House Committee and White House Force Billion$ in Budget

VA Fails to Address Fraud, Incompetence, Abuses and Mismanagement; Veterans Used to Gain Votes


 

Immediate Release: 03/12/2018                          

Contact: Lois Matteis


          The Center for American Homeless Veterans (CAHV) is responding to a statement made by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Roe on February 15, in which he requests $198.60 billion to fund the Veterans Administration during the coming fiscal year. This is a budgetary increase of 175%, since 2006. The funding, argued by President Trump and Congressman Roe, would be used for VA modernization and to rebuild the trust of veterans.



Trust must be restored before any request for a budget increase 


          CAHV believes the VA needs to perform significant work to modernize systems and regain the trust of our American heroes, but this should not translate to giving the Department more money, when they have failed veterans time after time. Since the scandal in 2014 - when the VA fudged wait times, resulting in veterans essentially dying in line while waiting for benefits, they have done little to improve their ranking of trust among the veteran population. In fact, the 2014 scandal was just the tip of the iceberg!



CAHV Identifies Significant Reports on Veteran Neglect in the Last 10 Years


          The VA has faced multiple scandals in recent years, with no indication of change. The stories are as horrific as they are numerous. In the last 10 years alone, there were major issues of VA abuse and fraud, to include:
 

  • Elderly Vets Being Neglected
    • In 2015, the Office of the Special Counsel sent findings regarding an elderly veteran facility in Puerto Rico that was sent to President Trump in October.  According to the letter, CLC staff neglected elderly veterans “by failing to assist them with essential activities of daily living, such as bathing, toileting, eating, and drinking” They also neglected to report several falls by elderly veterans and the findings were perfectly consistent with the whistleblower’s claims.
    • Instead of firing these employees after such severe neglect, management retained demoted positions of employment and received new training in elderly care. The treatment received was unnecessarily brutal to our elderly vets, yet were still under the care of their original tormentors.
  • Medical Records Posted on Facebook
    • In 2016, it was discovered that VA employees had violated several laws regarding medical patient privacy and have racked up 10,000 privacy breaches since 2011.  These violations range from accidentally mailing the wrong medical records to some veterans, to intentionally posting a veteran’s medical records/situations on Facebook to using medical records as a way to retaliate against whistleblowers.
    • Despite these horrific abuses of veterans and even employees, very little has been done to reassure the veteran population that the people responsible will suffer any consequences. According to the Washington Examiner, almost no punitive action was taken against violators of this law. In a report by ProPublica “the VA has never been called out publicly by the Office for Civil Rights or sanctioned for its string of violations.”
  • Knowingly Putting Veterans in the Hands of Dubious Doctors
    • The VA has willfully hired doctors who have been banned from practicing medicine or have a slew of felony convictions. Found in one report, the VA conducted 230 secret settlement agreements with doctors and other employees who permanently disabled or abused veteran patients between 2014 and 2015 alone. Their actions, instead of resulting in termination, received Recommendations to other employment opportunities or a complete wipe-out of the negative incident in question. 
  • Fueling the Opioid Epidemic and Killing Millions of Veterans
    • The VA has also been immorally sound when it comes to pain management for veterans. Purdue Pharma, an oxycontin manufacturing company, paid the VA pain management team $200,000 to release propaganda to veterans that promoted their pain medication. In this disturbing repor, presentations included statements such as: “Repeated exposure to opioids… only rarely cause addiction.” CAHV is incensed by this lying, cowardly, and greedy treatment of the men and women who have so valiantly served our nation. Further statements from the same report state that opioid prescriptions have increased by 270% in 2012.
    • While VA Secretary David Shulkin has implemented opioid prescription initiatives, the amount prescribed has only decreased by 41% according to the Military Times.While this is a step in the right direction, not enough time has passed to understand if these changes will continue to decrease opioid prescriptions and addictions or if this procedure will continue to be followed once the newness of the bill has worn off.
    • The VA has been lackluster in following laws before (See above) and there is not yet a guarantee that this initiative won’t be ignored.


Accountability Improvements, YES. but More Must Be Done 


          While the VA Secretary is taking steps to address the despicable issues described above, the fact remains that throwing more money at an already abusive system is not the answer to the problem. There is simply not enough trust in the VA’s word that money allocated to them will go where it says it will go or even where it is directed to go!



Center for American Homeless Veterans Demands Congress Puts Accountability Before $! 


          President Trump and VA Secretary Shulkin should instead be looking at more accountability laws, such as Senate Bill 1094, passed last year. These types of laws reduce the abuse and open up substantial funds that the VA has already been allocated to do its job. Passing legislation that addresses these issues would solve the financial problems the VA is facing, without raising the budget a single cent. Instead of throwing money at the issue, enacting more effective legislation would permanently resolve the problems. 


Since 1993, The Center for American Homeless Veterans has harnessed the power of the media to rally public support on behalf of American Veterans. CAHV has sponsored 196 programs and forums, with well over 100 Members of Congress speaking at its events. The Center for American Homeless Veterans has supported local homeless veteran transitional facilities by organizing and conducting programs for public support in their local areas, as well as through earned media. 


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