VA official faked waiting list records to hide patients who died awaiting care

We recently reported that employees in some VA hospitals shredded records of veterans in order to lessen the claims processing workload. But this latest revelation isn’t simply a concern, it’s incredibly disturbing.

As reported by Foxnews.com, “A Veterans Affairs official accused of keeping double books to hide the fact that dozens of veterans died awaiting care previously ran a Washington state VA facility that allegedly fudged suicide numbers. The VA official, Sharon Helman, director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, is accused with other management officials of keeping a fake waiting list that made it appear sick veterans were being treated in a timely manner — while hiding the real list that showed up to 1,600 sick veterans were waiting months to see a physician.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said investigators have evidence that two sets of records were kept by the facility to conceal the lengthy delays in care. At least 40 veterans on the secret list allegedly died while waiting for appointments, prompting congressional committees to launch investigations into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

Incompetence and grave mishandling within the Veterans Administration have grown out of control and MUST be addressed by none other than the president. Out campaigning, Obama made plenty of speeches before Veteran’s Service Organizations. When was the last time you saw Michele Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on a military installation talking about military families? No more grandstanding photo ops before troops. It’s time to admit that the Head of the Veterans Administration, General Eric Shinseki, has not properly overseen this organization and if these allegations of veterans deaths are confirmed, he should be dismissed.

From July 2007 through the first week of July 2008, at least 22 veterans in the Spokane VA service area committed suicide. During that same time period, however, Spokane VA reported nine suicides and 34 attempted suicides, according to Military.com and other media outlets. Helman was director of the Spokane facility at the time the number of suicides were being misreported. Shortly after news revealed that such data had been falsified, Helman was transferred to the VA facility in Hines, Ill., after having spent less than two years in Spokane. From there, Helman moved to Phoenix, where she became director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system in February 2012.

Public records show that Helman received a $9,345 bonus last year, in addition to her annual base salary of $169,900.

“Leadership, management and accountability is all we have ever required of the VA,” William A. Thien, a Vietnam veteran from Georgetown, Ind., who leads the 1.9 million-member VFW and its auxiliaries, said in a statement Thursday. “When you deal with lives, there should be no leniency granted to anyone with any knowledge of this alleged coverup, to include everyone in Phoenix who knew but didn’t tell, and those in oversight positions at the VA network and VA headquarters in Washington who knew but didn’t care,” Thien said.

I could not agree more with Mr. Thien’s comments. But will there be any accountability? Well, based on precedent — IRS, Fast and Furious, Benghazi — I’m not holding my breath.

Our men and women who have been willing to give “the last full measure of devotion” deserve far better. We are at a horrible time in America where we have major newspapers publishing opinion pieces that denigrate and demean our veterans. And we have a government agency that seemingly enables their death.

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82 Comments on "VA official faked waiting list records to hide patients who died awaiting care"

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tulet
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When a healthcare system is run by “YES” men and women, cutting costs and getting a “Good” Evaluation is all that matters to them, not the care itself. Hell, for half that pay I could do a much better job. And, what’s up with the “Bonus” aspect? Millions of dollars paid out in bonus monies to the VA and to the IRS for substandard performance, What gives????

Ken Monroe
Guest

Thank you Colonel for your steadfast support of our Military. You seem to be the ONLY retired officer that is not afraid to speak out. Where are all the Generals with their opinions? Afraid to lose their retirement, or what?
Keep up your good work. BTW, I just ordered your book, can’t wait to read it!
SFC Ken Monroe USA, Ret.

RichardandJan Bawol
Guest

I am a 100% disable Vet due to Agent Orange and Vietnam but have to say that I have always been treated in a timely manner and have no complaints about the VA in Birmingham, Al.

stars and stripes
Guest

A heavy metal cleanse like the one from Renew life might be a product to think about.
Our president signed to protect one of companies that produced agent orange.
Dioxin is still used and is a environmental pollutant and to this day there are horrific defects.
Thank you for you service and may our Lord bless you and yours.

GinnyLee
Guest

Thanks, Allen. Great report. God help us all to do our part to remove this evil.

Betty Mullins
Guest

check the white house first ] the orders’ could be coming from their ] i know a lot of people in WASHINGTON hate AMERICANS’ so i would check their ]

Turducken
Guest

This isn’t “disturbing”, this is criminal. I heard yesterday on the radio a statement by one of the staff at the VA in Phoenix had done an investigation and had not found anything. Taking a cue from their leader. Let them investigate themselves and they are sure to find nothing.

disqusDmom
Guest

The Propaganda/Media doesn’t care. This is so stinking scary… we are in such serious trouble.

