Congressman Gus Bilirakis, (R-FL) Hosts Town Hall Meeting on Potential New VA Medical Center in Pasco County
Several weeks ago, the President signed into law, the “Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014”. Under this law, the Department of Veterans Affairs was afforded $16 Billion dollars to help kick-start reforms of the agency’s scandalized Veterans Health Administration.
One piece of these reforms is to add additional medical facilities, including funds for 27 new or expanded clinics nationwide. The Pasco VA clinic was the only one in designated in Florida.
Pasco County has one small out-patient, primary care clinic with minimal resources. Most ancillary services must take place off-site, (such as mental health) at one of the many small rented offices dotting West Pasco or be done at James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa – an hour drive for most veterans from West Pasco area. What West Pasco also has is an empty, 300,000 square foot hospital that has been vacant, but maintained since closing in 2012.
The former Community Hospital of New Port Richey is far larger than the VA suggests in its funding model, which prescribes a minimum of “…114,000 square feet, 700 parking spaces and be ready to open in 26 months…” However, that additional space will allow for many services to be included in an otherwise disenfranchised clinic that forces veterans to at times, scamper for transportation.
Congressman Bilirakis held essentially an “open-mike” meeting to hear from veterans and fellow taxpayers on their needs and desires surrounding either a new facility or for the VA to finally show an interest in the Community Hospital property. The general consensus of the over 100 attendees was nearly unanimous ~ they want the VA to ‘opt-in’ on the Community property.
However, Haley Director, Ms. Kathleen Fogarty who also attended, remained cemented to the idea that West Pasco should continue on with only an out-patient clinic and keep the more specialized care at Haley. Her proffering that Haley manages nearly 42,000 specialty consults monthly brought out the fight in many of those in attendance, many who have experienced month’s long waits to see specialists at Haley.
Ms. Fogarty failed to understand that supporting an expanded, all-encompassing clinic in West Pasco would relieve some of those appointments from Haley, as well as many of the other ancillary services that Haley currently is the only choice for many veterans. One factor that many veterans brought up but seems to be lost on Ms. Fogarty is the commuting issues with appointments at Haley. Many disabled veterans live on fixed incomes, most rely on public transportation or Veteran Service Agencies to get them to oftentimes bizarrely scheduled appointments. Again, she failed to recognize that putting her support behind a consolidated facility at the Community property would free up Haley resources, provide better access to needed care and contribute greatly to the Pasco County business model, by bringing more support services back to an area that has declined greatly since Community’s closing in 2012.
Congressman Bilirakis has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of the veteran community during his entire tenure in Congress. A trait undoubtedly inherited from his parents, who were in attendance as well. The senior Bilirakis having a vested interest, as it was on his watch and through his efforts with others, that got the Little Road clinic built initially.
We have every reason to believe that he will take the commentary and suggestions heard last evening, add in-depth knowledge of West Pasco’s demographics and needs and continue to champion the veterans voices in this very important matter as it continues along the path.
# # #
Tampa, FL – The chairmen of the House and Senate VA Conference Committee today announced an agreement on legislation intended to repair the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Despite repeated assurances by House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, that the VA did not need, nor would receive more money without REAL accountability, the Committee just handed the VA the $17 Billion they asked for. Most of this is “Emergency Funding” and the VA’s budget only be reduced by $5 Billion of this funding.
Most of the funding is earmarked for veterans who have waited over 30 days for healthcare and live more than 40 miles from a VA medical center. Another part of the agreement gives the Secretary of the VA the authority to terminate senior leaders under a revised timeline, (which will likely be challenged in court by the Senior Executives Association).
What are glaringly missing from this agreement are any real reforms or forced changes upon the VA. Missing is any direction as to IT allocations towards modernizing systems. Missing is direction on dealing with the rank and file who have been caught manipulating government records, falsifying patient information and committing crimes while in the employ of the VA. Missing are any mandates on utilization of existing policies; (such as claims decisions, Non-VA Care, and continued denial of benefits in retaliation for veteran complaints).
This agreement is no more demanding the VA reform itself than any other news story. It contains no reform, no overhaul, no accountability and surely no real ACTION to force necessary changes on the VA. All of which are necessary if the systemic culture of corruption, deception, malfeasance and malaise are to be stopped.
