Paul Harvey – Detestable VA Chronicles for Week Ending 07 Aug 2021

Bobblehead DollPaul Harvey is a hero of mine.  I miss his voice on the radio.  He exuded a calm demeanor, regardless of the terror, the trials, and the terribleness of the news reported and discussed.  I do not have Paul Harvey’s sense of calm.  When I heard about the beheading of a woman in America, in broad daylight, by an illegal immigrant who has been on a one-man crime spree from El Paso to Minneapolis since 2007, my cherub-like demeanor took a tremendous hit.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports on a couple from Kansas who are flat out despicable, faking blindness to increase disability payments from the VA and Social Security.  Frankly, I hate liars and thieves and agree to the restitution ordered, but I do not agree that the couple deserved probation.  Stealing benefits should come with more than simple probation and restitution.  Where is the community service in distinctive clothing and sandwich boards declaring they are thieves?VA 3

However, this couple represents a symptom, not the disease of the VA and Social Security specifically, and the Federal Government generally.  When leaders act reprehensibly, criminals will test the system to find weaknesses and attempt to benefit from leadership failures.  The disease of poor leadership has far-reaching consequences, and criminal activity is not unexpected.  Who is addressing the disease?  When will the citizens of America receive justice to see the healing of the illness that has captured the government?

Military Sexual Trauma

I-CareImperative to understanding, Military sexual trauma (MST) experienced while serving in the military affects both women and men with potentially severe and long-term consequences. Psychological trauma, such as MST, also increases the risk of physical health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.  The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) requires that each facility has a designated MST Coordinator with at least 20 percent of their time dedicated to protected administrative time.  For the record, “protected administrative time” is the time required to be spent on administrative duties, writing clinical notes, ordering supplies, scheduling appointments, administrative responsibilities, and so forth.

In 2018, the VA-OIG discovered just how detestable and deplorable the VBA’s processes and procedures were for military sexual trauma (MST).  Having been a victim of MST, this issue is of particular interest to me, and I continue to follow this issue closely.  I wish I had some encouraging news on this issue, but the VA-OIG found:

“… Processors did not always follow the updated policies and procedures. VBA leaders did not effectively implement the VA-OIG’s recommendations and did not ensure adequate governance over military sexual trauma claims processing. The VA-OIG concluded that VBA was not properly implementing the recommended changes.”VA 3

In 2016, when claims were being improperly and prematurely denied, the problems were considered a lack of training, a lack of policy, a lack of procedures, and comprehensive guidance was needed.  In 2018, additional training and guidance were needed, time, and leadership were recommended, even though claims were still improperly and prematurely denied.  In 2021, it is now blatantly obvious we have a systemic failure of leadership at the VBA to process claims in a manner that is conducive to good order and discipline!

On the same day, this investigation was released, the VHA investigation results for MST coordinators were released to the public.  I bet you can guess what was found, but let’s allow the VA-OIG the opportunity to detail the failures:

The VA-OIG conducted a national survey and interviews to evaluate MST Coordinators’ duties and perceived challenges.

            • 80% of the respondents reported having been assigned at least 20 percent or more of protected time.
            • 39% reported inadequate resources to fulfill MST Coordinator administrative responsibilities.
            • The VA-OIG found that insufficient protected administrative time, role demands, insufficient support staff, and inadequate funding and outreach materials challenged MST Coordinators’ ability to fulfill role responsibilities.
            • The VA-OIG found that MST Coordinators who reported more dedicated time than other MST Coordinators did not necessarily serve at facilities with higher numbers of patients in MST related care.”VA 3

Did you catch that final point?  Resources are not being adequately provided based upon patient load to locations where veterans need care.  Another symptom of leadership failure, being designed into the organization as a policy and working procedure, meaning this is designed incompetence!

Knowledge Check!Here’s the biggest rub, a veteran can be receiving care from the VA for MST at the VHA and still be denied MST on a VBA claim.  I have not heard it working in reverse where a claim is being paid, but the VHA refuses care, but given the failures of the VA as an organization, I would not be surprised to learn this was occurring.  How do I know that care can be provided for MST and not be allowed on a claim?  I am among a number of MST victims, all-male, who have been regularly denied VBA claims but are receiving care for the psychological harm.  Veterans talk to each other.  I have heard the stories of fellow veterans being attacked, assaulted, molested, drugged, raped by male and female attackers, and heard how the VBA had revictimized them.

What’s worse, MST leads to PTSD, and people are suffering PTSD from a number of traumatic events not receiving care or benefits because the VA refuses to acknowledge these problems.  Admitting a problem is the first step in addiction programs; well, it is also the first step in healing leadership failure, and the VA is suffering from dynamic leadership failure at every level!  Know a veteran whose story needs to be told, refer them to me; let’s get this information out.  I am sick to death of the VA getting away with murder.

