This just in from Fort Fumble, Colorado. VA is actually talking about spanking their employees and even threatening to wash their mouths out with soap. Why, they may even go so far as to put a negative performance review in the personnel file and recommend remedial training by Human Resources facilitators to help them work through their time-challenged scheduling quandary. And sadly, yes… that perennial VA Bonus every year is gone. So long to the annual vacation at Lake Winnipesaukee.
What everyone may not find entertaining is that someone innocently inserted a requirement to reinstitute the bonuses again poste haste but keep them down at $325 Million dollars instead of their historic high in 2008 at $360 million dollars. If you really dig in and read line by line (and I have not) I am told by reputable sources who have that it solves nothing now. It merely begins anew the circus of years and decades before. Try to find a trail of fired administrators of VISNs. Search for all the heads on a platter who will not be getting the 20 years and the golden parachute. Find those that have benefited by deceiving us into believing they were putting up good numbers based on what they were told by the little people.. Ask them politely to refund the VA bonuses they took. Deduct them every month until repaid if they decline to. You know. Just like VA does to you and me if they accidentally pay us too much and we fail to catch it. If these higher-ups try to weasel out and quit, file a lien on their bank accounts and freeze the suckers. The savings from that simple step alone will refuel the VA’s treasury with hundreds of millions of dollars.
Now let’s add in the delay for trying to get faster medical care. Imagine what it feels like to hit the 1-800-827-1000 Oracle at Delphi Line at 1000 hrs. EDT and be told (after waiting 45 minutes) that you have to get a letter from the VA Secretary showing you’ve waited over 45 days/ >40 miles away. Do you know how long it takes to do anything at the VA? What part of Fort Fumble did you misunderstand? Murphy’s 7th Law-You can’t get there from here- is the operative phrase. Of course, Murph’s First Law is immutable-No good deed goes unpunished. In their haste to get to Happy Hour at Harry’s Bar and Grill, they missed the niggling little fact that the VA is inept and unable to steer their personnel into new waters in the near term. The mere idea that a Vet contends he has waited more than 45 days first has to be investigated and verified. That alone takes thirty days by itself. It is then evaluated by Google map apps at VA to discern if a Vet used back country two-lane roads, whether it could possibly be shorter. Forget the fact that he’ll have to leave three hours earlier if he obeys the 35 mph speed limit and doesn’t run any red lights.
We had this problem with the ACA. It was voted on before it was written in indelible ink. Representative Miller, in his haste to appease everyone and no one (and get out of town for vacation), has opted to stand behind the worst abortion of VA changes to come around in all of the former centuries combined. Nothing is cured. Vets cannot wake up tomorrow after the President signs it and proceed apace with their pacemakers to a Heart Doc near them. It merely sets in motion another Perpetual Government Motion Machine that impedes and defeats logic. Firing stupid, inept leadership will be so minutely defined such that no one will be able to be fired. The phrase “It blew me away. We just heard about the ________ coverup in the news this morning. Right here under our noses all that time and we were unaware of it. Boggles the mind, it does.” will become status quo for a legitimate excuse. We didn’t know. We’re in the same boat you are. We just heard. Yeah, they were our guys but they sure didn’t get these hare-brained ideas from anyone around here. I know it looks bad seeing’s how we got those bonuses but it’s a phenomenal coincidence.
Let’s review this. Fast and Furious? We weren’t in the loop. IRS? We didn’t have any oversight. Benghazi? Our intelligence was faulty. Wait. It was an anti-Islamic Utube video. VA? Wow. They lied to Shinseki. He was clueless. So were we. These folks at VACO aren’t entirely paralyzed from the neck up. They can see which way the Cliff Notes excuse book is going. You can logically assume it was a right wing conspiracy initiated by Bush and Cheney to deprive Vets when VA gets done spinning it. A janitor in Phoenix will be fired for throwing evidence away unwittingly. Several mid-level schedulers around the country will be sacrificed but none will have to return a bonus because they never got one. VAOIG will continue to visit VAROs and VAMCs coincidentally located in the south near really well-kept-up golf courses. The VA’s HR bigwigs will organize a few Meet and Greets with a token ice sculpture and wine/cheese themes. New York is ideal. They can get lost in the shuffle and go unnoticed.
VA knows very well where each and every one of you is if you are in their system. They can tell via the travel pay computers exactly to the tenth of a mile whether you exceed the 40 mile limit. Remember also, any VA clinic is a broad definition. Having a CBOC near you is sometimes as useless as male nursing pigs in an emergent situation. If you are discovered to have cheated by a tenth of a mile or shaving a few days to make it look like you were over 45 days, well, it’ll cost you. VA will refuse to pay and you get stuck appealing that one for about 5 years if you want to get your money back without interest. We’ve been there and done that one.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BVA, JOSÉ?
Where I guess I get the heebie jeebies is to think if all this tomfoolery and purposeful misconstruing of the facts is going on in the VAMCs across our vegetabled plain, what has Mother Superior Hickey done to inspect the framework of the VBA for cockroaches? If she is still in denial and thinks knocking a million claims out the door by August is some kind of Guinness Book record, she needs to take the pulse of the score up at the CAVC. The Office of General Counsel is batting about 35% accuracy and suffers greatly from poor BVA jurisprudence and the dreaded VLJ Hanging Judges. Nevertheless, at each new appearance on the Hill, she regurgitates the same lies and statistics by rote-“86% accuracy of all decisions (with that number constantly going up); with FDCs, the adjudication rates are often less than 189 days and 2015 will be even better.” Things like this are often spoken just before aforementioned party pulls the ejection handle and departs at the end of the month. Thus they can be quoted, strongly suspected of authoring the ruse, but not blamed.
VA is on what many consider the cusp of a new day. Great things are portended again. A bright future dawns with a brave new Captain of Industry at the Helm. We shall see. I predict sixty more years of winter. VA has always been a political dumping ground. Do a congressman a favor and bingo! Your kid with the freshly-minted Bachelors in Haircombing 401 from Mt. Altoona Jr. Community College has a place to hang his sheepskin for life. Nothing will change. The reins of power may or may not change in 2016, but don’t hope for change at the VA regardless of who prevails.
P.S. Oh, and I forgot this vignette. You’ll love it. Oh, those other years up to 2010? Well, sheesh. Why didn’t you say you wanted them. Now we have to go back to the dungeon beneath 810 Vermont Ave. NW and dredge those up. It’ll be a couple of years because we haven’t gotten around to electronically digitizing them.