SouthernMan
Guest

Doesn’t sound like incompetence, sounds like manslaughter or murder to me.

Ken Largent II
Guest
I’ve been hearing similar stories about the VA and about corruption and incompetence my entire life. As long as people like Diana DeGette, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet keep getting elected when they clearly stand for destruction of our former military members, we can expect the situation to be everlasting. “Provide for the common defense” are meaningless words to those that would prefer a system of dependency to one of self reliance. What fresh new high school graduate would want to serve this great nation when they see how we treat our veterans? I can’t think of a single one… Read more »
beenthere
Guest
I go to the VA facility in Indianapolis and with the exception of a few appointment mix ups, some my fault. I have been treated exceptionally well by all the Drs. and staff at both facilities I use. One of the staff member has gone out of his way to help vets even when the problem is with the veterans misunderstanding and is always ready to jump in and assist with any problem. They have been great and I am doing better sense I stated going there. These people are overwhelmed and have to put up with cuts in funding.… Read more »
chevron1144
Guest
Consider this story plus the fact that there are many on the Left who want a single payer health care system which would be run by government bureaucrats. These same people on the Left talk about Medicare and Medicaide as shining examples. “Medicare & Medicaid Fraud/Waste Facts • Medicare Parts A&B had estimated improper payments of almost $47.9 billion for fiscal year 2010. • Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) had additional improper payments of $13.6 billion. • The total improper payments estimates is, therefore, more than $70 billion, which does not yet include an estimate for the Medicare prescription drug… Read more »
stars and stripes
Guest
My brother was a Ranger. He has been trying to get help form the VA for some time due to his injuries. They gave him meds. and also pain killers. He hated what he had become because of the side effects. He lost his motivation, was constipated, & his personality changed in a negative way. Fortunately he took himself off of them. He’s not about being a drug addict..The side effects of some meds. are worse than the condition. He feels that some locations of the VA just wants Vets to be in a drugged induced state of mind so… Read more »
tx18wheels
Guest

At the very least, this is criminal negligence. How can one be rewarded for being a contributing factor to the deaths of our veterans? Especially rewarded to the point of a managerial well paying job and a sweet bonus. Painful to read. Another self-investigating committee by the Administration will now sweep this up nice and tidy under the rug.

CarolineJenkins
Guest

Sharon Helman should immediately refund that bonus of $9345 and step down from her job.

Canna4Life
Guest

And then face Criminal Charges! What a disgrace

Carolann Davis
Guest
VA Hospitals have always been shameful and if you don’t have someone to step up for you and open their mouths, your totally screwed. I have stories of incompetence when my dad was being treated at a VA hospital. I begged him to go to a private hospital and I’d pay but he said they “owed” him that service…HA!!! What service??? just as an example, he was totally out of it from a radiation treatment but yet they put his food tray in front of him…idiots….then his bed was pooped and peed in every morning when I showed up, they… Read more »
Jon Molina
Guest

Stories like this need to be heard – in legion. I wish I knew a better way than just yelling until someone pays attention, but done long enough – intelligently enough – coherently enough – this is often the answer with vertical power structures. Be a thorn in the ass of the pure bastardized officials who hand fists of money to special interests and not nearly enough to the very people who kept them there.

Bridget
Guest

Truth be told!!! Happens at Bay Pines VA Hospital in FL as well! It’s not just incompetent doctors!!! THEY WANT OUR VETS TO DIE and therefore, WITHHOLD TREATMENT!!!

Me
Guest

I just got an update for my appeal, another 2-3 years to go, then the Board of Veterans appeals should schedule a video hearing and then probably another couple of months after that. By the way the appeal was submitted in November 2012! Pretty sad!

Ty
Guest

it took 8 years for the VA to decide my claim for 100% disability…2 years is not very long to hurry up and wait….prepare for it to take awhile…the nice thing is I got 8 years worth of back pay…js…

Me
Guest

If it goes like they say it will, at the latest it will be 2017, which will be 13 years after I retired!

Ty
Guest

Wouldn’t surprise me at all….it’s a very slow process…hurry up and wait is the general consensus….just be prepared to be patient…it will happen eventually….

Max Jones
Guest

Thank God we live in the Houston, Texas area. They know how to take care of Vets. I have been treated at two of them, and received great care..

Ellen Spahni
Guest

She should be charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide!

cajungal
Guest

This is HORRIFYING!!!! sadly tho we now live in a throw away society, where if you or “it” is no longer “useful” and or “productive” then you are disposable! Sometimes I do not even recognize this country as the one I grew up in, where we said the pledge of allegiance, and prayed and it meant something! It was sacred, just like our elders “USED” to be!

