DAV Response to Senator Richard Burr’s "Open Letter" to Veterans

posted on

DAV is outraged that North Carolina Senator Richard Burr chose the eve of Memorial Day – a sacred time to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation — to attack the patriotism of leaders of most of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations.

Last week at a hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, DAV and other veterans service organizations offered comprehensive testimony on the underlying causes of the waiting list problems afflicting VA health care facilities that are currently under investigation.  In addition to demanding full accountability for any VA employee found to have violated VA rules, regulations or laws, we provided detailed analysis and forward-looking recommendations to address the root cause of waiting lists: lack of access and capacity to treat all veterans seeking care.

Although Senator Burr attended much of that hearing, apparently all he wanted to hear were calls for the VA Secretary to resign.  Senator Burr may be enamored with the idea that all of VA’s problems and challenges can be overcome by replacing one Secretary, but the plain facts and simple logic dictate otherwise. If Senator Burr believes that calling for the resignation of Secretary Shinseki is the only measure of whether a leader cares about veterans, perhaps he should check with Speaker Boehner, Chairman Miller and the vast majority of Republican Senators who have not done so.

Regrettably, Senator Burr shows no interest in pursuing serious policy solutions, preferring instead to launch cheap political attacks on the integrity of leaders of veterans organizations who do not agree with him, all of whom served honorably to defend this nation and then devoted all or most of their lives to serving their fellow veterans.

In spite of Senator Burr’s attacks, we will continue to call for an open and comprehensive investigation  of Phoenix and at any other VA facility where wrongdoings are alleged. While Senator Burr challenges our integrity, we will continue to demand full accountability for all who violated the public trust, regardless of who or where they are, including criminal prosecutions if warranted. While Senator Burr ignores VA’s real challenges, we will continue to call for an independent review not only of VA’s waiting list and scheduling problems, but the access and capacity deficits that created them.

History clearly shows that unless VA receives sufficient resources to hire enough doctors and nurses, and has enough physical space to treat veterans, waiting list problems will continue. Over the past decade, DAV – along with many of our veterans service organizations – pointed out that the VA has received more than $17 billion less than was needed, a figure that was derived primarily from VA’s own internal analysis. Although these facts have been clear to successive Administrations and Congresses – including Senator Burr – none took the actions necessary to provide VA the resources it required.

Rather than be distracted by Senator Burr’s hollow insults, we will continue to reach out to thoughtful Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House, as well as the President and leaders in VA, to join us in taking an honest look at all the facts, discuss with us all possible remedies and reforms, and work with us to implement solutions that truly honor the heroism of the men and women we remember this Memorial Day weekend.


  • Neil Maher

    thank you Commander Johnston for clear and thoughtful leadership and analysis

  • Keith D. Behme

    These Republicans remember when Gen. Shinseki testified to congress that we’d be in Iraq much longer than what the 2nd Bush administration was saying. Pretty sad excuse for taking down somebody who’s at least trying to make things work.

  • PM

    I am still ashamed of Senator Burr for his behavior during the Feb 27th hearings and vote.

  • PM

    And we who have dealt for years know the problem is much deeper than is being reported. Pass the extended Caregiver Bill so we can care for our PRE 9/11 disabled love ones while the government tries to correct the problems. I’m not sure Americans can handle the truth, not an insult to anyone, but it is shocking.

