VETERANS DAY....CNBC....MORNING EST. WILL GIVE EXACT TIME ASAP !
This is a diary of the CNBC documentary regarding Veterans. This is the story of when the documentary airs, the story behind the story and how I really went public for better treatment of all veterans with a spotlight, especially focused on Florida vets and their VA healthcare in the Sunshine State.
This is the site to CNBC's Dina Gusovsky.
The whole thing started well over a year ago when I hit publish on, “I’m going Public. VA Issues”. Many probably thought at the time that I was just venting. Maybe folks thought that the clip in the diary featuring Wyatt Earp of Tombstone yelling
You tell them the law is coming ! You tell them I’m coming and Hell’s coming with me..was just drama but no it was exactly my sentiment . A week after that
Diary published my interview with Hal Donahue was scheduled. In between the interview schedule and the actual interview, my husband had a heart attack. I had been dogged by sloppy record keeping at the St Pete Regional VA office regarding his permanent disability and I started corresponding with the White House regarding the treatment of veterans in Florida. I was especially angry over records getting misplaced regarding my husband and his permanent disability after 19 years, with no records being made to the electronic VA main number . I have to thank Hal Donahue for that interview !
There was abusive treatment at The Vines Hospital in Ocala because IMO the VA did not want to fool with my vet. The Vines hospital is not or ever has been an alterntative to treat veterans. The poor treatment and threat of arrest and downright cruel treatment at the Gainesville VA was deplorable regarding veterans in Florida. When my vet was shipped off to a private facility because the VA Gainesville gave an excuse that a new wing costing millions had been built yet they were unable to staff it, made me more than furious. A 100 percent total and permanent combat disabled veteran nearly died at that private facility ! We got the bill ! We did not pay it ! How many other veterans who did not have a veteran advocate for a spouse was dying, being abused or just giving up on VA healthcare in Florida? All VA's did not operate in this manner and I knew it.
It appeared that the Gainesville VA was doing as it pleased to whomever it pleased and had no oversight whatsoever. The Veteran Integrated Service Network knew about all of this because I had told them. Angelajean had told them. She called them from Argentina. It was not until the White House got involved did this problem finally get settled with the missing records. The whole problem was not completely settled because there were other veterans and neglect.
This for example taken from the Office of Inspector General
and this from the OIG:
The cardiopulmonary resuscitation review policy and processes complied with requirements for reviews of episodes of care where resuscitation was attempted.The status remains online as pending.
Six months of Emergency Effectiveness Committee meeting minutes reviewed: There was no evidence that the committee reviewed individual resuscitation events.
Many years after my husband had been prescribed special mode of transportation by doctors for wheelchair patients, soon this would be another issue to tackle. I would get disheartened when I would hear of Tucson, Portland and other VA facilities working with efficiency.
I was telling VA officials to please investigate this region of VA healthcare and that included many of us telling the Inspector General. I contacted Patty Murray’s office, our local tea party congressman which is a story in itself and many congress critters who could do something but didn't.
jump below the squiggly for the rest of the story
Recently, about two months ago I was in my car when the phone rang. I stopped for my normal cup of coffee and having a chat with my best friend. This was my quite time. This was what I do in the mornings after getting my daughter to school. Not this morning. This morning I had to put my friend Michelle on hold when I had received a phone call from a doctor I had never met that was about to whistle blow on the Gainesville VA. This doctor was angry and going to expose the wrongdoings of Florida VA and other VA facilities. I listened intensely . This was a surgeon and a doctor who should not be dismissed and her stories were downright scary. She had been given my number and was talking to big named news people. I walked into my house and thought for a long time about the conversation she and I had and consequences of these veterans who needed a voice.
I thought deeply about this major national / international producer and anchor who was about to contact me. I said I would go public and here it was. I made it clear that not all VA's are alike and some of the best healthcare could be obtained from the VA healthcare system if there was proper oversight and follow up. There was just too much getting ignored and veterans were getting hurt. Some were dying. The truth is that many of the workers in that VA Health center are veterans themselves who were not being treated fairly by these big folks in management getting bonuses.
Did I have doubts about going on national television and calling out Florida and it’s treatment of veterans? I had concern. One does not have a family member in a system that is failing and about to get the spotlight turned on them in a whistleblowing atmosphere from a credible news source. This was not the local news. This was a world renowned journalist, anchor, producer, and was extremely credible. She wanted to interview me. She called me. She wanted a story about things she had been hearing. This was the national whistle I knew I could help blow. This documentary was my hammer, this was my bell and a voice to sing.
