VRE Conference

VA Vocational Rehabilitation Conference Holds First Veterans Panel

VRE Conference

This year’s VA Vocational Rehabilitation conference was the first of its kind held at the newly remodeled St. Paul Regional Office, but that was not the only first.

The conference also held the first veterans panel for the benefit of conference attendees, which was made up of senior leadership within Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VRE or VocRehab). The veterans panel was made up of five veterans who previously used VocRehab, including Benjamin Krause (me).

The trip started off with a splash as I almost photo bombed the entire group of VRE Officers trying to take a group photo in the main regional office stairwell. VRE Officers are managers of the program in each regional office who came from across the country ranging from Seattle, WA to Togus, ME. Over 80 senior leaders were in attendance.

As for the panel, it consisted of 3 VA employees, one veteran service officer from DAV, and me. Surprisingly, despite being VA employees, the comments were genuine where little was held back. Though, in the future, I would like to see more non-VA employees on panels.

Veterans Panel Questions

Primarily, we were asked to explain our background first as for the first round. The second round question was to explain something positive about VocRehab. The first was to explain something negative about VocRehab that needs work. And last, they asked for any parting comments or takeaways.

The overall takeaway from everyone was that VocRehab needs to do a better job communicating program options and policy before the veteran attends the first meeting.

This is a longstanding area of weakness VocRehab has failed to address, and it is why I sell my guide, the VocRehab Survival Guide, which helps vets prepare for the first appointment or appeal. I have offered to work with VocRehab to create their own version, but the agency refuses to hire me for that purpose stating they cannot give my company preference.

LEARN MORE: The VocRehab Survival Guide

Meanwhile, they will hire other veteran owned companies for a similar purpose. Maybe they are just afraid of getting Ben cooties?

My VocRehab Challenge, ‘Put Me Out Of Business’

I should add that at the end of the panel, I challenged the VRE Officers listening to put my out of business by building a better VocRehab guide than what I have created. Or, they could ensure all their counselors follow the law and treat veterans with dignity and respect. Some counselors do this but many do not.

At the end of the day, I am in the cleanup business… cleaning up messy claims where veterans were wrongly denied by lazy or poorly trained counselors. My entire platform, DisabledVeterans.org and my law practice, Krause Law, is focused on help veterans get the benefits to which they are entitled. Benefits they earned.

If VocRehab did that, I would be out of a job, and gladly so, earning big bucks working in business law. But, here I am. Fighting in the trenches.

Again, if they wanted to, with their $1.5 billion budget, they could easy put me out of business or hire my company to create a guide for all veterans. And/or, hire my service-disabled veteran owned business to consult and repair VocRehab’s problems.

Such a guide would reduce dropout costs, which are around $4,000 per veteran who starts the process but does not complete it. Tens of thousands of veterans dropout each year. And, such consulting would help VocRehab stop violating the rights of veterans while wasting tens of millions each year in taxpayer funds on pushing veterans into the hampster wheel when wrongly denying claims.

One complaint from one of the panelists who present works inside VRE is that veterans commonly come into the program without a clue what it can do, and then those same veterans make requests that are not reasonable or possible.

Now, after almost a decade of me preaching that message, “You need to inform the veterans well in advance of the first meeting,” VRE still refuses to take a common sense approach to the problem of asymmetrical information and dysinfo.

Why is that?

Veterans Panel Answers

As for the three questions after sharing my biography…

1) The best thing about VocRehab is that the benefit can help a veteran radically change his or her life… so long as the program administrators function properly. A veteran can come from a blue-collar background like myself and wind up with a great career as a lawyer. That is an incredible turnaround.

2) Communication in the program needs improvement. Counselors withhold information from veterans and even mislead the veterans about their options at times. Veterans are also ill-informed about how the program works when applying. This results in a huge waste of resources… But VocRehab has continually failed to address the upfront education piece.

3) VocRehab counselors need to develop more cultural sensitivity to veterans; they need to conduct comprehensive vocational assessments; and, they need a deeper understanding of disabilities and how they impact employment.

One-Way Mirror

I still have had limited success really getting into the program to fix it from the inside out. Instead, I am stuck giving Jack Kammerer and his subordinates feedback like what you would expect when being interrogated by police in front of a one-way mirror.

It is not ideal, but better than nothing.

The main difference, at least, is that Kammerer is professional. However, there is a lot of material they do not want me to see.

How do I know this?

