By the time the VA got around to it, they’d been dead for years.
(CNN) Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday.
The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past.
In a response to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ request to investigate a whistleblower’s allegations of mismanagement at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, the inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.
In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in “pending” status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.
Months after the Veterans Administration scandal exploded in the headlines, top officials are still lying and hiding information from Congress, and President Obama is actively trying to roll back the freedom of veterans to seek health care outside of the government system.
That’s the conclusion of Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Last May, the VA was rocked by reports that veterans were forced to wait months for routine medical appointments and that some officials were doctoring hospital and medical records to cover up the failure to provide care. In response, Veterans Affairs Secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki resigned and Congress approved legislation giving future secretaries more freedom to remove ineffective personnel. Former Procter & Gamble Chairman Robert McDonald was eventually confirmed to succeed Shinseki and lead major reform efforts.
Are there signs of improvement?
On Monday evening, the House Veterans Affairs Committee grilled VA General Counsel Leigh Bradley over why more than 100 separate requests for information from the committee have gone unanswered for months and why the information that is given is often found to be false.
“The news only gets worse and worse,” Huelskamp said.
According to Associated Press reports on the hearing, committee chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., expressed deep frustration with the VA’s lack of cooperation on key facts, including wait times for veterans at the Phoenix hospital where the scandal began.
“Let there be no mistake or misunderstanding: When this committee requests documents, I expect production to be timely, complete and accurate,” Miller said.
Huelskamp is particularly incensed at the falsehoods coming out of the VA, including one stated by Secretary McDonald on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“They have falsified information, and it is not just lying to members of Congress; it’s lying to the American people,” he said. “We even had the secretary about a month ago lie on national television and claim that he had fired 60 employees that made up, falsified, cooked the books on wait times for our vulnerable veterans.”
The real number was nowhere near that high.
“He only fired four,” Huelskamp said. “There’s a big difference between four and 60, so there’s a lack of trust there. But this is, more importantly, a lack of trust between veterans who deserve their care and whether they’re getting in on time and whether they’re getting the proper care.”
And the congressman said the lies don’t stop there.
“The VA claimed that at the (Los Angeles) veterans facility, the wait was only four days,” he said. “We found out later, according to a CNN report, that it’s more than 30 days. Who do you believe? Who I believe is the veteran. If the veteran says they’ve been waiting, that’s what happens.”
Huelskamp said when Congress tries to separate fact from fiction, the massive VA bureaucracy grinds investigations to a halt.
“We’ve had, I think, three secretaries of the VA in my four years here,” he said. “For secretary after secretary and undersecretary after undersecretary, I didn’t know that had that many undersecretaries. They always send a new one over, and the answer is always, ‘We’ll get back to you. We’ll get that answer to you.’
“We have documented where they have lied to the committee, where they have falsified information,” he said.
If anything good came out of the VA scandal, Huelskamp believes it is the provision within last year’s reform bill that allows veterans to access care outside of the government system to shorten how long they wait for care. The congressman said expanded choice is working well for veterans and no longer forces many of them to travel hundreds of miles to approved doctors and facilities. He said that change is further proof the less government is involved in our health care, the better that care will be.
“That’s the best government health care you can get, and what we saw in Phoenix and around the country is that it’s been an abysmal failure,” Huelskamp said.
While the expanded health-care choices may be popular with veterans, Huelskamp said the Obama administration is actively trying to eliminate it.
“When the administration came in and asked to end the Veterans Choice Program, that sent shock waves through Congress because most Democrats and Republicans agree we need to improve the system and give veterans more choice in their health care,” he said.
“There’s a pushback from the administration, but the secretary has agreed – maybe not the president but the secretary has agreed – veterans deserve to keep their choice,” he said. “We’re trying to push the VA in a different direction than Obamacare is taking the rest of the health-care system. I think, at the end of the day, the better model is putting Americans in charge of their health care, not Washington, D.C.”
When will Congress get timely answers and the VA operate more efficiently? Huelskamp said a big part of the problem is a massive government bureaucracy that takes a long time to straighten out.
“There’s a culture of non-accountability, a culture of attacks on whistleblowers. That’s been going on for decades. It’s difficult to change that. That takes years,” said Huelskamp, who estimates some 330,000 bureaucrats are involved in VA operations.
“I think many of them do a terrific job, but it’s a system that’s set up based on the 1950s and ’60s, not 2015,” he said. “So it is a cultural shift at the VA, but the president has to provide leadership. I fear in the next two years, he will continue to drift away from any commitments to veterans in terms of reforming the system.”
