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After meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, President Obama is scheduled to make a statement addressing the serious VA health care delivery problems. His statement is expected to begin at 10:45 AM ET and we'll provide live updates.

7:58 AM PT: President Obama just arrived at the podium.

8:00 AM PT: Obama says he just met with Secretary Shinseki and Rob Nabors, the White House aide he's temporarily detailed to address the problems at the VA. Says "the most searing moments" of his presidency has been visiting wounded veterans. "So when I hear allegations of misconduct [...] I will not stand for it."

8:01 AM PT: "If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and it will not be tolerated, period." Obama says he's directed Shinseki to hold accountable anyone found to have manipulated records relating to wait times or other misconduct.

8:03 AM PT: Obama says preliminary results of a nationwide review of problems from Shinseki next week and that he's tasked Rob Nabors to be the White House point person. Obama says that the problems are not new, but "we've got to do better."

8:04 AM PT: Obama also says he instructed everyone in his administration involved in fixing the VA problems to cooperate fully with Congress. "It is important that our veterans don't become another political football," he says. "Even as we get to the bottom of what happened at Phoenix and other facilities, all of us need to focus on our larger mission, which is upholding our sacred" promises to the nation's veterans.

8:06 AM PT: Obama notes that in recent years there have been many improvements in delivery of care and benefits for veterans, but he acknowledges that with expanded benefits came increased wait times, and says reducing those wait times has been and will continue to be a priority.

8:07 AM PT: "We're going to have to redouble our efforts to get it right, as a nation [...] We're going to fix" what went wrong. Now the president will take two questions.

8:10 AM PT: The first question is about the Phoenix wait times, where 40 vets died while waiting for appointments. The president says all the facts aren't in, but says that the deaths weren't necessarily caused by the waits, but also says that doesn't excuse the fact that there were waits.

8:12 AM PT: On Eric Shinseki: "Nobody cares more about our nation's veterans. [...] He has put his heart and soul into this thing" but he says "I am going to make sure there is accountability throughout the system after I get the full report."

8:13 AM PT: And another question about Shinseki's fate. Seems like a very Washington way of looking at things. Obama says essentially the same thing that he's said before, but also says that he's confident that Shinseki won't want to keep the job if he doesn't feel like he's the right guy to fix the problems.

8:18 AM PT: Obama closes by saying that much of the VA's staff is absolutely dedicated to its mission. "This is a big system with a lot of really good people in it who care about our veterans deeply. [...] I don't want us to lose sight of the fact that there a lot of folks working in the VA who are doing a really good job." But, he says, "that does not excuse" the problems in the system. In other words, he doesn't want to condemn the VA as a whole, but he also doesn't want to tolerate holes in the system.

8:20 AM PT: Obama says the thing that disturbs him most are the reports that numbers have been manipulated, saying that it's always possible to fix problems—but when people cover up problems, it makes things even worse, because not only does the underlying problem remain in place, but it is concealed, making it impossible to fix. And after making that point, the president has concluded his statement and mini-press conference.

9:50 AM PT: Here's the transcript of President Obama's remarks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What is the Over/Under on when (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skyye, commonmass, OHdog

    the statement REALLY starts?

    Rush — the quivering rage heap who is apparently desperately trying to extinguish any remaining molecule of humanity that might still reside in the Chernobyl-esque Superfund cleanup site that was his soul. -- Jon Stewart

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Wed May 21, 2014 at 07:48:22 AM PDT

  •  Is it just me.... (3+ / 0-)

    ...or does Obama seem to be responding to the ridicule on the daily show.  Silence until Stewart and Colbert start laughing at you then action.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Wed May 21, 2014 at 07:54:34 AM PDT

  •  Why not place every veteran under the ACA? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, JJ In Illinois, wader

    I'm sure that the lawmakers can craft a plan for any and all situations.  If a veteran is getting all medical expenses through the VA, have the veteran get a 100% subsidy to pay for the insurance.  Also, this plan would be for veterans only, thus they would have no co-pays, or deductibles.  Additionally, think of the fact that they are not restricted to going to VA hospitals, and clinics.  They could go to facilities that are a lot closer to their homes.  I do realize that this may not be good for all those employed by the VA because there will be massive job losses.  I would think that if the Democrats came up with a plan, what Republican would vote against taking better care of the veterans that they sent to war in Afghanistan, and Iraq?  On the other hand,  if the Republicans came up with a plan, what Democrat would vote against strengthening the benefits of having the Affordable Care Act?  Maybe I'm dreaming, but what a Catch-22 for all of them.