Kitten
Guest

Someone should go to prison over this.

msvvarrior
Guest

I agree with almost every comment made. My husband is 100 % disabled from the Korean War, but we have never used the services of a VA hospital.

This is not just a problem with the VA hospitals but with all hospitals. To the same degree, perhaps not. But, they all have serious problems.

VA hospitals do not report directly to the VA director. They report through many layers of the agency. They should have an Inspector General who oversees the hospitals through a group of very well educated and with exceptional background to monitor these hospitals.

UwasaWahya
Guest

That’s just what the VA needs another paper pusher. I don’t think so. The people that have direct contact with the vets are under staffed and over worked.

MacIndy
Guest

True as when I went to emergency room on a third shift one late evening, a doctor wasn’t even on duty. And the two nurses who worked on me messed up both my hands doing a blood gas on both wrist. Long story…. neither nurse could do it. I’ve lost strength in both hands…. No doc to check on me. released…

Dan Lawrence
Guest

Typical gov. coverup. She screwed up some other place and instead of firing her and getting rid of her, they just send her to Phoenix so more Vets can just fade away. She should be brought up on murder charges.

Dan W
Guest

She should be charged with 40 counts of 1st degree murder, tried and executed, say any day next week.

bogie7129
Guest
We certainly do not know all the details of all these deaths, but Congressman Jeff Miller and his investigators will get to the bottom of it. I will say, though, that all vets are given Priority groups in order that those with the highest disability ratings are taken care of first. Priority Group I patients are those who are rated at 50% or higher. Those vets can call up and ask for the first available appt and if one is available right then and there, they get it. Other Priority Groups can not do that. Next comes Priority Group II… Read more »
Jon Molina
Guest
People in power spend great effort in convincing others how much good giving them power will be. Once begot, they turn that effort instead to keeping it. Machiavelli had it spot on. It’s sad that so many of our true leaders die in those waiting rooms, even if they are but a shadow of what they once were – a beacon of what we prize in people, the willingness to sacrifice for the good of the whole. Much like the former statement however, people just don’t follow through with that notion – and we view them as discarded and used… Read more »
Jayme Hilbrand
Guest
While I have never had to wait that long for an appointment. I have had to wait for a month for an open appointment. Usually if it is urgent I can call and get a day of appointment and fill a cancellation spot. The worst experience I had was a lower back “injury” that I needed to see the physical therapist. They could not see me for over a month, think it was 5 or 6 weeks I cannot remember. That is a LONG time to wait to seek help for a lower back injury. I ended up seeking help… Read more »
Ty
Guest
I guess I have been blessed when it comes to the Los Angeles VA Health Care System, because I have an amazing primary doctor and treatment team. I’ve had absolutely no problems getting appointments and getting my needs taken care of to include medication management. If a drug doesn’t work for me and I have side affects, I go see my doctor and we try something different until it works…that’s the way it’s supposed to be. However, let me also say that I’ve done my homework in as far as knowing what services I’m entitled to and if I have… Read more »
Allen Molthan
Guest
I retired last year, submitted my paperwork to get into the system and as of today I am still NOT in the system. I checked with the local VA clinic and they still have no record of me being in the system, only answer I was given was to resubmit my paperwork. All of this is on top of me fighting the VA on the my claims status. The navy medically retired me and the VA turned around and said I didn’t have any issue on what the Navy retired me for. as it stands right now, any medically care… Read more »
Ty
Guest
All you can do is resubmit your paperwork…make sure you include a copy of your med records from the military…hopefully you got a copy before you were discharged because it’ll take forever for them to request them directly…when they deny you…and they usually do the first couple of times, keep appealing until they listen and any medical doctors you see outside of the VA, make sure you get that documentation and send it to the VA…the biggest thing they need and want is evidence…it doesn’t matter if you were medically retired…they want to see the evidence…also, get a Veteran’s Service… Read more »
bogie7129
Guest
“…when they deny you…and they usually do the first couple of times, …” No, VA does not “usually” deny you the first couple of times. That’s the SSA that does that. The VA would rather pay you for your disabilities and see you for your medical needs based upon your claim. Sometimes, vets are denied the first time due to insufficient medical evidence or documentation. If that has been your case, you should file a “Notice of Disagreement” and ask to go before the adjudicator in person so you can present your own case the best way you know how.… Read more »
pelermon
Guest

Yet a Non- English speaking, fresh across the boarder immigrant, who has NEVER paid a cent in taxes, can get any health care they demand.

aemoreira81
Guest

Where was McCain? This happened in Phoenix. Jeff Flake was the one who ended up bringing it to Congress’ attention. The next question should be: was this just a problem in Arizona, or were there problems elsewhere as well? If the VA cannot handle all of the work, how about farming out some of the work to local hospitals?

