no one got really crazy about the whole thing, compared to some of what we’ve seen,” he said. “It’s a lot different from guys running around faking their special forces credentials.”

    Several times a month, Bloomberg said, an email message will bounce around the SOF community asking for information on someone claiming special forces status. “When it turns out the guy doesn’t have it,” he said, “the community goes to great lengths to expose it.”

    In McDonald’s case, he said, “I can see [other former special forces soldiers] going, ‘Hey, check out this boneheaded remark,’ but I don’t see the gravitas that I would with a guy wearing medals he didn’t earn.”

    McDonald, the former chairman, president and CEO of the consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, was selected by President Barack Obama to replace Eric Shinseki, the retired Army general who resigned in disgrace last May following reports of widespread corruption and malfeasance within the VA.

    The White House said Monday evening that the Obama administration accepted McDonald’s explanation.

    “Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service,” the White House said in a statement. “We take him at his word and expect that this will not impact the important work he’s doing to promote the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans.”

  7. Ben, I am as 100’s of veterans are a VICTIM of the VARO in Oakland, California. They have no idea WTF they are doing and readily will threaten a veterans or ignore your request for assistance and have stupid remarks that are very demeaning to the veterans that they threaten with their incompetence! I have been witness to two people that were in a position of Vet Center Team Leader named Denver Mills destroy any connection he had with anyone he knew that was going to commit suicide that did. He has violated the right’s of so many Vietnam Veterans and when Congressman George Miller was notified of these many problems, he or his office did nothing but agree with all the bull shit that came out of Denver Mills mouth. Talk about destroying records, Jeff Jewel(who is now the team leader that took Mills place) when he worked as a VSO in Solano, County, California destroyed my records along with thousands of records in Solano County, California, that some medical records showing incompetence of the Martinez, California and the prejudice of the Neurologist in that clinic, doctor Brian Richardson who aided me in losing a job by his lying as well as other low life individuals who should be fired. But they just stay and abuse and eat their doughnuts and collect that pay check while the VETERANS they deal with get drugged and lose their quality of life because of it. They seem to be untouchable as the VARO will side with them because they all shake each other’s penis and sadly I have to deal with this FUBAR Northern California VA Health System. The worst employee will get a raise or promotion and they will destroy records as a habit of doing business rather than deal with the VETERAN! SNAFU and FUBAR! “New saying posted on the VA “Bend Over and pass the KY!”

  8. This is NOT something that’s “new” NEWS. The VA has lost MANY more files than that in what they classify as “Loss To Fire”….remember, where was it, in St. Louis, where a whole warehouse of Veteran’s complete C-Files were **POOF** ~~GONE~~? That has not been the sole fire of specifically, Veteran’s Records lost in a fire en mass. Perhaps that was a bit before “shredder technology” has come as far as it has now? NOW, there’s HUGE TRUCKS that are nothing but a HUGE shredder to efficiently shred ALL traces of anything needed to quietly disappear.
    Using elementary statistics here; take 14,000 Veteran’s Claims/Files “LOST” and using that just as a rudimentary base number, multiply THAT by just 50 States, you come up with 700,000. Well, you know well there’s more than 50 VAHS, I was only being mindful of 50 Regional Offices. Take that number to VA levels of incompetence and MANY more locations in which one’s Claim/C-File/Complete Records could potentially be “MAGICALLY LOST”…you easily and quickly have over a MILLION LOST RECORDS.
    I say this because for the most part, it takes things to get dreadfully medically terrible before most of we Veterans will even consider lowering our self-pride and even filing a claim, let alone even thinking about same.
    The VA more than likely is DEPENDING/COUNTING on the FACT Veterans “want t believe our gov’t. will do the RIGHT thing”…when that trust is blatantly violated like these 14,000 files that REPRESENT LOST PEOPLE…that means THAT NUMBER is but a small fraction of the real number and what’s sad is this story sheds light on fact the VA KNOWS they can somehow get AWAY with it.

    The Secretary’s proposed help of DISNEY CORPORATION CANNOT EVEN CURE “ENGINEERED OBSOLENCE” and “ENGINEERED INCOMPETENCE”…after all, their primary concern is to keep making money off the MOUSE…perhaps Disney sees us all as mere mice with statistical dollar signs on us??!!
    Perhaps the upper management see Disney married to the VA as future Disney Cruises on the BACKS of we veterans?!
    Oh…a “March On Washington, D.C. By Veterans” would be as effective as flatuance in the wind”…except I am SURE Tear Gas or worse would also be in that very wind. Then it would not just be the Veteran’s FILE that magically disappears, it will be the Veteran him or herself.

