As the nation struggles over which restroom to use when you’re ‘undecided’, the Department of Veterans Affairs has decided to chime in on the issue of gender dysphoria as it plans to lift a ban on sex reassignment surgeries for transgender veterans.
The VA says the surgical procedures were not deemed to be “medically necessary” in the past and there were questions over their safety and effectiveness. However, as the military prepares to allow transgender troops to serve openly and President Barack Obama’s administration wrangles with states over the rights of transgender people to use the restrooms of the their choice, it appears, as Military.com reports, that transition-related surgeries may soon be covered…
Tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with less-than-honorable discharges, many with physical and mental injuries, were being denied care by the Department of Veterans Affairs, claims a new report by a veterans’ advocacy group.
“The VA created much broader exclusion criteria than Congress provided, failing to give veterans due credit for their service to our country,” said the report by advocacy group Swords to Plowshares, published on Wednesday.
The Department of Veterans Affairs doled out more than $142 million in bonuses to executives and employees for performance in 2014 even as scandals over veterans’ health care and other issues racked the agency.
The agency paid more than $380,000 in 2013 performance bonuses to top officials at hospitals where veterans faced long delays in receiving treatment, including those under investigation for wait-time manipulation.
In Tomah, Wis., the former chief of staff of the VA medical center there, Dr. David Houlihan — whom veterans nicknamed the “Candy Man” because of his prolific prescribing of narcotics — received a $4,000 bonus in December. That was nine months after an inspector general investigation report concluded he was prescribing alarmingly high amounts of opiates. And it was four months after Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski, 35, died of “mixed-drug toxicity” as an inpatient at Tomah after he was prescribed a fatal cocktail of medications, including opiates. The inpatient pharmacist supervisor also received a $1,050 bonus in December. A spokesman for the Tomah VA declined to comment. The VA moved last month to fire Houlihan. A lawyer who represented him did not respond to a message Tuesday seeking comment.
In Augusta, Ga., VA financial manager Jed Fillingim was awarded a $900 performance bonus. He drew scrutiny from Congress last year after news reports revealed he admitted drinking and driving a government truck to a VA meeting in 2010 and a co-worker fell from the truck and was killed.
– From the excellent USA Today article: Veterans Affairs Pays $142 Million in Bonuses Amid Scandals
For several months in 2014, one of the biggest stories in America revolved around revelations of incompetence and death at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Specifically, an internal VA investigation admitted at least 23 veterans died while waiting for care, and that 120,000 were being affected by delinquent care. The FBI subsequently launched a criminal probe into the VA, and here’s what the White House had to say about the entire affair:
– Leaked Document: Nearly One-Third Of 847,000 Vets With Pending Applications For VA Health Care Already Died (Huffington Post, July 15, 2015):
WASHINGTON — More than 238,000 of the 847,000 veterans with pending applications for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs have already died, according to an internal VA document provided to The Huffington Post.
Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta and a past whistleblower on the VA’s failings, provided HuffPost with an April 2015 report titled “Analysis of Death Services,” which reviews the accuracy of the VA’s veteran death records. The report was conducted by staffers in the VA Health Eligibility Center and the VA Office of Analytics.
Flip to page 13 and you’ll see some stark numbers. As of April, there were 847,822 veterans listed as pending for enrollment in VA health care. Of those, 238,657 are now deceased, meaning they died after they applied for, but never got, health care.
– Pick for V.A. Is Former Corporate Chief (The New York Times, June 29, 2014):
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday intends to nominate Robert A. McDonald, a former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, to be the next secretary of Veterans Affairs, a White House official said Sunday, betting that a global corporate officer can turn around a government health system that has been rocked by allegations of mismanagement and cover-ups of long patient waiting times.
– Dear US Soldiers And Veterans: Avoid The Following Hospitals Like The Plague (ZeroHedge, June 29. 2014):
The VA scandal was just the beginning.
