5 steps for fixing the VA problems — if I were in charge

While Congress dithers over how many billions of your taxpayer dollars to throw at the VA, here are five steps I think should be part of any plan to fix it.

We don’t need any more studies, assessments and reports. We certainly don’t need another agency within the Obama administration investigating itself.

What amazes me is that, in uniform, this type of abject and systematic failure over the past six years would have resulted in relief of command. However, it now seems there are different standards and measures of effectiveness in the quagmire we call government bureaucracy — I would have hoped the code of honor and integrity transcends the day one takes off the uniform.

In any event, here are five steps the administration should be taking (not holding my breath):

1. Change of management – I didn’t say leadership because it seems no one is leading and they are certainly mismanaging. But it begins at the top with the Secretary and must go to the senior levels as well where these issues are being raised.

2. Provide immediate relief with vouchers to civilian hospitals for proper care – of course this process will need scrutiny and tracking to ensure good stewardship of the taxpayer dollar — which we all would humbly want to see go to caring for those who have borne such a burden for this Republic. But the voucher program is not the panacea to solve the greater problem.

3. Develop regional “Centers of Excellence” – five to be exact: North, South, East, Midwest, and West, based upon veteran population concentration, focus resources for staffing and look at relationships with local private hospitals. As well, outpatient clinics should be part of these COEs and we should develop best practices for better automation as part of this initiative. I would say these would be our Tier IA Veteran care facilities and there should be a determination as to their coverage areas.

4. Provide local alternatives for remote areas – we need to assess the remote areas where our veterans need care and coverage and look at developing a process and a system whereby their first line of healthcare can come from a local private hospital. Again, there would need to be a system in place to track these individuals. Along with this comes a very well-trained and responsive system of “Help Centers” that can address issues and resolve them for our vets, and I don’t mean “we will get back to you.”

5. Improve record-keeping – if the Obama administration was so adept at contacting voters they should be able to develop a better automation system for records and caring of our veterans. It is imperative that we are able to quickly and seamlessly transition health records of those who have served in uniform, regardless of Active Duty or Reserve Component, into the VA system. No more drop-offs into the abyss.

I always taught my young officers that any issues you bring to me must have at least one recommendation for a solution — above are just a few off the top of my head. And I don’t have an entire policy staff.

But I must ask, if the Obama administration, indeed government itself, is having a problem handling veterans healthcare, which is less than two percent of our American population, how do you think they’ll handle trying to manage the entire country’s healthcare?

151 COMMENTS

  1. Seriously, you think he’ll do any of that? The only thing he’ll do is take a broom and try to sweep it under the rug. Remember in his speech he said “those responsible will pay for this….PERIOD”. Every time he uses the word “period” you know he’s lying.

      • Actually I avoid his speeches except for the one on the vets and then I refused to look at the TV and just listened to his words because I can’t even stand to look at the P O S anymore. And you are so correct. I have never despised a human being in my life except for this guy.

  2. LtCol…you left out streamlining the disaster of the VA Benefits division….they compound the problems. There is no reason why we disabled Vets have to fight for years to get or fight for increased benefits….our gubmint is throwing billions at ILLEGAL ALIENS while we the injured/disabled Vets have to fight for benefits

  3. Whatever happened to “Duty, Honor, Country?” Do you put that all aside once you put the uniform away and take up civilian mufti? What Sec’y. Shinseki has done (or more appropriately, NOT DONE!) merits banishment and the erasing of any awards and medals he accrued while on active duty. He turned his back on his brothers in arms, the same men he led when he was in uniform. He has forfeited any claim to any honors from this nation. I’d like to see him in his full dress uniform on the parade deck in front of assembled troops, have his sword taken and broken, his stars removed from his uniform along with his voluminous medals and ribbons, the brass buttons removed and then the convening officer would give the command: “About Face!” and citizen Shinseki would be walked off the deck with all men’s backs turned on him. That’s what he truly deserves. Mad as heck? If I had been a 4 star general and was a cabinet appointee, I’d be spitting bullets and pissing fire and heads would roll! I wouldn’t wait for any investigations. If I read in the newspaper that 40 vets had died waiting for appointments, I would go right down the chain of command and relieve anyone who heard of this fact and didn’t inform me ASAFP. This is a no brainer. Problem is, we have nothing but no-brainers in management positions in the bureaucracy. You don’t even want to know what I really think. A former Marine veteran of Viet Nam who tangled with agent Orange – the gift that keeps giving.

    • Thank you for your service DOjennies! I lost a brother in Viet Nam and often think about what he would be like if he came home!

  4. I would certainly say that we should immediately place all members of the House of Representatives, Senate, and all Federal Judges/Justices under the care of the VA on equal status with a PFC; no special treatment. I think that would go a long way toward fixing the problem.

  5. The VA came about after WW2 when there were fewer hospitals and a lot more veterans needing medical care. But times have changed. If active duty and retired military can have Tricare Medical Insurance, why can’t the VA be change to some sort of insurance. Instead of the VA running the hospitals and clinics, let private companies do it and then bill the VA via the insurance. The VA would still be responsible for determining the benefits, though

    • William, I liked your idea until you said the VA would still be responsible for derermining the benefits! That’s the major issue now is their backlog and they obviously can’t or won’t keep up! Personally, I think heads should fly!

  6. There is a reason why you weren’t re-elected. Where are all of your post concerning republicans blocking bills that benefit VETERANS?? I scrolled and I didn’t see any.

    • Where are all YOUR posts screaming about the more than 150 jobs bills, veterans bills, etc. that have been passed by the Republican led House, but tabled as soon as they hit the Senate? Reid does not allow House bills to come to the floor for discussion, much less a vote! Even bills that were passed with bi-partisan votes in the House, never reach the Senate floor, but you have said not one word about that. So why are you complaining when Republican’s refuse one bill, a bill which Democrats stuffed amnesty for illegal aliens into at the last minute? Do you really believe that amnesty for illegal aliens is an issue that should be hung onto a bill that may have helped our veterans? (whether or not it would have helped is matter for debate!)

