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Ask a Vet Extra
Author: TriSec    Date: 06/28/2014 12:33:02

Good Morning.

Two Tuesdays ago, my clipboard was empty, but it's somehow grown to six pages since then. We'll skip the stats; let's get right to it.

Let's start right in my backyard. While Phoenix may have been ground zero for the ongoing problems with the VA, there's facilities in all 50 states. You don't need to go very far to find a "harmless mistake".



WASHINGTON — A veteran admitted to a long-term VA mental health care facility in Massachusetts waited eight years for his first comprehensive psychiatric evaluation by staff.

Another patient with a 100 percent service-connected psychiatric condition was committed at the same Brockton facility for seven years before a single psychiatric note was placed on his medical chart.

The cases are among dozens of incidents whistleblowers in the Department of Veterans Affairs have reported out of concern for patients’ safety but the VA has failed to take the incidents seriously, or admit they might affect the quality of treatment in its nationwide system of hospitals and clinics, according to a letter sent to President Barack Obama on Monday by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The VA has instead claimed such incidents were “harmless errors,” according to the OSC, an independent federal watchdog charged with protecting whistleblowers and fielding complaints.

“This approach has prevented the VA from acknowledging the severity of systemic problems and from taking the necessary steps to provide quality care to veterans,” according to the letter by Carolyn Lerner, head of the OSC. “As a result, veterans’ health and safety has been unnecessarily put at risk.”

The OSC letter, which was also sent to Congress, comes after revelations that the VA systematically falsified patient wait lists to mask long waits. About 57,000 veterans nationwide have waited over a month to receive health care guaranteed as part of their military service, and whistleblowers have claimed delays have led to deaths.

A VA inspector general investigation found the wait list were improperly manipulated at 70 percent of hospitals and clinics nationwide.


But hey, at least the government recognizes that he's still alive. Maybe a little more harmful mistake would be accidentally getting classified as deceased. Good luck fixing that.


HOUSTON — A Houston-area veteran who served two tours in Iraq with the Marines has been trying to convince the Department of Veterans Affairs that he is not dead.

Joe Morris received a service-related disability check for seven years but in April there was an apparent computer problem, KPRC-TV reported Tuesday.

His parents received a condolence letter from the government and he wrongly was classified as deceased as of April 1, Morris said. He spoke to government officials on April 14 to set up direct deposit after his disability check seemed to have gotten lost.

“That’s when they told me there was a computer glitch. The computer had automatically classified me as deceased. They don’t know what happened, they just said it did it on its own,” Morris said.

VA spokeswoman Jessica Jacobsen said in a statement to The Associated Press that the department wants to ensure all veterans that they will receive the benefits to which they’re entitled. She said VA officials will contact Morris to correct the matter.

Morris also learned that the VA wrongly notified the Social Security Administration that he had died. That error showed up as Morris and his wife were in the process of buying a home.

Morris, who has relied on his wife’s credit information toward purchase of the residence, is getting his government checks again but wants the problems corrected.


But these folks were being scammed by the government. It's even more disturbing when an ungrateful and opportunistic citizen does it.


A woman accused of defrauding an elderly World War II veteran of more than $2.6 million confirmed everything police and prosecutors said about her crimes was true.

“I took advantage of that man,” a tearful Donna Iman said at a mitigation hearing Monday in Pima County Superior Court. “I got greedy.”

Iman pleaded guilty to fraudulent schemes and artifices in connection with defrauding 93-year-old Thomas Gerbing from 2010 to 2012.

Testifying before Pima County Superior Court Judge Teresa Godoy, Tucson Police Detective Nicole Greene said Iman, 47, met the victim through the church they attended.

As their friendship grew, Greene said, Iman began to play on Gerbing’s sympathies by claiming to suffer from numerous medical conditions.

Gerbing, a World War II veteran and retired U.S. Air Force colonel, was a widower for several years before meeting Iman. Greene said Iman began to profess the same health conditions that claimed Gerbing’s wife, including seizures and later pancreatic cancer.

Gerbing began giving Iman tens of thousands of dollars, believing she was having various medical procedures and surgeries. In addition, he gave her $4,000 per month to pay her bills after she convinced him she no longer could work because of debilitating medical conditions.

“What we discovered about what Donna was actually doing at this time in 2011 was that she traveled to Florida to see a NASCAR race, she had cosmetic surgery and bought some land she was going to build a house on at the base of Mount Lemmon,” Greene said.

Iman also bought cars for her children and many expensive home furnishings for the house, which was never built.

Police investigators tracked the requests for money to help pay for the supposed medical conditions through emails Iman and Gerbing exchanged. They also inspected Iman’s bank records, which showed numerous transfers of money from Gerbing’s account.

Iman’s medical records showed most of the conditions she told Gerbing she had were made up, with the exception of seizures.

