A message from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs


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Happy Holidays 2014

On Christmas Eve 1776, General George Washington convened his commanders and staff to finalize a bold plan under desperate circumstances—crossing the ice-clogged Delaware River to mount a surprise attack on Hessian troops warmly encamped at Trenton, New Jersey.

Many of Washington’s troops were ill, low on food, and poorly clothed.  But within 48 hours, they made the daring crossing and soundly defeated the unwary Hessians, capturing most of them.  It was the brilliant stroke that Washington had been waiting for, and it tipped the scales in our War for Independence.

Pvt. Walter E. Prsybyla, member of the 2nd Infantry Division, addresses Christmas cards to the folks back home. 11/30/44. B Btry, 37th FA, 2nd Inf. Div., FUSA, Heckhalenfeld, Germany.

Pvt. Walter E. Prsybyla, member of the 2nd Infantry Division, addresses Christmas cards to the folks back home. 11/30/44. B Btry, 37th FA, 2nd Inf. Div., FUSA, Heckhalenfeld, Germany.

Since that Christmas of 1776, American men and women in uniform have spent many Christmases on barren battlefields in Europe, Africa, throughout the Pacific; on the Korean Peninsula and in Vietnam; and now in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Their courage and sacrifice have secured for generations of Americans many freedoms, including the freedom to celebrate whatever holidays we choose.

Each generation of Veterans has faced and overcome immense challenges to accomplish their missions.  We, at VA, owe them the same effort.  We have the noblest and most respected mission in government; we have strong and inspiring values—integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence; we have a dedicated workforce of good people doing great work; and we have the support of the President, the Congress, and the American people.  With all that for us, we cannot but overcome the challenges we face.

Random VA employee 2To the men and women of the Armed Forces, to the nation’s 22 million Veterans, and to our 345,000 VA employees, I offer you and your families my heartfelt thanks for your selfless service and best wishes for a joyous holiday.  May God bless you all in the coming year.

Robert A. McDonald

Author

Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald was the eighth Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Comments

  1. Diane Raybon    

    How many more Veterans must DIE or become HOMELESS before the VA is totally overhauled? The problem has been ongoing for years, can it be solved or is the monetary aspect too large?

    Anyone want to answer? I would appreciate it.

  2. JDD    

    The VA continues to be a failure under Secretary McDonald, but does this really surprise anyone? I used to think I was going nuts and that I must be the problem. However, my wife started going to my appointments with me 4 years ago and actually went into the exam rooms, ER, etc. with me and she gets more angry than I do at the treatment provided, or not provided. It is a shame, but Secretary McDonald is just another bureaucrat who is entirely out of touch with the veterans he claims to care so much for. If it was not for my wife and kids I would have given up long ago!!!

  3. patrick jahnke    

    Why are clinic closed day after Xmas? Paid holiday? Must be nice doc nurses 4 days off, who helping the veteran need help, sorry u have wait Monday, va can’t pay the er by uuu

  4. patrick jahnke    

    I still do not understand why u take $6 .00 from travel from each veteran get travel pay, pay for the bonus? Pay off those patient advises personal who don’t do nothing help the veteran cover for the head of va hospital. Which refused to help me with my nerve pain, go pain clinic they dont do nothing, my green doctor. Does do nothing, nurse run he’s patients, it all a cover up waste time for veteran care, BOB DOES NOT CARE, side kick filed 13 complaints, and va care hit rock bottom!!!!! Government took narcotics drugs away no warning, to veterans, refused to review thier cases, antidepressant drug have nasty side effect , more harm to a veteran. Doctor hit highlite in records only, green doctor( new doctor do not know how to help them with va systems.) Thier a puppet told what they can and can not do or give out meds.

  5. Mr. Odis D. Ferguson    

    I am a Vietnam veteran that have fighting for my 100 percent compensation for 43 yrs. I have been declared unemployable for 11 yrs, I have recently been declared 70 percent disabled, but per my records and the V.A. records, plus my in service records I am totally disabled, I cannot work and I have a wife and two grandsons I have to raise. I need my Merry Christmas to be one of joy due to receiving my due compensation.

  6. Howard    

    I submit the VA has had grave leadership. Let us not forget it also takes a lot of funding to provide the care we so desperately seek and that bottom line is approve by congress through their sights on commitment and prioritization. I and hundreds of thousands ten fold, some no longer with us, we’re “promised Free Medical after serving 20 or more years.” Promises that were and are not being kept.

