Is Ocasio-Cortez Feigning Idiocy Fighting Against Veterans Choice?

Even if someone provided Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, a history lesson on Veterans Choice, would she still try to claim VA isn’t broken?

Ocasio-Cortez recently provided a speech to union members about VA health care and expansion of disabled veterans’ right to choose where they seek health care. She literally tried to tell the crowd of mainly union employees that VA is not broken and that the real benefactors of Veterans Choice expansion are private industry, not the veterans needing timely access to care that VA was otherwise not providing.

Her statements, as you can see in the above YouTube video, are surprising. Not because they are unique or earth-shattering, but because it is clear she does not know what she is talking about.

Most veterans eligible for VA health care must receive that health care from a VA medical center (VAMC) or community-based clinic (CBOC). A few eligible veterans can choose where they get health care as a direct result of one thing.

What’s the big deal?

Most veterans eligible for VA health care must receive that health care from a VA medical center (VAMC) or community-based clinic (CBOC). A few eligible veterans can choose where they get health care as a direct result of one thing.

What’s the big deal?

Wait List Scandal

In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs was caught in a massive health care fraud scheme first exposed at Phoenix, AZ, but later known to occur nationwide.

What was the scheme?

VA bureaucrats were able to falsify performance data by putting veterans on fraudulent shadow lists for scheduling appointments. Access to health care suffered because performance numbers looked better than they were resulting in those same facilities not receiving the necessary resources to actually serve all the veterans needing care in a timely manner.

Basically, veterans on the shadow list were not given timely access to necessary health care. Many veterans died as a consequence of the fraud.

Yes, Ocasio-Cortez, or at least your speech writer, VA was and is broken.

Don’t Spin VA History

If you engage in the obvious and idiotic spinning of this history, you will look like a total fool completely ignorant of veterans’ issues for the past few years.

That said, let’s treat this article as a short history lesson for you and your staff about veterans issues.

Step 1: Fight Club

The first step to fixing the VA is understanding the first rule of Fight Club.

No one talks about Fight Club. And like Fight Club, no one in VA really talks about what is wrong with VA. No one. So, do not rely on VA, or its union, for accurate information on all topics.

If you want to know how to spell, “Department of Veterans Affairs,” then sure, ask VA how to spell its own name. If you want timely access to accurate information, sure, listen to what VA or the union has to say in much the same way you listen to your toddler who’s mad at his sister. Listen, but be sure to dig a little deeper.

Step 2: Google It

The second step is to simply Google a topic and read the first few articles.

This may seem stupid or too obvious, but I am sure reading Google about why the agency is privatizing some of its health care could have helped you not look foolish.

As noted, in 2014, VA was caught in its wait list aka wait time fraud. No one was penalized for the fraud, at least not directly, but it did happen.

RELATED: Fallout For Pheonix VA

The reason Veterans Choice, now called the MISSION Act, is even a thing is due to the agency’s refusal to address the fraud for decades.

Here on this website, we addressed the fraud and source documents dating back to at least 2002 acknowledging the scheme. It festered for more than a decade before being splashed across CNN and elsewhere.

RELATED: A Brief History Of Wait List Scandal

Many veterans really want to have a choice as to where they get health care. According to VA, the majority of those individuals prefer to stay within the VA system.

Great. Let them eat cake.

The rest of us would prefer to receive our health care from private practitioners unless the care type sought is unique to whatever the VA provides. For example, mental health care for posttraumatic stress disorder may be better at VA then elsewhere.

Third Step: Look At Privatization History

The third inquiry about privatization, more broadly, should be directed at the history of privatizing the federal government, which is a decades-old initiative that is costing taxpayers billions each year more than what it otherwise may have cost.

Of course, sometimes the thing private companies do works great. Sometimes it doesn’t.

For example, starting in 1993, Hillary Clinton worked to Reinvent the Government starting with… you guessed it… the Department of Veterans Affairs. She worked closely with the support of the Iron Triangle, aka Big Six veterans organization to change the government by merging it with private industry.

RELATED: Clinton’s Role In Reforming VA In History

One of the many consequences of the initiative was the erosion of legacy knowledge within the ranks of the agency. They could no longer perform many of the tasks they previously could perform resulting in a new dependence on government contractors.

There are good aspects of this practice, and, there are bad aspects of it, too.

From my perspective, as a journalist, one bad perspective is that government contractors are not given FOIA requests. So, if I want to investigate something previously managed by VA that was outsourced, my access to data is severely limited to only the part of any task VA performed. Otherwise, I am limited only to agency records related to their communications with the company and not much else.

The nuts and bolts of the agency’s history of privatization have little to do with political party affiliation. Democrats regularly facilitate the expansion of privatization of VA. So do Republicans.

Privatization is a bipartisan game.

Fourth Step: Understand Veterans Read Things

Fourth, please realize veterans read and we are quite outspoken.

When you try to tell us ridiculous things like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” regarding VA health care, you will piss us off.

“Here’s the thing, they are trying to fix it. But who are they are trying to fix it for, is the question we gotta ask …They are trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they are trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and, ultimately, they are trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first,” you said.

Yes, pharmaceutical companies earn a lot of money selling drugs to VA. But, then again, I do not recall VA ever being in a position to make its own drugs. Someone has to make the drugs, and, as I recall, VA does get a discount on what it buys.

As an aside, I do recall Tomah VA engaging in illegal and deadly prescriptive practices resulting in death and injury to Wisconsin veterans.

RELATED: Tomah VA ‘Candy Man’ Fired

Now, the reason veterans health care is being outsourced is because VA failed to put “veterans first.”

I am not saying the Veterans Choice expansion has been a great success, though. There is no question millions in taxpayer funds has been misspent in some manner or another related to the expansion.

The progress has been less than perfect, in part, due to agency obfuscation and obstruction to prevent veterans from easily and fairly accessing the benefit.

Ironic, right?

VA would not provide the care in a timely manner and were not worried at the time about veterans being sent outside VA for the care they were not able to receive. But, now that some veterans have an option, VA union members don’t want veterans to leave VA to get timely access to care, either, because it may cost union jobs.

What happened to putting veterans first?

Zeal Good, Idiocy Bad

I really appreciate your zeal, and it sure would be great if you would take a look at the history of an issue rather than talking points from stakeholders like the union.

And, one last thing, I would like to also point out VA has taken efforts to improve, but a broke vase is still broken until you glue all the pieces back into place.

Veterans willing to watch AOC’s speech linked at the top should also go directly to the YouTube channel playing the clip and comment below so AOC and America Rising can see what we actually think about her talking points.

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  1. I wish this article that I linked to her Twitter would make a difference but alas from experience I have seen the truth when presented to her does not matter. Truth is only how she feels about a subject not the facts. I used to build MEB/PEB packets for AR Soldiers. I had to get all their VA records, even tho the VA was supposed to bring all of them to the table when deciding service connection or not. One big problem I noticed was how Army did not follow through and award LOD’s to those Soldier’s who had service connected illnesses or injuries. This also holds up the process as then we would have to work with the AR units to get them completed. As a mother of two Veterans, I would love to see the VA eventually become the premier of care for all Veterans. Good Luck.

  2. Full Committee Oversight Hearing: Tragic Trends: Suicide Prevention Among Veterans
    Monday, April 29, 2019 – 7:00pm
    1334 Longworth House Office Building

  3. Message for Ben. VA didn’t even know what S.P.A.R. I was talking about on the FOIA Request. Supposedly they figured it out with a act of congressional support still waiting.

  4. as we need va reform we need criminal justice reform as well. The system will bankrupt you.This whole country needs a fucking overhaul.

  5. there is no responsibility they lie to the congressional office all the time. They said they had a meeting on a certain day and called me on a certain day. I pulled the records to show they were lying as usual nothing happens as they put the blame on the veteran

    1. JY, This makes my blood boil when I hear these stories of government disconnect. Their unwavering belief and confidence in the system they create, is childish, with they themselves not even knowing how it works. Wanting to scream at them only gets their back up and makes the poor dears defensive. Is it something in the Water in Washington?

  6. The same thing is happening to older Veteran’s. As the VA expanded to treat all Veteran’s without any service connection, and even though they passed those laws they didn’t fund the system for that! It started in the 1990s under the Clinton Administration. So, as Veteran’s age with Service Connected Disabilities their body develops Secondary Disabilities that are caused by their Service Connected Disabilities. Which an overwhelmed VA doesn’t want to treat, or pay them for!.
    Now they have done the same thing again passed laws for Women Veteran’s Heath Care, but didn’t fund it, or Staff it. They grab the News Spotlight, and when the camera go away we have laws with nothing in place to provide that care stated in those laws!. Well congratulations Women Veteran’s you are being treated eqally as bad!!!…

  7. @salesh Mishra,
    You hit a bulls-eye within your statement!
    Yes! There are a great number of females as VHA staff and a majority of them are not veterans. Now, be aware that just like on post/base, spouses of servicemembers/veterans are direct hired into support staff positions as ‘preference’ is afforded them, as well.

