Monday, May 22, 2017

The Veterans Health Administration

The Veterans Health Administration
(We love our Vets!)
vs.
My Thyroid Gland

Let me say right up front that I understand by Law the VHA must buy their medications from the lowest bidder. I also know that I have been taking a certain medication for almost twenty years.

I started getting it from a private insurance health plan in 1998 and, in 2009, began getting the “same” medication from the Veterans Health Administration. Upon making that switch of provider, I was continued on the same dosage as before. A subsequent blood test showed a remarkable change in my Thyroid number.

I had been taking the “Synthroid” brand-name drug, but when I hit the VA it was changed over to the generic “Levothyroxine”. This change precipitated a change in dosage amount to accomplish the same result I had gotten in the private sector with the “Synthroid”. It sounded like the problem was solved, and I have received “Levothyroxine” from what appears to be the same generic supplier for six years. Much to my surprise, I noticed a change in the color and shape six months ago. I was due for a routine blood test at the VA Medical Center I frequent, and, wouldn’t you know it, my Thyroid number was out of whack again.

So, my Primary Care Doctor readjusted the dosage, and off I went with another new color and shape pill from a different generic supplier.

Well just last week I had my blood tested again; specifically for my Thyroid level, and this time the number came back drastically different from before. No, I didn’t change the mode I have used for nineteen plus years for taking this particular medication. The only change has been the supplier of origin for this medication. Apparently the Veterans Health Administration has absolutely no control mechanism over the suppliers of this drug. For all I know, I could be taking placebo sugar pills. Seems like someone is not minding the Store. Seems someone else is making a lot of money and not delivering the goods. Seems like they are both getting away with it!

And, you wonder what we talk about when we say the VA has been killing Veterans for decades? Not having control over what medications they are purchasing is just one of the many ways the VA has found to legally allow Veterans to die, so they keep their costs down. Believe me, there are a myriad of other mechanisms built into this system designed to produce the exact same result.

This is just one example of why I will keep calling the VA out for its insulting care of our Nation’s Military Veterans. Changes will be made. They will be made by Veterans and a supportive Public; not by the Government, and, certainly, not by the VA.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"My boss demanded I strip..."

NEW YORK POST              Tuesday, May 16, 2017
May 13, 2017 | 3:27pm
Tat’s enough!
A Long Island man claims his amorous supervisor once trapped him in an office and demanded he disrobe to show her his new tattoo.
Daniel Hampton, 33, says in a lawsuit he lost his job as a medical technician at the US Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport after complaining for years about supervisor Joan Maggiore’s relentless come-ons.
Maggiore, 57, asked if Hampton wanted a threesome with her and another worker; discussed anal sex in the break room; and when he was out for six weeks after a 2013 on-the-job injury, peppered him with calls and texts about who he was with, what he was doing and why he didn’t have biological children, Hampton claims in the Long Island Federal Court filing against the VA.
The supervisor spotted his back tattoo after Hampton posted a picture of it on Facebook in 2010, and asked him to reveal it in front of coworkers. When he didn’t, she ordered him into her office, he charges.
“I was basically trapped in the office. She blocked the door and wouldn’t let me out, and told me to take off my shirt,” he told The Post. “My job doesn’t consist of me taking my shirt off.”
Maggiore allegedly criticized Hampton’s bod, saying he didn’t have a “V-shaped” back “that her husband had when he was in the Army, and if I kept working out I would get it,” he recalled.
He was able to flee after she walked away from the door, and later blocked Maggiore from his Facebook.
The supervisor allegedly told him she had her boss’s support, leaving Hampton feeling helpless.
“You get kind of scared. You’re in a rock and a hard place; I have a mortgage, I can’t be jobless,” the married father said.
Maggiore declined comment. The VA described the alleged conduct as “unacceptable” but said it couldn’t comment on the litigation.
Hampton, who was hired for a temporary position in 2009 which became permanent in 2012, claims his complaints were ignored and that the VA let him go last year, under the guise that his job was indeed “temporary.”
“It’s the total definition of a hostile work environment. It’s crazy it went on this long and the employer didn’t do anything,” said Hampton’s lawyer Peter Famighetti. Hampton is seeking unspecified damages.


