Veterans' News


Wounded Times

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

VA employees told to falsify wait times

This all sounds so bad, but that is only if you have not been paying attention all along since we've been down this road so many times you can still see the tire marks when the Congressional bus rolled over veterans.

GAO finding: No accountability for claims processors 2008

Lawsuit message to VA "you can't treat them like crap" after this again 2008 on veterans committing suicide

VA: $94 billion for 2009 and still $3.3 billion short 2008 VA Budget increase

This list could go on all day long but would do little good since reporters lack the ability to remember what they reported on years before. Everything happening today were issues Congress was "taking care" of years ago.
More VA employees told to falsify data
New information also provided to Congress this week
Author: By Curt Devine, Meredith Turk and Scott Bronstein
CNN Investigations
Published On: Jul 29 2014
Roughly half the schedulers at multiple Veterans Affairs hospitals said they received instructions from supervisors to falsify data and hide the true time it took patients to be seen by a doctor after making an appointment, new details from an internal VA audit show.

Schedulers said supervisors directed them to manipulate information so their centers could meet performance goals, which would help top officials get bonuses, according to documents obtained by CNN.

The new information also provided to Congress this week includes updates from specific VA hospitals that were not included in an internal audit released last month by the embattled agency.

The ongoing saga involves multiple investigations into delayed care, potentially with deadly results, alarming management shortcomings and a culture that was said to have compromised the mission of providing prompt and effective medical care to millions of veterans, some of them returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.
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VA Changed Appointment Wait Times in House VA Committee Chairman's Home State

While members Congress wants to blame the head of the VA, no matter who it is or when, they never seem to be able to apologize to veterans for what they failed to do. Veterans contact their elected officials all the time and they do complain. They have been complaining for decades about all of this. No member of congress can claim they didn't know about any of this but what is worse is, they think they can get away with the Sgt. Schultz Excuse of "I know nothing" when it was their jobs to not only know, but fix it! Now there is a report out of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman's home state of Florida.
Some Florida VA health facilities changed appointment requests to improve wait times
Pensacola News Journal
Ledyard King
July 28, 2014
VA executives are so driven in their quest for performance bonuses, promotions and power that they are willing to lie, cheat and put the health of the veterans they were hired to serve at risk,” (Jeff Miller)

Details of an internal VA audit of improper scheduling practices were released Monday were referred last month to the agency’s inspector general for further review.

WASHINGTON – Schedulers at the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic at Eglin Air Force Base were told to improve wait times by changing the date veterans requested a medical appointment so it appeared they got treated within 14 days of their request.

Staff at the VA’s medical center at Bay Pines health center in St. Petersburg were encouraged to align appointment dates requested by veterans with the actual dates they received medical care.

Workers at the Joint Ambulatory Care Center in Pensacola kept a paper list of patients to call back about appointments because they were confused about what to log in the VA’s computerized calendar.

Details of an internal VA audit conducted in May of improper scheduling practices were released Monday, shedding light as to why 112 VA medical facilities — including six in Florida — were referred last month to the agency’s inspector general for further review.
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Homeless veteran with PTSD ticked for "camping" in van?

Watch Cop Ticket Homeless Fellow Veteran, Salute Him With 'Always Faithful' Motto
The Huffington Post
By Eleanor Goldberg
Posted: 07/29/2014

A homeless veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who was ticketed for sleeping in his van hopes that, at the very least, his ordeal will set a new "precedent."

Aaron Coyler subsists on $849 per month in Social Security disability insurance, not nearly enough to support his living in an apartment in the Bay Area where he hopes to remain in order to be close to his 2-year-old son. So, for nearly a month, Coyler had been sleeping in his vehicle in a park, but was cited on Thursday by Alameda police for illegally camping, according to a video he posted to YouTube.

The homeless vet videotaped his interaction with the two officers, during which time Coyler explained that he has disabilities, little money and that there were no signs in sight indicating that he was doing anything wrong.

One of the officers responded by telling him to get a hotel room and when he learned that Coyler had served in the Marines, he revealed that he's also a veteran, before saying, "Semper Fi," referring to the Corps’ motto, "Semper Fidelis," which means "always faithful."

"Apparently not," Coyler says in the video. "I’m homeless. I have PTSD. I don’t have anywhere else to stay."

