VA Officials a no-show at Congressional Hearing

 
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VA Officials a no-show at Congressional Hearing

It's hard to even pick a starting place on this one, since it is dominating the news, so I'm going to go with Leo Shane of Military.com for the sole reason he's my second favorite reporter to Jake Tapper:

In yet another tense House hearing Wednesday, lawmakers accused Veterans Affairs officials of hiding from Congress and wishing away potential criminal abuse cases to avoid confronting the latest management scandal to hit the embattled department.

Republicans and Democrats on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee voted unanimously to force five VA employees, including the department’s new acting undersecretary for benefits, to testify about the now-defunct relocation bonus program at an unusual evening hearing next month.

“This is not a partisan witch hunt,” said committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. “We’re not trying to impair any potential criminal investigations.

“But there is ample evidence that VA does not act quickly enough on accountability … and we will not aid VA in its ‘business as usual’ routine.”

For those that don't know the background:

At issue are allegations from the VA inspector general’s office that senior executives misused interoffice moves to bump up their pay while reducing their job responsibilities, at a significant cost to taxpayers. The Veterans Benefits Administration spent more than $1.5 million on 21 questionable senior executive reassignments over the past three fiscal years.

The IG report cites two cases specifically. Philadelphia VA Regional Office Director Diana Rubens stands accused of getting more than $288,000 in moving expenses compensation to switch from a job in nearby Washington, D.C., and St. Paul, Minnesota, VA Regional Office Director Kimberly Graves received nearly $130,000 in a similar job switch scheme.

Commander Barnett was present, and spoke to news reporters after the hearing:

Last Friday, VA undersecretary for Benefits Alison Hickey stepped down. The American Legion called for her resignation after the IG report.

“That doesn’t solve the issues, there are some systemic issues and some questions that need to be answered by the VA,” American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett told Federal News Radio. “If we truly are going to talk about reforming the VA system then we to have actions not just words.”

Roe said the scandal was a “poster child” for losing faith in government.

“When average people … that go out and work for themselves for 30-something years do less, next year [they] get paid less. That’s what happens in the real world and that’s not what’s happening here,” [Coongressman] Roe said. “These [expenses], to me, seem over the top. I say that because of the people I see every single week when I go home. Veterans that can’t get in to the Phoenix VA right now to get the care they need and they see this is very telling to me.”

Stars and Stripes also talked to the Commander and added the larger context that has been building for several years now:

American Legion Commander Dale Barnett, who called for Hickey to resign, attended the hearing and said he supports the subpoenas.

“I think the VA owes veterans, owes the American taxpayer some answers and we’re here to get them,” he said.

The hearing marked the latest chapter in a VA scandal that is now more than a year and half old and shows no sign of abating, with a steady stream of freshly uncovered malfeasance. Revelations of veterans dying on secret patient wait lists and data manipulation to make VA appear more responsive cost former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki his job in May 2014. Since then, lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated with what they see as a lack of accountability for senior officials responsible for the department’s ills.

"Frustrated" may actually be an understatement.  "Incensed" might be closer to the truth, and that's not one party or the other, both are furious.

Philly,com added more:

The legion's national commander, Dale Barnett, said he rarely attends congressional hearings but that he cancelled a trip to Illinois to be at Wednesday's.

"On Nov. 2 we expect to see answers when they come back," Barnett said after the hearing ended. "That's what the American Legion has been asking for. That's what the American taxpayer, that's what this committee has been asking for. They've been asking for answers, transparency. We did not see that today."

Lastly, the Baltimore Sun also had a good piece:
 

The national commander of the American Legion said the officials should have testified before the panel.

"This is not some partisan issue between Congress and the Veterans Benefits Administration," Dale Barnett said. "It is about providing answers to the serious charges of the IG that the directors of the Philadelphia and St. Paul. Minn., VA regional offices inappropriately used their positions of authority for personal and financial benefit. Veterans deserve answers."

