American Veteran News 07.27.16

REMODELING VETERANS’ HEALTH CARE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY — WASHINGTON TIMES — From 2007 to 2009, I served as undersecretary for health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Overseeing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), I often saw the best of what our nation offers veterans recovering from the wounds of war in a system staffed by committed health professionals devoted to providing quality care.

Unfortunately, I also witnessed the shortfalls of that same system, where bureaucracy and an outdated institutional model created obstacles, waste and missed opportunities for reform. While we worked diligently to set the VHA on a sustainable course for the future, it was clear the model was under tremendous strain.

In the seven years since my retirement, the strain has only grown greater as the VHA struggles to adjust to the changing demands for care among a diverse population of veterans.

The current VHA — a large, centralized bureaucracy trapped in the policies, procedures and assumptions of the last century — is simply unprepared to respond to the health care needs of today’s veterans. What is needed is a plan to transform the VHA to better meet those needs.

A proposal in Congress, the Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act, offers a promising way forward that will provide that transformation and ensure veterans have access to the timely, high-quality care they deserve.

This legislative draft by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican, would enable critical reforms to the VHA to better reflect the realities of health care in the 21st century.



REMAINS OF AIRMAN RETURNING HOME AFTER 64 YEARS — THE JANESVILLE GAZETTE (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE) — BELOIT — Colony Glacier looks stunning in the photos.

Sapphire blue lakes, random juts of glacial snow sparkling in the sunshine and vivid green pines stand out in front of snowy peaks.

It’s beautiful, but it’s not home.

On Wednesday, the remains of US Air Force Airman First Class George Ingram will return from the base of that snowy mountainside to his home in Beloit, Wis.

Ingram, who would be 87, died in 1952 when his Douglas C-124 Globemaster crashed into Mount Gannett on its way to the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. The wreck of the plane was spotted several days later, but it was quickly covered with snow, sank deeper into the glacier and disappeared.

Ingram’s remains and those of this crewmates were not seen again until 2012, when they were discovered at the base of Colony Glacier, about 12 miles away.

For the last several years, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory has been working to confirm the identities of the crew.



NEW CASES OF LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE FOUND AT ILLINOIS VETERANS HOME — AP — QUINCY, Ill.— Two new cases of Legionnaires’ disease have turned up among residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in the Mississippi River city of Quincy.

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports (http://bit.ly/29Ybou2) the cases disclosed Tuesday by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs comes less than a month after a nearly $5 million state-of-the-art water treatment plant and delivery system was unveiled at the facility.

Last year, Legionnaires’ disease sickened 53 people and led to 12 deaths at the home. The Centers for Disease Control determined the bacteria that causes a severe form of pneumonia was likely spread by an aging water system at the 129-year-old facility.

Veterans Affairs spokesman Dave MacDonna would not disclose the condition of the two residents who recently contracted the disease, citing health privacy laws. However, he said there have been no deaths.



TRUMP TELLS VETERANS HILLARY CLINTON CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO OVERHAUL VA — WASHINGTON TIMES — GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump told the annual VFW convention Tuesday that military veterans should have expanded access to private doctors and health care providers, while warning that “Crooked Hillary Clinton” is bent on sweeping “under the rug” the problems that have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mr. Trump said the nation should pick up the tab for veterans that seek out more timely care from private doctors and clinics outside the system.

“The veterans health system will remain a public system, because it is a public trust,” he said. “But never again will we allow any veteran to suffer or die waiting for care. That means veterans will have the right to go to a VA facility or the right to see a private doctor or clinic of their choice, whatever is fastest and best for the veteran.”

“And we will pick up the bill,” Mr. Trump said. “It will cost us less money and the care will be amazing.”

The VA scandal erupted in 2014 after it became clear that department officials had cooked the books to try to hide long wait times, for the sake of making administrator bonuses, and that tens of thousands of veterans has been stuck in backlogs awaiting care at VA facilities.



VA SPENT $20 MILLION ON ART AMIDST SCANDAL — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — The Veterans Affairs administration spent $20 million on expensive artwork and sculptures amidst the healthcare scandal, where thousands of veterans died waiting to see doctors.

The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind.

“In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor,” wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. “Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.”

“Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years—with $16 million spent during the Obama years,” Andrzejewski said.

The VA spent $21,000 for a 27 foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for “art consultants” for the Palo Alto facility.

A “rock sculpture” cost taxpayers $482,960, and more than a half a million dollars were spent for sculptures for veterans that could not see them.

“In an ironic vignette, at a healthcare facility dedicated to serving blind veterans—the new Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center—the agency wasted $670,000 on two sculptures no blind veteran can even see,” Andrzejewski said. “The ‘Helmick Sculpture’ cost $385,000 (2014) and a parking garage exterior wall façade by King Ray Studio for the ‘design, fabrication, and installation of the public artwork’ cost $285,000 (2014).”

