WashPo Parking Lot Suicides

WashPo Finally Confirms Well Known Parking Lot Suicide Problem

After more than a year working on the story, off and on, Washington Post finally published its article about the high number of veterans committing suicide in VA medical center parking lots.

While the news covered in the story is quite well known among veterans, the public was largely unaware of the trend due to press policies adopted by VA medical centers nationwide to evade providing useful quotes about reported suicides.

You should read the story published by WashPo if you have not read it to keep abreast of the trend and related details. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I wanted to educate readers about the trend to obfuscate reporting on the subject of veterans suicides.

As a veteran, many of us are shocked by the lack of coverage of suicides over the past few years. The lack of coverage is not accidental, and I want to take a few minutes to catch you up on the behind the scenes.

Overall, the DoD is aware that negative news coverage of VA benefits and health care have a negative impact on recruiting. The agency spends a lot on recruiting advertising to entice recruits. Since many newsrooms are dependent on ad dollars from the Pentagon and related agencies, it should not take a rocket scientist to figure out why the overall news trend supports covering positive stories.

Likewise, Internet search engines like Google filter news according to various standards and criteria related to positive vs. negative stories. There is pressure to maintain a national narrative the gives the public the appearance that all is well within organizations like VA.

On suicide, the general public adopted a news gathering position that old styled reporting on suicide, The Who, What, When, Why of suicide is out of vogue. Some US universities, Australia and New Zealand, oppose the use of traditional reporting methods on suicide to avoid a feared spread of copycat suicide.

The website ReportingOnSuicide.org website covers recommendations designed to downplay the seriousness of the incident(s) to conflate the human tragedy with public health issues.

On the one hand, I do not disagree with avoiding sensationalizing certain elements unless there is a crisis or pattern that the public should be aware of such as veterans committing suicide in VA parking lots nationwide.

What I disagree with is skewing reporting away from reporting on the suicide as a news story, which it certainly can be a news story, but instead reporting on it like an obituary. It also encourages not reporting on what a suicide note states but instead stating simply that a note was found that it “is being reviewed by the medical examiner.”

The best example of the latter was included in the WashPo piece as well as my reporting on the recent suicide of Jim Turner, a Marine Col., who wrote that VA screw-ups were linked to 90 percent of veterans suicides.

In my mind, that was an important detail my readers would like to know, so I wrote about it. Many individuals in the veteran suicide reporting arena would have us not talk about what Col. Turner wrote in his suicide note. I do not agree.

The pushback against reporting on suicide accurately in favor of milk-toast reporting is the growing trend among reporters, but WashPo chose to buck the trend.

But it does not matter what I think. What do you think? Critics of accurate reporting on veteran suicide frequently float details about what Australia or New Zealand are doing in limited suicide reporting. Now, I believe our 1st Amendment Free Speech rights are more of an issue here than in those countries.

Nonetheless, should we curtail reporting on suicides? One concern I have is that failing to report on suicide prevents us from understanding the problems behind these suicides and therefore retards the process and public outcry helping to target and resolve the problems.

Recently, we have seen a great number of articles chastising VA over not spending its allocated millions on anti-suicide advertising. However, the program over the past few years failed to adequately measure its successes meaning no one could truly assess whether the millions spent on new websites and ad spending on Facebook or Google was resulting in fewer suicides.

We know the suicide numbers did not decrease.

That fact alone did not stop supporters of the ad companies involved from publishing one critique after another once the agency stopped the $50 million annual project.

I would rather see more psychiatrists and psychologists hired by the agency rather than its overpriced advertisements that failed to make a substantive dent in the suicide numbers.

These are some of the details on veteran suicide reporting that I want you to be aware of. Should we curtail our suicide reporting? Does America not want to know if its tax dollars are being spent effectively?

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  1. The theory that a rising tide lifts all boats is true when it comes from the bottom up. When it comes from the top down, it sinks the smaller boats until only the top stays afloat to take their marbles to another sea.

  2. @Lem – – -“Any American can be a believe in trickle down economics until they find themselves in third world America. Fenced compounds and private armies. Begging just to make a go of it and honestly believing those fat cats living behind the fences give a shit about you. ”

    Amen to that! Today, the US is currently the largest, most technically advanced, third world nation existing on the planet. In America, the reality is light-years apart from the rhetoric.

    Trickle down economics do not work for me or any other combat-wounded veteran I know. Particularly those with TBI/Seizures. All started under Reagan. Rhetoric says Trickle Down Economics/Jobless Economic Recoveries are good policies – – – Reality says Don’t work/Doesn’t exist.