What about Secretary McDonald? Is he the right man to lead this change?
“We’ll see if the secretary can answer those questions we asked a couple of nights ago,” Huelskamp said. “Some of these questions have been outstanding for months, which will give us insight (into) whether they’re really making the changes that were promised.”
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller told DC-based WMAL Radio on Tuesday about his congressional staffers recently being spied on when they looked into various VA complaints at a regional Veterans Benefits Administration office.
His staff was told on “three different occasions” to go to a specific room to do their work but one VA employee said it wasn’t necessary.
Miller, a Republican from Florida, recounted that the “VBA’s acting director took that employee outside” for several minutes and when they returned, his staff was directed again to the specific room on a different floor.
His staffers discovered the room’s sound and video system were prepared to observe their work while they reviewed case files.
“In that room, both of the mics were hot and the camera itself was activated,” the committee chairman told WMAL host Larry O’Connor.
Miller continued, “My staff said, ‘We’re not going to do it in this room,’ and they requested to be taken to another room.”
VBA relocated the committee staffers after they pushed back about the use of the room.
When Department of Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey was confronted at Monday night’s congressional VA hearing about the spying incident, Miller said that “there was no attempt to deny that it had occurred.”
Obama has been dodging the VA scandal from the get go, and as it seems that he’s tried to distract Americans with other “good news” (i.e. Bergdahl trade) that has only blown up in his face, it seems that the current administration is literally falling apart. Most recently, it appears the scandal has recently blown wide open with another bombshell accusation regarding the number of veterans that has actually died.
Now when the first reports of the VA scandal broke, numbers were around 40 veterans that had died due to delayed treatment with numbers as high as 120. Currently though, it appears that yet again, Americans have been lied to, this time to the extent of covering up over the actual 1,000 veterans that actually died.
If you were still unaware of the scandal, the VA created a secret list in which veterans were placed in order to delay them treatment and give the facility the false appearance that they were more effective than they really were. Unfortunately for those veterans – some of which were in dire need of critical treatment – they’re requests were thrown in the trash and forgotten about.
All of a sudden, people started dying because of the VA’s incompetence and secretive policy of abandoning our veterans.
Now, a scheduling clerk at the Phoenix VA, Pauline DeWenter, has come forward to share an even more shocking discovery. While working there, she noticed VA administration “reclassifying” deceased veterans as “alive” to make the number of the dead appear much lower.
Once again, in a shocking discovery, the VA is proving its incompetence and that its malicious acts know no bounds when it comes to self-preservation. Furthermore, Sen. Tom Coburn has recently come forward to say:
“Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA malfeasance. Poor management is costing the department billions of dollars more and compromising veterans’ access to medical care.”
These two shocking admissions has not only blow the VA scandal wide open, but has left a gaping wound in the confidence this nation has in its government. Surely now, with that many dead due to nothing more than incompetence and laziness, the American people will demand justice.
For America to turn its backs on those that have honorably served this country, is not only despicable, but nauseating.
The White House on Monday came under increased pressure to launch a criminal probe of the Veterans Affairs Department after an audit found more than 100,000 veterans were kept waiting for medical care.
The audit uncovered evidence of widespread tampering of documents at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics, with schedulers receiving direction from their superiors to use “unofficial lists” to make the waiting times for appointments “appear more favorable.”
The audit found more than 57,000 veterans waited at least 90 days to see a doctor, and an additional 63,000 people over the past decade never received an initial appointment at all.
Republican leaders in Congress called the findings a “national disgrace” as members of both parties demanded the Justice Department prosecute the officials responsible.
“The Department of Justice should get off the sidelines and start actively pursuing charges where applicable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
In the Senate, 11 Democrats joined 10 Republicans in urging an “effective and prompt” investigation by federal authorities. The leaders of the push – Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – said criminal charges shouldn’t wait on the results of a VA inspector general (IG) investigation that will be released in August.
“The spreading and growing scale of apparent criminal wrongdoing is fast outpacing the criminal investigative resources of the IG, and the revelations in the interim report only highlight the urgency of involvement by the Department of Justice,” the senators wrote.
The damaging findings of the audit could spur Congress into quick action on legislation aimed at fixing the VA’s problems and clearing the backlog for treatment.
The Senate is likely to vote this week on a compromise bill from McCain and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would allow veterans experiencing long wait times to seek private medical care. The bill would allow for immediate firings of VA employees and expedite the hiring of medical staff.
“I am happy to schedule a vote on it as quickly as possible,” Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said.
