Weep America! – The VA Leadership is Becoming Worse! – Part 3

I-CareIn the less than 10-days since I last wrote on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has dumped more than ten inspection results over the last three days into my inbox.  Not a record, but the recorded actions are certainly hitting record lows.  Worse, the culture of the VA remains unchanged, even through all the recorded crimes and indignities the veterans suffer under.  Recording and summating the crimes of the VA is so depressing, mainly because of the failure to reform.  But, a little depression will not slow or halt the reporting of these detestable actions of the VA!

The first VA-OIG investigation is more of a report on criminal proceedings concluding with sentencing.  A total of five people, including one VA Employee, have been stung in this investigation.  How thrilling to see accountability and justice served cold!

Francis Engles of Bowie, Maryland, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution for defrauding a VA program dedicated to rehabilitating military veterans with disabilities. As the owner of Engles Security Training School, Engles falsely represented to the VA that his company was providing veterans with months-long courses when, in fact, the school offered veterans far less.”

February 2019, four other individuals were sentenced in related cases following their guilty pleas. First, James King, a former VA employee, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for committing bribery, defrauding the VA, and obstructing justice. Second, Albert Poawui, the owner of Atius Technology Institute, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for committing bribery. Third, Sombo Kanneh, Poawui’s employee, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery. Finally, Michelle Stevens, the owner of Eelon Training School, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for committing bribery.”VA 3

Apparently, bilking the GI Bill is a regular fraud opportunity, and the VA employees need to be held more accountable for the loss of these funds!  The GI Bill is a precious commodity and sometimes the only lifeline for a soldier for retraining while awaiting the VBA’s decisions. Therefore, stealing these funds should come with more substantial sentences, more accountability for the employees in the know of fraud, and scrutiny from elected officials!

For the next story, we have several crimes co-occurring; the most egregious is reporting to have been a veteran, fraudulently obtaining benefits, and then trying to use veteran status for preferential contract awarding.  The VA-OIG reports:

Robert S. Stewart, the former owner of Federal Government Experts LLC in Arlington, Virginia, was sentenced to 21 months in prison with three years of supervised release for making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits.”VA 3

I know the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has declared that lying about military service is a freedom of speech issue and not a crime.  However, stolen valor continues to make me sick, and the liars should lose all US Constitutional Rights, as well as be sentenced to punishment most vile!  Having served twice (US Army and US Navy), having been deployed to S. Korea (US Army) and the Persian Gulf (US Navy Multiple Times), stealing valor infuriates me into a raging juggernaut!  I hate liars and thieves, but to steal valor from those deserving goes above and beyond being just a liar and thief, and the conduct deserves punishment most vile!  No, I am not apologetic in taking this stance either!  Burn the American Flag; I disagree with SCOTUS again and becoming a raging juggernaut!  There are lines you do not cross with impunity, and if you cannot scream fire in a crowded theater as “Free Speech,” then acts of stealing valor or burning the American Flag are reasonable restrictions!

I do agree with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ statement:

The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”Angry Grizzly Bear

But stealing valor and burning the American Flag is not “free trade in ideas,” and I support social shaming as part of the punishment most vile for these lepers of society!  Before you burn the Flag or steal valor, serve in uniform, watch a military funeral as a dependent, and then let’s talk about reasonable and valid restrictions upon “free speech!”

Another case, another criminal act, only this time, I am left asking, “How long has this individual been doing business with the VA?”  Regardless, as this is an ongoing case, the following firstly applies: “The charges in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”  From the VA-OIG report:

Muhammad Z. Aabdin of Bronx, New York, was indicted for offering bribes to a VA contracting officer in exchange for the award of VA contracts for personal protective equipment.”VA 3

It will be interesting to watch this case and future (potential) investigations occur.  However, I have several questions needing to be answered, and the report does nothing to aid in answering the questions raised in the defendant’s arrest and the grand jury indictment.  More to come as the VA-OIG and the US Attorney produce information.  May the US Attorney NOT allow a plea deal!

The VA-OIG has often investigated improper fiscal practices at several VA sites for the VBA, the VHA, and the National Cemeteries.  I could almost quote the following investigation results, only differing on how much money is involved.

The VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) conducted a review to examine whether VA’s Maryland Health Care System appropriately managed purchases and payments for medical equipment and supplies. Fiscal oversight of purchase cards and internal controls governing the use of overtime were also reviewed. The VA-OIG found ineffective processes, internal control weaknesses, and inadequate oversight in five areas: 1. The healthcare system and the Enterprise Equipment Request (EER) portal need improved controls for approving equipment purchases. 2. Healthcare system staff and the prime vendor should prepare timely and accurate planning information to ensure adequate supplies are on hand to fill orders. 3. Even though no inaccurate inventory payments were identified, VA’s inventory system needs controls to ensure correct recording of supply units and costs. 4. The healthcare system purchase card program requires closer monitoring to ensure purchases are authorized and supported by documentation. 5. The healthcare system should strengthen its overtime payment controls to ensure supervisors verify overtime hours were completed before approving timecards for payment.  The VA-OIG team also identified more than $5 million in questioned costs related to identified issues such as undocumented or unapproved purchases” [emphasis mine].VA 3

I have heard the term “Criminal Stupidity” and often wonder when “Criminally Designed Incompetence” will become adopted into common vernacular.  I am so fed up with the excuses, the missing money, and the abuse of taxpayer forbearance by bureaucrats; I could rip my hair out and scream until my voice gives out! But, unfortunately, both actions do absolutely nothing to correct the problem and would make me miserable.  The VA has problems with criminals without and stupidity masked as “designed incompetence” within, and the solution continues to be leadership!

