Friday, December 2, 2016

Okay..........Where the F@#% is our’s!!

 New VA Medical Center in New Orleans
Military.com | Week of November 28, 2016

More than 11 years have passed since Hurricane Katrina and its devastating floods struck New Orleans, destroying most of the city's VA medical center. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald recently cut the ribbon to dedicate the 31-acre state-of-the-art New Orleans VA Medical Center campus. The new 1.6-million-square-foot facility will serve approximately 70,000 veteran patients. The medical center will provide 120 inpatient medical and surgical beds, 20 acute psychiatric beds, 40 rehabilitation beds, 20 hospice beds, and 23 examination rooms. The outpatient clinics will serve some 500,000 outpatient visits a year.

Okay..........Where the F@#% is our’s!!
There is approximately 120 acres available for constructing a new high-rise medical Facility with at least four connected out-buildings. The main structure can be anywhere from ten stories to fourteen stories. The out-buildings can be single, or two, story structures. 
The new Facility can be constructed without interfering with the ongoing operation of the old Facility.
1.6 million square feet would be sufficient to care for the approximately 150,000 Veterans in the Nassau/Suffolk County service area. 
The current satellite Facilities and the Vet Centers can be maintained as is. The Public/Private affiliations with Stony Brook University Hospital and Northwell Health can be maintain, or expanded as necessary.
Outpatient services can be fully staffed and expanded to meet the total Veteran population. The 500 inpatient bed capacity can be maintained. All Residential and Domiciliary programs can be maintained. 
Upon completion and utilization of the new Facility, the old structures can be thoroughly demolished and new access and parking Facilities can be constructed, as needed.

VA Secretary discusses the future as the nation ushers in a new presidential administration

It is the responsibility of the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time. A “top-down” reformation strategy is commendable, and would actually stand a chance of succeeding if, at the same time, a “bottom-up” strategy was also undertaken. If you are inclined to applaud the conversation, below, you are only looking at half the solution in the effort to “fix” the Department of Veterans Affairs. There exists a Culture within this Agency that runs from the very top down to the lowliest paid “V.I.” employee. In order to change this Culture, you must first change the Structure that breeds the Culture. The Congressional Legislation, both passed and proposed, is absolutely necessary, and needs to be expanded even further. Coincidentally, there must be a total restructuring and streamlining of the entire Department to make it less cumbersome. If the whole system is not addressed, the whole system is doomed to self-implode in the very near future. The loss of the Department of Veterans Affairs would most likely have a deleterious effect on the motivation of our youth in their willingness to join the Military. They will realize how drastically our Nation’s Veterans have been mistreated, and they will avoid Military Service like the plague. That will open a dark chapter in our Nation’s history.
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DAV MAGAZINE - NOV. / DEC. 2016
VA Secretary discusses the future as the nation ushers in a new presidential administration