"Vietnam War veterans attacked...."

Vietnam War veterans attacked by rare cancer linked to liver flukes
This 1970s photo provided by Mike Baughman shows him, center, with colleagues while serving in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. At 64, Baughman is among hundreds of veterans who have been diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. (Courtesy Mike Baughman via AP)


PUBLISHED: November 15, 2016 at 7:31 am | UPDATED: November 16, 2016 at 7:07 am

DANVILLE  — Mike Baughman considered himself one of the lucky ones, returning from Vietnam without any major injuries or psychological scars. But after falling ill nearly a half-century later, he found out he did not escape the war after all.

The 64-year-old is among hundreds of veterans who have been diagnosed with a rare bile duct cancer that may be linked to their time in the service and an unexpected source: parasites in raw or poorly cooked river fish.
The worms infect an estimated 25 million people, mostly in Asia, but are less known in America. They can easily be wiped out with a few pills early on. Left untreated, a cancer known as cholangiocarcinoma can develop, often killing patients just a few months after symptoms appear.
The U.S. government acknowledges that liver flukes, endemic in the steamy jungles of Vietnam, are likely killing some former soldiers. Ralph Erickson, who heads post-deployment health services at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said about 700 cholangiocarcinoma patients have passed through the agency’s medical system in the past 15 years.
Less than half of those submitted claims for benefits, in part because they were unaware of a potential link to time in service. Of the claims submitted, 3 out of 4 have been rejected, according to data obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.
The VA requires veterans to show medical conditions are at least “as likely as not” related to their time in service to receive financial help, but doctors note that often isn’t easy with bile duct cancer caused by liver flukes.
The parasites typically go undetected, sometimes living for more than 25 years without making their hosts sick. The body reacts by trying to wall off the organisms. This causes inflammation and scarring and, over time, can lead to cancer. The first symptoms are often jaundice, itchy skin and rapid weight loss. By then, the disease is usually advanced.
If American doctors better understood bile duct cancer and the potential risks to those who served in Vietnam, they could use ultrasounds to check veterans for inflammation, and then surgery might be possible for some of them, said Jeff Bethony, a liver fluke expert at George Washington University.
“Early is key,” he said, adding he regularly receives desperate letters from veterans’ family members. “The VA should be testing for this.”
Once diagnosed, most men don’t realize there may be a connection to their service in Vietnam. The few who figure it out often spend their final months fighting for recognition and benefits, leaving them feeling angry and abandoned, as many did when they first came home from the war.
“Hard to believe,” Baughman said in his living room, flipping through a photo album from his war days. “I dodged all those bullets, then get killed by a fish.”
———
Baughman had just turned 19 when his draft number came up in late 1970. He was soon deployed to central Vietnam near Hue to do reconnaissance in the mountains. Although he was the youngest in his Army unit, he quickly became one of its most valuable members.
“The Vietnamese like to shoot the first guy in line, and last guy,” Baughman said. “And so that’s what I trained to do: Be the first guy in.”
He would walk point clearing thick jungle with a machete and, thanks partly to growing up hunting in the hills of West Virginia, he proved gifted at noticing the smallest twig or leaf brushed out of place by the enemy. It was his job to spot booby traps and potential ambushes.
Often on long missions, sometimes forced to sleep outside with sheets of monsoon rain pelting down, his unit would run out of rations and go fishing for dinner near the border with Laos.
“We would throw a grenade in the water, and then scoop them off the river floor,” Baughman said. “We called it ‘fish on a stick.'”
The men would use a helmet and a tiny blue smokeless flame to cook the fish as best they could, but it never really got done.
Years later, when he returned home, those makeshift meals became just another story he would tell about roughing it in Vietnam. He went on to earn a master’s degree and became a successful engineer in Silicon Valley working for Atari, Apple and others.
In October 2013, he was about to remarry and decided to get a long-overdue physical. He felt fine, but his blood work indicated there might be a problem with his liver. Further testing revealed he had bile duct cancer.
