TRUMP RELEASES 10 STEP PLAN TO REFORM THE VA — BREITBART — Speaking from Virginia Beach, Virginia on Monday afternoon, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump released a ten point plan to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“Veterans should come first in the country they fought to protect, and under a Trump administration, they will,” the billionaire declared during his speech at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center. “We are going to fight for our military and our law enforcement personnel the same way they have fought for us. We will be a safe, strong, and proud country once again.”
Trump spoke about ten steps he will take if elected president to reform the VA:
1. I will appoint a Secretary of Veterans Affairs who will make it his or her personal mission to clean up the VA. The Secretary’s sole mandate will be to serve our Veterans – not bureaucrats, not politicians, but Veterans. Amazingly, President Obama’s VA Secretary recently downplayed concerns about waiting times by saying that people also wait in line at Disneyland.
2. I am going to use every lawful authority to remove and discipline federal employees or managers who fail our Veterans or breach the public trust.
3. I am going to ask Congress to pass legislation that ensures the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the authority to remove or discipline any employee who risks the health, safety or well-being of any Veteran.
4. I am going to appoint a commission to investigate all the wrongdoing at the VA and then present those findings to Congress as the basis for bold legislative reform.
5. I am going to make sure the honest and dedicated people in the VA have their jobs protected, and are put in line for promotions.
6. I will create a private White House Hotline – that is answered by a real person 24 hours a day – to ensure that no valid complaint about VA wrongdoing falls through the cracks. I will instruct my staff that if a valid complaint is not addressed that the issue be brought directly to me, and I will pick up the phone and fix it myself, if need be. That’s a promise.
7. We are going to stop giving bonuses to people for wasting money, and start giving bonuses to people for improving service, saving lives and cutting waste. If an employee finds a smart way to save a large amount of money that also creates better outcomes for our Veterans, then a small, responsible portion of the money saved will be given as a one-time bonus and the rest will be returned to taxpayers.
8. We are going to reform our visa programs to ensure American Veterans are in the front, not back, of the line.
9. We are going to increase the number of mental health care professionals, and increase outreach to Veterans outside of the system.
10. We are going to ensure every Veteran in America has the choice to seek care at the VA, or to seek private medical care paid for by our government. Never again will we allow a Veteran to suffer or die waiting for the care they so richly deserve.
WORLD WAR I VETERAN REMEMBERED — RICHMOND DISPATCH — POWHATAN – The lone Virginian to be recognized with a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service during World War I was recently honored again as part of the ongoing centennial remembrance of the war, which lasted from 1914 to 1918.
On Tuesday, June 14, Del. Lee Ware, R-65, presented a resolution he had sponsored in honor of the late Earle Davis Gregory, a Powhatan native, to American Legion Post 201 in Powhatan. The resolution had passed the House of Delegates on Feb. 25.
Ware said Gregory’s accomplishment was brought to his attention by former Powhatan sheriff Nelson Batterson.
“It is a real honor to be able to bring attention to someone who has served with the valor and distinction that Mr. Gregory did and to know that he was born right here in Clayville,” Ware said.
TREATMENT OF SOME VETERANS IS RADIOACTIVE — MODESTO BEE — I am an “Atomic Veteran.”
This is now an official veteran status conveyed both by Congress and the Department of Defense.
Impressed? Well, don’t be envious, because it is definitely not something I would wish upon my worst enemy.
Our military branches have been extremely careless over the years and have exposed many servicemen and -women to unnecessary and undisclosed hazards, in many cases related to radiation and nuclear fallout.
My ship, the USS Boxer CVS-21, was the flagship for Operation Hardtack conducted during the first half of 1958. During this operation, the government conducted more than 20 atomic blasts over the tiny South Sea islands of Bikini and Enewetok.
The ship ended its eight-month stay at the site in August and returned to San Diego, where I went aboard as a very young seaman apprentice. My new shipmates were full of stories of sitting on the flight deck during explosions, watching mushroom clouds envelop the sky and, incredible as it seems now, having wind shifts that sent clouds of smoke, dust, grit and metallic odors washing over the ship.
WILL SENATE PUT VACATION BEFORE VETERANS? — MONTANA STANDARD — Fresh from their Independence Day holidays, members of Congress are scheduled to be working in Washington for less than two weeks. Their long summer recess is on the calendars for July 15 through Sept. 5.
Whatever Congress fails to do by the end of next week won’t get done at least until September. There are precious few work days in the Capitol after Labor Day. It’s election year and politicians are anxious to go back to campaigning for re-election.
Among the many important legislative jobs left undone at this writing is improving U.S. veterans health care. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee gave strong bipartisan support to S.2921, the Veterans First Act, in mid-May. The bill is sponsored by Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and cosponsored by the ranking Committee Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. The bill has 48 cosponsors, including Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
Yet this broadly popular, bipartisan legislation that addresses problems with veterans’ access to care, health care professional shortages, caregiver support, disability services, education and other veteran needs is stuck. It hasn’t been brought to the Senate floor for a vote – and time is running out.