Congress will have the American public and our nation’s heroes believe they are making progress. None has been achieved. In fact, we now see that the VA will continue their behavior, continue to cry “Poor” and blame their dereliction on lack of money and Congress will continue to throw our money at the most broken Federal agency in history, demanding nothing in return.
To schedule an interview with Lauren Price, Founder of VeteranWarriors or other VeteranWarriors experts, please email email@example.com. For other media inquiries, contact Lauren Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727.247.8141
VeteranWarriors LLC is a non-partisan organization which advocates for policy changes that will bring about real reform to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
After watching the House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing – “Evaluation of the Process to Achieve VBA Goals”, (Found here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?320405-1/hearing-veterans-health-care) it must be stated out loud;
The Department of Veterans Affairs is THE most corrupt, morally bankrupt, depraved, and self-serving organization
that has ever existed under our Flag.
Over the last year, VeteranWarriors has worked diligently to inform and educate both Congress and the public of the depth and breadth of the massive corruption in the VA. We have been called “hostile”, “uneducated (on how the VA works) and “opinionated”.
Vindication is NOT what we have wanted but it has arrived…in the form of VA employees who have had the immense courage to come forward and very publically, thumb their noses at the VA leadership who, if allowed to continue, will assure that every veteran who has served this great nation so honorably, does not EVER receive a single earned benefit or service.
Our weekly “Wasteful Wednesday” Report has been issued since February, solely to highlight the deliberate disingenuous and corrupt nature of the VA. It is distributed to show the “real” numbers of claims the VA has, not the ones which Under Secretary Hickey proudly spouts during her cheerleading sessions. We have always known and made clear to everyone, that the numbers reported by the VA are highly suspicious. The VA freely admitted in February that they only chose to report on one category of claims.
On Tuesday, we were nauseated to hear Mr. Ronald Robinson testimony. He is currently the President of the AFGE union local # 512, retired Army First Sergeant, and 18 year veteran of serving in the Columbia, SC Regional Office as a Senior Veterans Service Representative.
When questioned by Congressman Gus Bilirakis, (R-FL), on what effect, if any, the DRIVEN use of “metrics” versus “quality” had on the veteran; Mr. Robinson detailed how the manipulation of data “End Product Codes” – (those which are used by the VA in the “Monday Morning Workload Report”, submitted to Congress, the media and used during Congressional testimony, under oath). These codes are the “identifiers” of types of claims a veteran submits and ultimately keeps the veterans claim moving along the correct path towards adjudication.
Currently, the Veterans Benefits Administration “reports” on thirteen (13) codes…because THE VBA chose which ones to report. The VBA only publically discusses 4 of them. The outrageous part of this is the VBA employees are being instructed by the leadership to CHANGE THE DATES, CHANGE THE CODES and utilize codes that are “…not counted in inventory.” Such as code 930; this code is for “Premature Decisions on Claims”, or EP400 is for “Correspondence” – meaning claims which are closed and have only letters that are being tracked.
That is FRAUD. That is the deliberate harm to veterans. These are not “metrics”…they are not “performance points”…THESE ARE THE CLAIMS OF OUR NATIONS VETERANS. These are claims for rightfully earned benefits and services – which VA leaders are DELIBERATELY manipulating for their OWN PERSONAL GAIN. These “leaders” are defrauding the American taxpayer, the Veteran and the U.S. Government.
The Acting Secretary issued a press release promising the following:
No one has been fired. No one is in jail or has even been charged with a crime. A source in the House of Representatives has confirmed that the Department of Justice has NOT opened a singled investigation into ANY of the known crimes that have taken place. The ONLY action by the VA “Central Office” has been to put people who have committed these actions on “Paid Administrative Leave” – known to the non-veteran world as “PAID TIME OFF” or “VACATION”.
Yet his Under Secretary of the VBA, Allison Hickey, testified on Tuesday, on the “great successes” of the VBA in getting rid of the backlog! Either she doesn’t get his memos or she is lying. In either case, she needs to be immediately removed from her job. Ms. Hickey has NEVER acknowledged the malfeasance, corruption or dysfunction of her department. She has never accepted an ounce of responsibility for the actions of her subordinates…one’s she praises and signs off on huge bonuses for.
