VA Debacle

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 4EvrLearning, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. 4EvrLearning

    4EvrLearning New Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Left Coast
    Heads need to roll....and I mean that figuratively, not literally!!

    As vets await checks, VA workers get $24M bonuses

    By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer
    Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press Writer
    Fri Aug 21, 12:07 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – Outside the Veterans Affairs Department, severely wounded veterans have faced financial hardship waiting for their first disability payment. Inside, money has been flowing in the form of $24 million in bonuses.

    In scathing reports this week, the VA's inspector general said thousands of technology office employees at the VA received the bonuses over a two-year period, some under questionable circumstances. It also detailed abuses ranging from nepotism to an inappropriate relationship between two VA employees.

    The inspector general accused one recently retired VA official of acting "as if she was given a blank checkbook" as awards and bonuses were distributed to employees of the Office of Information and Technology in 2007 and 2008. In some cases the justification for the bonuses was inadequate or questionable, the IG said.

    The official, Jennifer S. Duncan, also engaged in nepotism and got $60,000 in bonuses herself, the IG said. In addition, managers improperly authorized college tuition payments for VA employees, some of whom were Duncan's family members and friends. That cost taxpayers nearly $140,000.

    Separately, a technology office employee became involved in an "inappropriate personal relationship" with a high-level VA official. The technology office employee flew 22 times from Florida to Washington, where the VA official lived. That travel cost $37,000.

    The details on the alleged improprieties were in two IG reports issued this week. VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said the agency was extremely concerned about the IG's findings and would pursue a thorough review.
    "VA does not condone misconduct by its employees and will take the appropriate correction action for those who violate VA policy," Roberts said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

    On Friday, Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said if the allegations are found to be true, individuals involved should lose their jobs, and legal action should be taken.

    "America's veterans served their nation honorably and with no expectations of reward," Davis said in an e-mail. "It should not be too much to ask for that same level of commitment from government employees, too."

    And Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the top Republican on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, said Congress should investigate.

    The number of claims the VA needs to process has escalated, and the Information and Technology Office has a critical role in improving the technological infrastructure to handle the increase. President Barack Obama has said creating a seamless transition for records between the Pentagon and the VA could help eliminate a backlog that has left some veterans waiting months for a disability check.

    Much of the IG's focus was on Duncan, the former executive assistant to the ex-assistant secretary for information and technology, Robert Howard.
    In one situation, a part-time intern with connections to Duncan was allowed to convert to a full-time paid position even though the individual was working a part-time schedule 500 miles away at college, the IG said.

    "We have never known of any other new VA employee provided such favorable treatment," the IG said.

    The individual's name and relationship to Duncan was blacked out, as were many other names in the reports.

    Investigators recommended that the employees who received the college money pay it back. The largest amount awarded was $33,000.

    In addition to Duncan, three other high-level employees received $73,000, $58,000 and $59,000 in bonuses in 2007 and 2008, the IG said. In 2007 alone, 4,700 employees were awarded bonuses, on average $2,500 each.

    Some employees were given cash awards for services that were supposedly provided before the employees started working at VA, the IG said.

    A man who answered the phone at Duncan's residence in Rehoboth Beach, Del., said she was not available, and he said not to call back.

    The IG also found that Katherine Adair Martinez, deputy assistant secretary for information protection and risk management in the Office of Information and Technology, misused her position, abused her authority and engaged in prohibited personnel practices when she influenced a VA contractor and later VA subordinates to employ a friend.

    The IG also said Martinez "took advantage of an inappropriate personal relationship" with Howard to transfer her job to Florida. In the nine months after she moved, the IG said Martinez traveled to Washington 22 times "to accomplish tasks that she could easily do from Florida."

    The relationship between Martinez and Howard started in April 2007 and continued several months after Howard left the VA in January of this year, the IG said.

    Roberts' e-mail did not address a request from the AP to speak with Martinez. Howard could not be immediately located for comment.

    Indiana Rep. Steve Buyer, top Republican on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, urged quick action to fix the problems. "VA must appoint honorable individuals to these critical positions," he said.

    The VA has faced criticism before in its awarding of bonuses. In 2007, the AP reported that the then-VA secretary had approved a generous package of more than $3.8 million in bonus payments in 2006, citing a need to retain longtime VA executives.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2009
  2. Rocket J Squirl

    Rocket J Squirl New Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Remember VA medical and Medicare are the flagships Obamacare is based on.