      • You have lost your mind if you can say republicans have passed 150 jobs bills. Stop making up numbers! The bills passed by republicans CREATE NO JOBS…they are tax breaks for corporations and deregulation bills! GO READ them and get back with me ok

      • Your ignorance is showing. Of course some of the Republican ideas include tax breaks for businesses who create new jobs. Those tax breaks WORK! Which is why Obama is constantly talking about the tax breaks he has handed out. The difference is that the Republican bills encourage tax breaks for those who are actually creating jobs and do not pick and chose among their highest fund raisers and unions, as Obama has done. And yes, with the tens of thousands of new job stifling rules and regulations forced on business by this administration, someone must get them back under control, but mostly the bills encourage the free market and provide incentive for real job creation in fields such as energy, not the part time low wage jobs that we have now. The truth is that this administration has blown our budget on their quantitative easing nonsense, which has done nothing but allowed for the laundering of $75 billion a MONTH of newly minted dollars, through the stock market, again passing money into the hands of his big business friends, big donors and unions. (recently reduced from $85 billion a month BTW) But all of that is irrelevant, because Reid and his Democrats in the Senate have not allowed any of those bills to come to the floor for discussion, which is where our representatives in both parties have the opportunity to discuss, negotiate and put the final touches and changes on any bill passed in the House. But Obama and the Democrats would rather table every single one of those bills just to retain the ability to accuse Republican’s of doing nothing, when in fact, it is the Democrats who have taken no action for 5 years! As an example, look at the most recent House bill which would have allowed officials to fire people within the VA who are proven to have falsified the names on the wait lists or who were not doing their job effectively…but Reid and his Democrats refused to allow THAT to come up for discussion or a vote! They simply say no to everything, regardless of what the bill contains.

    • No one is saying that it did, what they are saying is it needs to be fixed now, not wait for yet another report that will never get to Obama who since before he was elected the first time said he was going to fix but never got around to it. The man has a habit pushing the buck and not seeing things through and when he does get something rolling too many people get hurt in the process.

      • Once again…republicans blocked bills to help veterans! In one of those bills it built 27 veterans clinics. I don’t remember seeing any post by allen west and in my book that makes him a HYPOCRITE. Do not pretend you care about veterans when your OWN PARTY refuse to help them and you say NOTHING!!

      • SHEEPLE, this needs to be fixed and addressed now. Take your political argument somewhere else.

      • That ‘one man’ is the man who, in 2008, told voters that his shoulders were broad enough, strong enough to hold the responsibilities of the president of the United States. He got the job he asked for and that means the buck stops with him. While he is not responsible for the day to day actions of his appointed cabinet members, he IS responsible for checking to ensure they are successfully doing the job they were assigned to. And there, Obama has failed miserably. How many times have we heard that he learned of a serious problem within his administration via the media?

        It is his job to bring the two parties together and sit down with them and work out a solution and he has failed to do that on every occasion, even to the point of locking the door to ensure that Republican’s are not able to participate in discussions on important issues. In fact, he has made a very specific point of making sure Republican’s knew he was not going to negotiate on anything, that he ‘won’ and they lost. They could give him 100% of what he wanted or he would grab the power of the House and the Senate for himself. That is not leadership, that is a dictatorship.

      • Allen West isn’t in charge! Get a grip Earl! This is both the Dem and Repubs fault for not following thru. And es, it falls on Obama’s shulder’s because he happens to be President! The Buck stops with him! And you know what, you can blame the Rpubs all you want, but it was Obama who spent the majority of his time pushing the crappy Obamacare thru when he was well aware of the VA issue. Obviously, it wasn’t a priority with him and unfunately now, he is going to “investigate”, just like he is investigating Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious, yada yada yada! All we can do is pray!

      • Excuse me but I care a lot about veterans plan to work at our VA when Im finished with school. Don’t go pointing fingers at everyone thats conservative and saying they don’t care, I think they care a hell of a lot more than Liberals who sit there and call the baby killers at every whim… Get a life nutjob and go grandstand somewhere else. My party cares for them more than your pissants ever will…

  7. Matter of fact….where is all of you people OUTRAGE when republicans blocked bills designed to help veterans saying that “WE CANNOT AFFORD IT” If you didn’t say anything then…don’t pretend like u give a crap about veterans now!

    • “you people?” There is no you people in the VA. This should outrage any American regardless of party affiliation. Those who serve are America’s treasure. They are from both parties.

      Get a grip!

  8. Allen, I couldn’t be more disappointed in your 5 step plan. It reads like typical inside-the-beltway boiler plate. There is only one problem to eliminate. GOVERNMENT UNIONS. If federal workers can never be fired for any reason including gross incompetence and committing federal crimes, everything else is just a circle-jerk.

  9. If you were outraged by the VA scandal and you didn’t say anything when republicans blocked veterans bills…that would me you a HYPOCRITE!!

  10. Add one more point to your plan: Put MASSIVE public pressure on congress and all white house staff to force them to obtain all their health care from the VA. – I support the effort to give the veterans the health care congress has now. PROBLEM SOLVED. Time to wake up when the ruling class has one set of rules for them and another for those they “serve”.

  11. Colonel: I agree with much of what you say, especially your five “Centers of Excellence” Concept. Have them specialize in illness/trauma that is unique to military service. One of the reasons the V.A. is the big, bloated bureaucracy that it is is because of “mission creep.” In this Veteran’s Opinion, the V.A. should only see as patients those who incurred physical or mental injury directly rated to their term of service. Not homeless Veterans or financially-disadvantaged Veterans. There are other programs for those folks. Other than the five “Centers of Excellence” of which you speak, I would dissolve the rest of the V.A. Health Care System & give Service-Connected Veterans a “Cadillac” Health Care Insurance Plan in the private sector that will have the checks and balances of the free market.