“Blind veterans can’t see fancy sculptures, and all veterans would be happier if they could just see a doctor,” he said.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in North Carolina Tuesday, calling for reforms at the VA. Trump said he would keep the health care system public, but would allow Veterans to also use private hospitals and doctors of their choice.

Trump also called for firing VA officials and installing a hotline for veterans in the White House.

“The VA scandals that have occurred are widespread and totally inexcusable,” Trump said. Many have died waiting for care that never came, a permanent stain on our government.”



TRUMP CALLS VA A ‘PUBLIC TRUST’ BUT VOWS TO LET VETS SEE PRIVATE DOCS — MILCOM — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday called the Veterans Affairs Department a “public trust” and vowed to keep it a “public system” but also promoted a plan to allow veterans more access to private health care.

Speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump also attacked Hillary Clinton’s pledge to reform the department.

Accompanied by vice presidential running mate Gov. Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican, Trump said that in his administration “veterans will have the right to go to a VA facility or the right to go to see a private doctor or the clinic of their choice. There’ll be no more five-day waits in line.”

Trump also said he would set up a White House hotline to hear the “valid complaints” of veterans and would personally intervene if the vet wasn’t satisfied.

“This could keep me very busy at night, folks,” he said. “This could take the place of Twitter.”

Trump appeared a day after Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, spoke to the VFW and said she would oppose efforts to privatize VA health care. The VFW audience gave Clinton a polite but muted reception while Trump was greeted enthusiastically with chants of his “Make America Great Again” slogan.



IS HILLARY CLINTON PLAYING VETS FOR “SUCKERS”? FINALLY PROMISES VETERANS AFFAIRS REFORMS — DISABLED VETERANS — After getting bashed in veteran circles and by Donald Trump for her juvenile approach to recent veteran scandals last October, Clinton now promises reforms.

When asked about VA problems during a Rachel Maddow interview last October, Clinton grunted merely that the present scandals were merely a Republican swipe at Democrats. I wish she would have said that to the families of veterans killed by the wait list scandal.

The Military Times just reported on her speech to pathetic VFW, a dying organization, where she did a 180-degree turn and now promises reforms. Though, she caveats her reforms as not being as extreme as Trump’s, likely in a calculated attempt to pander to union voters.

During he speech, she engaged in typical fear mongering, claiming Republicans want to fully privatize VA. This argument is a well known red herring since VA is already quite privatized under Obama through initiatives set in motion first by former President Clinton.

The told the VFW crowd, “I know a lot of vets still feel invisible, powerless, like their country [has] forgotten them.” She continued, “That’s wrong. We have to make sure we end that.”

So how would another Clinton presidency change that? Didn’t she previously discount whistleblower claims about veterans being killed in VA only to blame Republicans?

Now, of the past 21 years, a Democrat has been in office for 2/3 of them. Clinton promises a different VA experience, but she played a large part in created the present VA system during her roll as chair of the Health Care committee in 1993. She also participated in gutting VA union jobs in favor of outsourcing, so it is interesting Clinton is wielding any support form the union at this point.

Anyway, all you need to know is that Clinton said she would not privatize VA. This is a lie since VA is already largely privatized.

So what the hell is she really talking about?



TRUMP RALLIES VFW VETERANS ON EMAIL SCANDAL, IMMIGRATION — STARS & STRIPES — WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Tuesday pitched his health care reform plan to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in North Carolina, but won his biggest applause lines by hammering opponent Hillary Clinton over mishandling email and the dangers of immigration.

Conventioneers broke out into chants of “lock her up” when Trump mentioned Clinton’s use of a private email server, echoing a refrain at the Republican National Convention. The billionaire businessman and former reality television star received a standing ovation for warning that accepting immigrants and refugees will bring the war on terrorism inside the United States.

Trump, who accepted the GOP presidential nomination last week, spoke to the annual VFW convention a day after Clinton, who told veterans she would fight to keep post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits intact despite a proposal in Congress to trim them back.



VETERAN HOUSING DISCRIMINATION — NMP — Quick question for you: Would you have a problem with this offer on a $630,000 single-family home in Bedford, Mass.? A borrower offered full price with a 768 FICO, 28 percent back end DTI, $120,000 in their checking account, a 10 percent deposit, and a 45-day closing. Would you, as a real estate agent, accept that offer? The logical and no-brainer answer would be a resounding “Yes.” However, this listing agent advised his seller to say “No.” Why? Simply because it was a VA home loan!