However, as there is less than 15 months to the “changing of the guard” – we can only hope that Acting Secretary Gibson will take her aside and lay down the law. Nothing short of a direct order will force this VA cheerleader to stop lying to the Veterans, Congress and the rest of us; and nothing short of criminal charges will force the “leaders” in the VA to change how they behave.
VeteranWarriors full report can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/v085pplcdulczs7/VeteranWarriors%20WWReport%207-15-14.xlsx
ANOTHER WEEK GOES BY, ANOTHER VA SCANDAL
While some Veterans advocates are busy pushing out reminders to support certain legislators’ “Reform” bills for the VA, VeteranWarriors is busy pulling the curtain back from yet another falsehood the VA fully expects you, the taxpayer to believe; that the CLAIMS BACKLOG is no longer a “scandal” or anything at all to be concerned about.
Nothing could be further from the truth! VeteranWarriors cautions every legislator to remember that cancer does not discriminate. It does not stay isolated to one part of the body. If allowed to go untreated, it will invade the entire being and eventually kill you.
Nearly every “scandal” that you are hearing about in the press lately is about the Veterans Health Administration. Everyone, including Congress, has stopped looking at or talking about claims.
We are still tracking all the Veterans Benefits Administration’s “Monday Morning Workload Report” every week. (Found here: http://benefits.va.gov/REPORTS/detailed_claims_data.asp)
We are watching the claims inventory climb, the APPEALS are climbing – actually skyrocketing would be more accurate; and the “Backlog” is NOT going down. To be completely accurate, for the first time in two (2) years – EVERY category of claims (including overall inventory, appeals and the backlog) have climbed!
Congress is operating under the delusion that if the VA gets caught in one scandal, they couldn’t actually continue to behave poorly in the other areas of its enterprise. We can promise that Congress is WRONG.
The VA leadership; from middle managers to the Under Secretary’s; will continue to “cheerlead” and paint the rosy picture as long as we the American taxpayer allow them to. Until WE force the most corrupt, dysfunctional and broken agency of the government into an overhaul – the VA will continue business as usual….lying, hiding evidence, covering up and when necessary, just ignoring the facts.
You can find our report here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s7bibgpes1qoxzk/VeteranWarriors%20WWWReport%207-9-14.xlsx
Here are the FACTS as of the 7/7/2014 VA’s MMWR:
Actual Current Claims Inventory: VA Stated Inventory:
Actual Backlogged Claims: VA Stated Backlog:
Appeals: VA Stated Appeals:
276,445 no public statement
*Note: All categories of claims have risen over the last week.
Total Claims inventory is up by: 10%
Total Backlog inventory is up by: 10%
Total Appeals inventory is up by: 10%
Our President, every legislator in Congress, and every taxpayer in this country is ignoring the real scandal of the Department of Veterans Affairs! It is that the corruption, criminality, greed and malfeasance are agency wide! It is statistically impossible for the cancer that affects the Veterans Health Administration to be isolated to the confines of that department.
One year ago, Under Secretary Hickey was being grilled by Congress as to the egregious and inexplicable delays in processing veterans’ claims for benefits. She promised new “initiatives” to completely eliminate the backlog by 2015. Most were intangible and frankly, never intended to actually cure the problems that caused the backlog. These “initiatives” have actually worked to reduce the backlog inventory by 225,069 claims.
However…what no one is talking about is WHERE those 225,069 claims went; because the VA is still not discussing Appeals.
As of the VA’s most recent “Monday Morning Workload Report (6/29/14); one can see that the VA is hiding the “backlog claims” in plain sight! Appeals are at 279,435! Appeals have risen 108% since July 2012!
We taxpayers must DEMAND that our legislators investigate the ENTIRE VA...not just want the media exposes! It is time to #OVERHAULTHEVA!
VeteranWarriors full report can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/15naji2bvwd01vl/MMWL%20Data%20Eval%20Comparison.xlsx
Congress, Veterans and American taxpayers have been inundated with the stories of VA lying, corruption and deliberate deceit; yet no one is questioning if the “backlog” numbers are accurate. Not a single party is questioning if the VBA is also “cooking the books” for their self-centered benefit (to get their bonuses).
For the sixth straight month, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is claiming victory over the backlog of claims, which has been a thorn in the side of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) for three years.
