VA secretary pledges improved customer service, stability and quality care while speaking to Veterans in three states


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Customer service, stability and quality care for Veterans remain top priorities for VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. He reinforced that while visiting VA medical facilities and attending national Veteran engagements in three states last week.

Wilkie served as keynote speaker at the American Legion’s 100th National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He called members of the nation’s largest wartime Veterans service organization “powerful advocates” and said, “let me thank you, thank the entire American Legion past and present for everything you have done to make this the last best hope of man on earth.”

In referring to his prime directive of customer service, Wilkie said “we have to talk to Veterans, we have to listen to Veterans, because every major advance and relief for those who have ‘borne the battle’ has come through the efforts of Veterans themselves, not waiting on the slow machine of government to move.”

Watch his address to the American Legion here.

Wilkie also lauded the passing of the MISSION Act in making it easier for eligible Veterans of all eras to navigate the system and ensure they receive the best healthcare possible whether delivered in VA facilities or in the community.

 

IMAGE: Sec. Wilkie visiting facility

While in Minnesota, the secretary also visited with patients and was given an expansive tour and briefing by leadership at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. The facility has an excellent reputation and is known worldwide for its strong research and academic services focused on Veterans. The facility is recognized for its overall performance and rated a 5-Star. Wilkie was particularly impressed with the advancements in prosthetic technology that is now available to Veterans there.

The secretary was also welcomed at Fort Snelling National Cemetery which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is the final resting place for Minneapolis-area Veterans dating back to the Revolutionary War era with more than 225,000 interments.

He then headed to Dallas, Texas to visit with Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) leadership and speak to hundreds of attendees at the PVA’s 8th annual Health Care Summit & Expo. There, Wilkie  reinforced his top priorities and his commitment to working hand in hand with health care professionals saying “as the secretary of this department, I am the temporary custodian of the flame that first burned on revolutionary fields in the 1700’s, it is a flame that you all carry and are trusted with and my pledge to you is to be part of your team … I am honored to serve with you and I thank you for carrying on the most noble mission in the federal government.”

Wilkie also engaged with Veterans and leadership at the VA North Texas Health Care System in Dallas. Topics of discussion included progress in suicide prevention and mental health awareness outreach, innovative surgical care procedures and modernization efforts.

At his final stop in Cleveland, Ohio, the secretary served as a keynote speaker for the unveiling of a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and Medal of Honor ribbon cutting ceremony alongside retired U.S. Marine Corps warrant officer and VA Veterans service representative Woody Williams. Williams received the Medal of Honor during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Secretary Wilkie also participated in several media interviews including Cleveland’s Morning News in which he told the host “the Gold Star Families … have given the most of all of us and they remind us every day why all of us sleep soundly at night.”

IMAGE: Woody Williams facility naming

Author

Ashleigh Barry

Ashleigh Barry is a strategic communications advisor in the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. She has an extensive background in investigative journalism where her coverage garnered multiple Emmy Awards and the distinctive Edward R. Murrow Award. Her most recent assignment was in Dallas, Texas, at NBC Universal, she also anchored and reported at CBS and ABC News affiliates in Phoenix, Arizona , Columbus, Ohio, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Lubbock, Texas.

Comments

  1. Timothy Ramos    

    Prescott VA is horrible yet no one cares

  2. Timothy Ramos    

    It’s to bad You can’t respond on Prescott VA TV asking the Veterans about their care here in Northern Arizona, Prescott. Treatment in the Emergency Room. Treatment by Management, and the leaving of staff nurses in drones due to care here. It has gone from one of the best VA’s from 12 years ago, to one of the worse in the last 5-6 years due to management change. Ask any Prescott Fireman, Ambulance Driver’s, and other local doctor offices. They willl all tell you the same thing. That they see more Veterans asking not to go to the VA, and tons of Veterans going to doctors offices opting to pay rather than being seen there. Just ask around. That’s why they only want positive feedback, or they would be overwhelmed.

  3. Margaret McLaurin    

    Mr. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie,
    It is easy for veterans to get depressed while they wait so long for benefits that may never come. The RAMP program just came back with a ‘declined’ decision for a mobility van allowance for my husband – a 21 year Army veteran. He was prescribed a custom made, top of the line mobility chair in 2016, yet the VA RAMP has decided – even with a letter attached from his doctor detailing his condition that “entitlement to automobile or other conveyance and adaptive equipment is not established” – no name block at the end of the letter, no accountability of WHO made this decision so they can’t be held accountable. The VBA will go to great lengths not to award the vehicle allowance – my husband is home bound and I’ve had to rent a mobility van to get him to medical appointments – WHY???????????????????
    My heart goes out to all of you who are dealing with the loss of loved ones – I’m just trying my very best to get him mobile again and not to join your ranks.

