That’s Crazy!!! – More Chronicles from the VA (CH 5)

I-CareThe end of the year inundation continues unabated.  Unfortunately, so to does the failure of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) to inspire and motivate change.  Thus, my continual efforts in opening the transparency and demanding accountability for the VA leadership, and insistence that the American Congress do its job in scrutinizing the executive branch!  I repeat, only for emphasis, the US Congress (the US Senate and US House of Representatives collectively) only have two jobs.  1) write laws that are constitutional and for the benefit of all, themselves included, American citizens.  2) scrutinize the executive branch to protect the American Citizen from abuse and runaway actions.  Feel free to read the links to each story for more information, the failure of elected officials to act and prevent this behavior is abysmal, and these are just summaries, the full story is detestable!

In yet another fraudulent scheme, the fraudsters are penalized but the VA employees are left without penalty.

Thomas Farese, 79, of Delray Beach, Florida, and Domenic J. Gatto Jr., 47, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, are charged in an 11-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to transact in criminal proceeds, transacting in criminal proceeds, and conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.VA 3

Two VA employees, over the course of four years, caused the VA to lose $1.38 million in kickbacks.

Two Chicago-based VA employees were charged in connection with a fraud scheme that involved pocketing cash payments from vendors in exchange for steering orders for medical equipment to those vendors. Andrew Lee is charged with one count of wire fraud, while Kimberly Dyson is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and four counts of bribery. Lee and Dyson worked as prosthetic clerks in the VHA Prosthetics Service in Chicago, where part of their duties was to select vendors to order medical equipment for VA patients using government purchase cards. The charges allege that Lee and Dyson schemed with coconspirators who owned or operated medical supply and distribution companies, in some cases placing orders for unnecessary and more costly monthly rentals of medical equipment, rather than purchasing the equipment as VA physicians had ordered. The scheme fraudulently caused the VA to overpay one company by more than $1.38 million from 2016 to 2020. Lee and Dyson pocketed kickbacks of at least $220,000 and $39,850, respectively.VA 3

From fraud to theft, we find another VA employee improperly taking advantage of their position for personal gain.

Former VA-certified registered nurse anesthetist, Elizabeth Prophitt of Saline, Michigan, was sentenced to three years’ probation for stealing controlled substances, including several opioids, from hospital-dispensing machines. Prophitt pleaded guilty to five counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit. She used her position as a surgical nurse to steal more than 2,000 vials of Schedule II and Schedule IV controlled substances, which included fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, and midazolam. Prophitt would use protected patient information and falsify medical documents to obtain the controlled substances. Instead of using the medication on patients, she diverted the drugs for her own personal use.VA 3

For all those people who shudder when they think of how porous the government is in protecting personal identifiable information (PII), the following should alert and provide more fodder to end the political ambitions of representatives who continue to refuse to do their jobs!

Five out of seven conspirators were convicted for their roles in a scheme to defraud the VA and the Social Security Administration of more than $1.8 million. A Florida jury found Omar Shaquille Bailey and Ronaldo Garfield Green guilty following an eight-day trial, while a third codefendant, Jamare Mason, pleaded guilty on the second day of trial. Two other codefendants, Kadeem Gordon and Mario Ricketts, had pleaded guilty prior to trial, while two remaining codefendants have yet to be apprehended. The members of this conspiracy obtained the personally identifiable information of disabled veterans and Social Security beneficiaries and used this information to fraudulently open bank accounts and prepaid debit cards. They also forged documents in the victims’ names that directed the VA and the Social Security Administration to deposit benefit payments into those fraudulent accounts. The defendants and their coconspirators withdrew these funds from ATMs and banks throughout South Florida and Georgia for their own personal use. Much of the funds were ultimately funneled to the architects of the scheme in Jamaica. The five guilty defendants are awaiting sentencing.VA 3

Please remember, an indictment is not a conviction, and every person is allowed their day in court, in front of a jury of their peers, before sentencing and judgment is passed.  With that said, the following indictment is pretty compelling.  If found guilty, may the defendant be forced to do community service in distinctive clothing, in a public place, and carrying a sandwich board detailing their crimes.  Inexcusable and unforgiveable are terms not used enough for some crimes!