    I know of more than one instance where a veteran having an invisible affliction has been, to some degree, approached, treated, and/or handled differently than an obviously injured veteran. This is true inside and outside of the VA umbrella. IMO some of that abuse is likely related to the frustrations incurred because of the lack in meeting whatever needs from the VA, their own loved one is actually fighting to receive. That does not make the attitude an acceptable behavior, but it does explain one facet within the realm of possibility.

    Now, on another issue that you have brought to bear.
    No one will ever be in their proper mind and argue the vastly disproportionate number of male to female veterans. I fully appreciate where you are coming from, as to lack of provided care in the VHA system for primary and sc MEDICAL care. Please understand that, that lack is done to both male and female veterans alike!

    In the 20th century, most women veterans likely married and then used their husband’s medical insurance for all of their medical needs. That meant there was no need for more than that one day a month for that specialist provider to be at a VHA facility. In later years, there were many women veterans choosing to live without a spouse and provide for themselves. VHA needed to expand their care options to provide for those routine care needs.

    In VHA facilities that actually have responded to the needs of the ever increasing female veteran population, by having a Women’s clinic, please don’t be fooled into thinking that all of those clinics are providing anything more then screenings. THAT IS A FACT! That is not to say that all clinics are run by their providers in that manner but, actual primary MEDICAL care is not at all, the normal routine. Not all VHA facilities, clinics, providers, or departments have any reliable continuity among them, hence the very real beef so many of us relay here each and every day!

    Don’t ever forget, those women veterans are pilots, drivers, nurses, cooks, doctors, photographers, mechanics, veterinarians, and filling nearly every other needed position for the smooth operation of the mission, just as their male counterparts provide.

    Your sisters in arms are never to be relegated to being ‘less than’ deserving of anything any other veteran is provided from the VA, or any State in our Union.

    We have the fallen and injured and thoroughly screwed over among us, too!


  8. AOC is NUTS! DId you guys see how she got trolled with Aquaman? LOL. Anyways, Privatization is BAD. Period. Just like the HUD Vash thing, all that money does not go to veterans. TRUST ME ON THAT. I was there in California and tired to use the 3 months paid storage of items. They sent me to a Homeless shelter.

    After that, they kept telling me they could not pay for my Storage. I lost my stuff in there. FOlks, I can tell you that what they do is take that money, and then spend it elsewhere and on other womens programs. This is no joke. I saw it happen. It’s how it works. That is why they don’t want people in the VA to do it.

    There is always an angle to bleed money out of the VA and veterans. In fact, it would be cheaper to just give each veteran $6,000 a month and call it a day. THis is not a joke folks. I mean that. But if they did that, then they would make some kind of law so they could suck a veteran dry. GOd help you if you live in Washington.

    In fact, the states get in on this too. And they break laws about it as well. They are suppose to hire Veterans for these jobs, and then don’t. Even though it is a requirement. They do this to put their own people in the system.

    Folks, it’s time you understand that there is war at the VA right now. Ask yourself just how much they despise the fact that mainly MEN are in the Military, and they can’t stand that WE get help. I wish I was making this up, but the hate for men is real in the VA and Veterans.

    As you know , Liberals tend not to serve in the Military. But they talk all about big government, but when it comes to us, they leave us cold and dry. Part of that has to be that we care about voting conservative.

    We also tend to stick together on things. And they don’t like us for that either.

    Go into any VA clinic, and who do you see? Many Civilians. Lots of women. But Hardly any Veterans. Same thing for the VA Admin offices.

    Folks, the VA has been taken over by people who do not care about veterans. That is why the people who are in charge happen NOT to be veterans either. Notice that?

    I urge you to try to get a JOB at the VA. See what happens? And take notice if they hired a veteran, or a civilian. Also check to see if it was a woman as well.

    Folks, if I was making this up, fine. But open your eyes. I know this may sound hard to hear, but we really need to take back control and get the VA at least 80% veterans soon. We don’t need more red tape. Just put good people in and get rid of that red tape.

    Vets don’t want hand outs, we want jobs, we want to get back on with our broken lives. We already get screwed in family court. We don’t need any more.

    Remember when they said they would make sure there are no more homeless vets? Where did all that money go? Each time I called, they said they were out of money? I saw JUST what happned.

    A vet would get an apartment, then use a DV restraining order to get him out of the apartment, then the VA would have to keep paying. That is how corrupt the system is. And that is how they went about it. I saw it first hand in California.

    FOlks, if you are trusting the state or Small organizations to look out for you or help you? Remember, they are not acceptable. That is why they can do this.

    We all know if it was under the VA’s house, then they could not do what they have been doing.

    WE MUST stop all of this. But we need to make it A Priority. Lord knows the government had no problem setting us up with a woman that would bend us over and use the love of our children against us. They are doing the same thing with the VA.

    Gentleman, THE VA needs to stop pretending that WOMEN are their first priority. In fact, many of the programs they have serve less than .1% of women. In fact the Heart Disease program if you get the data from it is ALL PADDED! Women don’t even get that as much as men due to their biology.

    My brothers, we need to start taking back control of our VA. WE have sacrificed enough. And ask yourself, if the VA become how Welfare recipients got their benefits? No one would be on welfare anymore.

    But as you know, that will never happen. In fact, if your state ever says they offer Veteran anything, I would say no. Its just a ploy to sap more money from taxpayers.

    1. salesh Mishra,
      Your piece is so very well written, I wish you could send it to our Senate Committee. They do talk an awfully lot when I have listened to committee meetings. The positiveness of their emails and FB pages are always pinpointing Bills they’ve sponsored, etc.
      I have never learned more than I have since I signed up for this blog. Bless you as you keep trying to raise awareness where discrepancies are rampant, and mandatory methods of operation are completely ignored.
      I hope and pray the yadayadayada in Washington is going to put up the oversight our Veterans need as they come back home. How in the world did this Cortez person get elected? If this is the best they’ve got???…………….
      We love our Veterans and Soldiers and speak on your behalf at every moment.

  9. I’m just going to turn around, and go back in to remove the state of AOC’s bullshit, the VA’s non-precision & less urgent VA Patient Care.

    Liars, nothing but a staph full of liars.

    1. Its true. If people at the VA and contractors could be held liable for lying to you? THat would be great.

  10. Great discussions and insights and why we need a proper free speech forum or board to share and discuss the plethora of issues among other things. Especially the differences between VA care state to state, county to county, contractors used, depth of corruption, information media refuses to report on, etc. Wish I had the capacity or ability to sit or get such a thing up and running. Like I don’t have enough to deal with. But then there are too many people that fear their “key-stroke” spying and of any retaliation from the masters or powers that be.

    Like with some others I firmly believe and from experiences there is no fixing or improving anything, period. Too much corruption, too many anti-Americans, too many youth wanting to rule the roost and academics that have been told and believe they should rule the world and as mentioned by many and those in DC… ‘youth should retrain or educate their seniors, parents and grand-parents about our new culture and changes.’ Like that is going to be a big fix-all.

    That, this, is why I went public and post some of my stuff here to try to get it all across to others just how bad some realty is… along with the levels of corruption, retaliation, and zero representation or help from anywhere. By college town rules against the townies. But a lot of vets and people think it’s all fun and games, just life. Shame on me and others for wanting some half-way decent health care, common sense, professional ethics, truth, justice but that’s just non-sense and offends many.

    Locally. Tri-care works for some, like the VA, not so much for others. And with others spoken to the problems exist because of laziness, incompetence, paperwork, computer systems glitches, no compatible systems, or the need for some odd reason to have paperwork hand carried in triplicate to like their guard units or other to get ignored or lost. Or to the reasoning behind making a injured guardsman or vet/active have to get out of a sick bed maybe with broken bones to physically hand-deliver documents, insurance and MD reports! Took three freaking trips with one guy I was trying to help through such a fiasco of shameful treatment by some and higher ranking idiots. Got rank or in a clique the better off one will be. Oh and no complaining to any superiors about anything as usual.

    Rural care? They claim is needed badly but then why build new ones in more metropolitan areas? More non-sense but then pushing the need for cell phone a MD or health crap. Or telling a vet about some damn app that can monitor their concussion issues, moods or whatever. yeah right. And locally they are just going to play the same games and have the revolving doors of PCPs and others and don’t give a hoot about what a specialist in a clinic has to report or prescribe?

    I walked away from “FREE VA” care after insane comments, demands, “orders,” games, threats, lack of ethics, total incompetence intentional or not, to their retaliations and activist staff and unions. I’ve seen many others die because of just wanting “FREE” stuff or care. Botched surgeries, changes in meds that led to their misery and death… but hey it’s “FREE.” Why take meds that one knows it’s not working and with severe side-effects? Duh! And I’m talking about some very wealthy vets who just wanted the “FREE” stuff. Thinking they were getting great care or acceptable care until it was too late or keep returning to the abuse and ignorance to not really grasping just what acceptable and good care really is. Then on to the – fear factors or absolute needs of such care or VA styled care.

