Veteran Suicides down? VA tries to gain trust.

 Article: Largest study of veteran suicide reveals more precise information
Source: DAV
Web Address: https://www.dav.org/learn-more/news/2016/largest-study-veteran-suicide-reveals-precise-information/

Date of Article: 24 Aug 2016

So, it seems that the VA is really attempting to ‘clear their name’ by producing ‘facts’ regarding veteran suicides being 20 a day instead of 22. The article also tries to force the reader into thinking that the VA is being truthful about their information, sort of like how truthful they were about their appointment times, cost of the Denver hospital, transparency about how they punish employees, etc. I have to say that I am not sold on their information AND I do not believe everything that I read because, just as this write-up, it is from my perspective, how I read and absorbed the information given and how I spew out my opinion, which is what I am doing now.

Given that, I have to say that the article looks to have the information needed in order to ‘crunch’ the numbers in order have accurate calculations….however….with that, the article does try to sway the reader into believing that since the VA did the needed calculations and showed that the number of veterans is 20 per day and not 22 per day and “about 70 percent of veterans who took their own lives were not regular users of VA services” (DAV, 2016). Let us think about that:

Do all veterans need to go to a VA hospital to be a regular user of VA services? I know plenty of veterans who receive a disability, yet do not utilize any veteran services. Let us think further:

Does “users of VA services” mean that the veterans do not matter? No, I doubt that. I do, however, believe that the VA, just like other large organizations, politicians, and other people who are in higher positions who think that they can do whatever they feel, whenever they feel like it, uses the information in a manner (and worded in such a way) to look as if they are not as bad as people thought previously. Wait a moment… so if I had a glass that was 50% occupied, would it be half full or half empty? See where I am going with this?

In the above example (the glass 50% occupied) the answer would depend on the person being asked. Are they a pessimist (glass if half empty) or an optimist (glass is half full)? If I was trying to convince the pessimist, I could relay the statistical information in order to convince that person, without a doubt, that the glass is half empty (in the event they were not totally convinced initially). The media takes sound bites from politicians in such a way to make that politician to look one way or another depending on how they were bought off….oops….did I say bought off? Yes, I did. I believe NON of what I hear on the news or see on social media because the proof is out there regarding the whole story and at that point one can easily see how a media group manipulated the stories for a couple reasons: to get more viewers, make more money from the politicians and their favors, etc.

If you don’t believe what I have ‘spewed’ out up to this point, please watch the entire video: Hearing: Department of Veterans Affairs (EventID=104548) on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNJanEDPG8g. (or wait for me to produce my written review of this video) and you will quickly see the Secretary and Under Secretary divert answers while on camera at the hearing. Some of the questions should be answered immediately but if those questions were answered then the watchdog groups would quickly jump on them for their answer. Now, if the VA officials tell the committee “We will get those answers to you” then those answers just: *poof* disappear, never to be seen again.

I believe that as a veteran, all us veterans need to band together and hold the VA accountable. Too many veterans want to do or say something but are concerned that the VA will target them and punish them or their disabilities by opening their mouth. It seems to be easier for me because they have ‘put the screws’ to me since I asked for a Congresswoman’s help. So, for years I have had to fight their tactics tooth and nail and once, way back when, I was actually a pretty trusting guy. Now I question everything and plan accordingly.

I recommend every veteran write their opinions to the congressional committee on veterans affairs at the below link:

https://veterans.house.gov/contact/write-the-committee

This will finally put the pressure on our elected officials. We PAY for them to be in office and they earn a quick 6 figures for that position. I don’t make 6 figures. Who knows if I will ever make 6 figures. I make no money helping veterans, sort of makes you wonder. Save a copy of each letter to send to the congressional committee on the VA so that you can gain the complete data needed to say “1 reply after 7 submissions to the committee and their response was…”. Those numbers are important: just like the numbers were important for veterans to gain exposure on wait times, it is important to show the results of our support by our elected officials.

I hope that one day we won’t have to expend our energy trying to gain support for our disabilities, or to try and keep them.

Reference
 Dever, M. (2016, 08 24). Largest study of veteran suicide reveals more precise information. Retrieved 2016, from DAV.COm: https://www.dav.org/learn-more/news/2016/largest-study-veteran-suicide-reveals-precise-information/

 

 

Why Punish The Entire Veteran Population?

Recently the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) came under fire because a Dr. at a VA facility, who was nicknamed the “Candyman”, had been supplying veterans with a copious amount of opioids and other medication without regard for the possible side-effects (such as death). At least one veteran had died because of the ‘canyman’s’ disregard for ethical behavior. This is obviously a horrible situation.

How could this possibly impact us veterans? I can guarantee you that there are now a copious amount of Dr.’s who, whether the veteran is responsible with their usage of opioids or not, are now paranoid about prescribing opioids to any of their veteran patients. This becomes a punishment to those of us who use our pain medication appropriately.

It seems that there are hundreds of stories/reports within the past couple of years regarding the VA’s waste, fraud and abuse and after reading many of the reports and watching the hearings, it is apparent that the VA will NOT punish their personnel for wrongdoings. The guilty would most likely get shifted into another position. Would they lose pay? Nope. Would they face criminal action against them? Probably not and in most cases absolutely not. In one particular case, the VA placed the ‘perpetrators of wrongdoings’ on administrative leave, with pay, and during the hearing one of the hearing members stated that those personnel are still being paid? While on administrative leave? Which was then mentioned that those personnel (who are making more than you and I, and in some cases more than you and I together, per year) had been on administrative leave for a couple years. So they are sitting around, making a six figure salary (or very close to it), only to regain their position or another position. No accountability.