In its formal responses to the inspector general, the VA said it agreed with recommendations that investigators made to change relocation practices. One of the programs the inspector general questioned — a system to help employees sell their homes when they move — has been ended, and an official implicated in the report has resigned

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Until the VA changes their mentality to more like a small not for profit, nothing will change.

There needs to be someone that looks at any expense over X and ask themselves, "this money could be used for care, do we need this?" And when they find that the career workers are gaming the system like they were with the $24,999 prosthetics, then you take away those people's spending privileges (and jobs) and you now make X, $20k. Rinse and repeat.

If they actually started firing people at the top and started working their way down, it would start to fix itself. There usually only needs to be one or two "oh s*" firings that are well publicized to scare everyone else...

Agreed, fire top down, and the lousy doctors !!
Give a VET, what's honorably earned and sacrificed for.
Not exhorborant money given to scamming official butt wipes, while the Vets have to wait in line for their disability claims or proper attention to a health problem caused by sacrificing for the USA !!

Saving money at the VA is merely a talking point only. There is no real commitment at any level to be frugal in spending.

Yup , disgusted that with millions of vet's this Legion (never mind the administration) does not have the brains & ability to fix this in less than two weeks ... Months & years tell us common enlisted it is not as important as one executives next week's pay ... Stop paying all of them !!! For God & Country ...

Every dollar allocated to the VA must be accounted for and publicly. There should be no hidden costs with this department. A complete annual accounting must be made and published for all to see.

You think????? Dream on !!!

It is nice to see that the American Legion is watching the VA. Now the American Legion should use their "teeth" (the American Legion's clout in Congress) to bring reform to the VA.

In 2013 I requested an appointment with podiatry which I had been visiting regularly for years since I have diabetes. I was informed by the clerk in podiatry that they had a new policy and it was that there had to be a "consult" and that he could not give me an appointment time until the "consult" was completed. I called several times and was always told the "consult" was not complete, therefore I could not be given an appointment time. I finally went to a private pay podiatrist and had had regular appointments since. Have never heard if "consult" was ever finished!

...ever since the Sec. of the VA was forced to step-down; that should have been the call to arms...they should of started whole-sale firings, immediately. Anyone falsifying documents, gaming the system, abusing their position of trust/authority, making un-Godly amounts of money, lying to investigators, aiding/abetting fellow conspirators by act or omission SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED, WITHOUT ANY BENEFITS AND THEN ARRESTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am amazed at how the VA pays their own, I have personally known VA employees who have been in the same secretarial job for decades and they are not really doing much other than what most secretaries do in the private sector. Yet these VA secretaries who stay for years are now making over $63,000.00 as GS-7 employees!
I know of no secretary in the private sector who makes anywhere near that amount! Talk about complete waste!
Most VA employees stay at their jobs and never leave even if they are mediocre employees, they spend their time gossiping and trying to avoid any real work, yet the government keeps paying them bonuses and raising their pay at will!
We used to call this shamming when I was in uniform, at least back then they were usually called out.

I agree with the above. They need to start firing higher level executives that are bilking the system and hiding fraud and misuse. The VA needs to be transparent in all of it's activities and be accountable for taking care of the veteran's which is their responsibility and stop padding their own pockets at veteran's expense

It appears to me that, since rhe investigations began and firings started, that quality of care has declined. Doctors are slower to reapond blaming increased workload, prescriptions refilled with more delay. It's as if there is a "we'll teach them to complain" attitude.

My Pulmonary DR at Richmond VA (MCGUIRE MEDICAL CENTER) put me in for pulmonary rehab at Mary Washington Hospital on 9 July 2015 at
fredericksburg VA because I could not make the 120 mi round trip to Richmond 3 times a week.I Have called the choice many many times and as of today 10/22/2015, I still do not have a appointment with the pulmonary lab at Mary Washington hospital. I have given up.