According to Internal documents obtained by New York Times, US military healthcare is “a system in which scrutiny is sporadic and avoidable errors are chronic.” As the NYT reports In Military Care, a Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny, “the military system has consistently had higher than expected rates of harm and complications in two central parts of its business — maternity care and surgery.”
Among the findings:
Virtual Suicide Factory
– VA Death Toll Higher Than All Wars (Veterans Today, June 16, 2014):
American military veterans are dying in numbers unimagined. The numbers themselves are hidden from the public just like the waiting lists from the Department of Veterans Affairs. There is a reason for this, the two are related. Waiting lists, weeks or months for treatment for devastating and debilitating illnesses and conditions, destroyed records, “wiped” computers, SWAT teams with automatic weapons prowling the hallways of clinics, these are the real reasons vets kill themselves.
Most veterans who have chosen suicide have been abused and mistreated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some have been told that their illnesses or wounds are imaginary, others are shuffled into endless bureaucratic loops and most are subjected to the Kafkaesque disability compensation system where literally anything can happen and does.
– Texas VA Run Like a “Crime Syndicate” Claims Whistleblower (Liberty Blitzkrieg, May 28, 2014):
“For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate,” a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. “People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”
What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years, even after it was repeatedly reported to local and national VA authorities. That indicates a new troubling angle to the VA scandal: that the much touted investigations may be incapable of finding violations that are hiding in plain sight.
– From the excellent Daily Beast article published yesterday: Exclusive: Texas VA Run Like a ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Whistleblower Says
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, you are probably well aware of the latest in a consistent stream of scandals that have rocked the Obama Administration since he took office over five years ago. Yes, I am referring to the Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal, and while you might think you have read enough on the topic, the following article is very important.
It tells the tale of a VA hospital in Texas that had institutionalized the practice of manipulating hospital wait lists many years ago. For example, all the way back in 2011, the VA’s inspector general investigated the Central Texas health-care system in response to complaints received. Despite finding that such manipulation was rampant, not a single VA official was disciplined. As you might expect, the practice continued and the hospital highlighted in this article actually received an award in the face of an OIG investigation!
– Veterangate: VA ‘cooked the books’ for over six years (RT, May 28, 2014):
It took at least 23 deaths for America to wake up to what’s been known since 2010: Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals have been cooking the books for six years to hide that they were delaying and denying care to the country’s veterans.
The growing scandal began in early May, when a Veterans Affairs (VA) employee alleged that at least 40 patients died waiting for an appointment at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz. US lawmakers then launched an investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs after multiple whistleblowers came forward to say that veteran’s hospitals systematically manipulate waiting lists, resulting in the deaths of dozens of patients. An agency report linked 23 of the reported 40 deaths in multiple states to delayed treatment.
– Obama Should Apologize For Treating Military Veterans Like Garbage For The Past 5 Years (Economic Collapse, May 25, 2014):
This Memorial Day, Barack Obama and members of Congress will honor our veterans by wearing ribbons and laying wreaths, but what they should really do is apologize to the entire nation for treating them like human trash for the past five years. You see, the truth is that this VA scandal is nothing new. The problems at the VA hospitals have been documented over and over again for years. When Barack Obama was a U.S. senator, he served on the Veterans Affairs Committee. So as he entered the White House, he was supposed to be an expert in this area. And back in 2008, he pledged to “make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible“. But of course that never happened. And now Obama is claiming that he only learned of the “secret waiting lists” at VA hospitals by “watching television“, and his staff says that he is “madder than hell” about it. So now that he has been publicly shamed, will Obama actually do something about it? Because our military veterans deserve far better care than what they have been getting.
“The suicide rate is a red-alarm bell to all of us,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Murray also said that the VA’s mental health programs are being overwhelmed by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, even as the department tries to downplay the situation.
“We are not your enemy, we are your support team, and unless we get accurate information we can’t be there to do our jobs,” Murray told Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon Mansfield during the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.