  7. Timothy Dove    

    When I first was introduced to the VA health care programs, I was amazed and gratified about the sincere caring of the medical providers and staff. The phrase, “How can we help you?” was then – and continues to be – the watchword of these folks. That attitude is missing in some parts of the non-VA medical world. Thank you!

  8. rlindydiane    

    The VA healthcare system is definitely broken and needs reform desperately. I am supposed to fill out the paperwork to get my grandfather into the system but jumping all these hoops, filing all that paperwork to get this kind of treatment seems futile. He has private health care and Medicare, a good pension it’s hard to think that I have to go through all that stress and waiting to have to participate in a system that is almost non existent especially for a lower tier vet.

  9. Sandra Demoruelle    

    If the DVA cared about Veterans and their Caregivers they would pay Beneficiary Travel reimbursement promptly to all those who are eligible.

  10. Andrew Bourne    

    The VA fooled all of us with the “New” affordable care act-“Choice card for veterans” is a sham! If you live within 40mi. of a CBOC…good luck! CBOC’s are counted as “veterans treatment facilities”… Thus…get your broken poor veteran self back in line.
    Why can’t we at least get our benefits right…to start with; and fire (then imprison) those that have screwed the veterans over…use an executive order to do that!

  11. Lawrence Goodwin    

    First, let me congratulate you on having so many truly dedicated, very competent employes.They virtually always go the extra mile for me & for other Veterans.
    Now, let me say that administrators, scheming to leave out so many deserving Vets, and threatening front line employes with loss of career & benefits for the sake of their own bonuses, is criminal, & MUST be prosecuted as such. If not, the whole affair will simply repeat itself in the future. All of your hard work will go for naught, and we must not allow that possibility for our future Veterans.
    So many crucial positions remain unfilled at VA that it’s small wonder it cannot fully perform it’s duties. Did you know that at West Los Angeles there is only one telephone operator, where 3 are needed and funded? A Veteran living 100 or 150 miles away is very much out of luck when it comes to doing appointment or other business with any clinic by telephone. That’s exclusive, not inclusive. Voicemail hasn’t done the job, and never will.
    The only bonuses at VA should be paid to those who are able to point out new efficiencies, and methods administration may be using to falsely demonstrate efficiency. We must do more than protect whistleblowers. It must be incentivized, or the self-protecting bureau will continue or return.
    VA touts “patient centered care,” and I can agree in many ways. However that should really be “Veteran centered” care, meaning it must be inclusive, rather than exclusive. Keeping deserving Veterans out of the system breaks the law at the expense to our country of it’s own proper good intentions.
    Criminal prosecution is essential.
    A personal note. I was referred to Spinal for lower back troubles, and found that the day of my first appointment was the day W.L.A. “lost it’s spinal surgeon” (who would NOT be replaced). That was several years ago. I was referred to Ortho, but so were so many others that Ortho couldn’t possibly cope. I will be 70 years old next August, and I now believe the next thing I will hear on the matter is that I have become too old for remedial surgery. It’s nice to know someone received a bonus for saving the salary of that spinal surgeon, while I will be substantially disabled for the remainder of my life.

  12. Timothy Wiersma    

    Here is a description of part of my experience with the VA…..Having bad shoulder pain…I tell my VA provider about it during yearly physical exam which is not much more than bloodwork and some Q and A at a clinic in Boiling Springs SC…..Get a letter for appointment to get an x-ray of shoulder a month after talking to provider about it…x-ray will be in Greenville SC~35 miles from the Boiling Springs SC clinic….Go to get X-ray…..about a month later I get a letter with an appointment to get an orthopedic consutation about shoulder and exam. Appointment is more than 2 and a half monts from date of receiving the letter…Appointment for ortho. is at the main VA hospital at Columbia SC…a little over 100 miles from my house…Take a day off of work to drive to Columbia SC for appointment….Get looked at and the DR. wants an MRI done…I go home and ~ 1 month later a letter arrives with an appointment in Columbia SC for an MRI ~1 and a half months after receiving the letter for appointment….Month and a half later I take a day off work go the 100 miles + to Columbia SC get the MRI and go back home…Get another letter about two weeks from getting the MRI for an appointment to see the orto. DR about the MRI results..appointment is for two weeks from day of receiving the letter…Take a half day off of work go to Columbia SC. Ortho DR says there is a partial tear of rotator cuff and he is going to set me up with some physical therapy at the clinic in Greenville SC ~35 miles from my house…..never hear from them again….Now a year later I’ve just had my yearly exam in early September and just now got into the physical therapy once a week for 8 weeks so they can look at the shoulder again with an MRI…….You see….the deal with the VA is that they make things so long and drawn out and make everything inconvienient hoping you will not bother… just fade away or die……I haven’t seen any real changes in the VA yet….They should just dismantle most of the VA and let us disabled Vets get care where and when we want….It will save them tons of money.

