Thursday, June 26, 2014

Are Veterans Ignored by the Department of Veterans Affairs?

Vet Dies Outside VA Hospital Nothing New
This appeared in the Washington Times on the 11th of July. According to the Times;"911 tapes: Table of doctors did nothing while VA patient died
Monday, July 14th, 2014 | Posted by Jere Beery
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Newly released 911 tapes indicate a table of doctors did nothing as a Vietnam veteran died in the Albuquerque Veterans Affairs Hospital cafeteria.
The Albuquerque Journal Friday reports two calls came in after veteran Jim Napolitano Garcia collapsed on June 30 in a building 500 yards from the emergency room.
SEE ALSO: Veteran dies 500 yards from the emergency room while waiting for ambulance in VA hospital
During the second call, a woman told the dispatcher the man was being hooked up to an emergency defibrillator. Told that paramedics were on their way, the caller responded, that there was a table of doctors sitting right next to him, and none of them were doing anything to help.
The hospital says its response to the man’s death remains under investigation.
On Thursday, New Mexico’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the acting VA director saying they have serious concerns about the handling of a patient’s death."
On 11/11/10, Veterans Day, I suffered a heart attack while at a VA clinic in Rochester New York. One of the staff called 911 to have me transfered to the local trama hospital. That very same staff person told me they didn’t even have a defibrillator in the clinic and I would recieve much better care at Rochester Memorial. I sure am glad I didn’t need a defibrillator at that time.
I will post this short video again in case you missed it the first time. Operation Firing For Effect reported on this problem almost 7 years ago and nothing has changed. In fact, it has gotten worst.

MEDICAL ALERT was created by OPERATION FIRING FOR EFFECT in 2008. This clip is about 2 minutes long. If you wish to hear the entire 20 minute audio file, email me with the words MEDICAL ALERT in the subject line and I will send you the entire 20 minute file. You will hear the true accounts of veterans who have died outside the VA hospital, and several other similar stories of veterans dying because of negligence by the DVA. The first time OFFE released this production we were criticized heavily by a number of veterans’ advocates and organizations.
It’s about time their membership got their dues worth whip ass. Between veteran suicides and the negligence of the VA, we are killing more veterans here at home than were killed during the entire Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other engagements put together.According to experts, a veteran kills themselves every 65 minutes. We are killing our Heroes!!! OFFE study indicates veteran homelessness and suicides are dirtectly related to divorce as one of the top 3 reasons…
Video Written by: Jere Beery
Video Edited by: Jere Beery
Video Produced by: Gene Simes & Jere Beery
The VA's Dirty Little Secret - Incompetent Doctor Care
By Investigative Journalist, Barry R. Clausen
July 8, 2014
The Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal continues across the U.S. and Northern California, it appears has escaped all but one investigation… so far. Some believe one of California’s North State VA facilities and VA doctors at McClellan Air Force Base should be investigated. This particular clinic is where Dr. Digpal Chauhan, "The Doctor That Almost Killed Me" is assigned. His boss Dr. Jane Addagatla has also recently been accused by VA staff of inappropriate actions related to Chauhan. Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7)
Even with the documentation available, the VA continues to keep patient and staff complaints secret while seemingly doing nothing and failing to do anything about exposing incompetent doctors. The office of Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7) was contacted and according to his Veteran’ representative Matthew Ceccato they are constrained from doing anything because of restrictions which would not allow them to become involved with VA legal issues as a result of the Tort Claim I filed against the VA. Ceccato stated that when contacted, the VA said it could be six months to a year before anything could transpire.
Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-9)
A VA staff member at McClellan AFB contacted Congressman Jerry McNerney’s (CA-9) office about the VA’s inability to deal with (specific) incompetent doctors. On July 2, 2014 McNerney’s representative, Exodie Roe notified staff that the Office of Inspector General had notified them that an investigation was being initiated. On July 2, 2014 the OIG notified VA staff at McClellan about the investigation andissued them a case number.
Acting Secretary of VA Sloan D. Gibson
"We will continue to depend on the service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of Veterans above and beyond self-interest; who serve Veterans with dignity, compassion, and dedication; who live by VA’s core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence; and who have the moral courage to help us serve Veterans better by helping make our policy and procedures better."