After researching the condition, Baughman discovered that worms ingested decades ago in that raw “fish on a stick” could be killing him. He turned to the VA for help, and his private physician wrote a letter highlighting the potential connection between the worms and the disease.
He went to a VA doctor as well, who also acknowledged liver flukes were one of the main risk factors for the cancer but concluded there was “no evidence of infection” from Baughman’s service time.
He was twice denied benefits in 2015, and is waiting for the results of his latest appeal.
———
Liver flukes are found mainly in parts of Southeast Asia, China and South Korea, where residents and tourists alike risk infection from specific types of freshwater fish such as tilapia and carp.
In one location in Laos, researchers found liver flukes — which can survive pickling and fermentation — in about 60 percent of villagers, and in some parts of Vietnam, up to 40 percent were infected. Experts say it’s hard to know how many people in the region may be dying from cholangiocarcinoma caused by the parasites because there are few cancer registries.
In northeastern Thailand, where many villagers have a taste for the sour fish dish pla som, new bile duct cancers affect about 84 in 100,000 people, the world’s highest recorded rate. Little research has been conducted outside of Thailand, where mobile clinics routinely perform bile duct ultrasound screenings in hard-hit areas.
Once cancer is detected, surgery is sometimes an option, depending on the tumor’s location. Liver transplants typically aren’t performed due to organ shortages and poor prognosis.
In the United States, cholangiocarcinoma is extremely rare, with roughly 5,000 people diagnosed each year, including some Asian immigrants who ate infected fish in their native countries. Liver flukes aren’t the only risk factor for the disease; others include hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis and bile duct stones.
But some physicians say for Vietnam veterans diagnosed decades after U.S.-backed Saigon fell to communist forces in 1975, the cancer is “as likely as not” tied to their service time. And by VA standards, that should be enough to receive benefits.
Asked if it was likely men were infected on the battlefield, Dr. Banchob Sripa, a leading expert on the disease at Khon Kaen University in Thailand, said “it is the only way to explain it.” He said doctors in the U.S. and Australia, which also sent troops to the war, have contacted him for help in determining whether the parasites are to blame for veterans’ cancer.
More than 100 appeals for cholangiocarcinoma dating back to the early 1990s are on the VA’s website. Though Erickson said there have been no significant case increases among veterans in recent years, data collected following an AP inquiry showed the number of benefit claims has increased sixfold since 2003.
Claims hit a high of 60 last year, with nearly 80 percent denied. Decisions appear to be haphazard. Some are approved automatically. Others, presented with the same evidence, are denied.
For instance, some rejections were based on the fact that parasites were not found in stool samples, but those tests were conducted years after the worms would have died. Other claims were dismissed because the veteran did not report his illness within a year of leaving Vietnam, yet symptoms typically don’t appear until decades later.
VA officials say while they’re sympathetic, it’s up to the men to prove that liver flukes from Vietnam are killing them. They say because the cancer remains rare, it would be unrealistic and onerous to carry out regular screenings.
“This is still a legal process that both the VA and the veteran have to go through, and we will look at each case and all the evidence that is presented to us and make a determination at that point,” said Steve Westerfeld, a spokesman for the VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration. “Certainly any veteran has an opportunity to appeal.”
Many do, sometimes two or three times before either getting approved or giving up.
“It’s discouraging to fight for something that you think should probably be available for people who actually went over and served,” Mike Brown of Valencia, California, told the AP earlier this year after learning he had bile duct cancer. He died last month at age 68, just days after finding out the VA had approved his claim.
Often, it’s the widows who are left fighting.
“It’s bad enough,” said Anne Petitti, whose husband, Mario, died from the disease in 2010, just a few months after being diagnosed. “They shouldn’t be put through the wringer or have to go through all the red tape.”
She eventually won her fight with the VA, and set up a Facebook page to help other veterans navigate the system while also cataloging new cases.