  • John Miller

    I have a lot of experience with supporter of the GOP chicken hawks. I worked for the number one GOP supporter and met and listened to comments by leading Texas Republican. Now don;t get me wrong, there are serious problems with both parties but over a long time there has been a systematic corrosion of the integrity of the GOP. This us what I observed: The Republicans are dedicated to the ideals of Social Darwinism and Eugenics. I know you have heard them say that they MADE IT on their own, that they believe in survival of the fittest. This is the basics of the pervented anti-Anerican and anti-Christian views of AYN RAND. You can hear her make plenty of such comments on youtube. Her ideas are insidious, perversive and have spread like wildfire through the US corporate community. I have heard similar statements from Tom DeKay, Dick Armey, Phil Gramm and both Bushes…in person. Social Darwinism is the basis for EUGENICS which is the removal from society of defective or less desireable humans but THEY decide who is useful to their cause and who is not. The German fascists took this to the extreme. They first demonized those they hated and then exterminated them. Sadly this is what the GOP is doing today. If a human is no longer useful (to them) then they remove any support of those humans. The oppose Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, Housing assistance, the Affordable Care Act, Education assistance and anything that benefits the general population including workplace and food safety and Veterans Benefits. Even Donald Rumsfeld was over heard saying that the VA is nothing but welfare cheats. So over time they will continued to undermine and sabotage these programs that keep people alive so that they…die. The goal is always the eventual elimination of all programs based in Christian altruism. Jesus fed the poor, heal the sick and taught the truth to the people. That is one of the reasons that the conservative Pharisees sought his death. Now we have separation of church and state but altruism is a universal human concept and if some think that it is not the role of government them I suggest they read the Preamble to the Constitution.

    • That’s what happens when Corporate interests and religious zealots take over a political party. I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Republican Senator Barry Goldwater from 1994; “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

      • John Miller

        Barry also said that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. If you combine that with the Goebbelsesque propaganda of today you may see the fall of our representative democracy. The MAJORITY of the people decide the course of government by their elected representatives. Consider also that the fanatically religious conservatives screamed CRUCIFY HIM 2000 years ago.

    • tz

      This is an era of frequent ridiculous comparisons and exaggerated equivalencies., and as such that makes the following statement a bit tainted in that it is being made at this time in history, but here goes.
      I see no moral distinction between inflicting suffering and early demise upon a subset of people within a society if they are all put in one location (concentrated”, may I be bold enough to use that word?) to suffer that fate, or if they are diffused throughout the society in their homes and institutions.
      Our society and culture are dispassionate, cruel, greedy, and basically in need of healing.

  • Vet Zero

    Senator Burr….sit on my middle finger and spin that.


      senator Burr if you have ever served then you must realize you are tucking your tie you should be ashamed all those brave men and women who gave so much and some gave all for your freedom you need to take your HEAD out of your backside THANK A VET FOR SERVING and STAND DOWN!!!!!!!!

  • Randy

    I disagree we should not let Eric S. go at this time becauseee it will take forever to get his replace up to speed. I also disagree about needing more money, when you have leaders getting 63,000. or more in bonus they need to stop that 1st.

    • Cmm

      They also need to do away with the travel pay entitlement. What health insurance company pays your way to the Doctor. This entitlement should only be given to Veterans who really have no other means of travel. By eliminating this entitlement it would free up millions to help with the shortage of personnel and facilities. I am a Veteran and truly believe we should be ashamed of taking this money.

      • Apachecav

        HEY CMM, if the govt. broke us they need to fix us and PAY for it ALL, including travel. I have to travel over 120 miles to get to a VA hospital.
        Travel is a minor point on their budget but for those of us paying $3.60 a gallon and having to take time off from work it is very small compensation to get a few bucks toward filling our tank.

  • Bill Kratzer

    forcing removal of a top director for failure to correct a problem will not correct the problem in and of itself.when the director is not given the resources and funding to make the changes needed the senators and congressional leaders need to accept the responsibility of seeing that it is done. This is not Japan where you fire the top CEO because the Nuclear Power Plant melted down and started killing people. This is America where the elected officials failed to provide the resources needed for our Veterans. If every State Senator would just refrain from some special pet Pork Project and thought about the greater good, even if a contributor doesn’t get to open a new factory to justify his new Jet, so be it. I challenge you over compensated individuals who are not doing your job, TO GET IT TOGETHER .

    • rickschramm .

      What the “H” is going on here??? We have a broken system and people are defending those in charge? I am a sailor and when a ship runs aground the very first thing that happens is the Commanding Officer is relieved… I think the VA has run aground just about as far as it can.

  • disqus_iI3gCOyi77

    Maybe if you stop paying VA reps yearly bonuses and use that money towards helping more Veterans, Congress and the Senate may decide you do need more money to help Veterans, but when you put VA reps above the Veterans themselves by paying Bonuses, your saying you have plenty of money and don’t need any more… so do away with the Bonus checks, help more Veterans, than request more money till all Veterans are being Helped….