As reported in the California’s Appeal Democrat, "Yuba City in California’s North State is one of the 112 facilities nationwide on the VA’s list of facilities to be investigated. The audit found that of the 731 hospitals and clinics visited, 13 percent of staff scheduling appointments received instruction to falsify appointment dates to meet goals, according to the audit. The report doesn't spell out why the Yuba City clinic is on the list or what further investigation is necessary, although there will be an investigation into any possible misconduct."
Another North State VA Medical facility, Redding VA Outpatient Clinic, Redding, CA, is not currently on any investigation list. In fact, it rates as one of the better VA clinics according to most of the Veterans using the Clinic. With the exception of VA’s Mental Health Doctor Greg Nelson - all is well in Redding.
As a Veteran myself, following an accident my VA medical documents show, I had a cough, dizziness and pain which are mentioned many times, however Chauhan, who was my primary care doctor at the time, only treated me with nose sprays and repeated prescriptions for cough syrup for over four months (120 days+). In addition, I was admitted into the Mather, California Emergency Room several times for cough/severe chest, stomach pains and dizziness. Upon release, each time I was told to contact my primary care doctor who had done me little good in the first place.
After several visits to Chauhan’s office I took my wife with me, Chauhan told both of us that he was a "lung expert." When I questioned that statement he went on to say he was also a "brain expert" and Chauhan suggested that I had a mental problem and not physical difficulties.
On January 13, 2014 after the visit to Chauhan’s office I passed out at home about 1:00 a/m and stopped breathing from the dizzy spells and cough. If it had not been for my wife Julie giving me CPR, I may not have survived.
It took my nearly dying at home until it was discovered that there were, and continue to be many blood clots in my chest including large clots in my lungs and I have heart failure. I was admitted to Mather VA Hospital and put on blood thinners. When I developed a bleed in my abdomen I was placed in an ambulance and taken to the David Grant Hospital at Travis Air Force Base where I underwent surgery that resulted in the insertion of a tiny filter intended to catch future blood clots should they develop.
I have recently filed a malpractice Tort Suit against the VA and Chauhan for what I consider medical malpractice with the Regional Counsel of Department of Veterans Affairs in San Francisco. In addition there have been complaints filed by VA employees with the US Office of Inspector General (OIG), and with the US Office Special Counsel (OSC) against Dr. Jane Addagatla and Dr. Digpal Chauhan. There is also a personal letter sent to Sloan Gibson the acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The following story is based on the complaints to the OIG, the OSC and the letter to Gibson. According to documents, for the past 18+ months Dr. Jane Addagatla, Digpal Chauhan’s boss has been the lead clinic doctor for both Yuba City and McClellan.
From VA staff, "Many patients say that they are unsatisfied with Dr. Chauhan and want to switch doctors and asked how to do it. When asked why, the answers are consistent: He does not listen to me, he rambles on and on about how he is the doctor and he knows what's best for the patient, that he refuses to write work notes when the patients are legitimately too sick to work, how he has not entered the consults for specialty treatment that has been discussed months if not a year ago and how rude he has been to them."
According to McClellan staff on Monday, 16 June 2014, Dr. Addagatla was interviewing for the position of Clinic Lead for Northern California VA Health Care Systems. This was possibly the 2nd or 3rd interview she has been to with regard to this new position. As VA staff claims it has been suggested that Dr. Addagatla is allegedly covering for Dr. Chauhan and the second-rate care he has dispensed in order to keep her record clean and forward her personal career.
According to the Mather VA’s Public Relations Officer, Tara Ricks neither Chauhan nor Addagatla want to be interviewed for this story. David Stockwell, regional director for the Northern California VA was also asked for an interview three times and there was no reply.
During his retirement, Barry has been writing for several California newspapers including the Sacramento Valley Mirror. In conjunction with the Mirror he has also written for the national news service NewsWithViews. His controversial investigative stories can be found on the National NewsWithViews website.] Barry can be reached at:
© 2014 Barry R. Clausen - All Rights Reserved
Mr. Clausen has been a guest on over 250 U.S. and Canadian radio talk shows and TV news shows including ABC, CBS, NBC and repeatedly on FOX News. He has been featured or quoted in over 800 books, magazines and news articles including the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Vancouver Province, Canada’s B.C. Report, New York Times, Newsday, Seattle Times, Oregonian, Sacramento Bee, Christian Science Monitor, The Dallas Morning News and a lengthy article beginning on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Clausen’s information has been translated and used by publications in many foreign countries including Japan, Ireland, England, Turkey, Germany, France and Chile. In 1994, a film crew from Danish TV-2 flew to Seattle to interview Mr. Clausen for a television documentary about international and U.S. extremist organizations. The documentary, A MAN IN THE RAINBOW, was subsequently aired in several European countries.

