Message from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs



Not all Veterans are getting the timely access to the healthcare that they have earned. Systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses. I will use all available authority to swiftly and decisively address issues of willful misconduct or mismanagement.

VA’s first priority is to get all Veterans off waiting lists and into clinics while we address the underlying issues that have been impeding Veterans’ access to healthcare. The President has made clear that this is his expectation.

Even as we implement these immediate actions, we will work with Veterans Service Organizations, members of Congress, academia, public and private organizations, and with all other agencies and institutions that can help us move forward.

We will also continue to depend on the faithful service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of Veterans above their own, those who serve Veterans with dignity, compassion, and dedication, and who live by VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.

Finally, as we accelerate our access to care, we will not lose sight of the fact that the quality of VA healthcare remains strong. Ten years of external validations have consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare rate our hospitals and clinics as high or higher in customer satisfaction than patients give most of the nation’s private sector hospitals.

On behalf of all Veterans, I express my appreciation to Secretary Shinseki for his leadership of VA. For decades to come, Veterans will benefit from the transformation begun in the past five years.

Thank you for your support and dedication to Veterans and our mission to serve them.

Gibson, Sloan D

 

 

Sloan D. Gibson,
Acting Secretary

Author

Sloan D. Gibson

Comments

  1. Cynthia A Koehler    

    Dear Sir: I am a 100% service connected veteran with MS, MST, and MVP, along with numerous other maladies associated with the MS. While at the VAMC in Decatur, GA, I was in the nuclear medicine department for a bone scan. While there, I was molested by the technician! I reported it to the director of VAMC twice with no results, to the patient advocate several times with no results, and to the mental health department with no department! That is when I decided to change my base of medical treatment to Salisbury, NC where since I have been here, have been treated like a queen! The only thing I have a problem with Salisbury is that I have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, renal failure, along with many UTIs from the suprapubic bag that I have….alll at a civilian hospital. I need to be followed for my heart and my urinary problems, plus my MS. I AM WHEELCHAIRBOUND AND STILL REQUIRE A POWER CHAIR. I HAVE HAD TO MISS THE SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS BECAUSE OF MY OWN HEALTH REASONS, UNABLE TO TRAVEL AT THOSE TIMES.

  2. HD Blanks    

    How can fix the problems with PTSD claims when you are denied service connection after it is clearly stated in one’s medical records. If being left behind alone for three days in combat zone is not enough suffering. I still can’t sleep at night without living those three days repeatedly. My life has been a nightmare since day one and my family has had to endure my pain. Am I better off dead or am I just the next triple threat waiting to explode? Lord knows I don’t want to flipout on nobody else.

  3. Alice C. Lizee    

    In February, 2012, my husband and I visited the Vet. Affairs office to ask for an increase in his compensation. He was a WWII vet. He suffered from 1947 until his death on Father’s Day, 2013, from an unsightly, painful, irritating skin rash since service in the South Pacific. We made it very clear that many vets are suffering far worse than he and that he didn’t want to precede anyone who needed help more than he did. However, he was diagnosed with an additional rash. Also, dental work done in the Air Corps that resulted in extreme tooth loss in 1950 had become serious. According to the VA his profound hearing loss was the result of hours at the M1 firing range without ear protection. protection. Despite these claims, the VA feels free in demanding that his military records reflect these incidents. Fine, but it is widely known that a fire in St. Louis, MO, resulted in the loss of huge numbers of military records. However, I tried to gather what I could from dentists, dermatologist and VA records and sent them to the VA. The VA acknowledges that his records are gone, but wants them any way. I was told, also, by the Veterans Affairs representative that I should not have tried to comply with the VA’s request, but brought the information to him. I was never told not to respond to the VA. I also tried to get his case expedited because he was terminally ill. A VA representative stated emphatically that he had to be seen by a VA doctor. Oncologist, radiologist, primary care physician diagnoses was not sufficient. He suffered terribly when, 5 days before he died, he was forced to go to the VA. The doctor was appalled that he was submitted to such an ordeal. The Veterans Affairs representative told he this appointment was not necessary. But, we tried to do everything that was asked of us. My husband died, feeling that his service and suffering was of no concern to the VA. He’d been told dozens of times, “Thank you for your service.” Unfortunately, the VA seems to disagree. On my latest visit to Veterans Affairs, I was told that his application needed to start over again because we’d not complied to VA requests.