  • Alex

    Commander Johnston’s reply to the idiot Senator Burr is genius, I applaud the DAV for promising to look for solutions instead of playing the blame game. As for Senator Burr calling our veterans leaders unpatriotic that goes to show you how idiotic people in his party are… just remember you get what you vote for… you vote for an idiot then you get an idiot…. Burr is an idiot and anyone Senator or not that calls veterans unpatriotic are not just idiots they are treasonous.

  • Apachecav

    I am ashamed of my DAV leadership. Instead of commenting on what one senator said why arn’t you leading the charge for more heads to roll? It isn’t just the top leadership at tha VA that needs to go it is his entire top tear staff! Why are you not calling for shame on the president as well as congress, both parties, for yet again shafting the vet? This isn’t a new problem it has been going on for decades! Where has the DAV been in all of this? Where were you all this time? Where were the daily calls on the steps of the capitol for real reform? Why havn’t you castigated the president for 6 years of ignoring the problem every day? You are just as much to blame for your lack of effort. You owe all of us an apology….

    • thedav

      DAV leadership, and more specifically National Service and Legislative Headquarters, works hard every day on Capitol Hill to advocate for veterans and often presenting progressive measures to members of Congress on the Veterans Affairs Committee. Many of these warnings and solutions have been ignored by members of Congress to take action including the Independent Budget and Advance Appropriations including campaign efforts like Operation Keep The Promise https://www.dav.org/keepthepromise and End The Delays https://www.dav.org/end-the-delays. The DAV believes that this is a financial issue and not a systemic one as many veterans say they are very happy with the healthcare they receive from the VA and not a widespread issue, but rather that of regional issues at the local level. We will continue to advocate on Capitol Hill and with the president to make a greater effort that allows for accountability, reform and proper funding in key areas.

      • Apachecav

        Then you are blind, it is more than just a financial issue, it is systemic, the waste abuse and fraud is legion in the VA. Stop hiding behind the rank and file in the trenches, doctors and staff are NOT the problem, and put the blame where it belongs. It is squarely a systemic issue from the top. The President, the congress and the Upper administrative staff at VA. Get some balls or get out of the business. Your response is so Marvin Milquetoast it disgusts me, you are still part of the problem and you OWE us an apology, you know the guys you are supposed to be serving….

        • thedav

          Without VSOs like the DAV, VFW, IAVA, PVA who have legislative arms there would be less than there is now. Working with the largest healthcare system in the country means there are going to be a few bad apples. If we weren’t doing our job we wouldn’t have 1.2 million members, as part of a fraternal brotherhood/sisterhood of veterans, as a testament to our effectiveness and at the same time believing that we are in lockstep with the VA, Congress or the president. Fraud happens at all levels of any organization, department or company that is the size of the VA and especially hard to correct when the secretary doesn’t have the power to reprimand top executives like one would have for a privately held company. Getting balls to make generalizations and point fingers doesn’t help with the solution, but only exacerbates it. The ones that have the power to change the situation sit in seats on Capitol Hill. We’ve offered up well-researched and statistically accurate solutions on multiple occasions. Saying that everybody at the top needs to go is not a realistic solution. We are hoping the investigation helps Congress make a decision on acting upon previous recommendations we have offered.

          • FORTUNATE VET

            I have known Veterans and wives, who told horror stories concerning the Phoenix, AZ VA Hospital. These experiences dated back from 4 to 42 years ago. Can it be possible that the Senators/ Congressmen of that State never received a plea for help? Not Likely – But, do not lump all Hospitals in a poor, third class category. I visit and receive care at the VA Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. It is very rare to hear a complaint. Veteran patients come here from all over the country and more times than not they brag on the great care and wonderful nurses.

          • Apachecav

            Really, you are going with that? That is your reply? We have a systemic administration issue with the VA that allows for a culture where it is ok to put Vets on a waiting list to die and you think it is simply a money issue? Vet care was improving up to 2009 and now it is on a rocket sled to H3ll and all you can come back with it is a money issue? Really? If I wasn’t an already paid up life member I would end my affiliation with this organization until you get your heads screwed on right.