Robert A. McDonald was appointed Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in July 2014. Over the last two and a half years, the West Point graduate has led a transformation of the VA from the top down. The first to remark that there is still a long way to go to ensure veterans get the care they've earned, McDonald says he believes they're on the right track. In an interview with DAV, McDonald discussed top legislative priorities and the future of the VA as we move closer to a new presidential administration.
Q: You took the reins at one of the most difficult and controversial times in the VAs history. What progress have you made over the last two years, and what have you found most challenging?
A: McDonald: I think the overall evidence of the transformation underway is the improvement in veteran trust. We've gone from basically 40 percent of veterans trusting the VA to 59 percent. That s really the most challenging thing. How do you gain the trust of veterans while you're doing things like improving access to health care, reducing the backlog of claims, and trying to end veterans homelessness? Particularly at a time when many people have tried the VA already and had a bad experience so they're not going to go back. Getting, in a sense, a retrial is a big challenge.
I would measure [our progress] on the improvement of access. We've made more medical appointments this year versus last year. We’ve added over 1,200 doctors and 2,300 nurses. We’ve expanded clinical hours, added over 2 million square feet of new space and clinics, all designed to improve access to care.
We've brought the VA claims backlog down by about 90 percent, which is a big accomplishment. We've been able to reduce veteran homelessness by about half since 2010, with a 17-percent reduction last year alone. But there's obviously more work to do.
Q: MyVA is a hallmark of your time in this office. How will you ensure the transformation continues into the next administration?
A: McDonald: We've been working really hard to create irreversible momentum. Meaning, no matter what happens in the future, this
trend of transformation and better veteran outcomes will continue. We've tried to change the culture, to put the veteran in the center of everything we do and also improve the experience of employees. All of these things are designed to make sure our progress is irreversible. We're putting together a very thorough transition plan, so the next administration will know what we're doing and why we're doing it.
Q: What improvements have you seen in the past two years in regard to women veterans?
A: McDonald: I think the initiative to improve care for the increasing number of veterans who are women is one of the most important things we can do during my time. Were going from roughly 11 to 12 percent of veterans who are women to as many as 20 percent. What we've been trying to do is put in place individual clinics for women veterans, hire more providers trained in providing care for females and we ve identified female providers at each one of our facilities. These are top priorities for us. We re making progress, but we re obviously going to need to make more.
Q: How essential is it for the VA to be granted a sufficient budget?
A: McDonald; If you look at the Independent Budget that you all come up with, I think you would argue that we have been underfunded for construction and infrastructure by about $9 billion, if I'm not mistaken. Sixty percent of our buildings are over 50 years old. We've got to fund the infrastructure that the VA has. One of the things we've tried to do is put in budgets that have been reflective of our needs. Under President Obama, our budget has gone up 86 percent since he became president, but we still have work to do.
One of the lunacies of all this is we, right now, have 24 leases of clinical space that have been appropriated by Congress, but have not been authorized by our committee. So we can't move on them. Here's an example where Congress has already appropriated a budget but not authorized it. We can t do anything about it. Congress passes the laws that say what benefits we give, and Congress funds that, but when the funding doesn't match the demand, we have problems.
I think my job is to tell the American people what the truth is, and to hold Congress responsible for what only they can do. I'm going to continue to call out the appropriate parties. I'm also glad to be held accountable myself, but if I can t do something without the help of someone else, I'm going to call them out.
Q: Fixing the VA has certainly been a hot topic in the presidential debates. No matter the outcome of the election, what do you feel is most important for the next administration to remember in shaping the future of the department for the coming generations of veterans?
A: McDonald: We can't let political ideology get in the way of transformation. The veterans in this country have spoken with one voice and gotten a lot done over the years, so I would encourage veterans and all veterans service organizations to continue to do that. Do not settle. Veterans should not be political pawns. Veterans have served their country, and they are owed what we've committed to them since the very beginning, before they were sworn in.
Legislative Priority
Background & Explanation
Current Status in Congress (as of 11/1/16)
Appeals Modernization
In order to address a rising backlog of over 450,000 appeals, VA, the Board of Veterans Appeals and VSOs reached agreement on a new framework to streamline and modernize the appeals process.
H.R. 5620 (VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act) passed the House 9/14/16; Similar bills, 3170 & S. 3328, are currently pending in the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee (SVAC).
Budget Flexibility
Current budget rules restrict VA's ability to allocate funding to best meet veterans' demand for care, including for care in the community.
Approved by SVAC as part of S. 2921, the Veterans First Act, on 5/12/16; awaiting full Senate approval. Draft legislation pending in the House.
Construction & Leasing
VA has requested authorization to lease, build, expand, and rehabilitate needed medical facilities.
Approved by SVAC as part of S. 2921, awaiting Senate approval. Included in H.R. 5286, pending in House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC).
Family Caregiver Support
Legislation is required to allow family caregivers of pre-9/11 veterans to fully participate in the Comprehensive Family Caregiver Support program.
Approved by SVAC as part of S. 2921, awaiting full Senate approval. Similar legislation introduced in the House, HVAC hearing held, but still pending.
Women Veterans
As women veterans increasingly look to VA for earned services and benefits, Congress must pass new legislation to access and remove barriers.
Legislation was introduced but remains pending in both the Senate (S. 471) and the House (H.R, 1356, H.R. 1575, H.R. 1948, H.R. 2054).



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Should More Troops Become Eligible for Food Stamps?

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/11/29/should-more-troops-become-eligible-food-stamps.html?ESRC=eb_161130.nl

Does anyone have a problem with this picture?
This falls into the same category of not having the words "Veteran and Homeless" in the same sentence!
Our fellow Countrymen and women need to know and appreciate that this is the way we treat our Military and our Veterans......
It is a National disgrace.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Department of Veterans Affairs - Equal time for Equal Crimes:

Last September 29th, there was a Congressional Committee Hearing held at the VA Medical Center in Northport, NY. The agenda ranged from lack of overall Facility maintenance to illegal billing practices to Hospital safety issues, and more. The Director of this Hospital testified for over two hours and either dodged questions, or outright lied under oath. He was backed up by the VA Regional Director, the Chief of Psychiatry at the Hospital, and a Staff Representative from Northwell Health Corp.(a Private Sector affiliate of the VA Medical Center). By the end of the Session, there was smoke coming out of the ears of the five Congress members, their legal Staff, and their investigative Staff because they were asking questions the answers to which they already knew!
If a Nurse can be indicted for stealing pills at the Richmond, VA Medical Center, why can’t a Director of a VA Hospital and his Staff be indicted for abuse of power, fraud, gross mismanagement, theft, embezzlement, and lying under oath to a Congressional Committee?

This from: Military.com’s daily email newsletter..............
U.S. Attorneys » Eastern District of Virginia » NewsDepartment of JusticeU.S. Attorney’s OfficeEastern District of VirginiaFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEThursday, November 3, 2016Former Veterans Hospital Nurse Pleads Guilty to Stealing MedicationRICHMOND, Va. – Allison Rulli, 34, of Mineral, pleaded guilty today to charges of obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, or deception.According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Rulli was a registered nurse employed in the Spinal Cord Injury Ward at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond.  From August 2015 to August 2016, Rulli fraudulently obtained 20 to 30 Oxycodone tablets from the medication dispensing cabinets for her own use.  On occasion, Rulli removed the correct amount of Oxycodone prescribed for a patient but would only administer some of the tablets to the patient and would keep the remainder for herself.  Rulli also fraudulently obtained eight to 10 Fentanyl patches, each 25-100 micrograms.  Rulli used a scalpel to open the Fentanyl packaging and remove the patch, but would return the tampered packaging to the medication dispensing cabinet in order to hide the evidence. When confronted by law enforcement, Rulli admitted her wrongdoing.Rulli waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a criminal information. Rulli faces a maximum penalty of four years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 4, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Richard J. Griffin, Acting Inspector General, Department of Veterans Affairs, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber is prosecuting the case.