    By the authority vested in me by Kaiser Wilhelm II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution...and the kiddie pool needs to stay open 24/7!

    by HarryParatestis on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:00:23 AM PDT

  •  Why aren't the GOP SLAMMING him over this?..... (4+ / 0-)

    seems like a perfect opportunity....facts be damned.

  •  O's polling was improving (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell

    almost back to even...before this VA imbroglio hit. Now the numbers are pretty bad again. He'll have to get out in front of this very strongly

  •  He's going to take a pounding, and its deserved. n (5+ / 0-)
    •  Bullshit. I'm a vet, and I've had EXCELLENT (21+ / 0-)

      treatment. Shinseki has busted his balls getting homeless vets off the streets. It's a huge system, and Obama has shown great care for vets.

      The war mongers loaded up the VA hospitals with bodies, and you want Obama to take a pounding? SHIT.

      "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

      by Wildthumb on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:20:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't fit the narrative (0+ / 0-)
        The war mongers loaded up the VA hospitals with bodies, and you want Obama to take a pounding? SHIT.

        "The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy." Kurt Vonnegut - "A Man Without a Country", 2005.

        by BOHICA on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:23:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Get over yourself. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JJ In Illinois

        The buck stops somewhere doesn't it? Like with the Commander in Chief?

        He wouldnt be out here talking about this if this wasn't a fuck up.

        •  YOU get over yourself. What are you responsible (7+ / 0-)

          for? Go down to the local VA yourself, brother. Get a load of all the miserable vets I see over there in wheelchairs.

          "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

          by Wildthumb on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:27:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is such a meaningless cliche. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          askew, MPociask

          "The buck stops here" is one of those things people say instead of having a point.

          Things happen in government for a lot of reasons. Jumping directly into the Oval Office because of a cliche is lazy thinking.

          Art is the handmaid of human good.

          by joe from Lowell on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:48:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  "it's deserved"....how ridiculous. Then you return (9+ / 0-)

          with the old bromide of the "buck stops here". Of course, the buck stops with the President, but to argue that the President deserves to be blamed because one or two or three individuals in Arizona mismanaged their department is nonsensical.

          What do you want the President to do, micromanage every individual in the 280,000 people government system?

          The VA has been backlogged for decades and the President in 6 years has cut wait time down to half. But the more wars we are forced to nurse the more new veterans will come into the system. As bad as it has been for the decades before the President entered office, you can just imagine the unbelievable bureaucratic storm the VA has had to deal with since Bush left us with his two wars.

          And you are proclaiming that this is Obama's "fuck up"? That's just like the Republicans blaming Obama for the IRS scandal...utter, utter, nonsense.

          •  Jesus. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            greenbell

            Everything is rox/sux with you people isnt it? No criticism is fair, no praise is sufficient. Or, no critcism is harsh enough, no praise is deserved.

            •  The issue is whether or not the criticism is fair. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SaintC, Loge, askew
              •  Senator Obama was on the vets affairs (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                greenbell

                committee. He's gotten his requests for the VA from Congress, so there isnt a money issue. He's placed a respected general in charge of the department who has done an excellent job in most areas. And the First Lady has made vets families a marquee priority.

                So, therefore, it isnt crazy to say that this administration has been very involved in vets affairs and here we have a striking example, of a clear lack of management and supervision. Management and supervision of cabinet departments is the President's job. So, fuck ups are fuck ups and hes responsible. This was a fuck up on an otherwise decent record. And it isnt a new one, as Vets groups have been raising hell about it for years.