    Meanwhile there are more musical chairs being played at the DoD and DHS. Ahh more deep state connected crap or personalities or special DNA matters. Oh yeah big shake-up and IT improvements, health care changes to come. While VSOs are sitting on their asses or doing photo-ops for self-service and media propaganda. Vet councils dwindling as is vet support in reality. Don’t offend any of those “sacred cows,” or cliques. No serious issues to be discussed, gotta make everything seem just fine. College town rule, mob/union thuggery and rule if you dare be honest.

    As for AOC, the millennials, youth, college kiddies, etc., I like to connect the dots if possible. Who supports the real haters and and those who believe ‘all old people should just die off.” Including us. All the wrongs and evils or un-fairness, high cost of everything, their hardships, not getting free stuff… is because of us “boomers.” Look behind the curtain at OZ and see who supports the likes of AOC. LaRaza, Antifa, SJWs, Azteca, NAACP, unions, Move On, CASA, PINK, Marxist, Marx-Fems, ACORN, the youth movements, open border cliques, student union groups, all the women’s movements and assorted multitudes of activist and thugs. Card carrying Communist. “Bleeding Heart” groups. Don’t need to mention the many foreign gangs and others firmly entrenched in OUR so-called country/big C Republic. And more, very nice collection of supporters and groups that adore her. I don’t suppose most will recall threats from years back about them all going to destroy America and us while protesting in the streets in major cities or Californee burning the American flag and the rest. Yep, her loyal fan club. A lot of info and fun to be had infiltrating such people and groups for chit-chats. Their “Rules For Radicals,” Communist Manifesto reads, tactics, PC-ness, “Group think,” mob rule, training sessions covering various “professions” and positions.. in academia, “health care,” “Community Organizing, how-to for flash mobs, and media. Marxist and Bolshevik family reads from books about how well they’ve taken over America like they did the USSR. Nice stuff. Learn about more tactics from them and using newer books (like people read books today) like “The 48 Laws of Power.” by Greene. A few paralegals just love that book, me too. There are small benefits living in a four college corrupt town and having a couple hundred thousand commie enemies/college kiddies/etc., open to share their agendas and above the laws. Ha, AOC and those like her can be read… like a book. IMNSHO… this country is flushed like the VA and no remedy will be found. It’s all ruined.

  11. Some crazy article came out 35 vets for one VA health care worker. Terriost at gitmo 1.5 for 1 terriost. People locked up get better health care a guy had so many health issues he went to bank demanded one dollar so he could go to prison get everything fixed

  12. Took out a article and called her office . The call disconnects her own people can’t call her article comming out government should have to enroll in VA health care. When you start having 20 congressional suicides a day than maybe they will shut it down. The government has gold health plans. If VA health care good for vets than it should be good for senaters and congressman. Maybe when she has to drive 2 hours to a appointment ,has a leg lost due to neglect or have to wait ten years on claim. She bat shit crazy. Thanks Ben for publishing a better article

  13. God Bless you Thomas for clearing that up!
    Tri-West “Told me that this is happening to millions of Veteran’s Heath Care Appointments National, and that it could take months, or years before they become able to provide what the old VA Fee Base system used to do!..” Reason the computers are not compatible!

  14. Ben, you really lit up the room with this one and thanks for you for this- I look forward to all your posts.

    I am surprised the AOC Green New Deal wasn’t inclusive of Veterans, especially the methane gas part of things considering most of us Veterans would not intentionally try to shoot a Dairy Cow. BTW: in India the Cow is known as the second mother for good reason; milk is the most important food product a child can have.

    On a serious note, real information is needed on the Veteran Population. We need well funded studies to reveal the average life span of Combat vs Non- Combat , Outcomes: Theater of Operations effects , typical injuries with treatment vs non-treatment, medical errors inside VA facilities and outside, wealth disparity issues, educational levels and health status, age related decline in Veterans vs the general population, care-concerns-welfare of older veterans. The needs of a 25 year old are very different from that of a 70 year old. This list is just a beginning.

    So many parameters here to observe and report on (the list is beyond few words) of a serious nature- there’s more than one PhD waiting to be had and that might be a place to land .

    Asking DOD or VA people for studies or information is a waste of time because they Lie, Steal and Obscure the real cost of military service. EVERYONE knows that and the problems start there. Steve mentioned Richard Blumenthal, the fake Combat Veteran. I’ll add to that MD David Blumenthal, Dickies brother and former head of the Govt Office overseeing Electronic Health Records. David Blumenthal issued an opinion that people dying as a result of medical errors regarding EHR’s were just anecdotal. He earned the nick name D.A.D. for Doctor Anecdotal Death.

    We have Not-Nice people working in high places and they regard us as lowly people.
    Take care everyone…

    1. Russell, in regards to your statement about someone who is 70 years of age has different needs than someone who is much younger. This may or may not be true. As a matter of fact, the oldest living lady engineer who is still currently working with the Department of Transportation in the state of Missouri is 87 years of age. Yea, buddy. I have met young people who cannot stay out of the ER. So I disagree with you. As for myself, I guess I can remain a hidden veteran. Look at Tiger Woods and you will see my picture. Government as in Democrats hate success. They encourage victimhood. The VA system is not set up for veterans to ultimately evolve into many more Tiger Woods. VA thwarts it. The VA as in the single payer initially determines what will or what will not be regarding veterans and they try to fulfill their subjective decisions with the self-fulfilling prophecies. The VA along the way sabotages the veterans so the veterans remain at the VA initial decision whether it be through controlling them with certain meds or with the over prescribing of meds that ultimately adds to even more health problems to where the veterans can never get out of assisted living to live independently to try to attend school or to work. This is what burdens the system. Remember, the government loves dysfunction. The VA many times adds to the downside of the situation because this is Socialized Medicine. Never deliver resolve. Rarely deliver decent health. Just delay and kick down the road to continue adding this or that to fulfill their self fulfilling prophecies. As for research, Russell, PhDs can continuously research and research. What good is it if the government cannot use it to help people and this country who deserve the truth and Goodwill. The research many times is subjective even if numbers are used. Rarely do the powers to be stick to exactness. They manipulate the numbers to reflect what they want the ultimate outcome to be. Yes and yes. Even with the DSM-V, all of the evidence based research is open to interpretation of the medical person at hand. Even the software, the PhDs can have the algorithms set to deliver whatever they want to present. Do you see the FDA developing an open database for the truth regarding the vaccines? Nope not at all. Look at our medical industry prescribing to the American citizens FDA Black Box Listed Medications that are banned in other countries. So Russell why research if it cannot be used in positive ways? Just to spend more money to say the top leadership is actively doing research. Most of the time, there is no end. This is the problem and has been the problem. The Congress and the Senate just want to meander in the process to negative infinity which means no resolve period. Let me be quiet.

      1. Angela, you are asking for socialistic solutions (taking care of veterans) while decrying a socialistic approach?

      2. No, Lem, tell me where you see my pitch for Socialist solutions. No way. Never. Enlighten me on this. I am not for Socialist solutions. Maybe I did not explain what I was saying enough to make my points. Hell, I want them out of my way.

      3. Lem, veterans and all do need accountable and quality care. I liked the VA. But the system gets in it’s own way and in the veterans’ ways. Let me explain, take medications for example, many of the meds could be used for a few years or couple of years until veterans are able to stabilize or heal. Or until more compensatory skills or coping skills are developed. Same for all. Like a baby being born with learning to walk. But of course, many veterans are not babies being born. I am just using as an analogy. But anyway, we or I got injured or traumatized or illness took over or some event happened that contributed to wiping out my life or other vets’ lives to where we could not function well enough to survive without some assistance. Referring to myself and others. Lem, I am for quality care and assistance for when people are down; but, regulations and laws need to be in place for all when devastation happens to me and others that messes up my life and others’ lives that ultimately will help me and others to catapult our paths back up and out of the bottomless pits by our bootstraps. My point is, the VA system is not set up to do this. It keeps veterans stuck. It kept me stuck.The body has to be maintained regardless; but, at different levels and at different times during one’s life according to what has happened and where one is in one’s healing process. The VA system keeps veterans stuck. Veterans have great difficulty with access. In my opinion, access is the number one cause for the veteran suicides over medical errors. My main point is our society is so focused on status. Once whomever gets removed from the mainstream of life that is all she wrote. Might as well kiss it good bye. Like Russell had mentioned that someone who is older has different needs than someone who is younger. Nope, this depends on person and situation. See our society predetermines. For example, someone who is older may not have updated technological skills according to the societal belief systems. Or some societal beliefs from companies or from the lawmakers may believe older people can’t walk a mile. Or older people need help with tax preparations. None are actually true. My even further point in all of this is some older people really can still do lots of Mathematics to work out by hand their own damn taxes. Unlike some CPAs who just fill in the computer forms with superficial numbers without actually working thru the numeric calculations of the tax process. So why I am discussing all of this is laws and regulations are for people who are never removed from the mainstream of life. Look at President Trump’s executive orders regarding veterans employment training. All for veterans who are mostly in the mainstream of life. Look at Chapter 31 as in the eligibility time criteria, 12 years from date of rating designation. All a biased set of beliefs. So Lem this is what I mean when I reject over regulation and moderate Socialism. I am not saying people or veterans do not need care. I am not saying that veterans should not be compensated or I should not be compensated for what happened to me. Our system penalizes many due to biased preconceived information. One size never fits all. This is why Socialism does not work. This is why what HHS is proposing for Socialized medication price controls will not work. One size does not fit all. This is where the VA and the American government gets it wrong.