His latest book "Burning Rage - The Growing Anger Within My Country," will be updated and available on early this spring.
The VA Scandal Gets Deadlier
A report by Sen. Tom Coburn reveals the disturbing truth
A devastating oversight report from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) reveals that the combination of malpractice and bureaucratic ineptitude infesting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is far deadlier than previously acknowledged. "Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA malfeasance, and the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice," the report states.
The death total dwarfs the 23 fatalities for which the VA has taken responsibility. Coburn, a physician and three-time cancer survivor, notes the problems at VA facilities go "far deeper" than the phony scheduling schemes that brought this scandal to the national stage. "The waiting list cover-ups and uneven care are reflective of a much larger culture within the VA, where administrators manipulate both data and employees to give an appearance that all is well," the report reveals.
According to Coburn, that culture is one in which veterans "are not always a
priority." Much of that is attributable to the reality that even as the VA suffers from a shortage of healthcare providers, VA nurses are paid to perform union duties and doctors are allowed to leave work early rather than care for patients. The report further explains that good employees who try to bring attention to the Department’s shortcomings "are punished, bullied, put on ‘bad boy’ lists, and transferred to other locations."
The report also blows away the VA’s fallback excuse, namely that it suffers from a lack of funding. Coburn notes that spending has increased rapidly in recents years, an assertion backed up by federal budget figures. Inflation-adjusted federal spending shows that the VA budget has increased 92.2 percent over the last decade, skyrocketing from $73.3 billion in FY2003 to $140.9 billion last year, measured in constant 2014 dollars. According to the VA spends more in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did following WWII and the Vietnam war, when millions of troops were returning home from the battlefield.
Spending over the last dozen years has been on "junkets, generous salaries, bonuses, and office renovations for its employees
Coburn reveals that as much as $20 billion of that spending over the last dozen years has been on "junkets, generous salaries, bonuses, and office renovations for its employees," even as the Department ends every year with billions in unspent funds. He further notes that most of the construction projects undertaken by the VA are over budget and behind schedule. And even when state-of-the-art facilities are finally constructed, the VA is unable to staff them with a sufficient number of doctors. This reality has forced them to spend millions of dollars sending veterans to clinics in other cities and states, wasting veterans’ time and taxpayers’ money.
Some of the details of patient care illuminated by the report are truly disturbing. One Navy veteran, forced to wait months to see a doctor, died of Stage 4 bladder cancer. He had been rushed to the hospital in September 2013, but was sent home despite a medical chart saying his situation was "urgent." His daughter made effort after effort to get him an appointment but was constantly rebuffed. He finally got an appointment on December 6—one week after he died. Another veteran received a tooth extraction, despite having dangerously low blood pressure. On his way home, he had a stroke that left him paralyzed. In another case, doctors never spotted a growing lesion on a veteran’s lung during an annual chest x-ray. He died as the result of that carelessness.
The report also seems to validate accusations made by Texas VA whistleblower Dr. Richard Krugman. Last month Krugman alleged the Department was delaying life-saving colonoscopies. The report cites at least 82 vets who either died or suffered serious injuries because of delayed diagnosis or treatment for colonoscopies or endoscopies at the VA. It noted that an investigation by CNN could not determine whether anyone had been reprimanded or fired due to these failures—even as the possibility remains that some of the people responsible may have received bonuses.
At a news conference last week, the VA admitted that approximately 65 percent of senior VA executives were paid a total of $2.7 million in bonuses last year. That number doesn’t include tens of million of additional bonuses awarded to doctors and other VA medical providers. Both totals are part of the $3.9 million doled out to 650 workers at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The Phoenix facility is the one where it has been confirmed that dozens of vets died awaiting treatment, even as waiting times were being manipulated.