Programs and Inspections

VA SealThis week, the final three emails from the VA-OIG reflected a VISN wide comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIp) conducted virtually, a VAMC/VAHCS CHIp conducted in Spokane, Washington, and a program report on the failures in the Veteran-Directed Care Program.  The most interesting finding in the CHIps was how short the leadership teams had worked together, a month, and how many open positions for leaders there were, more than half.  Talk about glaring symptoms of leadership failure, were the leadership teams broken up from employee turnover?  If so, did the employees retire, or were they retired to avoid criminal convictions?  With all the investigations for fraud, as discussed on these pages frequently, I can only guess how leaders churn in a VAMC/VAHCS/VISN.

Believe it or not, the Veteran-Directed Care Program is full of faults, problems and is suffering from a lack of leadership as the program balloons.  Color me shocked!  Surely, somewhere in the VA, if only to screw with the gods of perversity and Murphy their prophet, there must be a functioning and well-led program, department, office, etc.Angry Wet Chicken

It is so absurdly depressing to catalog these failures of leadership week after week and never see any improvement.  We see increasing failures, we observe heightened criminal activity, there is undoubtedly raised awareness of needs and moral distress in abusing veterans, but where is the improvement towards achieving excellence?  Where is Congress in scrutinizing the legislative branches, officers, and leaders?

If a congressional representative can order the VA-OIG to investigate the MST Coordinators, which they did, where is Congressional action on the results?  Surely this is not too difficult a question to ask.  Better still, where is Congress?  I have now reached out to all the elected Federal officials in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.  Texas, because that is where I have been forced to receive care from.  New Mexico because I now live here.  Arizona because I was physically injured by VA employees there.  The amount of interest received has been less than zero!Angry Grizzly Bear

How can interest be less than zero, you ask.  Well, while I have not received any response to my original complaints, I have received a TON of marketing materials about how those congressional representatives “Care about veterans, the community, pets, animals, and America.”  Maybe, not always in that order, but absolutely with less sentiment than I have for the weeds growing on my sidewalk!  Thus, I ask again, with all sincerity, where is Congress in scrutinizing the government?  I demand to know the “Rest of the Story!”

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Legislative Branch, The Role of Elected Officials – US House of Representatives

DutyIn democratic society’s, there is a representative form of government, knowing and understanding the duties the elected officials are expected to perform will aid in measuring those currently holding office, and those seeking office more precisely.  While this article is steered more towards the Republic of the United States, the principles are still the same for every democratic society across the globe.

The Role of the Elected Representative – US House of Representatives

Important note, the United States House of Representatives, by US Constitutional direction, is “The People’s House.”  This representative body is the general body where specific duties are demanded.  Article I, section 5 of the Constitution provides the House with the authority to determine whether Members-elect are qualified to be seated.

      1. A congressional representative is elected to a two-year term serving the people of a specific congressional district.
      2. Elected congressional representatives have two duties: making laws and scrutinizing the work of the Government.
      3. To be elected, a representative must be at least 25 years old, a United States citizen for at least seven years, and an inhabitant of the state he or she represents.
      4. Congressional representatives conduct a broad scope of work to best represent a set number of constituents.

Those are the four duties of an elected representative to the US House of Representatives.  Do you, personally, feel “represented” by your elected representative?  Personally, I do not!

Theres moreWhy; the constitutional qualifications for office originate in British law, where members of the House of Commons had to live in the shires or boroughs they represented.  Although that was rarely done in practice; see a pattern?  The founders used that example to motivate the requirement that Members of the House live in the state they represent, which would increase the likelihood that they would be familiar with the people’s interests there.  But there was no mention during the debates about living in the same district. The district system appeared later as states dealt with how to fairly organize their congressional delegations.  If location, and time of living in that area, proves residence, can a person trust their representatives when they live in DC, work in DC, but claim to represent your local area?

Even during a nation-wide pandemic, it has been most unusual to observe any congressional representative living in their home state, let alone their own congressional district.  Hence, it appears that congressional representation is following the example of the British House of Commons, rather than the US Constitution.  Before technology, I might have bought the need to be in Washington to conduct committee business, but with technology, I do not buy the excuses!  Leaving the question wide open, do you feel represented by your elected officials in the US House of Representatives?

Duty 2The entire job of an elected congressional representative is to represent their district.  That is the Summum Bonum of their elected duties.  Yet, can you even get a straight answer from your elected representatives in a timely manner?  Case in point, Rep. Debra Haaland (D), could not be bothered to help people in her district, but she sure blew her own trumpet declaring her work for her district.  I have written letters to several representatives of the house over the years, and each year the response takes longer, the response is less useful, and the platitudes and emails proclaiming their work become more loquacious, braggadocio, and plastic.  Where the words mean one thing, but the actions conducted are not in line with the words.  I was once a member of Paul Ryan’s district.  Rep. Paul Ryan (R), was considered to be a fiscal hawk, but he refused to perform his job of protecting America’s checkbook.  Yet, in all the emails I received before his retirement, he was always talking about his skills and work in cutting the Federal Deficit.  Despite his past fiscal conservative rhetoric, Speaker Ryan’s tenure as Speaker of the House—most of which coincided with periods of unified Republican control of the Federal Government—saw significant increases in Federal Government deficit spending.  Hence, the question asked, do you feel represented by those elected to represent you?