So, how is this problem caused by the V.A.?? If you cannot get an appointment at a Civilian hospital, that in no way is the fault of the V.A. Sure, a 120-mile trip for Rehab is a pain in the butt, but it is no fault of the V.A. system that you live so far away from one of their hospitals/clinics.

VA must approve the admission. No facility will accept elective admission unless they know the bill will be paid. VA basically delays approval until either pt gives up or dies.

The VA is allowing these people to resign which allows them to be rehired in other government agencies. VA must fire these corrupt senior employees instead of letting then resign. That will be the only way we will see improvements.

Why is Congress not sending to arrest these non compliant individuals that disrespected our nation? Letting them grt away with it is why the VA system is in shambles. Oh well we can write how disgusted we are as veterans, but at the we have become a mute voice and oh yes dont forget your annual dues to all those veteran non profits that get us no traction for the millions if dollars pimped in.

I am a Legion member (28 years), also VFW (over 30 years). Am glad to see them bring this VA subject to our attention. CHOICE is farce. We have to keep alert at all times or the bureaucraps will destroy us veterans !!!

I tried for 2 YEARS to get an appointment with Montrose VA's director and the director's secretary refused repeatedly to give me the appointment and ran me off every time I went there and waited ALL DAY to try to see the director.
And after I changed my care to the Bronx VA, I called their operator to ask for the director's office and the operator refused to connect me, telling me I'd have to see the Patient Advocate even though I had already done so. I left my name and phone number on the Patient Advocate's answering machine, since neither one ever answer their phones AND their office doors are closed when you go in person, with no indication of where the Advocate is or when she will return. I asked, in the message, what a patient has to do to get an appointment with the director. And 3 months later, my call has NOT been returned nor has my question been answered.
The VA staff is supposed to be there FOR US. They are supposed to SERVE US. Without disabled veterans, the VA staff would have no job. Yet they act like gods and refuse to speak to us lowly veterans without whom they would not be paid exorbitant amounts of money to ignore us until we die.
PATHETIC!
And the IG refuses to take complaints from female veterans, as do Congressmembers. If you doubt me, then answer me this question that NO ONE I've ever asked can answer: WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW A MAJOR NEWS STORY CONCERNING A FEMALE VETERAN OR SOLDIER BESIDES JESSICA LYNCH OR LINDY?
We are especially invisible to VA staff, and the media.

We are over 21,000 Veterans strong and we have made a huge impact on getting Veterans their benefits and access to health care. Our motto is: "VA is lying and Veterans are dying!" We even have 19 billboards in eight States and over a dozen major cities some up right next to VA hospitals that say exactly that. Come check us out at facebook.com/groups/VA.is.LYING/ and spread the word about us. Make sure you read the rules before posting or you could get booted off the group. Here is one of our billboards: facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10206946988745351&set=gm.870979089667400&type=3&theater

The Choice Program is a joke. My problem is, I could not get an appointment with my PRIMARY CARE doctor for over six months. I was told to contact the Choice Program to be scheduled to see an outside doctor. mind you, I have several medical problems, diabetes, heart, chronic back pain. The Choice Program sent me to a doctor who could not even get drawn blood analyzed in his office. He had to send out blood samples and that took another authorization from CHOICE. Who makes these decisions without testing them before they are implemented?? More wasted money!!

Things will not change at any VA facility until all levels of management have the authority to fire employees for non-performance. I have been to over 5 different VA facilities in my life for treatment for my service connected disability and I see the same where ever I go. Lots of lackadazicle employees just sitting around not in a hurry to do anything while their department waiting room is overflowing with people waiting for their appointments. Since the VA is totally funded by govt. funds and the likelyhood of anyone in any legislative wing stopping that funding for fear that their constituents raise up against them nothing is going to change. I'd take the job only with the stipulation that I can cut whomever and whatever I deem either non-performing or un-needed. Hire a disabled vet that has some buisiness management is his/her background and you'd get things fixed! Till then you will only keep reading about the problems.

