Maple syrup Frank sent me the good news that VA had “refired” Diana Reubens and her Tupperware® sidekick Kimberly Graves. Imagine the woes of having to suddenly play second fiddle in Houston with everyone laughing behind your back. That’s Diana’s cross to bear. Kimberly got similar treatment and was sent down to the minors (Phoenix’d). What really pulled their string was no moving allowance this time. At the previous rate of $288 K from DC to Philly, this should have been enough to put a kid through Harvard Law school. Oh what tangled webs we weave…
Considering the VA can find a discrepancy of $327. 22 overpaid for SMC while hospitalized (and thus pyramiding), and deducting it from your next VA Compensation check just like that, they were unable to calculate that a) there were no “moving expenses” due and payable for this shenanigan, b) unable to “completely” share the evidence of the crime with counsel for the thieves, and c) claim they have no authority to recoup funds awarded based on fraud or misfeasance. This makes The Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight look like Pinkerton Detectives.
I think what is uppermost on the minds of Veterans this week is the gradual uptick in excuses emanating from 810 Varmint Ave. NW at the corner of Delay and Deny. No more do we hear the bravado of the Special Forces school graduate (“Dude, I wore the hat! I was SF.) when he comes to Capitol Hill. Instead, we hear a litany of ” There are rules and procedures for these situations. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be tarred and feathered prematurely on only the flimsiest of evidence. If, and when, the evidence supports it, only then will we demote them one pay grade and hide them out west for a year or two. When the coast is clear, they can come back to DC.”
Considering he is a Ringknocker, he should have attended all the schools on tactics and warfare. Personnel hiring and firing goes hat in hand with an efficient command. It has to operate like a well-oiled, 12 cylinder Merlin. What then, can we make of his awkward responses to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee’s queries? Loud words and bluster on Capitol Hill are a dime a dozen. That dog won’t hunt.
Firing your Way to Success versus Excellence
Contrary to Call me Bob’s plaints about “not being able to fire your way to excellence”, once again VA, through the VASEC’s speechwriter, employs its penchant for obfuscation. The argument is not for excellence-it never was. Hell, be serious for once. VA gave up on any aspirations of excellence about ten minutes after they got their charter from Congress. We’re talking ground floor here as in “Get that wo/man in to see a Doc pronto. Nobody should have to wait 3 months.” Call me Bob is rightfully trying to draw your attention away from the total failure of the VA on all fronts and to focus on a metric that is unattainable. Maybe he can convince them they can buy excellence for just ten billion more. What he needs to do is remember his Army roots and first focus on rebuilding the engine and getting it running as advertised. There will be time enough in the future to polish the brass newel post and Windex® the trophy case in the lobby at 810 Yellow Brick Rd. NW. I think I speak for all Veterans when I ask, beg or plead for mere success before we begin a Nantucket Sleigh Ride in pursuit of the chimera of excellence. Right now, Sec’ Bob is the founding member of his own fan club. A rumor in your own room is still just a rumor.
Face It Secretary Bob, you have a bunch of losers working for you and they all call themselves your friends. It’s a bitch to fire your friends. We get that. Your best asset, Allison Hickey bailed because, as much as things changed, they stayed the same at the 810 Saloon. Your next Diana Reubens or Lucy Filipova fustercluck is just around the proverbial corner these days. Ric Shinseki punched out when he realized what his friends were up to. You and Sloan are living in the same uptown world on the upstairs floors. You can no more sneak out and drop in to the Fort Harrison VARO LZ unannounced than the VAOIG can. All you need for confirmation of your problem is the inordinate number of Extraordinary Writs being filed at the CAVC complaining of Sec Bob’s finest being about three years behind on DROs and 5 years out to a BVA decision. Ron Nessler ought to put up one of his signature billboards near Vermont and Eye Street.
Groundhog Day HR Training
Call me Bob would be advised to rent, and require all GS employees to watch at least ten times, the movie Groundhog Day. By the end of the HR training, they should be able to recall and recite verbatim, any of the really choice lines the movie is famous for. The ultimate teaching moment is not how many times you perform a function but how well you perform it. If it’s truly excellence you aspire to, you have to have begin with excellence in personnel. Therein lies the insurmountable problem.
In the military, when it was obvious to a commander he had an S2 Officer who couldn’t find his ass with a Methane Detector, the accepted habit was to assign him somewhere he could do no harm. This might mean a new posting as Base Supply Officer or a new assignment in Thule, Greenland if you had really screwed up. The Commander was then free to find a real Intel weenie or borrow one from one of his ringknocker friends. That’s how they used to do it. Apparently that’s verboten at the VA. If you’re stuck with mediocracy, it’s hard to reach for the stars.
Rather than firing his way to excellence, Sec’ Bob might want to start out initially by firing his way to a modicum of success in baby steps. A concerted effort to find a suitable scapegoat should be mounted immediately. Research shows a figurehead villain makes for good PR. If none can be found (just kidding) then a tarbaby must be manufactured. At this point the HR folks should make the Wag the Dog movie required viewing for all Vermin Ave. SES personnel regardless of name, rank, airspeed or last known heading. Rooting out cronyism, 20-and-out mentality and a “It’s not my job” mentality will take decades but every journey begins with the first step. If you insist on writing a voluminous manual on the procedure to follow and grant a pardon retroactively to anyone who stepped on his necktie, you create the perception that there will never be any consequences. Your dynamic Duo of Diana and Kimbo will go west and teach generations of new VA SES folks the ins and outs of gaming the system. No, the time to double down has come. I say you throw Sloan Gibson to the wolves. Everything went haywire when he took over after Ric.