    1. Jeff Jewel did this to my records and hundreds of other veterans and was rewarded by becoming a team leader at the Concord, California Vet Center. He replaced Denver Mills who had his Secretary destroy any connection he had with a veteran that committed suicide. Mills knew this veteran was in jeopardy and did not lift a finger to help him. Congressman George Miller was told about all these violations of veterans right’s but did nothing as usual. New saying at the VARO in Oakland, California. “Fuck the Veterans Full Steam Ahead!”

  9. Is it possible that someone’s dog might have eaten the documents, like what may have happened to some of my homework as a kid? (Only I never HAD a dog as a kid)!

  10. AyMy claim was submitted in 1967. It is still being adjudicated by the BVA. I have been arrested for making terroristic threats at Atlanta Ga. VA regional. After six months of going to court, the State dropped the charges, and the judge stated to me that if i didn’t have to go to the regional office, that i should stay away because the VA is out to get me! I have been ban from the regional office for 8 years, with a claim still prnding. Due Process rights??? Guess as a Black man, im not entitled to due process. Especially after whistleblowing about the 10 million dollars atlantava officials stole from 1990 to 2000, making up phony claims. Still waiting for my claim, which was submitted Nov. 1967………!


    2. I’m glad that you have balls! I just lost my fiancé at a VA Hospital, and I’m at war with them now. Maybe, I can give you some strategies to get your benefits. Please contact me.


    1. Let’s get it on. Veterans have always been that special class of persons to whom any MALEVELONCE, MALEVELONCE can be thrust on and GET AWAY WITH. NOBODY DOES ANYTHING.

      After World War II, THE First Amendment was desecrated ( right to peacefully assembly) when the Generals,( Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Patton) ordered veterans be shot at to disperse from their peaceful protest campout across Valley Forge. They were seeking their rightful, due benefits.

      World War I Veterans marched to Washington from across all of United States to, once again, obtain their benefits.
      I had the privilege of seeing photos of the above at the VA Regional Office in N.Y.C.

      All throughout centuries, returning warriors were, well ( taken care of) without any billions of dollars funded system of thieving, sacking leeches, ( VA Upper Echelons).
      What can be worse than being shot at by the same military you served in.
      Set the date

    2. What are you waiting on. “Veterans Lives Matters! March on Washington! I just lost my fiancé in December 2014 at the VA Hospital. They were more focused on celebrating the holidays instead of their veteran patients. I’m still grieving, but I would be glad to work on your focus group.

  12. Our VA, sadly, is RUN by our govt. and there in lies the RUB. We as VETS (old-timers) have no functionality and therefore are a HINDRANCE: Whereas the VA employees are USEFUL and serve our govt., and not the

  13. There is a law, but no one holds the VA managers accountable. Instead, the regulatory agencies and their conflicted interest do their best to not make is seem like a big deal. Each criminal act under Title 18 of the USC, 2709 (b), is punishable by 3 years in prison per event and 2000 dollars. We are talking more money than the Government has to cover the VA and the time in prison is around 2000 years per person. Look it up and ask why the criminal managers of the VA have not been put behind bars.

    Semper FI

  14. I think that the VA is the bottom most organization within the fed and a prime example of the disgrace that we’ve allowed to run the nation. It’s no longer that they cross those lines and then are accountable and make it right, nooo, today they blatantly step over the line, flaunting it in everyone’s faces, “look at me, me my Big fed organization, I am sooo big I just steamroll my way over everything that dares get in my way.” Its the same with corporations support centers, outsourced to countries who failed the ESL class. Like the companies really give a shit after they got your money? Like a government gives a shit after they’ve whored you out and abused you for so many years without a fight. The VA is the epitome of the over sized, over stepping, boundary invading federal government that we have ALL APPARENTLY EMBRACED. or did we?