      • Concerned DOC

        This is obviously a “systemic” problem that the VA OIG report outlined yesterday. American Legion had published this fact even prior to the OIG and has been tracking it for some time. It effects the National HCS. Whoever the DAV is hiring as lobbiest should also be fired. Because you most definitely do not have a pulse on the VA system, but are yet Dead on Arrival.

        • thedav

          We don’t believe it is a “systemic” problem and a lot of that has to do with VAMC’s with a higher than average veteran population as well as 50% increase in new patients entering the system and only 9% increase in new doctors able to see them. The DAV has also been aware of the problems before the IG report and has been warning Congress for the past 10 years about it. VSOs don’t have lobbyists per se due to their non-profit status, but rather Legislative Directors who offer up well-researched solutions to members of the Veterans Affairs Committee.

          • concerned doc

            Did you read the same VA OUGHT report I did? How can you say this is not systemic? They are investigating 42 other facilities! Veterans died because of serious and potentially criminal misconduct. What are you people doing?!

          • thedav

            While 42 is 42 too many the VHA is the largest healthcare system in the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Veterans_Affairs_medical_facilities

    • rickschramm .

      I agree, the DAV has become soft and afraid to speak out. Forty of our own have died and you dare stand there and tell me how you advocate on capital hill??? Maybe firing the secretary isn’t the answer, but it is a damn good start. Once heads start to roll action occurs… And the fact that vets are dying because someone cooked the books means the talking is done. I don’t care who gets brought down, I do care that another vet doesn’t die because of a criminal act that could have been prevented. Either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way Johnson.

      • thedav

        Because the DAV considers itself a bipartisan organization it has to be careful about going after any particular political party (because our members are both Democrat and Republican) and do its best to offer Congress solutions even if members like Burr is not sitting in his chair to hear the testimony given by all of the VSOs he attacked in his open letter to veterans.

        We don’t believe Shinseki resigning is going to fix the problem because until recently (this week) whoever is in that position doesn’t have much authority to fire poor performers like the top hospital administrator at the Phoenix, AZ VA who falsified the data/cooked the books coming into the Secretary’s office. We agree that even though he has done a great job with the GI Bill, Veterans Homelessness and converting the VA from paper to paperless that his number one priority should have been on the healthcare side of the VA. The reason we’ve been pushing for more funding is because we’ve done independent research reports that show there is a 50% increase in new patients being introduced to the system and only a 9% increase in doctors able to see them.

        We don’t believe any of our brothers or sisters should be dying, but it literally is taking an act of Congress to have that change at the VA. Many in Congress don’t understand the true cost of war.

        • rickschramm .

          I am not here to discuss how the DAV considers itself a bipartisan organization or not. I am a navy veteran, so when a ship runs aground the captain is relieved on the spot. The VA has run aground so that is the end of that. He left, end of that issue. If veterans are dying because someone is cooking the books then that is criminal and if the DAV isn’t mad as hell I have to question “why not”? How is it that money is going to cure cooking the books? This problem didn’t just occur, it has been going on for at least 10 years that I know of. Does the DAV have a valid complaint system in place? Does the DAV know that the VA doesn’t have a valid complaint system in place? After speaking with a DAV counselor I was left wondering how much they know about how the VAMCs operate.
          The complaint system doesn’t exist in the VAMCs. There is no tracking system at all to follow up on veterans complaints and so they usually hit a brick wall. That is how the VAMCs keep a low level of complaints. I wonder why the DAV hasn’t looked into this glaring problem? What does money have to do with fixing a basic problem like this? I am glad you talking but sometimes talk doesn’t cut it anymore and there comes a time to kick butt and take names and I for one believe we are already past this point.
          I am also wondering how these VAMCs have passed the JACHO inspections in order to be certified as in good standing? If they have been cooking the books on some issues what else has been going on that they are cooking the books on?
          I have lost confidence in the DAV and until I see some real action from them I don’t see them as a viable resource for veteran’s health care….