E Van Reamer
Guest

its rampant everywhere.

Donna McCracken
Guest
My lawyer has been trying to get my medical records for SS Disability for 9 months. She cannot file (ANOTHER) appeal until she gets them. We have tried going through Lindsey Graham to no avail. They say my paperwork is not on computer like other peoples records, it actually is paperwork. This is probably because this case has been going on since 2003. The lawyer said they are just to lazy to make the copies, but after reading this, is there a possibility that my records are GONE. What would they do in this case, I have most of my… Read more »
E Van Reamer
Guest

i have been experiencing the same thing for more than a decade.

Antje M Grein
Guest

even if it is on paper everything has to be put on disc now. you need to go the the VA office where your records are keep and a request a copy of all your records which could take about 1 to 3 months but should not be longer than that. also contact your congress representative to get the ball rolling.

Donya Burnitt Singletary
Guest
Donya Burnitt Singletary

Go to the hospital where your records are kept and tell them you have an apt off base and need your record for another Dr. sign it out and just not return it. Don’t bother with copies just get the original.

urbanvrwcmom
Guest

I’m so sorry to hear of your predicament. Please know that I’m praying for this issue to be resolved. Thank you for your military service!

bogie7129
Guest

Take your problem to SS. Don’t expect VA to fix it. It seems you are trying to make SS look guilty by association because it is also a government-run organization as is the VA. Go tell it to the SSA, not VA.

SB_Smith
Guest

This is just heinous beyond measure.

urbanvrwcmom
Guest

I can’t help but wonder if the VA officials that’s shafting our military personnel, were anti-war hippies during the Vietnam era. Since they are now in charge of the VA, they’re using their positions as a vendetta against those who participated in war. To those reading my post that served in the military, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you!

Rob
Guest

I cant stand the fact that there are so many unemployed veterans yet the VA tends to hire too many people who aren’t veterans. Time the entire system was revamped.

Chris Webber
Guest

It’s a question that deserves to be asked.

UwasaWahya
Guest
I have a long list of problems I have encountered getting care from the VA over the years. Burned out doctors and staff, it now takes over 3 months to get an appointment to see anyone. Referrals to specialists are only good for 90 days. For going on two years now I have been playing this game of two steps forward one step back. At one time they had me on three different blood thinners and I don’t have high blood pressure or heart disease. When I had insurance through my employer I could make an appointment and see the… Read more »
Honoring_Honore
Guest
Perhaps it is time to forget about specific funding of VA facilities and provide VA guaranteed insurance benefits, that are paid out at fair market value, and are honored at any medical care facility in the private sector! In other words, private medicine must do things better because they must prove a higher standard of care just to stay in business. Granted, there are contracts sometimes issued to care for VA patients when the closest VA facilities are too remote from the patient, but some procedures are required to be provided only at VA facilities, which are not found on… Read more »
Ed Coleman
Guest
I agree on this. Why cant I as veteran just go to a public hospital? The govt can control the cost and I get better care. Especially with emergencys. I recently spent several days in the hospital. It took 4 days to get a response from the V A hospital for care. The doctor got tired of waiting and did surgery anyway. Then they received notice there were no beds available at the local V A Hospital (John Cochran in St. Louis). The bottom line is it took 4 days for someone from V A to get back to the… Read more »
Hiram Belt
Guest

They allowed my dad to suffer with cancer with no treatment and no help for pain. Read my post above!!!

Honoring_Honore
Guest

If the US govt would guarantee a negotiated rate, like any insurance company, there is no reason that any Vet could not choose his hospital or doctor for care.

But, of course, the US govt would mandate a rate that would be impossible for any hospital to accept. It would rather fund Food Stamps, and Section 8 benefits, for those who would rather not produce anything, rather than supporting those who have given their all.

ConservativeSenior
Guest

In legal terms, can those deaths be called criminally negligent homicide? A few people need to go to prison.

Hiram Belt
Guest

Can I sue them?

Jon Molina
Guest

Go on Avvo.com and post your story, try and keep it point-by-point and brief but with all the pertinent information. Specifically ask about Adult Protective Services.

Jon Molina
Guest

I would think – at the very least – manslaughter. Local police are rarely versed in terms of legal matters and frankly neither am I, but it might be wise to contact your local Adult Protective Services.
The elderly and terminally ill are considered Vulnerable Adults and have special legal status for cases like that.

