WHISTLEBLOWERS SAY VETERANS CHOICE USED TO SLASH BUDGET DEFICIT AND CARE — KMTV Bill Hatfield bought a lifetime of spine trouble lugging heavy artillery shells through monsoon-muddy fields in Vietnam. More than 40 years after ruining his back, it was hard for him to find anyone who had his back at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center. That’s because a $10 billion reform program adopted in the wake of the VA’s national wait-time scandal also created an incentive for the hospital to reduce or eliminate expensive medical services inside the VA, which critics say is sending veterans such as Hatfield into a bureaucratic abyss. The goal of the reform was to make it easier for veterans to get speedy access to care, but doctors and nurses in the Cincinnati VA say the hospital’s leaders have used it as a budget-balancing tool. Instead of fast access, these whistleblowers say veterans are receiving the exact opposite. Hatfield was bounced around in phone calls and visits 30 times over 19 months between the VA, private providers and health care administrators. “I’m like, ‘This is crazy,'” he said. “There are people in far worse shape than I am. How are they getting their treatment?”
VETERANS FEAR VA GUN RIGHTS POLICY — DISABLED VETERANS Veterans are still fearful of harmful gun rights policies if they seek mental health care for PTSD after serving in combat to defend the rights of all Americans. Breitbart picked up on the growing concern of veterans considering treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the past few years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has assumed the power to restrict a veteran’s right to own firearms if they are deemed unable to manage their finances. VA apparently correlates financial incompetence with restricting the 2nd Amendment rights of disabled veterans. Veterans are not alone. The Social Security Administration has a similar program for disabled Americans who are financially incompetent. The problematic element of the process is that the American is deemed financially incompetent and presumed unable to safely manage a firearm without a trial.
OVER $20K RAISED FOR DECORATED MARINE VET ATTACKED IN WASHINGTON D.C. MCDONALD’S — FNL A GoFundMe page has raised $20,000 for a decorated Marine veteran who was brutally mugged and beaten last week in a Washington D.C. McDonald’s restaurant. Former Sgt. Christopher Marquez, who earned a Bronze Star in Iraq and was one of two Marines who helped carry then-1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal out of Fallujah’s infamous “Hell House,” told police that he remembers being approached by a group of five people between the age of 16 and 21. He believes the attack was racially motivated.
OSCAR-NOMINATED FILM SPOTLIGHTS DEATH-ROW VETERANS, COMBAT PTSD — ARMY TIMES A film that raises questions about veterans’ mental health care, capital punishment and justice for troubled troops is on the short list for an Oscar on Feb. 28. The 30-minute documentary “Last Day of Freedom” tells the story of former Marine Manuel Babbitt through the eyes of his brother Bill. Babbitt was executed in California in 1999 after being convicted of beating an elderly woman to death in Sacramento in 1980.
Babbitt — “Manny” to family and friends — had suffered a head injury as a child, and despite having learning disabilities and dropping out of school in seventh grade at age 17, was recruited by the Marine Corps. He went to Vietnam and later developed a host of mental health issues, including schizophrenia, severe post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.
VETERANS ALERT: VA ID CARDS ARE EASILY SCANNED, PUTTING IDENTITY AT RISK — PETOSKEY NEWS The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a warning to those who carry a veteran’s ID card, to keep them with you at all times and in your possession. The VA notes, “Anyone with a smartphone and a bar code app can scan any Department of Veterans Affairs identification card issued since 2004 and the cardholder’s Social Security number immediately pops up on the screen.” The Department of Veterans Affairs published warnings about the veterans’ information cards (VICs) on its web site in 2011 and again in July 2013. The alert states, “Some barcode readers, including those available as applications on cell phones, can scan the bar code on the front of the card, and reveal the veteran’s social security number.”
BUREAUCRACY, BACKLOGS LEAVE GRIEVING FAMILIES ANGERED AT ARLINGTON CEMETERY — DAILY CALLER Bureaucracy and poor organization at Arlington National Cemetery add to the frustrations of grieving relatives laying military veterans to rest. Arlington National Cemetery is the resting place of 400,000 veterans, but mismanagement is making the burial process a headache for families trying to secure a burial site at the historic cemetery. Backlogs have increased dramatically, headstone approval is taking longer and officials are applying selective enforcement of rules. Andy Del Gallo, who has made hundreds of headstones for the cemetery, says its becoming increasingly difficult to work with cemetery officials, a Friday WJLA report states. “Family members having to go through any angst at this point in time is problematic to me,” Del Gallo, owner of Eastern Memorials told WJLA. “It’s not about the business. It’s about having to go back to the families to say we are waiting. It’s been disapproved. We can’t do this. We can’t do that.”