Rosemary Ogbenna of Washington, DC, was named in a 35-count indictment for allegedly carrying out a scheme to steal more than $400,000 in government benefit funds provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and VA. According to the indictment, Ogbenna operated a rooming house business and perpetrated the scheme to target some of her tenants. She obtained and maintained control over SSA and VA benefit funds intended for the care of elderly, mentally ill, disabled, and veteran beneficiaries, and used the funds for her own personal use and benefit.VA 3

The Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Albuquerque, NM is in the news again.  No surprise if you, like me, are familiar with the conditions and leadership at this VAMC.  Unfortunately, another veteran has died due to the malpractice and malfeasance, abuse, and lack of leadership in the VA.

The VA-OIG determined that poor oversight of resident physicians (residents) likely contributed to the patient’s delayed lung cancer diagnosis. A resident ordered an abdomen and pelvis computed tomography (CT) scan. Although a follow-up chest CT scan was recommended within 90 days, it took 175 days to complete. The chest CT scan results included resolution of a spiculated lung nodule and worsening of opacities in the lung representing a cavitary infection or cancer, and a positron emission tomography/CT (PET/CT) scan was recommended. The follow-up PET/CT scan showed a lesion in the right lung, but a biopsy was not done. The patient was examined and diagnosed with cancer at a non-VA hospital.

The VA-OIG concluded that deficiencies in care coordination between Primary Care, Pulmonary, and Emergency Departments’ staff also contributed to delays. In addition, contract teleradiologists did not use available prior images for comparison.  The facility failed to use quality management and patient safety processes to evaluate the care of the patient.VA 3

Here’s the kicker, and it should infuriate every taxpayer in America.  The Raymond G. Murphy VAMC was recently found to be meeting all SAIL metrics in a comprehensive healthcare inspection completed by the VA-OIG.  SAIL metrics are how the VA leadership are measured in being knowledgeable and competent in these positions.  Check out the link on SAIL metrics for more information.  Leaving only one question, “How can the VA leadership be found competent, and still be killing veterans?”

Angry Wet ChickenWhen discussing the abuse of veterans and the failure of VA leadership, it never ceases to surprise me the utter half-truths, bloviations, and oratorial yoga, and logical pretzel twisting that is accepted by the US Congress.  The following link takes you to a list of witness testimony given by VA-OIG representatives to the US Congress.  If these “witness” statements leave you sick and mentally struggling, don’t say you were not warned.  The VA-OIG, like the VA, is replete with verbal contortion performers and nowhere is this most noticeable than in “witness” testimony!

Regarding verbal chicanery, oratorial yoga, and despicable verbal gymnastics to provide job security while taking zero action, here is the link to the Semiannual Report to Congress by the VA-OIG.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you, the bureaucrats are out in full force and are playing every card in the deck to protect themselves from Congressional Scrutiny, while attempting to pass themselves off as honest, fair, and doing a good job for the American People.  The problem is in Congress not properly scrutinizing these shenanigans and demanding compliance with the law!

VA SealThe remaining 15 notifications from the VA-OIG are the standard reports on comprehensive healthcare inspections (CHIp) where leaders are measured, never found wanting, even though too often the leaders are failing and useless.  Other notifications included the audit for data security and IT measures completed by a third-party auditor, and which the VA continues to fail but Congress refuses to hold people accountable.  The third and final series of notifications in this batch were several dealing with individual VISN level of local VAHCS/VAMC level inspections on specific topics, such as COVID response, supply chain failures, and other issues.

Unfortunately, the answer is always the same the leaders are inept, inadequate, and incapable of initiating change before a veteran dies, before fraud and abuse occur, or before the VA-OIG makes an attempt to inspire change.  Not that the VA-OIG is very capable or properly equipped to inspire change, simply that the VA-OIG made an attempt.  The root cause remains clear, Congress refusing to do their job has led to the US Military Veterans being actively abused by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Lackadaisical scrutiny, politicization, and two recent presidents who allowed Congress to label the US Military Veterans as “domestic terrorists,” have had detestable consequences for the American Taxpayer and the US Military Veterans and their families.?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

Are you sufficiently inspired to change how you vote, demand elected leaders to act, and improve how the government in America from the city/county to the US President operates?

© 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.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Do We Understand?

Bobblehead DollOne of my closely held beliefs is that we will be held accountable for the heritage left us by those who have fought and bled, and came before us.  When I see the farrago that has become Afghanistan, the ineptitude of Vietnamese legacy, the current condition of the White House, politics in America, and the politicians refusing their jobs. I am always left asking, “What will our forefathers say?”  With hundreds, possibly thousands of Americans abandoned in Afghanistan by the sitting US President, a complicit Congress, and the spineless Joint Chiefs of Staff, I cannot help but wonder what the President Generals of the United States will say to these people.

