American Veteran News 04.12.16

VA WHISTLEBLOWER: ‘THEY ARE STILL MANIPULATING DATA’ — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — A whistleblower at the Phoenix VA Health Care System who spoke out about the mishandling of veteran suicides last year said last week that little has changed since hospital staff made national headlines for keeping secret wait lists two years ago.

“They are still manipulating data, it is still happening, they are still being trained to do it at facilities just like the one behind us,” Brandon Coleman, the whistleblower, told Fox 10 News Phoenix.

“If someone commits wrongdoing, whether they are a janitor or the director they deserve to be fired–until that happens people are going to continue manipulating the system if there is a financial gain,” Coleman, who was put on leave after speaking out in January 2015, stated.

The 2014 wait list scandal led the Department of Veterans’ Affairs inspector general to investigate 73 agency hospitals across the nation. The watchdog only recently began releasing the findings of those investigations under pressure from critics and repeated inquiries. According to a USA Today analysis of the findings, supervisors at VA hospitals in at least seven states instructed staffers to falsify patient wait times.


VA’S PRIVATE-CARE PROGRAM IS ‘A QUAGMIRE’ — DES MOINES REGISTER — It’s hard to say which irritates Vietnam War veteran Martin Wines more — his chronic, itchy skin condition or the government’s botched attempt to help him get it treated.

The Des Moines veteran says regular sessions in a special ultraviolet light booth are the only thing that provides relief from the scaling and itching of his severe eczema. The local Department of Veterans Affairs hospital doesn’t have such a booth, so a VA dermatologist referred him several years ago to Iowa Methodist Medical Center for treatment.

The arrangement worked well, until Congress ordered the VA to make it easier for veterans to obtain private care if services weren’t immediately available at the VA. The 2014 move to create the Veterans Choice program was a response to a national scandal over waiting lists for VA care.

Sen. Chuck Grassley and other officials say the program’s intentions are good — but red tape, long waits and difficulty accessing services have led to mounting frustrations for veterans. A national administrator for the VA says she hopes some recent changes will lead to improvements.


VA EXEC TASKED WITH CLEANING UP BOOK-COOKING SCANDAL MANIPULATED DATA IN OLD JOB — DAILY CALLER — Soon after Americans learned that dozens of veterans had died while waiting for appointments to get needed healthcare at the Department of Veterans Affairs Phoenix hospital, agency officials said Deborah Amdur, who until then was running a VA hospital in Vermont, was the woman to end the scandal.

During her time running the White River Junction Vermont VA hospital, however, the number of veterans recorded as having wait times of zero days went from 49 percent to an obviously too-good-to-be-true 96 percent.

The same week Amdur took over the Phoenix hospital, her superiors saw papers confirming the Vermont hospital had the same issues with wait-time falsification — with equally deadly results — as Phoenix.


THEY NEVER LEARN: WATCHDOG FINDS FALSIFIED WAIT TIMES AT 40 VA FACILITIES — AMERICAN THINKER — After two years of investigations, the inspector general for Veterans Affairs has found that 40 VA facilities around the country are guilty of deliberately falsifying reports on wait times for clients.

To date, only 4 low level VA staffers have been fired despite the fact that supervisors ordered the falsifications of records in almost all instances.

Washington Times:

The VA’s inspector general has released two years’ worth of reports totaling 70 investigations, finding that VA supervisors ordered employees to cook the books on wait times regularly, despite a promised crackdown on mismanagement and data manipulation by VA Secretary Robert McDonald. In some cases, investigators found that the falsifying of records at VA facilities had been going on for a decade.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, said the reports “outline a host of serious scheduling issues that masked wait times at VA facilities around the country.”


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA AREA VETERANS WITH HEPATITIS C ARE BEING CURED — RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH — After living with hepatitis C for more than 35 years, local resident Charles Otey — along with 500 other veterans — has been cured.

Treatments have been available for hepatitis C — a virus that affects the liver — for the past 20 years, but Otey was hesitant to pursue them until recently. He, like other veterans, feared the mental health-related side effects of the treatments.

“I have friends with hepatitis C, and they took the drug, and they were saying it had side effects like headaches or feeling suicidal,” he said last week.


‘MISSION I DO’ GIVES VETERANS FREE WEDDING AT ODESSA FARM — WFLA — The idea to say “thank you” to the men and women who serve our military is growing into an amazing extravaganza. “Mission I Do” is a wedding contest and giveaway hosted by Old McMicky’s Farm in Odessa, Florida.

The Farm received dozens of entries from deserving Tampa based military couples and narrowed the entries to four worthy duos. In November, voting was opened to the public online and over 65,000 votes were received.

The man who owns Old McMicky’s Farm in Odessa, Ralph Zuckerman, came up with the idea. “They get the whole farm and the farm staff, they get a wedding planner, they get rings, they get catering for up to a hundred of their friends, flowers, the officiate, the photographer – anything they want to make their day which they deserve to be special,” said Zuckerman.

“Mission I Do” is also made possible by a team of vendors that donate their time and products to be part of the special grassroots way of saying thank you to wounded veterans.


FROM AIRMAN TO CIVILIAN, THIS GULF WAR VET NEVER STOPPED SERVING HER COMMUNITY — TASK & PURPOSE — Loretta Coleman got out of the military in 1993, but never stopped serving her fellow service members.

The Joint Chief’s Call to Continued Service inspires transitioning service members to leverage their military skills, intellect, and innate sense of civic obligation to become assets in the civilian communities welcoming their return. Community service provides recently transitioned veterans many positive benefits including an immediate connection to their new environment and an opportunity to commit their skills and leadership toward the betterment of their community.


5 STEPS TO NETWORKING FOR VETERANS WHO AREN’T INTO NETWORKING — MILCOM — Everywhere you look you read about the importance of networking in finding a job, and in case you have not figured this out yet—it is the truth. While some people are lucky enough to find jobs without networking, that will not be the case for many of us. The hard part is that many of us have our reservations when it comes to networking. Fortunately, we live in an age of technology where networking in person is no longer the only way to establish those relationships that will land us jobs. If you are an introvert or are not comfortable with pounding the pavement and shaking hands all day, you can be as good at networking as the next veteran. Here are five ways to get out there without ever physically getting out there:


COULD BLUEBERRIES HELP MITIGATE PTSD PROBLEMS? — BIO SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY — Rats fed a diet rich in blueberries saw changes in levels of a gene associated with an increased risk of suicide, suggesting patients who suffer from problems associated with post-traumatic stress disorder could benefit from the fruit.

Senior author Joseph Francis, Ph.D. professor of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University, spoke with Bioscience Technology and cautioned that there is still a strong need for clinical trials, but based on the animal studies, blueberries may help reduce certain drivers of suicide and depression associated with PTSD.


FORMER LEAVENWORTH VA EMPLOYEE ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING PATIENTS — KCTV — A third lawsuit in the last month has been filed regarding mistreatment of veterans at the VA Medical Center in Leavenworth.

The latest suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court. It, like the first two, claims veterans have been sexually molested at the facility. All three lawsuits involve former physician’s assistant Mark Wisner.

A patient at the hospital claims Wisner conducted an improper of unnecessary evaluation of his genitals-without gloves.

Court documents identify the man as a U.S. veteran and Kansas resident, “John Doe A.”

Area residents are furious and disgusted.

Lisa Ybarra’s husband is in the army.

“For them to put their trust in a person and for that person to violate that trust- there’s just no words to explain,” Ybarra said.

Ramona Price is a veteran herself.

To THE VETERANS VOICE

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