  4. erica    

    My husband has had nothing but trouble from the VA starting in 92 when he came home he would get sick and i would take him to the Indianapolis Indiana VA and they would take him to a dirty room blood on the bed floor and sheets we would complain but to no avail. The doctors kept saying there wasn’t anything wrong and that he was just a drug seeker so i finally got him to go to my doctor just to find out that his glands in his groin and under arms were permanently swollen so they had been pinching nerves causing pain and inability to walk. so they did surgery to remove the glands and sent the bill to VA who immediately denied payment. we filed claims for his ptsd and his psychiatrist said it wasn’t called that anymore and that it was called anxiety and depression. so we had to refile it took 4 yrs before they granted anything. he injured his knee in the war and now the injury has caused so much strain on the other knee from him trying to walk without it folding backwards that he has to wear braces on both legs we filed a claim for unemployablility per primary care orders and they say that she never put it in her report. my husband was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in Dec of 2013 has had one round of radiation and has to get another in august. so he most definitely cant work now but they had the nerve to send us a letter telling us we had to prove that no one would hire him. and to top it all off his therapist said she didn’t want to see him any longer cause she thought she was doing more harm than good and had the audacity to put that he refused to see her in his records so that she wouldn’t get into trouble for dismissing him for no reason i have wrote the Governor and the white house about the treatment he has received over the years which this is just the tip of the ice berg of course there has been no response. we barely make ends meet. i truly think that the veterans should get better treatment and not have to go to outside doctors for their care and my husband wouldn’t be able to if it weren’t for our parents paying for it. I think that the higher ups should feel what its like to fear sleeping next to their spouse for fear of waking with their hands around their throat screaming things that you cant understand and only they in their sleeping state of mind know what is being said. My husband needs his meds and his therapy so i can sleep in peace and he can have a restful sleep without the nightmares

  5. veteran marine    

    If they ever find a way to fix this problem I don’t think it will be in my lifetime. The problem did not happen overnight, and it cannot be fixed that way. If they would hire more vets, instead of family it would help a great deal. We need people in there that have gone through what we went through, and how do we get that without hiring vets? Better management would be a plus, someone who is business oriented, that could go in and trim the fat, and eliminate the bonus. Make the bonus the privilege of keeping their job!! Just in corporate America, the man from for went in and cleaned up Chrysler and the man from at&t who went in to clean up general motors. Why can’t the VA get someone like that that can get the fob done? Don’t the veterans deserve that?

  6. James van Cleve    

    If the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs or anyone in his office has a moment to read this I would like to share part of my VA experience with him. I should probably mention that the support from the VA is just about all I have left ( such as it is) for my survival .–My name is James van Cleve , I am 75 years of age and I am in poor health. I served in the Texas National Guard from 1956 to 1957 and the US Army from 1957 to 1962. I am a resident in the State of Texas , city of San Antonio. “Waiting for us to die” seems to be more a fact than a theory. I waited about two and one half years for a decision after applying for an increase in my disability I finally went from 50% to 80%. During and following that period my disability condition has increased ( MY Contentions: depressive disorder NOS (also claimed as anxiety) (Increase), hypertension (New), vbms (New) . I have been waiting now for one year and three months for a decision on this new situation. I have been stuck in the -“Preparation For Decision” status for one year– and for the “Estimated Claim Completion Date” I have been given this explanation (for about a year)– ” At this time , your Regional Office is unable to provide an estimated completion date for this type of claim.”–Also I was diagnosed with type two diabetes about nine months ago by my primary care Dr at the South Bexar VA Outpatient Clinic , there has been no follow up from the VA to this date ( 05/01/2014) –So on the 28th of April 2014 I went to a private Doctor for help , on the 29th of April 2014 I was given an exam and on the 30th of April 2014 the Doctor wrote me a prescription for Metformin–the VA pharmacy will not honor the prescription so today the 1st of May 2014 I took it to Walmart and had it filled. — I have been unable to hold a job since 1985 due to a number of health problems I do have other health concerns in addition to depression , anxiety , panic attacks , extreme difficulty concentrating and an undependable right shoulder–chronic pain , sleep problems , dizzyness (vertigo) , arthritis of the spine , arthritis of the neck , arthritis of the right shoulder , arthritis of both hands , constant muscle cramps , COPD and cataracts on both eyes as well as hearing loss , and tinnitus that is slowly driving me to consider suicide. At this point I believe I understand why so many vets actually do commit suicide–pain and frustration can make a normal person go nuts. My Designated Power of Attorney is with the TEXAS VETERANS COMMISSION Regional Office of Jurisdiction in Houston Texas.

  7. iceman    

    I go to the madison va. They provide the best of care. And I am thankfull. Inresponse to these others comments these vets need to also help themself. Dont just rely on a gov handout

  8. Chris Couch    

    If you need help with veteran housing issues please don’t hesitate to ask.