Coyler has been raising funds through a GoFundMe campaign, and hopes to eventually turn his van into a mobile outreach organization for the homeless.
read more here
Toward the end he asked the officers, "What am I supposed to do? Die?"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Robert McDonald VA Secretary in 97-0 Senate Vote

Senate confirms Robert McDonald as Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Stars and Stripes
By Travis J. Tritten
Published: July 29, 2014

WASHINGTON – Robert McDonald was unanimously confirmed by the Senate Tuesday as the new Department of Veterans Affairs secretary.

The former Army Ranger and CEO of Procter and Gamble was confirmed in a 97-0 vote by lawmakers who said his boardroom experience could be used to overhaul the nation’s troubled veteran health care system.

His predecessor Gen. Eric Shinseki stepped down in May amid a growing scandal over long patient wait times and manipulation of appointment data by VA staff. Numerous VA inspector general investigations and testimony on Capitol Hill over the past two months have revealed a deeply dysfunctional agency that often ignored or covered up dangerous shortcomings in care.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Tuesday that McDonald headed up one of the country’s leading corporations and has the experience need to deal with a “huge bureaucracy that needs significant improvement in accountability and management.”
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New VA Secretary McDonald faced with firing VA management
Stars and Stripes
By Travis J. Tritten
Published: July 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — Robert McDonald floated through his confirmation as the new Department of Veterans Affairs secretary, but he now faces the hard work of transforming a floundering bureaucracy — and the expectation he will begin by firing managers.

The former Army Ranger and CEO of Procter and Gamble was confirmed Tuesday in a 97-0 vote by lawmakers who believed his boardroom experience could be used to overhaul the nation’s troubled veteran health care system.

Lawmakers, veterans and observers have all said McDonald must begin by holding staff “accountable,” which has become a euphemism for termination.

Numerous VA inspector general investigations and testimony on Capitol Hill over the past two months has revealed a deeply dysfunctional agency that often ignored or covered up dangerous shortcomings in veteran health care. The bureaucracy bedeviled McDonald’s predecessor, former Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who claimed the problems that led the White House to press for his resignation were systematically hidden from him.
read more here

Do you know how many veterans you have in your state?

These numbers are from the VA Veterans Population numbers from September 2013.

California has the largest population of veterans with 1,795,455.
1,356,978 are "war time" veterans with 589,139 Vietnam veterans.
There are 184,774 female veterans.

Number 2 is Texas with 1,667,740 veterans.
1,291,040 are "war time" veterans with 551,137 Vietnam veterans.
There are 191,757 female veterans.

Number 3 is Florida with 1,520,563 veterans.
1,14,894 are "war time" with 490,589 Vietnam veterans.
There are 166,222 female veterans.

Use the above link and check your state to know how many veteran are your neighbors. It is really odd considering there are more female veterans in Texas than there are in California.

Roommate found guilty of murdering female Iraq veteran

OC Man Found Guilty Of Murdering His Roommate, An Iraq War Veteran
CBS Los Angeles
July 29, 2014

SANTA ANA ( — An Orange County man was found guilty Tuesday of killing his roommate in 2013. Kwang Joy, 54, was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of Iraqi war veteran and Cal State Fullerton student Maribel Ramos.

Officials believe Ramos, 36, and Joy got into an argument on May 2, 2013 after the victim told him he needed to move out of her home in Orange.
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From previous report on Maribel Ramos

Ramos, who has served two tours of duty in Iraq, was last seen in her apartment on May 2. She was scheduled to graduate at the end of May with a criminal justice degree from Cal State Fullerton.

Grateful shopper picks up tab for VIetnam veteran's computer

Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran
Grateful shopper picks up tab for vet's computer
CNHI News Service
July 28, 2014

KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

The man, who would identify himself only as “Daniel,” insisted on paying for the machine.

“This has never happened to me before,” said Tobias, who fought his emotions as he recalled the incident. “People have come up and said thanks. But this? I was totally shocked.”