          • thedav

            We are mad about it, especially when we see senators on C-SPAN live vote down bills or not even bring bills to the floor to be voted on. There is only so much action a VSO can take, legally. Burr decided to take lunch during our time in front of the Veterans Affairs committee on the Inspector General’s report. Other than the IAVA and VFW we believe we’ve been one of the more vocal (eg – https://www.dav.org/keepthepromise/ and https://www.dav.org/learn-more/news/2014/continuing-keep-promise/ and our latest campaign: https://www.dav.org/end-the-delays/). VSOs and have teamed up with both of them from time to time on issues which we believe has worked and why Burr lashed out to begin with. Complaining or pointing fingers doesn’t do anybody much good which is why we plan on sticking to our strategy of rallying the base and offering proven metrics and solutions for accountability.

        • concerned doc

          Cooked the books? They and many others in the VHA knowingly created false lists resulting in average wait time for initial appointments for over 150 days! Thats nearly half a year. One vet may have waited four damn years!!! You are defending the administration and the former secretary infuriates me to know end. You are an organization committed to defending the rights of disabled vets! Good night, how long must veterans be told we are a priority only to be treated this way! Dont tell me its because they are the largest health system in America either!

  • Ok Vet

    Thank you Sir,I would also like to state that I have received the greatest of care at both the Loma Linda Jerry L Pettis VA center of ca. for a number of years,and the Oklahoma City VA medical Center for the past five + years. Timely,Effeciant,Caring and cocerned. Great Primary,surgical,specialty,and mental health care. God Bless the VA and the DAV for being there for all of us all of the time at the best of there ability

    • frank wirtz

      Very well said.I would not bealive if not for the V.A AND THE D.A.V.

  • satin8876

    You can comment on his Facebook page and I took the opportunity to point out he must have been sleeping or missing when the other VSO leaders testified. I also pointed out the funding shortfalls over the years and that just firing Sec. Shinseki will not solve the underlying cause. And that if he wanted to see a major cause of the problem he should look in the mirror. Thank you, Commander Johnston, for your excellent statement.

  • Phantomfly

    Disband the VA ! It has failed the test of time and standards of care. Socialized medicine is doomed to fail.

    • Yes, doomed to fail… well, except in the case of most other industrialized nations that made healthcare for their citizens a top priority, particularly Canada and European nations. Are you not aware that in our largely-privatized system here in America, we pay far more and receive far less for our dollar, both in quantity and quality, than almost any other industrialized nation on the planet?

    • tz

      With all due respect, yours is a typical profane, unsubstantial, unsubstantiated, simplistic, extremely broad brushed generalized comment driven by crass ideology.

  • Exponential6Potential

    My Comment on Senator Burr’s Facebook page:

    Senator Burr:

    Sadly, 41 of 45 Senate Republicans denied Senator Sander’s veterans’ legislation that would have, as an example, built a needed 27 medical facilities to handle the influx of OEF/OIF veterans[Quote, 3]. Why?

    Quote: “Supporters said the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans’ programs. For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”[2]

    I personally agree with the DAV that the problems at the Veterans Affairs is much bigger than the Secretary. The VA is a very large institution and I believe the Secretary cannot micromanage. Like any large institution, waste exists, and I believe the VA is currently institutionally corrupt[4], but the reduction and management of waste alone will not provide the revenue needed to care for “all” veterans.

    I personally believe the VHA has been affected by the influx. Although the VHA has a cyclic history[Quote, 3], the VHA outperformed all private hospitals by winning coveted awards in 2005[Quote, 3].

    Quote: “As recently as the 1980s, the VHA health system was a mess: the hospitals were deteriorating, morale was low, efficiency was down, quality was uneven.”[3, Page 12]

    Quote: “The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an organization that provides information about health care quality for business, ranks health-care plans on 17 different performance measures. Philip Longman reporting on the NCQA evaluations writes “Winning NCQA’s seal of approval is the gold standard in the health-care industry. The winner in 2005 was not Johns Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic or Massachusetts General. In every single category, the VHA system outperforms the highest rated non-VHA hospitals.”8″[3, Page 12]

    I want the Veterans Affairs to start winning healthcare awards again. With that said, I, as an illl 1991 Gulf War veteran, and disgruntled with how the VA has consistently mistreated ill 1991 Gulf War veterans[4;5]. As such, I do ask you to support our efforts.

