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Author: TriSec    Date: 05/05/2015 10:15:21

Good Morning.

Today is our 320th day back in Iraq.

There have been no new casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan.

We find this morning's Cost of War passing through:

$ 1, 623, 911, 100, 000 .00

Well, I flabbered my gaster yesterday when I ran across an incredulous story out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, OH). Take a look around where you live. Do you live near a Base, Camp, or Fort? When most of those were set up, they were 'closed' communities...meaning everything in civilian life is duplicated on the inside. This includes ordinary things like Police, Fire, shopping, recreation, and...hospitals.

As it turns out, those hospitals are mostly empty. Despite a decade of war, military recruiting and personnel are continuing on a downward trend, and the base hospital recently partnered with the VA to funnel patients there - because the hospital is mostly empty and the active-duty personnel aren't getting enough practice in the esoteric arts of medicine at war.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE -- Wright-Patterson Medical Center needs patients in order to prepare medical airmen for war, officials said.

The Medical Center signed a five-year patient-sharing agreement yesterday with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that will expand the number of VA patients who can seek treatment at the base hospital.

"I think it's a model for the relationship we can have with the V.A. across the country," Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Travis said. "The VA is going through changes we are coming back from a war and looking for opportunities to increase what we do to stay ready for the next war."

The agreement serves to solve a mutual problem between the two agencies, the hospital needs patients and the VA has those patients, Col. Tim Ballard, 88th Medical Group Commander said.

"We have a young healthy population across the DoD typically so that doesn't always allow us to completely take care of our sub-specialty docs in a manner for them to be current to deploy," Ballard said.

The hospital also doesn't see a lot of diverse illnesses from their current patient population.

"This provides our medical staff the opportunity to view cases they normally would not see. Much more complex and more in line of what they might see in a deployed environment," said Col. John Devillier, Wright-Patt installation commander.

The agreement will allow the VA to send veterans to Wright-Patterson Medical Center for inpatient or outpatient medical services.

"We've already had a very robust relationship with the base and what this relationship is going to do is let us take it to the next level," said Glenn Costie, director of the Dayton VA Medical Center. "It keeps the active duty folks ready with their skills and provides another source of care for our veterans"

The partnership will help patients get quicker specialty care, save the VA money and free up space, Costie said.

"They are charging us around 15 to 20 percent less than Medicaid rates," Costie said. "Also, some of our situations have been capacity issues in some of our specialty areas, this will give us more capacity."

The agreement includes VA patients who are enrolled at one of five major facilities in Ohio -- Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Chillicothe -- in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 10, said Jack G. Hetrick, network director.

Around 228,000 veterans in Ohio are enrolled in VA patient care, Hetrick said.

Excuse me, what? The VA is so stretched and overburdened right now, it seems incredulous that 'regular' military hospitals are under-utilized and quiet. Shouldn't the military healthcare system be on the same page with this? And if there's one hospital on one base that's doing this...what about all the rest of them at the many bases around the country? It seems to me that something fishy is going on.

But as long as we're on the VA today, let's head east to Philadelphia. There's a vast Naval facility and shipyard there along the Delaware River, and correspondingly, a high number of veterans throughout the area. As if getting healthcare wasn't a challenge enough, there's recent news that ordinary things like paperwork, mail distribution, and indeed worker safety are also suffering.

A Philadelphia VA office simultaneously underserved and overcompensated veterans, keeping them waiting for months to get answers to their benefits questions, paying out millions in duplicative benefits and housing some employees in a vermin-infested warehouse, according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General.

In the latest bad news for an agency that has been embroiled in a yearlong scandal, the exhaustive report details a range of problems, from failure to process thousands of pieces of mail to unsafe working conditions, at the VA’s Philadelphia Regional Office.

“There is an immediate need to improve the operation and management of this VA (Regional Office) and take actions to ensure a more effective work environment,” the 78-page report reads.

One of the most striking findings was that investigators found 31,000 inquiries went unanswered for an average of 312 days even though staff is supposed to respond to each within five days.

Investigators also found 48 boxes of mail with 16,600 of documents that were supposed to have been scanned into the VA’s virtual database, potentially affecting veterans’ benefits. And that number might understate the problem: Investigators originally found 68 boxes but on a return visit four days later officials said they had scanned 20 boxes worth of documents over a weekend.

That was in addition to 22,000 pieces of returned mail, some which had been there for four years, and almost 15,000 pieces of mail related to claims processes that had not been placed in veterans’ files — some languishing unprocessed for more than three years.

Staff approved about $2.2 million in improper payments because they failed to account for duplicate records, and in at least two cases they paid dead people. Roughly 150 staffers were made to work in a leaky, dilapidated warehouse that lacked bathrooms and was infested by insects and rodents, according to the report.

“The Inspector General’s report released today confirmed our worst fears: that the Philadelphia VA Regional Office is rife with systemic mismanagement, deliberate manipulation of data and individuals more focused on misleading the nation than serving our veterans,” Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., said in a released statement.

And it would be interesting to contrast where the budget dollars are going. Ever so slowly, new weapons of war like the F-35 "Lightning II" are starting to make their way along the pipeline to frontline units. There are reports coming back that it won't be nearly as capable as one of the planes it was designed to replace, the vaunted A-10 "Thunderbolt". Looks like $400 billion doesn't buy as much as it used to.

WASHINGTON -- Marine Corps pilots of the first F-35 joint strike fighters scheduled to begin flying this summer will not be able to use night vision technology or carry more than four bombs and missiles, Defense Department officials testified in the House on Tuesday.

Overall, the first variant aircraft will have a range of lingering shortcomings when it goes into operation and will not be able to best the capabilities of the 1970's era A-10 Thunderbolts it was designed to replace, according to Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation at the Defense Department.

The F-35 program began in 2001 and has since racked up nearly $400 billion in costs -- one of the most expensive and troubled Defense Department acquisition programs. It has also led to a controversial plan to retire the A-10, a close air support stalwart that many believe provides crucial cover for troops on the ground.

"If F-35 aircraft are employed at night for combat, pilots will have no night vision capability available due to the restriction on using the current night vision camera," Gilmore said in written testimony given to the House Armed Services Committee.

Somewhere there must be a happy medium, don't you think?

46 comments (Latest Comment: 05/05/2015 20:31:19 by Raine)
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