9 QUESTIONS WITH A VETERAN TREATMENT COURT JUDGE — T&P — Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Stephen V. Manley talks about how veteran treatment courts are changing lives for the better.
Judge Stephen V. Manley does not shy away from tackling society’s most intractable problems. He founded the Drug Treatment Court and Mental Health Court of Santa Clara County, California, after recognizing a systemic problem: State services were not being offered to treat mentally illness for clients who appeared in drug courts. Today, Santa Clara County has a separate drug court and mental health court equipped to meet the unique needs of each client population.
With 30-plus years at the forefront serving the most at-risk populations, Manley is uniquely suited to serve the veterans who come before him in court. In 2008, he founded the Santa Clara County Veteran Treatment Court. Like drug courts and mental health courts, veteran treatment courts are diversionary courts consisting of a structured, rehabilitative program actively monitored by the judge. Veteran eligibility is determined upon first entering the criminal justice system and the decision to participate is up to the veteran. Veterans who are part of a VTC are often allowed to remain in the community, contingent upon the veteran’s success in the treatment program.
VA PROPOSAL PUTS VETERANS AT RISK FOR MEDICAL RADIATION ERRORS — HEALTH CARE BUSINESS — A proposal by the Department of Veterans Affairs intended to help our nation’s veterans receive more timely health care could instead lead to a lower standard of care and ultimately put them at risk. The proposed rule would give full practice authority to advanced practice registered nurses, which includes allowing them to perform medical imaging procedures that use ionizing radiation.
This proposal is disturbing and could lead to serious consequences for veterans. Ionizing radiation can be extremely dangerous if administered incorrectly. Registered radiologic technologists have the education, skills and expertise to perform high quality medical imaging procedures, while keeping radiation dose as low as possible. Yet, the VA’s proposal would give certified nurse practitioners, a group without necessary education in radiation protection, full practice authority to “order, perform, supervise, and interpret laboratory and imaging studies.” It is a dangerous precedent to allow personnel who have not undergone rigorous training in radiation safety, radiation physics and patient positioning to assume medical imaging responsibilities.
CALLS ON VA INSPECTOR GENERAL TO OPEN INVESTIGATIONS INTO MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT IN ILLINOIS VA — POLITICAL NEWS — WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General Michael Missal on recent investigations into VA hospitals in Illinois. The Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission found that rights violations were committed against Illinois veterans with disabilities at the Edward Hines Jr. and Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Senator Kirk called on Inspector General Missal to address and investigate reports of forced administration of medication without direct correlation to a veteran’s mental health needs and the issuance of criminal citations for a veteran exhibiting mental health related behavioral symptoms.
“Our veterans, especially those seeking treatment for mental health issues, deserve the best health care available and must be treated with dignity,” said Senator Kirk. “Addressing disturbing reports of violations at VA facilities should remain a top priority for IG Missal and receive immediate attention. Mistreatment of veterans at the VA is unacceptable.”
The full text of the letter is below:
COMMISSION WANTS MORE VETERANS TO GAIN ACCESS TO PRIVATE DOCS — THE GAZETTE — Twelve of 15 commissioners appointed by Congress and the president to propose reforms to veterans’ healthcare have endorsed 18 “bold” steps to transform the system, but in the end rejected a push to dismantle it and to shift most veterans’ care into the private sector.
And yet, say critics of the Commission on Care including several veteran organizations, its final report released Tuesday still proposes to expand veterans’ rights to choose outside health care providers, enough to put traditional VA health care at significant risk over time.
The dangers, opponents contend, is that a steady shift of patients from VA to the private sector care by relaxing “choice” rules could explode VA spending, in turn forcing Congress to crimp on resources for VA-provided care including cutting edge specialty programs for the most disabled vets.
LAWSUIT: VETERANS HOME IGNORED ABUSE, HARASSMENT — DAILY JOURNAL — A Fergus Falls woman is suing the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming she endured years of sexual harassment and abuse from a male co-worker at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home while supervisors refused to take action.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Lisa Schroeder, a former certified nursing assistant at the Veterans Home, alleges her co-worker, Sean McKeag, “repeatedly engaged in unwelcome, offensive, sexually harassing and threatening behaviors.”
The lawsuit alleges McKeag repeatedly slapped Schroeder’s buttocks, screamed obscenities at her, attempted to hit her, stalked her around the Veterans Home and to her car, interfered with her work, attempted to slam a door on her and threw a bag of garbage at her while she was next to a resident veteran.
HOUSE GOP LEADERS BLOCK VOTES TO RESTRICT CONFEDERATE FLAG FROM FEDERAL CEMETERIES — THE HILL — House GOP leaders opted against allowing votes this week on measures to restrict display of the Confederate flag in the aftermath of racially charged police shootings.
Two House Democrats, Reps. Jared Huffman (Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), submitted amendments to a 2017 Interior Department spending bill that would prohibit decorating graves in federal cemeteries with Confederate flags and would ban federal contracts within the National Park System to sell Confederate flags at any facility. Their proposals were not among the 131 amendments made in order by the House Rules Committee Monday night.
