This week, Orlando is hosting the “Invictus Games,” an international sporting event where wounded veterans from fourteen countries compete in Olympic-style events. This marks the second year that the competition has been held, and another round is planned for next year in Toronto. The games were originally the idea of Prince Harry of the UK, who served in the Middle East as a Captain in the British Army. The prince has been joined at the games by other dignitaries including former President George W. Bush. Watch the whole inspiring story above.
Several months ago, a VA Inspector General report generated national headlines when it was revealed that veterans seeking help through the agency’s suicide hotline were being sent to voicemail. The VA pledged to fix the problem and immediately diverted resources and appointed new staff to ensure that veterans could always get the help that they needed. Yet today we hear a story suggesting that the VA is still having trouble managing the hotline.
In Washington State, Jim Cusumano found himself in a dark place. The Vietnam veteran who suffers from PTSD and severe chronic pain had reached a point where the pain was too much to bear. He held a gun in his hands as he placed a call to a friend. Not knowing how to handle the situation, Cusumano’s friend called the VA suicide hotline, only to find it nonoperational. Eventually, the friend went to Cusumano’s house and took the gun from his hands, and Cusumano was taken to a local hospital for treatment. The statistic often thrown-around is that 22 veterans end their own lives each day in the United States. Its a heartbreaking number, and thanks to the quick-thinking of a friend, Cusumano did not become another statistic. You can watch the full story above.
Despite this story, we believe that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline remains an excellent resource. If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide, we encourage you reach out for help by calling (800) 273-8255. You can also chat online by visiting their website. If you prefer, you can always visit the nearest medical facility, police station, or simply call 911. Please remember: you are not alone.
The families of three Oklahoma veterans are speaking-out about the treatment that their loved-ones received at a VA-run nursing home. In one case, the nursing home staff is accused of scalding the veteran to death in a bathtub. In another, it is alleged that nursing home staff neglected a patient after he suffered from a stroke, causing irreversible damage. And in the third case, family members allege that staff ignored signs of pneumonia until it became deadly. In two of the cases, the VA has already admitted fault and paid settlements to the families, while an investigation continues into the third incident. Meanwhile, the the physician’s assistant who was responsible for the veterans has been charged with two counts of murder in their deaths. You can watch the full story above, or by clicking here.
Editor’s Note: Due to round-the-clock election coverage, it’s been a slow week for VA and veterans’ news. For that reason, we have not been posting our regular “headlines” feature each morning. We hope to return to posting headlines soon. If you see an interesting story about veterans or the VA in the news, 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 Headlines.
Former U.S. Army Ranger Cole Schuler had fallen into a cycle of addiction. Last fall, when Schuler told his sister that he wanted to seek treatment for heroin abuse, she took him straight to the VA in Milwaukee where he was admitted for in-patient treatment. A few weeks later, a police officer knocked on her door to tell her that her brother was dead. He had overdosed on heroin in his room at the VA domiciliary at the Wisconsin VA where he was receiving treatment. Now, Schuler’s family is seeking answers as to how their son could have obtained and use drugs within the walls of a VA-run drug treatment facility.
David Slagger is a disabled veteran in Maine who suffers from PTSD and a Traumatic Brain Injury. When he sought help at a VA clinic due to feelings of hopelessness, he was immediately transferred to an emergency room where he sat for eight hours before once again being transferred to a locked ward at the Togus VA. It was there that he says he was verbally assaulted an intimidated by a VA staff member. But when Slagger tried to lodge a formal complaint with hospital administrators, his allegations were dismissed. After that he requested a copy of security camera footage of the incident under the Freedom of Information Act, only to have that request denied. It was not until over a year later, after getting the media involved, that Slagger received a formal letter for apology from the VA, admitting that the employee had acted inappropriately.
Fifteen months ago, a doctor came out of the operating room at the VA Medical Center in Washington DC and told Monica Fields that her father’s surgery had been a success. Minutes later, she was told that he was dead on the operating table. Confused by the conflicting information, Fields and her family requested an autopsy to determine her father’s cause of death. Then for the next fourteen months, she fought the VA to obtain the results of the requested autopsy, only to be told that it had not been performed because nobody told the medical examiner about the family’s request. The VA admits that it made an error in processing the paperwork, and now Fields wants her father’s body exhumed so the autopsy can be performed.
Editor’s Note: It was a slow weekend for news about the VA and veterans. Instead of our daily headlines, today we wanted to share with you a heartwarming story about people stepping-up to help veterans.
Harold Morgan is a terminally-ill Navy veteran living in Mobile, Alabama. His family lives nearly 1,000 miles away in Ohio, and was desperately trying to raise $6,000 to hire a private ambulance to transport him back to Ohio so they could all be together in his final days. When word got out about this heart-wrenching story, an ambulance company stepped-up and volunteered to do transport Mr. Morgan to Ohio for free. You can watch the full story above.
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.
A veteran in El Paso, Texas is suffering the consequences after the VA failed to pay the private healthcare provider that the agency sent her to as part of the “Veterans Choice Program.” Margaret Peterson followed all the proper steps and received approval from the VA to get treatment from a private provider, including a promise that the agency would cover all the costs associated with the appointment. However, when she checked her credit report, she found out that the VA never paid and that she was on the hook for the delinquent bill. Worse still, the VA’s failure to pay the bill damaged her credit which has caused her family to delay their plans to move to Hawaii so that her terminally-ill husband can live out his final days in paradise.
Hat tip to KFOX14 in El Paso, Texas for covering this important story
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.
Delays and long wait times are nothing new at the VA. But some veterans say that when they sought emergency medical attention at a VA medical center on Tuesday they were forced to wait well-over 12 hours to see a doctor. The VA claims that this was a fluke, but several veterans report that wait times are often five or six hours. Check out the full story by watching the video above.