    This country has been resting on its laurels since the 1960’s.

    1. James,

      I expect you could have just left it at “Trickle down economics do not work”. It’s just a slogan, and maybe a Policy, but certainly not economics, nor any kind of economic model.

  3. Sorry, Dems, you can’t blame this one on Trump. The VA has been screwed up since before President Trump was born. They’re cutting services continually and throwing veterans from previous wars under the bus. Remember this, the Veterans Administration kills far more veterans than enemy combatants kill Americans in battle. It’s a huge red tape mess.

    1. Yes, Wicho, you can’t blame it on Trump, but you can blame it on the GOP. It goes back to President Reagan and Speaker Gingrich and the GOP’s ongoing onslaught on “entitlements” including Social Security and Veterans’ Benefits. Their argument is that better war hardware will reduce injuries to veterans and therefore the money should be spent on enriching the military industrial complex not taking care of the veteran as provided in Section 4, of the 14th Amendment.

      Being a veteran and a Republican is not in a veteran’s best interest and never has been except when the parties were in the reverse in their ideology. The Democrats were the conservative party until post WWI. There was a gradual switch from the liberal Party of Lincoln to the Conservative Party of Hoover. Probably was hard to tell the parties apart while the switch in ideology transferred.

      So, my question to you, Wicho, is are you a liberal Lincoln Republican who freed the slaves and got Section 4 of the 14th Amendment guaranteeing veterans’ benefits or are you a conservative Reagan Republican or a supper conservative nut job Republican of McConnel ilk?

      Read your history and decide based upon where you really stand. Do you stand in the “Holy Place” (take a just and Holy stance)? Are you even a Christian or have any religious belief? Where is your heart truly at? Are you ready to sit down, introspect, and place yourself in the field where your heartfelt beliefs guide you to justice? It is a life changing experience I’ve taken.

      1. Wow, Lem. I didn’t know I had to be a Christian to be an American.

        I kinda feel that when I made **my** stand, the bullet in my shoulder and the ringing in my ears and the fear and the joy and all the rest of it—and there is a lot there—made THAT a Holy Place. It certainly is to me.

        So with respect, Lem…just because you drank the coolaid, doesn’t make drinking it good thing.

      2. That is right Steven. Any American can be a believe in trickle down economics until they find themselves in third world America. Fenced compounds and private armies. Begging just to make a go of it and honestly believing those fat cats living behind the fences give a shit about you. So I guess you are one of the few fat cats that took one for the crowd behind the fences. I once had that belief. Even voted for Trump. But my bottom line has continued to shrink. No trickle is coming my way even with the supposed economic boom. But the Don, oh excuse me, the Donald is doing O K.

      3. Hey Lem,

        Where did I write that I believed in “trickle down”? Where did I write that I believed in any Party Politics? Nowhere.

        My only objection to your comment was with its exclusively christian religious bias.

        I did not vote for the current President. I happen to agree with your position, that the current President is what anyone who actually thought about it would have expected—a “swampee”, if you like.

        Yes, I did my bit. And no, I’m not a fat cat. I’m not even a Middle Class cat, anymore. All that went with the “moderate” TBI (cognitive disorder). But I was clear on what really trickles down well before Trump pretended he was going to bring back 1955.

        We cool?

  4. Here is an issue where I find myself in agreement with Mr. Krause, without reservation. When a human being is so filled with rage and despair that they elect to kill themselves, it is every bit as much our duty to carry them forward as it is to carry our soldiers who were killed in action forward.

    We must not allow the final words of a veteran to be silenced, even if we are sympathetic to the idea that giving those words prominence may result in other veterans dying. After all, no one complains about holding big, colourful award ceremonies for medals, and there are just as many specious numbers showing glorifying combat deeds leads to additional deaths as showing writing about suicide leads to additional deaths.

    Maybe what we need to do is stop giving half of a story, no matter what it is. Perhaps if we addressed what leads veterans to kill themselves in such a public and deliberate way—as an act of service, some would say—we might advance the dialogue, and thereby reduce, perhaps, some of the despair.

    I know it’s boring, but the truth is that the VA no longer exists to serve veterans. It is an entrenched bureaucracy that exists to continue existing, and nothing else. Some of the **people** that work at clinics serve veterans, but from the moment a bonus becomes tied to “economies”, the things is done. Unless the VA is vigorously reconfigured—which I feel is impossible in the real world—it will go on continuing to continue to exist, accidentally serving veterans along the way.