    We live in a time when corporate profits are exceptional, the top 1% have accumulated 95% of the income[6] in the last few years, but the Republicans, and I am an Independent, consistently deny important help for the poor: reduction in food stamps; denying minimum wage increase; denying extension of unemployment benefits; etc. If the top 1% and corporations need the tax breaks to create the jobs to bring in tax revenues from the lower class and middle class to help the poor and veterans, where are the jobs? The top 1% and corporations have had plenty of time.

    Also, the Republicans argued that Senator Sander’s Veteran legislation was too expensive, but the Republicans also suggested they would pass the latter legislation if Iran sanctions were attached. That seems contradictory, and bellicose.

    Quote: “With Democrats pressing for passage this week, Senate Republicans, backed by their leader, Mitch McConnell, attempted to attach controversial legislation calling for possible new sanctions on Iran that President Barack Obama opposes.

    “The issue of Iran sanctions … has nothing to do with the needs of veterans,” complained Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the main sponsor of the bill.'[2]


    [1] Johnston, Joseph W. DAV Comment on Senator Burr’s Open Letter to Veterans, May 24, 2014. dav.org[online]. 2014. Available from: https://www.dav.org/learn-more/news/2014/dav-comment-senator-burrs-open-letter-veterans/

    [2] Cowan, Richard. U.S. Senate Republicans block veterans’ health bill on budget worry, Feb. 27, 2014. reuters.com[online]. 2014. Available from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/27/us-usa-veterans-congress-idUSBREA1Q26O20140227

    [3] Wright, Erik Olin; Rogers, Joel. American Society: How It Really Works. Chapter 8: Health Care. ssc.wisc.edu[online]. 2014. Available from: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/ContemporaryAmericanSociety/Chapter%208%20–%20health%20care-FINAL.pdf

    [4] Harding, Chris. Response to Secretary Shinseki’s Discussion Of State Of Veterans Affairs, May 25, 2014. docs.google.com[online]. 2014. Avialable from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1JqJ6C1t6WHbnBfMVI4UVVDNmM/edit?usp=sharing

    [5] Harding, Chris. A Logical Mistrust of Veterans Affairs Power, August 13, 2013. scribd.com[online]. 2013. Available from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/160127038/A-Logical-Mistrust-of-Veterans-Affairs-Power or http://goo.gl/FzzhjS

    [6] Saez, Emmanuel. Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States (Updated with 2012 preliminary estimates), Sep. 03, 2013. elsa.berkeley.com[online]. 2014. Available from: http://elsa.berkeley.edu/users/saez/saez-UStopincomes-2012.pdf

  • James Hepler

    The donation I make today to your organization is sinspired by your standing up to Richard Burr. I wish I could give more.

  • robertjbarron

    Fully agree with Commander Johnston’s statements. Cheap political shots are no substitute for serious and engaged analysis.

  • robertjbarron

    Forgot to mention I have always appreciated the excellent care that I have received from the VA over the past 10-plus years. I have received care in private hospitals, in military hospitals, and in VA Hospitals….and simply stated, VA care is excellent. One thing that i have often said about VA (or any large organization) is that “you never hear about the success stories”.

