First up is this petty (and more) move by the Veterans Administration.
Congressman Brian Mast (R, FL)a retired Army Ranger, spoke out on Thursday after he was evicted from his congressional office space in the West Palm Beach Veteran Affairs Medical Center.
The move came after Mast, who lost his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010, grilled a Department of Veteran Affairs official at a hearing earlier this year.
After a spate of veteran suicides in VA facilities, Mast questioned a number of VA officials last April. Now the VA wants him out of that office space:
Now we learn that the Veterans Administration owes our disabled veterans a ton of money for something other than their health: some 53,000 of them have been charged home loan fees that they didn’t have to pay, to the tune of $189 million in aggregate. Those 53,000 are over half of our veterans who were allowed the fee waiver. VA auditors have discovered that, for 2012 through 2017
Recall the VA’s failure regarding paying our veterans all of the funds they’re due under the GI Bill; those student veterans are being shorted the money they’re owed. That shortchanging will continue next year due to a “software glitch” that the VA isn’t fixing any time soon.
Now we get the VA’s Undersecretary of Benefits, Paul Lawrence, saying that the agency has no plans to retroactively pay shortchanged GI Bill recipients or to make next year’s VA victims whole. He didn’t even have the integrity to admit this to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee before which he was testifying—under oath, mind you, as is typical for witnesses before Congressional hearings—until he’d been pressed on the matter by several Congressmen.
Hundreds of thousands of veterans face yearslong delays in their appeals of disability rulings because of a backlog of cases choking the Department of Veterans Affairs….
This backlog causes a number of problems…. Rushed rulings on initial claims can be riddled with errors. Veterans who appeal their cases typically wait between three and seven years for resolutions to their appeals, according to the Government Accountability Office. An inspector general report also found that one in 14 veterans dies while awaiting a decision on their disability claim appeal.
The Acting Director of the Veterans Administration is replacing his acting head of Veterans Health Administration with another acting head. The current acting head needs replacement, not through any malfeasance, but because the incumbent acting head is moving to take another position within the VA.
Bad as the VA is, it isn’t helped by this instability in its management team. Not a bit.
This continues to illustrate the waste of resources that is the VA. Get rid of it, and use its current and future budgets for vouchers for our veterans.
…won’t clean up after itself. In this instance, literally. This is the VA “hospital” room a veteran was placed in when he went to that…facility…for treatment that involved 18 injections. Injections to be done in a room as filthy as this.
Dr Karen Gribbin, the chief of staff at the George E Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, on Saturday reportedly said that Wilson should not have been in the room. She said the rooms should be cleaned prior to each patient and called on an investigation.
Wahlen is the imitation hospital at which this failure occurred. The vetaran’s father, who posted the tweet, also tweeted
Ex-Veterans Affairs Secretary is making his case that he didn’t resign, he was fired.
Shulkin said he had not submitted a resignation letter, or planned to, and was only told of Trump’s decision shortly before the Twitter announcement.
Of course, the format of a resignation is immaterial to the act; in particular, letters are the polite, professional way to quit, but they’re not required, not at all. Too, learning that your boss wants you to leave “shortly before the Twitter announcement” might be impolite, even impolitic, but again, learning the boss’ desire is not required for resigning. Nor is desiring one to leave the same as firing that one.
Recall that the Veterans Administration’s Inspector General had written a damning report of its investigation into the fraudulent behavior of the VA Secretary and of the Secretary’s Chief of Staff. The IG even had referred the matter to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. DoJ then declined to prosecute.
Now that chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, has announced her retirement, and the VA has opened its own investigation into her actions, an investigation that might lead to civil action, but it’s not a criminal investigation. I have to ask, then: was this a quid pro quo? Did DoJ agree not to prosecute if Simpson agreed to leave?
VA Secretary David Shulkin, according to an IG report, has been misappropriating VA funds for his and his family’s personal benefit, and he’s been abusing his authority to require a subordinate to act as his “personal travel concierge.” He
improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tennis tickets….
And his Chief of Staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, apparently tampered with evidence:
made false claims to a VA ethics official by altering an email to get official approval for Dr Shulkin’s wife to take part in the trip as an “invitational traveler,” a status that meant the VA would cover her expenses. Her airfare cost taxpayers $4,312.
This is a program that would give veterans the option of going to a private sector doctor in lieu of playing the delay wait game at a Veterans Administration facility, after the veteran has jumped through the requisite VA hoops. After a political tussle in Congress over increasing/renewing its funding, some additional money was provided. That additional funding was necessitated because
its popularity depleted the allocated funds more quickly than anticipated. Patient visits through the program increased more than 30% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, according to the VA.