                That amounts to fair criticism in my book. Not partisan, not make-shit-up, but fair.

                •  Going by your own words: (0+ / 0-)
                  He's placed a respected general in charge of the department who has done an excellent job in most areas.
                  Ergo?
                  Management and supervision of cabinet departments is the President's job. So, fuck ups are fuck ups and hes responsible.
                  So the President is managing his "respected general who has done an excellent job in most areas" And Bob and Jane and Tim in Arizona screwed up their department.....

                  Therefore, the President is no longer managing his cabinet official but managing Bob and Jane and Tim, way below his cabinet official. And is Responsible for the fact that Bob and Jane and Tim screwed up....

                  I'm a high jump fan, and I've seen some great leaps in the 2012 Olympics, where Ivan Ukhov won the gold for Russia....

                  I think you just out-leaped him....

                  •  You said all that, making up shit in your (0+ / 0-)

                    head that I never said. What have I in fact said? That the criticism over this is fair. That the president is accountable. That we should wait for the report before any action is called for. That the president speaking about indicates its seriousness.

                    I wont even bother anymore because there is no point with you people. Obama is immaculate and cannot make mistakes, end of story.

      •  This has been going on at least 4 years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brooklynbadboy

        The record manipulation system-wide has been known about since 2010.  But, now we will be subjected to a year or more wait while we have a new "investigation".

        This memo shows that the VA knew of records manipulation in 2010

        Robert Petzel resigned last week as the top health official for the Department of Veterans Affairs, just one day after testifying before a Senate committee that he knew VA health clinics were using inappropriate scheduling practices as early as 2010.

        Whistleblowers claim the schemes continued until this year, leading to a recent wave of outrage that sent the VA and White House scrambling to correct the alleged problems and restore confidence in the department.

        And maybe you have been lucky.. but months-long waits for a simple appointment are common.

        As Eugene Robinson said the other day:

        Heads need to roll at the VA

        •  Vets groups have been sounding the alarm for years (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JJ In Illinois

          but this guy says 'I'm good so whats the problem?!'

        •  I'm NOT the only one who is "lucky." Millions (8+ / 0-)

          get good treatment and concern all the time. I see the care and mutual respect every time I go to the local VA healthcare facility in Long Beach, CA. I know a social worker who works at the VA with PTSD patients, alcoholics, psychiatric cases, homeless vets, etc. and he weeps about it. I went to the VA years ago and the improvement now is LIGHT YEARS ahead of what it was. I'll testify anytime for these folks, who right now are probably really upset because others let them down.

          "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

          by Wildthumb on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:40:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You forgetting Obama's SURGE in Afghanistan? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dinazina, MPociask
        The war mongers loaded up the VA hospitals with bodies, and you want Obama to take a pounding?
        There were 32,000 American troops in Afghanistan when Obama took office.  He tripled that, to slightly over 100K, and held it there for a year and a half.   So it's a little silly to let Obama off the hook for the surge in casualties.
    •  agreed. I support Obama but his speach was (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask

      "Blah blah blah, study, find out, blah blah.

      it was incredibly weak.

      He should have taken executive action.  the backlog ends now!  if vets cant see a VA doc, then send him to another doctor and we pay for it.

      you can study this to death.  literally.  (i hate the overuse of that word too).

      •  Well, lets give him time to get the report. (4+ / 0-)

        He's sending Rob Nabors over to go knock heads around, and im confident he will.

      •  You factfind first, then fix the issues across (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terranova108, FindingMyVoice, zizi

        the board.

        Obama has always been big on prepping for action - that's his schtik, not just a delaying tactic that's often used by uninterested politicians.

        In this case, he doesn't know where to concentrate efforts that will surely help with, for example, backlog management.  But, he politically wanted to get ahead of this issue and came out to mention intent, status and next steps. Without being a Republican who uses this as an cover for never intending to do anything.

        Proof will be in the followup.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Wed May 21, 2014 at 09:02:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  6 years later politically this was the worst press (0+ / 0-)

          conference that I have ever seen.  