  12. Allen you have some good ideas, but the root cause is civil service union employees. Change most all these centers to civilian contract employees; under a services contract. The present civil services may apply for these positions, but without a union. Allow companies to BID for this, and have set performance standards. If the contractor performs well, they may retain the contract for the set contract period, at which time they can re-bid. Have options in the contract as well so the government can simply exercise an option and not re-bid. That “company” is liable for poor performance, and can be removed for failure to meet standards. However have award fee bonus for exceeding goals, that are set and reviewed by oversight government employees. A big factor is we, the taxpayers are no longer forced to pay retirement and health care benefits for people who end employment.

    • The root cause is the government(you)protecting themselves by locking in tenure. Allow managers to fire and allow directors to fire and allow for criminal charges for ineptness when the Peter Principal rears it,s head and stop listening to idiots like Ltc Allen West.

      • You are right on target, Nolen. That peter principal thing only benefits whore-mongers. I just thought of that. But it works, No? That tenure and union thing has never solved a single problem.

      • No it having UNIONS for government employees. Why are they “special”? Those who pay for them mostly have just what the normal law has as protection. They negotiate with whom or what? Not we that taxpayer for sure. There should be no such thing as a public (paid for by taxpayers) union. Cause while we foot the bill, we have little say. Those that have say don’t foot the bill.

  13. Thank you Allen West for reading bills before you sign them. For those of you upset about the blocked veterans bill do your research. That bill would have given a veteran payments for non-related / non service connected issues. We don’t have the finances to be able to afford that. Allen West and others like him are fiscally watching out not only for the Veteran but for all Americans. The suggestion are a great start. Thank you for thinking about the consequences Allen West. We need more people like you working for us.

    • The VA only gives compensation for Service Related/Caused issues. I get VA Compensation for those issues, but no compensation for non-service related issues. That’s the way it should be.

  14. The politicians *presudent and family also) AGAIN should have to live within the VA; policy. We would ser this situation cleaned up and fixed in no time.

  15. Col. West,

    Wanted to pass along comments from a former Ranger, Major and dear friend:

    “Agree totally with the first 2 points; we need to fire that entire chain of “command”, but don’t replace it. We don’t need separate hospitals for our veterans – send them OUT of the gov’t run debacle into good commercial care centers where they WOULD be treated with dignity and respect. The primary problem with the VA hospitals is that the entire staff are gov’t employees, receiving gov’t wages. A doctor in Tucson, AZ in the VA system might be making $180,000, while a civilian doctor in the same area practicing the same medicine might earn $500,000. The VA doctors are in part those who can’t find a real job in the commercial sector, or they would be there. Give our vets a “go to the doctor free” card and let them get the real help that the need, not what a bottom-feeding gov’t-paid doctor says they need.
    “Centers of Excellence” usually aren’t, unless they are commanded by an ass-kicking officer who actually believes in the slogan. Too often they don’t. I served in 2 “Centers of Excellence” and saw no difference between them and the regular Army offices. They just spend more money around judging time to win the award, then go back to business as usual.”

    You, Col. West, were and are a dedicated American military patriot. Many rear-eshelon officers, in my own experience, are not. Bureaucracies, even military ones, have only grown much worse under Obama. My Ranger friend offers comments that give our veterans the care they deserve. Thanks for listening.

    • West isn’t a col. He is a Ltc that retired before he was fired. Anyone can stand on the sidelines and critically criticize but Ltc West doesn’t have a demonstrated background to suggest answers. Also, just because you know of a friend who was a Ranger doing whatever doesn’t mean that he/she knows their ass from a hole in the ground about management.

      • Spoken like a good little commie. Ltc’s are ADDRESSED as Colonel. And West is DEDICATED to America, unlike little commies, troll.

      • You, of course, are free to criticize Col. West if you wish (yes, he is to be addressed as Col. West), but apparently you missed the part about offering solutions. Or are you trying to suggest that this administration has not miserably failed our vets? Not taken a bad situation and made it far, far worse? So criticize if you must, but offer suggestions for improvements that are at least as thoughtful as those Col. West has suggested! Personally, I would like to see the whole VA privatized with vouchers for first class health insurance that could be used as they desire anywhere in the private sector.

      • I see this kind of disrespect for military personnel from all you libs who would rather surrender than stand up for what’s right, what have you done for your country? I am sure the answer would be nothing, because your a coward and excuse maker

      • I know – we have a very cool looking fool sitting in the White House, not knowing for one second, what in hell he is doing and is a complete failure at everything he puts his dull mind to. Management – forget it. All he is adept at is whipping up an affirmative action crowd to a frenzy. Of course that is all community organizers are about. Giving him the reins of our country was like casting pearls before swine – a foolish thing to do, as swine do not know the value of pearls and will just trample them underfoot, as the cool fool is doing to our country. Obama is not fit to stand in Allen West’s shadow. Allen is a mensch – Obama is a metrosexual sissy.

  16. The people that died on September 11, 2001 are fallen heros. Their families were awarded millions of dollars but you have vets that put their life on line for their country that are fighting the VA for the compensation they deserve. I filed for PTSD eight years ago and the government has spent more money fighting for me to get this claim than I would have received if it had been awarded to me to start with. I’ve got the VFW representing me, probably if Otis of Mayberry was a real character he would be much better. It’s a disgrace to have a Veteran Organization fight the vets for what they deserve. The VFW has been sending me letters for over 7yrs. now saying this is what we need now but it has been sent three or four times. They finally set my case to the VA last week after 8 yrs. or at least they say they did. I’ve been lied to by them so much it is hard to believe anything they say. It a disgrace that an organization should be helping the vets are stabbing them in the back..Shame on an organization that I was once proud of and have been a life member since 1973..

    • Good idea, but I’d suggest a couple of slight modifications. One, require all House members to receive routine care from the various VA outpatient clinics in their district on a rotating schedule with no exceptions — no “favorite” facilities — and any emergency or advanced care from the VA hospital serving their home district (the hospital may not actually be in their district, but serves it). Two, require all Senators to receive their care from all the VA hospitals in their state, on a rotating schedule that includes every hospital with no exceptions. In emergencies — and ONLY in emergencies — while they are in Washington they may opt to go to a VA hospital’s ER in or near the District, with the members assigned to particular hospitals near their District-area residences.