On the other side of the Capitol, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised the House would act this week on a “common-sense bill” that would allow veterans who have waited more than 30 days for an appointment to seek private care.
The audit released Monday, while harshly critical of the VA, pushed some of the blame to Congress, arguing the goal of setting up appointments within 14 days was “not attainable” given the growing demand for services.
Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, stressed that point even as he called for the immediate firing of “incompetent administrators and those who have manipulated wait-time data.”
“The reason certain VA facilities around the country have long wait times is because they lack an adequate number of doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners,” Sanders said.
Still, the audit represents a harsh and sweeping indictment of the VA.
About 500 of the VA staffers interviewed, or 13 percent, said they received instructions to enter appointment dates different from what veterans had requested, and 8 percent, or about 300, said they used “alternatives” to the official scheduling system.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson is scrambling to try and clean up the department.
In a release accompanying the audit, the VA promised that cases of “willful misconduct” would be investigated so that “appropriate personnel actions” can be taken.
“Where appropriate, VA will initiate the process of removing senior leaders,” the VA said.
Gibson said the VA was in the process of contacting more than 90,000 veterans during the first phase of a new initiative accelerating care. He said 50,000 had been contacted so far.
Those steps are unlikely to stem pressure on the White House, which is trying to contain the damage from the scandal before it becomes an albatross on Democrats in the midterm elections.
The White House said the release of the audit reflected President Obama’s “commitment to try to be transparent” about the process of reforming the department.
“This is a large task,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “There is no sugar-coating that. But it is a task the president’s never been more dedicated to.”
Some military veterans are being forced to leave their nursing home. It’s an unintended consequence of President Obama’s executive order in February to raise the minimum wage for new federal contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.
Sandy Franks, public affairs officer at Shreveport’s Overton Brooks V. A. Medical Center, explains that nursing homes that have contracts for subsidized care from the Veterans Administration become federal contractors. If they refuse to raise their wages, their contracts will not be renewed.
Former Marine A.J. Crain just wheeled himself into his new room at Shreveport Manor on Mansfield Road when he got the news that the home’s contract will end this month.
“We fought all your wars, and now we’re broke. Where do we go from here?” Crain asks.
“We gotta go. Simple as that. We gotta go,” says Vietnam War Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient John Washington.
“I think it’s very wrong. I think it’s very distasteful,” Washington goes on to say about Shreveport Manor’s decision. “I mean some of these people here work their backsides off to keep this place going,” he said, pointing to a woman changing his bed.
Shreveport Manor is owned by Gamble Guest Care. Their Chief Operating Officer says if they raise wages for workers there, they have to do that at all eight of their facilities.
In a statement, Gamble COO Matt Machen said, in part, “The additional labor expenses are simply unaffordable. As such, many long term care providers have indicated that they will no longer seek or renew V.A. contracts.”
Franks at the V.A. agrees that this has the potential to be a national problem as more V.A. contracts with nursing homes expire.
“We will deal with it on a case by case basis,” Franks says. “We will work the families and try to provide the most convenient, and the nursing homes that are up to our standards to take care of our veterans.”
“I’m not too happy over the situation,” grumbles former Navy sailor Charles Shufflin at Shreveport Manor.
Shufflin hasn’t even bothered unpacking his boxes of belongings since he has a place to go. His daughter Vickie Carrington is making room at her house.
“For my dad, I love him,” she says, kissing him on the forehead.
“I’m not so worried about myself,” Shufflin says, “but the veterans that have no place to live.”
“There’s a lot of people out there that have fought for our country,” Carrington adds, choking back tears. “And the ones that don’t have family members to take them in to take care of them, where are they going to go?”
The V.A. says they’ll look for space at other V. A. nursing homes, war veterans homes, or veteran community living centers.
Gamble’s Machen says the company will try to keep its veterans in place by looking for other forms of reimbursement, such as Medicare and Medicaid. He says only about one percent of their residents are affected.
Shufflin and Crain had just moved into Shreveport Manor from Rose View Nursing Center across the street, after the V.A. recently deemed Rose View had fallen below V. A. standards. So those vets would be moving for the second time in as many months.
Newly released public records show that the Department of the Interior knew in advance that two groups of aging veterans would be visiting the World War II Memorial on October 1, 2013, but they decided to barricade the premises anyway.
According to emails obtained by National Review Online, the U.S. National Park Service employees were also constantly monitoring the news for any negative media attention. Moreover, the emails show that government shutdown exceptions were granted to National Park Service employees.
