American Veteran News 04.08.16

A COMPLETE DISGRACE: MANCHESTER VA COOKS THE BOOKS — NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER — For several years, the cardiology unit at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center was reporting that it scheduled 99-100 percent of its patients within 14 days of their seeking treatment.

If these numbers seemed too good to be true, it’s because they were.

VA employees were supposed to log when each patient sought an appointment, and when the next appointment was available. The difference between the two dates is the wait time. The Union Leader’s Mark Hayward reported this week employees were instructed to enter the next appointment date as the patient’s desired date, giving the false appearance of a zero wait time. The VA Office of Inspector General found that supervisors trained employees in this practice, even going so far as to “correct” records entered by employees who logged in a patient’s actual request.

The Manchester VAMC also kept track of veterans waiting for treatment on handwritten scraps of paper and refused to enter scheduling data in an Electronic Wait List maintained nationally. The center even turned away cardiology patients who couldn’t be scheduled within 14 days, telling primary care doctors to call back closer to when an appointment was available.

Covering up for long wait times made it look like the understaffed and overworked cardiology unit was doing just fine.

The OIG report finds that “No patient harm was identified” but there’s really no way to know. VA officials blinded themselves to the needs of veterans.

DESPITE PLEDGE, WHY ARE VETERAN BENEFITS STILL DELAYED? — WBNS — The Secretary of the Veteran’s Administration made a pledge that many people believe U.S. veterans already deserve: no more waiting months or years for their disability claims to be processed.

Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald made the pledge when he came to Columbus following media reports, including some done by 10 Investigates, which showed some veterans waiting years for their benefits.

“Our commitment is to get that down to zero by the end of the year,” he said in 2015.

WACO VETERANS HAVE MORE CHOICES THROUGH LOCAL HEALTHCARE PARTNERSHIP — KWTX — Backlogs in the Veterans Administration have been experienced first-hand by many veterans, but now, locally, they have more choices when it comes to finding timely healthcare.

As of March 21, Providence Healthcare Network announced a partnership to provide care through the Veterans Choice Program, giving veterans the choice to receive care at Providence locations throughout Waco.

Katrina Linthicum, Director of Case Management with Providence, said this will save many veterans time and a lot of hassle.

“The main benefit to a veteran would be timely access to care and possibly, depending on where they live, more local access,” Linthicum said.

HEDGE FUND GIANT TO GIVE $275M FOR VETERANS HEALTH CARE — CNBC — Steve Cohen of Point72 Asset Management, formerly known as SAC Capital Advisors, launched a nonprofit Wednesday that aims to treat mental health issues among U.S. veterans.

The Cohen Veterans Network will be opening between 20 and 25 clinics across the U.S. over the next three to five years, an effort that will cost Cohen $275 million.

“The wounds of war are serious. It is not easy to serve your country in combat overseas and then come back into society seamlessly, especially if you are suffering,” Cohen said in a statement. “These men and women have paid an incredible price and it’s important that this country pays back that debt.”

The multimillion-dollar effort aims to treat veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues for free.

GM EXPANDS DISCOUNTS FOR MILITARY VETERANS, SPOUSES — AUTOMOTIVE NEWS — General Motors is expanding military discounts to all 21 million U.S. military veterans and their spouses on select Chevrolet, Buick and GMC models.

The program runs now through May 31, GM said. The discount is in honor of National Military Appreciation Month, which is celebrated every May.

Active duty members, reservists, National Guard members and retirees — including their spouses — of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are eligible.

GM’s U.S. light-vehicle sales have slipped 0.1 percent this year in an overall market that has expanded 3.3 percent and remains on track to set another record in 2016.

The website lists discounts of $1,100 off a 2016 Malibu Premier, $1,700 off a 2015 Camaro SS and $3,000 off a 2016 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab LT All Star 4wd.

The military discount can be combined with other incentives, GM said.

EX-VETERANS AFFAIRS CHIEF SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR THEFT — THE DETROIT NEWS — A former Veterans Affairs supervisor was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison after he was convicted of stealing federal funds, which he used to pay for lap dances, sex and gambling, said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

During Glenn Alan Bates’ time as chief of the Veterans Canteen Service at the VA Medical Center in Ann Arbor, McQuade’s office said Bates embezzled $314,400 in cash and property belonging to the VA from 2007 to early 2013, when his employment with the VA ended.

As the former chief of the Veterans Canteen Service, Bates oversaw the VCS Patriot Store, cafeteria food services and vending sales.

HATE NOTE LEFT ON U.S. ARMY VETERAN’S WINDSHIELD IN MINNESOTA SAYS: ‘U KILL R BROTHERS’ — KMSP — ST. CLOUD, Minn. – A photo of a hate note left on an army veteran’s windshield in St. Cloud on Monday is now going viral on social media. The note reads, “U U.S. soldier, U kill R brothers — U leave here NOW.”

The Facebook post, that’s already been shared over 10,000 times, was written by fellow veteran Jonathan Ksepka, who said he shared it to make veterans and service members “aware that these kinds of threats have been made in the area,” he wrote.

Staff Sergeant Thomas Keane served in the U.S. Army for 24 years from 1990 to 2014. He was also awarded a Purple Heart. But what made him a hero to many, is exactly what made him a target to at least one.

(Photo) Hate note left on U.S. Army veteran’s windshield in Minnesota says: ‘U kill R brothers’

“I went to turn the car on, and I see the letter on my windshield,” Keane told Fox 9. “It’s just disturbing.”

SENIOR VA HEALTH EXECUTIVES COULD EARN MORE MONEY UNDER DEPARTMENT PROPOSAL — GOV EXEC — Senior health care executives at the Veterans Affairs Department could earn more money, but also could be fired more easily under draft legislation that Secretary Bob McDonald has sent to Capitol Hill. The proposal would create a new personnel system under Title 38 for senior executives in health care leadership at the department, with new rules on hiring, setting pay and disciplining those accused of poor performance or misconduct. Those employees, who would include senior medical directors within the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Integrated Service Network, could receive compensation as determined by the secretary up to the president’s annual salary (currently $400,000) and would be subject to a new performance management system for determining bonuses and job ratings. The secretary would review the minimum and maximum market rates for basic pay for senior health care executives at least once every two years.


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