Veteran who has been dead for two years receives notice of VA appointment

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Fail

Big time.

Can you imagine?? Talk about an epic fail:

ACTON (CBS) – “He was steadfast. He took care of us, all of these years.”

Suzanne Chase of Acton was talking about her husband, Doug, a Vietnam veteran who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2011.

In 2012, she tried to move his medical care to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Bedford.

“It was so difficult for him to take the ambulance ride into Boston, we wanted to be closer.”

They waited about four months and never heard anything. Then Douglas Chase died in August 2012.

But two weeks ago, he got a letter, from the VA in Bedford, saying he could now call to make an appointment to see a primary care doctor.

“It was addressed to my husband and I opened it,” said Suzanne Chase. “I was in complete disbelief.”

[…]

She says the VA had to know her husband was dead because she applied for funeral benefits two years ago and was denied.

The reason for the denial: Her husband was never treated at a VA hospital.

“It is absurd,” said Chase. “It made me angry because I just don’t think our veterans should be treated this way.”

She wrote a letter to the Bedford VA two weeks ago,  but once again, no response.

“I am hoping if other people speak out, they can improve the system, so no one else dies waiting for an appointment.”

AMEN.

Report: VA “paused” sending teams to help poor-performing hospitals

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VA hospital

VA hospital

Via the Wall Street Journal/Fox News:

The Department of Veterans Affairs suspended a program that sent teams of doctors and monitors to try to improve its worst-performing facilities for approximately two years, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing agency doctors and internal records, reported that the visits were “paused” beginning in early 2011. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the head of the agency’s quality and safety program, said the VA had begun to revive the program about a year ago.

The Journal report specifies seven VA hospitals that have consistently received a rating of one star out of a possible five from the VA since at least 2011. Those hospitals are located in Augusta, Ga.; Little Rock, Ark.; Providence, R.I.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; and Puget Sound (Seattle), Wash. The star rating system measures hospitals according to key performance standards, including death rates among acute-care patients and among patients suffering from congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Length of stays and readmission rates are also taken into consideration.

It is not clear why the agency halted the visits, though the Journal report cites current and former VA doctors who claim that top managers of the agency played down the utility of basing the ratings system on specific medical outcomes.

Dr. Clancy claimed to the Journal that each of the hospitals with the poorest rating “has gotten at least one visit in the last year or year and a half.”

In related and equally disturbing news, The Hill reports that nearly 60,000 – that’s 60,000 – had to wait at least 90 days to see a doctor, and an additional 63,000 didn’t receive an initial appointment at all over a 10 year period:

The White House on Monday came under increased pressure to launch a criminal probe of the Veterans Affairs Department after an audit found more than 100,000 veterans were kept waiting for medical care.

The audit uncovered evidence of widespread tampering of documents at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics, with schedulers receiving direction from their superiors to use “unofficial lists” to make the waiting times for appointments “appear more favorable.”

The audit found more than 57,000 veterans waited at least 90 days to see a doctor, and an additional 63,000 people over the past decade never received an initial appointment at all.

Republican leaders in Congress called the findings a “national disgrace” as members of both parties demanded the Justice Department prosecute the officials responsible.

“The Department of Justice should get off the sidelines and start actively pursuing charges where applicable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

In the Senate, 11 Democrats joined 10 Republicans in urging an “effective and prompt” investigation by federal authorities. The leaders of the push — Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — said criminal charges shouldn’t wait on the results of a VA inspector general (IG) investigation that will be released in August.

“The spreading and growing scale of apparent criminal wrongdoing is fast outpacing the criminal investigative resources of the IG, and the revelations in the interim report only highlight the urgency of involvement by the Department of Justice,” the senators wrote.

Make sure to read the whole thing.  I don’t know whether to cry or scream – or both. Our veterans put it all on the line, literally – they most definitely do not deserve this when they come home.

D-day: storming the castle

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***Posted by Phineas

 

(Note: This is a re-posting and slight editing of a post I put up every D-Day.)