Greene said Gerbing had fallen in love with Iman, even requesting she marry him.

But it was all an apparent ruse to defraud him of his hard-earned life savings, Greene said, as Iman not only did not marry Gerbing but instead married a different man in the midst of her scheme to live a life of luxury at Gerbing’s expense.


Speaking of scams, wanna buy a jet? I'd have to say it's an insult to call it a "fighter", since it's rapidly becoming what's called a hangar queen. That usually applies to a specific aircraft that has maintenance problems or other things that keep it from routinely flying, but the entire product line?


A fire broke out on a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter after an attempted takeoff at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The radar-evading, supersonic fighter jet, an almost $400 billion weapons program under development for more than a decade, experienced the emergency on the ground Monday at 10:15 a.m. Eastern time.

The aircraft was preparing to take off on a training mission but aborted because of flames that appeared in the back end of the aircraft. Emergency responders then moved in and extinguished the fire with foam, according to an Air Force statement.

The pilot left the aircraft uninjured, officials said.

It’s the latest setback for the F-35 program, which is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. The per-plane cost estimates have gone from $78 million in 2001 to $135 million today, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Testing the F-35 is key to the Pentagon’s ultimate plan to build 2,457 of the planes. Known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the program centered around a plan to develop one basic fighter plane that could — with a few manufacturing tweaks — be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The idea is that it can take off and land on runways and aircraft carriers as well as hover like a helicopter. No one stealthy fighter aircraft has had all these capabilities. From an engineering standpoint, it’s a challenging task for plane maker Lockheed Martin Corp. because the requirements of the different services vary so much.

Problems repeatedly crop up in flight testing. On June 13, test flights were temporarily halted and mandatory inspections were ordered for all versions of the jets after a Marine F-35 suffered an in-flight emergency with its engine.

At Eglin, the Air Force has not yet uncovered a reason for the fire. But the military said additional details will be provided as they become available. The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin provides F-35 pilot and maintainer training for the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.

It is not yet clear how the event will affect the more than 100 F-35s that are flying at various bases around the country. However, all F-35 flight operations for the Air Force at Eglin have been temporarily suspended as the military investigates the cause of the incident.


So, after all that, how about a little road trip to get away from the news? Hailey, Idaho sounds like a nice little isolated hamlet, and a good place to hide. Too bad that a POW comes from there; in ordinary times, he'd be welcomed home and celebrated. It's the height of hypocrisy, isn't it? I bet those that are excoriating both Mr. Bergdahl and his hometown routinely fly confederate flags and no doubt have ancestors that actually took up arms against these United States, but I digress.


HAILEY, Idaho — The news cascaded through this verdant valley town of 8,000 people on a summer day a few years ago. Within hours, dozens of residents had gathered at Zaney’s River Street Coffee House, offering solace for a family in crisis.

They placed bouquets on the black iron benches beside the shop’s entrance and wrote sympathy messages on a handmade yellow poster taped to a front window. Their words eddied around a photo of a Hailey native son who had been taken away.

In 2006, the young man in the portrait was Zane Martin. Three years later, it was Bowe Bergdahl.

The first name is little known outside Hailey. The second needs little explanation. Yet in reaction to both calamities, those who live here wanted only to aid their own in a time of adversity, a theme largely absent from news reports about the city since the Bergdahl story erupted last month.

“Our motivation with Bowe has always been personal. It’s never been political,” said Sue Martin, who owns Zaney’s, and who found comfort in the town’s collective embrace after tragedy blew apart her life eight years ago. On July 3, 2006, her youngest son, Zane, with whom she opened the shop, died in a motorcycle accident on a twisty mountain road outside of town. He was 22.

The compassion of her fellow residents sustained Martin’s spirit. She carried on the business, and later hired Bergdahl as a barista before he joined the Army. “This community showed nothing but concern and kindness to my family,” she said, talking over a coffee grinder’s high whine as she prepared an Americano. “That’s what we’ve shown since everything began with Bowe.”

For bothering to care, the town was turned into a media pińata.

Before the Bergdahl saga, Hailey played the quiet, sensible sibling to Ketchum, a posh enclave 12 miles north, where the likes of Tom Hanks, Sen. John Kerry and Arnold Schwarzenegger own seven-figure vacation nests and carve turns at Sun Valley ski resort.

The past month has disfigured that inviting image. Hailey residents have seen their city branded as the birthplace of a soldier widely vilified as a deserter, a traitor and various unprintable words, and their support of him denounced as treasonous. As they worry about Bergdahl’s well-being and await his return to Hailey, their warmth toward outsiders has chilled. They wonder if, in the coming weeks, there will be more malice.



Ah, well. I suppose we could always watch the World Cup, but that's Anti-American now, too.

4 comments (Latest Comment: 06/29/2014 13:58:01 by Scoopster)
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