The Appalling VA
By: 2 vets; Earl Wilson and Adrian Krieg
Don’t judge your life by your plans but by your accomplishments.
Earl served in the US Army paratroops as a “Pathfinder” the trailblazers for paratroop insertions in every major European campaign of WWII. Adrian Served in the US Army from 1959 to 1962 in the 7th Army.
Earl did not try to enter the VA system until 2016 when he began due to old age consider some future medical problems. His experience in signing up for VA benefits to which he is more than qualified proved to be nightmarish and is as follows.
I have read Adrian’s account of his experience with the non-functional VA. It is typical (in there being uncooperative and nasty with veterans) of what other veterans have told me about their attempts to deal with the VA. From all these accounts it is obvious that the management of the VA has no interest whatsoever in helping individual veterans. They are only interested in hiring masses of friends of bureaucrats at high salaries and being subsidized by the US government. Veterans trying to register (as veterans) with the VA are insulted, and it is suggested that they should first follow an impossible application route through another series of uncooperative government bureaucracies or to go tell their story to some sympathetic private charity.
This was Earl’s experience recently when he attempted to register with the VA merely as a veteran…He told them he was not at the time interested in applying for any medical or other benefits, and had no immediate expectation of doing so in the foreseeable future. Her response (application officer) to this was a sneering laugh of disbelief, though he was telling her the true reason why he was there. He only went to register at the urging of veteran friends who warned him that applying to register with the VA was often so complicated and drawn-out that it would be impossible to complete from scratch if I had a serious medical crisis in the future that needed an immediate solution for help. They all said you should register at least get registered with the VA as a Vet. I can now understand why so many veterans that have tried to register with the VA and met such hostile initial treatment and left without getting registered and never came back.
How many billions of dollars did the VA get paid by the US government to do a job, which they never did?
Adrian was severely injured in advanced training with crushed shoulder three broken ribs, a fractured skull and numerous knocked out teeth. He was obstructed from VA benefits after his final honorable discharge in 1967 from reserve duty by the bureaucracy. He was also prevented from obtaining GI life insurance which was denied to draftees by 7th Army orders, but that’s another issue. By the early 90’s his shoulder was so bad that it interrupted his sleep and the VA accepted him and did some minor surgery that proved unsuccessful. When in 2003 he turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare, he went to private practice and obtained a complete shoulder replacement. The army always refused to fix the teeth, so he paid for that himself. The ribs and skull healed. As he aged mobility in his dominate side continued to get worse and elevating his arm above shoulder produced severe pain sometimes for days. He was a pitcher in HS baseball and a good tennis player but; has never been able to throw a ball or play tennis since the injury. The VA after much consternation in 2011 evaluated the shoulder motion by a flight surgeon who allocated a 20% disability. According to VA policy this was in error because a dominant side injury that prohibits use of appendage should have been a 30% disability. In September 2016 through the services of the American Legion acting as his representative (it is not possible to deal with the VA bureaucracy on your own) he filed for a correction of the 2011 mistake. In October 2016 the VA ordered a reevaluation of his motion dominate side ability and he asked the doctor if there were any notations on his record relating to the original error the record indicated no administrative entries since to original 2011 determination. It is now December and the October valuation is still under administrative consideration. (Doctors in the VA are not allowed to make determinations based on their examinations) On the 5th of December he called the VA administrative offices to find out what was going on. His call went to a very surly woman named Kenisha who refused to say what was on the records, told him he did not know what he was talking about and said with luck he might hear about his case by June of 2017 that would be over 10 months after the application, and almost 6 years after the original finding. Bear in mind this is not a requirement for any medical issue it is simply for some bureaucrat to approve what the VA, has already approved medically and in rules, in other words, to make a correction of an error.
The entire problem in the VA system is administrative. The VA is an over bloated over staffed bureaucracy that has thousands of “non-workers” who are totally unqualified and have been employed in the VA due to political connection, previous military service or nepotism with administrative workers. There are people employed at the VA that speak in ebonics; that are functionally illiterate. They however are not the primary problem they are just an annoyance. The problem in the VA is all of the upper management and their created rules, manuals, directives and total inflexibility. The very worst of these is the demand to micromanage doctors, nurses, surgeons and in fact all medical procedures by administrative decrees. A doctor cannot refer a patient to a surgeon for an operation for an appendectomy—hell no, the doctor has to send a request to a bureaucrat in some secret office, who will then on his leisure make a determination of when and where the operation will take place, possibly after the patient dies. Something like Obamacare, which the majority of Americans have rejected. This diabolical bureaucracy is so entrenched within the system that it employs as many bureaucrats as medical staffs of the VA. At my hospital Bay Pines there is an administrative office as large as some of the hospital buildings, and they fully understand how vets feel about them, it’s the only building at the facility that has airport type entrance security. Just so that you understand the backlog for application to the VA system and for benefits and disability claims due to injury in southwestern Florida is backed up 20,000 applications. (St. Petersburg office)
We are at the point where we actually feel sorry for the person that Trump picks to head up the VA. His very first problem will be the realization that the system will not allow him or any of his management team to fire anyone. Once you work for the VA you can’t be fired unless you murder your immediate superior. There is no work ethic. The only thing that you hear as a veteran from every employee is, “Thank you for your Service” Which when coming from Kenisha sounded a lot more like “F*** you for your Service” No one at the VA is ever in a hurry to get anything done, just go along to get along, no one is rewarded for better service, no one is promoted based on ability, its based on time served. The “Peter Principle” is in full predominance. The word of the day is obstruct anyone making waves, withdraw information from outside sources, (in Adrian’s case the American Legion agent had access to his files withdrawn to prevent him from seeing what the VA was doing about his case) drag out applications of anyone who asks too many questions, like the old Soviet medical system, it’s exactly what was intended with Obamacare, placing a bureaucrat between the patient and the doctor.
The latest is that the system is now so overloaded that they are taking assigned cases away from local jurisdiction to a secret centralized location and then distributing them based on workload of the regions. Adrian’s case was transferred to Philadelphia (Area 310) (1400 miles removed) but no one has any idea to whom or what facility. This makes it impossible to interact with the assigned decision maker. Furthermore the medical decision has already been made and the organizational decision is set in statute of the VA, exactly what will be decided is unknown, as is the individual who will make the decision, the only thing that is known, is that the determination must be forthcoming within 37 days. We just found this out on Dec. 8 when John, of the American Legion was able to get back onto my file. By January 16th 2017 we should be apprised of Adrian’s claim made in September 2016, just 6-months after it was made. The case of increase of disability due to reduction of mobility as proven by medical exam in October 2016 has not to date appeared on Adrian’s medical records, (90 days) even though the doctor inputted all the required information in October 2016 in Adrian’s presence. Furthermore if the VA worker files against the doctors recommendation and Adrian obtains a second opinion that supports the first doctor the VA will have no legal recourse but to approve, according to their own directives, it is disgusting that a Vet is forced to such diabolical ends, just to obtain what he was promised when he was drafted or enlisted. Reported by FOX news was Bay Pines VA on Dec. 6, 2016 dead patient was rolled into shower and left there for 9 hours. It’s all beginning to look al lot like UK national healthcare that is gradually being disassembled as you read.