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Saturday, December 7, 2019
HomeNewsPoliticsIG Releases Damning Report On VA Scandal, Waste And Corruption

IG Releases Damning Report On VA Scandal, Waste And Corruption

va-secretary-robert-mcdonald
va-secretary-robert-mcdonald

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald answers lawmakers’ questions regarding the VA scandal on Capitol Hill.

A damning report released by the Office of Inspector General elevated the VA scandal, revealing fraud, waste, and corruption on a scale greater than previously reported. It’s been nearly a year since reports in April 2014 suggested veterans may have died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix VA facility, the IG report found that wait times for thousands had been electronically manipulated by VA staff.

Roughly 1,700 vets were put on a secret list to cover up their long waits, and 18 of those on the secret ledger died before getting their appointments. The internal probe found that more than 31,000 veteran inquiries at the Philadelphia Regional VA call center went unanswered for more than 312 days, despite the five-day requirement. Claim dates were manipulated to hide delays, 22,000 pieces of returned mail went ignored and some 16,600 documents involving patient records dating back to 2011 were never scanned into the system.

It gets worse, much worse.

“This report is as bleak as it gets, full of systemic malfeasance and deliberate data manipulation,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said in a statement. “The Philadelphia VA Regional Office is in crisis, brought on by years of mismanagement and encouraged by VA’s longstanding refusal to hold employees accountable.”

In response to the Philadelphia IG report, the VA said the findings “reflect conditions a year ago.” They claim reforms were already underway during the IG’s investigation, beginning with a new director Diana Rubens, who was brought in in July 2014.

“This is not a new thing, this is a last-year thing,” said Allison Hickey, the VA’s official in charge of benefits.

But the IG clearly disagrees, noting the report reflects complaints made by veterans as recently as last month. Interviews with whistleblowers show a culture of retaliation at the VA to punish employees who bring the VA scandals to the public eye, leading the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to sponsor a bill protecting whistleblowers.

The VA’s top accountability officials says she does not want to see the bill become law, naturally.

“We will, whenever the evidence shows retaliation is engaged in, hold them accountable,” said Meghan Flanz, the director of the VA’s Accountability Review.

The IG report not only found that veterans’ disability claims had been mishandled and manipulated to show shorter wait times, but also that the results of the ratings and claims are “unreliable.”

“We confirmed that one supervisor from the VARO’s Quality Review Team inappropriately altered the results of individual quality reviews,” the report stated. “VARO management within the VSC was aware of the situation, but did nothing to stop the actions. As a result, these actions may have compromised the accuracy of claims processed and the reported accuracy rates are considered unreliable.”

Further, when veterans appealed the claim decisions, which the IG deemed “inaccurate” and “unreliable,” the VARO staff, those responsible for decided and reviewing claims and appeals, simply did not file the Notice of Agreement.

“We confirmed that VARO staff did not process Notices of Disagreement within 7 days as required by policy,” the report found.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who took over for Eric Shinseki after he resigned during last spring’s VA scandal, has attempted to impliment reforms. However, without the power to fire corrupt and inefficient administrators, real progress is not likely. Senate Democrats killed a bill in 2014 that would’ve given the secretary the power to do so.

This week lawmakers on Capitol Hill also grilled VA officials on reports that the construction of a new VA facility in Denver, which has been in the works for years, has cost a whopping $1.7 billion, thus far, and is still not completed. Officials have run out of money to pay for it.

Written by
Staff Writing Group

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Latest comments

  • Avatar

    The, Poser, patriots{?} continue using us Veterans, as political and merchandising tools, especially so called conservative, extremism instead, ideologies, as if they really care:

    “Sally Satel Still Selling Care for PTSD Veterans is Waste of Money”

    “Maine politicians seek answers for veterans who cleaned up after nuclear testing”

    So many issues long ignored or outright denied, and that second link is just on PTS {google Sally Satel ‘Sally Satel Still Selling Care for PTSD Veterans is Waste of Money’ and more can be found}, exist by the Country served who’s responsibility is the Veterans Administration, finally started being addressed under Sec. Shinseki and the Obama Executive branches Cabinet help. But it’s easier, and much cheaper up front, leading to costly problems, needing quick borrowed capital or taken from the already grossly under funded VA budgets, it’s like cutting corners when building anything, that continue re-servicing over and over, to follow the conservative, media hyped scandals easier then real journalism and actual facts because most have been served not serving, line of laying blame on the agency and it’s personal. The VA has been grossly under funded for decades and wars from, thus not built on the promises made by those served who have lacked any Sacrifice, especially the past decade plus with tax cuts and then total conservative obstruction yet it still functions as best it can as it always has!! The conservative politicians leading the attacks as they seek to privatize that responsibility for bottom line corporate profits for the principles and investors of, which would be very costly for the people served and damaging to the veterans who served them especially in our, poser, patriotic wars theaters!!