The Obama administration tried to make political hay out of the government shutdown by closing the National Mall and denying access to monuments, but the decision backfired when the veterans defied the signs and fences and entered the WWII Memorial. The vets were taking part in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, established in 2011 to help fly the state’s WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. and to provide tours to monuments dedicated in their honor.
Obama told the American people that it was necessary to shut down the Mall and blamed Republicans for creating the hardships. However, the emails reveal that the Department of the Interior and National Park Service did not have to shut down the monuments but did so to make a point.
On September 30, Tom Buttry, a legislative correspondent in Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) office, stated that it would actually be easier and less costly to keep the mall open than to shut it down:
While I understand that these memorials have remained accessible to the public during past shutdowns (I’d imagine with the mall being so open, it’d probably [be] more manpower intensive to try to completely close them), I wanted to do my due diligence and make 100 percent sure that people could visit the outdoor memorials on the National Mall in the event of a shutdown.
Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.
Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.
“The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, told TheDC.
“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”
By 2008, some patients were “waiting six to nine months for an exam” and VA “didn’t know how to address the issue,” Mitchell said.
VA Greater Los Angeles Radiology department chief Dr. Suzie El-Saden initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus reducing the backlog, Mitchell said.
Audio from a November 2008 meeting obtained by TheDC depicts VA Greater Los Angeles officials plotting to cancel backlogged exam requests.
“I’m still canceling orders from 2001,” said a male official in the meeting.
“Anything over a year old should be canceled,” replied a female official.
“Canceled or scheduled?” asked the male official.
“Canceled… Your backlog should start at April ’07,” the female official replied, later adding, ”a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery… died, don’t live in the state… It’s ridiculous.”
El-Saden, according to Mitchell, was “the person who said destroy the records.” And her plan was actually carried out during the Obama administration’s management of VA.
“That actually happened,” Mitchell said. “We had that discussion in November 2008 and then in March 2009 they started to delete the exams. Once you cancel or delete an order it automatically cancels out that record” so that no record of the exam requests remained.
Mitchell tried to blow the whistle on the scheme and ended up being transferred out of his department and eventually losing his job.
“I actually filed a complaint with the VA [Inspector General] IG and the office of special counsel. The IG requested if I had any documentation. They wanted names. I gave them [about] a thousand names,” Mitchell said. ”The list I turned into the IG went all the way back to 1997.”
“I filed the initial complaint with the IG… The IG instead of doing their own investigation just gave it to the facility and made them aware of my complaint.”
Mitchell eventually wrote to Congress about the issue in January 2011. Two months later, in March 2011, he was fired.
Mitchell received an April 30, 2013 letter from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel stating that OIG found in November 2009 that “all imaging services across the country were instructed to mass purge all outstanding imaging orders for studies older than six months, where the procedure was no longer needed” and that “patient imaging requests found to still be valid were scheduled… Approval was granted for this process by the MEC [Medical Executive Committee], and in collaboration with the Service Chiefs and/or Careline Directors within the health-care system.”
But Mitchell said that in Los Angeles, exam requests that were found to still be needed were “definitely” destroyed.
“The IG’s report said this was a nationwide issue, but I know when we were having our meeting we weren’t talking nationwide – we were talking about our department,” Mitchell said.
“It is the general policy of OSC not to transmit an allegation of wrongdoing to the head of the agency involved, where the agency’s OIG or its delegate, is currently investigating or has investigated, the same allegations. Consequently, this office will take no further action concerning this allegation,” according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel letter.
“That was an excuse” and part of a “cover-up,” Mitchell said.
“I’ve actually filed a lawsuit against them” for wrongful termination and another complaint, Mitchell said. “I filed it in district court in August of last year. It was accepted in September. The court dismissed it and wants me to amend the complaint with additional facts. I’m turning that in this week.”
VA did not return repeated requests for comment. The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System did not return a request for comment and for an interview with Dr. El-Saden.
Senate Democrats killed an amendment from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that would have paid for unemployment benefits for many Americans and replaced recent cuts to veterans’ pensions by closing a tax code loophole that allows illegal aliens to access the Refundable Child Tax Credit.
The vote failed on Thursday 54-42, with all Republicans but Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) voting for the amendment and against Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) crossed the aisle to vote alongside Republicans in favor of the amendment.
The amendment would have been to the Unemployment Insurance Extension Bill, S. 1845. On the Senate floor while debating the amendment, Ayotte argued her amendment is “one that would fix fraud in our tax code that really came to light in 2011 in a Treasury IG [Inspector General] report.”
“What it would simply require is those who seek the additional child tax credit to file a Social Security number just like those who seek the Earned Income Tax Credit in this country,” Ayotte said.