          He has been saying study blah blah money blah study for 6 years now.  

          love this president but still think yesterday was awful.  

          I am not one who thinks the firing would make a difference but  he should have been able to say all of these people on lists will be called and scheduled today and tomorrow.

  •  At a fundamental level, as is true throughout (5+ / 0-)

    our government, there is not enough money for the VA to perform its appointed tasks. The buck stops with Obama to the extent he hasn't been raising a shitstorm over systemic inequality since he took office.

    "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

    by Mogolori on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:17:55 AM PDT

  •  Everyone in government today drinks Reagan's (6+ / 0-)

    Kool-aid and doesn't think for a minute.

    That sonofab*tch Bush started two wars and declared them "over" months into the longest military intervention in a foreign country in the history of the United States, and then he and his party decided that caring for veterans was not a priority.

    And now, the Vets, and President Obama, are "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy".

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

    by commonmass on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:19:36 AM PDT

  •  Hire vets and their spouses to perform data entry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wildthumb, wader

    and give them three weeks training in eligibility determination.  They are motivated and capable.  

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:20:42 AM PDT

  •  I'll just say that the VA has provided excellent (6+ / 0-)

    care for my grandfather. Better care than he would get through ACA or any other system. I know there will be cries in the media that the VA should be privatized and dismantled that it is a failure. It isn't a failure and it has been improving.

    President Obama at Madison Rally 9/28/2010 - "Change is not a spectator sport."

    by askew on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:23:56 AM PDT

  •  I don't know what to think of this (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueKS, OHdog, wader, Auriandra, aimeehs, askew

    On one hand the VA seems to have real problems that needs to be fixed.

    On the other hand, the VA is much more efficient, and has higher patient satisfaction, than private healthcare.

    http://www.va.gov/...

    http://www.va.gov/...

    http://www.va.gov/...

    So moving veterans to private insurance plans (ACA) would just decrease service while raising costs, which sounds like it would make things worse, not better. The only "benefit" to doing this would be to increase waste, which is insurance company profit, which is bad for taxpayers and patients, but good for insurance companies.

    Instead, the response should be to fund the VA to the level that was requested (which Republicans blocked!) so that they can increase capacity to reduce the delays (the main negative) and make their service even better.

  •  I just heard the word "bonuses". (3+ / 0-)

    If it turns out that folks have cooked the books in order to receive bonuses, I want heads to roll!

    The sooner the better......

    I am Joe's Steven......

    by Joes Steven on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:25:58 AM PDT

  •  I'm not making an excuse for this.... (10+ / 0-)

    The people who cooked up this secret waiting list were clearly wrong in doing this but in a way I can understand how it happened.
    No one seems to be addressing why there are long waiting times. About 150 major medical centers and 850 outpatient facilities to handle 200 million appts/yr. Some higher up in the VA system says, "there shall be no more than 14 days to wait to be seen", yet I don't see Congress appropriating funds to provide more infrastructure, physicians, support staff, etc... to accomplish this goal. Just a lot of hot air. People wait because resources are finite and a facility can logistically see only so many people a day. When someone's job depends on hitting some mindless metric they really can't control, sometimes they will wrongly turn to nefarious means to save their livelihoods, even if they commit unethical acts to do so.
    I watched some guy on MSNBC say we should just chuck the VA and dump these patients into the non-VA medical system. Good luck getting shorter wait times there. Just try to make a doctor's appointment and wait less than 3-6 months in the real world. Not gonna happen.

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:28:41 AM PDT

    •  1700 sites according to VA (0+ / 0-)

      And 3-6 months?  Where do you live?  Maybe on a narrow network ACA plan.  We can get in to see a doc in a few days here.

      But one of the biggest problems with the way the VA system is set up is that many vets have to travel hours to get to those appointments.  And treatments for diagnosed illnesses sometimes require them to travel hours more.  In some cases weekly in the case of radiation and chemo treatments.

      I say do away with the VA and put all our vets on a Cadillac insurance plan and let them go wherever they like.