    Stomping on the 1st Amendment is not a meangingful contribution to an effort to reduce the number of veterans committing suicide—or being killed by bureaucratic indifference, if you prefer. Expose is the only thing a bureaucracy fears, because it is the one thing—in a republic, anyway—that can threaten its primary mission of continuing to continue to exist.

    As usual, censorship is not the answer. It isn’t even an answer. It is cowardice.

  5. There has to be a correlation between the extremely high number of Veteran suicides vs. the general population and the extraordinarily adversarial environment that Veterans must deal with to seek help. The VA seems to view the Veteran as an adversary who is only gaming the system. Instead of acting as a service provider to a specific population they are tasked by law and bound by “Equity and Fairness” and good conscience to care for. Is it any wonder that Veterans find themselves in a situation with no apparent help and hope for a better tomorrow exist?

  6. hiring more shrinks won’t help . they are the problem . they have been sexualy abusing me since childhood .They repeatedly released my father ,,ww2 ,,so he could rape every member of my family and a gay mane named Bob Cole . My father committed suicide in 1972 . 1966 the va doctor and my mom talked me into forgetting about being a rape victim . For most of my teen age years I did not know I was a rape victim . 199 ,,2000,, the va doctors sexually abused me so as to get me to stop smoking medical pot for the stress , those doctors made me watch a big fat ugly black veteran masturbate or attempt to masturbate 24 hours a day for over three months . they knew 2 of the nurses were in his rock and soul band and that is a conflict of their rules . They knew my beloved dog ROSCOE was raped and murdered by black people in Berkley Oakland, yet they refused to move him or the curtains so I would not have to see that . When we were putting up the Christmas decorations a white nurse put her hand down a veterans pajamas twice and stroke his cock . This of course reminded me of the time my father dressed up as Santa Claus and raped my mom . There were other incidents of sexual abuse harassment . We had a verbal agreement that I would attend 6 months medical pot probation and not have a payee . They double crossed me and put paperwork on file that says I need a payee . In the year 2011 a field examiner by the name of John Ruttinger exempted me from having a payee . Then he asked me to suck his dick . Years later they gave me a payee and we never talked . never got the money . Then in june they said they will close out my account and refund me between fifty and seventy thousand dollars if I give them a mailing address . I did . Then they said call your new payee . I did , Right before Veterans day the new payee said ,,I am sorry . You have no lump some due you . It was a mistake . No explanation . Now I survive on ss retirement $ 512 and $15 in food stamps . In California that won’t pay for my food per month . I thinking about drinking whiskey and going blind from diabetes so I do not have to see anymore doctors nurses ..! The irony of all this is somebody in New YORK offered me a job ,,potentially making millions of $,,and I am stuck in California saving money for Amtrak ticket .

  7. Good points, but this is the first I’ve heard of problems. Either the civilian world does a much better job of covering their mistakes up, or they aren’t nearly as bad as the VA. I suspect the latter. The VA is one giant excuse for not honoring commitments to our military. It’s been going on since George Washington and the war for Independence. By now I’m not expecting any change unless the current system is scrapped in its entirety.

  8. I have a real problem with people throwing numbers around with nothing to back them up and saying “Here’s the numbers, it’s fact” being “fact” just because a number was presented. So when I see 90% of veteran suicides are a result of mal or misfeasance of the VA, the brakes in my mind are slamming on. There are any number of smaller numbers I wouldn’t question at all, if for no other reason than my own experiences with this notorious organization. Using a VA parking lot causes an explanation point to be included with the persons final accusation of their tormentor. And yes, one thing that is a positive is that the VA is without question a tormentor. Not the medical staff for the most part, but the little minds counting the pennies, including the pharmacists that refuse to fill the prescriptions the doctors want but will fill with something cheaper, thinking it will result in them getting a Christmas Bonus of their own as an example.
    Finally, there is only one way to fix this Frankenstein of a Health Care System, and that is to kill it, dismember it, and bury far below the surface of this planet. It is a needless, almost worthless organization that is not needed to get their “job” done, and it can be done much more competently at lest cost to the taxpayer and with better results all around if the VA Hospital system were to be divided up among the States Universities, State Hospitals, etc. The Health Care that is necessary can be absorbed through the Medicare System (Obama Care Expanded) which should make everyone happy or all Veterans could be part of Humana Veteran Health Care. Many ways to cut off the many snake heads snapping and biting at providers, vendors, veterans, and staff! Now all that’s really necessary to get the job done is someone with enough balls to actually get it started.