Because they have resisted my attempts at getting full access to VRE training materials since 2014. Even when I make requests via FOIA, I still get bizarre denials or the program gives me records that are difficult to make out.

But don’t you worry, I will get those records, come hell or high water.

Also, as an after-thought, I should point out that of all the panelists there, and participants in the audience, I was the only one not receiving a paycheck for my time. Everyone else is likely being paid a salary.

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  1. 06/20/2017

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Good work, Benjamin, at the VA Vocational Rehabilitation conference which had over 80 senior leaders in attendance, I am sure you got plenty of information for future articles.

    Windguy–“Gots to admire a crusader.’

    Yep! Those Damn crusaders. I heard that too in Torrance, California all the way to Washington, D.C. to Ohio back in 1988, before the 1998 Cox Report [Treason] came out, a decade later.

    Kammerer and “the Associates” are well versed and well educated [Army Senior Fellow/Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Tufts University] and have no intentions of letting you in.

    Why is Kammerer failing to protect the Veterans? Why is Kammerer failing to help the Veterans? Why is Kammerer obstructing justice for the Veterans? With all the qualifications Kammerer has what is the logical answer?


    Don Karg

  2. If I don’t think I could handle Voc Rehab when I do an appointment should I just say that and ask for a letter saying my PTSD is too bad?

  3. If an agency is well aware of crime, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer monies are they not obligated to fix these abuses? Does it make them more legally bond to correct these deficiencies?

    If the agency such as the va continue to allow this abuse or help cover up these crimes against Veterans when does it stop? This new whistleblower legislation is suppose to protect the whistleblower, how is that protection given?

    My understanding is that the office of special counsel can only give that protection or is it just more of the same va lies. Go after the individual who blows the whistle and put them under surveillance find out if they are doing something wrong in their professional or personal life so they can drum up some kinda charges. The va can shut them up that way. I don’t involve myself in crime so vaoig wasted more taxpayers dollars investigating me.

    Ben, God Bless you and your efforts on helping Veterans and pointing out the crimes in the va agency with your blog and reporting. You are fighting an evil giant that resides in a huge quagmire.

  4. @ANutterVet, I thought it was discussed here. Perhaps two years ago. I will check it out more. Apologize for breaking protocol.

  5. @Jo3n – – – And, when you find out what all this stuff is that you’ve started, please post what all this means. Our research indicates that there is less clarification on subject topic nature to those posts that’re Off Topic. Even though I’ve not upheld to updating subjects or topics that I post as “Off Topic.”

    May be I need to remind myself as well. Sort of a mental note, detected upon appearance. – – – Nutter.

  6. Off topic: Does anyone know what happened to the Cathy McMorris Rodgers bill? Couple years ago I thought it was good, and I thought it became law. I may have lost it, but, I was reading today that the same bill is before Senate again? If anyone knows what I’m talking about,,,, would appreciate it. This bill, I thought, has stuff we need. What I remember is the words that said, if you choose this, you may have to opt out on other coverage. Not sure… Thanks. @Ben, about the art, looks like they are taking you to the basement. Your smile, like someone above said, it’s a story by its self.

  7. The thin crust of reality is that they have a moral obligation to properly inform veterans of what is and what is not afforded to them by law; what they can and what they cannot provide to the veteran to accomplish the rehabilitation goal, and this should be done in writing with a signed acknowledgement of receipt for every vet that they speak to.

  8. An A/V recording would be beneficial to BENEFICIARY’s (Veterans). No damages for loss of sales since VA isn’t interesting in selling, excuse me, offering this information. See no other for not recording besides corruption. What gives?

    1. They just didn’t have the right guys shoving court orders in their faces, Big Ben needed some help from others of us……………. this is war and you can’t win the war with just one guy, (Ben) punching them in the mouth, according to Marine tactics 101, they need to have a second punch coming out of nowhere usually to the back of the head, just to get their attention.

      1. @Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve: Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your specialty? Area’s you practice in?

  9. Ben, is this “conference” being recorded, both audio and video? If not, why?
    The reason I’m asking is, with all the “questions and answers” being given, these parasites could say, “I never said that!” Or, “I don’t remember!” Or, “You never asked that!”

    See, just another form of bullshit to keep you down! And, of course, the “M/O of VA!”