  •  Obama has thrown money at the VA (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wildthumb, OHdog, joe from Lowell, askew

    Bush's last budget highlights, amounts, priorities total 93.7:

    http://www1.va.gov/...

    BUdget report for Obama's 2013 budget: total budget $140 billion, also breakdowns of spending, priorities:

    Budget for 2014:

    http://www.usatoday.com/...

    The medical treatment times is a new twist on the most reported problems, which in years past focused publicly  more with handling disability clams.  Which is understandable if various hospitals were cooking the books on wait times.  Nobody believes patients (not even their doctors many times).

    http://www.latimes.com/...

    I am sure tha the scandal won't go away, it is the best thing the Republicans have been able to dig up, with some real meat to it.   On the other hand it may be a few of the hospitals with largest demand, which means lots of patients denied, but isn't a deliberate policy of the VA.  Time will tell as the IG reports are completed and made public how deep this goes.

    •  ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfromga, Joes Steven, FindingMyVoice
      On the other hand it may be a few of the hospitals with largest demand, which means lots of patients denied, but isn't a deliberate policy of the VA.
      From the LA Times link above:
      The 1,700 hospitals and clinics in the VA system — the nation's largest integrated healthcare network — now handle 80 million outpatient visits a year.
      That's a lot of visits!

      I think one of the missing elements is that many vets don't understand they have veteran service officers from the various veterans groups (VFW, DAV, etc) who will help them navigate the system and advocate for them. Also their local congressional delegation have veteran liaisons at their local offices, mine has 6 that just deal with vet issues.

      My disability claim took all of 4 months.

      BOHICA
      RA18960500

      Repentant ex member of Murder Inc.
      Southeast Asia Division
      Our motto, "Kill Anything That Moves"

      "The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy." Kurt Vonnegut - "A Man Without a Country", 2005.

      by BOHICA on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:52:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand it is huge (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BOHICA, Auriandra

        I was at a seminar yesterday where the state veterans agency mentioned that Georgia vets/facilites receive some 6 plus billion a year, $4.6 in direct benefits, other in support of agencies, hospitals, clinics.  Georgia also has for its population a large number of totally disabled vets.  

        I think the Obama administration has made efforts to make things better, much better than Bush did or MCCain would have done, more money, more facilities and improvements in existing facilities, more patients seen, more disability claims handled.   But its is one very big swamp with a lot of alligators that were allowed to flourish for a long time before Obama was elected.  And even the large increase in budget isn't enough money to address everything that has been undone for a long time.

    •  Its the one thing ive seen thats fair. (0+ / 0-)

      Congress hasnt deprived the VA of money, so what we have here is a management problem.

  •  Funding went down during the Republican (ie Bush) (0+ / 0-)

    reign for VA and other veteran benefits. Real reason these incidents are being blown up in the media is so Repubs can point at how 1) government can't do anything good, 2) government delivery of health care will always be flawed, 3) and also lower credibility of Shinseki who was the most prominent Military professional who called bullshit on the Bush manpower  plans prior to the US invasion of Iraq.

    Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

    by OHdog on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:36:18 AM PDT

  •  In 2002-2003 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, Auriandra, Joes Steven, oldhippie

    We headed, full speed ahead, down the road to war in the Middle East. We did it without the resources to commit war on either Afghanistan or Irak - at least the way in which the Bush administration and Congress intended to fight these wars.

    We chose on-day-one not to pay for the consequences of our actions, and I seriously doubt the U.S. ever will. We put the immediate costs on a credit card and refused to acknowledge the continuing, the predictable and the predicted costs of committing war. We did not raise the revenue for war, the resources needed to commit war or bring in the people (troops) needed to do what their country demanded that they do on our behalf.

    We deliberately and indifferently ignored the enormous, long-term, and ongoing costs of our folly, arrogance and misadventure. Most of these long-term costs were going to affect the people on whom we committed war, and on the U.S. forces that we placed in an impossible situation. Our government, on our behalf, demanded our forces undertake these impossible tasks tour after tour after tour after tour.