And why is that? Because the investigations of this tax refund that people receive found that they were claiming it for people who were number one not authorized to work in this country were claiming it and secondly for children that might not even exist. Investigations found that children who don’t even live in this country [were getting the tax credit].
Ayotte argued on the Senate floor that her amendment would “pay for three months of unemployment insurance for American workers for this issue that we have before this chamber.”
“It would pay for a fix to the military retirement cuts to the COLA that also impacted our wounded warriors that were done in the most recent budget that were unfair,” Ayotte added. “Members of both sides of the aisle have come together to say we should fix [that] and say it’s unfair. What else would it do? It would reduce the deficit. And what I hear from the Majority Leader is I hear ‘well we’ve heard that idea before.’ Well, we may have heard it before, but we’ve not been allowed a vote on it.”
While Ayotte made a case for the amendment, Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) argued against it.
“Now this idea of going after children is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard and I’m shocked,” an irate Boxer said on the Senate floor while shaking her finger up and down. “I am shocked. You’re going to hurt children. You’re going to take away food out of their mouths.”
At another point, Boxer called on senators to support Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“Let us support our leader,” she said. “And let us work through the weekend to come up with a plan. I think the Majority Leader has one.”
Soon thereafter, Boxer criticized Republicans for wanting to vote on amendments.
“All they do on that side is complain that their amendments are so important,” Boxer said while throwing both her arms up in the air.
WATCH VIDEO OF SEN. AYOTTE AGAINST SEN. BOXER:
A new report from federal watchdogs reveals that discrimination against military veterans at the Energy Department and retaliation against whistleblowers who spoke out about the practice were more widespread than previously believed and could cost taxpayers millions.
The report, released Tuesday by DOE’s inspector general, revealed that a top legal official explicitly advised human resources officials at the department’s Bonneville Power Administration on how to disadvantage veterans in its hiring practices.
BPA then attempted to completely remove two employees from the federal service after they questioned the hiring practices.
Problems at BPA are more widespread than just those two instances, according to the IG.
“In short, there was a massive breakdown in procedures, processes, and management attentiveness at several levels of Bonneville’s operation,” the IG found.
The report reinforces criticism of BPA by congressional investigators, who in August held a hearing investigating similar allegations from the department’s IG.
“Today’s report offers shocking new details about the Bonneville Power Administration’s illegal hiring practices that discriminated against veterans and the agency’s culture of intimidation toward whistleblowers,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement.
According to the report, a staff attorney at Bonneville “provided guidance that likely facilitated” hiring practices that disadvantaged veterans.
Federal regulations require that veterans receive preferential treatment in federal hiring.
The BPA attorney instructed officials at Bonneville’s human capital management office “to modify the announcement [of a vacant position] so that the veteran would be unlikely to qualify… Bonneville subsequently executed the plan and, as predicted, the veteran did not qualify.”
Bonneville insisted it adjusted its hiring criteria “only for expediency to reduce the candidate pool to manageable levels.”
That explanation, the IG report said, “defied logic.”
Additional reviews of Bonneville hiring practices by DOE and the Office of Personnel Management found that Bonneville had employed “overly restrictive qualifications to improperly eliminate qualified applicants from job consideration,” the IG noted.
“Thus, the case highlighted here may reflect a more extensive problem,” it warned.
DOE deputy general counsel Eric Fygi rejected allegations that the department had instructed whistleblowers not to speak with Issa or his staff about these practices in a letter to Issa before the August hearing.
“Rather, Bonneville was informed that this was a serious matter and that any external questions were to be coordinated with the appropriate headquarters offices,” Fygi wrote.
However, the IG report released this week found that DOE officials “tolerated and/or failed to address what appeared to be a culture of intimidation and mistrust” at Bonneville’s human capital management office.
That finding appears to substantiate allegations by whistleblowers who told Issa that they “fear retaliation.”
“These BPA employees will not speak to the committee because they are afraid of losing their jobs,” Issa told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement at the time.
BPA acting administrator Elliot Mainzer called the IG’s findings in its Tuesday report “deeply troubling.”
“The department and BPA are fully committed to addressing the problems with our human capital management program and providing recourse to the many individuals, including veterans, who were impacted by our flawed hiring practices,” Mainzer said in a statement.
He stressed that he and BPA are committed “to a workplace free of retaliation, particularly against those who raise concerns.”
The report also faulted DOE leadership, which it said did not exercise its proper oversight role and hence allowed illicit hiring practices to continue.