Below is the link to the specific video where Mr. Rogers, the Chairman of the Hearing: Department of Veterans Affairs (EventID=104548), specifically comments regarding the over-prescribing of opioids (at approximately 18:10 into the video):

Video

So now the VA has their knee-jerk reaction and as many businesses do: send out a ‘blast’ throughout all clinics/medical facilities and put pressure on all of the top staff to take action to ensure none of the patients are being prescribed opioids, or to drastically reduce their prescription.

I can say, from first-hand knowledge, that since certain medications were raised in their ‘opioid value’ (in other words, the level the medication was classified) I have had a hard time getting my medications on time. Some times the medications arrived a day late, while other times in was a week late. Fact is the medications are not going to get renewed until the day they are due, so since I get mine mailed and depending on the day the medication gets filled, I may get it three days later or a week later (and holy goodness if I was not home to receive the medication-all opioids have to be signed for). How does this benefit the veteran? [Side note: My Dr. moves on my requests quite rapidly, so I do not put this on him. I have seen him go above and beyond for his patients and am just happy he has stuck around this long…if I feel frustrated at the ‘system’, I can only imagine how he feels]

It is quite apparent that the VA is not veteran friendly. Granted, there are some veterans who are pill junkies and will want to get more, stronger, or different pain medications or drugs that will help them escape their reality, but what about us veterans who do not abuse their medications? Who do not ask fro stronger medications despite their pain becoming worse? Who are respectful to all employees they encounter in the VA despite how they are to me? I will tell you what happens:

We become punished and can do nothing about it….at the time. I believe that we, as veterans who have faithfully served their country, became injured and looked to the VA for support and medical care, should come together and put the needed pressure onto the VA and politicians to ensure our care is appropriate and proper. If we do not, the VA will continue to steamroll over us until we lose the power to fight back. I believe the VA Dr.’s should not fear the upper echelon within the VA, as some currently do. I think the Dr.’s should have a say and in the power to not be questioned about their care and if there is a question on whether or not the veteran should truly be receiving the level of medication they are taking, then IG should be able to review the medical information regarding that patient to ‘double-check’ the doctor. I believe that is appropriate actions. Yet, instead of using common sense, the only action being taken is knee-jerk in nature and then the cries of our Nation’s veterans are ignored.

I, for one, am tired of justifying my disabilities to the VA and is one of the biggest reasons for this website. I want to give my fellow veterans a voice and give them the opportunity to fill out questionnaires about their Dr, Nurse, Admin interaction, politicians, etc. per state. This will help out fellow veterans who may be thinking about moving to a new state.

Please pass the information along to help fellow veterans. If we don’t help others, then we are no better than the crooked personnel that make our lives harder than it needs to be.

*Note: Not all VA employees are crooked, matter of fact I believe that MOST of the VA employees are actually wanting to do good by the veterans, however most of those employees are not in the position to make the needed decisions that could help our fellow veterans. That is what makes things hard all-around.

Coincidence? I don’t think so…

Asking politicians for help can be  tiresome and pretty aggravating depending on the level of dedication that politician, or politicians, have for our veterans. Some will ‘toe the line’, meaning they will pursue the answers regardless how unpopular they become with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (or their colleagues), while some will make an attempt only and when the VA ‘pushes back’ they turn tail and run the other way. I mean, they cannot be expected to actually do the job that they were elected to do, correct?

As I watch some of the committee videos on YouTube on the Department of Veterans Affairs, I become frustrated at the ‘bobbing and weaving’ the VA does answering questions to our Congressman/woman and Senators while in a hearing. I also noticed that many of the ‘sensitive’ questions conveniently cannot be answered on camera because the VA ‘does not have that data in front of them’ but “they will research and send them the answers”. What that last part means is: they will send an answer that could be proven wrong (which would be immediately called out by our watchdog groups and fellow veterans) to the person who asked it. I cannot seem to find any of the answers that were asked but not answered during the hearing anywhere.

So how do we, as veterans, get answers? How do we find out what the answer was? Unless you have time to sit down and contact everyone present at that hearing and request the answers, you will NOT get the answers at all. This is unfortunately the reality.

The coincidence part?

Well, I had recently reached out to my congressman for my area, I was contacted once by the Congressman’s’ representative. I had sent my signed authorization for them to pursue the answers, but I had also sent a letter specifically stating that if their policy is to send the VA a copy of my letter to the Congressman, then they were to immediately toss/shred my request and letter as I had no desire to be ‘punished’ by the VA again. that being said, I cannot prove whether or not my letter was sent to the VA or not, however I can say that two days after receiving the information packet (the Congressman’s generic letter outlining that the VA response accompanied his letter and the VA response) I received a call from my Dr. explaining that he wanted to reduce my pain medication. [Update: this absolutely WAS a coincidence and the Congressman DID send my letter to the VA, despite my requests not to].

Coincidence? I am unsure but I do have an appointment coming up and update all regarding this ‘coincidence’.