    Thousands of people across America don’t just talk about honoring Veterans; they walk the walk. ** Dedicated Volunteers Serve Veterans for Decades **

    “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

    • Avatar

      Still seeking ways to privatize, quicker, the people served responsibility, nothing about being socialized but Sacrifice Ignored, for corporate bottom line profits and bring in all the problems in the private sector that aren’t taken care of while flush with capital!!!!

      What brings on the political media hyped conservative ‘scandals’, “If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too — not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American.” -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013, when nothing is done by congress, but promised, poser patriotism, in previous hearings for the represented, as to their responsibilities, and their jobs!!

      DeJa-Vu & for Decades now: Rising Costs {mostly borrowed} of Caring for Veterans

      “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

      **VA Chief Warns of Rising Cost of Caring for Younger Veterans**

      The people served actually think that when legislation is passed, poser patriotic enhancing political points for their reps and themselves, it’s actually paid for! As to our wars and the long term results after, policy blowback, for the Veterans of, well not since WWII have the people served actually Sacrificed, mostly willingly and across the Nation including veterans depending on political ideologies, thus not building and maintaining, and thus saving in many ways because of, the Responsibility they hold to those very few that served them! Why in these modern times they don’t even pay for their flag waving, poser, patriotic wars and think nothing of it, while speaking full support, and who’s more patriotic to country, of the few that served, blame the next elected Executive branch leader especially if of opposite political party or if same just ignore!

      ** … two instigated wars whose costs were so inhibitive they were kept off the books, … The Obama Administration brought this into the open …**

      **”as well as two ongoing foreign wars, which his predecessor never even tried to pay for. Of course the president is running large deficits; trying to eliminate them now would make an economic catastrophe even worse.”**

      Neither OEF/OIF and the continuing blowback from the policies implemented and supported are yet to be paid for!!

      Facts: Matthew Hoh {former Marine and foreign service officer in Afghanistan}: “We spend a trillion dollars a year on national security in this country.”
      “And when you add up to the Department of Defense, Department of State, CIA, Veterans Affairs, interest on debt, the number that strikes me the most about how much we’re committed financially to these wars and to our current policies is we have spent $250 billion already just on interest payments on the debt we’ve incurred for the Iraq and Afghan wars.” 26 September 2014

      Bob Herbert “Losing Our Way” : “And then the staggering costs of these wars, which are borne by the taxpayers. I mean, one of the things that was insane was that, as we’re at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration cut taxes. This has never been done in American history. The idea of cutting taxes while you’re going to war is just crazy. I mean, it’s madness.” Bill ‘Moyers and Company’: Restoring an America That Has Lost its Way 10 Oct. 2014

      $14 Million An Hour: War Costs Top $1.6 Trillion Since 9/11, Say Congressional Researchers

      “With no shared sacrifices being asked of civilians after Sept. 11″

      And what else do those served get away with, through the representatives they hire, to avoid their Responsibility? Why they choose the easy ways out, just like they do in arguing their, poser, patriotism,, they either just totally ignore the Veterans during and after on an ever growing list of issues or they follow the written and spoken so called experts, usually politically motivated while getting comfortable return in wealth from the ‘denial these issues even exist’ [google Sally satel] and those links are just one conservative ‘expert’ and just about PTS. The homefront battles continue for Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, OEF/OIF Burn Pits and oh so many more reaching back to surviving WWII Veterans right up to today. Many were Finally being addressed when Gen Shinseki came onboard, with the still extremely limited budget funding, and with extended help by the Executive administration and it’s Cabinet where their charges could be integrated on long standing Veterans issues, that continues under Sec. McDonald but so does the Congressional obstructions and attacks, even from those served, as it continues causing costly problems that create other costly problems. Those problems are extremely helpful for political enhancing points of the people served representatives and given eager media backing as new{?} ‘scandals’ that have been seen before over and over and not corrected after, attack, hearings on!