How much veterans, or their families, are compensated depends on many factors, including to what degree the illness is affecting their ability to have productive lives. An unmarried veteran can get nearly $3,000 a month, but some spouses said they get about half that amount. For many, it’s not about the money. It’s about raising awareness, both among veterans and the VA, and receiving recognition for their service.
“Most vets understand very quickly it’s a terminal disease and that they don’t have much time,” Petitti said.
Baughman talks about his own future with caution, even though he’s already beaten the odds: He was supposed to have died last November.
The illness forced him to stop working, and his medical bills have skyrocketed from all the tests, radiation and chemotherapy. He’s luckier than some because he has good insurance.
He’s not in touch with most of the guys from his old unit, but he worries about them too. Unlike today’s troops, those who served in Vietnam were shunned when they came home. It’s one more reason having this medical condition recognized by the VA matters so much to him.
“It’d be nice to have me win my little battle,” he said. “But … I want the government to do it for everybody.”
—————
A rare bile duct cancer that may be linked to time served in the Vietnam War is quietly killing some former soldiers. The disease can be caused by liver flukes, a parasite found in raw or undercooked fish that is common in parts of Asia. Some veterans are fighting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to recognize their disease as service-related so they can receive benefits, but most claims are denied.
———
WHAT ARE LIVER FLUKES?
Liver flukes are parasites ingested in raw or undercooked freshwater fish. They are endemic in parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, along with other areas, mainly in China and South Korea. Some 25 million people are infected with the worms. Liver flukes die when frozen, but they can survive fermentation or pickling. Visitors traveling in endemic areas can also be infected.
———
WHAT IS CHOLANGIOCARCINOMA, AND HOW DO LIVER FLUKES CAUSE IT?
Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare cancer that affects the bile duct. Liver flukes are a risk factor; others include hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis and bile duct stones. After the worms are ingested, they can live for more than 25 years in the bile duct, causing inflammation and scarring that can eventually lead to cancer. The disease is difficult to treat, with many victims dying within months of diagnosis. A patient typically does not experience any symptoms, such as jaundice, until the end stages.
———
CAN THIS CANCER BE TREATED?
Bile duct cancer is unusual because it can be prevented in some cases. Pills can wipe out liver flukes early on, but the medicine is not effective in later stages after the worms have died and scarring has occurred. Surgery is possible in some cases, but the survival rate is only about 30 percent for five years, said Dr. Gregory Gores, a gastroenterologist and executive dean of research at Mayo Clinic. Affected countries, such as Vietnam and Laos, have not conducted extensive research to determine the extent of the problem. The world’s highest rate of cholangiocarcinoma — about 84 new cases per 100,000 people — is found in northeastern Thailand where many people eat a popular raw fish dish. In the U.S., cholangiocarcinoma is extremely rare, with around 1.7 in 100,000 people diagnosed each year.
———
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION TO VIETNAM VETERANS?
Men who served in the Vietnam War and ate raw or poorly cooked fish, sometimes while on patrol in the jungle after their rations ran out, could have been infected by liver flukes. Left untreated, they can experience symptoms related to bile duct cancer decades later. Because the disease is so rare and awareness about liver flukes is poor in the U.S., many veterans may not be aware of the possible connection to their service time.
———
ARE VETERANS WITH THIS CANCER ELIGIBLE FOR FINANCIAL HELP?
Each case is examined individually, and it’s up to veterans to prove to the Department of Veterans Affairs that their cancer is “as likely as not” related to their service time. The VA says fewer than 700 cholangiocarcinoma patients have passed through its medical system in the past 15 years. In part because they are unaware of the potential link to their war days, only 307 of the veterans submitted claims for benefits over that period. Even though the VA sometimes approves the link between wartime service and cholangiocarcinoma, the vast majority of claims — 3 out of 4 — are rejected, according to data obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.
_____________________________________________________________________________
By Robin McDowell and Margie Mason. Associated Press writer Tran Van Minh contributed to this report from Hanoi, Vietnam.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

