Veteran Town Hall Meeting with Congresswoman Michelle Lujan-Grisham

Yesterday, June 07, I attended a veteran “town hall” meeting, hosted by Congresswomen Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM). The focus was on the medical care being provided (or not!) by the local VA hospital in Albuquerque. About 200 veterans along with family members attended.

There were far too many stories of callous and indifferent neglect, including some that indicated that as a result the veteran died. It was heart-rending. The VA hospital in Phoenix is more “famous,” thanks to the excellent investigative work of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Drew Griffith. In Phoenix, the number of veterans seeking care but not placed on official waiting lists was estimated to be 1,700. In Albuquerque, the equivalent number is 3,000. Three top news stories in the Albuquerque Journal featured issues related to veterans and their efforts to obtain timely and appropriate health care. One of those three articles in here.

Time and time again during the town hall meeting, veterans would relate what Senator Sanders, the Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, would call “gamesmanship” to deny the veteran the necessary health care. Tried and true techniques invariably involve “lost” paperwork. More “creative” techniques involve such tactics as denying a veteran who has no mobility in his legs a wheelchair because he has too much strength in his upper arms(!)

But there were no stories, nor any articles in the newspaper about how similar “games” are played to deny veterans employment, as prescribed by law, in the Federal workforce. I have accumulated a small, but growing list of techniques, which may ultimately reach 20, which was the number of techniques identified by one person in the VA senior management in 2010 on how VA staffers would “game” the waiting lists, to make it appear that wait times were lower than they actually are.

In employment, the most outrageous technique that is used is a very straightforward one: even though the veteran job applicant has submitted all the appropriate paperwork, including his/her DD-214, they simply call the applicant a “non-veteran.” In my next article I will explain in greater detail how they do this, and what might be done about it.

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