Veterans are dying in the VA system

Veterans are dying because of negligence, neglect, and malfeasance in the VA medical system

By Bob Gutsche, VietNow National VA Chairman

VA NewsOur hearts go out to the families of those veterans who have died at the Phoenix VA Medical Center (VAMC) due to negligence, malfeasance, or just plain neglect through the cooking of the books to meet standards of compliance for appointment scheduling. Apparently there have been 40 deaths of veterans due to the non-scheduling of appointments for care in a timely manner. This was all reported by a doctor who had been previously employed at the Phoenix VAMC. I ask why the doctor waited until he retired to blow the whistle on this issue. Reports are that another employee has come forward to substantiate these allegations.

What is disgusting is that the Director of the VAMC was recently given a $9,345 bonus even though there were numerous deaths at the facility.

There have also been other reports nationwide of deaths at VA medical centers due to less-than-stellar care being provided.

Search and destroy

Recent reports from the Washington Examiner indicate that “search and destroy” appears to be the VA’s latest policy. Reports indicate that more than 1.5 million medical orders since May 2013 were cancelled by the Department of Veterans Affairs without any guarantee that the patients were provided with the treatment or tests that were ordered. Apparently, VA gave medical centers a large amount of latitude to cancel appointments or orders more than 90 days old.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation showed that the VA had a poor record of documentation of provision of care or tests provided. The GAO hopes to issue a report later this summer.

The silence is deafening

So far, after all of the problems that have come to light at the VA regarding all the issues that have plagued the VA, the VA Secretary has been silent. We need to ask why. The secretary is ultimately responsible for his agency and the care of the nation’s veterans. The least he could do would be to speak out and address the numerous issues at hand. Maybe it’s time for the Secretary to step down or be relieved.

Hold them accountable

The VA Management Accountability Act legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate. House of Representatives bill H.R.4031 and Senate bill S.2013 are pieces of legislation that would allow the VA Secretary to remove senior-level officials who are not performing up to standards. As it stands right now it is almost impossible to remove senior-level officials, and this legislation would eliminate the barriers to removal. We hope there will be joint support from both parties on this
legislation.

Who really cares for our veterans?

A study conducted indicates that since September 11, 2001, in excess of 1.1 million Americans are providing care for injured and disabled veterans. These caregivers include parents, spouses, friends, and relatives who have no formal system in place to provide assistance, thereby placing their own health at risk.

These caregivers suffer from increased depression, lost wages due to absenteeism, as well as strained family relationships while saving the U.S. government approximately $3 billion a year. This is a cost that the VA does not have to incur in its operational budget. At the same time, the cost of lost productivity each year to U.S businesses is estimated to be at $5.9 million for the absenteeism of veterans’ caregivers.

While the VA does provide some limited support for caregivers, as well as disabled veterans, it appears that the majority of this support is directed at care for elderly veterans.

While the VA continually gets enormous increases in budget allocation, they still have difficulty fulfilling the mission statement of, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and his widow and orphan.”

 

Bob Gutsche, VietNow National VA ChairmanAfter over 20 years in the U.S. Navy, VietNow National VA Chairman, Bob Gutsche worked as a counselor in the VA system for many years.