  • Kathleen A. T. Donnelly

    Donald R. Donnelly served our country in the US Army for 22yrs. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, he chose to have the surgery at the Wilmington, DE VAMC. It was the consequence of that decision that impacted his life. The extra amount of scarring from that surgery wrapped around his bladder. Don continued to ask the VAMC for help in controlling his bladder. Test were done. He had a contracted bladder. But no one connected the dots. Until Don was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2007. The scar tissue that was wrapped around Don’s bladder and making it impossible to take out in one piece, was noted by the VAMC doctor as ‘likely due to’ the prostate surgery. Now what am I supposed to do with that? Any one who can read and watch the news knows once the cancer is exposed to the air and the body cavity, it will reoccur and spread. And that is exactly what happened. But I am cleaning up the story, this is the short version. Suffice to say, Don suffered miserably due to that scar tissue, and the way the whole case was handled. Because the cause of death did not say due to scar tissue, the DIC claim was denied. No, it was not the scar tissue directly, but a lot of things don’t happen directly. They happen because of a chain of events. Like dominoes. The events that are happening now at the VAMCs across this great nation may have been a result of a ground swell of discontent among our Veterans who use the system. I know my husband created his own personal impact statement in 2008 because he wanted to make his opinion known to the VAMC. Don had himself videoed discussing his surgeries and how it changed his life. Because of the chemo treatments, he seems a little scattered. But the sentiment if very strong. It brings tears to my eyes when I see him trying to get his thoughts out. Don wasn’t asking for anything that was not promised to him.

    • Doc Sheehan

      Kathleen, I am so sorry for the loss of another hero, your husband, Donald. Indeed, it sounds like a case of malpractice and the system can be impossible to circumvent in your favor. For that reason, Veteran Service Organizations like DAV, VFW, Amvets and the American Legion exist to advocate for the veterans. I disagree strongly with the AL Commander for a rash call for Secretary Shinseki to step down. He is not the problem. Still, this does nothing for your personal grief at this time and I admire you as much as your husband for the long battle you fought, God bless you.

  • SgtRay

    VA Denial of Military Burial Privileges for certain Reservists and Guardsmen in
    Federal and State VA Cemeteries. I personally experienced this when my Brother
    recently passed away and I went to the Virginia State Veterans Cemetery in
    Suffolk, VA to arrange for his burial. He was denied this Veterans privilege
    because as a 6 Year USMC Reservist Veteran, he was not eligible, because his
    DD-214 stated his service time was for training purposes only. I arranged for
    His burial in a public cemetery, which to date, the costs are appx: $10,000.00.
    This is a sample of many posts that I have posted on Face Book on many Veteran
    and Military Face Book Pages and Congressional Committees on Veteran Affairs. I
    have not received one reply from any Congressman. As a result of my bringing
    this information to light, I am very surprised to learn, that are way too many
    Veterans, Spouses and Families who are not aware about this dis-honor to
    Veterans and probably do not have the resources to pay for a burial in a public
    cemetery. With the current un-raveling of the VA. I think it is imperative that
    this information be made known to our Veterans and in the hands of those who can
    get this regulation changed.

    VA Cemeteries are
    not allowing certain Vets the privilege of a Veteran Burial. I
    re-post this in the Honor of my Brother, Wayne Denver Goff , who was denied the
    privilege of a Veterans Burial in a Veterans Cemetery, because He served his
    country as a UNITED STATES MARINE RESERVIST VETERAN. As His Brother and fellow
    Marine, I will continue my endeavors to have the regulation changed concerning
    certain Reservists and Guardsmen not being eligible to be Honored with the
    privilege of a Burial in a Veteran’s Cemetery. Thus far, all of my postings,
    emails to the Congressional Committees for Veterans Affairs, Individual
    Congressmen, and various National Veterans Organizations have gone un-answered.
    I did receive one negative attack from a VA employee (Veteran) and my response
    in defense of my position got my posting removed from that face book page. I
    invite you to join with me in bringing attention to this dis-honor to these
    Veterans. Thank you for caring and thank you for sharing. The VA has and
    continues to dis-honor this category of Veterans and will continue to do so
    until we Veterans speak out and get the regulation changed. Unless the VA is
    made aware, the regulations will not get changed. This affects all Veterans,
    Past, Present and Future, not just my particular situation.

  • Joshua Sniegowski

    Me thinks thou (National Staff) dost protest too much. Strike a nerve hearing the truth?

  • Doc Sheehan

    This former lawnmower salesman, Richard Burr, criticizes the VFW, DAV and other VSO’s who didn’t call for the resignation of Secretary Shinseki. Burr never served his country, but serves on the Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (Ranking Member), Select Committee on Intelligence and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Caucus, to name a few.