      Chris Hayes: “If you can run a deficit to go to war, you can run a deficit to take care of the people who fought it” In response to Republican, long ago lost as the party of Lincoln and not just as to us Veterans, opposition to expanding Veterans’ benefits on fiscal grounds

      USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  • Avatar

    Live or die doesn’t mean much when justice is isolated to few and even fewer get proper medical care without being hand picked and exploited by congressional committee in front of cameras.

    Our pesident is sadly incapable of dealing with his duty for the people the soldiers that did thiers . Lead follow or get out of the way , sadly our leaders can’t do even one our of thtee.

    The fallacy of justice is the reality of just us. God help us the goverment wont.

  • Avatar

    To: The Director VA Los Angeles Regional Office, Board of Veterans Affairs Director Washington D.C., Appeals Management Center Director Washington D.C., Director of Planning and Analysis Washington D.C., Director of the Veterans Benefits Admin., Senator John McCain Chair Armed Forces Committee, American Legion, Washington.
    From: Ms. Tamara, Ms. Leticia, Mrs. Maria, Mr. Valter Facundo, U.S. Military Veteran.
    Issue(s): No Service Connected Ratings (1990-2013), Clear Unmistakable Errors made 1987-1989 (Post Combat Duty/T.B.I./P.T.S.D.), Muscle-skeletal Injuries (1980, 1981, 1988), Bunion Left Foot, Osteo-Arthritis Feet, Spine, Shoulders, Hands, Anxiety with Depression, Blackouts, Sleep Apnea, C.O.P.D., Asbestosis, Nerve Root Damage Rt. Lower Extremity, Foot Fungus, Asthma, Memory Loss, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Old Granulomatous Disease, Herpes Simplex Encephelitus, Brain Neurological Disorder, Umbelical Hernia, Special Adapted Housing, Special Monthly Compensation, Military I.D., Commissary privileges, 100% Total Disability Individual Unemployment Ability.
    Date: July 4th, 2016.
    My family has lost their respect for me and the Veteran’s Administration after promise after promise was made and eventually two decades went by, my children robbed of their fathers qualifying dependency benefits (1990-2013) never believed it could happen. However, in 2008, after filing VA form 9, which eventually got the attention of former Senator Jerry Lewis. In that, he stated “I’m apologizing to you for the misrepresentation by the D.A.V. who did exactly what the VA was doing, nothing.” Just prior to Senator Lewis retiring my Congressional case was turned over to Senator Dianne Feinstein. Once she realized I was fighting for my VA service connected compensation, she wrote me a letter. It read, “I’m not able to help with, change the outcome of, or assist you with your VA claim.” I wrote back to Senator Feinstein asking her, “Why is it former Senator Lewis was able to help veterans but your saying you cannot?”
    For reasons known only to her, she never did a thing to help me? U.S. military post combat veterans who served in a combat zone, robbed of their pension (2009), denied valid service connected conditions diagnosed by VA medical doctors who first examined me, then ran tests to confirm, and placed those valid findings in my VA medical records 1979-1989, whereas undeniable evidence of my many service connected disabilities were recorded, is proof positive of the fraud, waste, abuse taking place not only at VA regional offices, but also in Congress by those who would continue to fund these agencies so they can continue to violate federal laws. For a period of 27 years, I have tried to keep good records, compile as much evidence as possible to prove how millions of U.S. military veterans and our families are being defrauded purposely without any investigation? I’ve written to the Chief of the Armed Forces, Vice President, contacted offices of the O.I.G., VA investigative branches (2008-2016), but no one is willing to get involved whatsoever?
    The 4th of July represents America’s freedom, but without the military consisting of those who gave their lives, were injured, or actively serve on duty there would be no celebration because of our sacrifice to this nation, which must be honored. Should you agree, please help to blow the lid off of this across the nation systematic scheme to deny valid evidence which continues to rob us of “Earned” service connected benefits. The best approach should you happen to have a valid claim denied, remanded, or pending for months, years, decades, or the VA has altogether forgotten about you.
    Write your Congress person, or call them if it’s possible and tell them I’m being defrauded by my local VA regional office. When the sufficient number of letters, calls, inquiries, and reports are taken some one within the federal government (Senator John McCain) will order an internal White House Investigation into this miscarriage of VA S.C. claims. As my letters, reports, and inquiries have shown, any employee of the U.S. federal government who willfully participates in any illegal cover up, scheme to defraud, or purposely denies valid medical, exams, or findings as reported by competent VA doctors, nurses, or examiners, must be held accountable and prosecuted, or fired. The Los Angeles Regional office is covering up, denying, remanding, back logging, committing illegal acts of fraud in order to not compensate U.S. military veterans and our families. Case docket 08 39976 has been the pilot project needed to validate the fraud, waste, abuse taking place there. After contacting the Congressional unit and speaking to Caesar who said, “Two managers are both working together on your clothing allowances.” Then being shifted over to Slaughter who said, “Your clothing allowance was approved in July of 2014, call the prostehics department and have them process the payment, we don’t do that in this office.”
    When I did what she suggested, the prostehics manager said, “We don’t show an approval for you, only a denial?” I quickly asked to speak to Caesar, and was told, “He left and no longer works here?” When I tried to reach Slaughter, she avoided my calls and put Dustin on the phone, telling him she never told me I was approved?” But she also said, “We don’t have two managers, so whom ever told you two managers were working on your clothing allowances is mixed up?” The White House, Congress, Senate, both houses of our government must draft legislation to stop senior VA officials from being paid to defraud U.S. military veterans and our families. Get involved in the fight for justice by coming forward and telling your own story about how the VA has continued to deny or defraud you, as they continue to do with thousands of other service connected military veterans. From 1989-1999, I suffered with anxiety, depression, T.B.I., P.T.S.D. and could not provide for my family. The VA Los Angeles is responsible for cheating, lying, covering up the truth in order to prove one point, they cannot be trusted! All U.S. military veterans and their families must come together to change a corrupt VA claims system overdue for an over haul replacing those federal employees directly involved.
    With All Due Respect to our Nations Veterans!
    Ms. Tamara R. Facundo – Dependent 1990-2016.
    Ms. Leticia M. Facundo – Dependent 1985-2016.
    Mrs. Maria D. Facundo – Spouse 1984-2016.
    Mr. Valter Facundo – Disabled Post Combat Vet 1990-2016.
    Advocates in Support of Change to the VA Claims Process!
    Email Contact: valterfacundo@aol.com

