As part of VA secretary Dr. David Shukin’s continued commitment to transparency and accountability, he met with communicators from more than a dozen Veterans service organizations (VSOs) who attended a roundtable in Washington, D.C., Thursday, June 29.

“There is obviously a lot going on at the VA, and we wanted to have time for you to ask any questions and time for you to share any thoughts you have,” said Shulkin, who was joined by joined by Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs John Ullyot, VA’s chief communicator, and Acting Under Secretary for Health Dr. Poonam Alaigh. “Organizations that don’t listen to their customers and what they want usually become irrelevant and go out of business.”

Joe Plenzer of the American Legion and Joe Davis of the Veterans of Foreign Wars started a conversation centered on VA accountability and its culture, asking how newly signed legislation will help improve the quality of care Veterans receive through the system.

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve at the VA, and if you don’t feel that way and you don’t act that way, then I don’t want you at the VA,” Shulkin said. “We still have a culture that is not service-oriented, that is not striving for excellence and we are going to continue to get this right by getting the right people in the spots. The vast majority of our employees are people that I am proud to serve with who are working very hard every day, who we want at the VA.”

The VSOs who attended included The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Jewish War Veterans, Commissioned Officers of the United States Public Health Services, Fleet Reserve Association, Blinded Veterans, American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, Catholic War Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Got Your 6, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project and The Mission Continues. Each had an opportunity to engage Shulkin and ask questions on behalf of the collective millions of Veterans they represent.

The secretary used the opportunity to discuss his five priorities for the department and highlight some of the progress made under his watch – while stressing to the VSOs his commitment to transparency, saying “We’re trying to be more transparent about what our problems are and how we’re going about trying to solve them.”

Image of Casin Spero Casin Spero is a special assistant to the assistant secretary for the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

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Published on Jul. 6, 2017

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  1. Laurence E. Presser July 29, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I have been treated for congestive heart failure and had a triple-by-pass in the last six months. I was in the Salt Lake City VA and the San Antonio VA systems. I LOVE the care I received at both medical centers. KUDO’s to the medical staff at both facilities for saving my life twice. I am a 100% Viet Nam veteran and have the highest esteem for the VA system.

  2. francis m doyle July 14, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    the v.a. should have MEDICARE SUBVENTION.

  3. francis m doyle July 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    are the vso`s still getting a bonus ?

  4. Michael J Sanchez July 11, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    The article does not specify what opinions and preferences the dozen VSOs expressed at the meeting. My information is that most VSOs do NOT want privatization, yet the Secretary has already claimed that almost one third of VA services are now accomplished by private health care providers. Which is it?: VA is not privatizing but instead is ramping up its recruitment and retention efforts in order to meet the glaring nationwide staffing shortage (over 49,000, according to Sec. Shulkin) OR VA is giving away more and more care to the private sector with a goal of more than half of all care given away?
    Dr. Shulkin stated that VA will compete with the private sector for care to us Veterans, so why then is VA giving away money and business to our competitors instead of safely staffing VA so that it can compete?

  5. Daniel Woolston July 9, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    I was all for the trump white house until your thinking of removing the Out benefits from the Vets you claim to help you are all the same.

  6. Richard Quintana July 8, 2017 at 10:48 am

    When yes when is the VA GOING TO ADDRESS THE APPEALS? There is no end 3 years and still waiting the vet has died. Oh that’s the answer DIE!!

  7. Victor R Sellers July 7, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Lol, no one reads this except for other veterans looking for answers. It’s too bad we have such corrupt leaders in positions of power in controlling the lives of damaged warriors. President Trump is trying to fix this but is battled by the swamp every way it can. Records are hidden, altered, misplaced, misfiled, destroyed, dumped, trashed, ruined, left in dumpsters, left idle for years, and ignored because no one answers to anyone for anything. The Veterans Administration has always been corrupt, so to fix it in one generation is impossible. Just watch the VBA to see.

  8. Jodi hess July 7, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Dr Shulkin,

    To have “moles” infiltrate the services at the visn’s would help to identify poor performing facilities. Most problems start with middle management. Employees are retaliated against if they want to improve current process and held back in their efforts. Leaders are not present at the sight of patient care and therefore have absolutely no knowledge of how their facilities are performing and where problems are occuring. Patient satisfaction surveys are manipulated by employees and do not reflect accurate numerical data. I invite you to read the va pulse “9 things that make good employees quit”. Many employees from around the country report many of the same problems and concerns.

  9. Danny Greene July 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    The Lajolla, CA VA is excellent and no complaints. I just believe that 70% or more of the staff (not to include doctor) should be Vets. Ebenefits is a great way to resolve disability claims, you can even ask the VA to make a decision right away, upload docs and communicate with the VA.

  10. Daniel Santos July 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    If you value your health, do not come to the Phoenix VA.
    Too many good old boys, they cover for each other or you get the infamous AROUND and AROUND.

  11. Joseph Cascio July 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I have been seeing subtle positive changes in the way VA employees at the Austin Outpatient Clinic treat vets and provide service. Still a long way to go to get rid of the dead wood but the VA is moving in the right direction. Keep the momentum going.

  12. Tommy July 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    You all or telling the truth about the va’s unacceptable tactics they perform everyday ,but you know what ,it’s not going to stop,because the top management of employees or not veterans, if they are they get their bonuses and keep their jobs.Because they are afraid of losing their income so they stonewall you claim and tag it with yellow tap.because of the back pay they owe us for our claims.This is a discriminateing process not because of who you are it’s because of what at stake. MONEY!