    1. Ken S. Depending on location, location, and location, going the Obama care way or civilian care options are not guarantees of quality care at all. Humana, all female staffed, at the local CBOC was the beginning of my problems with the VA to the ninety mile an hour revolving doors of primary care workers and others that kept creating issue after issue, to covering-up or going into defense modes to cover up all the various issues when dealing with the beasties along with all their connections down to their family members thinking you are out to get some locals fired or something. Oh my, don’t offend the locals nor mention any negatives or wrong doing. Not to forget them deleting communications and info I had saved on the phony Healthy E vet site that is supposed to be safe, secure and professional. BS.

      Something is bad wrong in this country when there is so much info and wrong doing swept under the carpet or ignored by all media clowns and the rest of the establishments of jerks and liars. Media won’t touch my story or reports, they run. All morning long, again, in state out of state, I can’t get an attorney to help me get my medical files from a local major hospital and clinic, why? I couldn’t get civy’s to Xray a shattered jaw the VA gave me, why? I can’t get anyone to stand up for HIPPA violations, ethics issues, Dis Act of 1970 violations, big C rights, Bill of Rights, civil rights issues for all, to basic human rights issues, of professional misconduct, etc. But I sure am the talk of the town and state while they’ve even tried to burn me out and play many other games, why? While media and entire state sponsored and supported leaders join in to support the retaliation games and ensure censoring and the evil ones prosper and face no legal problems from the top down-bottom up. Seems the laws (time limitations too) are on their side and for show only, not to be used as intended or claimed to be there for. Am told pretty much the VA, med boards, to private civilian care types can get by with, or do whatever they desire or feel the need to defend themselves over. Wake makes it all worse is the total banning of free speech and the inability to group up or attempt to communicate or find others enduring the same issues. What are some others doing to expose the countless wrongs in this present culture? Not much but instill fear, “stay on the program,” go recluse, suffer alone, or outcast, to be found later dead or go do an event in a VA parking lot hoping to wake the worthless ass sheep/leadership up that couldn’t care less. There is very little in this country today that is ethical, honorable, transparent, honest or real.

      If civilian care types can pick up and run with identity politics to following the activist crap from the VA and contractors plus dealing with all their connections, associations to upset corrupt family member thugs… what next? With the caliber of people universities are pushing out today plus the foreigners allowed to play with our health care due to visas or having to fill some ignorant quota. Then allow the whole sheebang to run rampant wherever they land or practice? I personally see no change or fix from anywhere that will benefit us or help in any way. All those ‘professionals’ and cliques are NOT out for our best interest or welfare just their own and their positions and bank accounts or activist agendas, period. America has been flushed.

  9. Suicides, censoring, zero transparency, propaganda, banning communications in every way has been pet peeves of mine for most of my life. And the censoring, fake media, university taught phony activist journalist, has ruined this country beyond repair.

    An article came out in the local town paper, more like a college rag, stating that all the leadership and town authorities decided to filter and censor the news down to what they “think we need to know.” Good luck finding that article like I’ve tried to do on Micro-fish since nothing is digitized or easy to be found on any issue. The sheep were silent not a peep about it. That also includes the VSOs, professionals of all stripes, etc. SJWs, college kiddies, professors also thrilled with the push for more hard censoring and keeping the citizens ignorant of local happenings. All the corrupt are thrilled with it actually including the scum who are supposed to represent us.

    Let’s not just point fingers at the media scum buckets, DC types, the VA, but to those like the Chambers of Commerce, associations of so-called journalist, with a long list of other communist that don’t want truth to be told. Yes I meant communist, fascist, totalitarians, politics, no better than Stalin, Marxist, N. Korea, Mao, others. They all want to ‘cast things in a positive light with negatives not allowed.” “It’s bad for business or to attract business if we don’t stay on the same page keeping with the positive images of our community.” So thanks to many kinds of people and DC to university styled living we have nearly lost all our rights and freedoms and for many countless years the First and real reporting was the first to go… and still losing what is left.

    Psychiatrists and psychologists? Ha! With all the PC-ness, herd mentality, expectations of group think, etc? You mean the same kind of university (or VA) trained side lining activist trained today along side the activist controlled pro journalist???