  • Avatar

    On or about September 13th of 1983, I arrived home after fulfilling my duties as a general purpose

    vehicle maintenance mechanic, while stationed overseas at Torrejon Air Base Spain. I began to feel ill to

    my stomach, experienced bad cramps, diarriah, low grade fever, immense abdominal pain, loss of

    weight, landing me in the base hospital for 3 days. I could not get out of bed to walk to the restroom and

    used a walker to ambulate to and from the bed. The treating emergency room doctors’ could not tell me

    what the diagnosis was or why I had been struck down with this chronic illness. After I was released to

    my apartment, the treating physician placed me on 1 week of convalescence medical leave as I had no

    energy, no appetite, and could not work. It was not until months or years later that the condition was

    diagnosed as “Gastrointestinal Illness.” However, that diagnosis was not correct, my cramps, stomach

    related illnesses, low grade fevers, followed me throughout my adult life. While reviewing my VA

    medical records in 1988, I discovered a condition never disclosed to me until having filed VA form 9 on

    05/12/2012. The diagnosis had changed saying I now had “Old Granulomatous Disease” instead.

    I felt deceived and hurt at first, then realized how on 05/16/2016 after being threatened by “Mike” of

    the American Legion, how per management request (Los Angeles, R.O.) my outstanding appeal/remand

    was sent over to special operations. When I phoned the VA hotline (800) 827-1000 to inquire about

    those actions, I was told most likely the management had finally agreed to issue back pay on my claim of

    1990 for Tinnitus, a rating for my left toe bunion (1980), a rating for my granulomatous disease (1983)

    and realize how veterans law judge Gallagher was correct in her findings from 1/31/2013. The judge

    strongly suggested that a Los Angeles R.O. senior claims official “Expeditiously” complete my remand by

    following the “Duty to Assist” guidelines, in that all of my service connections were deemed

    “Intertwined.” As a result of that finding the judge suggested “Special Monthly Payments” because my

    overall picture of health got much worse with this terminal illness, covered up by the VA practitioners’

    and VA staff. On at least 5 occasions while either trying to shower, get dressed, talk on the phone, or

    work, I experienced abdominal cramps, blackouts, loss of breath, immense pain, and felt very helpless.