Seventy years ago today, American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish soldiers charged the gates of Hell — and won:

D-Day assault

Black Five put up an excellent roundup of D-Day posts from many blogs a few years ago. It’s still worth reviewing. And have a look at this entry for a photo essay on D-Day.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson reflects on D-Day at 70:

Seventy years ago this June 6, the Americans, British, and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest amphibious invasion of Europe since the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 b.c.

About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterly display of planning and courage. Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.

(…)

D-Day ushered in the end of the Third Reich. It was the most brilliantly conducted invasion in military history, and probably no one but a unique generation of British, Canadians, and Americans could have pulled it off.

Read the rest. While giving the Russians their due, he puts their contribution in perspective.

RELATED: The Daily Mail tells the story of one Medal of Honor winner who still wonders how he survived Normandy.

UPDATE: In today’s newsletter, Real Clear Politics quotes the prayer FDR read when announcing the invasion to the nation:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” the president said while the outcome of the battle was still in doubt.

“They will need Thy blessings,” FDR continued. “Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…”

Imagine a president saying something like that nowadays; the Left would have a fit.

But, forget them. Today’s a day to remember genuine heroes and thank Divine Providence we had such men on our side.

UPDATE 06/06/2013: This is a real president commemorating D-Day:

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Bergdahl deal: Meet Mohammad Fazl

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**Posted by Phineas

"Butcher"

“Butcher”

Among the potential consequences of President Obama’s mind-boggling deal with the Taliban that lead to the release of five high-ranking Taliban, one shouldn’t forget the Afghan people themselves, who suffered mightily under these savages. They now have a very good reason to be afraid, again.

Meet Mohammed Fazl:

Taliban forces led by Mohammed Fazl swept through this village on the Shomali plain north of Kabul in 1999 in a scorched-earth offensive that prompted some 300,000 people to flee for their lives.

Fifteen years later, local residents here are responding with fear and dismay to the U.S. release of the notorious commander, along with four other Taliban leaders in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American prisoner of war who was held by the Taliban. The group released a video on Wednesday showing the hurried handover a few days earlier of the American captive, looking gaunt and dazed.

The villages of Shomali were once the orchard of central Afghanistan, and the plain’s carefully tended vineyards were famous for their grapes.

When the Taliban seized control of this area from their Northern Alliance rivals in 1999, they systematically demolished entire villages, blowing up houses, burning fields and seeding the land with mines, according to two comprehensive studies of war crimes and atrocities during wars in Afghanistan and human rights reports. Mr. Fazl played a major role in the destruction.

“There was not a single undamaged house or garden,” said Masjidi Fatehzada, a shopkeeper in Mir Bacha Kot, the district center. “My entire shop was burned to the ground. There was nothing left.”

(…)

Standing by the grave of his son, Mr. Ahmad’s eyes welled with tears when he learned about Mr. Fazl’s release from a reporter. “If he is released, he will burn our houses again because he doesn’t shake hands with the government,” Mr. Ahmad said.

And Barack Obama let this modern-day Genghis Khan walk free (1) in return for what? A man who abandoned his post, is probably a deserter, and possibly collaborated with the enemy? Okay, that makes the coming mountains of skulls worthwhile, doesn’t it?

This monster was given his parole, just so Barack Obama could keep his promise to close Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office. A mass murderer is let go, because, somehow (maybe with the application of some pixie dust), this exchange might encourage “moderate Taliban” to make a deal. By releasing Fazl and his “colleagues,” Obama replenishes the Taliban while they’re still conducting offensive operations against us and our allies, because this is “how wars end.”

He’s right. That’s how wars end.

It’s called “surrender.”

Meanwhile, my advice to the people of the Shomali plain is this: You have 12 months. Start running.

PS: Lest anyone forget, negotiating with the Taliban is also negotiating with Al Qaeda, for they are very, very close. To replenish the Taliban is to replenish Al Qaeda, the barbarians we’re (supposedly) at war with.