The VA leadership has been caught in tremendous lies and deliberate cover-ups over the last few months. The most recent revelation is that the VA leadership has ordered its employees to NOT speak to Congress, the media or any other “stakeholder”. http://huelskamp.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/huelskamp-secures-proof-of-national-va-gag-order Corruption and deliberate malfeasance appear to be the ONLY standard that the VA upholds.
At the beginning of 2014, the VBA ceased discussing all the claims in their inventory. More to the point, the leadership at the VBA chose to only discuss “Original Entitlement” claims, when reporting their workload numbers every week; http://benefits.va.gov/REPORTS/detailed_claims_data.asp
In March, the VBA admitted during an interview that they inexplicably choose not to talk about the rest of the claims inventory; http://tbo.com/list/military-news/altman-vas-calculation-of-outstanding-claims-questioned-20140309/
VeteranWarriors weekly reports have been consistently sent to dozens of members of Congress and even more media representatives. Despite being hand-delivered the TRUTH to their inbox every week, NOT ONE of these representatives has publically called out the VBA on the disingenuous statements they propagate weekly.
A recent example is a well-written article by Mark Flatten in the Washington Examiner. Mr. Flatten’s article describes the abysmal leadership participants in the latest series of VA scandals; http://washingtonexaminer.com/faces-of-scandal-at-the-department-of-veterans-affairs/article/2549491 Ironically, Mr. Flatten chose to yet again, promulgate the deliberate misperception being spoon fed to him by the VBA…that the claims inventory and backlog are going away. Nothing could be further from the truth!
This week’s FACTUAL numbers are below:
Total claims inventory: 1,603,078 (VA states – 568,847) A difference of – 1,034,231 IRRELEVANT CLAIMS
Total backlogged claims: 775,980 (VA states – 287,393) A difference of – 488,587 IRRELEVANT CLAIMS
Total Appeals: 276,445 (VA is NOT publically discussing these or the fact that Appeals are consistently climbing in direct correlation to the total inventory declining!)
VeteranWarriors full report can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/y8l8zw0mj17t0kx/VeteranWarriors%20Wasteful%20Wednesday%20report%206-11-14.xlsx
Wow! What a week *and it's only Wednesday morning!
Yesterday, we were able to secure a Kabota (loaned to us from Jerry Smithson of Amusement Risk Management of New Port Richey) for Saturday to move the rest of the unneeded dirt. Chris Brooks of Brooks Brother's Landscaping is donating a dump trailer for the morning so that we can get rid of the last of the extra topsoil from the house.
We had to hire Brian Tirrell (a freelance flooring contractor) to remove the remnants of the kitchen floor. We purchased all new flooring for the kitchen and bedrooms. Brian will be installing it all today and tomorrow.
We purchased the new kitchen sink, the new toilet and all the exterior paint and supplies needed for the big painting party starting Saturday!
New York Life Insurance Company - Tampa Operations, has volunteers who are coming out to help us paint on Saturday! We will get the entire exterior finished! Anyone wishing to join the PAINTING PARTY - This Saturday...be at the house at 9:00AM!
The permit has been requested for the roof by TEAM Farrell Roofing, though it has not been approved yet (normal process). While we are waiting, we will be patching the holes in the roof, so that the exterminator - Pest Away Exterminators - can come back and do their full treatment of the house.
Some final repairs need to be made to the interior walls and Quality Ceiling Refinishing is coming back to take care of that before we start painting the interior.
We have to once again thank Lowes in Port Richey, Florida for their continued support of this mission! All the supplies and materials we have had to purchase, they have generously given at cost and even donated over $2000 in materials.
We hope to have the AC up and running by Tuesday to get the interior painted...hope to know over the next day or so!
Next Tuesday, Brooks Brother's Landscaping is returning and working their magic on the lawn! (Can't wait to see what they come up with!).
Premier Coatings will be in to epoxy the garage floor early next week.
The cabinets will be installed next Wednesday.
Then H2O Plumbing Solutions will come and install a new water heater and connect all the faucets and commode.
Next will be Garrett Rhodes (electrician) installing the new light fixtures and ReCoat of Tampa Bay reglazing the bathtub.
It's coming along...
(Here is the link to the full story on Channel 8 - WFLA : http://www.wfla.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=10177885
Good morning VeteranWarriors...
After taking into consideration all the comments, input and factors - we are cancelling the National VA Claims Status Day Rally.
NOT stopping our mission!!