“More aggressive actions on the department’s part could have aided in preventing, or at least detecting, and remediating these problems at Bonneville,” the IG found.
Issa vowed to continue his committee’s investigation into the matter “to ensure that veterans receive the benefits to which they are entitled, and that whistleblowers are not threatened when exposing wrongdoing.”
Every time I look at the WWII Memorial story, it gets worse.
It’s bad that the Obama administration closed down national monuments and museums, because it thinks that attacking DC tourism will give the Democratic party leverage over the Republican party.
It’s bad that the Obama administration tried to keep WWII veterans away from the monument that honors them. It failed, of course, but they shouldn’t have tried.
It’s bad that the Obama administration deliberately – DELIBERATELY – targeted the WWII monument for special restrictions after a veterans’ group made the mistake of thinking that Barack Obama is a reasonable man who runs a reasonable executive branch, and thus would treat that group’s request for assistance with the respect that it deserved.
But this is the nasty part. This is the part where the spite comes into play.
“The public may visit the World War II Memorial 24 hours a day.” Staffed from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm. http://t.co/9NSCphRYD4
– Morgen (@morgenr) October 2, 2013
In other words: the WWII Memorial does not have a permanent security presence, which means that there is actually no valid, ethical reason why the Obama administration could presume to shut it down for the public. Not that the administration actually needs one. So they proactively locked down a previously-open national monument, and then presumed to tell the men whose sacrifice it honored that those men were not welcome at that place.
Never forget this moment. This is how Barack Obama acts, when challenged or resisted. He acts ugly, and mean-spirited, and shabby.
The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo’s office to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, the Mississippi Republican told The Daily Caller Tuesday.
Palazzo helped the veterans commit an act of civil disobedience against the Park Service Tuesday, when the heroes stormed through barricades around the closed memorial.
The veterans were visiting the memorial as part of Honor Flight, a non-profit that provides veterans free transport to the nation’s capital to visit the memorials to the wars they fought in.
“We got the heads up that they will be barricaded and specifically asked for an exception for these heroes,” Palazzo told TheDC. “We were denied and told, ‘It’s a government shutdown, what do you expect?’ when we contacted the liaison for the White House.”
Palazzo’s office was in touch with the heads of the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior and the Capitol Police. He says all these officials rejected his request to allow the veterans, many of whom are octogenarians and some of whom are in poor health, to attend.
Palazzo, a Gulf War Marine veteran who has participated in all five of the Honor Flights, blames the White House for making it harder on veterans and playing politics. “At first I thought it was a huge bureaucratic oversight,” Palazzo told The Daily Caller, “but having talked with the officials I can’t help but think this was politically motivated. Honor Flights, which bring WWII veterans to the nation’s memorials, are planned a year in advance and cost anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000. How low can you get with playing politics over our nation’s veterans?”
In a statement, Palazzo noted that he is introducing legislation to ensure that all Honor Flights are granted access this week. “This is an open-air memorial that the public has 24/7 access to under normal circumstances – even when Park Service personnel aren’t present,” Palazzo said in the statement. “It actually requires more effort and expense to shut out these veterans from their Memorial than it would to simply let them through. My office has been in touch with NPS officials and the Administration to try to resolve this issue.”
Busloads of World War II veterans broke through the barricades at the National World War II Memorial in Washington on Tuesday after the National Park Service closed all of its national parks and memorials because of the federal government shutdown.
But according to its website, the memorial “was funded almost entirely by private contributions, as specified in Public Law 103-32. The campaign received more than $197 million in cash and pledges. Support came from hundreds of thousands of individual Americans, hundreds of corporations and foundations, veterans groups, dozens of civic, fraternal and professional organizations, states and one territory, and students in 1,200 schools across the country.”
The veterans who visited Tuesday were part of the nonprofit Honor Flight Network. They had chartered an $80,000 airplane, and their plans were too far advanced to postpone, said Wayne Lennep, spokesman for the Mississippi Gulf Coast honor flights, The Washington Post reported. U.S. Park Police allowed the bus to stop.
“I’m not going to enforce the no stopping or standing sign for a group of 90 World War II veterans,” an officer said. “I’m a veteran myself.”
According to the memorial’s website, the project, costing around $182 million, was paid for by donated and pledged funds.
“These costs include site selection and design, construction and sculpture, a National Park Service maintenance fee required by the Commemorative Works Act, groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies, fund raising, and the 11-year administrative costs of the project from its inception in 1993 through completion in 2004,” the website reads.