Footnote:
(1) Oh, wait. He’s “in custody” in Qatar, where he’s allowed to cool his heels and live the good life for a year before he can to return to Afghanistan and resume the slaughter. Well, that’s different.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Brutal: NY Daily News on #Bergdahl deal — “Surrender without honor”

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**Posted by Phineas

NYDN cover

Mind you, this is from one of the liberal newspapers in New York City:

President Obama betrayed the highest obligation of his office — safeguarding national security — in trading five hard-core Taliban for the American serviceman who appears to have deserted in Afghanistan.

The five sworn enemies of the United States are now in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they are free to come and go as they like, beyond the watch of American agents. In just one year, they will be free to return to Afghanistan to fight there and stage terror attacks far beyond that country’s borders.

These facts were known to Obama when he made the deal, and yet he went ahead in irresponsible disregard for lives he has endangered. As the facts have emerged — and more surely will — it has become ever clearer that he lost his presidential compass in the Taliban swap.

In retrospect, his Rose Garden announcement that he was bringing home an American POW appears to have been a cynical act of theater.

In other words, a dog and pony show to distract from the VA fiasco. I can believe that.

Then, after dismissing Obama’s assurances about “keeping on eye” on these barbarians while they’re in Qatar, the NYDN delivers the killing blow:

Finally, Obama provided insight into the actual reason for the deal by placing it in the context of his drive to pull out of Afghanistan.

“This is what happens at the end of wars,” Obama said. “That was true for George Washington; that was true for Abraham Lincoln; that was true for FDR; that’s been true of every combat situation — that at some point, you make sure that you try to get your folks back.”

In other words, he wants out so badly that he accepted the Taliban’s terms, regardless of the threat to American security.

He is surrendering without honor.

Remember, this is from a major regional paper that’s generally on The One’s side. Can’t dismiss this one as “Faux News.”

What’s going on here, I think, is that even center-left outlets (1) are having trouble coloring this as anything other than a major “dereliction of duty” on the part of the president. They find themselves nodding in agreement with former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy at center-right PJM:

Is that the end of the matter? Not by a long shot. As I’ve also contended, the president’s failure to comply with a dubious statute is a mere footnote to his truly egregious offense: replenishing enemy forces at a time when the enemy is still conducting offensive terrorist operations against our armed forces. It would be difficult to fathom a more outrageous dereliction of duty by the commander-in-chief.

Moreover, if you want to fret over statutory violations, I would spend less time on the 30-day notice law and more on the federal criminal law that makes material support to terrorists a serious felony. The president has knowingly provided personnel—key, experienced, highly effective jihadists—to terrorist organizations that are still very much at war with the United States. That is material support to terrorism.

What Obama did was the equivalent of Eisenhower capturing senior North Korean and Chinese generals and then returning them while the fighting in Korea was still going on. If Ike were an idiot, that is, which he wasn’t.

In New York City, a metropolis that’s been the victim of catastrophic terrorism, even a paper as reliably liberal as the Daily News can’t help but scream “What in God’s name do you think you’re doing??”

If Team Unicorn expected any kudos for this “deal,” they must be gravely disappointed.

PS: Jim Geraghty, from whom I took the graphic, has an interesting article on impressions confirmed and disproved by the Bergdahl deal. Also via Jim, is Obama so sick of being president that he’s dropping hints he may resign if the Republicans win the Senate in November? Check this out:

Obama tells anxious Democrats that there is only so much he can do beyond fundraising and better implementing the health-care law. But he also has told allies that losing the Senate to Republicans would make his last two years in office unbearable . . .

“I don’t really care to be president without the Senate,” Obama said, according to attendees, signaling that he knew the health care debacle created resentment among Democrats and that he wanted to make amends.

As Allahpundit likes to say, “Hmmm….”

via Bryan Preston

Footnote:
(1) Other than MSNBC, which will be the network of Obama lickspittles until the End of Days.

