Investigative Journalist, Barry R. Clausen
November 11, 2015
According to the VA, “The Secretary of Veterans Affairs is responsible for administering benefit programs for veterans, their families, and their survivors. Under the direction of the President [Obama] the Secretary exercises authority, direction and control over the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet.”
As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, “The Veterans Health Administration (VA) is one of the largest health care delivery systems in the United States, with 9.1 million enrollees, 20,000 physicians, 1600 facilities 288,000 employees, and a $59 billion budget…. The VHA is experiencing a crisis in leadership because of an organizational environment that’s perceived as disempowering, frustrating, and occasionally toxic….”
There can be no question that most VA doctors are concerned about their patients. There are however, some VA doctors whose medical treatment has resulted in further injuries to their veteran patients. There are unfortunately also some within VA management who have caused additional problems for previously (VA doctor) injured Veterans through VA managements’ deceit, cover-up, laziness in the form of refusal to investigate the veterans’ allegations and outright lies. This includes the 13,184 misplaced claims for disability at Oakland California VA facility and ignoring Tort claims for pain and suffering as a result of incompetent doctors.
According to one Northern California Veterans Service Officer, “There is a systemic problem within the VA health care system – lack of leadership and competent management. I’ve had two different meetings with [David] Stockwell [Director, VA Northern California Health Care System] and I find him to be an arrogant (you fill in the blank). They all realize there is NO mechanism in place to hold them accountable, so they continue this pattern of ‘circle the wagons’ and riding the storm out until the Veterans plight with VA health care is no longer a public media issue. The VA health care system has become all about ’them,’ the VA, and damn the Veteran or too bad for the Veteran should they get in the way. The VA holds all the cards and they know it.
“As you know, I’m very frustrated dealing with the VA. Our Veterans are reeling from poor VA decisions, terrible misguided management, and the ensuing arrogance when questioned.
“I could go on, but to what point. Just know, I do understand there are some very good, highly qualified, and competent VA employees, but without very good, highly qualified, and competent mid-level and upper-level managers in place, well, the ship won’t steer very well, and – the Veteran suffers.”
“ANTHONY J. SILVERIA, Appellant v. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Agency
“…..The lies, or under Title 18 of the USC (1001) and as submitted by me per the law, perjury that the agency has committed, knowingly needs to be addressed with Federal Law Enforcement. The Office of General Council and Office of Regional Council have committed perjury more than once in my claim alone. The effect of the attorneys lying nationally has corrupted the VA to the Core. The VA OIG [Office of Inspector General] not investigating claims against the agency and the managers has had a National effect as well. This was reported by Linda Halliday the VA OIG inspector at several Congressional Committee meetings. The news media has reported that the problems with the VA is not just the managers but the VA OIG who is not investigating the criminal misconduct of the managers rather the whistleblowers character to go after them instead. This has caused an increase in retaliation because the whistleblowers, per the media, the Office of Special Council (as shown on the letter I submitted on the MSPB website from the OSC to the President), and Congress. The managers have been supported by the VA OIG misconduct and that is not where it ends. The attorneys for the General and Regional Council have promoted the illegal criminal misconduct of the VA managers and the lack of investigations by the VA OIG by playing the same games [Staff Attorney Barbara Ann] Konno and [Susan] Will are doing right now.
“Konno and Will have done nothing but try to stop everything I bring up through some procedure. They have reference more than 25 different court cases but not once referenced the evidence that is part of and relevant to this court case, Silveria v. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the only applicable case. I have requested the evidence by PRO SE requirements and by the attorney requirements, per the judge’s order, yet they still ignore the facts of this claim. They are guilty of criminal misconduct. I submitted the laws on the MSPB website and they were ignored by Konno and Will. Their criminal misconduct is the cause of the problems with the VA Nationally. The attorneys and VA OIG, have not corrected the problems with the managers, rather promote their criminal misconduct. They even dismiss the Federal Claims Tort Act claims against them, in house, as well as dismiss any claims against the FLRA, another OGC entity…..”
Susan Will Deputy General Counsel for Legal Operations Office of the General Counsel for the VA
On October 16, 2015 I received a letter from E. Douglas Bradshaw, the Chief Counsel, for Torts & Administrative Law in Washington D.C. in which he explains that I took too long to file my claim. He also states, “My office has been asked to respond to your correspondence to Bob McDonald, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding the tort claim you had previously filed about your VA medical care. I also respond on behalf of Susan Will and Mary Bell of the office of General Counsel, to whom you have written…..” In concluding he states, “We sincerely regret the health problems you have experienced.”
My response was “Regarding your October 16, 2015 letter, I am tired of the many lies that the VA has created in my case. There was never an investigation into my Tort claim and that is provable. I died at home and my wife gave me CPR four days after Dr. Digpal Chauhan told my wife and myself that he was a “Lung Expert” and a “Brain Expert” and that I did not have anything physically wrong, but I had a mental problem. Chauhan had treated me for months for a cough. I then spent two weeks in the hospital. It turned out I had blood clots in both lungs and heart failure. I was on oxygen during the time you refer to in your letter and could not walk without a walker so I remember very little and I could not accomplish anything related to my Tort claim.”
This Veterans’ Day while we celebrate the contributions each and every US military veteran has made to our country’s freedom and stability, we need also to remember that the system those charged with their medical care as this country promised must be accountable to veterans and their families and caregivers. The current system is indisputably broken and those within have little if any interest to make changes.
Thank you for your service if you served, and thank you to everyone else who cares for an American Veteran.
All persons mentioned in this story were contacted for an interview but none responded.
Other VA stories by Clausen
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