    1. Absolutely recorded, there is no legitimate reason for it not being videod

  10. Ken O’Keefe my HERO telling it like it is, old jar-head LOL…. “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGkxkEVshr0″……we need more people like him to run for office sharp as usual

  11. As our government (V.A.) has matured and gained power, it has turned against the veterans and has become more concerned with its own wealth and power than service to the VET’S…and thank you for your service..Yea,right…otherwise they would have given you the material you asked for BEN. nothing but P.R. bullshit

  12. @SeymoreKlearly, are you saying that when not at work, VA employees are private citizens? As private citizens, are they no longer protected by VA? They can’t have it both ways…..can they? This confuses Jo3n.

  13. Fricken VA!!!

    “Veterans Affairs official files FOIA request to spy on whistle-blower”
    by Pete Kasperowicz | Jun 20, 2017
    Washington Examiner

    “A Department of Veterans Affairs official has taken the novel step of filing a Freedom of Information Act request against her own VA department in order to learn what a whistleblower has been saying about her.

    The whistleblower is Scott Davis, a well-known VA official who has testified in Congress and has made several TV appearances about the troubled VA. He told the Washington Examiner on Monday that he was stripped of some of his final duties in his Atlanta job, weeks after warning that retaliation against whistleblowers is on the rise at the VA.

    The other VA official is Angel Lawrence, director of the Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta. Lawrence filed a FOIA request to obtain any email Davis might possess that was sent between Lawrence and any other VA employee.

    Her filing was backed up in an email obtained by the Washington Examiner. In that email, a subordinate emailed Davis to note Lawrence’s FOIA request, and asked that Davis comply with it by last week:

    FOIA is usually the tool people outside the government use to obtain documents and other information about what the government is doing. But the VA said Lawrence is within her right to file the request, because she did so as a private citizen, not as a VA employee.

    “The referenced Freedom of Information Act request for Scott Davis’ communications appears to have been submitted by a VA employee in his or her capacity as a private citizen,” said a VA spokesman. “All citizens have the right to seek information held by federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act, and all agencies are required to provide information that is properly requested, unless a statutory exemption from disclosure applies.”

    The official also said the VA has “no control over FOIA requests made by VA employees in their capacity as private citizens.”

    But Davis charges that Lawrence is abusing her role as a senior VA employee, and is effectively using FOIA to attack him as a whistleblower. Davis said Lawrence is using the FOIA law to find out what Davis said about her as a whistleblower to the Office of Inspector General.

    Specifically, Davis said Lawrence appears to be after information Davis sent to the OIG about how Lawrence has identified him as someone who should be fired from the VA because he’s a whistleblower. But current law says those communications should be protected, and Congress has just passed another law aimed at protecting whistleblowers, which will be signed into law this week.

    “It’s highly inappropriate for her to do what she’s doing,” Davis said. “Imagine if Donald Trump filed a FOIA request to James Comey.”

    And while the VA said Lawrence’s request was done as a private citizen, Davis said she has gotten subordinates to push him to comply with that request, a privilege that no private citizen would have.”

    Full article at: “https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/veterans-affairs-official-files-foia-request-to-spy-on-whistle-blower/article/2626458”

    1. @Seymore Klearly: Seymore, absolutely perfect timing with the last comment I posted!!!!!

      1. We can stomp her into the dust if we organize; find out all the things she has done via FOIA or subpoena and wage an info war upon her, and via this info find out how many and which vets were screwed by her and then file a class action lawsuit against her or 500 single lawsuits; Bad girl, Bad Girl you go down, Bad Girl.

    2. @Seymore Klearly- I wonder if that works the other way when I Veteran steps foot in the anal halls of the VA property, does that Veteran now through osmosis of the engorged purple team, become a Federal Employee and offered all protections by the AFLCIO/AFGE Rats? Or do we Veterans lose even more rights as soon as we step on that slab housing VA corruption?

      Similarly, cats have the unique ability of always landing on their feet if taking a fall or even jumping from very high-up.
      A piece of buttered bread always falls buttered side face down on floor when dropped.

      Inquiring minds wish to experiment and determine if:
      1) We affix slices of buttered bread slices, buttered side up, to both cats and engorged VA purple team members and drop them each from high positions and see if the buttered bread has any bearing on the landing of the cat and engorged VA purple team.
      2) More tests are required, as the engorged VA purple team ate the cat with buttered side slices of bread up before cats got chance to even jump, while the engorged VA purple team only became larger in circumference, thus further padding their fall while they eat the buttered slices attached to their gravity defying carcasses.

      3) This unscientific VA test was to show how the VA will eat not only their own, but especially their own that decide to thwart their evil nefarious ways by daring to go full whistleblower on them.

