VA USB Petzel describing VA's flat earth concept of delayed appointments ("We couldn't see it".)

VA USB Petzel describing VA’s flat earth concept of delayed appointments (“We couldn’t see it from DC”)

As most have heard, Doctor Robert Petzel, Under Secretary for Veterans Health, stepped on his necktie and suffered extensive injuries including loss of face. He will retire prematurely but still retain his Golden Parachute Pension. The Government promises no blame will accrue to him. No harm. No foul. Thank you for your service. Later, dude.

Late-breaking Veterans news, always heard here first, reveals Petzel has been invited to join the Board of Directors for QTC Services who do all the compensation exams out west here. It’s owned in part by Dr. James Peake-a former VA Secretary himself. Funny how all these guys just seem to run into each other over and over. Pure coincidence, I’m sure. Maybe the same Italian tailor Tony Principi uses or something along that line. Perfectly innocent.

A VA Secretary’s underling who wished to remain anonymous chimed in to say that when Shinseki was apprised of Petzel’s new job offers, the rejoinder was a deadpan-faced  “And……?” followed by a waving dismissal involving a single, raised digit.

So if you're down on your luck And you can't harmonize Find a girl with far away eyes

So if you’re down on your luck
And you can’t harmonize
Find a girl with far away eyes.

I must say I sympathize with Ric on this one. I know what it is from a command posture to trust your junior officers and suddenly find out the Field Grade officers in the command post are cooking the books.  Ric has his hands full with Allison’s mad 2015 vision of the Mach 2 VA claim that will be decided in under an hour on-line with 98 percent accuracy. This fascination with Kaizen  /  Six Sigma training and her prior corporation experience at Accenture is a poor fit to the VA claims process. Endless tampering and innovation have now tangled the process up so badly, it takes years to accomplish what one rater could accomplish in a week or two in 1990 unfettered by endless computerese. Remember KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)? The current process makes analog, paper files adjudications look like the speed of light. One wonders how GEIKO and Nationwide would stay solvent if their express-lane claims process for a fender bender took six years.

General Shinseki is like a driver in a sled dog race. If the dogs see a rabbit and careen off in that direction, he’s merely along for the ride. A true leader has to whip them puppies back on the trail and be on top of them 24/7. With his hands full of what is unarguably the pressing issue of the shortcomings of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) with Congress, he has entrusted the Veterans Health System (VHA) run by Petzel, to take care of itself. Baaaaad idea. Always supervise them. Never assume anything. If you have to order an investigation, it’s too late. About ten phone calls should do the trick. If you’re incisive, you can have it cleared up in time for the six o’clock news.

Read 'em and weep. Sure. A lot of 'I was there" stuff and the usual gimmees from a foreign government but look at the top rows.

Read ’em and weep. Sure. A lot of ‘I was there” stuff and the usual gimmees from a foreign government but look at the top rows. Plus Ranger tab and jump-qualified.

General Shinseki isn’t a momma’s boy. The guy has two Purple Hearts and several Bronze Stars. Granted when you’re an officer, they hand the BStars’s out like Mardi Gras beads but you can’t fake getting your foot blown off by a mine. That, ladies and Gentlemen Vets, is leading. That is being out in front. That is the definition of  “I would not ask anyone else to walk point if I wasn’t willing to do so myself”‘ leadership. Shinseki was instrumental in finally getting Parkinson’s/B cell hairy leukemia/IHD et cetera approved for us Vietnam AO Vets. I don’t recall any VA Secretaries in the past who made that effort.

My friends all say he’s the best thing since former VA Secretary Jesse Brown‘s day. I tend to adopt the stance of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  I served in Southeast Asia and am more inclined to work with what we have rather than hire a gomer with no clue of what’s going on. It would simply mean another four year delay bringing him/her up to speed until s/he, too, discovered they’d been sandbagged. Lather, rinse and repeat.

I feel General Shinseki finds himself off track due to a misplaced trust in Doc Petzel. In their insane VHA world of trying to justify handing out endless bonuses to all their friends, regardless of how many Veterans died needlessly on their watch, they have finally resorted to the trickery of “Objects in mirror appear closer than they are.” First, Phoenix, then Houston. Then Fort Collins  Colorado.images But wait. Columbia SC VAMC two months before Phoenix? All in all, seven different VAMCs or medical facilities run by the VA in different geographical areas of the United States have been implicated… so far. This is actually snowballing as more are willing to come forward. We Veterans have been saying as much for decades. And like Ray’s brother-in-law Mark in Field of Dreams, the media, VA Secretary Shinseki, Congress et al have finally woken up to the fact that there may be a whole shit ton of malfeasance afoot. But only at the VHA, mind you.