I had been gathering documentation for some time. I had phone numbers and names and incidents and now I had the media attention to call for an investigation of the ridiculous backlog , the sloppy record keeping , the uncaring treatment of veterans. I then learn of all of the huge bonuses being given out to VA administrators for poor performance and the vets being thrown to the wind. For one solid month I was either on the phone or on the internet with this reporter gathering info and discussing the treatment or lack of treatment in this region. This was completely voluntary and no one was paid as it should be because raw and real truth comes from from unpaid interviews.
This was not a paid interview. This was not a 15 minute fame grab. This was a loud call for fair and just treatment to those who have served their country and proudly worn the uniform and had sacraficed greatly. This was about promises not kept and there is no amount of money to silence me or pay me to do what I feel so passionate about, contrary to what some people could think.
There were no prepared questions or answers. It was a one on one talk. I had no clue and neither did Jack of what questions would be asked. We never stopped and said we will do a do over. That did not happen. The question was out there and the questions were answered to the best of our knowledge and ability. Dina let us share the troubles that we were aware of at the Gainesville VA and grievances with no interruption. I know much can end up on the cutting floor I hope not.
Weeks before the interview was scheduled the government shuts down I became more determined to go on the air because from all indication from others and myself, It appeared the tea party had a hand in decision making for the VA in Florida. I am totally bipartisan when it comes to veterans because a bullet does not distinguish between political party affiliations.
The weekend before the interview, Mike Testvet 6778 died. I was distraught and this interview would be my tribute to one of the finest patriot and advocate that I had the pleasure to get to know. The day before the interview llbear got very sick and I was trying to coordinate a hospital visit to help Sara with llbear. The whole month was work from beginning to end. I had to keep my mouth shut before and after the interview to make sure the story was not killed.
The day before the interview I was practically broke and actually borrowed some cash for a motel room that would be reimbursed but I had no idea when. I was also facing a shutdown of not knowing when we would get paid. I chose Motel 6. I would get on Daily Kos and post comments but there would be times I was reading emails from CNBC’s Dina Gusvosky while posting trying to seem like everything was normal. All of my time was being consumed with this project. There were thousands of pages of medical records to go through and sort. There was correspondence that had to be searched for regarding the last year and half from VA officials and congressional letters plus personal notes and journals.
There were veterans who were calling out for help right here in Florida and I could not reassure them that I was going to try and get awareness brought into the picture. I was gagged and so many times I wanted to post a diary and knew I couldn’t. There was homework to help with, normal school functions, regular if not more caregiving and it was probably the hardest thing to do while still grieving over my Father. The quilt from Sara idea came from out of the blue and timely because I needed it.
Jax Dem held me up in prayer daily, not even knowing any details. Jax was my touchstone in all of this. She knew I was involved in a project. She was my rock. There were days I just held the phone and cried on Jax Dem's shoulder as this was so stressful.
I got even more concerned, not paranoid but concerned when I got a call from Dina saying there might be a leak from somewhere as all the employees at the VA were told NOT to speak to the media. I assured her I had kept painfully quite. Dina was in DC that day interviewing the chairman of the Veterans committee. This was the same day the shooting was happening in DC. When you get an urgent Email that says CALL ME…….4 times…you pay attention. This is especially true when you know there has just been a shooting at the capitol.
I had unusual things happen, like the very first time I spoke to Dina…Congressman Nugent sent me three letters inviting me to a Veterans Meetup to discuss VA issues with him in another county. Things like that tend to make you go Hmmmmm. He never had before and his staffer made things worse when I had tried to enlist her help with special mode of transportation that had been cut for no reason causing my husband to miss over 3 months of appointments and treatment. To date, he still has not seen his psychiatrist since April or May.
The same day the letter telling VA employees not to talk to the media, my husband was mailed a letter that he suddenly qualified for special mode.. Imagine that ? Coincidence ? I really don’t think so. I had fought with those people for months . Administrators and pencil pushers were overriding doctors orders and my husband was suffering. How many more were there? How many VA administrators were saying, " Sorry, you can take two steps..be happy with your wheelchair and then they cancel VA appointments." There were lies in the records. Flat out lies. The records were trying to cover tracks. They were very bad at it.
There was one chief doctor who called to try and get my vet back on schedule for treatment and I could only imagine what he must have faced reaching out to us. He did well by us but the heat was on and I quoted to him the "DO NO HARM". That doctor must have took heart with that oath and started to try and get us help. He did get my husband a good primary doctor after we requested another doctor after his primary suddenly left the clinic. The doctor he has now seems to be a very thorough physician. The initial doctor who took the absent doctor's place caused many problems for us and never once spoke to my husband and we wanted another doctor.
The day of the interview arrived and I was not nervous about the interview but concerned of my husband who they wanted to interview as well as concern for him making that trip while in pain. He did not rest after the 60 some odd mile trip and was not feeling well at all.
The morning of the interview I met with Dina and we talked as if we were old friends. She is very gracious and made me and my vet comfortable. She was a breath of fresh air with her concerns. As we got to the interview couch, I was more concerned with Jack’s pain than the lights and cameras.