VA rewards its Senior Executive Service (SES) personnel very handsomely. In return, the code of honor should be unimpeachable. When breached, there can be no half measures. You don’t send VHA Administrator Sharon Helman home on administrative leave with full pay and perks until it’s determined she was blowing bubbles. You throw down and begin doing it the same way the VA does to its millions of disabled Veterans. You cut them off until they can prove themselves not guilty. At such time a retro check is issued(without interest) for the delayed funds. We summarized that once as Kill them all and let the Good Lord sort them out. Like the military, the way is simple. Guilty until proved innocent-just like us trailer trash Veterans.
That’s the news. VA 2 Vets 0 (again).
Hi Alex, I have to complement your efforts with this story. I also contend that keep the rats out of Washington for a year or so is NOT an effective solution to the problem!!! WHY/HOW was Sharon Helman fired for receiving Walt Disney World tickets for the family (cost perhaps $1200.oo dollars for her family of 6? But yet, the VA hierarchy is unable to fire two even BIGGER thief’s who made off with over $400.000.oo dollars?
The really sad part here is that I worked with Sharon Helman for two years while finishing my Ph.d out in Phoenix/Los Angeles. I can honestly say I saw a woman with courage, conviction, and determined to assist the veterans she served. SHe would get out of the elevator so that the veteran’s she served could use it before she did. The two SES employees they reinstated last week after sitting with pay on their fat _sses for 14 months at home getting fatter and laughing all the way to their banks, and were/are the true criminals. The very two people who should have been fired right off the bat. I know all three of these people on an personal basis, and I can tell you there was/is NOT one person on the staff that enjoyed working for these two morons. In fact, they are the two MOST hated people in Phoenix. I did not work for them directly, in fact, I did not work for them at all. Sharon was my boss, but again, I have to scratch my head and ask how she got fired (meaning she did NOT quit on her own accord), and the other two who are the ACTUAL vermin who invented the wait time problems kept their positions and bonuses at the cost of veteran lives?
The true irony here for me at least, is twice in the past month I received two separate letter’s from the VA telling me I owe them over $9000,oo dollars for an error 9 years ago… They asked on the form how much I could afford to pay back? I laughed and wrote back with an NOD, requested a hearing, and sent my bank account statement’s, and told them to look and answer that particular question yourself? I figured since it is actually NOT true and I can prove it, that if nothing else, I will wait it out for the next several years going all the way to the CAVAC with my appeals (If it goes that far? Oh, they forgot to say in their letter’s what exactly the error was that produced a $9000.oo dollar over payment? What’s worse, is how on God’s green earth were they able to come up with that amount for the time-period when all I received for that time-period was $2064.oo dollars? Perhaps they charged me for VA care which at that time I did not use as I had Blue Cross and Blue Shield as my healthcare provider??? Perhaps now they will amputate my legs for payment in kind???
Anyway, thank you for sharing this post Alex… It was truly an inspiring read for me.
I am always truly amazed over the snap shots you forage & post for all to enjoy.
Thank you, for sharing!
December 26. 2015
US CO — UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETEANS CLAIMS
URT OF APPEALS
FOR VETERANS CLAIMS
JAN 4- 20lu
Edward G. Trost, Appellate,
Robert A. McDonald
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Appeiee.
Motion for the disclosure of documents. part one.
Motion to ensure due process, part two – ‘ – t – ~ ~ —
Part One: Missing Documents
1. On September 12, 2014, I received a Statement of the Case (SOC) which indicated my Notice
of Disagreement as been received. On the same day September 12, 2014, I received a Decision
from the Boston Regional Office also indicating they were in receipt of my request for a video
2. I received the Certified Complete file on December 26th 2015 none of these four documents are
present in this version of my complete record. I ~eed these documents to prefect my appeal.
3. Please take note, (rat 172 to 177) is a document Decision Review officer Decision dated
September 11th, 2014. I have never seen this document before.
4. I also seek all IRIS system communications between March 9, 2015 and June 29th, 2015. These
documents are referenced in a communication to the Vice Chairman of the Board ( r at 22). The
full content of these communications and any ot~er Iris contacts are a central part of my
foundation argument on my appeal.
II: Due Process
5. U.S.C. 38 is rather specific as to the time lin~ from Decision to Appeal. It is my
understanding that once a decision is rendered the veteran has an allotted number of days if he
disagrees to send a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) which will result again after a set number of days I
for the production of a SOC.
Because I am constrained to use U.S.C 38 to perfect my appeal and fully use every aspect of my
Due Process Rights, I would like the Secretary to refer me to the directives, regulations or federal law
which was used to arbitrary produce a Decision and SOC on the same day. They claim I submitted a
NOD and a request for a hearing. Both documents, if they exist will have my signature affixed to them. I
If they do not exist then under what regulation unknown to me is the Secretary allowed to arbitrary
create such documents and affix my signature?
6, As to (rat 172 to 177), what rules allow for the removal of decisions, NOD and a SOC and
the insertion of a Decision Review Officer Decision in the Certified Record before this Court? A
Decision (dated September 11, 2014) which predates the RO September 12th and SOC September 12th,
2014 documents? j
It is imperative that I am allowed to use the same rules, laws and regulations which the
Secretary is afforded to apply as I prefect my appeal. I also need to know if this has been done
elsewhere in my record and would this effectively be Prejudicial Error by failing to give notice to
material changes to the record and the opportunity to object ?
Edward G. Trost
VA File No.
From my 30 year appeal for retro. 100 in 1999. Anyway look up my case if you want to enjoy a good read. This will get better because too may VA vermin touched this case and they lost track of the narrative and lies.