    We lost (badly) the war to help keep the U.S. safer the day we invaded Irak. We lost another level of our conscience shortly thereafter when we ignored the human costs that were occurring and would continue to occur, for decades; and we ignored the responsibility to prepare for those human consequences that would be our responsibility for years and decades to come.

    Throughout the past decade, the media has played one feel-good story after another about an individual soldier who has "overcome great hardship" with the help of a dedicated rehab staff, or a prosthetic limb, or faith in G-d, or a companion dog, or a (dubious) medical breakthrough etc. etc.  At the same time, we completely ignored the REAL story of the thousands who were joining the ranks of the horribly damaged and suffering. We also continued failing to acknowledge the issue and pay-up for our responsibility to the people returning from the U.S. wars.  

    The U.S. will never take responsibility for the damage it has done. We can at least take responsibility for those we sent into the war zone as pawns to assuage the political incompetence, cowardice and greed of those who demanded our forces to fight; and subsequently to return badly injured or with permanent disabilities.

    sláinte,
    cl
    -- Religion is like sodomy: both can be harmless when practiced between consenting adults but neither should be imposed upon children.

    by Caoimhin Laochdha on Wed May 21, 2014 at 08:47:26 AM PDT

  •  If only there was this much outrage... (0+ / 0-)

    When the right wing sent these kids into an unnecessary war.  

    But it's Obama's fault or something that the victims of Bush/Cheney ego didn't get medical care for problems that somehow magically appeared out of thin air.

    America's "news" media in action/

  •  I have had a Love/Hate relationship (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marzook, Hawkjt

    with the VA for over a decade.  It is so complex and so intense that sometimes I cry driving home out of anger, and sometimes out of joy.  I take +thirty medications daily.  I am a 50% Disabled Vietnam Veteran diagnosed with Agent Orange related Heart Disease (30% only - Appeal denied) and PTSD @ an effective 20%).  I had had good outpatient treatment over ten years but recent hospitalizations were so traumatic and awful, I felt trapped in a sick joke.

    The VA has a disturbing edge to it - sometimes staff, sometimes patients, sometimes wait lists, sometimes just black hole frustration.

    Obama has done far more than most presidents and he is sincere.   He should have ended with "God help the VA" today.

  •   Neocons have always argued against single payer, (0+ / 0-)

    now they have an example [we suck at it].
    Medicare for all was a nice dream though.

  •  Snowden, anyone ? (0+ / 0-)
    ... it's always possible to fix problems—but when people cover up problems, it makes things even worse, because not only does the underlying problem remain in place, but it is concealed, making it impossible to fix.
    i believe the 'proceed' is in your court, POTUS.

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Wed May 21, 2014 at 09:48:30 AM PDT

  •  As a veteran who retired from the VA, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nannyberry

    the operative word is Budget. The cause of problems is understaffing. The reason the VA is understaffed is that proper staffing to help veterans under the current laws costs a lot of money. Too much money spent on veterans means the total cost attributed to wars and military will probably turn people off more than they already are, and the powers that be would rather pretend they have it under control if people would only do their job. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. VA primary care Drs. have too many vets assigned to them. VA Disability Compensation decision makers are miserably understaffed. In 2001, the VA in the office in which I worked was 2 years behind in making decisions on disability claims. I do not know what it is now that veterans are are coming back in droves from Iraq and Afghanistan, but it can't be good. Trust me. It all takes money and people and they don't want to spend that much money. My educated guess is the VA will essentially remain a huge problem for veterans and for VA employees. After all, only about 5% of Americans are directly effected by war, and that means it is a minor glitch in most peoples' lives.

    •  I've a friend who's been waiting since Gulf War 1 (0+ / 0-)

      on his disability claim. As his family calls him a malingerer and the VA continuously loses all his records it's pretty much on his friends to care for him. The big problem with disability compensation decision makers is there are generations of workers who only know how to say no. (As a trivial example my friend had his claim sent back to square one after his psychiatrist was relieved of duty when it became clear she had NEVER approved a claim. She hadn't seen a deserving claimant in all the ten years she worked for the VA.) And keeping the decisions in process for decades guarantees employment.

