Sunday, January 3, 2016

Does John McCain Ever Have to Explain Anything?

How is it that politicians never have to explain anything about what they do ending up with such poor results? When we think about suicides tied to military service, we think about the DOD as well as the VA because they would not be disabled veterans had they not served in the military in the first place. Politicians however don't seem to be able to make that connection.

Veterans expected results after all the hearings however, deplorable results did not come with any explanations or even apologies.

President Obama served on the Veterans Affairs Committee but not the Armed Forces Committee. John McCain served on that one but didn't serve on the VA Committee. It seems like neither one was paying much attention to their own Committees.

Way back in 2007 then Senator Obama was demanding answers from the Pentagon on what they were doing about PTSD rates and suicides.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) sent the following letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, requesting a full accounting of service members’ psychological injuries, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), since October 2001. The senators also requested a detailed report on how the military monitors other psychological injuries. Recent media accounts indicate that the number of service members seeking care for PTSD from the Veterans Administration (VA) increased 70% over a 12-month period, or an increase of some 20,000 cases. In addition, reports of the total number of cases of PTSD treatment at the VA since 2001 – 50,000 cases – far exceed the number of wounded documented by the Pentagon.
We see the results of that demand and it hasn't been good at all. As for the VA, well, they responded in 2007 by opening VA Clinics to fill the demand of the already overloaded system that was never increased with two wars adding to the number of disabled veterans.

Just an example of this came when the Minneapolis VA opened two clinics, then shut them down due to lack of funding the company contracted to run them.
Two recently opened Minneapolis VA clinics in western Wisconsin were abruptly shut down this week by the company under contract to run them. Kentucky-based Corporate Health and Wellness says it lost hundreds of thousands of dollars opening the clinics. It blames the closings on a lack of additional funding from the VA.

St. Paul, Minn. — The two clinics that sit idle now opened to much fanfare this summer and fall. The VA said, and local veterans agreed, the facilities in Hayward and in Rice Lake would make it much easier for area vets to get basic health care. No longer would they have to travel long distances to VA facilities in places like Duluth-Superior or the Twin Cities.

But without warning, the clinics closed this week.

Yes, you read "contracted" right. In other words, the cost of caring for the disabled veterans was increased simply because contractors make more money than VA employees. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs was looking for answers on veterans committing suicide as well after a CBS report showed,
The hearing was prompted in part by a CBS news story in November on suicides in the veteran population that put last year’s number of veteran suicides at over 6,000. VA officials refuted that number, questioning its validity. But a VA Inspector General report released in May of 2007 found that as many as 5,000 veterans commit suicide a year—nearly 1,000 of whom are receiving VA care at the time.
There were investigations on veterans dying due to substandard care way back then as well but those investigations were followed by even more of them with more veterans in graves.

President Bush was being slammed for being $3 billion short on the VA budget in 2008 but it had happened before his presidency and after it.

Veterans have always had to fight wars and then come home to fight for benefits after getting disabled because politicians never had to explain what they didn't fix.

A report in 2008 took a look at VA claims ratings going back to 1945.
VA argued that it is already doing the right thing and has been updating the rating schedule, though officials acknowledged they could do better. From 1990 through 2007, VA had updated 47 percent of the ratings schedule, but 35 percent of the codes had not been touched since 1945. However, VA said it updated the codes for TBI in January and is working on an update for PTSD.

VA spokesman Ralph Heussner says the locked doors are an unexpected disappointment. 
McCain's answer for all of this was to privatize the VA back in 2008 just like now. VA Update: Senator McCain's Plan to Privatize Veterans' Healthcare
On the campaign trail, the Republican's presumptive nominee has talked of a new mission for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and argued that veterans with non-combat medical problems should be given vouchers to receive care at private, for-profit hospitals -- in other words, an end to the kind of universal health care the government has guaranteed veterans for generations.

"We need to relieve the burden on the VA from routine health care," McCain told the National Forum on Disability Issues last month. "If you have a routine health care need, take it wherever you want, whatever doctor or health care provider and get the treatment you need, while we at the VA focus our attention, our care, our love, on these grievous wounds of war."

And for John McCain on the DOD, he's been on the wrong side of taking care of the service members in the first place.

While McCain's voting record has never been good for veterans he continually managed to bring up the fact he was one of them.

Take the GI Bill for example. This is what he thought of it before President Bush gave him credit for passing it.
McCain says the legislation is too expensive and has proposed his own version, which would increase the monthly benefit available to most veterans to $1,500 from $1,100. It would not offer the equivalent of a full scholarship.

The ad by VoteVets.org Action Fund, features Iraq and Afghanistan veterans noting that both McCain and President Bush oppose the bill.

"McCain thinks covering a fraction of our education is enough," one veteran says. Another one, pictured recovering from head wounds, adds in a voiceover: "We didn't give a fraction in Iraq. We gave 100 percent."

While McCain called "suicide prevention overreach and blocked prevention bill" Reuters reported in 2010 about the failures in preventing suicides.
Efforts to prevent suicides among U.S. war veterans are failing, in part because distressed troops do not trust the military to help them, top military officials said on Thursday.

Poor training, a lack of coordination and an overstretched military are also factors, but a new 76-point plan lays out ways to improve this,Colonel John Bradley, chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington.
"They tell us again and again that we are failing," Bradley told a symposium on military medicine sponsored by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.

Each branch of the services -- the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines -- rushed to create a suicide prevention program, but there was no coordination. The report recommends that the defense secretary's office take over coordination of suicide prevention efforts.

On-the-ground prevention training often failed because those running the sessions did not understand their importance, Bradley said.


"They are mocked and they are probably harmful," he said.
Not much has changed other than there are higher numbers of suicides and a lot more money spent on bills that are simply repeats of what already failed. So while we remember all that has gone on while politicians have been accountable to no one, McCain now wants credit for "progress" after all these years of abysmal failures?
John McCain, Jeff Flake: Some progress on Pentagon, VA reform; a lot more to do
AZ/DC
The Republic
Dan Nowicki
January 2, 2016
McCain touted his work on the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, which became law in February.
Sen. Jeff Flake (left) and Sen. John McCain, both Arizona Republicans, in November said the Pentagon paid professional sports franchises for marketing events that included full-field displays of the American flag, enlistment and re-enlistment ceremonies and reunions between service members and their families. They called the productions "paid patriotism."
(Photo: Bill Theobald/The Republic)
Arizona's U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake have wrapped up their first year as part of the Senate's current Republican majority and can look back on a 2015 that included incremental progress in reforming the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs and battling the sprawling Defense Department waste as well as challenges and disappointments.

"We've been reforming the military this last year," McCain said in a recent meeting with Arizona Republic editors and reporters. "According to the (conservative think tank) Heritage Foundation, the biggest reforms in the last 30 years. But we have a heck of a lot more to do, a lot more reforms to do."

As Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, McCain was a driving force behind the National Defense Authorization Act, which reflected his Pentagon reform agenda. The legislation, among other highlights, redirects billions of dollars in spending on administrative overhead and troubled weapons programs to improving military capabilities and other priorities, revamps the defense-acquisition process and updates the military's 70-year-old retirement system.
read more here