  15. I am sure that most (almost all) of us that have filed for a claim have been denied. I know that this is something that happens way to much and to find out that that many claims from one place is uncalled for. Most of us also are not surprised by this. I is another part of the severely broken VA system. Will anyone be held accountable? No, because somehow, someway, the individuals responsible will be cleared and those who have filed and been denied because of this are the ones who suffer.
    Another reason why the VA needs to be tore down and something else needs to take its place. I say that to “set an example” anyone that was employed at the time of this happening should be fired. Then it needs to be known that if something like this happens then the same result will follow. If is not fair as some people may have had no idea of what was going on; however, to show that you may be terminated for a major problem would keep many on their toes. We need some kind of shake up and some type of accountability in these places and this would send a message to them. I know it will never be done but something needs to happen. We are being treated as nobodies and what did we do to deserve that. Some of us gave so much for the freedom of this country and the get treated so bad. We held up our end of the bargain when we enlisted and/or were drafted and then the govt. reneged on their end and basically breeched the contract between us and them. Most places that breech a contract get punished and/or fined. We get told to go on and except what we get because we can do so little to make things right. I am sure the govt. will do nothing to help anyone who filed and have proof that they filed get some type of compensation for their claim or another look at the claim and back pay them to the original date. Why would they do the right thing, it is not in their nature.
    My own experience with this problem, when I received my C-file it had a paper in it that was asking another office if they knew where my file was. It had been lost for over three months. I could not believe that that paper was in the file as it shows that the file was lost and states the same. After reading it, I remember thinking that at least it was not lost forever and my claim got processed.

  16. “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013
    As to Military and us Veterans of: Only one thing worse then Military Posers, as to the wars during and after, and that’s ‘Poser Patriotism’ by those served!!!!
    Unwilling to Sacrifice themselves not only in paying for their wars but the long term results from, Decades and Wars Of, DeJa-Vu!!!!!!!! Thinking the legislation passed for political points, with costs, by their hired reps are Actually Funded By Them!!!!!

    A Country that calls itself a Representative Democracy of the People Really Really has a Huge Problem in Understanding that the Agencies of are them.

    They’re Responsibility to fully fund, and the direct Representatives they Elect Responsibility is to make sure they are funded sufficiently and given all the help those who’ve served are promised. So not to cause major problems that snowball and create other problems, causing the important agency funding, under funded for decades, to shift to costly corrections instead of the intended needs.

    The oft repeated political ‘scandals’, from congress to congress to congress…….., made for media coverage and personal political enrichment.

    How does a Country served, and through their Representatives, avoid blaming themselves, they either totally ignore, PTS, Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, Burn Pit contamination and plenty more, or for personal individual enrichment and political status create the political talking points by expertly{?} denying the issues, like PTS, even exist. Finally starting to be addressed, even with the gross under funding, by Gen Shinseki, continuing it seems with McDonald, and with the help of the Obama Executive Administration and it’s Cabinet when those Agencies can, they don’t control the Countries purse strings Congress does. And the Country, they’re Representatives and even Veterans, political ideologies of, wraps itself in both, in blaming the Agency and it’s personal, so they can escape their own Sacrifices in their Responsibility, the Veterans Administration!

    Tax cuts, especially for the wealthy who received even more during the past decade plus along with many getting even more corporate welfare as profits sky rocket, while making policy of invasions and long occupations from, as well as the blowback from those policies, is not only irresponsible but is not shared sacrifice of those sent to carry out those policies! And this recent history was compounded by a near total collapse of the economy!

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  17. This sort of thing doesn’t surprise me a bit. VAOIG doesn’t do anything about it and neither will the VA SEC. do anything about it. This and other things will just continue to go on until veterans get united and push for changes. But that’s never going to happen. The entire VA system needs to be placed under a judicial federal court order to force them into compliance with the laws. Congress is never going to make any of that happen, and that’s because, politicians, like most civilians don’t give a hang about veterans. Whenever a veteran takes a legitimate complaint to a politician, his complaint is usually ignored even if it comes to that veterans own peril. We are treated as second class citizens, gentlemen. And it’s way over due for that second class status to end. We, as veterans should be treated equally as first class citizens and we should start getting united in that effort and push for protections under new laws to protect us. As a small example, they could pass a new law making it a criminal offense against spitting on a veteran!

    1. Hi Dennis,
      You are wrong. A veteran with a 36 year old claim was brought to the attention of our office and I have personally spent at least 1,000 hours since May 2013 working to get that man’s claim completed. He is now rated at 100% and the appeal at BVA is pending for the remainder of his back pay. This one man with a hopeless case has found a measure of justice thanks to his first term congressman.

      During that time the employees at the Oakland VA brought the issue of 14,000 claims to our attention. Although Congressman LaMalfa is not on the Veterans Affairs committee he took and active interest in bringing that to the OIG and his intervention caused the recent review and report on these issues in Oakland.