      •  I understand your friend's frustration, (0+ / 0-)

        but the vast majority of Ratings Specialists follow the guidelines assiduously, with supervision in place which has a distinct aversion to arbitrary findings. There are individuals, such as the person you describe, seemingly, who are more interested in their "numbers" finding favor with popular emphases and trends which appear and recede regularly. The Ratings Specialists are dedicated to meeting their obligations to veterans, as a rule. Shortcuts at that level rarely occur. One of the problems is citing actual proof that the disability was incurred as a result of military service, with proof of treatment sought while the veteran is still in the military, by military personnel.
        Meeting all conditions for disabilties is a fact of life. Rarely do Ratings personnel get in a pi**ing contest with a veteran for no reason. Not saying it doesn't happen. Veterans also can reapply if their claim is denied but they need to supply the VA with new and/or compelling data. As I said in my earlier post, the biggest problem is a shortage of key personnel.  

        •  My friend is not interested (0+ / 0-)

          in whatever game it is you are accusing him of. He wants to live. He's 47 years old now, looks like a man in his 60s. A sick man in his 60s.  He's worn out. His claim will meet final disposition when he dies.

          Any favorable ruling on a claim is a cost to the Treasury. Telling an old soldier to "suck it up" one more time costs nothing. That's what PTSD victims are told all the time. Oh, past PTSD he's got agoraphobia. When something slips up and none of his network drives him to the VA he takes the bus. Half the time the bus driver stops and gets him an ambulance. They shoot him up with thorazine, hold him a few days, send him home with a clean bill of health. Endless.

          •  Try writing congressman, using VFW or one of (0+ / 0-)

            the other veterans' organizations. Emphasize specific incident(s) in his military history which caused him PTSD. Those are called "stressors". No limit to his reapplying that I am aware of, but he has to meet the criteria from the standpoint of his military service causing his problems. I am on your side, not accusing him of anything, but most VA Ratings Specialists are trying to do the right thing under the laws, and they have, or did have, a huge backlog of claims, so it is slow. That is why I emphasize the fact if the govt. does not budget more money for veterans, this will not improve. Keep trying.

            •  Service history? Sure (0+ / 0-)

              Not many civilians will spend two weeks in a cold storage locker in Saudi with a thousand or more Iraqi corpses "gathering intelligence data". With the lieutenant stopping by from time to time to warn that some of these stiffs are playing possum, trying for those 27 virgins. Until one of the kids, and they were kids, flips out and starts shooting. Of course treating enemy fallen as inventory to be measured, catalogued, examined is a war crime and really, who wants to talk about war crimes? Embarrassing stuff best swept under the rug.

              VFW is for old old old soldiers who get trotted out in their walkers and wheelchairs on patriotic holidays.  Every congressman and senator in twenty years has been approached and a few have been some help with technical bureaucratic details, none have thought 2 seconds about advocacy. It is not slow. The intent, whether you want to recognize it or not, is to deny.

              I had an uncle in Montana who was an oldtime Wild West Boot Hill undertaker. He would talk about young men who were not cut out for the work. They'd take the job because it was a job. And because they needed a job and were not concerned about getting their hands dirty.  And most of them lasted about two weeks. A good few were spooked and spooky for years after. He felt obligated to talk to those guys from time to time, buy them a drink or go fishing with them if they were willing. Now try buried alive Iraqis piled in heaps in  a dimly lit locker. Yeah, it could do something. VA won't admit it.

              •  VFW, AMVETS, etc.help a lot of vets get disability (0+ / 0-)

                compensation, also widows, etc. Is your friend eligible for a pension? If any war veteran gets under $900 a month (not sure what the income limit is now), he/she is eligible. No, it is not much, but it is better than nothing. Check it out. If the VA is denying that incident happened, that is rare, really, and he should write to congressman for investigation of it. The realities of invading a country like Iraq, Afghan, Viet Nam, are known only to those who experience it firsthand. Very few people want to hear about it, or have themselves, their family or children involved, if they can help it, but a lot of them sure don't mind others doing it. Good luck.

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