InertiaWhile Speaker Ryan (R) was spending our children’s, children’s, children’s, money, his district saw massive job losses from the automotive industry, manufacturing tanked, and lob losses mounted, during which much of the rest of the country enjoyed a booming economy!  When I asked Speaker Ryan why the disparity between his district financially failing, and the rest of the country booming, I received a letter discussing his fiscal genius and government cost cutting measures.  My response was not worth the paper it was printed on, I left his letter in an outhouse, on a closed job site!

Using your powers of observation, can you trust your elected congressional representative to, “make laws” and “scrutinize the work of the Federal Government?”  I know I can’t!  When was the last time an elected representative made a law that passed the smell test?  Created legislation that did not contain enough Pork to choke a Chinese Buffet?  Scrutinized the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs to cease killing veterans?  Scrutinized the IRS to ensure that those charged with collecting taxes, actually paid their taxes?  Scrutinized the Department of Defense so that $23 Trillion Dollars just does not disappear?  I remember watching on TV (mid-1980s), the House Speaker had business to conduct and finish, so the elected officials stopped the clock so they had time to finish their work.

Government LargessOn the subject of scrutinizing the Federal Government, and handling with legislation the duties needed to clean the Federal Government workers from posts where they weaponize government for personal gain, the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) just reported some incredible examples of elected officials not scrutinizing properly!

The VA-OIG used an outside consultant, to examine 24 patient cases of concern, and the outside consultant found 16 of the 24 cases had quality of care concerns.  Yet, the VA-OIG did not substantiate that the quality of care fell below standards accepted by the VA.  Tell me, why hire an outside consultant to review the cases?  Why are the standards lower for quality of care in VA Hospitals than in community-based hospitals?  Long have I asked these and many other questions, of elected representatives, and crickets have been my answer!

Detective 2The VA-OIG investigated a urologist in Des Moines, Iowa who did not have the proper authority to issue controlled substances in an operating room environment (DEA Registration).  A Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Hospital Administration (VHA) memo had been received but never acted upon, the doctors were not notified in a timely manner that they needed the new authority to issue controlled substances, and the doctor is blamed for failure to obtain the proper authorities.  Yet, how many administrators failed to perform their jobs and were never censured, held accountable, or required to suffer punishment for not timely notifying the practitioners of new requirements; none!  If the doctor is censured, why not the administrative staff?  The need to scrutinize the efforts of the employees of the Federal Government has never been more apparent, but the elected officials whose sworn duty it is to scrutinize, is being neglected en masse!

The VA-OIG has reported a VA Employee, Respiratory Therapist, was also a thief who stole government property and sold that property on eBay for personal profit.  How many times will this story repeat before the VA is scrutinized by the elected officials, who have a sworn duty, obligation, and job requirement?  Where was this employee’s supervisor, director, and hospital administrator while this theft was going on?  One of the biggest problems the VA has is with beating and destroying whistle-blowers and coddling and supporting criminals.  Where are the elected representatives?

LookHow many other Federal Government Agencies and NGO’s, need scrutinized and are not being scrutinized because of the refusal to properly represent their districts by elected officials?  Elected representatives to the US House of Representatives, is the template upon which every state house of representatives is formed; thus, the state legislature has only two duties, scrutinize the federal government and state government, and make laws representing their state districts.  In Arizona and New Mexico, both state legislatures are failing miserably in scrutinizing, because of the example set by the Federal Government’s elected representatives.

Under the US Constitution, States have the right to censure the Federal Government for failure to act.  Anyone remember this happening since 1900?  The way the government works, the highest holder of control is the individual, not the Federal Government.  The order of control over government and the holder of the most freedoms is:

      • Individuals
      • Cities/Towns
      • Counties
      • States
      • Federal

Scared Eyes!Yet, for my entire lifetime, I have seen the exact opposite occur, and fail miserably!  The Federal Government needs elected representatives who will censure, scrutinize, and demand the bureaucrat’s obedience; but the elected representatives are not performing their job.  Thus, the state legislature’s need to censure their Federal brethren and demand change.  But that is not happening either.  The mayors of America refuse to act to protect their citizens, and the citizen just keeps being abused by those who are legally bound to help the citizen!  Thus, the question, based upon the performance of your elected officials to perform two jobs, make laws, and scrutinize government, do you feel represented?

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:
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