      Mr. LaMalfa has just started his second term. He has been personally involved in all of the issues with VA up to this point. He cares deeply for our veterans as do the members of his staff. We do not ignore ANY veteran – no matter how hopeless the case. The issues outlined by the OIG report on Oakland but scratch the surface.

      Don’t be so quick to put everyone in the same category. Someone will always surprise you by doing the right thing.

      1. I am sooo relieved to read your letter. It seems like this site is just a chance for people with constructive comments to get shouted down by those who think the sky is falling. Congressmen and Senators are not all powerful. And the VARO in Oakland does not open its doors each workday intending to screw vets out of benefits. I believe most VA employees are vets and want to do a good job. Why would anyone intentionally fail to do the right thing? There is never a good outcome for the employee who gets fired, or arrested, or gets a poor evaluation or demoted. I understand being overwhelmed by too much work and shoving cases aside so as not to look bad. It happens. But to take one instance and conclude that the VA is useless, corrupt, incompetent and should be eliminated is irresponsible and fantasy.

        Thanks again for your letter and for the work you and other staff do for us.

      2. There are some employees that think they are above the law and retaliate against the veteran. I was a former employee with about 25 years of federal service and while working made a comment about a certain employee that I felt had not used a committee to its full potential. Now this employee did not like the fact that I said this and after I retired on disability, this still bothered that employee and when she became head administrator of our local clinic she took it upon herself and reported to the v.a. disruptive committee that I would come in at least twice a month and become disruptive. The Disruptive committee believed this employee and proceeded to punish me, by calling the office of inspector generals office, the F.B.I and my local police department and the F.B.I. called me. I told them all that this was false information that was given to them by this employee and for them to provide me with any documation that showed that I had ever been disruptive at any point. The V.A.’s response well there is no written documation. If there is no documation of me ever being disruptive how can they punish me. Well its been collobrated, when asked by whom, they would not respond. I have been fighting this since 2004. Now do you feel it right for someone to do this, can you not see through the lies. The director or former director at the Denver v.a., wrote and told a senators office that my records were never coded for disruptive behavior, my records were never red flagged and there was never any investigation. The only thing she got right was the part of there was never any investigation. Now I hear that the employee is getting ready to retire. That’s great but that still leaves me with my records showing disruptive behavior, my records showing red flag this veteran and it still shows the veteran could and will have federal charges placed against him and he will be arrested if the v.a. ever (EVER) hears again that he is disruptive and banned from v.a. care. Now why would I be afraid of a v.a. employee, you can see why. I do know that there are many decidated employees, but those that do hurt veterans in what ever way need to be weeded out and fired and if laws were broken arrested. I am still fighting this through Mr. McDonalds office. What do you think about this. I am 100% disabled, was shot in the head in the military and now being abused by the v.a. any comments.

      3. This is just infuriating. I’ve read of red flagging and these fascist little disruptive committees in the past, but not enough to be convinced they existed. Since reading Ben’s blog and the comments here and elsewhere, I am not only convinced they exist, but are widespread enough throughout the VA that it must be policy…something that could be found through FOIA. One common thing I see in many comments on red flagging is that the veteran may be very dependent on the VA for medical care, and mainly pain care with pain pills. The VA knows this and uses threats or actual action to control you.
        I’ve raised seven shades of hell with the VA over various things over 20 years, and never heard of red flagging or a disruptive committee. It tells me the VA cannot refute the issue I am raising, and cannot use withholding medication or using medication as a threat.
        I wish Ben could submit a FOIA on this and write a series of articles on this. I believe the public would be horrified to hear the VA uses secret star chambers to judge a veteran and bar their access to proper medical care.

  18. On February 27 2013 , The Department of Veterans Affairs, 1 Federal Drive
    St Paul Minnesota 55111, wrote me a letter stating, they had received my application for benefits, no need to contact, so I waited and waited.
    The Legion filed it for me.

    A year later when I went in to check the status, I was told I
    Had No Claim…. No Claim Was ever filed.
    When I produced my 2-27-13 Letter, they just said I have to
    file a new claim. So in 2014 , the Legion filed another claim.

    So it is probably not a single claim lost as I was lead to believe.?

    1. “When I produced my 2-27-13 Letter, they just said I have to
      file a new claim. So in 2014 , the Legion filed another claim.”

      You probably will loose almost a year of the EED.