    V/R
    Chris

  9. denise gang    

    i have seen how my husband has been lied to regarding his treatment , but what has anoyed myself even more is that my husband who is well qualified has been passed over by non veterans for employment. he is 30% or more service connected and has been given one lie after another and the staff at human resources just hire their friends for employment . he had spoken with the volunteer services director and he communicated this to him at the northport va hospital . just look at all the family connections that work there together and they help other family with ongoing employment . i feel if they hired more veterans then they would speak up when something such as the appointment list would not happen if a veteran would speak up about these horrors. the people working there just dont care as seen that all they want is higher bonuses , hoe about the 5 million that was spent on the va human resources conference

  10. Ken    

    Breath, not holding. Your gonna have to gut the system first before you can fix it.

  11. J.R. Kessler    

    I get great VA care in the West Texas region, all vets deserve the same.

  12. Ronnie    

    I hope that the expectations of the President are met. It has been a horrible experience at many VA’s I have been to. I have in one instance, after 7 years of VA care, been told I was not qualified for VA benefits, and was embarrassingly and rudely escorted from the VA clinic. This clinic is very well known for its horrible treatment of veterans as well as “firing” vets from VA care.
    On another issue, some VA’s are requiring that we have direct deposit in order to get our travel pay, were we used to get it the same day. I am on a VA pension, get it once a month and have a very strict budget. I have to drive 6 hours one way to Albequrque for VA care, and now have to borrow or not pay other bills in order to make it there and back. My last visit cost me my computer and some furniture to sell in order to get there.
    Another issue is getting past the nurses just to see the physician or get tests ordered by another VA physician. I had orders from a VA physician for x-rays in order to see if I needed to see him sooner than the appointment date 6 weeks out. I was told I could not get the x-rays until I was seen by my PCP who would be the one having to follow up with this issue anyway. I had my appointment, got my x-rays 2 weeks later, yet no one followed up with my results. I then went to my Ortho, and he looked at the xrays where I had a torn rotator cuff, and significant issues with the discs in my neck, that my clinic PCP never reviewed.

  13. John Smithson    

    With all due respect and sympathy, I fail to see how service will improve without additional funding and the expansion of additional new facilities. I see this as a political problem at the congressional level. Veterans are being used as political pawns and it’s shameless.

    Veterans care in Charleston WV is excellent.

    1. Brian Kloosterman    

      I also agree with the service at Charleston Outpatient Clinic and I would add Huntington VAMC. I have been to other VA’s since I retired and not all are equal.

  14. James J Bentley Jr SFC (Ret)    

    MY CASE NUMBER IS 28 137 121.
    643 days ago I appplied for Disability Compensation. The rating decision was completed 259 days ago. I have not received any compensation to date.
    I have called 800-827-1000 numerous times only to be told the eligibility had to be determined. Customer Service at DFAS was told on 2 separate times they had no record of me.
    I requested that I be furnished the telephone number of the Roanoke VA Veterans Service Center Manager. They told me they could not do that. The person at 800-827-1000 told me that were refering me to their Supervisor would get back to me the next day. Four working days later no contact.
    HOW DO I CONTACT SOMEONE WITH THE ABILITY TO EITHER ACT OR SUGGEST ACTION?

  15. Frank L Zimmer    

    I am a viet era vet that drank the bad water at Lejune in 1971..after having to said that….I also repaired and refurbished tanks from Viet Nam in 1971 nobody told us about agent orange and the toxins that were left in these tanks m-48a3…at first the VA here said it wasn t service related and after fighting to get help, of course time (1 yr) the time to appeal is over…now after3 heart failures on nitro because of irregular heart beats AND OXYGEN SUPPLY TO THE HEART…thyroid problems…copd….ra wrists and ankles…..gout….they now suspect that I have agent orange..which I never asked for but medication is costing me $1,000 every 6 months which i should not have to pay for….also my claim for disability should be from 11/10 when this all started and I claimed it….I also forgot High Blood pressure and seeing a psch.dr. for stress …..Please help me as I am financially only getting social security and I am not able to work I can not pass a physical

    1. Cynthia A Koehler    

      Check out the VA website on agent orange. There are a lot of maladies that are associated with AO. I am helping my ex-husband with his claim for aid and attendance because he is bedridden due to what AO has done to him. Good luck!

  16. Steve Virden    

    Sounds like upper level management need to get off their bureaucratic butts, roll up their sleeves, get out in the field with the doctors, vets and administrators and make things happen. Talk is cheap. Action is everything.

