At the Tampa Bay VA Hospital, one worker faced retaliation after she tried to report inefficiencies and waste among her coworkers. Linda Madero was hired to work in a laboratory at the VA hospital, but says that instead she was paid to surf the internet all day for nearly a year. Despite repeatedly asking to to be allowed to perform her actual work, she was told not to worry about all of her “down time.” When she finally reported the blatant waste to investigators, she faced retribution from her supervisors. You can watch the whole story above.

Hat tip to WFTS Tampa Bay Action News for telling this important story.

waiting-410328_640Waiting Game: A Vietnam veteran in Utah has become all too familiar with healthcare delays, having been told repeatedly that the VA won’y pay for treatments recommended by his doctors.

At What Cost?: Although many lawmakers are pleased that the VA has significantly reduced the number of backlogged claims, they were a bit surprised to learn that the computer system that was instrumental in reducing the backlog cost over $1 billion.

Housing Veterans: Plans were unveiled yesterday to transform a neglected VA campus in Los Angeles into temporary housing for homeless veterans and permanent housing for severely disabled vets.

Candidates Address VA: During last night’s Republican presidential debates, several candidates vowed to fix the VA, with one claiming that she would fire 400 senior VA executives.

Candidate Questioned: Following his event held in protest of the Republican Presidential Debate, many are raising questions about presidential candidate Donald Trump’s commitment to veterans issues.

Alternatives to WWP: After several news investigations suggested that Wounded Warrior Project diverted millions of dollars of donations to lavish parties and other wasteful spending, some are suggesting that you donate to other charities with better track-records.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

WWP_LogoMore Money, More Problems: The veterans’ charity Wounded Warrior Project has once again come under fire over its lavish spending habits, allegedly spending money on expensive hotels, plane tickets, and executive salaries rather than using the funds to help veterans.

Overhaul Appeals: VA Secretary Bob McDonald appeared before Congress yesterday to plead with the elected representatives to pass legislation that would overhaul the process for appealing VA decisions.

Appealing Punishment: Yesterday in Philadelphia, an administrative hearing was held to examine claims by Diana Rubens–one of the VA executives implicated in the relocation scandal–that her demotion and pay-cut were improper.

Deadly Delay: Barry Coates, a veteran who encountered long delays in receiving simple medical treatments at VA facilities, has died of Colon Cancer. He used the last years of his life to advocate for change within the VA so that other veterans could avoid similar fates.

Drug Cost Controversy: Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is lashing out at a drug company that manufactures a cure for hepatitis C, saying that it is unconscionable that the company sells the pills for $900 in Egypt but charges $40,000 to American veterans.

Jailhouse VSO: Although incarcerated veterans cannot receive very many VA benefits, some imprisoned veterans in California have become Jailhouse Veterans Service Officers to help veterans get their disability benefits.

Lawmakers for Marijuana: A team of Senators and members of Congress have written to VA Secretary Robert McDonald urging him to lift restrictions which prevent VA physicians from discussing medical marijuana with patients.

People not Politics: After presidential candidate Donald Trump announced a fundraiser for veterans, one veterans organization says that it does not want the money, asserting that Trump is using veterans for “political stunts.”

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

DianaRubensBreaking the Silence: After invoking her Fifth Amendment rights during a hearing before Congress and escaping from criminal charges, Diana Rubens (pictured), one of the VA employees at the center of the relocation scandal, is expected to share her side of the story during a hearing challenging her discipline.

Overpayment Nightmare: After getting sent to jail on weapons charges, a Washington veteran diligently notified the VA of his status. The VA did not reduce his benefits due to his incarceration, but later said they made a mistake and demanded nearly $40,000.

Banished Veterans: An alarming number of foreign-born veterans of America’s armed forces have been deported from the United States over things as minor as possession of marijuana or getting into a bar fight.

Pills and Pesticides: After years of research, scientists are growing more confident that the mysterious disorder known as “Gulf War Illness” was caused by exposure to pesticides and the ingestion of pills meant to protect troops from nerve gas.

Medical Marijuana: A urologist who serves as the mayor of a California town and used to work at the VA says that in 1979 he provided marijuana to a patient at a VA hospital in order to help him cope with the effects of cancer treatment. His revelation comes amid increasing conversations regarding medical marijuana.

Delayed Veteran Card: Those veterans tired of carrying around their DD-214 to demonstrate their veteran status will have to wait a little longer for a new federal ID card for veterans, which the VA says will not be ready until 2017.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

DoctorSurgeryBad Healthcare: After being referred to the Veterans Choice Program, one Navy veteran who served in Vietnam says that he encountered an endless parade of obstacles and bureaucracy.

Deadly Healthcare: After a veteran encountered serious delay in getting an MRI from the VA, he went to a private provider who diagnosed a cancerous brain tumor. Before his death, he blamed the VA’s delay in diagnosing his condition for costing him his life.

More Problems: After a mental health worker was indicted for felony sexual assault at a VA hospital in Wisconsin, another employee is under investigation after a VA worker complained of sexual misconduct.

Even More Problems: A VA employee has pleaded guilty to defrauding the VA for over $1 million by creating a fake medical supply company which the VA paid for equipment that was never delivered.

Monitoring Whistle-Blowers: After a newspaper uncovered evidence suggesting that the email of VA whistle-blowers was being secretly forwarded to the VA Secretary’s office, some are suggesting that such spying violates VA’s own policy.