That hasn't been proved yet

That hasn’t been proved yet

Hey, I’m no conspiracy theorist but am I, correction, are WE to believe these fellows all just up one day and said, “Thing’s are getting too far behind. Let’s have a secret list written down and put in this file cabinet over here. When we get caught up, we’ll call them and plug them back in to the system just like they were there all along. If we get caught, short straw falls on his sword and accepts responsibility.” I could believe it in one lone VISN, but seven different ones? I’d like to see Jay Carney try to trot that one out up at the White House with a straight face without using the phrase “We were unable to substantiate that…” No, this brainstorm originated at the top and was handed out on somebody’s signature. Whose is the burning question. Making Petzel walk the plank isn’t going to squelch this investigation.

We were unable to substantiate that ...

Boldly going nowhere.

Time will tell, Ladies and gentlemen Vets, who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. I think the daily revelations by new whistleblowers are turning into a virtual Mormon Tabernacle Choir of warblers- too numerous to count. They’re talking bringing in the FBI and seizing evidence like jack-booted thugs. How uncouth. Call in the VAOIG. That’s what they’re there for. Just make sure none of them is related to Dr. Petzel, hear?




About asknod

VA claims blogger
This entry was posted in VAMC Scheduling Coverup, VAOIG Watchdogs and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Frank says:

    If not literally doing *away* with all the VBA, doing something *about* the VBA claims process, is past due.

    Edited, recycled comment from 02/02/2014:

    On March 3, 13, 2007, Linda J. Bilmes, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. See:

    In part, (non-contiguously) she had this to say:

    “First, the VBA is currently overwhelmed with the volume of claims it is receiving, leading to a huge backlog.”

    “Second, the claims process itself is long, cumbersome and paperwork-intensive. The VBA takes an average of 177 days (about 6 months) to process an initial claim, and an average of 657 days (about 2 years) to process an appeal. This is 22% below the agency’s own target goal of 145 days. It is also far below the standards of the private sector medical insurance industry, which settles 30 million insurance claims — including appeals — within an average of 89.5 days…..
    I believe that the agency as currently structured is simply not capable of settling the current and projected volume of claims in a timely manner.”

    “I believe that finding an answer to the claims problem requires us to think outside the box. I would like to offer several proposals that do this.

    1. First, for the next two years, the VBA should accept and pay all disability claims by returning GWOT soldiers at face value — and then audit a sample of them. This is essentially the same system that is used elsewhere in government, for example, the IRS for taxes and the SEC for filings. This idea would involve retraining some of the claims specialists as auditors, freeing up the remaining specialists to focus on assisting non GWOT veterans claims, which should reduce the backlog of old claims. At the same time, this bold step would ensure that new claimants do not fall through the cracks or endure months of bureaucratic delay.

    2. Second, the VBA should replace the cumbersome 0-100 scale for disabilities with a simple four-level ranking: zero disabled, low disability, medium disability, and high disability. This would immediately streamline the process, reduce discrepancies between regions, and likely cut the number of appeals. The VBA should create a “short form” for returning veterans, using this four-level ranking and set a goal of processing all claims within 60 days of receipt. This new system should be up and running within two years, including retraining of the workforce and developing necessary guidelines and appeals procedures.”

    Bye-bye Under Secretary Hickey, Hello Under Secretary Bilmes?

  2. John King says:

    The fact that guys like Peake and Petzel can retire from their high paying VA jobs and leap over to work for QTC or WWP is such a gross and indecent conflict of interest shows that the very last person to benefit from the DVA is an actual disabled veteran. The VA as we know it needs to go away. The VA Health Care System could be replaced with a medicare-like card. The savings on employee and VA building expense would pay for a Cadillac plan for all vets. It would be just cheaper to do away with all the VBA, and grant all veteran disability claims in the same way that agent orange claims are granted today on a presumptive status. So much harm is done by the present adversarial process that granting all claims would be better in the long run if their is minimum proof of a service connected injury.

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