      4. When you ask government to do it is becomes a “collective act” AKA socialist. The only way an act is not socialist is one on one privately by definition. Our government has been a “socialist democracy” ever since the Constitution was written and signed. A step up from the socialist democracy of England under the Magna Carta which still gave the King “sovereignty”.

        You are not a socialist only if you believe the President cannot be impeached and that he has the right to be President unimpeded for the rest of his life. That he actually could kill or condemn someone to death without consequences.

        Socialism is a matter of degree. Communism is not socialism necessarily. Dictatorial communism is essentially autocracy. A dictation of acts and rights by a “sovereign right” even if the “party” is consulted but the ultimate right of decision rests with the sovereign.

        You should understand your definitions before you claim “not to be” in the “to be or not to be” realm.

  15. Good reporting Ben!

    1) I do not feel that a single-Pay system is a good idea. I have heard horror stories about that type of system as well.
    2) I believe that the VA is good for some things, and if a veteran feels they need to have a second opinion and/or do not connect or trust their VA physician, they should be able to use Veterans’ Choice and not have to be provided permission by the VA physician to do so. If the VA is not broken, then this system would be able to prove that by the amount of Veterans using their healthcare system… or not. Either way having the “freedom of choice” is what veterans had served their country to preserve.
    3) The VA Mental Health care is a joke. At best they provide basic CBT for disputing cognitive dissonance for PTSD which is good practice, yet totally neglecting treating the “TRAUMA” with Trauma therapy. As a result CBT has a way of victimizing the victim by implying that if one can spin things the right way then one will be able to forget about the trauma which is what brought the veteran to seek MH care to begin with. I prefer to have a choice.

    VA Mental Health clinicians and physicians are complacent and arrogant due to having a “captive audience” thus no need to be concerned about retaining the patient, they get paid the same either way. Veterans are unwilling participants being forced through coercion to accept VAHC.

    Peace Out

    1. I can certainly vouch for your 3rd point. The psychologist I was seeing at my VAMC, was not interested in the slightest at dealing with or treating my trauma…(MST). Worst yet, he seemed little concerned at all with my suicidal thoughts/ideation…to the point that he downplayed it in my records. Which in turn carried no weight for my PTSD rating.
      Took 5 months for the MH department to tell me he retired…they kept rescheduling my appointment. Then another 4 months went by before getting scheduled…9 months between sessions…after once a month sessions previously. The one I saw then…don’t know where they dug her up from…she told me “it is what it is”
      She did offer the Vet Center. My therapist there is pure gold! Not only is she a Vet, she also a Survivor. So she has been walking in the same shoes as I have. Which is so much better than the other 4 previous therapists who seemed to be in way over their heads.

      1. If you got another vet, then you are going to be okay most of the time. If they are not veterans, I don’t like to deal with them.

  16. Like so many rendering their perspectives on being a Vet and using the VA (Blumenthal) she and her cohorts have no doubt avoided at all costs spending any significant time inside a VAMC or CBOC talking to those of us that try to manage the menagerie of hurdles, road blocks and ignorant union workers. Her perspectives are about as well founded as those from the party she represents in regards to the border. Heaven forbid they actually visit and spend more than the 5 minutes needed for a photo op. She and the rest of her disingenuous cohorts and protégés need to crawl back under the rock from whist they emerged as ignorant crustaceans.

  17. Unfortunately, the fix – Tri-West – is starting to bend, if not break. If a veteran does not have access to his VA Medical Facility, he has to rely on Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) to authorize specialty care ( if he/she doesn´t have an external primary care doctor). The CBOC sends the referral for a specialist, e.g., Cardiologist, etc., to Tri-West, who then is responsible for establishing an appointment based on the Veteran´s availability.

    The problem is specialty care in rural areas is limited, and usually it takes three months to establish a new-patient appointment with a specialty provider. Tri-West, per recent personal experience, is projecting the inability to establish the specialty care in a reasonable time on the veteran by indicating he/she is not following through with the Tri-West followup requests for availability. Tri-West is then able to refer the Veteran back to the CBOC primary care provider by indicating the Veteran has not been engaged in the referral process.

    This is an anecdotal example from recent experience with Tri-West, but it is hard to believe it is an isolated incident. Tri-West is covering its contract requirements by blaming the veteran, but not acknowledging it is unable to fulfill the referral need.

  18. I’d seen her comment, cringed, and figured Ben couldn’t resist a Fox-esque retort. Yup, she’s clueless on this subject. I suspect her only motivation for opening her yap on this issue is her disdain for Pig Pharma and Pig Med, and, her desire to see some (undefined) version of Medicare for all – which – would lead to severely diminished need for the VA. Sigh!. I keep giving her a little slack because she’s a kid – younger than my two sons – and she’s got the seeds to stand up and give the Wall Street Banksters the proverbial finger. On details – ya – she’s a ditz. My favorite:? “The earth will die in 12 years”. No sweetie – Mother Earth will be just fine. That infestation called humans might start to die off in a dozen years – or 100. But the planet will be just fine.

    Fuck if I can’t find my rose colored glasses.

  19. Well I got a letter from Tri-West for private care under the new program. 2 months after my VA Primary Care asked for it. They said, “”That since they tried to call and email me with no response they were cancelling my referral.” They charge the VA $300 for that. I called them. The said, ” Their computer system is sending out millions of these cancellation letters by mistake. They asked for my phone and email probably to get $300 for taking a phone call.. 4 months later still no.appiontment! Through the new choice program!.. The old VA Fee Base had me an appointment in 2 weeks!. And paid the provider $190. The new Choice wants $2900! They will bleed the VA dry for Big Business then come after our Disability Pay….

    1. Miles, yes, I do agree with you. The private sector does try to bleed the VA dry; but, this is happening everywhere. For example, the medical facilities in private sector write prescriptions without going through the physician to verify if insurance will ultimately pay for it. Yes, Insurance company denys to pay for it and ultimately the American citizens are then on the hook for it. Yes, even the private sector alters the dates of when they wrote documentation for the civilian patients. A date later than the day of appointment. Yes, Insurance companies will not pay at all if the medical facilities do not go through proper channels and submit correct paperwork. American citizens then get slammed with the debt from either intentional or non intentional negligence or incompetence of the medical facilities. Miles, Fee Basis tried but still in the past I had to see a service officer to get emergency situation paid for. The crisis had been caused by service connected condition. Fee Basis was decent for paying for routine procedures outside of the VA. Basic women’s exams. Agree with you on certain types of procedures.

      1. Benjamin, ultimately, I believe Secretary Robert Wilkie should try his best to continue to improve the VA and lead the people under him to do the same. Though, I have a hard time seeing this actually happen. Moving most VA care to the private sector solves nothing. I believe it contributes to even more unaccountability. The main problem is they have lost sight of why the VA exists. The VA exists for the purpose of serving the veteran population not big companies so they receive their kickbacks. Also, veterans benefits are not benefits. They are benefits before the veterans get injured or before they fall while in action. What everyone calls veterans benefits, in my opinion, are actually different types of resources which serve as vessels for veterans to be able to survive in life as best they can. To all, referring to the Democratic Socialist Cortez and Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, there is nothing free on this Earth. Democrats just want to destroy the country to take over. All about power and greed

