Secretary Bob McDonald continues his open dialogue with Veterans as he travels to Memphis today. While the trip is anchored by an address to Veterans at the AMVETS National Convention, McDonald will also visit several VA facilities including the Memphis VA Medical Center, a local Vet Center and the National Cemetery.

It’s all part of his ongoing efforts to learn as much as possible about the diverse issues facing Veterans and how the Department can better meet their needs. To that end, McDonald has instructed all VAMC directors to hold town-hall meetings by the end of September in order to get a clear picture of what is right, and what is wrong – focusing heavily on VA’s medical centers that serve a large number of Veterans.

“Coming face-to-face with reality isn’t a disaster,” he said to Veterans at the DAV National Convention last week. “I want to hear your stories. I want to know when we’re not serving you well.”

At the Phoenix VA Medical Center during his first trip as secretary, McDonald spoke with as many Veterans and employees as he could – often straying away from his planned tour to talk with Vets in waiting rooms. One Veteran in particular, waited patiently to tell McDonald about his positive VA experience and the care he received in Phoenix.

“The Phoenix story is about more than just a crisis in Veterans’ access,” the secretary said. “To be sure it’s a story of failed leadership, but it’s also a story of dedicated people, who have had the moral courage to stand up, and help serve us Veterans better.”

As he travels to meet with employees and Veterans, McDonald is emphasizing the importance of embracing VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence, known as I CARE. He said VA and its employees could never go wrong if they sincerely adopted these principles and viewed care and service through the eyes of Veterans.

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Published on Aug. 13, 2014

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  1. Donald Yeargin August 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    OEF/OIF Disable Veteran, I have LODs, Carmot Ali, COPD, all deemed not military related by both AZ and OR Regional Offices. Injured in combat Line of Duty discharged from medical holding unit. Yet my case is over 6 years old and a can’t get the healthcare, Benefits or help I need from Caregiver Program because of the mistakes made by not 1 but 2 of your regional offices. Veterans get Compensation from sick call slips how it is possible that I can not with LODs. Impossible to believe you say, well not in my case. I would say I’m the Poster Boy for how the system has failed Veterans. If it is true that you want to hear our stories and fix the problems you read. Then what better press than to help disable veteran with 6+ year old case. 503-616-0366 2319 12th Ave Forest Grove OR 97116. SFC Donald A Yeargin

  2. Dafiti August 22, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    This initiative must continue. Veterans need it

  3. Cupom de Desconto Submarino August 21, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Where’s his contact information. I have a story to tell and it’s a disaster.

  4. Michael Rebeck August 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I am a Marine Corps Veteran. I have been in the system, non combat related. Yes in most cases the staff at the VA hospitals are polite and they do their jobs. I did a short survey and learned that after the probationary time is over, many staff members move slower then a snail. I have heard and experienced several times standing in front of a clerk or nurse talking on the phone or to one another about personal business. I can remember asking the person if the phone call was business related or personal. That got their attention.

    The biggest problem is not how polite a person is but if the therapy one is getting is solving the problem. If Sec McDonald really wishes to find out what is happening, find a Veteran who has been cured, not whether the Veteran has been nicely treated.
    Another example of profit over health. How many articles have you read that margarine causes many health related issues. I will say that every VA hospital still serves this chemical spread at every meal.
    We need a someone who will represent us and look for current therapies and cures that are outside of the box and not blocked by AMA. Be Well, Semper Fi Michael

  5. Scott Davis August 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I would advise Veterans to read the article for themselves. The article addresses administrative problems with VA health care.

    Click link below for full article:

  6. John Smith August 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I am a veteran needing to work and have been unsuccessful because of stigma with my disability. We are damned if we speak and self destroy if we don’t. There has to be a way to help one on one and not a remote body on a phone. I don’t want the government to care for me, I served voluntarily and just need a “field” to work in .

  7. Veterans Intiative Asociation USA August 16, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Mr. Secretary,
    The VIA (Veterans Initiative Association) is a very unique organization with a mission to end homelessness among veterans. In Virginia, a veteran who earns $1,000.00 a month can qualify for housing assistance. Most homeless veterans who work, do so at temp agencies that pay minimum wages. This is not nearly enough to meet the $1,000.00 threshold. So, we formed our own staffing agency to employ these veterans. Because we don’t have to make a profit, we can pay the veteran a much higher wage and thus can earn the $1,000.00.

    We need lots of help with obtaining operating capital and funds for equipment. Can the DOVA help us?