      I don’t expect our Honorables to stand in line like the rest of us, RHIP after all; but I do expect them to settle for the same health care, from the same providers, as the rest of us. And I expect them to use their “assigned” facilities, same as the rest of us, no exceptions — if that means driving 100 miles or more at times, so be it.

  17. Just close the VA hospitals and give our military health insurance cards that can be used anywhere. Problem solved.
    My grandfather was in the Kingsbridge VA hospital in the bronx in the late 1960s. It was a hellhole then. I visited him there and saw for myself. SHAME on our government

    • Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. VA hospitals often have specialty clinics or entire wings devoted to the special needs of veterans with spinal cord injuries, mental health problems, missing limbs, illnesses that are common in combat zones but very uncommon here, etc. Without VA hospitals, where would you tell an Iraq vet with lung disease from depleted uranium (used in some larger-caliber ammunition) go for help? How about a Vietnam vet who still suffers from PTSD? Fact is, we _need_ the VA medical system including the hospitals; but we need it to work the way it’s supposed to, and that’s going to take a lot of unpleasant work on the part of the Honorables.

      • I find it hard to believe in this day and age that the VA is the only place these vets can go for help. Most illnesses can be handled by the hospital system and medical professionals who are not VA. How many police officers and fire fighters and others have missing limbs, spinal cord injuries, mental health problems etc? The only thing I see you have mentioned is lung disease from uranium used in some larger caliber ammunition that is different. Sorry, but after seeing the horrific conditions my grandfather had I find it hard to believe that Veterans hospitals are a good place to be.

      • Exactly, I see a spine specialist, saw a head specialist for my concussion, neurosurgeons are available, orthopedic surgeons, limb loss(diabetes results in a lot of amputations), 90% of the VA system is done by the private clinics and hospitals.

        I could see mental health and DU specialists stay in the VA system is about it.

      • I live in the Myrtle Beach area and my neighbor had to travel all the way to Charleston (more than 2 hours) to be treated for bladder cancer. He and his wife at 75 years of age had to rely on neighbors to be kind enough to drive them. This is an outrage. I am a retired Civil Servant and have known many who care but many who don’t give a rats a$$ about anything but their own interests. The vets themselves are the ones who should be able to decide where they want to be treated and by whom and the government needs to give them that choice.
        I pray you are doing well and thank you for your service.

      • Why didn’t he seek local treatment and care using his MEDICARE benefits? Before you jump on me I am a veteran, retired E7 21 years served 3 tours in VietNam medivac’d from 3RD Field Hospital Saigon 13Jan1971released from USAF Hospital Maxwell AFB Al March 1971 continued on active duty til 1 May 1986. Your neighbor had alternatives he did not have to use the VA in Charleston he could have used MEDICARE and/or MEDICAID I don’t know his financial situation. Just because you are a Vet you are not compelled to use VA facilities.

      • He has since passed so I can’t ask him. When I asked his wife at the time she said he had to and that the benefits were better than medicare. All I can tell you is what she said. I do believe that vets should get health insurance card that can be used at any facility.

        And why would I jump on you?

      • I didn’t say that the VA is the only place vets can go for help; but if we closed the VA hospitals, the remaining facilities specializing in combat-related injuries and illnesses would be seriously overloaded, and that would result in long waiting times for veterans and everyone else who needs those services. Additionally, VA medical facilities provide a very important indirect benefit: veterans are often more comfortable around fellow veterans, and both the patients and many of the staff are veterans who understand them because they’ve “been there”.

        I have been a VA patient long enough to remember when the Memphis, TN VA Medical Center was an excellent facility. But in the decades that I have been receiving care at VAMC Memphis first the waiting times for appointments increased, and then the quality of care received degraded.
        Part of the problem that has not received media attention is that many of the best staffers have retired or otherwise left the VA system, while others have taken transfers to VA outpatient clinics where the care is, in my experience, still first-rate. Some of the doctors have never been replaced, or have been replaced with physician assistants or nurse practitioners — who are often very good themselves, but still have to refer some patients to M.D.s on occasion.

        VAMC Memphis and possibly most other VAMCs are teaching facilities where medical students receive training and residents gain experience; as long as they are properly supervised by experienced M.D. specialists, they can do a lot to provide medical care while they learn. But that still means VA needs adequate numbers of experienced doctors on staff, and it hasn’t had those “adequate numbers” in decades … if ever.

        At the same time, the number of younger veterans requiring treatment has increased greatly, and Vietnam-era (and earlier) veterans now require even more medical care simply because they are getting older. Even if every current VA medical facility was fully staffed with both primary care physicians and specialists, we’d still have long waiting lists because of all the veteran-patients who require care.

        The bottom line is this: the VA health care system is seriously overloaded, and probably every VA hospital/medical center needs more doctors and other medical staff to handle the load. We probably need more VA hospitals too, or at least expand facilities at the ones we have now.

        VA actually does a few things right. The aforementioned VA outpatient clinics, which are based in communities within the “parent” medical center’s service area, are an example of something VA is doing well. (We still need more of these community clinics, of course.) The VA’s pharmacy system within hospitals is seriously overloaded and needs additional facilities and staff; but the mail-out pharmacy system, for those not receiving new medications the day of a patient visit, is doing an excellent job. And looking beyond the health care system, VA “got it right” many years ago with the original GI Bill education program; I’m not familiar with the current version, but I hope it still meets its mission well.

  18. How about selling the facilities and equipment to private sector orgs. then, use the money from the sales to fund vouchers for medical care.

    • That would work only for a very short time, until the money raised was gone; and let’s be honest, Congress is much more likely to spend the money on other things anyway.

