Veterans news update for Oct. 22

Veterans news update for Oct. 22

Veterans news updateRead the threatening emails sent by VA to a whistleblower (
The Department of Veterans Affairs last month tried to force one of its employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement and threatened disciplinary action, after the employee appeared on television to criticize the VA for failing in its mission to deliver health care to veterans. Scott Davis is a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta, and more recently is a whistleblower who has testified in Congress about the VA’s numerous failures. Davis has also been on several TV and radio shows to discuss the VA’s failures over the last few months. After appearing on Fox News on September 2, Davis was emailed just minutes later by William Lamm, who asked Davis to appear at an Administrative Investigation Board meeting scheduled for September 4. Lamm said Davis would be asked to sign a copy of a “notice” at that meeting. The notice Davis was asked to sign said employees must testify “freely and honestly in cases respecting employment and disciplinary matters,” and also said issues discussed as part of the investigation cannot be talked about outside the VA.

VA moves to prevent veteran violence over disability claims (National Journal)
Veterans Affairs officials want to change when veterans can view some of their medical records online, fearing that some could become violent if they see negative comments and think their disability claims will be denied. Veterans must get a medical exam as part of the process for filing a disability claim for a service-related injury. Within days or weeks of the exam, veterans can see the doctor’s forms or notes by using the “Blue Button” on My HealtheVet, the VA’s website for health records. A group of department officials said they fear some veterans could see the notes from the exam, assume from this partial picture that their claim is being denied, and take out their anger on local VA officials. Patricia Murray, the director of the VA’s clinical program and administrative operations, said that to try to prevent any misunderstandings, the VA is removing the compensation-and-pension medical exam from a veteran’s online health record until after a decision on his or her disability claim has been made.

Prescott VA hospital detects Legionnaires’ disease (Associated Press)
The federal Department of Veterans Affairs says it will flush and decontaminate the water system of its Prescott hospital after detecting the bacterium that causes the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease. VA spokeswoman Mary Dillinger said the agency discovered nine positive tests for the bacterium on Oct. 14 in several locations, including employee restrooms, a break room, a lab sink and a former overflow room. None of the rooms was used by patients, and the VA has not received any reports of anyone with Legionnaires’ symptoms, Dillinger said.

Report: VA officials did union work during scandal (The Daily Caller)
A new report from the Capital Research Center finds that many veterans were put at risk as a result of health care officials doing union work full-time during the Veterans Affairs scandal. “While veterans of the U.S. armed forces wait for health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is paying hundreds of its employees to work full-time for labor unions,” the report explained. The practice, known as official time, allows federal workers, who also hold union leadership positions, to engage in union-related activities outside their normal jobs, such as contract negotiations and workplace grievances while still getting paid. The report stated, “The VA actually has more employees doing union work full-time than it has staff members working under its Inspector General (IG), who is supposedly the VA’s watchdog.”

Nashville veterans received inferior stroke care (The Tennessean)
Stroke patients at the VA hospitals in Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tenn., received inferior care and administrators failed to properly investigate deaths that occurred during surgery, a critical new audit of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System has found. Juan Morales, the director of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, agreed with the Office of Inspector General’s findings and submitted an action plan to correct the problems. But the audit is the latest in a series of alarming reports about the care veterans receive in Middle Tennessee. It comes on the heels of another OIG report released last month that pointed out problems with primary care. The hospital system had already admitted some of the longest wait times in the nation for veterans to see specialists. The latest report highlights lapses in ensuring standards of care that can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency room or a surgery table.

Conservative radio host says veterans with PTSD are crybabies (
Last week on his radio show, conservative crazy Michael Savage argued with a listener over whether California authorities should rename a San Francisco tunnel in honor of the late Robin Williams. The caller supported the proposal and noted that he was a veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, while Savage said it would promote suicide. When the caller hung up, Savage went on a bizarre rant against soldiers with PTSD: “I am so sick and tired of everyone with their complaints about PTSD, depression. Everyone wants their hand held and a check, a government check. What, are you the only generation that had PTSD? The only generation that’s depressed? I’m sick of it! I can’t take the celebration of weakness and depression…” Savage then said that the Army would be in much better hands if every soldier was a lot more like … Savage: “You need men like me to save the country. You need men to stand up and stop crying like a baby over everything.”

Tampa area VA hospitals training for Ebola cases (Tampa Tribune)
By the end of this week, the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg and the five other Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers in the region will have run training exercises on what to do if a patient showed the symptoms of Ebola. Though about 4,000 U.S. troops will take part in the Operation United Assistance efforts to fight the disease where it has broken out in West Africa, including about 40 members of a communications unit at MacDill Air Force Base, local VA and military officials say that it is unlikely they will have to deal with patients suffering from the deadly epidemic. But they are getting ready just in case.