Before we hear from the US President’s, let us first clear our minds with the following from Mark Twain.

The statesmen will invent cheap lies, blaming the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

The fraudulent president, Joey, and his Joint Chiefs are in this position right now.  They are deceived, they deceived themselves, and if America is not careful, their self-deception will mean enemies on Main Street.  No hyperbole, no scaremongering, no warmongering; simply truth simply stated.  Joey and his Joint Chiefs are blaming America for being in Afghanistan for too long, and the chaos in leaving is America’s fault.  Their self-deception should not be our problem, our lie, or our “conscience-soothing falsity.”Angry Grizzly Bear

President (Colonel) Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt has the next word, and he declares and details our problem precisely:

Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people.  From these great tasks, both of the old parties have turned aside.  Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes.  Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.  To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day” [emphasis mine].

Do we understand the problem?  Are we clear about the issues facing our nation?  Is the mission clear?  The current crop of politicians have purposefully turned from their roles, like dogs to their vomit, and refused the people who elected them for personal power and individual success.  Well, what do you do when you catch your dog rolling in its vomit?  What do you do when you find a toddler crayoning the walls after telling them no?  Will the adults in the room, please stand? You are needed!photo_slideshow_max

President (Lieutenant) John F. Kennedy provides a caution pertinent to this discussion, and a word of timely caution is worth gold and silver to those who heed and follow its counsel:

The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in ensuring our nation’s survival if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is a very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. …
For we are opposed worldwide by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, subversion instead of elections, intimidation instead of free choice, and on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system that has conscripted vast human and material resources into building a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific, and political operations.  Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed” [emphasis mine].

There are lots of questions about who has been pulling Joey’s strings.  Who is president right now, as senile Joe is not in charge, Kamala is not in attendance, and Pelosi is silent and retiring shortly.  The Afghanistan farrago is humiliating, devastating, and despicable; yet, none of the politicians are willing to be publicly outspoken, convening investigations and using their powers to lead and rescue Americans.  Why?  Congress has the War Powers Act; they can act independently of the US President and demand that the US Military enter Afghanistan, rescue US Passport holders, and destroy American hardware, munitions, and other war materials.  Congress could depose the US President legally, through impeachment proceedings, and install a new president.  Yet, nothing is happening.  Why?Plato 2

President (General) George Washington provides guidance, counsel, and direction worthy of consideration in the following panacea of quotes:

    • “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can, and undoubtedly will, be recalled.” … “Be Americans. Let there be no sectionalism, no North, South, East, or West. You are all dependent on one another and should be one in union. In one word, be a nation. Be Americans, and be true to yourselves.”
    • “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” … “It is impossible to govern the world without God. It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly implore his protection and favor.”

Herein is a call to action, from a general mustering both his troops and citizenry, calling all able-bodied people to learn two great truths.  First, we are the owners of government and hold the reigns of power.  Second, we cannot make the changes needed without the help of almighty God,  regardless of the name we call Him.  For too long, we have been divided on the first and not allowed to perform the second, and it is time to end the power that divides and separates.The Duty of Americans

While not a military president, his cunning mind is a powerhouse of wisdom that provides essential ideas and insight, and I am pleased to quote President John Adams.  Again we find a panacea of quotes:

    • Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.” … It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them a habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.”
    • Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Are we allowing the suicide of the American Republic through the groveling in the infancy of our children’s minds?  Look at K-12 education and how ideas from the late 1800s and early 1900s continue to shape your child’s classroom experiences — producing functionally illiterate products at state-run schools, abusing your child of their God-given potential, and robbing them of a lifetime of learning through labels, invented science, and drugging them into submission.Angry Wet Chicken

Yet, President Adams is correct; the problem of K-12 education is an opportunity in disguise.  The opportunity to learn is an individual one; it is an opportunity for the community to step in and demand the politicians go away; it is an opportunity for citizens to awake and arise and refuse the cruel gruel of oppression and require the fruit of liberty be fed to their children.

There are two pieces of wisdom passed to us from President Thomas Jefferson also apt for this discussion:

    • Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”
    • If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

Knowledge Check!With these thoughts, we come to the brief conclusion of this article, but not the conclusion of the need for learning, teaching, and action.  The destruction of America has progressed sufficiently that none of us now living have experienced the tempestuous sea of liberty due to the calm lakes of despotism that has overtaken our land.  Desire something you have never had, real liberty, and let’s be willing to do everything we need to possess this gift for ourselves and pass something better to our children!

© 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.