    2. More points, the pharmaceutical industry tries to push a pill for the solution to every issue even if one has a pain level range rated at the one level on a scale of one to ten. Pushing unnecessary medications onto the medical facilities and the medical professionals to prescribe when they know the meds can be harmful to the consumers and know that the meds can create even more medical problems than what the med was initially prescribed for. Many of the meds do the same and are just a bunch of chemicals that build up in the body which ultimately overloads the body with toxins. Referring to the Liver. The liver is the king organ that filters all that crap that the medical industry pumps into uniformed patients who are looking for solutions.
      The government does not care referring to the FDA and all who are involved. Many of the surgeries could be limited if the correct process was applied at the very first surgery. The government is breathing down the necks of the private sector which makes the private sector physicians have to take a 200 patients in one day to pay for the costs to keep the practices open, to pay for the malpractice insurance, and
      even to pay off the student loans from their medical school over 20 years ago. In regards to the VA physicians, they go along to get along. In my past, there may have been a few who tried to take a stand beyond what the single payer system would allow them to do. No decision is a decision for most. The VA was over regulated. Too many hoops that the veterans have to jump through to get anything accomplished. The old saying goes like this, “If we want anything done, we might as well do it ourselves.” Referring to the regular everyday Americans. Because if we wait on leadership, nothing will get done. The government is too big for it’s own benefit. To end with, free market solutions do help when the government is not involved. The government even subsidizes the insurance companies which makes it even more expensive. Crony Capitalism. Millions of dollars paid by the government to the insurance companies for American citizens care rarely reaches the everyday Americans. True. And too, the insurance companies with even knowing how rich they are breathe down law abiding America citizens necks because the citizen maybe waiting to pay for additional meds or services in one payment with a check. No, it is not the regular American citizens who are all corrupt; it is the big ass companies and big government officials who are lining their pockets. I am forever having to correct companies who have incorrect information regarding my situations that could ultimately hang me if I do not forever stay on top of them. The data is as good as it is already in the databases and is as good as when it is entered with human entry. Finally, the healthcare industry is for itself whether it is in the VA or the private sector. The difference between the VA and the private sector is really just about flexibility and a little more accountability if the VA is not involved. For example, some physicians open their practices on certain Saturdays of the month and open early as 7am which helps citizens be able to hold jobs or attend school full time. But as for corruption, it is everywhere. Ultimately, people should try to help themselves if they can eventually because the VA is rarely going to step up to the plate because like I have mentioned before they have lost their focus. Just too big. End words, exercise because the body is made to move. Exercise is actually the number one medicine. Look to stem cell usage and immuno therapy. Good diet. Lots of ? sunshine mays it for all the possibility of a healthier life. Best

      1. Typo, lots of ? sunshine makes it possible for all to live healthier lives. Vitamin D.

  20. Cortez is right when she calls out the profiteers who are salivating at the opportunities that are being presented to them. Yes the VA is broken why 1. the VA has been and is drastically underfunded by the Congress for decades. 2. The upper management is appointed by politicians. Just remember all the VSO’s standing in favor of the mission act who are now doubtful of the results of the same bill. There are more shortcomings with the VA now than ever before by design. The good ole boys of Mar a Lago with the Koch brothers and the Cohen family are cashing in on the backs of veterans.

  21. I do not believe she is feigning anything, I think she is truly and idiot who has not learned anything before she opens her mouth. This has shown on many subjects she speaks about. You cannot spend yourself out of debt, I had a wife who tried. If you have no idea what you are talking about, shut up.

  22. Here’s something else Cortez did. She held a “town hall” in which she discussed veterans healthcare.
    1. She disallowed a reporter who is also a reporter attend!
    2. She also wants ALL civilians to use VHA’s for their healthcare.
    3. She was first against the Choice Program, now she’s FOR it!

    For some unknown reason, Cortez has backtracked on many of her statements! Just like typical demoncrap/socialists!
    Maybe it’s due to her “handlers” not getting the information needed, so Cortez can make sense. She reads crap from a script. Because, y’all are aware she “won” a “casting call” to apply for the chance to run for Congress!!!!!!

    Maybe that’s why Cortez WILL NOT debate anyone. She’s been asked to debate her opinions multiple times by multiple people! So far, I believe at least a dozen or more conservatives have reached out. She has replied only to the “male counterparts”, by claiming they’re “cat calling” her! She’s NOT replied to any “female counterpart”!

    Hey, Ben. Maybe you should go onto her Twitter or Facebook sites and ask her to debate the VA’s dismal record! Betcha she’ll say something derogatory about you – or she’ll say nothing at all!

    1. p.s.
      On the “town hall” number 1 should read:
      “She disallowed a reporter is also a VETERAN attend!”
      Sorry about the slip!

    2. Elf, Ben, yep yep yep yes sir-eee. I can’t watch this vid here, already seen her ignorance enough. She is dumber than a post-turtle, thinks she’s cute which she is not, a racist, full on activist for many, a shoe-horned in agent provocateur and many other things. From wealth and probably like Bernie never had a real job in her well-to-do life. Digressing.

      Ben, before I forget the VA has and like others, gov agencies, get meds cheaper from Canada. Many years back there were a few scant news reports on this. Locally they were out of my needed meds and got a VA/via Canada care package of them from there. Then caught hell for mentioning it at the VA and pharmacy. Then called a liar or mis-informed, etc. Remember back when those at ‘the top’ were complaining, passing new laws, about seniors getting their meds cheaply through Canadian sources then the crack down began? Sorry can’t remember the exact years. That should be one for the books to research on since big Pharm keeps growing, reports record profits with plenty of support from the clowns in DC and in every state including mine which they are big time profiteers and controllers. They sell us junk at high prices or lame patches like Fentynal that didn’t function or was sent out minus the pain killer or some filler instead. Then give deals with the fascist and communist to our North that hate us. Amazing.

      All stop, all stop. pain and cramping brak

  23. This woman is a complete idiot. Her only job she ever had was a freaking bartender and she has ticked off her own voters as they have 3 people running against her with over 200 million in the bank. She is a one and done.

    And this person is the one who claims capitolism in man oppressing man, but socialism is the exact opposite and people listen to this crap?? What terrifies me is that they vote and breed.

  24. Ocasio-Cortez is an IDIOT, she’s supposedly got got a degree in ECONOMICS, I say B.S. apparently she didn’t learn or absorbed anything she was taught, every point you made so far is spot on, the VA system is so corrupt and broken, I’m no expert but Veterans if they can should be allowed to seek medical care, and other specialties from doctors who know how to treat them, I see the VA on certain medical conditions, but I also see other doctors for other treatments because trying to get a referral from the VA is like pulling teeth out a tiger without any sedation, I just went and seeked treatment as I need

  25. The Honorable Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,
    This article Ben has posted is only about VA’s medical operations, so I will stick to that theme. But, bear in mind there are many other areas within the VA that have issues needing addressed.

    It can be a daunting task to read the many issues that SERVICE CONNECTED Veterans face when trying to get the appropriate care that meets their needs. It is very similar to navigating a maze within a maze, ad infinitum.

    I specify the sc veteran here because of the segregation of care that exists within the VHA toward that specific group of veterans. Many get so frustrated with their own navigation of a “customized” maze they must adhere to, that all they want is a solution to their specific situation. That can lead to excessive communications in an effort to find individual solutions. Add to that, that each VISN has their own free-hand method of operation, and that is similar to combining any 20 or so versions of soup into one pot and calling it good!

    Please, group together a few people to go incognito to more than one medium to large VAMC, and actually speak with the service connected patients, that use the VA as their only source of INSURANCE for their medical care. I am not referring to Tri-Care insurance; those patients have a totally different experience, and as a rule, theirs is not the general experience of long term sc patients!

    I, like many, could create a very long list of issues within the VHA that have had disastrous outcomes for veteran patients in their facilities. Rather, I think you and your colleagues would be better served going to some of the older facilities, unannounced and taking care of business in OUR best interest.

    Thank you.

    1. I concur! As a 90% SC Veteran, I have been fighting a losing battle with the VA since 1998. My Father, Vietnam Combat injured Veteran, chose to accept what the VA gave him upon his retirement after 24 active duty years in the Army. As a TriCare eligible Veteran, he has had little issue with his healthcare at the VA.

      He doesn’t understand what I and others like me, have gone through, as he never had to. I don’t fault him for not fighting for what he deserves as far as SC goes. TriCare has been good to him. I think it provided a buffer zone between levels of care, so that he never really had to fight with them.

      I hazard a guess that most of the Vets who crow the praises of the VA, aren’t on the SC side of things. And I know those talking Bobble heads have been spoon fed talking points from the TriCare side of VHA. It’s too hard to imagine otherwise.

      All I know, from personal experience, is the VA has lowballed me from day one, and has blocked me at every turn.

      1. Experienced the same, Andrew. But not at every facility and I’ve been to a lot of them. Denver VARO supervises the worst of my experience. LA was subtly bad. They were good and lowballing and making you feel like you weren’t. 30 years later, after finally being treated for temporal lobe seizures, and being able to concentrate enough to review my file, I realize both VARO area Denver and LA treated me like a whistle blower because I started writing letters about TBI in 1987, filed a Pro Se case about TBI residuals in 1988, 20 years before TBI was finally recognized. Happy to order Ben a copy of the case file at a cost of over $250.00 if he would like it and would like to write an article on it.

    2. With you on that, Rosie. There are good and bad VAMCs and even contract CBOCs. All depends on the Director or the contractor. But with the director of the VAMC it also depends upon the VARO Director and how much push he is putting in covering up SC evidence.