Tobias, of Kingsville Township, was at the store’s service counter when a salesman approached and asked him if he was the owner of a vehicle in the lot with Vietnam service stickers. When Tobias said yes, the salesman said he was told by another man to deliver a message: “Buy anything you want in the store.”
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Minnesota jury awards Ventura $1.8M in Chris Kyle defamation case

Minnesota jury awards Ventura $1.8M in Chris Kyle defamation case
Michael Wesp
July 29, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (KETK) — A Minneapolis, Minnesota, jury has ruled in favor of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura in a defamation suit against the widow of Chris Kyle. The jury awarded the former governor $1.8 million in damages.
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Fort Bragg Captain beaten in home invasion, after fire

ABC 11 News
By Nicole Carr
Monday, July 28, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- A Fort Bragg soldier is in good condition following a brutal home invasion attack.

Captain Patrick Knight was beaten by three men on Friday evening. Investigators said Knight and his girlfriend arrived to their home on the 500 block of Vista Drive just after 6:00 p.m. The couple was there to collect personal belongings. The home was in renovation due to a recent fire.

Police said Knight and his girlfriend startled three men who had broken into the house. Those men attacked Knight, beating him in the head.

Witnesses report having seen Alexander James Smith, 26, running from Knight's home in a bloody shirt. A neighbor followed Smith in a car and called a friend. That man ended up tackling Smith about a half a mile away, at the corner of Broadfoot and Branson Streets. Witnesses said Smith was covered in blood.
read more here

Heartless thugs steal from homeless veterans shelter

Copper thieves leave homeless veterans inside a hot building
Copper thieves destroy AC units to veterans building
Reported by: Venise Toussaint

LAS VEGAS (KSNV and MyNews3) -- A thief broke into the air conditioning units at a homeless veteran shelter and left the veterans inside struggling to stay cool in the summer heat. The veterans have been without air conditioning since Saturday.

U.S. Vets is a place where homeless and transitioning veterans come to get help and get back on their feet. They eat here, socialize here, and for the past couple of days they’ve been doing so without air conditioning. A man climbed on top of the roof and destroyed their AC units.
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Homeless veterans facing eviction from group home

Homeless veterans facing eviction from group home
Florida business challenging others to help
Ministry needs $180,000 to buy the home
Jeff Skrzypek
Jul 28, 2014

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - The clock is ticking on several homeless veterans in Vero Beach, who will be kicked to the curb and out of the group home they have been staying in unless enough money is raised to buy the house.

Breath of Heaven Ministries, which runs the group home to help veterans, has until Thursday to raise $180,000 or they have to move out of the home.

After hearing about the situation, West Palm Beach tow truck company owner Kenneth Duvall, is pledging money and hopes other small businesses follow his lead.

"Veterans deserve it. They are why my small business is successful," said Kenneth Duvall, owner of Duvall Towing.

Pledging $1,000 to help, Duvall hopes others follow his lead and help pitch in to save the home before the owners sell it.

"There's a couple million people between Palm Beach County to Vero (Beach) and I figured if 1-in-10,000 of those people would give a thousand dollars, it would be $200,000 and it would be done," said Duvall.

Time is running out on the veterans who are counting on the home to get them back on their feet.
read more here

Congress has no clue what they are funding in the VA

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 29, 2014

Year after year, decade after decade within the veterans community (military-veterans-families) we have a much different discussion than what the rest of the country is talking about. This is not a promising deal to fix the VA. It is yet one more round of toss, slap and grab.

We've been reading about all of this for decades followed by promises of fixing the problems with tossing money around. Soon afterwards we're faced with reports of veterans left to wait and fight for benefits they earned, feeling as if they got slapped and then some yahoos elected to go to Washington to take care of VA can't even bother to show up for hearings for the committees they get to put on their list of things they've done to grab up some veterans votes.

They make speeches about how much they care but never seem to match that care with the what they do.

We need to cut a lot of the bull out of the reports starting with the simple fact that if a veteran had not been to the VA before, they do not get to go to the head of the line. Even in the civilian world, doctors have an obligation to the patients they already have. They will not cancel appointments to fit in someone new or stay late to fit someone in. I have been going to my doctor's office for 10 years and I know if I have an emergency, they will fit me in. Had I not been known to them, I could go to the emergency room at a local hospital or to one of the hundreds of emergency clinics. My obligation is to make sure I take care of my health by having a relationship with doctors I trust.

Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have 5 years of free care at the VA. They do not enroll and get a primary care doctor or even get testing done until they have problems. When they do, they expect to just get in and be seen right away. What about the veterans already there? Are they just expected to give up the appointments they had for months? Do veterans think doctors, nurses and staff will simply pop up when they decide to be seen? They need to enroll in the VA as soon as they get out even if they don't think they need it. Otherwise, staff will not be hired to meet the increase in need.

There has never been enough staff to take care of all the veterans in this country and Congress has had the same debates year after year for decades. We've seen it all before and most of the rush to address crisis after crisis happens the same year there is an election. What about the rest of the time when Congress was supposed to be doing their jobs so we wouldn't have to face repeats of the same things reported about decades before when we also got promises.

President Obama added to the number of veterans going to the VA by making it easier for Vietnam veterans to file claims for PTSD and Agent Orange. Congress did not increase funding enough to cover the numbers of employees to care for these veterans finally being able to seek the care they needed and tried to get before. There was already a backlog of claims and wait times for OEF and OIF veterans but the majority of those waiting were and still are Vietnam veterans. Congress didn't care because they got to talk to reporters about the newer generation of veterans. No one was really interested in the fact Vietnam veterans waited longer, were the majority of the claims waiting to be approved or that they were also the majority of the suicides.

We faced all of this while reporters simply dismissed the most obvious fact of all. Vietnam veterans were home by 1975, not 1973 the way most reporters think.
The First and the Last on the Vietnam Memorial Wall

The first American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. He is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. His name was added to the Wall on Memorial Day 1999.

First battlefield fatality was Specialist 4 James T. Davis who was killed on December 22, 1961.

The last American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Kelton Rena Turner, an 18-year old Marine. He was killed in action on May 15, 1975, two weeks after the evacuation of Saigon, in what became known as the Mayaguez incident.

Others list Gary L. Hall, Joseph N. Hargrove and Danny G. Marshall as the last to die in Vietnam. These three US Marines Corps veterans were mistakenly left behind on Koh Tang Island during the Mayaguez incident. They were last seen together but unfortunately to date, their fate is unknown. They are located on panel 1W, lines 130 - 131.

The last pilot casualty in the country of Vietnam occured during the Embassy evacuation in Saigon, William C. Nystal and Michael J. Shea both died on the helicopter on April 30, 1975 approaching the USS Hancock in the China Sea (both are located at 1W, 124). The last pilot killed in the Vietnam war was Air Force helicopter pilot Second Lieutenant Richard Vandegeer who was killed on Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. This occured during the Mayaguez incident when his helicopter crashed on May 15, 1975. It is concidered the last combat action of the Vietnam War.

Now you know the other fact. Afghanistan is not the longest war. Actually when you think about it the way the Veterans Community does, Vietnam is not the longest war either. The longest war is the fight veterans have with the congress to get the care they need when they need it and not when members of congress get around to noticing.

There is nothing in this new funding for the VA that has not been done before. That also includes the fact that while Congress funds PTSD programs, 57% of the suicides happened after they went to the VA for help. How about Congress start to learn about what they are paying for first before they turn around and make things worse?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Military Times Names Servicemembers of the Year

Army Times Soldier of the Year
3rd Battalion
75th Ranger Regiment
Fort Benning, GA

Marine of the Year
Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Sailor of the Year
USS Abraham Lincoln Newport News, VA

Airman of the Year
725th Air Mobility Squadron Rota, Spain

Coast Guardsman of the Year
Coast Guard Sector North Carolina Wilmington, NC

Click links to read their stories

Fort Stewart soldier killed on Florida beach, daughter in critical condition

Man killed in beach plane crash was veteran, family man
Bay 9 News
July 28, 2014
Sgt. 1st Class Ommy Irizarry, 36, and his daughter, 9-year-old Oceana, were hit while walking on the beach. Ommy was killed, and Oceana was badly injured.

The man killed Sunday on a beach near Venice was a seasoned U.S. soldier who survived two tours of duty in Iraq.

Sgt. 1st Class Ommy Irizarry, 36, and his daughter, 9-year-old Oceana, were hit while walking on the beach. Ommy was killed, and Oceana was badly injured. She remains in critical condition at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Irizarry lived with his family on base at Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia. The family was vacationing in Florida.
read more here

Sad update