I am in 2 knee braces, Lofstrand crutches, and severe enough back problems to have gone through "back school" - in the EASY program for vets who cannot easily get up off the floor - AND I get Social Security for it. I have not had a job since my 2010, when I was illegally fired due to "insurance issues" from my old job. The VA couldn't even find me a job through their veteran employment program- which looks for jobs OUTSIDE the VA for veterans - nor could the temporary agency the VA signed me up for find me a job I can physically do.
Yet the VA states that I am ONLY 30% DISABLED.
Yet, when I tried to get a DESK JOB at the VA HOSPITAL ITSELF, they DENIED ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK ON THE BASIS THAT I CANNOT LIFT 35 POUNDS.
Tell me, please- WHEN HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A 35 POUND TELEPHONE? WHEN HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A 35 POUND MANILA FILE FOLDER?
No- ALL the VA jobs go to MEN MEN MEN MEN MEN. NO WOMEN ALLOWED.
The VA should be the VERY FIRST PLACE THAT HIRES DISABLED VETERANS, especially DISABLED WOMEN who have not been able, even with YEARS of help from the VA employment programs, to find any employment.
And to be ONLY 30% DISABLED? I have met men who are 70% disabled for their backs (I am 0% disabled due to a back problem secondary to my knee that the VA claims that, at age 50, I am too young for them to replace yet I know a LOT of MEN younger than me who the VA has provided knee replacements for!!!). These "70% back-disabled" male veterans do not need back supports (like I have), they do not walk with even a cane (I am PERMANENETLY on Loftstrand, or CUFF, crutches!).
I am THE ONLY FEMALE VETERAN IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF MY AMERICAN LEGION POST. In fact, I have gone to COUNTY AMERICAN LEGION MEETINGS and I am, apparently, the ONLY FEMALE VETERAN IN THE WHOLE WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK, AMERICAN LEGION CHAPTERS!!!
SO, it's no surprise that the ALL-MALE purple heart organization within the Legion refused to help me with any of my problems with the VA, which include neglect and abuse. It's no surprise that our County American Legion reps also refused to help me when the VA tried to throw me into the street rather than allow me to have disabled housing (I am forbidden by my current landlord from asking for ANY type of accomodations for my disability!).
NOBODY GIVES A DAMN ABOUT FEMALE VETERANS, not the VA and NOT THE AMERICAN LEGION and not THE PRESS and not CONGRESSMEN and not the WHITE HOUSE.........
All I get for the 11 years I served prior to becoming too disabled to serve (and then getting ILLEGALLY LET OUT OF THE NATIONAL GUARD WITH NO OPPORTUNITY TO MED-BOARD OUT WITH BENEFITS!!!!!) are slaps in the face for my service, everywhere I go. ANd NO OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE ANY QUALITY OF LIFE OR DIGNITY WHATSOEVER.
30% disabled? That's too pathetic, considering the impact my service connection has had on my life, to even be a joke!!!!!!

I do not understand why the service organizations are asking for resignation of people. If the people have done what is claimed. They have broken not bent the law. Why aren't we sending a sheriff to arrest them? Is it just a bunch of tumors with no proof?

I wholeheartedly agree against accepting resignations; all that says is that they have not been penalized for something they KNEW about, manipulated or allowed others to play with. In short, no resignations, no moves to other Federal organizations and furthermore, we need a wall of shame to place these worthless thieves on.

The VA would be wise to hire only veterans when possiable at all VA factilies. Non-Veterans work at VA factilies do not have the commitment that a veteran would have towards a fellow veteran. I myself have encountered to many workers with a poor attitude and very lax on there duties. They have to understand they work for us. Joe-USMC

Joe, your last sentence says it all , until they understand that they work for us nothing is going to improve.