#22toZero: Are Veterans Making it Worse?

This is an incredibly insightful article about how some Veterans treat each other on Social Media. The movement I’m involved with and committed to, www.vetsmarchonamerica.com, is all about exactly what this Article embodies. Veterans need to be rowing the boat in the same direction. If we fail at this task, we will be abandoning all future generations of Veterans. I took the liberty of doing a little editing of this Article because some of it was simply too offensive for my FB page, but I think you’ll get the message.
The Havok Journal
#22toZero:  Veterans Are Making it Worse
March 10, 2017 by Jordan Taylor 
The only people who understand veterans are other veterans,
and they all hate each other.” 
Veterans kill themselves at the rate of 22 every day, and what does the veteran community do about it? Encourage more of it.
Veteran Cannibalization
My dad, a retired Army Sergeant Major, likes to tell an old-school (AKA sexist) joke: “The only people who understand women are other women. And they all hate each other.” I’ve probably heard that and his other four jokes a hundred times and they weren’t even funny the first time. But what happens if we change a word in that “joke?” Let’s swap out “women” for “veterans.”
“The only people who understand veterans are other veterans. And they all hate each other.” Is that statement true? Of course not, but you wouldn’t know it from some of the things going up on social networking sites recently. Vets are the only people who understand other vets, and yet, military-focused communities online can be incredibly vicious.
To begin with, the pages of online veterans’ blogs and websites are filled with hateful, divisive commentary denigrating the ‘other’ among the services and occupational specialties. There is of course light-hearted banter and competition among branches and services, as well as the usual gallows/barracks/locker room humor that is tacitly accepted as part of military culture. But vile insults and ad hominem attacks, even rape threats, are so prevalent that it makes sense that veterans can be negatively impacted by interactions online.
When the online dogpile starts, vets seeking a connection with other vets online are either pulled into the fray by defending themselves or choose to lash out at others, or don’t join the conversation at all because they’re turned off by it.
Many probably don’t feel comfortable sharing their experiences because they are “just” Air Force, or supply, or “never left the wire,” or God forbid they are a woman. There is a pervasive sense that POGs, Fobbits, and REMFs need not weigh in because they can’t possibly understand what it’s like to really know the struggle. That cuts off a primary (and for some, only) support network for veterans: other veterans.
We veterans make up a small percentage of the U.S. population. Our experiences, though varied based on factors such as branch, MOS, and deployment history, set us apart from civilians. Regardless of motivations to join the military, when we raise our right hand and don the uniform, we all agreed to kill and if necessary die for our country. And when the time comes to make good on that promise, it really comes down to dying and killing for the service member in the foxhole with us, regardless of any other factors than that we are on the same team.
So why do we not take that sense of camaraderie and esprit de corps home with us? Why do we have to constantly be on guard, bracing to defend ourselves against our own kind? Or beating them to the punch by putting them down and making them feel unworthy to be a member of our sacred community? Since when does “pride” come at the expense of other veterans’ dignity? Aren’t we supposed to be in this together? Why are veterans cannibalizing each other online?
There are real veterans—real people—with real feelings on the receiving end of every comment we make. We tell each other to man up, or not to be ‘butt-hurt’ by rude remarks. But what if the person on the other side of the country to whom that admonition is directed has entered the conversation, desperate for a connection with the only people he feels can empathize with his experiences? And he just needs validation that we are there for each other and that we’ve got each other’s six
So yes, we veterans are a small portion of the US population. But the line that separates us from civilians has NOTHING on the lines that divide us amongst ourselves. These divisions are exacerbated by our own behavior. And then we goad and shame other veterans, shifting the blame to the targets to absolve ourselves of any blame that could come from the harassment. We need to do better.
Would it help if we defined the specific problem? The problem is that veterans who can’t find a safe outlet for their anxieties and concerns, even among their peers, are choosing to end their lives. THAT is the problem. And we should do ourselves as a community a favor and step back, reach down deep, and come up with some empathy.