      There might be a away to get that year potential retro back.

      Try to get a copy of your C file and the claim might be in it.You do have evidence that you filed something ,with that VARO letter.

      I have 2 claims pending for over 2 years that VA had never acknowledged.
      i contacted UnderSecretary Alison Hickey by email.
      The very next day I got a reply. Then emails and calls from my RO.
      They verified my claims and receipt of my evidence.
      I had to sign and send back a response form today and they said when they get it my issues will go fast.

      Yesterday I got an additional letter…”we have received your claim” blah blah…
      I should have gotten that 2 years ago.

      We dont fall into “Cracks” with the VA, we are pushed into cracks.

      1. This reminds me of my claim from the 1990’s. It was filed through the Legion in OKC and ended up at Muskogee. Over time, it had been rubber-stamped 3 times as denied. Given the issues claimed, I knew they had never looked at the claim. Eventually the VA came up with the Tiger Team scheme to have Gulf War claims adjudicated at certain regional offices. Mine bounced back and forth between two regional offices. Around 1997, I testified before Congress on Gulf War claims. Within a week I was called by an adjudicator from one of the regional offices. She said she would be looking at my claim and would have an answer soon. I asked her how long was a “soon”. She said she would have an answer by the end of the week. After years of being rubber-stamped denied, and more waiting for the VA to decide, they were now going to look at my claim and decide in a week.

        What was most interesting during the call was when she said she had been looking through my claim, and she said my file was a mess with papers all out of order. She said, “it looks like nobody has ever looked at your claim before”. She would not say a word when I told her it had already been denied 3 times by the VA.

        By the end of the week, I had a favorable decision that I had waited years for. A decision the VA had rubber stamped denied 3 times.

  19. @Greg Hardin-I don’t have a clue as to what you are doing. If these women can’t afford to feed them they should be put up for adoption; however the govt. does provide financial support for orphanages so you’re still seeing govt. money going to feed, clothe and educate these unwanted children.

    1. It is called personal responsibility! the liberals do not believe in that. These women are being conditioned, they know if they get pregnant without taking precautions they will get more money from the tax payers. You have to condition them to make wise decisions! Most of these women have low IQ’s.
      If you do not know what I am doing then why are you so quick to insinuate that I was not doing the very things you advised me to do?
      you must be on the liberal side.

      1. I am not liberal and I am not conservative and I vote independently. However I do have a cousin who works at the NYC Dept. of Social Services. He (an Army veteran) has told me that many of the women who apply for financial aid are teenagers who have been raped by family members and by non family members who are involved with the victim’s family. They did NOT request to be raped. The men do NOT take any responsibiltiy for their actions and are nowhere to be found for financial support. Anyway I am NOT going to pursue this with you as pregnant women have NOTHING to do with veterans. End of story.

  20. It’s just plain I humane. I second criminal prosecution because just reckless disregard / indifference to human LIFE.
    Think of how many of those 14,000 were families with the VA as their sole subsistence. Plus, even obtaining any form of benefits require getting medical, mental health care solely in theVA health system. We all know how that goes too.

    And they still expect us to go fight their wars.
    I’m curious as to the Recruitment and Retention rates are now that these scandals go viral.
    With ISIS HERE, our Law Enforcement should be directed towards the real enemies or these politicians, LEADERS FOR THE PEOPLE, will be fighting in lines for their bunkers.
    Let’s see how good FEMA and DHS are in protecting the Americans, which, of course, (tongue in cheek) THEMSELVES.

    Watch all these inane gun control ( grabbing) policies, efforts change.
    It’s always been an average civilian American (non-law enforcement) who forestalled terrorist, Boston Bomber discovered by homeowner,
    Times Square, Muslim vendor noticed smoke in van etc.

  21. Interesting, that’s where my current claim (NOD) was processed. Waiting for my “brown envelope” to arrive any day now.

    1. If you think that women are at fault and are having babies to prevent injured veterans from getting help you must be going off the deep end. Why aren’t you out there supporting free birth control, forced vasectomies and abortion?

      1. If you will read what I wrote it does not indicate the fault of the women it advises the govt to stop paying them for having babies and use that money for the vets.

  22. I agree Ben, they should be criminally prosecuted. I know of no other workplace that would put up with practices this egregious. Someone can disenfranchise a veteran of their benefits and it’s ignored. They can kill a veteran and be “forced to retire” early with full benefits; what they really should be doing is jail time.

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