  17. P.minger    

    Please do not forget the PRE 9/11 vets. We need your help.

    Most of the 22 suicides a day are over 50. Most homeless vets are over 50. Most that die of service related injures are over 50

  18. Garland D. Wiggs    

    Those of us who serve as a VA Volunteers stand ready to do all we can to report inappropriate or illegal actions we see to our VA Supervisors.

    We want the reputation of the VA to be “outstanding” as it is in the Salem VA Medical Center where I serve!

    You, Mr. Director, can’t fix it alone … we are here to help!

    Gar W.
    MHV Volunteer Coordinator
    Wytheville VA CBOC

    1. Larry Grant    

      I am a VietNam Vet & have been going to the Salem VAMC since 2003, & have not had ANY issues with services there, other than convincing me Doc that I know my body & something is wrong. Very pleased with the Salem VAMC, & as a volunteer with this fine institute Garland D. Wiggs, I Thank You!

  19. hester_1205    

    Lake Jackson,Tex.
    Prime example of how things should work everywhere.

  20. Troy    

    Explain to me as towhy I have to wait all the way till September if than at the Orlando.VA to be seen for a “Loose femoral component” And they have the nerve with all that is going to put me on a waiting list are you kidding me here.
    And than after this all blows up the so called commander in chief finally comes out and opens his mouth,what type of commander in chief does that.So I have to go through the whole summer with a bad left knee and hope they see me in September explain that one to me.

    1. veteran marine    

      I don’t know why they do that, but I also have to go about six months to get an appointment for a service connected problem, and It should not be like that. I know there are good doctors out there, I don’t know why the v.a. cannot find the means to recruit them and to keep them.

  21. samuel    

    I would recommend that in order for the VA to retain medical personnel especially physicians to take a look at Puerto Rico VA model. They sponsor upto 10 medical residents in primary care. Who in turn stay for double the duration of residency in the system. Due to lack of residencies in primary care. Major VA hospitals should have such programme for medical students after graduation. I am one example in particular. Am a veteran who finished medical school but cannot obtain residency spot. I would love to work for veterans since am already one.

  22. Atenogenes Navarro    

    23 and a half years ago the Loma Linda VA took me off the streets. I was homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. They gave me the foundation and hope towards becoming a productive member of society. Since that time i have been able to graduate from college, retire as a Director for the Boy Scouts of America.

    On the medical side LLVA has and continues to provide me with the care i need on the upmost professinal mannor.

    While on vacation in Tucson AZ a few weeks ago I ran out of important Meds. without any problems and with the most caring mannor the VA in Tucson provided me with the Meds I needed to get back home here in California.

    I am and will continue being a good will ambassador for the VA and their caring ways in providing me with my Medical needs. I salute their care and professionalizm.

  23. Paul W. Glass    

    Lots of sad stories but I need to say that was not the case for me at my VA clinic in Bemidji, Mn. They have got a great staff of doctors and nurses and I never have had any problems getting an appointment. There must be many other clinics and hospitals that are all just as efficient that no one seems to mention. A Vietnam vet.

  24. Clinton S Craddock    

    Sir, When is the Manila Philippines VA Outpatient clinic, which is DIRECTLY UNDER YOUR OFFICE, going to address the needs and concerns of disabled veterans living in the Philippines. As a part time resident (4-6 months of the year) of there, it is apparent that the current administrator has NO DESIRE to take care of the disabled veterans living there. Many veterans have voiced these concerns but there is NO DIRECT METHOD of addressing OUR CONCERNS TO YOUR OFFICE, the OPR for the clinic. They routinely deny care and deny access as required by US LAW and VA Regulations. Please provide a contact name and number to address OUR CONCERNS!

    1. veteran marine    

      There are those type of concerns all over, and I agree that they should provide a way to lodge complaints and concerns maybe a phone number or an e-mail address we can use to get direct response to our problems. Patient advocate offices can only do so much , if any thing at all. What if you have a problem with the advocates office? Who would you go to?

  25. Tina    

    As a veteran and VA employee the best thing to do is hire and keep
    Providers on staff. The VA cannot keep providers on staff thus causing
    A black log of veterans needing appointments. Treat your employees well and we
    will stay working for you! My own opinion!!!