“Remaining funds are held on deposit with the U.S. Treasury in a National WWII Memorial Trust Fund. The funds will be used by the American Battle Monuments Commission solely to benefit the World War II Memorial.”
The National Park Service is sending so many officials out to shut down federal parks from visiting Americans that at this rate it might have to suspend furloughs if the government closure continues.
– At the World War II Memorial on The Mall in Washington, where veterans have been staging protests to keep it open, Washington Examiner’s Charlie Spiering reports that at least seven officials were dispatched Wednesday morning to set up a ring of barricades to block tourists from the memorial. That is two more security officials than the State Department had in Benghazi a year ago on the night of the terrorist attack that killed four, including the U.S. ambassador.
– National Park Officials closed down the educational Claude Moore Colonial Farm near the CIA in McLean, Va., even though the federal government doesn’t fund or staff the park popular with children and schools. Just because the privately-operated park is on Park Service land, making the federal government simply its landlord, the agency decided to close it.
A Claude Moore Colonial Farm official said that the privately-funded staff is on the job Wednesday, but barred from letting anybody visit the historically accurate buildings or animals. Anna Eberly, the managing director, sent out an email decrying the decision and rude National Park Service staff handling the closure.
Pointing to Park Service claims that parks have to be closed because the agency can’t afford staff during the government closure, Eberly wrote: “What utter crap. We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing.”
She added: “In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service, first as a volunteer for six years in Richmond where I grew up, then as an NPS employee at the for eight very long years and now enjoyably as managing director for the last 32 years – I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS. I deeply apologize that we have to disappoint you today by being closed but know that we are working while the National Park Service is not – as usual.”
Optics be damned, Obama wants people to suffer.
After a group of veterans “stormed” the barricaded World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, other WWII veterans groups are planning to visit the same site on Wednesday – which only exists because of their service. Meanwhile, another Honor Flight group in Ohio is claiming that the Park Service threatened to arrest its members if they entered the closed memorial during their planned visit on Oct. 9 (assuming the government is still “shut down”).
Andrea Plunkett, a volunteer with the Kansas City-area Heartland Honor Flight, told TheBlaze the group plans to bring about 90 veterans to the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. She said the WWII veterans would arrive at around 11 a.m. with a delegation about about 12 U.S. senators and representatives. The group plans to breach the barricades.
She also said another Missouri flight from Franklin County should be arriving at the same time.
“When we heard the news this morning about the barricades being erected at the memorials, dozens of people started helping us try to find a solution,” she told TheBlaze. “Both Kansas and Missouri officials have been incredibly responsive – we heard back from Senator [Roy] Blunt, [Claire] McCaskill, [Pat] Roberts and [Jerry] Moran’s offices right away. Several members of Congress have been involved as well.”
Plunkett said canceling their flight was not an option because an Honor Flight can cost “upwards of $80,000.
“Our next flight isn’t until Spring of 2014, and waiting is not an option for many of these vets. Between 600-900 WWII vets die each day, so when it comes to Honor Flights, time is of the essence,” she said. “These veterans can’t wait on the government.”
Shockingly, an Honor Flight group from Toledo, Ohio, was allegedly threatened with arrest if they entered the closed memorial, setting up a possible showdown between vets and the government.
Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio was told by the Park Service that individuals in the group would face arrest if they entered the closed memorial, Lee Armstrong, the group’s president, claims.
Armstrong was stunned.
“I said, are you kidding me? You’re going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be there. She said, ‘That’s correct sir,’” Armstrong told WNWO-TV.
It is unclear whether the Park Service official, who reportedly refused to provide her name hung up, was relaying official policy.
Plunkett told TheBlaze Heartland Honor Flight hadn’t even considered the possibility of arrest prior to being made aware of the report.
“All of our vets are in their late 80′s and early 90′s,” she said. “That would be quite a scene.”
The current plan is to arrive at the WWII monument in Washington and simply go through the barricades so they can honor their fellow veterans, which is exactly what happened on Monday.
Deputy press secretary Eric Schultz has taken to Twitter to pound the WH narrative that the GOP is to blame for the memorial barricades. If they want the public to see their memorials again, all Republicans need to do, is pass a “clean CR,” Schultz suggests.
@thegarance Anyone ask the very GOPers upset w/ the WWII mem if they’d support a clean CR? EVERY memorial would reopen, as would the govt
– Eric Schultz (@Schultz44) October 2, 2013
As one Twitter user, @redsteeze noted, “if there was an exact wrong way to respond to this… That was it.”
See Twitchy for more reactions.
Apparently the hypocrisy was lost on her.