    David Hoover, CEO

  8. Douglas Dale Dixon August 16, 2014 at 12:20 am


    DEAD *** Sometime PRIOR to 8 MONTHS AGO ******


    Seriously BOB, I have the Letter and My response to the detail of

    WHEN WHERE AND HOW since I and my family seemed to have missed the event.

    That was about 8 months after my first request for disability and about 11 months before my first denial of benefits because the could not PROVE “BOOTS ON THE GROUND” .

    BOB: A personal note: YOU NEED TO READ THIS NOTE and the fact that I have never received any answer from them since my response. AND WE ARE TO TRUST THAT IT WILLNOT EFFECT MY BENEFITS . REALLY ???

  9. Douglas Dale Dixon August 16, 2014 at 12:09 am

    The Waco VA Administrative side .

    After 3 years , still working on claim. The Waco VA disapproved the Main Part of my disability claim because in READING MY DD 214 ( which I got in 1971 after serving in Viet Nam ) they did not see the words “BOOTS ON THE GROUND”

    DUH !!!!!! This change after some effort I find was awarded to the VA as an interpretation of our DD214 – the official discharge from military and state that some have Vietnam Service Ribbon on DD214 by error of military records and therefore IT IS NOT ACCEPTED AS PROOF. TO BAD SOMEONE DID NOT TELL THEM IN 1968 when I was there, OH THAT IS RIGHT THE DEAR GOVERNMENT / MILITARY AND VA set that as a standard in the later 1990’s. Some 30 years after we served there and after we had our DD 214 as the only FINAL PROOF we would need in the future.

    If they stated a change then for future DD 214 records I would not have a problem but to retroactive it to all prior DD214 is JUST PLAIN WRONG . DECEPTIVE and a MAJOR SLAP IN FACE TO ALL VETS who serve in Vietnam and other wars.

    For those mistakes who have the ribbons on their records and never served, that is between them and the military/government and VA. but to grand father clause for those who served in SEA ( Southeast Asia – Vietnam ) and show SEA on their DD 214’s not not reading the form it is interpretating the for and re writing it to “BOOTS ON GROUND is Required” when they all know perfectly well that it was not the term they used in 1968.

    THIS IS A ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUE –at your level that will only be corrected if you take actions.


  10. maurice wyman scott August 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I commend the new secretary for asking for Town Hall meetings within each location, but unfortunately it’s culture that needs to change, which hasn’t. In Columbia, SC, today, 8/14/14, a Town Hall meeting was conducted, but instead of hearing a doing anything, it was a Town Hall meeting to give the RO Director the opportunity to objectify the IG inspection, justify why more than half of the VA employees did get a bonus, and tell how great she was. In the same manner, if a veteran had the nerve and instinct to ask a question, his question was answered with political rhetoric but the same do nothing actions. The Director actually objectified the IG which reported that on there average, the RO was about 60 percent accurate, yet she stood in front of a room of veterans, and said her self imposed, not third party assessment was over 90 percent accurate, still fudging the numbers. Lastly with a ton of employees present, managers, and alike, and not one veterans issue got resolved or close to resolved tonight. The Town Hall meetings while meaning well haven’t been expressed to the RO senior management that it’s not about them, but about the veterans, but this is a media circus, and that’s all it was.

  11. James T. Andross, BM2 (Ret/Dis) August 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Dear Mr. Secretary;

    The VA Medical Center in Canandaigua, NY helped save my life, from mental disorder and suicidal ideation. I am a Vietnam Combat Vet and had served 12 years Honorable years of Naval Service before suffering a nervous breakdown, hallucinations, and self-destructive actions.

    The VA in general and CANANDAIGUA V.A.M.C. specifically, has been there for me since day ONE. I hope all VA’s within the system offer as much as this one has given me: They saved my LIFE..

    To all my Vet Brothers and Sisters… God Speed, Thank You, and find Vets to commune with until the storms pass.


  12. asknod August 14, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    It would be helpful to find out Secretary McDonald’s itinerary or that of the Service Center Managers as to when they are holding these open houses. In order for stakeholders to participate, it requires an agenda that is visible and one that informs us so we can provide valuable input. Far too often, we find these things out after the fact.

    I, for one, would welcome the opportunity to meet with Sec. McDonald- or the VSC of the Seattle VARO to discuss the VR&E’s Independent Living Program (ILP) and the fact that of the 2,700 slots open annually for VA’s most severely disabled Veterans, the VA has never been able to find that many to take advantage of it. Wyoming and Vermont have not had a single disabled Veteran rehabilitated by this valuable asset since record-keeping began in 2004. Considering the program authorizes up to $40,000 apiece to those of us too disabled to work, I find it incongruous that so few succeed in qualifying. Can it be VA mistakenly believes we are all independent in our activities of everyday living such that we require nothing more? I would also relish the chance to ask why one single program of all VA’s myriad programs is controlled solely by local VR&E GS-13s and does not have to report back to VACO in Washington DC. Every other facet of VA is required to do so.