    1. Via    

      As a Vet and a VA employee, i believe that we need to tap into the data base housing qualified veterans and hire like there is no tomorrow. There is no reason why the VA (Veterans Affairs) has only 32+% of Veterans working at VA. As a veteran establishment, who is better to serve a veteran than another veteran.
      Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of great civilians that are needed to accomplish our mission, but not all feel the passion and determination that a fellow veteran would.
      I bet if data was extracted across all the HR offices in the VA, you would find the lowest percentage of veterans working as HR personnel. in addition, I bet that those responsible for making appointments have much less veterans as well.

      1. Jane    

        I’m not a veteran myself but most of my family are veterans dating back to 1600’s. I’m very much in support of the VA mission in support of veterans. What I’m not in support of is staff and Management (whether veterans or civilians) spending 20% their time working and 80% on politics. 100% shifting their work to others through workarounds. So only one person is actually doing the job of 3 people. Most of the time it’s the clinicians because GS administration does not want to copy, print, mail, type, enter, carry or anything else except say hello. The GS know VA systems well. They can make data APPEAR anyway they want. Manipulation of data to save money (without work) to gain bonuses is not new. I’m very sorry this has become acceptable behavior for a government agency; or employee who is the steward for that agency.

  26. Col Mark Holten    

    The VA has a systemic problem of incentivized behavior to save $$ due to inadequate resourcing from and Congress. That “money saving is priority #” culture included incentives in the form of bonuses for people who furthered numerous criminal acts in furtherance of a Department-wide conspiracy to deny veterans care and benefits. And disincentives included punishing VA employees who refused to play ball in that conspiracy and destroying careers of whistleblowers. All of this happened on your watch as one of the senior political appointees leading the VA. Until you come clean and admit that transgressions found in Phoenix and numerous other VA centers in the U.S. are but just symptoms of the cancer at the VA which starts at the top, then your words are empty and likely to fall upon deaf ears. If you can’t admit what problem you have there is zero chance you’ll have success fixing it.

  27. patrick jahnke    

    Will its 0108am 3rd of may pain is nonstop in left leg ready to cut off leg if va or someone does help me it ever night like this can’t sleep leg feel thousand needle what to come out from within leg

  28. Ray sullivan    

    I say It is about time, I know first things first, But what about all the so called, lost med records.
    I was in the Navy back in 72 I barley made it through boot camp I got out of the Navy with a RE4 a little lest then two years later,
    I had a nerviest brake down about mid way through my basic training and was hospitalized for 24hr then also was abused in boot camp / basic training. I now suffer from PTSD Bipolar and depression, in witch I had some before the Navy. But at the time I was running from a dysfunctional dad, and Family with less then a 7 grade education, but the Navy push me through it any way.. and after filing for service connection for this, I only got less then 10 % more like 0% with no service connection to any of this. Now I feel the Navy should have never put me through boot must less the real Navy.
    On further note I went in to fright for my country and now at age 59 I would still stand up and fright for my country.and do my duty…… God bless America! Please help our Veterans ……Please and thank you Kenneth Ray Sullivan E- mail Ray251kr@gmail.com

  29. patrick jahnke    

    Please note I have $ on my expense why, hope to recover cost plus travel va doctor refused send paperwork with the va system. Lazy butt Dr.

  30. patrick jahnke    

    Dear sir u have a lot of thing happen all over . I’m fro Madison wi va. My doctor retired Feb, after he left the nurse practitioners cancel my pain med. Narcotic. No warning no reason why. Is their a bonuses give to doc cancel then and put me on a antidepressant. Drug that does not work, I’ve try 5 yrs ago it nasty side effect s . now it may I change to tomah a total of 5 doctors left madison va. So that mean hired more pa . my care it bottom know stop pain burn left leg. Med 5 yrs ago resparked the nerve pain. So I seen 2 doctors their doing the same no narcotics , antidepressant drugs only. Try cream it hell night ring of fire. I even ask doc for 2nd opinion from burn specialist it went in deaf ear. I call have appt within 2 weeks .this doc transfer from male clinic. Told me he will chk into it. Never did. I even look internet burn nerve meds , I in the right an refused . so their are other out same boat no care Dont give a damn about our vets. Even went to the top va hospital.

    1. dank    

      I am so sorry you are suffering, I can only hope that now things will get better now since Obama’s sceem has been exposed!

  31. Juan Garay    

    I appreciate the comment. As a Vietnam vet I have had bleeding in my penis for two months and had to go to JJ Peters hospital numerous times and they would turn me away. I finally went with urine and blood in the cup before they took my issue seriously. I have had prostate cancer previously. I’m sure they are busy but as a retired service member it’s unacceptable that the dr refuse to listen as if I don’t know when something is wrong. I just hope that what you say about holding people accountable for those that aren’t working diligently for our care

Comments are closed.