Now, the veteran ultimately had his offer accepted, however, only after the veteran went around the listing agent and called the seller directly. When he called, he simply said, “Why won’t you sell me your home and accept this offer?” The seller’s response was, “Well, our agent said this was a VA home loan and we’re concerned!” The acceptance of their offer was only made possible after the veteran told me to disclose the strengths (credit, DTI, income, assets, etc.) of their financial situation. The veteran has already disclosed this information once to the federally licensed mortgage professional, and shouldn’t have to do it again!

This sort of discriminatory practice is an epidemic in our country! Thousands of veterans each and every year lose out on the opportunity to make the American dream of homeownership a reality simply because some mortgage professionals and real estate agents are more concerned with a paycheck than they are with advising the veteran to use a benefit they earned! To be honest, I’m sick and tired of these so-called professionals! So much so, that I have a meeting with my Congressional representative to see if this country wants to help out!



REBUTTING TRUMP, VA SECRETARY DEFENDS IMPROVEMENTS AS ‘WELL UNDERWAY’ — MILCOM — Before Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took the stage Tuesday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald made an impassioned defense of the department and argued that its transformation was “well underway.”

McDonald, a former Army captain who ran the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble before becoming secretary in July 2014, didn’t mention Trump by name, but he clearly took aim at his plan to “reform” the department.

“You’ve heard many times that VA is broken,” McDonald said at the event in Charlotte, North Carolina. “So I’ll answer one question: Can the Department of Veterans Affairs be fixed? Can it be transformed? The answer is yes. Absolutely. Not only can it be transformed, transformation is well underway — and we’re already seeing results.”

Citing positive-trending statistics on everything from veteran homelessness to access to care, the secretary sought to highlight how the department was in the process of making sweeping change and improving the lives of those who had served in the military.



AMERICAN FLAGS DAMAGED, REMOVED FROM VETERANS’ GRAVES A SECOND TIME — CBS — EAST DONEGAL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — American flags are now back on the graves of over 50 veterans after the originals were ripped and broken in two separate incidents at a Lancaster County cemetery.

The pastor at Donegal Presbyterian Church said flags have been torn off and damaged twice.

This week was the latest incident, but the same thing happened in June.

No headstones were damaged.

The flags were replaced with help from Sheetz Funeral Home this time around, while the local VFW donated flags to replace those damaged in June.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the Susquehanna Regional Police Department at 717-426-1158.



FIRST-EVER MEMORIAL FOR VETERANS LOST TO PTSD COMING TO ILLINOIS — TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — CHANNAHON, Ill. (Tribune News Service) – Channahon State Park will be home to a one-of-a-kind memorial for military veterans who have lost their battles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Forgotten Warrior Memorial Wall will be a tribute to all veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and have been afflicted with PTSD and sacrificed their lives beyond the limits of active duty. The memorial, expected to open in November, was funded through private donations to Chicago-based nonprofit K9s For Veteran Warriors.

K9s For Veteran Warriors CEO Michael Tellerino said it’s proper to have memorials for veterans who lost their lives in battle; however, currently no memorials exist for the countless veterans who have taken their own lives while fighting another war at home – PTSD.

“How can we honor them for paying the ultimate price?” Tellerino said. “They come home with wounds you can’t see. People don’t understand how serious this is.”

One statistic Tellerino cited suggests about 22 veterans commit suicide each day, but that’s just based on veterans who have registered for benefits. He said the real number is between 28 and 32 a day.



LAWYERS SUE VA OVER BOGGED-DOWN APPEALS PROCESS FOR VETS — LAW.COM — Two King & Spalding lawyers in Atlanta, John Chandler and Beth Tanis, are leading an unusual and ambitious pro bono suit with Stephen Raber at Williams & Connolly in Washington to try and force the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to speed up decisions on veterans’ disability claims.

They filed mandamus petitions for 17 veterans and their survivors on July 21 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, asking the court to declare unconstitutional the lengthy delays in the VA’s appeals process—which takes on average four years—and to order the VA to expedite appeals for veterans whose disability claims are denied.

The lawyers are asking the court to consolidate the 17 individual petitions—and Chandler said they will be filing more.

“We’ve got veterans coming in out of the woodwork who want to participate,” he said.

According to VA data cited in the suits, it takes an average of 1,448 days from when the VA denies a veteran’s disability claim to when the Board of Veterans Appeals rules on the appeal. Meanwhile, thousands of veterans die before their appeals are decided.

This violates the veterans’ due process guarantees under the Fifth Amendment, the petitions say.



VETERAN ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE: JOHN LEE DUMAS — MILCOM — Here at Military.com we write on how to translate your skills to the civilian job market, ways to revise your resume, and sector specific advice, all with the goal of helping you to achieve your goals in the transition from military to civilian.

One man who has done just that is entrepreneur and podcaster, John Lee Dumas.

Who is John Lee Dumas?

John served in the Army for approximately 8 years, including a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq as an Armor Platoon Leader, tanks (including his time in the reserves).