    Like with everything else it boils down to money, big business, the machinery, facade, control, or claims to protecting us from reality, our selves, to protecting the family of the deceased who are too fearful to speak some truths too. No negatives allowed with the life of some suffering vets is meaningless especially when compared to puppy dog and kitty cat stories. With the masters controlling the info we are allowed to know. Hence the crack down on free speech, FB, to closing down local chat forums, and all the social sites. Who dares report harassment by cops/officials over a female until the target gives up for self destruction. Knowing they are under VA or local care for some issues. Or why they left or were forced out of VA care or some other phony care giver. Or screwed up by pig Pharma and their cure all use of anti-depressant or anti-psychotics for pain. Or told to see some professional that is much more sicker than we are or may be. The deaths from prohibiting the use of pain meds by those merely picked out of the hat to form statistics for positivity or make the news about winning the war on prescription drug use. So like true fascism, the oligarchs, commies, tyrants, only the top and connected get what they want and live above the rest of us low life’s. It’s really bad when ya make phone calls to state reps, local VSO groups, and agencies for example and many claim not to be aware of the many suicides or problems within the VA or the health care industry. Too late in the game to be playing dumb, passing the buck, or continually covering-up some reality by the few media corporations, social media owning clowns and foreigners who control most media and academia. While the public still doesn’t give a hoot. Who wants to reveal corruption, negatives, or cover-ups when it serves/benefits so many kinds of people, professionals and groups.

  10. The Congress is to blame. Once again data analytics applied here would show many of these veterans have sent many, many signals to Congress and the Va before ending it. On the issue of VA Mental Health- the treatments they offer do not work. Oh, isn’t that a surprise! So many highly paid stuff shirts can do no harm but their patients are whacking themselves. Long term mental health care has been abandoned for the fast food type of brain washing and electro-convulsive shock therapy. Then there is neutering by chemicals. How grand I say. What would I have them do you ask? Answer: dismantle the Congressional VA Lobby and dismantle the VHA and VBA. Get rid of the money grubbing paper mill doctors and provide Vets with civilian care that works. Most of all , do what the VA doctors do not want us to do and that means data analytics on the treatments given to the Veteran Population. ” Oh but we could never do that because there are not enough beds in jail for all of them”. Yhe biggest opposition to change in the VA is the Doctors at large ( background music: Briam Wilson playing ” when i grow up to be a man”)

  11. If everyone who cared would put a peice of duct tape on the back of their pov with a regularly updated approx. ytd total of veteran suicides it miight make a difference. It’s easy, just count the days of the year and multiply by 22. P/U’s are great for this, but don’t leave the duct tape on too long. Not much of a voice but it’s better than nothing.

  12. Replace suicide with any other word that society would like to prevent from happening, and you will get your answer on how it should be reported.
    I am not saying suicide should be treated like a crime, but imagine murder or rape or a gun crime being reported the same as the VA wants suicide reported?
    There would be no details reported on the murder where the public could assist in preventing another murder. There would be no detail reported on what area of town might have a higher incidence of rape. There would be no detail on what drove a mass shooter to start randomly shooting at people.

    The lack of VA reporting anything on veteran suicide has only one thing to do with it…avoid accountability.

    They avoid accountability not only in what was missed or what they screwed up with the veteran, but they avoid accountability in pissing away millions with nothing to show for it.

  13. First: Ben, proofreading prior to publishing is needed. I can understand being passionate to get information out to us all, but some of that was hard to get through.

    Second: Until we organize as one voice and start holding our political representatives accountable for their roles in allowing VA to keep doing whatever they want, whenever they want and kill however many veterans they want, we will continue to proceed as a million tiny voices just complaining about how bad the VA actually is. That will get us nowhere.

    Those on the Congressional Committee on VA need to be held accountable for not applying pressure onto the VA and follow their demands. ALL VA secretaries who have been found to conduct illegal activities or are responsible for relocating unethical Directors who were caught conducting unethical business, should be recalled before the committee, with evidence brought forth, and held accountable for their actions. IF their actions cause even one death, they should be held libel.

    THE VA is such a huge mob-minded organization that launders their decisions through so many portals, their upper crust knows to cover their bases well enough to still gain their fat bonuses, while remaining free from convictions.

    These stories are repeated weekly, yet VA knows they are untouchable because nothing is organized and DC is well paid to ‘look the other way’. I think it is time to actually become an organized entity that can make a stand AND ensure those who have committed crimes or actions against veterans are held accountable in a court of law. Otherwise, we continue to be veterans just ‘bitching’ about a system that doesn’t favor them.