Other parts of the report bordered on the bizarre. Coburn found that five female veterans in Kanas received "inappropriate" pelvic and breast exams from Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center physician Jose Bejar. Bejar subsequently pleaded no contest to two charges of sexual misconduct, in order to avoid a trial on nearly two dozen counts. Richard Meltz, the chief of police, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, at the Bedford, NY VA Medical Center pleaded guilty in January to charges arising from two kidnapping, rape, and murder conspiracies. A VA inspector general investigation determined that a Nashville, TN VA employee racked up $109,000 in unauthorized travel expenses. And Maria Kelly Whitt, a former nurse at the Lexington, KY Veterans Affairs Medical Center pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for administering an unauthorized dose of morphine to a 90-year-old World War II veteran. At least two other veterans cared for by Whitt also died "under suspicious circumstances" after receiving morphine.
Other examples of overt lawlessness include a VA employee in charge of supervising patients with substance abuse problems turning out to be a cocaine dealer; another VA employee stealing a patient’s personal information and re-directing compensation benefits to himself; an employee sharing veterans’ personal information in exchange for crack cocaine; and employees accessing child pornography using VA resources.
The report also details the unconscionable delays in scheduling veterans with serious psychological problems. Dr. Margaret Moxness, formerly employed at the Huntington VA Medical Center in Charleston, WV, alleged that supervisors instructed her to delay treatment even when she reported patient needs were immediate. She says she saw at least two veterans commit suicide in the interim. Another whistleblower alleged "serious patient neglect" at the VA health care system in Brockton, MA, including one individual diagnosed with a service connected schizo-affective disorder and drug-induced Parkinsonism who failed to receive appropriate psychiatric treatment and specific lab monitoring required by VA regulations for more than 11 years.
And then there were the delays. As of March 638,000 veterans were awaiting a decision on disability claims, with 360,000 of them waiting more than 125 days. The report blisters VA schedulers, revealing that half of the 50,000 employed by the Department "did not even know how to accurately report the information needed to determine wait times."
Unsurprisingly, Coburn lays the blame for the VA’s problems on Congress, which micro-manages decisions at the VA because "Washington politicians are more interested in claiming credit for establishing new benefits or VA centers than making sure veterans are getting the care they were promised and earned." He explains that passing laws is meaningless if those entrusted with implementing them can ignore them, even as they remain immune from any serious consequences. He insists that Congress must ensure that the VA delivers timely, quality care to veterans "while at the same time stop micro-mismanaging efforts by the VA to improve."
Part of the solution Coburn advocates is to make every hospital in the country a VA hospital, "so when the VA cannot provide treatment it will provide coverage for a veteran to receive medically necessary care elsewhere."
"We’ve seen battle. We’ve seen combat, why do we have to… fight when we come back home just to get proper medical care?"
Healthcare expert Betsy McCaughey takes that idea one step further, noting that the VA should encourage vets who have Medicare coverage in addition to VA coverage to use civilian doctors and hospitals that could cut the VA’s backlog in half. She further advocates that the $5 billion wasted by the VA on an annual basis could be used to buy older veterans a "medi-gap card." This would offset the cost for veterans who stick with the VA because they can’t afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with civilian doctors. An added bonus is that procedures performed more often on older veterans, like bypass surgery and angioplasty, have higher survival rates at private facilities than at most VA centers. Moreover as the backlog shrinks, VA hospitals will be better able to treat younger veterans in a more timely manner.
Coburn offers several other recommendations. They include enhancing the transparency of VA performance measures, prioritizing vets with combat-related injuries, upping the patient load for VA doctors, reading vets their healthcare rights, ending abuse of whistleblowers, ensuring doctor quality, and having Congress ensure that promises made to veterans are kept.
The report ends on a somewhat somber note, admitting that the shocking findings contained in it are "not all-encompassing" and that further Congressional investigations are necessary. Vietnam War veteran J.R. Howell undoubtedly expresses the sentiments of his fellow soldiers in that regard. "We’ve seen battle. We’ve seen combat," he explains before asking, "why do we have to… fight when we come back home just to get proper medical care?"
It’s a question for which acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson and members of Congress must continue to demand answers. America’s veterans deserve nothing less.
Arnold was an op-ed columist with the NY Post for eight years, currently writing for and Arnold can be reached at:
Also See:
Did You Hear About the Military Purge?
11 January 2014
Military-Driven Empire Building
18 March 2009
Soldiers and Veterans
15 March 2008