This is the problem with bureaucracies, ALL bureaucracies. In my youth, I had a law professor who had been a JAG officer who knew a fellow officer who had been an attaché to the Court of Tzar Nicholas II in 1917. There he met a man who was a Count, but not of Russia. He was a Count of the Eastern Roman Empire!! (The title "Count" was given to bureaucrats in the Eastern Roman Empire.) So the bureaucracy NEVER dies. This is why it is so important to nudge your congressmen to really exercise oversight on ALL of the federal bureaucracy, and to use their powers to really punish where necessary. Also remember this the next time someone has a bright idea for a grand new Department of Fleebel that will "fix everything".

This is so typical of all VA run agencies. They deny us, the veterans, of our claims, but take care of themselves. Sounds like the "old boy network", but onow the women are falling to the same temptations. I've been appealing my claim to the Philadelphia VA for more years than I care to remember. Each time I request my complete military and medical records. they're alway missing information. Go figure! I left the Air Force in 1985, so I'm not relating this issue to the St. Louis records fire of 1972. Am I the only one going through this???? Is there a blog, or place where other veterans discuss this and other issues??? Please let me know. I've been scheduled for a BVA hearing in the near future. but how can I prove my problem if the records are incomplete. I was a former 70250C (Orderly Room) chief clerk, before I became a 46150T missile crew member which is where I incurred my injuries. Can someone help me, please???? What is my next point of action???

This is so typical of all VA run agencies. They deny us, the veterans, of our claims, but take care of themselves. Sounds like the "old boy network", but onow the women are falling to the same temptations. I've been appealing my claim to the Philadelphia VA for more years than I care to remember. Each time I request my complete military and medical records. they're alway missing information. Go figure! I left the Air Force in 1985, so I'm not relating this issue to the St. Louis records fire of 1972. Am I the only one going through this???? Is there a blog, or place where other veterans discuss this and other issues??? Please let me know. I've been scheduled for a BVA hearing in the near future. but how can I prove my problem if the records are incomplete. I was a former 70250C (Orderly Room) chief clerk, before I became a 46150T missile crew member which is where I incurred my injuries. Can someone help me, please???? What is my next point of action???

I have to say since Wash DC Congress members have been looking into VA problems my personal experience (starting in Sept 2015) has been very good with no problems. Hope this is true for other military veterans that are truly in need, deserving, and eligible of VA benefits.

While everyone should be held accountable for their actions, I believe it not always as it seems. Fire those that broke the laws but I have had excellent service from all facets of the VA. Appointments are never an issue even if I have to go outside the VA. If we want to discuss transparency and illegal activities then we should not count on Congress to do the right thing. They are all overpaid for what they do and they have never been transparent. If we want the Federal Government fixed, we need to start with the top and the includes the President and Congress. Then we can discuss actual reform.

I was denied because they said I made to much money well if I made that kind money they make I wouldn't need the VA VET FROM 69 to 72.

Most of my COPD Meds Cost a lot of money. So went to the VA to see what they can do to help me. They told me that they are not COVERED BECAUSE they COST too much. I told them that is the reason WHY I came to the VA for help. Like you after I served from May 1st 1968 thru April 22nd 1970. Went to work for IBM for 30yrs and did well with them. Since I get a pension and SS payments each month make too much Money! Like my veterans friends at breakfast tell me since you did well in your life you have to pay for the people who didn't.

Do you smoke?

If you were a "boots on the ground" and serving in Nam,you cannot be denied benefits. Make sure your DD- 214 has the dates you were in country.
I had the same problem but it just seems like some people don't know how to read. Just make sure you have extra copies and if you are close to a hospital go in person to the eligibility office.
Good luck. A 2 503 101

The legion will not and cannot force VA to do anything. When are you going to get it? VA does what they want - when they want. They are accountable to no one. This has to be obvious by now. Oh - someone stepped down, someone is being retrained - it's all BS - they still get benefits and retirement. When do they get prosecuted? What date do they start paying back what they stole? Short answer - never

All SES positions in the VA should be filled by vets.