  26. Seriously – half assed snark is all ya got? This obvious pander to wing-nut “Murika Rising” is embarrassing. If you cannot fathom that the privatization that drives Vets into collections is a bad thing, then we need to question everything about this page going forward. The VA, when transparent and accountable saves lives, full stop. It is higher rated care by veterans than the care available at private hospitals nationwide. We could only wish our ratings were as high as the VAs are, as it is directly linked to how hospitals are reimbursed. There are many things about the VA that are not broken. These big headliner stories are just that, and are not every single case, patient interaction or procedure. Yes, Choice is funneling funds to profiteers. Yes, the GOP loves that shit. Does it help veterans? Rarely, and I would venture that there is more harm in Choice’s short life causing veterans financial harm and stress than in the entire history of the VA. Being a bitch is hard work – you have to have something to say, and say it in an interesting way. This low level, half assed snark makes me question your judgment, let alone your ability to effectively bitch about the VA in general. Tell the good stories, shine the bright light, but ffs – try not to be so conflicted just because AOC is on your side; She’s trying to improve VA care, our access to it and keep it fully funded. That’s a good thing.

  27. Seriously – half assed snark is all ya got? This obvious pander to wing-nut “Murika Rising” is embarrassing. If you cannot fathom that the privatization that drives Vets into collections is a bad thing, then we need to question everything about this page going forward. The VA, when transparent and accountable saves lives, full stop. There are many things about the VA that are not broken. These big headliner stories are just that, and are not every single case, patient interaction or procedure. Yes, Choice is funneling funds to profiteers. Yes, the GOP loves that shit. Does it help veterans? Rarely, and I would venture that there is more harm in Choice’s short life causing veterans financial harm and stress than in the entire history of the VA. In the words of Lauren Bacall, being a bitch is hard work – you have to have something to say, and say it in an interesting way. This low level, half assed snark makes me question your judgment, let alone your ability to effectively bitch about the VA in general.

    1. The VA is a garbage organization that needs to be dismantled. Anybody who defends it needs to jump in the hole and be buried with it.

  28. You say a lot of good things, Ben. But I prefer the VA Health Care of the early 1980s before Reaganism took hold and the pressure to privatize began by cutting funds supposedly to save the taxpayers money. But what really happened is elected officials and bureaucrats were able to put the hands of corporations who were backing the idea into the pockets of the taxpayers.

    Bankers get to follow doctors for life to get their student loan money. There are few psychiatrists today because of the attrition caused by a psychiatrist not being able to pay the interest on his student loan with his income let alone retire any of it. We have way to few neurologists available in the VA for the overall attrition on specialties of all kinds for the same reason. Congress, to keep up the pressure to privatize for the lobbyists delivering campaign contributions and perhaps a lot of corrupt pocket money, continues leveraging the privatization by cutting VA funds for physicians. There is no hope in sight until the likes of AOC wins out and the 1% starts paying for the services rendered to keep them from having to learn a new language while working the factories or service companies desks instead of bleeding the production workers for every drop they can get. How many line workers could be given a $5,000.00 raise for that $5,000,000.00 raise that a CEO or Chairman got? And what about the Board members?

    1. Amen to that!

      While I think she is dead wrong that the VA isn’t broken, she is correct on many other things. America is the most corrupt nation on earth. Although Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez cannot see that the Veterans Administration is irretrievably broken on both (VHA/VBA) sides – – – I certainly can, as I have been living it day-to-day for nearly a quarter century now.

      That aside, I do find myself agreeing with her on one point regarding this issue. “VA for EVERYONE !!!” Perhaps that would be the hard lesson that our fellow citizens need in order to get the country to a workable, sustainable, practical form of single-payer healthcare for our citizens. My gut tells me that if we have “VA for everyone” within four to six years, we will have single-payer.

      While the Affordable Healthcare Act certainly was not perfect, it was better than what we had before. Our citizens would have been so much better off had both parties gotten behind it, then honestly worked to make it better. Certainly there were sections of the law that needed reworking, and buttressing up. And the party that tried to repeal the law over 50+ times, still today has NOTHING of substance in the form of a plan to better our national healthcare.

      “VA for Everybody”. I like that as a simple slogan for the masses. Maybe if enough of our citizens have to suffer the way veterans have in order to be able to get decent healthcare, they will begin to get off their ass and do the work required to start to get the Government of this Shithole Country cleaned up.

      What this country really needs to do is to get back to Ikeconomics. That would go a long way to solving many things.

      Now back to reading the Mueller Report, and making notes . . .

      1. Benjamin, oh, I have surfaced on this article. Ben, do not get me started? I may never shut up. But to shorten my response, for someone who has graduated from Boston University, she did not learn one iota from BU. Unless the quality of education of the larger schools has really declined. She is really stupid for such an obvious issue. The VA became a disaster during the Obama administration. Please. Help me not to listen to this clueless girl. I have more to say later to present facts.

      2. Benjamin, I have been around for awhile. So I can compare the difference in the healthcare system. I grew up with private sector healthcare. Actually, it was not healthcare; but, it was real medical care. Ben, I am older so I can witness the difference. Yep, Ben, because one has healthcare does not guarantee medical care at all. Because I am in the VA does not guarantee anything. Had to fight them to pay for even service connected conditions. Even issues such an eye infection and an incorrect eyeglass prescription that they missed, one could not get an appointment in a reasonable amount of time. No, they say oh you do not need to see a physician. If appointment, oh they say, vet has appointment in 8 months. Please tell me how any veteran can hold a job and attend school under such malpractice. Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham just had heart surgery. Not the traditional open heart surgery; but, a trial surgery that used the translational catheter to replace the femoral aorta. Yes, originated from Edwards Life Sciences company. Medicare pays for trial procedures or new developing medical procedures. If we as a country, still did not somewhat exist under the Capitalist economic system, radio talk news host out of Ohio would have never been able to receive this surgery. He would have had a one way ticket to hospice. So both Medicare For All and Americans put in the VA would turn this country into a war and a disaster. Instead of healthcare, it would be hospice care onto to the grave sites. In regards to the VA or any health care to when the government has it’s hands involved, the care will always be of less quality and more costly. The disastrous turn of the healthcare system in this country points directly to the Obama administration. Yes, Obama was trying to transform the country to destroy it. Yes, the corruption is to positive infinity. I will end with this.

      3. Jim Clement, I call bull to your opinion that single payer is the way to go for America. I am a veteran who has relied on VA care for 20 years and I have sought medical help for a TBI I suffered in1977. I have explained my symptoms and injuries since August 16th 1977, and in 2017 the doctor at the VA admitted I had a TBI, I asked for a MRI with contrast of my brain and a referral to a specialist for my spine injury, and was refused on both requests. Government healthcare is an insane idea on many levels and would destroy this country in a hurry. Your opinion on the subject leads me to believe you vote democrat, and that is it’s own sad problem.

    2. Lem, yes, I agree with you. Even in the late 90s and very early 2000s, the VA was more humane. Yes, it was. The VA actually took pride in delivering services to the veterans. Yes, back then; and, I experienced it because the VA saved my life. This would not happen today. All was before becoming too politicized. They lost their purpose and the reason why they exist in the first place.

      1. Ben, what has happened is the VA so big that it exists to almost serve itself. Look at the patient advocates. They protect the VA employees. VA employees have voice protections with patient advocates, the AFGE Union, and even have VA attorneys to represent them. Veterans are rarely heard. If they can hire an attorney, they are lucky. When I speak about the VA having lost it’s purpose for why it exists, my statement applies to the Federal Government as the whole. The government is supposed to serve the
        “Will of the People.”

        Not itself.

        Senator Bernie Sanders cannot even admit that it is “Capitalism” that has allowed him to arrive to become wealthy enough to be designated as a millionaire. In regards to Democrat Socialist Cortez, she already had asked for a raise. Please. The Congresslady is about serving her own interests. Not the American people. When she spoke of the VA, she did not seek to speak with veterans. For the VA to improve, the trail is pointing to serving the veterans. Not itself.
        Get back to the basics.

      2. Angela, the VA Medical Division is actually smaller now than it was in 1985. But it is wider spread with smaller clinics located closer to those needing them. It is just management has faltered a great deal on the down sizing.
        Most VAMCs have closed wings. Some even large closed buildings. And face it. The WWII vets have to be over 100 now so there are very few of the largest wars left. More died in single battles in WWII than any of the wars following WWII. The wounded numbers were larger than the deceased. So it is obvious changes needed to be made from the old VAMC when a vet often stayed longer in the hospital for the same condition than those that have it currently do. The VAMCs were larger and some have even closed down to CBOCs using travel to more distant VAMCs for needed specialist and surgery care. Where I am, I go to a private hospital for neurology appointments for my TBI residuals which include temporal lobe seizures management.

    3. The best health care I got from the VA was 1977. It was an office about 1000 sq. ft. The people were over the top with my problems. They had a staff of about 8 people AND THEY CARED! WTF happened? This is Shasta county. It sucks except for the 2A. The VA now is about 10K sq. ft. Now nobody that works there gives a shit except for a few individuals that are rare. A doctor there rarely lasts more than a few months. I forgot how many docs I’ve had. One doctor I only seen once, then puff! Gone. In the last 5 years I’ve been through 5 doctors. I went to the eye doctor to get some reading glasses. He got pissed off and told me to go buy some. I wanted to deck his ass but I drew back. When you got PTSD It’s really hard to keep control and protect yourself when your surrounded by fools, idiots, morons, and the list goes on. It’s no wonder we’re blowing our brains out at the VA. How far do we have to go to get OUR point across? What the hell is wrong with people when they stand around starring at a vet that is bleeding to death from a self inflicted shot to the gut. I can go on. But I won’t. My wife is telling to stop. And I should. She watches out for me. God bless her. She has her own problems.