  19. Well how about a medical card like medicare has and has all the same plan as what regular vet.plan would have and used it for any doctore or hospital.Save the worse cases for the v.a.hospitals and that would work.

  20. To FIX and HEAL America we need just ONE step — It’s to ARREST and JAIL ALL Invisible Government with its Puppet, the Korrupt Kenyan Narcissist, who decides NOTHING !!! He just has Teleprompter (for lying and deceiving Ignoramus sheeple by his nonsensical demagogic and manipulative gabble), Phone (to receive orders from his handlers) and Pen (to sign illegal laws).

  21. Time to track every dime obama has “spent” too. Did it all go as he said? He seems to do the opposite of what he says.

  22. The overload that is going to occur with the initiation of NEW Obamacare patients (millions, they say) flooding the current Healthcare system is going to be a shock to their facilities and personnel. Do you really want to throw our wounded and damaged military, many with injuries and diseases rarely seen in the general public, into the mess I expect it to become? No a separate, military-controlled system IS the proper way to care for our armed forces. For the most part, vets I’ve met praise the care they were given, when they were FINALLY under care. A couple just gave up out of frustration and said “to hell with it” and went about their lives as best they could (NAM vets). The problem at the Hospitals, as I see it, is ATTITUDE. I’m sure much of that comes from the TOP DOWN.

    • Please everyone pray that the AFCA does not get fully implemented. It will be a nightmare. I detest the democrats who for years and years been pushing for this and now finally got a dummy to institute it into law. It will be dreadful. Anyone who votes democrat must hate themselves and their families very much because they are voting against their best interests every time they pull the democratic lever. STOP IT!!!!

    • First, VA hospitals are not always familiar with injuries some vet have. Most, not all, are teaching hospitals. In the clinic area, you probably will be seen by either an intern or resident followed by a teaching physician., If you are an in-patient, you will be seen by an intern or resident, It may be, the vet may only see the teaching physician, during rounds. The teaching physician does review your records to assure you are being treated correctly. As a RN, I am fine with that, but I know something about what my treatment should be. But for the non-medically trained, you may not know. I am not saying vets will not be treated properly, more than likely you will, I am just giving you a heads up.

  23. Sorry, Allen West, but your five or so suggested VA cures will never work. IT’S A WASTE OF TIME! That’s because the VA already does all the things you mention, just inefficiently. Here is all that needs to be done: Fire every VA employee, top to bottom, who had anything to do with falsifying the scheduling of appointments. That would include everyone who knew what was going on, but remained silent or helped cover it up. They caused pain, suffering, and many vets died while waiting for appointments that may have kept them alive. “Top to bottom” includes The President, who campaigned for fixing the VA in 2008, Shinseki, Obama’s political crony, who was appointed by Obama as payback for being actively anti-Bush, and of course anyone who ordered or complied with orders to malschedule any medical appointments for vets, as detailed in today’s IG report. Understand, the VA does a terrific job and the “VA” is NOT THE PROBLEM. The problem is those individuals who let vets down, to keep their job or to get bonuses, or to look good politically. Call me if you need a Chief of Staff who can get these things done.

  24. Here is my two cents. The VA, and the Veterans hospitals are separate entities. I am reminded of this every time I have filed a VA claim. The government should put the military in charge of veterans healthcare. Get rid of the all the civilian executives, and put military officers in charge. Let the VA do disability claims, and let the military take care of the medical end. It would be a great way for NAVY corpse men, ARMY, and Air force medics to train and maintain readiness. Not to mention it would be a great place for military doctors, and surgeons to hone their skills.

    • The military no longer takes care of their military retirees and you think they would take care of the Vets. All I get from the Military medical facilities are my medications. Don’t think I’m not grateful for that, I am thankful that I still have that benefit. Also military retirees are automatically bumped to Medicare at age 65 and Medicare becomes your primary payer and TRICARE is your secondary payer but you are still entitled to your medications through either TRICARE or the base hospital pharmacy. I have had no problems having TRICARE accepted locally by doctors,clinics or hospitals and no I do not live in a military community. I live 60 miles from the nearest military installation

  25. If the VA spent as much time helping and assisting Veterans as it does denying them and fighting with them……well you can figure the rest out!!!!!!

  26. Move all management and VA funding into the medicare system but separated funds. Call it Medicare-VA, give them the same access I have to advantage plans but they get to pick a plan for free. They get their choice of primary care doctors and clinics with VA only providing the specialty care vets need. Medicare system works, management costs are relatively low, using the same doctors I use for general care gives vets choice and a closer doctor in many cases(closest VA clinic to me a 120 mile round trip). Give them a choice to use civilian specialists or VA doctors when it is something the civilian market can cover(head injuries, spine, lost limbs can all be covered locally for me)

  27. My suggestions to correct the horrible state of affairs at the VA:

    They need a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners leader for the VA – and for ALL of the bureaucratic garbage to be FIRED! There should no longer be “bonuses” for doing the job that they are being paid to do. That crap has got to stop ASAP!

    Why doesn’t the new VA leader go outside – to the millions of those who are unemployed or under-employed. I can assure you there will be an incentive to do good work. Hire some of those unemployed or under-employed veterans – those who know what fellow veterans are going through.

    Get RID of the obligatory “college degree necessary” if that is what is standing in the way. There are many, many people out there with a lot more sense, as well as a decent work ethic, who do not have that indoctrination certificate. Also, NO UNIONS!!!! Unions do nothing but encourage mediocrity and punish those who wish to excel. You do your job as you were hired to do it or you are gone, simple as that.

    Just a few suggestions that may provide food for thought for someone who is willing and committed to service U.S. veterans, who deserve a hell of a lot more than they have received so far.

    • The VA is over staffed and still don’t get anything done. If they started cutting their jobs maybe they would make some progress with some of the claims instead of running our vets in a circle asking for the same paper work time after time. My claim is eight years old but no progress is being made on it.