We had a conversation that needed to be told over a year ago and she had sincere interest. I had ideas of how a VA should function better in this region and I was calling for accountability. Jack told his story from a veteran’s perspective. He told a story of how it feels to be thrown away after war and sacrifice. The story then turned into a heartbreak because Jack's story was so compelling from a vet's perspective.
After the interview I felt we had accomplished but my life is never without incident. Just, as we were getting into the car Vet had a back spasm and my hand was on the back of the seat when he slammed into the back of the seat in pain not knowing my hand was there for the seat belt and my hand now had busted vessels and was swelling. That hand turned black and blue all the way past the wrist and stayed that way for nearly a month. I had to drive back home with that messed up hand.
The camera was rolling and caught that accident but I said, " Oh yeah I am fine". I downplayed the hand big time as I knew they wanted to film Vet's struggle and not what happens if one gets caught in the line of a fall. He had pushed himself walking and spasms do occur when he walks over three or four steps. When the spasms hit, he screams in pain and his entire body seems to lock up. Many times the camera would stop while he rested up against the wall when he tried to walk until we got into the room for the interview.
This lady Dina, is a pro from word go. She has interviewed people like Dennis Kucinich, Henry Kissinger, Michael Moore and she and I had bonded in our plight to help vets. She was the media anchor who broke the story on Pittsburg VA..
Dina boarded a plane to Russia after our interview and said she would be in touch. She has been. We have stayed in touch since the interview .
I said I was going public and I knew I would. I just didn’t know it would reach this level of media attention. The plan is to air the VA mistreatment of veterans, coming from regional officials to administrators in medical centers and to tell the stories of how the veteran , family and advocates feel. It is about suggestions to help the veterans, especially in Florida. I hope it does not all get edited out as I said exactly how poorly Florida veterans were treated and needed oversight.
I went about as public as one person can go and let us hope things start changing in Florida and all the other VA facilities who think they can dishonor Abraham Lincoln’s words of those who borne the battle. Dina actually handed us those words during the interview and asked what we thought about it, and I said,
" Very well stated but hypocritical with some VA's today who are waiting for the vets to die rather than heed those words". " Many veterans feel that way when not being properly cared for.
I praised the VA facilities that do work and wanted the same treatment for Florida that functioning VA’s got. I thought of Sarah Palin at that farce of protest in DC and then thought again of this Kossack. I had written a diary years ago that I was more important than Sarah Palin and I wrote it with some snark as my cat is more important than Sarah Palin . I did smile however when a real journalist called me and wanted to sit down and discuss real issues. This interview was not a Glen Beck nor a Sean Hannity but a producer from CNBC , RT, and Bloomberg News. This was a very well informed news anchor who wanted a story told and some information for issues to be resolved on a national and regional level regarding better treatment to our veterans and she called me. She did not call Sarah Palin.
It was discussed of reading Testvet's letter to Bernie Sanders. I did made sure she had a copy of Mike Bailey's diary pleading with his dying breath for better treatment for all vets. I don't know how the story will end and I have not seen the edited version. Dorie was also so griefstricken she was unable to speak to this correspondent.
As I write this diary I am reminded of meeting Peter Yarrow and meeting him at the ADA 10th anniversary and also thought of the song ," If I had a Hammer". This is my story the day I had a hammer, a bell to ring, and a song to sing for veterans. This is the project that has had me tied up almost 24/7 since Sept. 9th until just three days ago.
I decided to keep the organization going because I have no idea where this whistlblow could lead. I don't know if there will be congressional hearings or bigger push backs or what but I am glad we did this. Something and someone needed to step up for all who had been mistreated or abused or neglected in this state. The VA down here needs a microscope and I believe I said that over a year ago. This time I got to say it to the press.
As you remember this coming Veterans Day 2013, reach out and help in any way you can for our nation's veterans. Remember Sarah's quilt diaries and how she wanted to make my veteran comfortable in her loving quilt and remember my small organization to further help veterans. Do what you can do. Visit an aging vet, a simple thank you, or a hug.
Dina told me she was very familiar with The Daily Kos. She said it as if she was a frequent reader.
6:35 PM PT: THE NAME OF THE DOCUMENTARY I JUST FOUND OUT IS
DEATH AND DISHONOR...
CRISIS AT THE VA
BEING PROMOTED ABOUT ANOTHER VA TOMORROW AND THE
ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY PROMOTED AND SHOWN MONDAY..STILL NO TIME
6:45 PM PT: just got info that our segment will be promoted ..a short part promoon tv Mon evening and the entire documentary will begin Monday morning..the entire documentary. ONLINE.
Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 9:55 AM PT: Here is the updaate from the reporter's facebook
and the pic below