Veterans news update for Sept. 11

Veterans news update for Sept. 11

Veterans’ care emerges as a key bipartisan issue in campaign ads (NPR)
There aren’t really any unifying issues in this year’s midterm elections, except for one: the treatment of the nation’s veterans. In 2010, it was Obamacare that dominated the airwaves. This year veterans, and the Veterans Affairs scandal, have risen to prominence in both parties’ ads. There are some 34,000 veteran-themed ads running in races across the U.S.

Report: Thousands of veterans at Phoenix VA may still be at risk (
The Phoenix VA, where dozens of veterans died waiting for care and were placed on secret wait lists, was in total “chaos” with patients needing urgent care and often unable to get it, officials from the VA’s Inspector General’s Office testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday. What’s more, these officials said some 3,526 patients at the Phoenix VA still “may be at risk” for receiving poor urologic care, according to an ongoing investigation by the IG’s office.

Senate panel questions independence of VA’s inspector general report (Wall Street Journal)
During the hearing, Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.) asked Richard Griffin, the VA’s acting inspector general, whether the inspector general had allowed the VA to insert a sentence into a final report on the Phoenix VA Health Care System that seemingly exculpated the hospital for alleged wrongful deaths. The sentence in question was at some point added to the final version of the Aug. 26 report, and it said investigators couldn’t “conclusively assert the absence of timely quality care caused the death” of 40 veterans who were subject to long wait times.

Veterans watchdog: VA managers lied about delays (Associated Press)
Managers at 13 facilities lied to investigators about scheduling problems and other issues, and officials at 42 of the 93 sites engaged in manipulation of scheduling, including 19 sites where appointments were cancelled and then rescheduled for the same day to meet on-time performance goals. Sixteen facilities used paper waiting lists for patients instead of an electronic waiting list as required.

What they deserve: Wichita veterans report waiting years to receive benefits (KAKE-TV)
Donna Doudna and her father, Don Kosht, a Vietnam veteran who served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, are on a mission. Don can barely walk, he suffers from heart problems, post-traumatic stress disorder due to years of service, and illnesses related from exposure to agent orange. His first compensation claim to the VA was denied….but it took a long time, just to hear the bad news….one year. They are in the appeals process.

Army veterans recall layoffs from previous eras (
For many military veterans, the latest downsizing of the U.S. Army officer corps brought back memories of similar experiences they faced decades ago. In 1973, Dennis Dillard was a fast-track captain in the U.S. Army. Having already served two tours of duty in Vietnam, he was hand-picked to be the executive officer of a military police battalion in Germany. Dillard arrived to the country in April, activated the battalion in June and welcomed his family in July, with household goods and the car en route. He never thought he would be a victim of the service’s so-called reduction in force, known as RIF, that year.

House committee denies spousal veterans benefits for same-sex couples (Human Rights Campaign)
The Veterans’ Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives defeated an amendment that would have provided relief for thousands of same-sex military spouses currently excluded from needed veterans’ benefits based simply on where they live.  The measure was defeated by a 12-13 vote, which largely fell along party lines.

Veterans, relatives rip VA at raucous Phila. meeting (Philadelphia Inquirer)
More than 75 veterans and their family members, many fuming, packed a town-hall meeting at Philadelphia’s veterans hospital Wednesday, scolding administrators about the quality of care and voicing deep skepticism that change is possible. What was billed as a question-and-answer session turned into a mostly one-way onslaught, the most heated of three Veterans Affairs town-hall meetings held in the city in an attempt to repair trust lost by the national scandal over delayed care.