      • As a disabled vet and a RN, I have personally seen much over staffing in the clinic areas. What should happen, is some, not all, of those in the over staffed areas should be re-assigned to the floors where in-patients care is located. If you have ever been an in-patient you know what I mean. Also, there are areas that should be completely eliminated. Getting rid of the current over staffing, would allow for the hiring of more needed physicians, to treat the vets.
        I have personally been involved excessively long waiting list to see a specialist. An example, received a letter, this is the system I think that has been talked about, stating I needed to make an appointment to see a Cardiologist. When I called to make the appointment, I was told the earliest I could be seen was a five month wait. I could have possibly been one of those that died before I could see a doctor.
        In regards to us vets going to any hospital, that is already in place should there be an emergency. The only thing that is required is for someone to notify the VA hospital you are assigned. It may be, if it is safe to transport the vet, they could be taken to a VA facility. But I know as fact, there are times they will leave you where the vet is at, because there may not be a bed available; and the VA will pay all of the cost incurred for that care.

      • “The only thing that is required is for someone to notify the VA hospital you are assigned.”

        That doesn’t always work. The VA refused to pay for any of my care resulting from a heart attack and double bypass. I wouldn’t have survived the trip to the nearest VA hospital (50 miles) and when they were contacted they said I could submit the paperwork but they could guarantee it would be denied.

    • Very well said! I’m not a veteran, but as an unemployed person, I’d be glad to help, even for minimum wage. And you make a good point about those college degree requirements which frankly often have very little to do with being able to do the job, and a lot more to do with elitist management wishing to weed out the ‘undesirable’ applicants (meaning those who aren’t from an affluent background).

      • Thank you “namvet”. And thank you from my heart for your service to our once-great nation.

  28. I am concerned that some of my local health care providers refuse to accept Tricare and Medicare yet they continue to take Medicaid patients. This makes no sense that people on active duty and their families who do not have access to military health care facilities cannot get it in their local community. There is obviously room in their practices since they will take Medicaid patients. Who is more deserving of access?

    • Might be due to your state laws. What made me even madder is going to see a DR, scheduled appt, and the people at the counter were telling the illegals how to get Medicaid.

      • The only thing illegals ought to get is a one way bus ride back across the border, and if caught in this country illegally again, they should be sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. But then, that would require something that is extinct these days; namely, politicians with principles, and who put Americans first.

  29. I have read some good ideas among the comments. You need to push these ideas through various veterans groups. If possible, make public protests on a large scale. It is ludicrous we have this mess while illegals are treated as heroes.

    • Agreed, and I find it both fascinating and disgusting that the media can champion all sorts of undeserving freeloaders when the very ones who’s cause they should take up first get ignored.

      • I know Fox is still reporting this disgraceful mess. Military retirees seem not to have as many issues according to my brother who is one. No one who has served should have to deal with shoddy treatment. I add that the SSA is not really better. I have had to deal with its mistakes many times.

  30. LTC West, like you’ve said before, our military should not have to be everyone else’s billpayers. Our military (including Vets) should not be paying out the nose -or with their lives to receive the level of care in which everyone else expects for themselves. They only want what the rest of us want and in that respect, they are no different.

  31. Marcus Lutrell, “Lone Survivor” on Fox News recently suggested an ”authorization card” should be issued to EVERY VETERAN for it to be presented at any local hospital or medical facility for IMMEDIATE necessary care need..Being a veteran..why would not the new ID card suffice for that purpose..??

  32. The radical socialists in the White House are underfunding the patriots be they vets or active duty………the key is to take back the Senate and strip the funds from the entitlements for draft dodgers and cowards…….2014 is a vital year for America……..also swift boat Hillary via Bengazi………we took out Kerry based on his cowardly phony service…….

  33. How about adding this? #6. All elected and appointed government officials shall be required to obtain medical care for themselves and their families, including the commander-in-chief’s family, at military or VA hospitals without being given priority. They must go in person to make appointments. All medicines proscribed to them must be on the TriCare Standard formulary list. Recipients shall be enrolled in TriCare Standard only.

    • I only wish. This is what comes of allowing our ‘leaders’ and bereaucrats to live by a different set of rules than the rest of us.

  34. Issue an ID card to every vet , that he can use at any hospital of his choice, and be covered by the same insurance plan that all congressmen and senators have, amen.

  35. Here’s a first major step in solving many of the problems in government. Get rid of the public employee unions. Then you could fire those who fail to do their jobs. As it is, these people not only don’t get fired, they get paid leave while the investigations are being conducted and once out of the lime light, they are either allowed to retire with full benefits or are promoted.

    • I don’t understand why people keep saying employees cannot be fired. Yes they can and I have seen many removed. Start at the Top, Management and Supervisors and you will have your answer.

  36. “And yes, something criminal has occurred
    within the Veterans Administration and the US Attorney General, Eric
    Holder, should conduct an independent investigation — or is it just not
    that important?”

    I’m sorry Lt. Col. West but I have to call you on this one. Do you really believe We The People can expect any kind of even semi-honest investigation from a JD run by Eric Holder? He would never prosecute ANYTHING that had the least little chance of reflecting on Obama or Demonrats in general. It would be swept under a rug (they appear to have lots of rugs) just like everything else Holder should have done something about and didn’t.

    • Did you not read Lt Col West full sentence? In case you missed it, it was said, tongue in cheek as on can tell by the end of the sentence, which you evidently missed. Just to refresh your memory here is what he said,

      “And yes, something criminal has occurred
      within the Veterans Administration and the US Attorney General, Eric
      Holder, should conduct an independent investigation — or is it just not
      that important?”

      Please note the part following the dash…. Now for your apology to Lt Col West!

    • My dad’s name was Roy I love that name Thank-You for reminding me of My 100% disabled American Veteran Dad he would be infuriated at todays world and especially the way The Veteran’s Administration is Veteran’s need our support all the way around regardless of what happens this needs to be corrected before it get’s any worse because we got more Vet’s coming when all this mess is over with over there and we got more Vet’s coming daily so something better get straightened up fast they best clean their act up!!!!