UPDATE: At The Federalist, Robert Tracinski asks a darned fine question — “Why Are We Releasing Terrorists Who Kill Girls Because They Go To School?”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

White House: Bowe #Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers are “swiftboating” him

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Bowe Bergdahl

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Well, I guess I can’t really say I’m surprised with how the White House has reacted to the *unconflicting* reports about how Bowe Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have classified him as a “deserter”, but it doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed all the same — and disgusted.


Todd confirmed in a later tweet that they did indeed use the term “swiftboating” to describe the troops who served alongside Bergdahl until he deserted them in June of 2009.

To breakdown what they’re doing here, the White House – in a nutshell – is saying that the guys who put their lives on the line in Afghanistan while stationed with Bergdahl who are making the claims about his military actions and status are playing politics over his release and the US release of the five high-level Taliban terrorists from Gitmo. In the same breath, the White House made the preposterous assertion yesterday that Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction.” If that’s the case, the words simply do not have any real meaning anymore whatsoever.

Mediaite’s Noah Rothman on the White House noise surrounding the reaction of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers:


By any means necessary, and all that. Just when you think the White House couldn’t stoop any lower …

WH apologizes for their “oversight” on Congressional oversight re: prisoner swap

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King Obama

Image via Salon.com

Wow:

The White House has apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for failing to alert her in advance of a decision to release Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay.

Feinstein told reporters that she received a call from Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken on Monday evening apologizing for what the administration is calling an “oversight.”

“I had a call from the White House last night, from Tony Blinken, apologizing for it,” she said.

 “He apologized and said it was an oversight,” she added.

Feinstein also said leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence panels were almost unanimously against a prisoner trade when it came up in 2011.

She said the chairmen and ranking Republicans of the “connected committees” spent a lot of time in 2011 reviewing the possibility of a prisoner swap and came out firmly opposed to releasing senior militants from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

“There were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade,” she said.

“I certainly want to know more about whether this man was a deserter,” she said of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released to American special forces in return for the freedom of five senior Taliban commanders.

Administration officials have said in public that they did not have time to inform Congress of the prisoner swap because Bergdahl’s life was in danger and they did not know how long the Taliban would be willing to wait to finalize the deal.

But Senator Harry Reid got a notification – not 30 days in advance, but he still got one:

At least one member of the Senate did have advance notice. “We were notified of the plan to secure Sergeant Bergdahl’s release on Friday,” said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner, however, told TIME that there was no advance notice given to the leader of the House. Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein was not informed in advance, either, and on Tuesday Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken called her to apologize for the oversight, she told reporters.

Move along here. Nothing to see…

(Hat tip: Memeorandum)

Hillary: I won’t second guess Obama’s decision to free 5 Taliban terrorists

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Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi

HIllary Clinton testifies on Benghazi. – January 2013

Via The Hill:

Hillary Clinton on Monday defended President Obama’s decision to swap five Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl over the weekend.

“This young man, whatever the circumstances, was an American citizen — is an American citizen — was serving in our military,” Clinton said at an event she headlined in a Denver suburb, according to the Associated Press. “The idea that you really care for your own citizens and particularly those in uniform, I think is a very noble one.”

 Clinton didn’t explicitly say she would have pursued the same exchange, but said she doesn’t believe in “second guessing” people who have to make difficult decisions.

The former secretary of State said she understood the debate over whether it was smart to release top Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl, but noted that his life was in danger.

“You don’t want to see these five prisoners go back to combat. There’s a lot that you don’t want to have happen. On the other hand you also don’t want an American citizen, if you can avoid it, especially a solider, to die in captivity,” Clinton said. “I think we have a long way to go before we really know how this is going to play out.”

After all, what difference does it make that these five high-level Taliban terrorists will likely get right back to the brutal acts of violence and terror they were engaged in prior to their capture?  What difference does it make that numerous American soldiers lost their lives searching for a deserter and possible terrorist sympathizer  who is now free because we exchanged five Talibanis for his release?  What difference does it make that the deserter’s dad is now lobbying for the release of MORE Gitmo terrorists? What difference does it make that this “prisoner exchange” will be used as a rallying cry and recruiting tool all across the radical Islamic caves of Afghanistan and beyond?