    As I’ve said before, taking Shinseki down is wrong and accomplishes nothing. Find the cheaters, fire them, prosecute and jail them, fix the problem and move forward. This guy is why I vote a split ticket. He is definitely the greater of two evils, to coin an old phrase. Kudos to the DAV National Commander for his quick response and for all the good work done by the Disabled American Veterans.

    Doc Sheehan
    VFW, Elgin Illinois

  • rickschramm .

    I am rather disappointed with the DAV not speaking out more myself. Of all the VSO’s who should be on the front lines demanding change, it should be the DAV. And no, not all the vets are happy with their care. I for one am not. I am retired, 100% service connected and I have seen guys with just a few years of service get much better care than I ever have. I have documented these issues with the VA Medical Center, Orlando, FL, and the VA Medical Center, Lexington, KY. And by the way Kentucky is the state where the DAV headquarters are located.

    I have waited up anywhere from 6 to 10 months and then had my appointments cancelled. When I went to find someone to complain to he did absolutely nothing. His job title is Patient Care Representative. He doesn’t do a thing, In fact he told me he was told to just sit there for 6 months and just nod his head and eventually he’d get a real job worth more money. The office should be staffed by a minimum of 2 people to handle anything any time a patient comes in. Nothing was ever been done for me and there is no other avenue to pursue.

    My degree is in medicine so I know how the organization is suppose to operate and it is not working. And if you get up and raise your voice then a report goes to the VA police department and then they send it to the DBC (disruptive behavior committee) and your health record gets flagged as a trouble maker. And still, your complaints will go unheard. That is how they keep their high ratings. And since there is no where else to complain then you hit a brick wall. I have seen them extend their hours late in the day and on Saturdays because they couldn’t keep up with the flow of patients and still their lists were too long. Right in Kentucky, right under the National Headquarters nose…

    As far as removing the secretary? First off he has no medical training and is not qualified for his position and second off how many years has he been in the driver’s seat? Nuff said… These problems were identified in 2012 by then chair Senator Patty Murray and she submitted solutions to fix them. Nothing ever became of them. So why should we believe he will change anything now??? He needs to go, period.

    The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JACHO) has given most of these VA Medical Centers their stamp of approval. Everyone seems to be greasing the skids for this bunch of dead wood administrators in who are in charge when many of them should have been canned a long time ago and yet somehow they still get bonuses…. How is that possible? It is a moral crime and I can’t believe this is the way so many of us have been treated over the years. The VA has had one patch applied after another and still it operates at a level of incompetency that is mind boggling.
    And the DAV is not speaking up??? They should be mad as hell and leading the pack to see that our veterans get the best possible medical care that money can buy even if it means dismantling the VA and sending them to the private sector for their health care. For God’s sake, the DAV has a congressional charter and I expect to see some action out of them. As a Life Member I demand it. You owe it to these kids as well as the rest of us. Do your job and quit defending an organization that has become over inflated in bureaucracy and is now literally killing people. The VA has become a burden that is no longer worth the effort.
    Just a story of how they operate. I spent an hour driving down to the VA Medical Center in Lexington, KY. When I arrived the parking garage was full so I along with others had to drive around until someone left. When I went to the second floor where Neurology was suppose to be located I could not find it. I walked around for quite awhile trying to locate the clinic. Finally I found someone who walked me there. Once I arrived I was now late due to no part of my own. At the check-in desk there sat the hallway sign that said Neurology, big as you please. Not in the hallway but at the check-in desk. They had moved and had never got around to putting it back up. As the head nurse told me I was too late to be seen I stifled my anger and sucked it up. When I went down to travel to collect my travel pay I was told that since I wasn’t seen for an appointment that I wasn’t authorized to receive travel allowance. And so where do you go to complain? No where, there is no where to go and no one to complain to. That is why there are so few complaints. If you don’t have anywhere or anyone to complain to then you don’t have a problem. And since there are no problems then the VA must be doing their job right? Mr. Johnson, you need to get the lead out Sir and I mean soon. Otherwise you are just going to become part of the problem, not the solution we need at this time.

  • George Mitchell

    The system has been busted for a long time and it’s time to clean house. I don’t think getting rid of the top man is going to do any good but getting down to individual hospitals and clinics is where the problems are.