  37. I would bet money that if the government paid for just health insurance premiums and copays and let vets get their own private insurance they could sell all V.A facilities to private hospitals and end up saving billions of tax dollars and Vets would end up with outstanding healthcare and actually have doctors that work for us not the government. They will not do this because the government wants to control both the doctors and the veterans. My idea would be a win win for all except corrupt government. As for mr. West idea at least he has an idea as opposed to most government and i know Mr. West has all our interest in heart.

  38. I have to agree with steps 2 thru 5 and the V.A. should get going on these, like, yesterday. But, your obvious bias against Obama aside, your commentary displays a naivete about how organizations work. To begin with, it is now public knowledge that the delayed appointment tactic was neither an official policy nor procedure, and it had begun long prior to the Obama administration. So,the Obama administration is now responsible for fixing it, but was not the cause; nor was Eric Shinseki. I have never worked for an organization, business, or bureaucracy in which the CEO had a real understanding of the work that occurs hands-on. Senior workers and team leaders protect workers’ practices from being discovered by supervisors; supervisors don’t want to get in trouble with managers, so they hide matters; managers wash over matters to avoid directors’ wrath, no one wants to get fired; and by the time the people at the top get information about the work in the field, the info is so aggregatized, the CEOs don’t get a real-life picture of what goes on. Getting rid of Eric Shinseki would not fix that, but holding him responsible for finding a fix for the problem would do more good.

  39. Sir, with all due respect, you forgot about the DAV who works hard for are veterans throughout the country. Thanks and look forward to working on your presidential campaign in the coming years.

  40. Excellent suggestions, Sir! I pressed my subordinate NCOs in a similar manner with respect to having a solution to an issue before bringing the problem up.

  41. I have been saying much of this for years. We need not only fire the screw-ups but some of them need to go to prison.

  42. My brother has used the VA Hospital system in Chicago which actually through facilities outside of the hospital at civilian local facilities. He got great treatment and is very happy about it.
    ~
    I used the VA Hospital in Salt Lake City back in the 70’s and got questionable service, yet they did handle my problem in a timely manner.
    ~
    With as many veterans in need of service and the VA being as strapped as they claim it only seems sensible to provide payment to local facilities in their own area for them to receive treatment. Making it easier on the veteran and the system to provide better service with minimal investment. This in time could eliminate the VA system in it’s entirety and provide a greater service to those who are so deserving.

  43. The way our veterans are treated is appalling, and would still be so even if the good Mr. West’s changes are implemented, especially with the horrendous leadership in our White House today. It would go largely ignored, save for a photo op mention with phony breast beating by our politically lethargic president.

    Number one, our vets have volunteered to, if necessary, be killed allegedly for our country’s survival and future flourishing. A great number actually give that sacrifice, and an even greater number are horribly maimed both physically as well as psychologically and emotionally. But what happens to them? A phony pat on the back, an empty (now one of the most over used cliches) ‘thanks for your service’. They are then shown the door and pushed out to fend for themselves in a world that tells them ‘ok, it’s time for you to stand on your own. Thanks for your service, we have helped you all that we are going to. Once again, thank you for your service’.

    THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!!!

    These brave men and women have volunteered to be pawns in the chess games played by vulgar and nefarious politicians that fill them up with nonsense about bravely fighting for freedom and your country. Bullshit! Bullshit! They are fighting so that the scum they fight for can line their pockets. Nobody in power gives a damn about them, and that is evidenced by their treatment.

    Wanna give them what they deserve? Give them housing for life if they need it. Give them income for life the same way they do these scumbag politicos. Especially if they are in dire need of it. Give them the medical, psychological treatment and every other thing they need for having risked their lives so that these ultra rich ultra childish charlatans can play in their sandboxes and divvy up the spoils.

    There are no wars in which the US is involved. Nothing is declared, no purpose for the fighting is outlined. They are simply termed ‘policing actions’ and this practice begun in the Korean ‘conflict’ and was in full bloom with the inception of US involvement in Viet Nam. Why? I don’t know the exact reason, but I suspect as I have noted, that it is simply a matter of the economic shenanigans of a few filthy mama fumpin’ copstruckin’ fat bastards.

    When will this stop? I’ll tell you when. It won’t happen with this system of things in place. It will stop when the Kingdom comes. Not to inject any Bible thumping, simply to say that as long as the present governments exist there will be no change for vets or anyone else, for that matter.

    Sign me;

    Pissed Off in South Carolina

  44. SECDEF Gates uncovered a huge problem at Walter Reed and fired the CG of the Hospital. He appointed a new one and Walter Reed is OK. Logic would tell us that Chuck Hagel would be ‘da man. He ain’t. Too busy carrying Obama’s water.

    The VA is symptomatic of the lack of principles throughout the US government. There is no integrity left, with the exception of the Uniformed Services. Justice Department? Please. IRS? Pulease. Congressional Investigations the IG? Weak, inept. State? No John Bolton. Obama and his Politburo of Czars, softer than baby sh*t.

  45. I saw on local news today the U.S.Senate is going to spend more money for 26 states to get more V.A. clinics. Oklahoma is not getting anything. These rotten politicians are doing the same thing, more money for new clinics. I’m sure waiting for new clinics to be built won’t add to the waiting list for veterans needing medical help. Yeah right. Why not vouchers for our vets to get civilian treatment, much sooner than waiting months and months for appointments. Our politicians have a card for their medical care at civilian hospitals and clinics. Couldn’t Obama sign an executive order, and poof! Our vets would be getting help right away. Look how quick Bergdahl is being treated. Just an idea I’m tossing out there.

  46. Is O trying in a bass-ackward way, to dump even more folks (us veterans) into the Obamacare system? Think about it. Everyone’s screaming for vets to get care at civilian facilities if they can’t get immediate care at their local VA. I suspect single-payer coming for all….