    I heard he say so

  3. Kieran McCaig

    Kieran McCaig New Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    I don't what to sound rude or insincere but to all of the Vets on this forum "is this what you were fight for"it reminds me of the movie Article 99 about the VA hospital.
    And believe me when I say Thank You or to some Semper Fi
  4. glocknut

    glocknut Active Member

    Surely Gods judgement will arrive at our nations doorstep soon...?

  5. marcodelat

    marcodelat Member

    Mar 21, 2009
    Well, other than that big scare I had a few months ago regarding my colonoscopy and Hep C (finally tested exposed / positive but OK... apparently, my body was able to "handle it") VAMC and VA... and God - in my case as a disabled Vet - have always really been good to me... heard (and seen) a lot of horror stories though.

    - Semper Fidelis!
  6. glocknut

    glocknut Active Member


  7. marcodelat

    marcodelat Member

    Mar 21, 2009
  8. 4EvrLearning

    4EvrLearning New Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Left Coast
    wow, marcodelat... glad for your good news...

    what a way to run a business.....:rolleyes:
  9. artabr

    artabr New Member

    I think I heard about this on Rushs or Becks show this morning.
    Outrageous. :mad:

  10. 358 winchester

    358 winchester *TFF Admin Staff*

    Apr 25, 2004
    Pensacola Fl. area
    Folks this just the tip of the ICEBERG our elected officals are put millons of dollars in their pockets and we are only hearing about 2 or 3 % of what is going on in Washington! We need to put the control of this country back into the hands of WE THE PEOPLE
  11. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    + 100! Personally, I have received good treatment at the VA in Shreveport, LA, maybe not the best, but good. This is just the tip of the ICEBERG! We had an educational meeting for the SB Tea Party Thusday night, on the pannel were two, of three, doctors, that have experience in Socialized Med. One was a local doctor that moved here from Canada, and the other was a local doctor that has spent some of his vacations in England, and has tured some of their Hospitals, and Med. Facilities. You would have to here some the stories these guys told! How bad can this get? Well imagine what would happen if the Fed. Govn. took over air travel in the U.S. The bought all the planes, and all the air ports, and then told the public that from this day forward air travel would be free! Can't you just see the lines of people that want their free plane rides?
  12. Tom Militano

    Tom Militano New Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Jacksonville, AL
    The VA hospital in Birmingham, AL is a joke. They could run off all the clowns running the place and be just as effective. Most of the doctors are residents and interns from the UAB hospital across the street. We're just training aids for them.
  13. mike howerton

    mike howerton New Member

    Jul 24, 2010
  14. 199er

    199er New Member

    May 5, 2010
    Columbia SC

    Glad to hear your positive Hep 'C' virus is inactive. I'm a twice wounded vet and received blood products both times so the VA considered me "at risk vet for Hep "C" and they have been testing for it once yearly since 2001. In June of last year my test came back positive for the virus (as did the follow up confirmation test) but thank god it was dormant (no active symptoms). I'm now rated 0% by the VA for Hep "C" (based on my subjective complaints of lack of endurance & fatigue).......... and that 0% rating is perfectly fine with me. I now have a Hep "C" screening every six months to see if I have any active symptoms. So far so good, none.

    You should be screened every six months too and if you aren't, get a hold of your Primary Care doctor and ask for a consult to have a semi-annual Hep "C" screen for active symptoms. Your Primary Care doctor DOES NOT have the medical credentials conduct this screening/testing so if he/she "drags their feet" or attempts to put you off, get a copy of your initial test that indicates you're positive at your hospital/clinic "Release of Records Section" and then go to patient representative and file an official complaint.

    A couple of recommendations: If you have difficulty trying to get the screening consult don't get in a "pissing contest" with any VA staff, stay calm and under control while you are making your case otherwise the VA could determine you to be a "problem patient" and cause you more problems. Secondly, if they say they can't schedule a consult on a six month basis because they are are over worked and under staffed............tell them you are sorry they're in that situation, but remind them you're a vet too and because they're under staffed and over worked doesn't give them license "cut corners/save money" by not being responsive to your medical needs because it is not an emergency. Also remind them you have tested postive for the virus and you're deeply concerned about it and want to monitor it closely plus tell them it would be OK with you if they would authorize (and pay for) a civilian referral to conduct the screening.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  15. This article is either dated wrong or an old one, it's dated Aug 21 and we're not even out if July yet.