Yes, we have a reputation as tough warriors who can’t be bogged down by feelings. But that is how we handle our enemies. Our brothers and sisters in arms deserve better. They deserve the understanding that can only come from those of us who have experienced what they have, or at least have the frame of reference to do so.
22toZero… Helpful or Hurtful?
Are we veterans hypocrites of the highest order, to a deadly fault? How many of us have lamented the daily loss of 22 of our comrades to suicide, while at the same time attacking, belittling, ridiculing, or taunting other veterans on social media? Veterans are ruthless when there is blood in the digital waters.
However, as soon as a veteran ends his or her life, a strange phenomenon occurs. The rest of the veteran community beatifies the victim. We act as though it was a preventable tragedy “…if only this guy had reached out and asked for help!”
Where were we and how were we treating these victims in the months, or even hours before their deaths? I wonder how many veterans have killed themselves after being driven, or even explicitly invited to do so on social media.
There was a moment of reflection recently when photos of Air Force Captain Jamie Brunette began to circulate on the internet. The photo depicted a vibrant beautiful young officer who did not represent a person one might imagine would end her life.
Some are upset that there is more focus on her than on others who have lost their internal battles and have ended their lives. The truth is, every veteran suicide is tragic. But here is an actual comment by someone on a story about Capt. Brunette:
Chances are the commenter didn’t know Cpt. Brunette, and it appears no one knew her struggles. Yet people still feel comfortable belittling her service and speculating negatively about her experiences downrange. I wonder how many of the people who saw the meme about Cpt. Brunette and thought nothing about it were outraged over a VA supervisor’s mocking of service members’ struggles. Are they not equally offensive?
In short, we need to realize that we all experience trauma in different ways. What might seem like a minor occurrence to one service member, might in the context of someone else’s life be devastating. And, what leads people to commit suicide is likely a combination of stressors, both service-connected, and in one’s personal life. We just need to respect and care for each other, with the empathy only we can provide as fellow veterans. After all, if we don’t support each other, no one will.
Heaping Hostility Instead of Holding Out a Hand
It gets worse; far too often veterans go from “unsympathetic” or “offensive” to downright hostile. All too often, online discussions between, among, and about veterans take a truly nasty turn. Rape “jokes”, death threats, and suggestions that veterans kill themselves often occur with no provocation at all. It really boggles the mind:  with 22 a day already committing suicide, should the veteran community really be encouraging more of it?
This type of behavior is widespread. Right here in Havok Journal I’ve seen veterans wishing violence on other veterans and encouraging them to commit suicide. One individual read Scott Faith’s wildly popular “5 Things Veterans Know That the Rest of America Doesn’t” and said he wanted to “set the authors on fire” because he disagreed with what Scott had written. Another cheery veteran invited Leonard Benton to “wash his mouth out with buckshot” over an article he wrote about Chris Kyle.
On many, many other pages I’ve seen many, many other invitations ranging from “suck start an M4” to “you should kill yourself” to “I hope you die.” That doesn’t even count the kind of racist and sexist comments that people feel comfortable making from behind the relative safety and semi-anonymity of their keyboards. Instead of holding out a helping hand, many times it seems that we’re instead handing our fellow veterans a rope to hang themselves, with the knot already tied. Is this really how the veteran community engages in meaningful discussion? Is this how we support each other?
Non-veterans are watching, too. Since so few Americans serve, the only way many Americans will ever “meet” a veteran is online, and the impression that they get of the way veterans interact with each other is going to be a lasting one. Do we want the average American thinking that it’s OK to say the kinds of things to veterans that we say to each other? Or that veterans hate everyone and everything, including each other? I don’t.
As a veteran community, in the end, nobody understands us like we understand us. No one can help us the way we can help ourselves. And no one can ever be as cruel to us as we are to each other. We need to do better.  #22toZero.