Gravy Train 2What adds fire to my mental processes on criminally designed incompetence, the VA-OIG has two other investigations in my inbox on the need to strengthen fiscal controls, , and more correctly track accounting practices.  Under current legislation, if a private business accounted for their money like the VA, they would be shuttered, and criminal charges levied!  Yet, somehow, the elected representatives cannot apply the same accounting behavior standard to a government agency, as they mandate for private companies!  Anyone else thinks we need stronger demands for scrutiny of government agencies?

Plato 2Adding more fuel to the fire for the IT/IS Departments of the VA, the VA-OIG discovered that the VA still cannot regularly and appropriately log records into its own electronic health record systems!  Are you surprised; as a patient, I know I am not surprised at all.  Worse, the lack of medical records being properly handled influences (negatively, of course) how the VBA makes decisions on claims!

The Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) evaluated whether VA’s community care staff accurately uploaded records for non-VA medical care to veterans’ electronic health records. Veterans receive non-VA care based on certain criteria, such as the distance from the veteran to the nearest VA facility or the wait time for a VA facility appointment. Records for non-VA care enable Veterans Health Administration (VHA) providers continuity of care and inform treatment decisions. The audit team found that staff at six of the seven VA medical facilities reviewed did not always index, or categorize, these records accurately. Inaccurate indexing of medical records poses a risk to veteran care. It increases the burden on the VHA staff who locate and correct the errors, reducing their time for other tasks. The team reviewed 209 veterans’ mental health medical records that VHA community care staff indexed between April 1, 2019, and September 30, 2019, and found 108 indexing errors for 92 veterans. (Some veterans’ records had more than one error.) Errors included using ambiguous or incorrect document titles, indexing records for non-VA care to the wrong referral or veteran, and entering duplicate records. These errors occurred, in part, due to inadequate procedures, training, quality checks, and quality assurance monitoring and a lack of local facility-level policies.”VA 3

Of course, training and local policies were blamed for the failure to log records properly!  These are automatic designed incompetence excuses that appear every single time the VHA fails, the VBA fails, or they both make significant life-altering decisions for veterans, and the VA-OIG investigates!  The VBA claims it is my duty to ensure outside providers send records to the VA in a timely manner.  The VHA claims they have the documents the VBA wants, and they should read the file.  Who is inconvenienced, not the VHA and the VBA, the veteran?  The person who cannot even look at his digital file without a “Freedom of Information Act” (FOIA) request and 30-45 days of waiting, and even then, the document is heavily redacted for privacy!  Whose privacy, I wonder, the providers, the employees, or the veterans?  Because I guarantee the VA is conducting serious CYA on the records produced!  Let alone IT’s continued failure to protect the veteran from identity theft or IS to protect the files from being accessed without reason by employees.Apathy

May 2021 was a tumultuous month for the VA and the VA-OIG.  If you would like to review how tumultuous or think you might have missed an article or two reporting the VA’s designed incompetence, feel free to review using the following link.  Frankly, I want to see action taken based upon the investigations to clean house, more fully scrutinize the VA, and improve the veteran experience at the VA.  But, I do not tell you how to think or feel about an issue. Instead, I report and summate and leave the rest to you!VA 3

As always, I report and summate upon the good and bad.  If you are a citizen of Indiana or receive your care from either Fort Wayne, Marion, or through the Northern Indiana Health Care System, please count yourself lucky, and pass on the praise to the VAHCS employees.  The VA-OIG conducted a comprehensive Healthcare Inspection and found, “The VA-OIG’s review of the system’s accreditation findings, sentinel events, and disclosures did not identify any substantial organizational risk factors” [emphasis mine].  While improvements can still be made, this is HUGE news, and the Northern Indiana VAHCS leadership team needs to be back-slapping and congratulating their employees.

Knowledge Check!Thus, my sincerest congratulations go to the Northern Indiana VAHCS, and heaps of shame and scorn remain served cold to the ineffective leadership and useless employees of the VA in general!  America, we should weep, for the VA is not alone in the government agencies in providing world-class detestable service, abuse of the customer (taxpayer), and skirting accountability and responsibility through designed incompetence!  But, when we are done weeping, it is time for action!  Changing the elected representatives, demanding higher scrutinization with actual penalties for failure, and insisting upon fiscal restraint equivalent to the private sector!