  14. Important topic, thanks for reporting on veteran suicide. Discussions on this topic make folks uncomfortable—but that is a small price to pay when we are talking about over 20 suicides a day. This story is necessary for the American public to grasp. I continue to fight VA over PTSD, and mental health claims, at times I want to give up but I try to stay positive.
    Also, does DisabledVeterans.Org put out any Podcast for the Veterans? I understand time constraints only allow this site limited free time, due to publication and attorney office work with clients etc. I was hoping maybe DisabledVeterans could put out 4/5 podcasts a month on topics involving VA case law, VA court cases at CAVC, Federal Circuit case law, BVA decisions etc. There are plenty of us veterans fighting the VA—from appeals for claim adjudication to the day to day struggle for benefits.
    Keep up the good work.

  15. why is it necessary for sick vets to off themselves in the VA parking lot. We spend billions each year on what? Certainly not health care for veterans.

  16. I hesitate to leave any messages at this site. The manager of the site claims I continue to make the “same statements” , therefore what I have to say as a 100% disabled combat veteran has no value. I have been in 7 different v.a. hospitals under great torture by same. Now my time is coming because of the v.a. and no other reason. The only thing that has changed in the v.a. is that it has become much worse leaving veterans like myself without hope and in pain 24/7.
    The veterans administration is a self serving disorganized crime syndicate killing veterans for profit! The spot by of the American public only ads insult to injury!

    1. CORRECT … MURDER INC. as argued at 4th Cir., RE: SCOUS-FDM & Cushman-Precedent #RICOAct extortion of benefits and even when the Vet wins … then the fight for retroactive pay starts all over! @BTSOJ13 @VERPAInc

  17. Rational thinking would dictate that those holding power in the Veteran’s Affairs Committees within Congress and also heads within the VHA system itself, might jointly task themselves with finding some reasonable resolutions to the myriad and very real problems being voiced by veterans, about the near complete absence of genuine medical care throughout VHA facilities. Many posters to Ben’s blog over the years have sworn to protest their loved one’s entering any branch of the military because of the persistent lack of promised medical services within the VHA system. The VHA medical professionals are being brainwashed and threatened by the system with go-along-to-get-along practices which are killing (in practice or by self-infliction) the very patients they have sworn an oath on which to not cause harm.

    It has been voiced many times here that a best solution is to eliminate the union at VHA facilities AND stop all bonus money incentives permanently.

    I have a few ideas for consideration.

    *The VISN leadership should only be held by veterans having military medical experience along with administrative duties honed within that environment.
    *A vast majority of practicing staff should be from the huge pool of doctors, medics and nurses that have served us while in service.
    *There are no excuses for VHA patients to be forced into civilian provided care when there are specialty clinics within VHA system that should be staffed to provide ALL facets of that specialty’s necessary diagnostic and related care to their patients.
    *The VHA facilities that are University connected should first be providing to practice, only those students that are continuing their medical training after leaving the military medical services.

    In simple terms, all of the VHA facilities should be held at a minimum of 75% military trained medical staff in all departments, including clerks and support services much like on base facilities are staffed. It is my firm opinion that there are far too many civilians gumming up the works for too many patients in recent decades, in an effort to FORCE civilian care on our nation’s veteran population.

    That is exactly what the Mar-A-Lago dictatorship is working to accomplish. The veteran patient population is enormous and the cost of civilian care is very expensive, and it ain’t getting any cheaper!

    There is not one ad supported media outlet that refuses prescription drug advertising money. They won’t refuse the ads due to their personalities demanding very wealthy salaries. That is also the reason much negative VA coverage will never appear before Joe Average taxpayer. Patients are paying for that advertising by way of the cost of filling those prescription drugs while the patent holders are justifying the high cost on the cost of research and science. No, the high consumer cost is based on the cost of greedy forced advertising to convince people that every twinge has a specific prescripted medication cure. The veterans are the largest group of FDA’s prescription approval test subjects from University derived medications because of federal grant monies supplied, hence the constant changing of medication that some veterans have experienced and the “where did that come from” illness that many might incur. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the VHA purchase of medications cost the same as those to the general public. VHA enjoys a whopping discount, because they are supplying the uninformed living research cadavers.

    Off topic: I wonder if POTUS has a neurological issue that is being hidden from the public.

    1. This is the .pdf link to the full formal six page letter from the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and it is solely addressed to Secretary Wilkie. It is well worth the time spent to read it in its entirety.
      Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    2. Your “off topic” comment pretty much negates any meaningful information you may have posted. Trump Derangement Syndrome is a mental illness in 2019, seek help, turn on the MSM “news” and engage in meaningful social media interactions outside of politics.

