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General News    H3'ed 1/3/10

"60 Minutes" Spotlights Incompetence at the VA

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Message Roger Shuler
Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
The Don Siegelman case in Alabama and the Paul Minor case in Mississippi have shown that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), under George W. Bush, abused the very principles for which it supposedly stands.

Was the DOJ the only U.S. institution to atrophy under Bush and continue sagging, so far, under President Barack Obama? Not exactly.

In a segment that airs tonight, 60 Minutes will focus on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its failure to process claims effectively. The venerable CBS news program reports that the VA has a massive backlog of claims, leaving many veterans struggling and frustrated.

This comes on the heels of reports about discrimination against VA claims processors, the very people who are supposed to ensure that veterans receive their benefits.

We have reported here at Legal Schnauzer on the case of Jamie Fox and Ann Williams, two claims processors who were fired at the VA's Oakland (CA) Regional Center, in apparent retaliation for complaining about anti-gay bias and a hostile work environment. Both Williams and Fox are U.S. Navy veterans.
We also reported about four women who received a $3.73 million judgment from a federal jury after filing discrimination claims against a VA medical center in Florida.

Williams tells Legal Schnauzer that the 60 Minutes report should shine an uncomfortable spotlight on a VA that is letting down veterans--and the country they serve. Says Williams:

V.A. management is a perfect model of malignant incompetence that continues to thrive and survive, while our military veterans' lives crumble as they wait for the long overdue benefits they desperately need.

Williams also provides an update on the dismal work conditions she, Fox, and others have experienced at the VA's Oakland center:

My EEOC hearing will be Jan. 7th and 11th--finally. During this long process, besides Jamie and me, another co-worker witness was fired, another demoted, another begged to be removed as a witness for fear of job loss (realistic fear). And just a few weeks ago, yet another witness, and current VA employee, begged to be removed from my witness list . . . Two of the managers who lied, which is documented, are no longer at Oakland VA, and the male co-worker who harassed and slandered me mysteriously "resigned" a year ago.

Meanwhile, veterans claims pile up nationwide, and the claims processors (veterans service representatives) work long hours and chug-a-lug Pepto Bismol. Find out why by watching 60 Minutes this Sunday, Jan. 3rd.
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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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