    4. Lem, I wanted to come back to respond to you again to be more specific. My exit out of the Navy was in 96 thru the Navy base in Newport, RI. Listen, both the Navy hospital and the VA in Providence, RI treated me with respect. Yes, from 96 to 2000, I received care from the VAs in the Northeast. I will say the VA during that time did invest and take pride in assisting veterans. The VAs in the Northeast were at that time more humane. Let me give you some examples, back then, there were long term care VA facilities. Brockton, Mass was one. Veterans actually lived in the VA long term for care and ADL.
      Out of the Boston VA and Jamaica Plains back then, VA treated veterans with more respect than they do today. Took the time to provide avenues that would really help Veterans. The VAs back then actually acted with the display of having a real conscience and acted with real human connection more so than they do today. Lem, the VA employees acted beyond their actual jobs. For example, VA employees actually assisted to help me in the community on their time away from VA. Provided info to me with attending and participating in the process. Yes, Lem, real VA medical professionals at one point. The Navy hospital did the same. If you can believe the VA and the Navy hospital acting with warmth towards a veteran, it could not have been a more warmer connection.The VA during 96 to 2000 in the Northeast compared to today is at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Night vs Day. Unbelievable. In regards to VBA Vocational Rehabilitation Chapter 31, the VA invested in training the veterans. Chapter 31 actually had psychologists to test the veterans to help better determine the academic paths for the return to work. Yep, trained veterans to become physicians and attorneys of the more advanced education and training. Some of my vet friends were really helped from Chapter 31. Back then, I was too sick to participate. I was never approved. As for the testing, all Chapter 31 uses today is Career Scope which is miute. This test says actually nothing. Just going through the motions for the VA to say they tested. VA employs only CRCs in Chapter 31 today. SAD. Many success stories back then.Today, the VA hates success stories. I have been denied Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation since 96. Denied conversion of the VEAP to the Montgomery GI Bill when it was opened up to VEAP military service contributors. It opened up just shortly after they retired me while I was in TDRL status still attached to the Navy. My last denial was in 2015. I have not reapplied at all. A Senior VR&E lady called me during December 2018, the conversation was an hour and forty minutes plus some seconds long. VR&E does a 10 year Longitudinal Survey to present to Congress. They had kept contacting me over and over trying to make me fill it out. I told them that I will not fill it out because the VA has never approved me for any education for the return to work. I have never fully participated in the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program so how can I provide VBA with credible information to present to the Congress? This VR&E lady said that I could reapply. Too much crap going on. Too many hoops and even at this point in time, I could have the VA jumping thru my hoops; instead, of me as a long term veteran jumping thru their hoops speaking about VBA VR&E Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation mazes. From what I witness, I had just better continue to see about myself. At almost everyturn, some people are just awaiting to see who they can mess up next. Back to Democrat Socialist Congresslady Cortez, honestly, she is uniformed. In my opinion, most of Washington DC is in another world and they do not care. Washington DC is all about the dollar bill, illegal immigration, and how the Democrats can take down President Trump to destroy the country with bringing the American citizens with him. Love AG Barr. Leaving Ben’s blog with hope. Everyone have a great day. Best.

      1. One more comment, Democrat Socialist Congresslady Cortez, and the rest of the American government had better be looking into improving our electrical power grid with updating all the technology surrounding it instead of acting with constant insanity to take down the President and instead of looking for more ways to tax American citizens. If our power grid goes, then, so goes our country along with the VA and the rest of the American government. Best.

      2. Typo, typing too early, I meant Democrat Socialist Congresslady Cortez is not totally informed about the VA today. Best.

      3. You are blaming the wrong party. Who held the chairmanship of the Senate Veteran’s Committee and VA Sub-committees for the time periods you are stating. As we used to say in the Navy, shit rolls down hill.

        The period before you got out was the best, but VOC rehab was out. I got out in 1974 and wasn’t service connected for my TBI until 1985. VA VOC rehab was a farce then and now unless you are missing limbs. Simply put, the idea of helping a walking talking veteran doesn’t meet the “good Samaritan” goals of the rehab professionals and those that staff up VA VOC rehab. So any illness or injury that doesn’t involve the loss of a limb or the loss of the use of a limb is pretty much out. Some with extreme dementia from a TBI or disease also get help. It has been that way since the VA was overwhelmed by WWI. And it won’t change unless you get someone like AOC who will stand up for you.

        I’m too old for it to make any difference for me. Went through 20 years of diminishing employability to become totally unemployable for another 30 years because of failures in doing the required injury examinations by the Navy and the VA before finally being treated for temporal lobe seizures diagnosed in 1990 but treated with a contra-indicated medication that the PDR warned would make the condition worse which it did then and not treated with an appropriate medication until 2015 although a correct medication was recommended by a CA Rehab neurologist in 1985. Now, at 78, after being properly treated, I’m more employable than I was at 33 when I got out of the Navy after 13.5 years thinking the Navy had changed when actually I wasn’t performing the way I thought I was because of anosognosia residuals of the TBI.

        California Rehab was way ahead of the military and the VA in the assessment and treatment of TBI. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get enrolled because the VA wouldn’t approve the program for me in 1985. In stead all they offered was college courses, which I managed but couldn’t see a job coming out of them because a Job requires 8 hours of being alert while a college course only requires you hit the 1 or 2 hour course time twice a week most of the time in a state to study and occasional exam time. All you have to do is have an average passing grade. So if you can ace a couple of tests and fail the rest you’ll pass. All you have to do is make sure you are well rested to take the finale and hope you don’t have an enervation at the time of the finale exam.

        At least AOC has backbone and is trying to do something. That is more than you can say about the do nothing Senate. (Except for cutting the budget and giving the wealthy tax cuts that aren’t eaten up by inflation like the tax cuts experienced by the lower middle income and low income classes.

      4. Lem, here is what I meant when I mentioned the VA is overwhelmingly too big. The VA has employed too many government contractors which makes it more difficult for accountability. I am speaking in terms of quality products, quality care, and accountable money flow. VA seems to be not concerned about the dollars spent to their peer companies and agencies. Afterall, the money is not their personal money so they do not care. This is a problem. On the other hand, when it comes to a veteran receiving payment for a medical procedure, they deny the payment for the medical procedure. But, yet, when it comes to one of their peer companies, they are ready to hand over the money without existing cost or price controls. Though, it is this way too. Some Private sector medical facilities and some private sector physicians get screwed from non payments from the VA when Veterans receive Non VA Care.
        Going even further Ben and Lem, the VA is too compartmentalized. Team work rarely exists. Let me explain, take a nurse for example, a RN with a current license can perform many procedures and duties under the license. In the VA, the nurse is not allowed to do this. The AFGE Union had it controlled this way. Take a nurse assigned to the ER and she is assigned to one task for her whole shift, say veteran comes into the ER suicidal. Here is my point: if this RN is not assigned as a Crisis Nurse and even if the crisis is thru the roof, this RN cannot intervene. In other words, if the roof is falling down next to a nurse or a physician, this particular nurse or physician cannot reach to or intervene to help others because the happenings are out of their compartment realm. Beyond the specific task that they are assigned to perform. Ben, this contributes to gaps in the VA organizational process. Think about it. If the agency is so overregulated, that most of the VA providers cannot breathe, how can they really deliver any type of care? There is little flow within the system. Gets hung up. No decision is a decision. There are many decent providers. There are many poor providers. Ultimately, Ben and Lem, a single payer system can only sustain because it is so controlled and compartmentalized. I am just commenting. I realize all are already aware of what I am saying.

      5. Lem, back then,
        I was not speaking and was not functional enough to where I could attend any type of school or training much less return to the workforce. Back then, they were approving veterans who were not missing limbs. True. Referring to the Northeast. Lem, I am blaming all parties.They all have a hand in the situation. Lem, the VA saved my life back then. My family surely could not have handled the situation at the time. If it were not for the VA at that time, I probably would have wound up under the State or in the State system. Best.

      6. Lem, oh,
        I do not care about Chapter 31 now honestly. I do not want them involved. I do not want them deciding what will or what will not be. Because they do not even know themselves. I have been better off handling everything myself. Best.

      7. We are pretty much in the same place, Angela. What has happened is the GAO has been cut too much as well as the internal VA AO. No one is enforcing contracts and too many contracts are being let. I think you are right in assuming there is less fraud on the inside of the VA than when contracts get involved. If there is no cash involved other than pay checks it is pretty difficult to commit fraud.