This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 14MAR15.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

FOLLOWING THE VA’s YELLOW BRICK ROAD...

  - NOT too big to fail!       
          - An experienced-based look at the largest Health system in the Country.
It is a well-established fact that, for the past fifty years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been in a downward spiral with no end in sight. Veterans, Veterans’ Families, VA Employees, and most VA Management will back this claim with their own personal horror stories. Since the 1960’s this Government Department has been layered with so many levels of bureaucracy that it is sinking under its own weight. A thorough study of the current Organizational Documentation for this Department [1] will demonstrate that, over these years, there have been way too many “fingers in the pie”. This PDF Document is 451 pages long which illustrates that there are “too many cooks in the kitchen”. This has led to an overabundance of non-essential sub-departments and programs that do absolutely nothing for Veterans and their Families. This is also evident when the Department is viewed from the bottom up. Which has led me to believe it is time to “throw the baby out with the bath water”.
My vantage point on this subject is from the bottom. By that, I mean I see the day-to-day operative results of this Department on a truly local basis. To arrive at some realistic conclusions about the operation of this Department, it helps to understand the bureaucratic structure the Employees and Veterans are asked to work within. There is an old management style called a “silo” structure. Imagine, if you will, an infinite number of large grain silos out in the Midwest stretching as far as the eye can see. These grain silos are located in one State and on three separate farms. Farm “A” is made up of the Veteran Health Administration, and has 50% of the silos; Farm “B” is made up of the Veteran Benefit Administration, and has 35% of the silos; and, Farm “C” is made up of the National Cemetery Administration with the remaining 15% of the silos. If you take each Farm, by itself, you could easily form three separate Government Departments (Again, just have a look at their “Org. Charts”.). These silos are so well insulated that they don’t/won’t/can’t communicate with each other.
The Farm that is of the greatest concern to me is Farm “A”; the Veterans Health Administration...
 Fig. #1: This chart is six years old. There are newer changes/additions. [2]
 Please understand that each, and every, little “block”, in the chart above,has its own organizational flow chart that is just as complex. Too many people get the words complicated and complex confused. This organization and all its sub-organizations are not complicated; they are complex. It has been my experience that when you have an organization as complex as this, you lose the ability to be transparent and accountable. The “silo” structure further insulates management and employees in their own “kingdoms”, which they in turn guard with their lives. This gives unscrupulous managers the opportunity to game the system, and run their departments as a Dictator would run a third world Country. This “benefit” has not been lost on many of those climbing the ladder of success within the VA system. Certainly, there are those who take advantage more than others do, but this “silo” structure breeds the culture that Veterans come up against every day in their dealings with the Veterans Health system. And, we Veterans are not happy!
The experiences I have had at the local level, a small backwater VA Medical Center in Long Island, NY, have made it very clear that my claims of mismanagement, corruption, intimidation, fraud, embezzlement, indifference, and disrespect for Veterans are all well founded. Even at this local level, the “silo” structure is evident and in play. Someone at the top of the food chain has created this structure, and, thus, allowed this culture to exist. Now, it is time for them to go, and total redesign the way our Government views and treats its Military Veterans. If the Government can’t, or won’t, do it, then it is time the Citizens of this Nation to step up and take over.
A LITTLE REVOLUTION NEVER HURT ANYBODY!
footnotes:
[1] full PDF document, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2016
[2] 2011 VA Org. Chart

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Blasting VAMC Northport

Some Issues:


1)  contamination of the water supply from Northport Dump plume2)  enhanced VERA / Medical to Nursing Home - illegal manipulation of funding3) Medical unit 33 / reallocation of assets & Personnel - avoids reporting4)  Mold infestation - no remediation possible in 90-y/o buildings5)  EEOC actions - employee intimidation6)  OSC complaints - employee & patient records illegally breached7)  Dept. Chiefs who left under pressure - harassment
8)  Dept. Chiefs who know nothing about their job - + no-show jobs9)  Dept. Chiefs who slid under the radar - protected by Regional and/or National10) Management still under investigation - ethics & criminal

Some Notes:


1.   VA Town Hall Meeting by Vinnie three Fingers - no new money allocated to VAMC Northport - but, they have a plan to fix the infrastructure by hiring Corps. of Engineers and outside contractors (but, they aren’t getting any money! Whaaat??).
2.   Chief of Extended Care & Rehabilitation - doesn’t know the job - hasn’t seen any patients in 16 yrs. as a Doctor!?
3.   Patient mortality rates are climbing - due in part to the “nursing home shuffle” to generate enhanced VERA payments from the Feds. VISN 2 actively trying to cover up this VERA fraud.
4.   Medical Unit 33, Bldg. 200 - personnel and assets being reassigned/reallocated in an attempt to shutter the unit due to lack of Patients (ref. “nursing home shuffle”).
5.   Vinnie Three Fingers trying to push a 15% across the board Staffing cut - plans to not hire for positions vacated by movement and/or retirement.
6.  New Director coming from Albany - known for “putting out fires” (the VA way?). Thomasen & Kaufman were interviewed for Director!

Some Definitions:

VERA = Veterans Equitable Resource Allocation; multi-level reimbursement schedule for just about all the activities surrounding a VA Medical Center’s daily/annual operation. This system lends itself to easy manipulation for the sole purpose of bilking the Fed. Gov. of more than necessary funding.

VA Town Hall Meetings = Congressionally mandated public meetings aimed at achieving transparency from all major VA Facilities.

VISN = Veterans Integrated Service Network - These are the “Regional” Offices that liaison between the local VA Facilities and Washington.
 


x

VA Northport Must Die!

- To make it better, we have to blow it
  up, and start over again.


                       Dated photo circa 1980 - It is now become a toxic waste dump
I would like to hear from VA Employees and Veterans about conditions at the VA Medical Center in Northport, NY. There are situations occurring at this Facility that are very detrimental to the health and welfare of both the Employees and the Veteran Patients. Only a few of the problems at this Hospital have been openly reported. My aim is to expose the corruption, fraud, contempt, disrespect, intimidation, and rule of fear inside the daily operations of this Medical Center.
There are actions by the Management of this Facility that most likely cross the line on criminality and definitely cross the lines of expected moral ethics. When I say “Management”, I am talking about a long line of Directors, Associate Directors, Chiefs of Staff, and Department Chiefs.
Decades ago, it became apparent to the aforementioned that the VA structure lent itself to being manipulated and taken advantage of. That structure has not changed, so the culture of corruption, fraud, contempt, disrespect, intimidation, and rule of fear has been left to fester and grow at the hands on unscrupulous, opportunistic, greedy, power hungry individuals.
Somehow, over the years, Congress and the Federal Employees Union has seen fit to make it extremely difficult to fire any of these individuals. If any of these misanthropes were conducting their business in the Private Sector, they would all be wearing orange jumpsuits.
It is time to call these people out and place them under public scrutiny for their mistreatment of our Nation’s Veterans. Give me facts and figures; your names will not be used; and, I will personally blow these criminals out of the water! I hope to hear from a lot of you very soon.
A few ways to contact me:

1) Message me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tom.clayton.754918 You can
give your contact information, so we can talk offline.

2) With the knowledge that “Tom Clayton” is the alias I use on Facebook, you can
email me at - hutch.dubosque@live.com

3) For more instant communication, you can call me on my cell phone at (631) 223-    
6107 - leave your name and number if I can’t pick up your call.