    Recently while meeting with the VA orthopedics department, I was told “You require 3 operations” on

    your RT. Shoulder, LT foot Bunion, and your Lower Spine.

    Unfortunately, without approval of my SAH benefits which have been sitting without being granted, I

    cannot fit a wheel chair into my residence in order to motivate, come, go or begin my convalescence

    following the operations. The VA orthopedic specialist told me “Should you not be helped by the RO, we

    will do whatever is needed for you!” While being contracted into Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation

    and Employment services (2009-2013) my VA counselors (Henry) said, “We’ve never had a veteran take

    a period of 5 years to complete an exam?” It was not until year 4-5 that my new counselor (Smith) said,

    “We overlooked the fact that you had 2 head injuries, and then realized in 1983 and 1986, I experienced

    “Traumatic Brain Injuries.” Even so, they were more glad to get rid of me, and showed it by supporting

    the Director of the SSI office, Victorville, CA in having my veterans’ volunteer program taken away from

    me without merit? I filed a complaint against that office, but as expected it was swept under the rug by

    the VA. The counselors brought in a third party counselor, Mr. Anfuso and conspired to play the blame

    game with me prior to realizing how they blindly botched my case of P.T.S.D. and T.B.I. Finally, when I

    tried to return to work and required my last monthly stipend to make ends meet. EDD/VA counselor

    Joseph Bebe and Jacqueline got together at the Vet Success center, Victorville, CA to deny my claim.

    Our system of government is wasting billions of dollars on federal employees who have continually

    maintained a do nothing attitude, showed little to no transparency when it comes to VA health care, VA

    compensation claims, VA expenditures, gross mismanagement, lies, cover up, deceit, fraud, waste,

    abuse, misappropriation, bogus and discriminatory practices against veterans and our families which

    requires immediate attention by federal investigative authorities. Today, I had the unfortunate task of

    having to tell my wife and children about my granulomatous disease, which I’ve had for 33 years with

    absolutely no transparency by the VA health care practitioners’ paid to do absolutely that job? Once I

    had everyone seated, I told my family that because of the VA having covered up my illness in that my

    condition is not being treated. I have a fatal illness with a life span of 7 more years, if I’m lucky but adult

    men who aren’t being treated by a VA specialist, as long as I have are expected to drop dead anytime?

    Another nail in the coffin of the VA’s non-commitment to its veterans’ and our families, decade after

    decade, without any restructuring. My final request to officials of the U.S. government is draft a new bill

    in Congress. The VA Restructuring/Reorganization Bill, changing how the VA operates, is funded, and

    reformulates a failed compensation and claims process. On or about August 5

    th of 2016, I applied for Cal

    Fresh food benefits, in order to feed my family. Something honorably discharged veterans 6/7/1979-

    8/2/1984 should never ever have to do, when the VA examined, diagnosed, and validated my illnesses!

    *** Contact Congress, the White House, the President, a Senator, so I may see it, before my time is up!

    A “Whistleblower” and Advocates for Nationwide change in the VA Compensation Claims Process!

    Ms. Tamara Renee Facundo – Dependent 1990-2016. (No Dependency Benefits 1990-2013)

    Ms. Leticia Maria Facundo – Dependent 1985-2016. (No Dependency Benefits 1990-2008)

    Mrs. Maria Dolores Facundo – Spouse 1984-2016 (Systematic Lupus Erythematosus, 1990)

    Mr. Valter Facundo (SEH) – Disabled U.S. Post Combat Vet. 1986-1989 – Howard AFB, Panama.

  • Avatar

    As a Post Viet Nam era Veteran who filed VA form 9 in 2008, was misrepresented by the D.A.V. from 2008-2012, I exposed the V.A. for a do nothing approach to my claims. From 2012-2017, the R.O. in Los Angeles shared my files with the A.M.C., B.V.A., and the White House. It wasn’t until 03/01/2017 that the Appeals unit found my N.O.D. filed in 2015, saying your right we did have it. Supposedly after waiting 9 years the R.O. is finally saying their going to right the wrongs made on my appeals.

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