  4. Roger Baker    

    The system is deeply flawed because the state/nation does not give a damn about you once
    you have served your time and often had your life ruined by agent orange, depleted uranium
    or other awful weapons dreamed up by corrupt scientists, or gratuitous war planned by neo-con/zionists, or 3-4 tours in Afghanistan or Iraq (wars planned and executed by zionists)..

    I also don’t trust the (redacted)-hole in charge of veterans affairs. Any CEO who refers to patients- humans that
    need medical care–as “customers,” should not be allowed to be associated with hospitals or sick or damaged humans in any way. They should be managing a hamburger or hot dog stand and have absolutely nothing to do with the Veterans administration.

    The US should have single payer that includes all veterans, all veterans should be provided comprehensive medical care for life. Period. None of this 40% disability and other bull (redacted) that you get with the VA. Medicare for all for life.

  5. Emerico Flores    

    You have very valid points now try out and figure out the CRSC ratings, not understandable at all. I got diabetes ,Prostrate cancer, PTSD and now Parkinson’s caused by exposure to AO, CRSC does not rate me at 100% how can that possibly be

  6. Louis John Sansevero    

    Just another bureaucrat with empty platitudes, if he really means what he says “we have to talk to Veterans, we have to listen to Veterans, because every major advance and relief for those who have ‘borne the battle’ has come through the efforts of Veterans themselves, not waiting on the slow machine of government to move.” why is he allowing the VA to cheat veterans with multiple conditions out of fair and just compensation?

    “Fuzzy Math – How the VA cheats veterans

    ‘my combined total with simple math is 250% and with the fuzzy math is 98% which is rounded to 100% So it takes 250 to get to 100. this is why so many cannot ever get to fully disabled status.’ this is a quote from an anonymous Vietnam veteran Agent Orange (AO) victim demonstrating how the Veterans Administration (VA) cheats veterans out of fair and just compensation for the damages the government inflicted on Vietnam veterans.

    Veterans are entitled to receive compensation for service-connected disabling conditions. Each condition, based on the extent of its disabling effect, is assigned a percentage which equates to a dollar amount of monthly disability payment similar to the way that a civilian might receive Social Security disability payments.

    In general, this system is fair it is only when a veteran has multiple conditions, which most AO victims do, that the manipulation occurs.

    The present system for rating service-connected disabilities uses a chart to assign disabilities ratings, a methodology which, in my opinion, is purposely designed to cheat veterans out of fair compensation. This methodology is called the “combined” rating system and it is the “fuzzy” math behind it that creates a system which reduces the contribution of each subsequent condition after the initial service-connected disability, to the total percentage of disability as the actual total percentage of disability approaches or exceeds 100%.

    ‘How does the ‘fuzzy’ mathematics behind this chart cheat veterans?’

    Take a veteran who’s already rated 60% disabled. The VA (as near as I can ascertain), and this is where the cheating begins, now considers that he/she is 40% from being fully disabled.

    In this example, if the veteran receives an additional 20% rating for another condition simple math dictates the veteran is now 80% disabled (60% + 20% = 80%); not so, the VA calculates, using its corrupt chart, the subsequent disability rating based not on 100%, a whole person, but on a 40% basis so that the resulting “combined” rating is 70% (60% + [20% of 40% = 8%] = 68%, 68% is rounded UP to 70%), the closest unit of 10. This veteran is now considered to have a maximum potential 30% disability remaining.

    Continuing this example, let’s say this veteran applies for and receives another disability rating of 10% for another condition. The VA again applies its ‘fuzzy’ math and calculates this veteran’s disability not as 80% (70% + 10%) but as 70% (70% + [10% of 30%] = 73% and 73% is rounded DOWN to 70%), the closest unit of 10. So, in fact, the veteran is cheated out of the 10% the VA admits his new condition is qualified for and he/she receives NO additional compensation.

    Any subsequent calculations of additional conditions would then be based on the remaining difference between the then current rating and 100%, the result being rounded up or down to the next higher or lower unit of 10. From this simplistic example, it is easy to see how the veteran that contacted me had to apply for conditions totaling 250% in order to receive a 100% “combined” disability rating.

    Every politician spews empty platitudes for veterans but when it comes to actually doing something they ignore situations such as I’ve described.

    I’ve written to the President, the Secretary of the Veterans Administration, the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs, Senators Hatch and Lee, and Congressman Curtis asking they take action and push for a Veterans Fair Compensation Act which would address this situation by calculating disabilities based on simple math, limiting total compensation to not more than 100% and to address other inadequacies of present VA practices to no avail.

    We served honorably and faithfully in peace and war and deserve better treatment than we are receiving; we deserve better than being cheated by our government. If you are a veteran, a family member of a veteran, or a friend of a veteran I ask you to write these same people and demand they correct this and the other insults to those who have served.”

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