      4) RAND concurs that the VA indeed eats their own in same way politicians do and probably related. Recommendation issued of staying clear of buttered bread and cats.

  14. Benjamin- In your own inserted photo in today’s ‘Bad VA Art’, you have either a somewhat concealed shit-eating grin or being that close to that many VA Swamp Masters made you indeed filled with the urge to relive yourself. Priceless grin.

  15. Let’s do it like the big corporations did it; Send notices of dismissal to the existing employees and hire veterans to replace them and make the soon to be dismissed employees train the veterans, hmmmmmm?

    1. That would also be the current Disney Model, fitting right into whatever legacy McDonald has stained the VA with intact.

  16. So you are told to find something nice about the big picture and thentalk about it, then find something that VA can “work on” then talk about it. Wow! A VA problem solving methodology!!!

    Hmmmmm. Maybe I will try that with my VA PCP using secure messaging? I will sit naked on my scanner and make a copy, cheeks spread wide and flat like a mamagram squished down on the glass. Then I will attach that to a secure message and send it to the VA. I will ask the VA doctor, please find something positive to say about this and then let me know also one thing I can do to improve it. Thanks for the advice Ben about how VA analyses the big picture!

    When in Rome….

    1. Dennis, you must go to law school, I want to be in the courtroom when you argue your first case; DO IT!

      1. I can’t go to law school!

        At times I get invited to North Idaho for a family reunion. I am told next reunion they are gonna put new seat planks into the outhouses and install a diaper changing station in there too. VERY COOL! I don’t want to miss it because those North Idaho cousins of mine are a rowdy good time, but they tend to shoot lawyers after their second case of beer (Henry Weinhards). I lost my virginity to one of those cousins decades ago and don’t want to put her in the position of having to murder me then lie about it and say it was an accident.

        I don’t want people to lie on my account.

    2. @Dennis- Now you have gone and done it and given the VA Gastro Specialists an even cheaper way to have Veterans utilize VA Telemedicine with their own scanners from home and give them your very best brown-eye snapshot of our poop canons.

  17. @Ben,, as usual, you did great. But, now a certain group of selected, representatives are going into a closet and figure out a way to keep us off balance. There’s going to be a sentence or a few words, or even one word that will make sure EVERYONE gets something out of it. Hopefully not. They seem to be going to pay caregivers also. Also, pay for outside, (emergency care, and surgeries )? Of course, none of us will know until another group comes out of the closet. Ben, so many possibly good things for Veterans; I am having brain implosions. My wits have been rattled. I don’t trust the VA at all. We still don’t have accountability, and the VA doesn’t follow the law. Still, the appearance of something well needed for Veterans and their families is out there. Another wait and see…… Thanks for the great representation of us Ben, and we all know that there were many sacrifices you and family have endured. God Bless the Veterans and their families…

  18. Great you were invited and able to attend, but those hens in that henhouse are only going to allow paid-off foxes guard their henhouse under VA’s Umbrella Corp. Public Affairs Troup, not Benjamin with an actual shard of VA kryptonite called accountability.

    That Federal Building, “Bishop Henry Whipple” makes me think of a new Baskin Robbins Ice Cream name. I wonder if Ben got to eat any VA conference room ice cream? Or did you just get the batch made for Veterans named “Listeria Lychee Lemon”? 🙂

    Yes, we need MORE actual Veterans, not VA employees on these committees/meetings. Not just VSO Piggies, and Ben, you should FLOOD them with FOIA Requests for ALL VocRehab. Something tells me the VA relies on bad recordkeeping and mismatching IT systems, recors, because…it makes it impossible to AUDIT them. Same for FOIA’s. Be tenacious.

  19. BEN, HIGH FIVE! AND since you were there, they should have paid you as they did for everyone as the professional that you are, helping veterans only getting direction from you. As a matter of fact, you should run the program since you’ve been the only effective vocational rehabilitation professional for our veterans and a success story such as yourself. Otherwise what they tried to dish out, was getting a paid day away from the work they have failed to do for so many years!