Attention Needed: Many have been critical of presidential candidates from both parties for their failure to offer meaningful solutions for the problems facing the VA and veterans.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

grandpa-777449_640Stolen Valor: Earlier this month, a Federal Court of Appeals found that “stolen valor” laws, which criminalize the wearing of military medals by anyone who has not received them, violate the First Amendment. Some veterans are calling the Court’s decision an insult.

Representative Questioned: After some accused a state representative in Washington State of exaggerating his military service, more questions are being raised about his claims of being a combat veteran.

Whoops!: Presidential candidate Donald Trump is catching flack for releasing a campaign ad supporting veterans that featured imagery of Soviet soldiers. Last year, the candidate similarly created an ad featuring soldiers from Nazi Germany.

Waiting for a Grave: The remains of some New York veterans who have passed-away in recent months are sitting on shelves in funeral homes as their families patiently wait on the VA to commence construction on a promised cemetery.

Raising Awareness: Two post-9/11 Nevada veterans who sustained injuries in combat are riding their bicycles 2,222 miles in an effort to raise awareness for the 22 military veterans who commit suicide each day. (If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide please reach-out for help: call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, or chat online by visiting their website. You are not alone.)

Lawmakers Complain: In a saga that has been going on for weeks, elected representatives in Louisiana and surrounding states continue to protest the appointment of Skye McDougall as the head of the VA healthcare system in their states.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

Bob McDonaldSecretary’s Vision: VA Secretary Bob McDonald (pictured) told Congress yesterday that his goals for the future of the agency include expanding access to private healthcare and altering the appeal process to put a dent in the 400,000 pending appeals.

VA Employee Indicted: A VA mental health worker was formally charged with two felonies for his alleged sexual misconduct involving female veterans seeking psychiatric care.

Choice Program Problems: In New Hampshire, a chain of medical facilities is withdrawing from the Veterans Choice program because they say that the VA is not paying them for the services that they provide.

Politicizing PTSD: Many veterans have expressed anger that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin seemed to use her son’s military service and supposed PTSD as an excuse for a recent domestic abuse incident.

Alleged Fraud: A criminal trial is wrapping-up in South Carolina this week involving a veteran who allegedly faked symptoms of a disease in order to obtain over $1.5 million in VA and Social Security benefits.

Medical Marijuana: Some Kansas veterans spoke-out against proposed legislation in Kansas, not because they oppose medical marijuana but because they feel that the bill does not do enough to make the treatment option available to people who might need it.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

WhistleBlowingMore Whistle-Blowers: According to the VA Office of Special Counsel, there has been an enormous uptick in the number of VA employees blowing the whistle on the agency, most of whom present complaints about retaliation by superiors and the quality of VA healthcare.

Secretary Responds: A week after two members of Congress said that VA executives showed “chronic indifference” by not firing those accused of malfeasance, the Secretary is responding by saying that “you can’t fire your way to excellence.”

No Transparency: A small local news station has been fighting the VA bureaucracy for seven months in an effort to learn the extent to which the agency might be wasting tax-payer dollars by overpaying for real estate.

No Directors: In a story discussing improved wait times in a medical center in St. Louis, a newly-appointed interim director noted that there are thirty VA medical centers, or 20% of all such facilities, that have no permanent director.

A New Fight: After leaving the military where they fought to protect Americans, many veterans are now fighting the battle against sexual predators who target children.

Lost Love: After he left behind a woman he met in England in order to parachute into Normandy, a WWII veteran will reunite with his wartime girlfriend after more than 70 years apart.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

SloanGibsonHearingVA Responds: Yesterday, Sloan Gibson (pictured), the second-highest ranking executive within the VA, spoke-out in response to an op-ed written by two members of Congress accusing the agency of “Chronic Indifference.”

Unique PTSD Treatment: After a number of veterans became aware of a unique and highly-successful treatment method for PTSD, they asked the VA to provide the treatment. The VA’s response was a resounding “no.”

Creating Homelessness: Despite the amazing successes of a Philadelphia non-profit in lifting veterans out of homelessness, the VA has said that it will stop paying for the program.

Embezzlement: The oft-criticized VA fiduciary program has encountered another problem, when it was revealed that one of its agents charged with ensuring the financial well-being of severely disabled veterans was found to have stolen over $280,000 from them.

Stigma and Tragedy: Veterans advocates fear that the stigma associated with mental health issues caused by combat is preventing many young vets from seeking treatment and leading to a surge in suicides. (If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide please reach-out for help: call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, or chat online by visiting their website. You are not alone.)

Coming Home: After his plane crashed in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago, a veteran’s remains have finally come home and were greeted at the airport by fellow veterans paying their respects.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.

japhet_riveraExecutive Buy-Off: After VA executive Japhet Rivera (pictured) was implicated for retaliation against whistle-blowers and inappropriate sexual behavior at work, the VA paid him $86,000 to leave the agency.

Wage Backlog: Apparently the delays within the VA are not limited to veterans claims and healthcare, and also includes failing to pay employees their proper salaries for years.

Reunited Medals: After one veteran found war medals in a pawn shop, he bought them and embarked on a mission to return them to their rightful owner from whom they had been stolen nearly 40 years ago.

Agent Orange Legacy: Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during their military service want researchers to investigate whether the chemicals have caused medical issues for their children and grandchildren.

Heavy Blankets: Thanks to a simple yet unique fix, veterans with severe PTSD are now able to to sleep comfortably through the night.

Painkiller Problem: The VA continues to face issues with how it dispenses opioid painkillers, with some reports suggesting that the rate of prescription of such drugs has surged 4,100% in eleven years.

Did you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news today? Let us know by sending us an email (links@brokenVA.com) or by visiting the contact page. We’ll try to include your link in our next edition of Veteran Links.