How would you feel if you received a letter from the U.S. Government informing you that because of a physical or mental condition that the government says you have it is proposing to rule that you are incompetent to handle your own financial affairs? Suppose that letter also stated that the government is going to appoint a stranger to handle your affairs for you at your expense? That would certainly be scary enough but it gets worse.
What if that letter also stated: “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2).”?
That makes is sound like something right from a documentary on a tyrannical dictatorship somewhere in the world. Yet, as I write this I have a copy of such a letter right in front of me. It is being sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of America’s heroes. In my capacity as Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF) I have been contacted by some of these veterans and the stories I am getting are appalling.
The letter provides no specifics on the reasons for the proposed finding of incompetency; just that is based on a determination by someone in the VA. In every state in the United States no one can be declared incompetent to administer their own affairs without due process of law and that usually requires a judicial hearing with evidence being offered to prove to a judge that the person is indeed incompetent. This is a requirement of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states that no person shall “…be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…”.
Obviously, the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t be bothered by such impediments as the Constitution, particularly since they are clearly pushing to fulfill one of Obama’s main goals, the disarming of the American people. Janet Napolitano has already warned law enforcement that some of the most dangerous among us are America’s heroes, our veterans, and now according to this letter from the VA they can be prohibited from buying or even possessing a firearm because of a physical or mental disability.
Think about it, the men and women who have laid their lives on the line to defend us and our Constitution are now having their own Constitutional rights denied. There are no clear criteria for the VA to declare a veteran incompetent. It can be the loss of a limb in combat, a head injury, a diagnosis of PTSD, or even a soldier just telling someone at the VA that he or she is depressed over the loss of a buddy in combat. In none of these situations has the person been found to be a danger to themselves or others. If that was the case than all of the Americans who have suffered from PTSD following the loss of a loved one or from being in a car accident would also have to be disqualified from owning firearms. It would also mean that everyone who has ever been depressed for any reason should be disarmed. In fact, many of the veterans being deprived of their rights have no idea why it is happening.
The answer seems to be it is simply because they are veterans. At the USJF we intend to find the truth by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Veterans Affairs to force them to disclose the criteria they are using to place veterans on the background check list that keeps them from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Then we will take whatever legal steps are necessary to protect our American warriors.
The reality is that Obama will not get all of the gun control measures he wants through Congress, and they wouldn’t be enough for him anyway. He wants a totally disarmed America so there will be no resistance to his plans to rob us of our nation. That means we have to ask who will be next. If you are receiving a Social Security check will you get one of these letters? Will the government declare that you are incompetent because of your age and therefore banned from firearm ownership. It certainly fits in with the philosophy and plans of the Obama administration. It is also certain that our military veterans don’t deserve this and neither do any other Americans.
Written By Constitutional Attorney Michael Connelly, J.D. – Executive Director, United States Justice Foundation
Click on the images below to enlarge them.
A sample of the deep appreciation, and gratitude our favorite bloggers are pouring out today
Michael Laprarie at Wizbang remembers the Sullivans
Weasel Zippers notes that some folks just do not get Memorial Day
Alan Caruba pays homage
Warner Todd Huston: This is what American soldiers are made of
TigerHawk: Futures lost and won
Theo Spark: No Greater Love
The Real Revo: A Tribute to our Fallen
The Other McCain: If you miss the parade……..
The Observatorium has a great video from Toby Keith which remembers to honor those brave boys that fought for Dixie once upon a time
The Lonely Conservative: The Debt
The Blogprof remembers
Stormbringer: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato
Soylent Green: Why America is worth fighting for
Pat Austin is also linking around
Sister Toldjah: Honoring the Fallen
Sentry Journal: Remembering The War of 1812
Sat Anything: A hero passes
Stogie The Confederate Dead at Arlington
PJM: No Greater Love
POH Diaries: The Last Full Measure
William Teach: Be their hero
Obis Sister has a great video tribute
Nice Deb: Rolling Thunder rocks
Michelle has an inspiring post
American Perspective: Remember the ones left behind
Maggies Notebook does a great job of honoring our gallant
Wirecutter knows the price of freedom
Government Mess: Never Forget
Great advice from Fleece Me
The Feral Irishman has gratitude
Doug Ross has a great set of links
Doug Powers brings us a tremendous set of tributes
Cold Fury has a story to tell
Conservative Hideout: The Ultimate Sacrifice
Bob Belvedere does it right!
XBRADTC has a history lesson for us
Donald Douglas: THANK YOU!
Aleister: A debt we cannot repay
Adrienne closes us with this image