  47. I might add one more item: Each and every VA employee who received a bonus during the period of time in question (MINIMALLY the previous fiscal year to present) shall return every penny to the VA budget to help facilitate the repair of all that is broken thanks to their collective incompetence and greed. Make the IRS collect it…they know how to make collections as painful as possible, and how to squeeze out every penny, whether it’s owed or not.

  48. I would take issue for #4. Trying to be everything to a group as large as the veterans seems as though it reaching too far. Being thankful to the vets is great and I agree with that, but perhaps they can make a few small sacrifices to keep the health care as well. Which would encompass living closer to facilities if they need continuous care> IMHO

  49. As a military dependent of an Army veteran as well as six active duty Navy veteran I’m quite familiar with the system. I agree with AWCheney’s idea below, some effort should be made to reclaim many of the large bonuses obtained fraudulently. In addition:
    1. Reclaim the fired whistleblowers who bravely reported the deficiencies they found. Most should be rehired and placed on the IG’s staff to improve that area immensely. If necessary they should be rehired as contractors, if the Government cannot make a place for them in their former jobs. These are some of the most valuable folks in sniffing out deficiencies.
    2. Discontinue all bonuses for appointees and anyone above GS-11 paygrade until demonstrated improvements have been accomplished.
    3. All training programs, especially off-site should be vetted by the IG’s office and approved by them before they take place. We don’t need to hear more horror stories about Vegas hotels and Star Trek videos made by Government personnel.
    4. IG personnel should have open access to all VA computer systems and use it often in the pursuit of their duties.
    5. The Governments inability to manage IT projects is legendary. If necessary COTR’s should be better trained in their duties and more assigned as well to monitor IT and other contracts. All private contractor companies should be closely and thoroughly vetted regarding Successful compliance with regulations and their track record for successful completion of projects. Underbidding projects should be monitored and those caught doing so flagrantly should be dropped from the list of approved contractors.

  50. Great ideas in a perfect world with honest people. Unfortunately, Colonel, we have neither. Here are my five points to revamp the VA and make it work:

    1. Fire everyone from Management down to the very last custodian. Close and lock the facilities except for an outside cleaning crew which should come in and thoroughly clean and disinfect every square inch of the hospital prior to allowing it to reopen. Particular care in the ORs, CCU, ICUs and isolation wards. They are generally disgustingly filthy if you actually look at them.
    2. Abolish the union within the hospitals, and make it illegal for new employees to belong to or join a union of any kind. Forever. Make it a part of the charter.
    3. Rehire only veterans, including doctors, nurses and management. That is the only way you will get a staff with a vested interest in good health care. Each hospital & its associated clinics are to have an outside, independent Board of Directors to oversee the facilities. They will have the power to hire and fire any and all managers, down to department heads. This will end the internal cronyism that is rampant within the system.
    4. Give raises based on performance. No more raises just because you are alive and show up for work.
    5. Have every VA Hospital and Clinic in the system inspected by the JCAH every year or two years at the most until the very last of the problems are gone.

    Draconian? Perhaps. But the VA system has been broken a lot longer than during the Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter days. It just got imminently worse when Carter ‘demoted’ the VA from a real cabinet position. It actually has been a hotbed of corruption that I can attest to personally all the way back into the 1970’s, at least, when I was called home from S.E. Asia on emergency leave.

    Colonel, a lot more people will listen to you than would ever listen to me… I’m just a run-down, worn out, retired old man who did his 6 years (4 active, 2 inactive) in the Navy back in during Viet Nam… My Dad, a WWII Veteran–who died in the VA Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico because of an ongoing turf war between Cardiology/Special Procedures and Internal Medicine using him as a pawn and guinea pig–and I both expected that for our later years we’d actually have health care. The truth is, after what happened to him, and what I saw working both as a vendor to and an employee of, the Veterans Hospitals, I would rather be taken to an animal hospital. They’re cleaner, and the staff is more knowledgeable. Sad, isn’t it? But that’s the truth. I have several health issues of my own now, but I’ll be damned if I’ll set foot in a VA Hospital. I’d rather eat a .45 bullet. (Which, it seems, I’m not alone in considering…given the number of suicides I’ve heard about that the media is covering up.)

    • I really like what you said Sir because that is the truth Thank-You for your comment and If you are a Veteran Thank-You and Welcome Home because people like you are what gets the ball rolling tell them just like it is because that is the only way you can crack the hard shells like them..Keep pushing till they do something..

  51. I am ashamed of the way they think about our veteran’s I am from a Veteran Family my Husband is a retired Staff Sergeant United States Air Force Disabled and a Veteran of the Uniformed services so far he has got help but there have been times I had to jump on toes to get service for him I have went to the chain of command on it and got him the help he needed but at the same time I know when to back off too sometimes they are rushed with crowds the money part makes me irritated because My Dad was 100% Disabled American Veteran and he got the money to help support his family and we all had insurance and we had a home to and plenty we even got college benefits so that was very beautiful of course it was in the 60’s and 70’s too under a total different administration and all together different there were problems back then to with the V.A. they had poor conditions in their Hospitals and it was none to pretty they cleaned up that act too when they were caught I seen it with my own eyes because my Dad was in and out from the Bird Cage to The Medical wings until he passed away..I know something has to be done or we are going to lose the most precious people of our nation and that is our Veteran’s God Bless each and everyone of them …It takes a lot of patience love and understanding to care for Veteran’s and if you like to listen that is the best thing in the world to do I have listened to many since I was at least Three years old and if I can do it anyone can..We need to support our Veteran’s their our Heroes and their worth Loving too…

  52. Colonel, I agree with the elimination of management, however, I think the closing of The VA,s, we all have our ID’s, and there’s a data base of veterans, we utilize that card to access health care where ever you may live, or where ever you may go. The health care system will pick up most of the displaced employees due to the influx of Vets to area Hospitals or clinics. The utilization of a Vet’s data base should reduce or eliminate anyone not being a Vet in utilizing the service. Simple, but I think could be effective. Use the VA’s as old Soldiers Homes. Thanks for all you do for us Colonel. CWO retired.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here