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." There's nothing new here. Corruption and money go hand and hand. All those with money/power will go to the ends of the earth to keep the rest of us from getting any. As long as it's business as usual around here, it will always remain so. Get pissed and do nothing else or get pissed and do anything you can to alter it. Or just accept it. Isn't it time for Humanity to be human? How many more millenia will we keep taking it up the *ss? Be heard!

I left Ft, Gaines Ga, at 10:00 AM, ihad an appointment 2:pm in Atlanta . I had driven 170miles to reach the V,A, HOSPITLE I aRRIVED 3:30HOSP, tHE PERSON INFO, ME IAM SORRY YOU MISSED YOUR APP, i ASKED WHAT I COULD ABOUT IT, WE HAVE NO APP, NEX HE TELLS ME TO SCHUDLE A APP, HE SAID WE HAVE NO APP, AT THIS TIME, SO I DROVE BACK DOME AND REACHED BACK HOME AT 10;00 PM

Will not join Facebook just to comment for have enough hacking done with adding to Facebook stealing information from people that is forced to sign up with them.

I shattered two vertebrae in an auto accident two years ago and have been in constant pain ever since I keep pressing my primary Doc for treatment and after 18 months they opt to give me a cortisone shot in my spine but they don't have the equipment to see how to get the needle into my spinal column and have to feel their way in, but were unable to get the needle past the bone fragments. However there has been constant remodeling going on at the hospital for the fifteen years I have been a patiant there. Plus, they spent six million dollars to build a fence around the hospital property last year. I don't know if the fence is to keep people out or in, but it sure is a pretty fence. The point is they spend spend spend on rediculous things but can't give a doctor an xray machine to administer a cortisone shot. Who the hell makes all these financial decisions anyhow?

My own personal experience with the VA has been the opposite of what this article and these comments present. I'm think that "eligibility" issues are probably the cause for many bad experiences, so my own good experience is probably a result of my quickly receiving access to full VA primary and specialty care. My local VA hospital has provided unparalleled care for my blindness, cancer, hearing loss, physical therapy needs, emergency room treatment and PTSD counseling needs. I meet with a blinded veterans support group there and all of them have this same opinion of the excellent care they receive. Also, the halls at the hospital here are like a family reunion with cheerful vets looking out for each other and greeting each other. I know that my experience might be different from those who can't seem to get through the eligibility process. I think that the media scandals and articles about the problems should focus on eligibility more. Yet I also acknowledge that many VA hospitals have physicians and staff that aren't up to standards. I'm only trying to provide a balanced view; the administrators are making progress even though they still have much work to do. I also personally met and heard from the new VA chief at a convention this summer where he spoke at length about all these issues. I'm convinced that eligible veterans have reason to be optimistic. I am still concerned about how well eligibility is being handled. I believe that process should be as easy for all qualified veterans as it was for me. I also am working locally on helping ineligible veterans being able to find alternative healthcare more easily. Our blinded veterans support group often finds out about ineligible individuals and yet we still want to carry out our mission of veterans helping veterans. I'm very sorry for those who have reported in their comments about poor access and poor care. I just met with a veteran this week who actually moved regions in order to get better VA healthcare. Obviously, we all want a better solution than that. In the meantime, let's try to help each other as best we can.

I am a 100% disabled Vet, yet the Fresno VAMC refuses to cooperate fully with an investigation by Congressman Costa's office. As a matter of FACT, one response from the Fresno VAMC stated that "We will run this hospital the way we see fit without regard to a U.S. Congressmans inquiries." In my case the Fresno VAMC's dental department is so callus, that when I started seeing them for my dental I had 32 teeth, not perfect, but at least I could eat normal food. Today however I have less than four teeth left due in LARGE part of the dental departments screw ups. If the veterans mean so less to these VAMC hospitals at least pay for outside sources so we can get QUALITY care and not feel like lab rats being experimented on. Another vet had gone into the department with his wife and after a comment by the staff she was in tears. We veterans promised to serve this country without regard for our personal well being. Unfortunately, not all came home, some lost limbs, and some have horrible mental issues. But, bottom line, we DESERVE, DEMAND better treatment.