He went to law school, but soon found it wasn’t for him. He then tried finance, then a tech start-up, then left that to do some soul-searching.

He then moved to San Diego and got involved in Real Estate.

As you can see, John served as a prime example of a veteran who was struggling to find his passion.



WWII VETERAN RETIRES AFTER 70 YEARS OF MILITARY, CIVIL SERVICE — AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND — RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) — This September, Anthony “Tony” Duno will celebrate his retirement from the Air Force after 70 years of service, making him the longest serving civilian in Air Force history.

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James recognized Duno’s accomplishments during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., July 22.

“Mr. Duno is just a remarkable, remarkable public servant,” James said. “Tony teaches all of us life is about hard work, it’s about service, but most importantly, it’s about the people. He truly epitomizes our core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all that you do.”

Duno has come a long way from being a reluctant World War II recruit from the Bronx, New York. Dressed in an elegant three-piece suit and a Burberry scarf for the ceremony, Duno eagerly and passionately shared his life story.

Born into an Italian-American family, Duno was drafted in 1944 at the age of 18 into the 379th Infantry Regiment to fight under the command of Gen. George S. Patton. That was the beginning of a lifelong career that no one, including Duno, could have imagined.

“I had no ability of going into the military,” Duno said. “I think I weighed 115 pounds, if that. I had no interest in the Army, but they said it didn’t matter.”

Although the military was not his original plan, Duno held his own at basic training and found that the military lifestyle suited him.



VETERANS, EMPLOYEES PICKET FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITALS — KDLT — Picketers were out at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center this morning to bring awareness to the issue. Back in March, some members of the Commission of Care for Veterans proposed to send VA health care to the private sector.

The proposal would ask for an immediate stop to all VA hospital construction, and a multi-year plan to move all the patients into the private system.

Members of the VA and AFGE are against the move because they believe veterans will not get the best care in a private sector.

“You can come to the VA hospital, you can see your primary care provider, a specialty care physician, and also receive occupational or physical therapy all in one visit and all in one setting. In order to duplicate that you would have to send that veteran to multiple locations in the private sector health care,” said Mark Young the vice president of the Sioux Falls AFGE.

Young says not only will that leave 28,000 patients without proper care, but that 900 employees will also be looking for a new job. The veterans would still have free health care by using clinics that accept their vouchers.



JUDGE WHO SERVED SENTENCE WITH VETERAN IN NORTH CAROLINA GIVEN AWARD — TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Cumberland County District Court Judge Lou Olivera has been cited by the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism for his work with a veteran in his court.

Olivera was presented with the Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service during a ceremony Friday at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, says a news release from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

“The Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism presents the CJCP Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service to the Honorable Lou Olivera for his steadfast commitment to the principles of professionalism as evidenced by his efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty by his tremendous act of humility and compassion toward a troubled veteran in his court,” said Chief Justice Mark Martin. “Because of his selfless efforts, the practice of law will continue to remain a high calling in North Carolina.”



VA IS LYING TO PUT UP MYSTERY BILLBOARD — DISABLED VETERANS — The good folks over at VA Is Lying just gave me a heads up that a new sign will go up in a mystery location in response to continued failures and dysfunction.

For the past year, a Facebook group called VA Is Lying has self-funded controversial billboards across the country that said, “VA Is Lying, Veterans Are Dying!” VA employees were deeply embarrassed about the signs, but the agency was impotent to fight against the matter.

RELATED: VA Email Decries ‘VA Is Lying’ Billboards

VA IS LYING NEXT STEP

According to founder Ron Nesler, the reason to restart the campaign had two triggers. The first was “the bizarre appointment of Thomas Murphy, an Agent Orange Denier, to head Veterans Benefits Administration.” Nesler said the second was, “Secretary Bob McDonald’s refusal to discuss minor tweaks to his MyVA rollout.”

RELATED: Secretary Bob McDonald Reaches Out To VA Is Lying

Nesler claims his common sense solutions would have streamed certain appeals processes and saved taxpayers millions. But McDonald refused to continue discussions.

Now, Nesler intends to help fix VA by increasing public awareness of the continued problems in time for the current election cycle. He hopes to force lawmakers and administrators to change course when it matters most – the presidential election.

RELATED: Homeland Security Monitoring VA Is Lying Facebook Group



TRUMP MESSAGE TO VA OFFICIALS: YOU’RE FIRED! — TOWNHALL — Republican nominee Donald Trump made it clear during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday, that under his administration, heads would roll and government workers would be held accountable for failures in the Department of Veterans affairs.

Trump started his speech by saying our most basic commitment to veterans is healthcare.

WATCH VIDEO

He criticized Hilary Clinton for downplaying the many problems with the VA.

WATCH VIDEO

He then went after government officials by saying that he will remove and discipline those who fail to do their job.

WATCH VIDEO



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