  13. Thomas Leonard Johnson July 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I am a veteran who has been denied compensation of my heart condition in which I have 11 heart implants 20%of heart function in which my heart disease started while I was on active duty when I apply for compensation I was living at one address and I waited for a response for 1year and 6 months with no response so I contacted v a and was instructed to contact my vso by phone at which time I was directed to the voice mail was told to leave a detailed message and ssn and some one get back with me and never did now I contacted v a and was instructed that I was denied never receiving any kind of communication this has been happen 7 years now I need help

  14. James B Loague July 7, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I haven’t seen any discussion on the claims process being addressed. Myself and I am sure thousands of others have been fighting with the VA for 7 YEARS !!!! with my compensation claims. The process sucks and it’s very biased. When you go to a VA appointed doctor they work for the VA and not the veteran. The doctor has the VA interest in mind not the veteran.

    Example and this is one of many I have claims on both my legs. I had surgery on my RIGHT KNEE so the VA decides since I had the surgery on my RIGHT KNEE my LEFT LOWER EXTREMITY is better and lowered my rating on my LEFT LEG from 60% to 40% I have been waiting over a year for a decision due to my disputing it

    To me it seems the higher the rating you get the more nonsensical the VA gets. I feel like it’s done purposely so the veteran will give up and go away. I didn’t ask to be injured I served my country honorably to protect the right and freedoms for illegal immigrants to get all the benefits we should be getting with much less hassle.

    They spend billions of dollars to give benefits to people that don’t belong in this country and let veterans die, suffer and toil away at never ending paper work and doctors visits to get minimal benefits and compensation

  15. John Petrichella July 7, 2017 at 10:19 am

    How about a damn raise in VA compensation benefits instead of all this lip service ???

    • Victor R Sellers July 7, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      The medical staff at the Redstone Arsenal Missle Command was the poorest in the nation for providing care or providing any treatment records. I couldn’t even get mine while on duty right there, so pathetic care is no surprise. Of course, that was for vets returning from Vietnam so their treatment could be hushed, and kept from the public. It’s a shame the VA has caused so many suicides by hiding evidence of their disabilities.

      I would say you will die before you see any resolution, knowing that over 300,000 have died before you while waiting. The St. Louis department head said a SIX YEAR WAIT is common. Many of us will not exist in 6 years from the time they applied. I applied in 1983 due to permanent damage in Vietnam and requiring medical evacuation out, but told to “Fuxx Off” basically, so they withheld my records since 1971 saying they were lost, but I got some finally last spring. Evidence does not really matter. The rater’s mood that day and bonus does.

  16. Whitney James Robinson July 7, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Doctors at Birmingham, AL and Huntsville, AL facilities do their BEST to help veterans! The VA administrative services are not responsive. For example, I have an adjudication in process. The VA claims to address such actions within some 240 days. Mine is approaching its 2nd anniversary on 1 Aug 2017 for a total of 730 days. I am sure you can find, as I know one veteran who has been waiting 4 years for an adjudication.

  17. Not happning July 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Miami’s VA has awful, awful workers.

  18. Gretchen P Reinhardt July 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    “continued commitment to transparency and accountability, “ Clean up the retaliatory practices of the Disruptive Behavior Committee and give veterans a “due process” in the flagging process. The first thing the DBC does when they flag a veteran is remove the veteran’s ability to contact the VA Patient Advocate, file police reports, file complaints, request VA medical records corrections, and make any contact with any non-clinical VA staff.

    VA is the only health care entity that has a police force on every campus, and administrators that assume veterans are more dangerous (violent) than the rest of the population. Even many of the VA docs believe that. VA docs are the only ones that will secretly (document on your record, but not tell you) document you as a chronic alcoholic.

    Our justice system is “innocent until proven guilty”. VA is the exact opposite, but even worse when they decide you are “VA convicted” of something (Patient Record Flagging) with no chance to ever prove innocent, and no “due process”. The VA is the only health care system that has a fully powered police force everywhere, and uses it for punishment and to destroy our health care quality.

  19. William Tuey July 6, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Mr. Secretary,

    The Phoenix VA gives excellent care, our doctors are very good. The support staff is lacking and many complaints about the Prosthetics section should get your attention. I fault the head of the prosthetics staff, I always look at the head of a department when there are problems within that department. Our chief of prosthetics has been a VA employee for years and seems to blame his staff, but does not remedy the problem with training and guidance. He needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

    • Daniel Medlin July 6, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      This veterans was assaulted by two doctors at American Lake VA (names redacted)

      (name redacted)American Lake attorney combine both the doctors into one complaint made it very difficult for me to fight………

      They instantly retired doctor (name redacted) the rheumatologist Dr (name redacted) is still on the payroll…….

      I was retaliated upon and injured severely by dr. (name redacted)a unnecessary surgical procedure mutilating my reproductive organs………

      He has brought two unfounded petitions upon me and has literally stole my VA facility……

      The judge would not even let me plead my case I’m asking for the transcripts and headed to Washington DC selective judges in this territory state of Washington especially Seattle and Tacoma…….

      Receiving a spreadsheet from a Freedom of Information Act request from mr. (name redacted)privacy officer American Lake that came to the Chehalis Clinic when I had an appointment to size me up……….. showing this doctor (name redacted) on the spreadsheet having close to 10 million dollars of denied claims against him of harming our veterans mostly with instruments……..

      you do not know how hard this veteran has fought…..

      I am nonviolent have never taken any psychiatric medication…..

      don’t need them…..

      ithey have tried to use the mental and aggression card on me as a defense….


      I’m headed to Washington DC with over four banana boxes of evidence………

      it would be nice to get a true inspector at this facility Seattle and American Lake……

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