Closing down the VA and transferring their current responsibilities and activities to others agencies for administering control would make matters worse. YOU ARE CURRENTLY ON THE RIGHT TRACK. Initiate a screening, election, and promotion process that insures those hired are of the highest caliber both morally and professionally. Do away with the current environment; as I understand it to be whereas it takes an act of congress to fire an employee. Create a system that rewards the dedication of those deserving, and send the incompetent ones packing.

First I can say with hesitating that I have received and continue to receive very good care from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. As a disabled veteran I have received excellent care at the Iowa City & Houston VAMCs. But I also know and have seen situations where other veterans are not receiving the care they deserve.

Shuttering the VA Medical System is not the answer counter to what many will say. But one thing is for sure those employees including administrators that are there just to collect a pay check have to go. And you start at the top of the food chain with not only firing administrators, but in certain instances VA administrators should be in prison. You do this aggressively with the FBI leading the investigations. Arrest warrants should be issued, the press notified, and those who are being brought up on criminal charges should be arrested where they work, handcuffed, and escorted out of the facility with television crews and cameras in their faces. Start by making examples of the big dawgs being arrested, tried and convicted and the minnows will follow.

Case in point. A veteran who was 67 years old was essentially killed by a nurse at the Des Moines VAMC in 2012 or 2013. Documents from the Iowa Board of Nursing show nurse recently agreed to surrender his state license for at least a year to settle an ethics charge. However, the board did not fine him or order him to undergo any specific steps before applying for reinstatement.

During the unemployment hearing, a VA administrator said a patient died March 28, 2013, after suffering sinking blood-oxygen levels. An alarm that should have alerted medical staff to the problem had been switched off, the official said.

A respiratory therapist said the patient could have been saved if an alarm had alerted the medical staff to the drop in blood-oxygen levels, according to evidence introduced at the unemployment hearing.

According to the Iowa Board of Nursing Settlement Agreement.

FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES
1. Respondent was employed at a hospital from September 18, 2005 to April 30,
2013.
2. On more than one occasion between October 2012 and March 28, 2013,
while working on a Medical Telemetry Unit, Respondent turned off the warning alarms
for patient(s) on the unit.
3. On March 28,2013, Respondent turned off warning alarms on the Medica!
Telemetry Unit for patient(s) on the evening shift.
4. On March 28, 2013, during the evening shift, a patient on the Medical Telemetry
Unit suffered a decrease in oxygen level and heart rate and the patient expired.

The Des Moines VAMC tried to cover this up. If a Des Moines Register beat reporter who covers unemployment claims appeals had not been at the hearing, this would have gone unnoticed. I have a very simple question why isn't the U.S. Federal Attorney for the Southern District in Iowa prosecuting this guy for criminally negligent homicide?

Enough said.

Have been patient at Richmond VA hospital since 1995.First 9 years were good--most VA staff were vets. But starting in 2004 staff started becoming what it is now--non vets; many MANY foreign born staff, medical and admin. Live 62 miles from hospital; when program to save us traveling that far started, I was enrolled. First appt the VA made for me (skin cancer--dermatologist) was with one 64 miles away in another direction. Now they have made all my appts in last coupla years at Richmond, and pay me $43 for the round trip (less than my expense in ancient Ford pickup with over 290,000 on it) but at least, at 85, I can still drive it. And this Wed they send me to UVA med school for cancer on my snooter. It is about 70 miles--the other side of Richmond from me. They were able to take part of my snoot off for biopsy, but not able to remove the remainder when they found cancer. And I live but 12 miles from Williamsburg, which lists all kind of medical specialists in it phone book. So those fellows are right who point out that the VA is run for its administrators, NOT for vets.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.