VA Secretary: Mission Impossible?

Your mission Robert, should you decide to accept it, will be to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs…

It’s time to play the Mission Impossible theme song.

President Barack Obama nominated former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to take over the Department of Veterans Affairs.

McDonald is a veteran, which is a good thing. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The Associated Press reported McDonald donated money to Obama’s opponent in 2012, Mitt Romney, which shows me that Obama may be selecting who he thinks can best do the job. McDonald also donated to House Speaker John Boehner.

I asked my Congressman, Steve Daines, via Twitter if he knew Robert McDonald from his Procter & Gamble days, but I have yet to receive a response.

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Veterans: PTSD Care Deficient

Wyatt Andrews reported on CBS Evening News last night that “After 13 years of war, a new survey of veterans today found many suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome are not satisfied with the care they’re receiving from the Veterans Administration (VA)”

The “survey” was an American Legion survey of VA patients that found “59 percent of veterans report that their PTSD symptoms are not improving or are getting worse.”

The VA was quick to point out that “49% of PTSD patients did report getting better, and officials said they would use the survey to help them learn what works.”

One of the more interesting parts of the report was that “both the Pentagon and the VA have attacked the PTSD problem without measuring what kind of therapy works.”

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Tester: Veterans Affairs & Indian Health Service

Montana’s senior U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, is on the frontline of two major problems the Federal Government is facing: healthcare for veterans and healthcare for Native Americans.

Tester is the Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he is a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

So is Jon Tester up for this challenge?

Tester has been in the senate for over seven years, so he probably knows his way around – meaning he can find the closest bathroom to his committee hearing room, and he knows a few shortcuts to get from one meeting to the next. Plus, each year more and more of his calls are getting returned, and he can make it to the airport in record time to get out of D.C.

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VETERANS: Madder Than or Mad as Hell

Just like spring flowers, problems with the veterans’ care across the nation are popping up. Now that the spotlight is on the problem (at least for a little while), look for more problems to be exposed.

Last night CBS News reported that the Obama transition team had been warned about the problem:

According to a 2008 memo obtained by CBS News, VA officials briefed the Obama-Biden transition team that its facilities might be concealing the true amount of time veterans had to wait for care.

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Veterans: The Backlog Increases

The problem with the backlog of veterans’ disability claims and appeals continues.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) issued a press release yesterday in which they reported, “The backlog grew by 1,979 to a total of 401,562. There are also 266,407 appeals pending (a new record), a number that increased by 228 claims over the past week.”

According to IAVA, the backlog had not increased since July.

I guess they should cancel the parade and the party.

The International Business Times (IBT) recently published a story where they reported that the Veterans Administration is broken. IBT’s headline kind of said it all: “VA is Broken: Death, Medical Mistreatment, Claims Backlogs And Neglect At Veterans Affairs Hospitals And Clinics.”

It appears the Department of Veterans Affairs is a bureaucracy at its worst. IBT reported:

Most VA observers contend that the problems in the department stem from a layer of lax middle managers who are not held responsible for outcomes in facilities or groups under their supervision. According to a Government Accountability Office report issued in July, VA routinely rewards incompetent managers with bonuses although they have allowed obviously poor conditions to fester and have shown little interest in fixing the problems veterans face.

More veterans serving in Congress could help the situation. The Washington Post recently reported:

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VA Claims Backlog: Progress?

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says they are making progress on rating disability claims. If you are a veteran counting on the VA to review your claim quickly, the wait is still too long. If you appeal the decision, the wait is outrageously long.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week:

As of Monday, more than 751,000 claims were pending nationwide, 457,000 of them for more than 125 days, the VA’s standard for timeliness. That is down 25% from a peak of 611,000 stalled claims in March, according to VA statistics. The figures do not include 250,000 claims under appeal.

In regard to VA claims that have been appealed, the Washington Post reported:

More than a quarter-million veterans are appealing disability-claim decisions they say are wrong, and in some cases they can wait four years or more for a ruling.

The goal of the VA is to complete all claims within 125 days by the year 2015. I have doubts they can make that goal.

According to a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting 1,363 (64.4%) veterans were waiting 125 days or more for a response from the VA at the Fort Harrison Regional Office near Helena, Montana. That data was updated this month (September 2013).  Continue reading

Thursday Numbers

Wow…it’s almost Labor Day. Where did the summer of 2013 go?

If this is your first time reading “Thursday Numbers,” this is where I take a look at the numbers that are in the news (in descending order) and provide commentary (sometimes spiked with a little sarcasm).

This week I write about Mars colonists, Miley Cyrus and twerking, Judge G. Todd Baugh, bonuses for VA claims processors and service awards, unemployment claims, starting school, John McCain, Jon Tester, MLB’s beer prices, NFL rosters, Labor Day, driving drunk, and much more so read on…

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