Hiram Belt
Guest

Read what they did to my dad above!

Ed Coleman
Guest
I have been a patient at John Cochran several times. Its dirty! My wife brings items to clean the toilet and bathroom. Sometimes up to six people share a single toilet. They crowd the rooms where there is no privacy. The nurses and aids have no fear of losing their jobs. I have personally laid in bed (30 mins) and peed myself because the nurses or aids didn’t make it to me. Also you can hear the nurses and aids laughing and joking outside the rooms at all hours of the night. It is disgusting and unnerving the way the… Read more »
Ed Coleman
Guest
The food for patients at John Cochran is made 6-7 hours in advance and kept in coolers or warmers before the patient gets it. It taste disgusting. Everything taste the same. You have no choices and if there is fish everything taste like fish. The milk is usually warm and undrinkable. The water container is a cheap plastic uninsulated pitcher. You get cheap stirofoam or thin plastic cups to use. Rooms are always dirty with crud along the walls and under the beds. I was a patient recently and the light above my bed was left in pieces and unassembled.… Read more »
Hiram Belt
Guest
My father kept saying he thought he had cancer for several years. He would go to tha VA for check ups and sent home. I would ask if they found anything, and he said “I guess not but I still hurt inside and I still think I have it son” He died shortly after and an autopsy was done. He was absolutely ate up with cancer all through his body. I think they never even tested him, even after hearing his concerns. He always said he was in severe pain, but I kind of did not believe him as he… Read more »
urbanvrwcmom
Guest

I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. Even though the ogres at the V.A. thought little about him, I regard him as a hero even though I’ve never met him. I’ll be lifting up you and yours in prayer. May God enfold you and yours with His peace.

Hiram Belt
Guest

Thank you very much.

Von
Guest

My friends husband just suffered the same fate after repeatedly going to doctors at the VA and once his wife took him to the emergency room at another local hospital that’s when they found out he had terminal cancer.

Hiram Belt
Guest

Wow, know someone else it happened to!!!

Honoring_Honore
Guest

I am sorry to hear that, and it is a shame!

Pamela Strother Kimrey
Guest
Pamela Strother Kimrey

Time to switch up… turn the VA facilities and the rules and regulations into welfare facilities with the same rules and regs, and give the veterans the benefits given to welfare recipients just make sure their card is red, white, and blue. It’s pathetic how the government chooses who to take care of… give nothing to the ones willing to give all, and give all to the ones willing to give nothing….

Hiram Belt
Guest

They allowed my father to suffer cancer with no treatment and no help for pain. read my post below.

Scott Gump
Guest

I am very fortunate, I live in Lexington Ky. We have two of the best V.A. facilities in the country. They take very good care of their Veterans.

kfmcgahey
Guest

As Pete Hegseth said on Fox one night about the dysfunctional VA – this is what Obamacare is going to look like.

Von
Guest

If there are no standards enforced, who do you think is going to check to see if these government agencies like the V.A. are doing their jobs? There is no checks and balances because the reality is that no one cares. We’ve done our services to the country and after that, are well-being doesn’t matter. Their actions speak volumes, but no one is paying close attention. It’s pretty obvious that no one is really checking any of them.

Sc Degenaer
Guest
I use the VA as my primary health care. Last yr I felt a tightness in my chest when helping a freind dig a shallow ditch around his home for water drainage. I was taking 4-5 nitro pills a day for a few days and made a doc appoint. Was then scheduled for a Nuclear stress test. While on the treadmill I dropped like a poled ox!!! The doctor observing the stress test told me to call my doctor the next day. I called my doc, he told me no take it easy till I could get my consult to… Read more »
MacIndy
Guest

They might find that they all will have a “secret” waiting list ok’d by the government. Just a thought. I’ve had to wait a while also and they claim that they tried to call me. I told them that was not true as I kept a log of all calls. This was during the time it was coming out.

thinkingabovemypaygrade
Guest
thinkingabovemypaygrade

So sorry for the horrible treatment you received!!!

(When I point to the Veterans Admin and their rationing care as what’s coming for us in future national Obamacare, people think I’m alarmist.)

Don’t know if your congressperson is any good…maybe they can help expose what’s going on!!!

MotherBatherick
Guest

Our veterans are paying with their lives and the DEMOCRATS want to take MORE away from them and their families?! WHY on earth…???

MacIndy
Guest

The more that die, the less money they have to spend. They are looking at the expense more than the lives our hero’s.

T Jones
Guest

I have been waiting since September 2013 to see a specialist. Dr Morales keeps telling me “anytime now”. Been saying that since January. Finally decided to call the Lexington VA Patient Advocate