Remind me never to vote for this woman for Commander in Chief. Oh wait, you won’t have to do that at all.

Read much more on the Bergdahl controversy here.

#Bergdahl aftermath: A chilling look at what happens when we release terrorists

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Bowe Bergdahl

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Former President George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen pens a must-read in the Washington Post in response to the “prisoner exchange” of five high-level Taliban terrorists in Gitmo for US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, suspected of being a deserter sympathetic to the enemy (hat tip):

If anyone doubts that the five senior Taliban leaders President Obama released this weekend will return to the fight and kill more Americans, they need only look at what happened when the George W. Bush administration released a Taliban leader named Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir (a.k.a. Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul) in 2007.

Unlike the terrorists Obama just set free, Zakir was assessed by our military as only “medium risk” of returning to the fight. At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Zakir pretended to be a low-ranking conscript and told officials he simply wanted to “go back home and join my family” and promised “I [have] never been America’s enemy and I never intend to be.”

But when he returned to Afghanistan, he quickly became one of America’s fiercest enemies, directly responsible for the deaths of U.S., coalition and Afghan forces. In 2009, Zakir was appointed as the Taliban’s “surge commander” in charge of countering Obama’s new strategy to deny the Taliban safe haven in southern Afghanistan. According to the Times of London, Zakir instituted a campaign of “increasingly sophisticated [roadside] explosives attacks” that killed British and U.S. forces as well as many Afghan civilians. He waged relentless war on the United States and presided over unspeakable atrocities before stepping down from military command in April. To this day, he remains a top member of the Taliban leadership council.

The five Taliban leaders Obama released will now take up where Zakir left off. According to our own military, they are all “high risk” to return to the fight. How dangerous are these men? Here is what the U.S. military says about them, according to their leaked assessments from Guantanamo Bay.

Mullah Norullah Noori is “one of the most significant former Taliban officials detained at JTF-GTMO.” He “led troops against US and Coalition forces” and “was directly subordinate to Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar,” is “associated with members of al-Qaida” and is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes.” Noori’s “brother is currently a Taliban commander conducting operations against US and Coalition forces,” and Noori “would likely join his brother if released.”

There’s a reason we don’t negotiate with terrorists in hostage/POW situations, and Thiessen does a thorough job of explaining exactly why. Make sure to read the whole thing.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: A war hero or a deserter?

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Bowe Bergdahl

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

In light of the “prisoner exchange” of US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five high-level Taliban Gitmo detainees, CNN”s Jake Tapper reports on claims Bergdahl’s on US soldiers who served with him are making about him (via):

(CNN) — The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him — veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose “selfish act” ended up costing the lives of better men.

“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

[…]

Said Bergdahl’s former squad leader, Greg Leatherman: “I’m pleased to see him returned safely. From experience I hope that he receives adequate reintegration counseling. I believe that an investigation should take place as soon as healthcare professionals deem him fit to endure one.”

Another senior Defense official said Bergdahl will not likely face any punishment. “Five years is enough,” he told CNN on condition of anonymity.

Questions surround the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance. Conflicting details have since emerged about how the militants managed to capture Bergdahl. Published accounts have varied widely, from claims he walked off the post to another that he was grabbed from a latrine.

According to first-hand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera, and a diary.

At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika Province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.

Many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops — from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad, to the larger group that comprised the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him. Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.

On top of this are disturbing tweets by Bergdahl’s dad Bob who is pressing to get more prisoners released from Gitmo.

On the surface, without digging into any history and just taking the release at face value, Bergdahl’s release would make everyone happy, a proud moment in American military history – but once you read who he was “traded” for, as well as the circumstances behind his alleged “capture” in the first place … and the murders of the US soldiers who searched for him, you get the sense that perhaps he wasn’t a POW at all – and instead a willing participant.

I’ve a lot of military who read this blog, and I’m very interested in reading your thoughts.