    3. @David Achford,
      Excuse me?
      There is nothing in my statement that is “political”, in the context I think you intend. Additionally, I made zero commentary on my opinion of POTUS’ thought process. If you by contrast, paid attention to news in any form outside of social media interacting, you would have noticed two things that make my off topic statement a valid point for folks to ponder.

      First, in the past several months, namely since Shulkin was removed from office, POTUS has become very fidgety as he makes his public addresses. Note the recent State of the Union address and more recently, the address given at the Day of Prayer meeting compared with addresses given in prior years. In no way am I being disparaging, but it recently appeared that every phrase he uttered, demanded physical movement of some form. To my thinking, and admittedly without any formal medical training, I wonder if POTUS has a neurological issue that has not been brought to public attention.

      Secondly, a few days ago, it was also mentioned, albeit briefly, that POTUS has passed his annual physical, and that without the previous year’s fanfare statements. Very soon after POTUS’ annual physical, it was mentioned that he is again being regularly attended by Ronny Jackson.

      Now, let’s watch the story unfold.

    4. ROSIE,

      “That is exactly what the Mar-A-Lago dictatorship is working to accomplish.”

      I did not infer, from the context, whether you thought the MAL group were trying to improve Veteran Care as you suggest, or doing something else…and if something else, what else that was supposed to be.

      I disagree if you feel that the MAL group are in any way interested in improving VA Heal Care. I believe they are advocates of what they like to call “Privatisation”—letting companies that Produce Money (for board members like them) take over the running of a services arm of the government, so that they can turn it into a “Profit Centre” (ie, they can Produce Money from it, as well).

      I do agree that eliminating Bonuses not related to delivering patient care should be eliminated. Under no circumstances should a service provider be “incentivised” to “save money”; they should be “incentivised” to serve their function (which I personally feel is what a paycheck is for).

      As for the other, you probably should have heard the “click” as you put your foot on the mine. If you mention Mr. Trump without a hateful screed to accompany it—either for him and against anyone not him, or vice-versa—you are likely to get hosed. I took your question to be an actual one. Kind of like Ike’s heart attack, or similar to the way FDR’s paralysis was stage-managed to seem less than crippling. But hey, I tend to read what is posted.

    5. @Steven,
      Thank you for your critique and comments. I’ll admit, I should have done a better job editing and making my points clearer, …as if to a new reader of the blog.

      I do believe my four ideas for consideration. clearly illustrate my thoughts to a path of smoother VA/VHA/VBA operation via the elimination of civilian/corporate overlording at all levels within the system. Frankly speaking, this would supply a near to or fully trained and empathetic workforce in better assisting veterans’ needs. Yes, veterans are civilians and should be recognized as such but, in our heads we are first military veterans when dealing with VA/VHA/VBA and as such, we would be better served by veterans. Civilians will never “get it”! It is not at all about pretending to be Sgt, Carter ordering a bunch of Gomer’s.

      I do not support the MAL group holding court with VA operations. As, with the Disney involvement before it, I say it is unsound strategy to have non-military persons rearranging VA operations. The VA is not a ‘for profit’ stock-held business and efforts to run it as such are actually causing great harm to ALL veterans. Would anyone knowingly allow say a chef, to overhaul their only vehicle, just because they like the person? For some reason, POTUS implements the “I like this guy! Make a spot for him.” way of OJT and staffing in executive positions, regardless of the person’s lack in related experience. I think civilian company leaders and their methods of operation, are completely gumming up the works in ALL twigs of the Executive Branch of our government.

      I do completely support the House investigation of MAL and the emanate dismantling of that ruinous friend-of-a-friend overlording of VA operations. In past articles here, Shulkin and his civilian minded abuse of power was discussed many times, as well as his glad-handing to MAL via POTUS. The same civilian minded abuse of power holds true throughout the entire VA system and has gone on for several decades. I say that boil is past ripe for lancing! That is also why I stated the VA should have at least a 75% military veteran staff throughout all operations, and that, without bonuses or union ties. Additionally, I do not agree with usage of the blanket phrase “Medicare for all”. That federal program also provides for a specific group and it has its own issues to resolve. If Congress wants to design a new medical program modeled after Medicare for meeting every medical need for all citizens then have at it, but please come up with a different moniker! Medicare as it stands today, doesn’t provide that stand alone expansive level for its own group! Hence, gap insurance.