        The only cash cow for fraud used to be at the cashier for travel pay. Contracts for education and contracts for rehab. Now there is also the CBOC contracts to get kickbacks from.

        We used to be denied travel pay or paid less and someone was redoing the travel vouchers and lifting cash out of the cash drawer. Knew it was happening when I got paid different amount for the same trip in the same fiscal year. Wrote several letters to my congressman and eventually they started paying directly to my checking account. Now I always get the same amount for the same trip.

        Look at the Medicare Fraud the Obama Administration recouped. Still some being recouped during this administration but not nearly as much. Priorities have changed to “less regulation.” As a consequence tax payers are paying more for less.

    5. Lem, to go even further. Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them. Going back to your comment that my blame is on one party. I am explaining what you perceive is not my position at all. They all are at fault. So I will continue. Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits. Why do we have deficits? Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, why do we have high taxes and inflation? You and I do not propose a federal budhet. The President does. You and I do not have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I do not write the tax code. Congress does. You and I do not set fiscal policy, Congress does. You and I do not control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve does which ultimately needs to be abolished. One hundred Senators, 435 Congressmen, one President, and none Supreme Court Justices equates to 545 human beings out of 300+ million people are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. Members of the Federal Reserve Board are excluded because the problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated it’s Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private central bank. All special interests and lobbyists are excluded for a reason. They do not have legal authority. They do not have the ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton picking thing. Even if they offer the politician one million dollars in cash, the politician has the power to accept it or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes. The 545 human beings spend much of their energy trying to convince all Americans what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party. What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. Not one human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution which is the Supreme law or the land gives the sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the majority leader. She and other House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of over 300 million people cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted by present facts of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When one fully grasps the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the Federal Government, then, it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist. If the tax code is unfair, it is because they want it unfair. If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people. It is because they want it that way. There are not any insoluble government problems. Do not let the 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con people into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like the “economy”, inflation, or politics that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do. Those 545 people and they alone are responsible. They and they alone have the power. They and they alone should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption and provided the voters are informed enough to manage their own employees. We should vote most of them out and clean up their mess. Tax his land, tax his bed, tax the table at which he is fed. Tax his tractor, tax his mule, teach him taxes are the rule. Tax his work, tax his pay, he works for peanuts anyway. If he cries, tax his tears. Tax his car, tax his gas, find other ways to tax his ass. Tax his coffin, tax his grave, tax the sod in which he is laid. Put these words upon his tomb, taxes drove me to my doom. When he is gone, do not relax, it is time to apply an the inheritance tax. He already paid taxes, why should his heirs? List of taxes go on to infinity. STILL THINK THIS FUNNY? Not one of these taxes existed a 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We absolutely did not have national debt and we had the largest middle class in the world and mom stayed home to raise the kids. What in the heck happened? Can you spell politicians?
      Lem, people who are in employment who have healthcare benefits with their employer receives a greater degree of quality care. Actually, medical care. In regards to the VA, the VA does not care. Just a system of regulations and laws. A population control system. Now if the veterans can add quality in addition to what the VA does, then the veterans may can turn the healthcare into medical care for themselves. In regards to inaccessibility, the VA wants it this way. In regards to the veteran suicides, the VA wants it this way. Yep, also look at it like this. When a VA Social Worker mentions the morale is low among the employees and the veterans, what would one believe could contribute to this? Well, think about human nature. When the healthcare system to include the VA medical providers deliver services to the veterans while knowingly of the services being delivered may not even be healthy for them, wouldn’t this take a toll on morale of the VA medical providers? Yes, some VA employees do have consciences. Though, then, too, when the veterans receive the services, they may not know if the services would help them or would not help them. The uncertainty and lack of trust also contributes to poor morale. So as for the state of all the happenings, the government wants it this way. They have lost sight of why they exist. Best.

      1. Like your “poetry”. is it your original: “Tax his land, tax his bed, tax the table at which he is fed. Tax his tractor, tax his mule, teach him taxes are the rule. Tax his work, tax his pay, he works for peanuts anyway. If he cries, tax his tears. Tax his car, tax his gas, find other ways to tax his ass. Tax his coffin, tax his grave, tax the sod in which he is laid. Put these words upon his tomb, taxes drove me to my doom. When he is gone, do not relax, it is time to apply an the inheritance tax. He already paid taxes, why should his heirs? List of taxes go on to infinity. STILL THINK THIS FUNNY? Not one of these taxes existed a 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.”

        You should join the ranks of the women who are funning to be part of that 545. But realize you need a “life changing experience” to define yourself as the socialistic populist that you are. That means dropping all your political prejudices so they don’t get in the way of defining you. You have to define yourself without them on the issues.

        The poor VA morale comes from not having good physicians and that comes from the Bankers getting the “Student Loan” program which took over the “student grant” programs solely to benefit the Bankers. Make the student loans directly from the government and charge no interest. If necessary garnishee pay checks to get repaid by dead beats who are earning more than enough to make payments. Get back to paying of your student loan with government service so we can get good physicians to serve in the VA and decide to stay because they find the joy of service greater than the need to be paid more the way it used to be.

    6. Hi Lem, to even further explain, when I say the government lost sight of why they exist, I do not mean the government should be taking care of everybody or in a dictatorship of a nanny state either. Human beings reject being smothered by the powers to be deciding for them. Human beings want to make their own decisions about their own lives. In reality, many times it is the individuals who knows best anyway. God gave us all a brain with all of us having our own talents to help us deliver to society. I agree with individualism and self reliance. I always have. The position that I am in is not necessarily due to what I have done or what I have not done. The position that I am in is a result of others who have abused their power and who have performed actions against me. No, I am not claiming victim hood either. I am well beyond that. No, I do not cry in spilled milk either. Most is due to how my psyche or I reacted to to the happenings.
      Thus, getting onto the topic of the VA or the healthcare issue, yes, we can all complain. Then too, ask the question? Do people make suggestions on how to improve or correct issues? Of course, all the time. Many of the suggestions are thrown out the window by the powers to be. They want their way or no way at all. This is exactly why President Trump was elected. Because the American people to include the veterans were and are sick of it. Onto my suggestions regarding the VA for what they are worth. Much of the healthcare does need to be moved back to the private sector. The federal government cannot sustain healthcare for over 300 million plus people. The healthcare industry should be introduced to private sector free market policies similar to the auto insurance policies. I am not saying to eliminate the VA or Medicaid or Medicare. I am saying, in addition to, which will reduce the financial burden and care burden from the government run care.
      Limit Medicaid. Limit VHA. When I say limit VHA, I mean get rid of most of the government contractors. If the VA powers to be could open up the flexibility enough that would allow the veterans to move along to transition to the private sector health insurance policies if they existed. This could help tremendously. Of course, this not what is happening because they not exist. The private sector medical care benefits exist only if one is employed due to an in demand skill in a company or agency. The VA leadership have the wrong interpretation to what is happening. Do they really care? I do not think so. If they did, alternatives could have been put into place. The veterans are not the type people who keep their hands held out. But the VA powers to be more than likely believe that they are. However if this is the belief, there is not even an an iota of truth to what the VA powers to be believe. See it is this belief that contributes to the VA putting in place inaccessibility. Veterans having no access anywhere. The VA is just throwing veterans under the bus. VA fails to realize the reason why they have employment is because of the veterans. The reason why this country exists is due to our military having fought in the wars and are still fighting to defend our country that the many of the government officials want to collapse. VA does it to itself. VA as in VBA could bridge the independent living program into the regular Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program. My point is the bridge could serve as the vessel for veterans to develop in an environment with some structure and purpose. The purposes could be moving some veterans out of assisted living to live independently; and, with those living independently serving to build higher level skills that leads to vocational training and /or education that could further lead to ultimately being employed. Often, the VA says veterans with mental disabilities do not have the capacity to sustain in employment. How would they ever know or not know? Because they predetermine and they stick to the decision no matter what. Ben, you say change occurs. Of course it does; but, Ben the VA is not set up at the current time to meet or to adapt the the changes of the veterans. I am speaking of the ones who are already in the system. The inaccessibility is as difficult for the veterans who are already in the system as the ones who are trying to come into the system. This is what burdens the system. Ben, it is the time duration and the skill building between the independent living and the actual Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation which ultimately reigns in the insight for the VA employees to better make decisions. Ben, but then too, if the veterans can move along to succeed, Ben, avenues have to be in place to facilitate the transition. Ben, the avenues are limited and rare. The system at the present time denies or keeps veterans locked in. Got to end. Lots of even more suggestions to add to what I am saying but got to go. Powers to be really are not that concerned. Best.

  29. Your’e wasting your time Ben. IT has a birth defect. Born with what was available It’s brains and bowels were reversed at birth. Now shit spews from her mouth and it thinks it’s a smart ass.

    1. AOC + Omar + Tlaib + Baphomet = ‘The Four Whores of Babylon!!!’ Skank Rat Satanic COMMIE Whores!!! Enemy combatants and should be treated as such!!!

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