© 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: More Insanity from Elected Officials

LinkedIn ImageAnother day, another slew of insipid elected officials clogging my inbox with pet projects instead of doing their respective jobs.  To the elected representatives in the US House and US Senate, please remember you have only two jobs, write laws that make sense for the country and scrutinize the executive branch to protect the US Citizen from abuse at the hands of bureaucrats and yourselves, the elected officials.  Frankly, regardless of the political party affiliation, all of you need a firm reminder of the roles you were elected to fill.

Today’s poorly worded emotional bloviation comes from Rep. Deb Haaland (NM; D).  The same representative, who after being contacted multiple times, refused to take action when veterans in her district were actively being abused, insulted, denied service, and treated horribly by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  All because she was more interested in pandering to every left-leaning liberal group.

Today’s topic, “Gun Abuse.”  What does “Gun Abuse” mean?  Honest question; while reading the email from Rep. Haaland, we find “Gun Abuse” means “Black Americans and communities of color bear the brunt of this violence, with Black Americans experiencing 10 times the rate of gun homicides compared to their white counterparts. These numbers aren’t just statistics – they reflect the true scale of this public health crisis and its shattering impact on communities of color.”  “Gun Abuse” means a “Public health crisis” comparable to COVID-19, another government issue, blown out of proportion for personal and political gain.

LookConveniently, not mentioned in the “statistics” offered by Rep. Haaland, are the number of black-on-black shootings or other minority-on-minority shootings.  Are these shootings not considered “Gun Abuse,” or maybe, they are not considered a “Public health crisis” even though toddlers and innocent bystanders regularly make up the dead in cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, etc.?  Better still, what about minority-on-majority shootings, stabbings, and other acts of violence, are these insufficient to raise the good representative’s attention because those are just crimes?

Next, “common-sense gun laws” are mentioned.  What are “common-sense gun laws?”  Are those the laws that further restrict the honest and law-abiding from having weapons to deter crime and avoid being a statistic?  Or, are these “common-sense” gun laws the same totalitarian laws the liberals all want because, as the University of Colorado claims, rape victims can pee and puke on their attacker to deter being raped, so these women do not need guns or other weapons of self-defense.

Boris & NatashaThe absolute best .50-caliber gunner I ever met was a female sergeant in the US Army.  She could handle that weapon like a pro, shot master level in all shooting qualifications offered her, M-16, 9mm, .50, and more.   I never saw anything like it; she advocated for all females to be armed and know how to use weapons to defend themselves.  But, the liberals would see her disarmed because criminals use guns to affect violence on unarmed populations.  Where exactly is the logic in this “common-sense” “Gun Abuse” topic?

The simple fact is that every time a person selects a weapon to cause harm to a population, they are already committing a crime.  Look at every school shooting in America, and you will find the perpetrator/s first crime was not shooting someone but removing a gun from the possession of a legal and lawful gun owner.  Hence, guns are not the problems; immoral, criminal, and nefarious people are the problem.  Giving mind-altering drugs to children in K-12 education is the problem in a majority of the school shootings that occur.  When will you, and your elected comrades in the US House and US Senate, outlaw teachers forcing Ritalin and other mind-altering substances on students in the name of reducing school shootings?

Detective 2Better still, when will you and your elected comrades in the US House and US Senate scrutinize the executive branch sufficiently to enforce the laws already on the books to reduce crime?  Where are the marketing tools bragging about work in committees on reducing crime through harsher sentencing, education requirements to increase literacy among criminals, and using time in prison productively to clean up cities through community service, in distinctive clothing, and reduce the “pleasures” of being in jail?  Free cable, weight-lifting, time, rent-free housing, free medical and dental care, free food including special diets desired, and so much more has turned the prison into anything but a deterrent for the criminal class.  All paid for by the taxpayer who can barely afford food, housing, and necessities.

The email concludes with an emotional plea to “honor the lives of those lost.”  Okay; let’s honor the lives of those lost.  Let’s adjust the criminal justice system to punish criminal offenders. Teaching criminal offenders literacy so they understand the freedoms and rights they have forever lost by choosing to take lives.  Let’s use criminals to clean streets, pull weeds, build shelters for homeless people, and other community service acts. Let’s honor those lives lost through scrutinizing the government to help the mentally diseased population, instead of criminalizing this population and filling up jail space with people who need psychiatric help.  Representative Haaland, do you know how many of the homeless population in Albuquerque, NM, are suffering mental disease and have zero resources?  Do you even know how big the homeless population is in your city?

The Duty of AmericansI agree; let’s honor lives lost.  But, let’s honor those lives with action, dedicated to fixing problems, not pandering to small populations that keep getting you re-elected!  Let’s honor the victims instead of coddling the criminals!  Let’s honor the taxpayer’s sacrifices by doing the two jobs we elected you to perform.  Write laws that work, and scrutinize government to end bureaucratic, and criminal abuse of taxpayers!

Do you think you could, you know, possibly do those two jobs you were elected to perform, instead of perverting the US Constitution?

© 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.