  13. Don    

    It seems that the Dept of Veterans Affairs has not changed they still give the veterans the run around hoping that the veteran gives up, dies or kills them self! Or is it only the Detroit Dept of Veterans Affairs?
    Besides being exposed to asbestos in the Navy and have Asbestosis (which according to them is not a disease) I have Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which started in 1971/72, which my complantes are in my naval medical records IF they have not been lost!
    Also the Dental bridge that the Navy put came loose and by the time the Detroit Vet Affairs office denied any service conection it broke and I had to have all my teeth pulled!

    In May of this year I filed a complaint with Senator Stabenow about the run around that I have been getting from the Detroit Dept of Veterans Affairs. Her office contacted them and was told that they sent me the information on how to appeal. I her office informed me of this. I did not get the information until 3 to 4 days after I replied to her office that I have not received anything form the VAs!

    I filled out the forms and fax them to Newnam, GA as required.

    At the end of Nov I received ANOTHER packet on how to appeal their rulings!
    I again filled out the forms and sent them in to Newnam through the US postal Services!

    Now I would like to know WHY are Veterans that served under the WWII Veterans service act ( or what ever it was called) being treated like they are post 911 veterans?

  14. Jeff Davis    

    Thank you for your message and efforts to address the issues facing your Department. May you and all of the dedicated employees of the VA have a wonderful holiday and a fruitful New Year! God bless the VA!!!

  15. patrick jahnke    

    Merry christmas to to everyone. I feel his office needs get off thier butts, I had a deer go in front of me 3months ago, Fri night sat-sun night-am left start pain call nurse advice line , Mon am I call doctors nurse she told me he was full. 5 mom later a different nurse call me told me come in at 11am, I did chk it out went xray, came back drop it off, wed was a government holiday, so Dr reads xrays got results Friday , I had cont pain 10 later , call nurse she did nothing . I went madison er 2nd opinion they order a MRI it should been done 10 days early, 2 more weeks go by MRI Fri, Mon test result, call my primary care nurse inform test results in, I hear nothing Tue,weds, Thurs call main office told them hear nothing from them had blood work up talk head person they sent or tho paper work 3 day after I call them on Mon, why is thier a hold up to get thing done sooner? Know 3 more weeks ortho clinic. I’m in knee pain knee get huge like a grapefruit on it I can’t go to a er nearby va can’t not promise they will pay it. I have bill yes ago va has not paid, $2,000. They told go to a erasap. Ur office still has many things to square away. Were still bottom of health care in my view.

  16. Richard Levine    

    If he does not reform the extremely limited in-VA dental care to include all veterans in the VA Healthcare System and provide an all-inclusive dental care (preventative and restorative care up to crowns, dentures, implants), I will consider his tenure as Secretary a failure. Currently, only the few, rare veterans receives dental care under very limited conditions, and even this care is far below dental industry standards. Just pulling teeth, and leaving an open space is unacceptable. This approach was suggested to me by a VA dentist. It is also now known that dental problems in the mouth can lead to heart attack, diabetes, poor health and stroke. How can the VA keep ignoring these facts and the veterans they are charged to serve?

    How can the VA claim that it is world-class and providing an excellent healthcare system to veterans, if this level of dental care is not part of their healthcare system?
    How can a veteran without this level of care live a healthy life with rotted teeth, missing teeth, infected gums and jaw? How can they even chew their food properly so that it can be properly digested and used to supply their body with all the necessary nutrients?

    1. Richard Levine    

      I have a MoveOn petition for comprehensive dental care for all veterans in the VA Health Care system. Please sign it and pass it on: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/comprehensive-outpatient

    2. L.D. MacDonald    

      I agree with Richard Levine that the VA Healthcare System needs to develop better dental care services for veterans. Suggest they launch the “pilot” for a VA DENTAL Care Program for our veterans at the Baltimore VA adjacent to the University of Maryland Dental School where VA dentists receive training and a dental school clinic is available to veterans that are currently required to pay cash upfront for all dental care received from dental school students. A new VA dental care program would make for a well received initiative by our new Secretary Robert McDonald as he and his team begin the new year!

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