      As for POTUS health. I queried after a casual observation I’ve made and wondered if others noticed the same. Ronny Jackson was the WH staff physician and the primary administering to POTUS’ health needs. He also was given strong backing from POTUS to replace Shulkin as SecVA until he resigned the WH position under scrutiny. According to a WaPo article last week, Jackson now at Walter Reed, is again advising POTUS. Curiously, I noticed far less full body movement from POTUS during his El Paso address, than I observed with the State of the Union or the Day of Prayer addresses among others in the recent past. All combined, IMO it’s curious timing.

      1. Rosie,

        I did draw the general inference that you were against the “dinner circle advisory council”, but on this blog, it is always best to be sure; some people can turn anything on its head.

        I have to at least partly disagree with your military-service-centric approach, though. I ran into plenty of lousy medical people in the service, too. Besides which, there is a pretty heavy representation of ex-service people in VA Health already.

        On the other hand, the overall level of medical expertise in PACT and in Professional Services (radiologists, Pharmacists) has certainly declined since 2003. I had three solid physicians driven out and replaced by two ancient retired Drs. and one whose practice failed—one of the retirees claimed he would pray for me as his remedy!

        But that has more to do with the Clinical Director than the VA, per se. The new guy clearly has a preference for Drs. who are indebted to him—they wouldn’t be working otherwise—and that is usually a personality problem; the guy probably feels threatened by what he perceives as more competent Drs, when he’s supposed to be the Big Dog.

        I also feel that getting new Patient Advocates—ones who aren’t merely working their way through the Administration ladder by being “Team Players”—would help.

        But what is truly needed is persistent oversight. As some of our more unbalanced observers have noted, the VA appears to be disinterested in what the Congress has to say—which is hardly surprising in the present environment.

        Thanks for the clarification. And for the record, I would certainly rather try your military-preference plan than do nothing. At least it IS a plan, and that’s a place to begin.

  18. More media coverage of veteran suicide no matter where the veteran is at the time, the VA should stop sugar coating the problem and address the issues head on and face the truth that this an occurrence that that happens daily, these Veterans need help and the VA will find any loop hole to do less and more Veterans die each day, give the Veterans the necessary assistance help them from killing themselves

  19. As well they should be, Doc. Quite a few veterans would still be alive had VA Mental Health Services done their job vice explaining what they are NOT there for.

    R. I. P. HM2 William Louis Kilauano, 29 March 1949 – 15 July 2011

  20. I’ll be filing a claim via the U S Court of Federal Claims this week to failure to provide mental health therapy by the VA. My Choice bill wasn’t paid. I was then seen in a CBOC. The CBOC therapist diagnosed PTSD, suggested CPT (Cognitive Process Therapy) and then kicked me entirely out of therapy because it didn’t fit my TBI/PTSD problem per rules of the program. Parking lot suicides are going to be alleged as residuals of kicking veterans out of mental health care.

  21. High time this subject was brought into the sphere of public discourse. Good on WaPo for publishing!

  22. Here’s something from *”Military.com”* this morning. I’m not sure if it means anything.

    “House Investigating Role of Mar-a-Lago Trio in VA Affairs”

    Date, 8 Feb 2019
    From: *”Military.com”* | By Patricia Kime

    “The House Veterans Affairs Committee has started investigating allegations of influence by three friends of President Donald Trump over decisions made at the Department of Veterans Affairs and what role, if any, VA insiders played in instituting their recommendations.”

    This isn’t the full article. Question: What roles do these Marvel Comic Book trio have on policies and procedures in VA? We have seen, through McDonald’s little bullshit how Disney was involved!

    1. Crazy, that is what every Democrat wants everyone to think, that this is all Trump’s Fault, but Trump has been in office for 2 years, he’s never been a Politician before that… The Border, the VA, the Deficit, Russian Collusion… it’s all the RESULT of the ASSHOLES in the House and Senate that haven’t done shit in decades… The VA has had issues for decades, Obama and Trump have pumped hundreds of billions into the VA, and the VA is building new buildings, buying new computers, replacing grass… eventually they’ll look at the problems and…

      1. Yes, ever since President Regan began his “pen” reductions of “entitlements” and the GOP took reducing entitlements as their mantle. And they have pretty much held the Senate since. Yep, those farmers and ranchers who didn’t go to war don’t want to pay the bill. Local draft boards knew their economy wouldn’t do well without them.

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