A fight over the Confederate flag has simmered in Congress since the racially motivated shooting last June at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., that fueled a nationwide push to restrict displaying the symbol.
Any vote this week to limit the Confederate flag would have come days after the deaths of two African-American men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, in confrontations with police that reignited national furor over excessive use of force against people of color. And during what started as a peaceful protest in Dallas against police brutality Thursday, five officers were killed by a gunman who allegedly was angry about the recent police shootings.
The Interior Department spending bill is expected to be considered on the House floor as soon as Tuesday.
VA WATCH: A BIPARTISAN MOVE TO MONITOR BONUS PAYMENTS — PITTSBURGH POST-DISPATCH — Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and a Republican counterpart, Dean Heller of Nevada, have introduced legislation that would promote scrutiny of bonuses paid to leading officials of the scandal-plagued federal Department of Veterans Affairs. This legislation, a refreshing demonstration of bipartisan concern for a health care provider that is not highly regarded even in the absence of scandal, is overdue.
The public should know how much government officials are being paid and, if bonuses are part of the mix, what they did to earn them. In the case of the VA, the legislation is needed to halt the illogical practice of awarding bonuses to those who have fallen short, if not failed, at their jobs.
Mr. Casey cited the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, where two administrators received hefty bonuses for their work amid an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed six and sickened at least 16. Across the country in recent years, the VA has been castigated for making veterans wait unacceptably long periods for care — some died while waiting — and doctoring data to make the waits appear shorter. News media reported that some of the officials involved in that scandal got bonuses, too.
KEEP VETERANS’ PREFERENCE AS IT IS — DES MOINES REGISTER — The Des Moines Register recently published an editorial on the subject of veterans’ preference [Vets deserve special consideration, to a point, July 5]. They are taking the position that veterans’ preference in employment should be a one-time occurrence for federal hiring and not a lifetime benefit. We in the Iowa American Legion understand their position, but disagree.
The editorial stated that “The American Legion says veterans are awarded extra points only when they’re competing for a job with someone else who is equally qualified for the position.” To be completely clear, that is not just the position of the American Legion, that is the law. The veteran must be equally qualified for the position under consideration for veterans’ preference to apply.
We understand that the proper application of the law may result in qualified non-veterans not being promoted, but changing the law so that veterans’ preference no longer applies in promotions may result in qualified veterans not being promoted. Is that the fairness the Register seeks?
SOUTHERN NEVADA VA HEALTH OFFICIALS EMPHASIZING ALTERNATIVES TO OPIOIDS FOR TREATING PAIN — LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL — For five years, Arthur Maheu took morphine three times a day to ease intense pain in his lower back. He tried another opioid, Vicodin, but stopped using it because it caused an allergic reaction.
Maheu, 63, didn’t like taking morphine because it made him constipated and lethargic. About six months ago, the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, where the Vietnam veteran receives his medications, started Maheu on a program the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched in Minneapolis in October 2013 called the Opioid Safety Initiative, or OSI. Its objective is to improve the quality of life for veterans suffering chronic pain, while simultaneously reducing their dependency on opioid drugs.
The OSI success rate since its implementation appears to be remarkable. At eight VA health care sites in Minnesota, high-dose opioid use was reduced by more than 50 percent. In the six months or so since Maheu began his new drug-free regimen, he hasn’t had to rely on morphine to kill his pain or deal with the drug’s unpleasant side effects.
VETERAN WANTS TO CORRECT SPELLING ERROR LITERALLY SET IN STONE — DECATUR DAILY — ATHENS — Skip Ferguson, a retired U.S. Marine and commandant of the local Marine Corps League, won approval last week to place two new monuments on the Limestone County Courthouse lawn, but he also hopes to fix an existing monument.
The new monuments will recognize the county’s honored dead who fell in combat in Beirut, Iraq and Afghanistan, and Ferguson has launched a fundraising campaign to garner the $800 to $1,000 needed to pay for them.
But Ferguson has another project on his to-do list: Correcting a spelling error on the nearby Vietnam War monument and adding the names of five fallen servicemen missing from the monument.
The monument lists the names of 19 Limestone County residents who were casualties in the Vietnam War and incorrectly spells Vietnam as “VIEINAM.”
FAKE 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER KILLED HER HUSBAND FOR HIS REAL VA CHECK — DAILY BEAST — When Robert McClancy was found poisoned by his own PTSD meds, his wife and her boyfriend—who pretended for years to be 9/11 first responders and Purple Heart recipients—got his veteran’s benefits. This is how they were caught.
Chuck and Martha Ann Kaczmarczyk documented everything.
Chuck was meticulous with his digital camera, snapping pictures of the crime scene every time he moved a gun or repositioned Robert McClancy’s corpse. Martha uploaded all the pictures to her computer and took McClancy’s military medals for good measure—adding them to a growing collection of forged or pilfered documents.
This was May 15, 2006. Martha was still married to Robert McClancy, who lay dead in his recliner, murdered with a lethal dose of his own post-traumatic stress disorder medication.
Martha and her eventual second husband Chuck had killed him in a successful scheme to receive the Vietnam War veteran’s military benefits.