  20. Great job, Big Ben; You must be like Jay Selkalow, subpoena those documents, they are not privileged or classified, and the person who decides to withhold those documents, let’s get together and get his/her ass fired. Ask the DAV, Am Legion, VFW for legal help and if they don’t agree to help then tell them that when you succeed, you will tell the whole world that they crapped on the idea. Or where are the records being held, I will go there and demand to see them and make sure they give me a disk or paper copies. Let’s pound on their doors. There are penalties for covering up deficiencies. (I don’t think Babe Ruth was able to conceal his years when he wasn’t doing so great…………

  21. Ben Ben Ben. It’s the government. “Preference” does not come from the bottom up. It comes from the top down, and usually from outside the VA (insert “Lab, Agency, Administration, Department etc here). The other problem is that you actually want to provide a functional product, which, will inevitably dip into someone else’s budget if legitimately implemented to assist veteran clientele. Kinda like rolling boulders uphill.

    Gots to admire a crusader.

  22. Has anyone noticed that even with all the meetings by all the different organization claiming to represent veterans, nothing gets better or gets done. Just saying

    1. Well, it seems obvious much of what happens at VA is more about maintaining status quo, or existing for its employees, or its vendors, more so than veterans. Those folks get paid very well.

      1. I wish I had this information back in the early 2000’s, because when I was making noise about how VRE screwed me, nobody paid attention.

      2. Your statute of limitations for your lawsuit starts from the time you learn of the acts of the transgressor, (VA).
        Need to get a message to Doctor Shulkin that if they don’t cough up the documents, Federal Marshalls can just go in and seize the documents Ben. Rattle their cage, fellow vets.

      3. This is why the new, and improved, accountability act, will be used against good employees. Instead of being used to rid the system, of the same corrupt, criminal ass wipes. Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along…….Hup two three four.

        I know a fatass on the hill
        He is the AFGE president and Vets he kills
        He’s got a 6ft circumference and a cushy job
        He walks down the VA halls like a jiggly blob
        He was caught with a tweezer and microscope
        Jackin off his “lil” cox, in Shulkins coke
        Try as they may to remove this vermin
        All we get from congress is a useless sermon
        22 vets a day have been losing their lives
        While the VA’s directive is to , lie, deny, and connive
        How can the taxpayers ask for someones head
        When all they see on tv is the VA as club med
        Time for President Trump to drain the swamp
        Before we go to DC and you fuckers get stomped.
        Sound off……………….

      4. Amen, Brother

        We need to crack the whip so our sons and daughters will not get screwed by the same old VA
        We need to be perseverant and hard as we were when the bullets were flying

      5. @Flotmorton P. Gildersleeve: Bullets flying, brings back memories.

        The eastern world it is exploding
        Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
        You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’
        You don’t believe in war but what’s that gun you’re totin’
        And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

        But you tell me
        Over and over and over again my friend
        Ah you don’t believe
        We’re on the eve of destruction

        Don’t you understand what I’m trying to say?
        Can’t you feel the fears I’m feeling today?
        If the button is pushed there’s no running away
        There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave
        Take a look around you boy
        It’s bound to scare you boy

        And you tell me
        Over and over and over again my friend
        Ah you don’t believe
        We’re on the eve of destruction

        Yeah my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’
        I’m sitting here just contemplatin’
        I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation
        And a handful of senators don’t pass legislation
        And marches alone can’t bring resolution
        When human respect is disintegratin’
        This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’

      6. Did you know that they predict a suicide rate of 10,000 VA employees per year??!!…………………
        Yep. “I heard it through the grapevine” (Some cases they say they will not be able to determine the cause of death, I’m afraid, they say, that’s what “they” say……………………)

      7. A lot of those are veterans. Imagine leaving a comrade behind while you crawl in a hole. Essentially what many veterans who work for the VA are required to do. How long would you hold up?

      8. You got that right – Very Obvious !!!
        and at the end They Lose cause they aren’t
        as Devious as they .. thought

        Right-On Ben.

    2. @touchavet,

      Has anyone noticed?

      Well, I suppose that several thousand posts on this blog alone out of scores of blogs, several thousand newspaper stories written in english alone, hundreds of legislative acts by House Of Representatives and The Senate, and a POTUS that got elected but for a single reason AND IT WAS NOT a cute ass or his race (despite his inability to say “your fired” and make it stick…) – all add up to the equivelent of, “Yes, it has been noticed.”

    1. VA DC HQ ONE BIG BIG FEDERAL RICO CRIME RACKET SHUT IT ALL DOWN CONGRESS COWARDS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Aaaamen, VA IS LYIN, I want to be in on the case where the bad guys go after the good guys, whooooooooeee I’ll do the whoopin’ lil cocks, not you, you will only roll down the hill after I knock you on yer ass……………………..

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