    I suspect the truth is that much like the Phoenix VAMC scheduling “misunderstanding”, the ILP is rapidly evolving into no more than a mere chimera designed to impress (or mislead) the public and satisfy Congress’ original intent in 1980. The latest habit of providing grab bars at toilets and cordless phones for “Help! I’ve fallen down and can’t get up.” was not Congress’ intent. If so, they would not have authorized funding to provide each and every disabled Veteran a sum which would provide for an avocational pastime like woodworking, photography or gardening in a greenhouse year around. The latest revision to Chapter 9 of the M 28 clearly attempts to curtail any meaningful avocational pursuits beyond cheap trinkets and token ADA accouterments often covered by HISA.

    We are coming to see that VA is paying lip service to assuage public opinion but doing little to actually provide meaningful help for it’s Veterans.

  13. Ralph J Lepley August 14, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I’ll be interested in how much of a priority Vietnam veterans will be to Bob McDonald?

    I served in The Mekong River Delta (IV Corp) during 1970-71 out of Can Tho. I was sprayed 13 times in an open jeep while on various jungle roads in early AM hours over 18 months.

    I married in Ohio in 1975 and discovered I had a zero (0) sperm count. My father died in Korea, 10 days before I was born. ALL my potential children died in Vietnam. (Also, my wife, Anne, died of depression, cancer and grief at not being able to have children in 1984.

    How do you place a monetary value on lossing ALL future generations in your family. What compensation would Bob McDonald want for such a loss????

  14. Druses August 13, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    VA under secretaries of health and benefits have received instructions to direct each VA medical center and regional office to hold at least one town hall meeting with vets by the end of September. I’m waiting for that day.

  15. Aubrey August 13, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Recent I enrolled in the VA health care system on 11/20/13. Was approved for non service connected benefit with a co payment. Ended up in a local emergency for a mental health issues. Now being told by the payment center in MT that the bill will not be paid by the VA because congress past a bill to deny payment if a veteran has not been seen by a VA a doctor within a 24 month prior enrollment period. What the hell !
    I was on a wait list for over 60 days to have a physical by a VA doctor. This provision in VA health care Law/program needs to be repealed / modified and or removed Senate Bill 38-17-25 CFR 171-1008 Vets have no control over how soon they can see a VA doctor.

    • Robert Haves August 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Keep after them they’ll pay it eventually and the great thing about private care just give them a buck a month and they don’t report sometimes baring extenuating circumstances

  16. Jacob August 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Where’s his contact information. I have a story to tell and it’s a disaster.

  17. william L August 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I am in disbelief that this man can make changes in the way our Health system is in a corrupted mess.with all VSO’s attending a conferance in Las Vagas NA for over a week.
    there is no VSOS in the offices right now. there work will be far behind when they return next week. so if your wondering about your claims. hurry up and wait.

  18. jerry forte August 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I would agree that the healthcare that I receive from the VA is top notch.My problem is with service contacted claims for AO.Please don’t forget us.Served in Thailand and have been twice denied benefits,last time June 2013.Have gone the lawyer route which shouldn’t be the case.I served with honor,shouldn’t I get the same?

  19. Donald Yeargin August 13, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I can’t get the care and assistance I need because the LODS are considered not military related. Funny, how without the acknowledgement of these and other injuries how little assistance and care one gets. Compensation and care are linked so closely that without one you can’t really get the other. Sounds crazy LODS no military related but I guess it;s only true if no one cares enough to do there job as in my case. Take the time and look for yourself. [redacted] case number. 6 years still little heathcare. SFC Yeargin

  20. Arnold Hubert August 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I am a combat Vietnam era veteran, am 100% disabled via agent orange and am currently being served by the C.W. Bill Young (formerly Bay Pines VA Hospital) Florida. I reside in Sebring, FL where I have the convenience of a Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which I visit on a frequent basis. I must say that my experience with these two entities since the start in 2011, has been awesome. I have been treated with great respect and must say that my contact with any Doctor, technician, aide, administrative person and whoever else, has been that of a very satisfied veteran. I have had prior experience factors with service to me by the Denver VA Medical Center, Denver, CO (1995-2010), and also the Danville VA Medical Center, Danville, Illinois dating back to 1992, and those experiences were also positive. Thank you VA !

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