We believe that there are specific areas we must focus on and as this mission has gained tremendous momentum with Congress and the American public, we do not wish to jeopardize that.
Our primary concern with holding the Rally at this juncture is someone's deliberate efforts to sabotage the mission. We know there are organizations and parties out there who are VERY upset with what we are trying to accomplish - for their own selfish goals. Rather than damage our hard-earned progress and possibly derail our mission, we instead are opting to focus on pushing our message out nationally and gaining unilateral support of the overhaul.
We ask that you continue to recruit others (veterans and non-veterans alike) to the mission and goals. We will be putting out a new "flyer" this weekend that solidifies our mission and the specifics under it.
We still want coordinators in every state. Please continue to recruit for those positions across the nation.
Right now, we have been tasked by several legislators with providing the actual verbiage of the bill to overhaul the VA and the models of each sector (VBA, VHA, HR, IT, etc.). This is critically important to the mission success and we will be focusing on that aspect along with bringing awareness nationally to the plain fact that the entire VA operates as people are now seeing into the VHA.
We will continue our Wasteful Wednesday reports. It is now more important than EVER for people to see the way the VA plays fast and loose with the "facts" and the "truth"...the wider we can spread the real facts, the harder it will be for them to hide from it.
Please consider remaining a part of this organization. Nothing else about it has changed...only one tiny part is being cancelled - because frankly...the VA is currently doing enough to "get their foot caught in their underwear" every day, that we do not have to work as hard to convince people that it is broken.
The First False Flag of the Veterans Health Administration Scandal ~ Dr. Robert Petzel RESIGNED EIGHT MONTHS AGO!!!
“September 30, 2013 11:45 pm WASHINGTON, D.C. - Reports from the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. last week announced that Dr. Robert Petzel, the Under Secretary for Health for the Veterans Health Administration, will be retiring at the end of the year and a commission to seek his successor is being formed.” http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/communities/hot-springs/local-news/petzel-to-resign-from-va/article_73ad18b6-29f7-11e3-a2f6-0019bb2963f4.html
The press release states that the resignation of Dr. Petzel was not because of the exorbitant bonuses he authorized for such Medical Center directors’ as the Director of the now infamous Pittsburgh facility after 6 veterans died there of Legionnaires’ Disease.
Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs and many media outlets are announcing the Dr. Robert Petzel, Under Secretary of Health for the Department of Veteran Affairs has resigned. (https://www.facebook.com/VeteransAffairs/posts/10152172728578178 )
This is a blatant attempt to appease the growing outrage and demands for action of Secretary Shinseki and the current Administration.
It is now obvious that any pacifier that the VA can shove down the throats of every veteran and Congressional leaders will suffice – no matter how lame and false it is.
Make no mistake…VeteranWarriors is convinced that Dr. Petzel was fully cognizant of what was going to happen in the VHA. There are NO surprises in Washington, D.C.!
VeteranWarriors has spent nearly a year meeting with legislators on both sides of the aisle to offer what is a real-world solution to not only the VHA debacle, but a comprehensive, policy-based, and functional model of an overhaul. VeteranWarriors will continue to pursue this course of action, as we believe that a full-scale, enterprise wide overhaul is necessary and the only method that will actually cure what is ailing the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Every Tuesday, the Department of Veterans Affairs
publishes their “Monday Morning Workload Report” (MMWL – Can be found here: http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/mmwr/index.asp)
The VA only provides 4 of the 13 categories information in any of their
published reports. Oh, they do include all the numbers in their actual MMWLR…but we DARE you to find them all!
Our organization publishes our weekly report – containing ONLY
their full inventory. Because that is what every veteran wants know…the whole truth!
This week, our report provides you with the entire inventory unlike what the VA is actually calling their “full inventory”… The VBA is currently stating that their inventory is 585,124 and that the backlog is 300,620.
There are 1,514,173 VETERANS who are not relevant to the VA’s discussion. You my fellow veteran, are not important enough to warrant being on the VA’s radar. No matter how many ways VeteranWarriors asks the question (why hide all the rest of the claims numbers), the VA never answers.
We no longer have to convince people that the VA is broken. There are literally hundreds of stories circulating right now that are the PROOF that the VA is deliberately deceptive. That management spends their days, figuring out ways to deceive leadership to get more money in bonuses, deceive Congress, deceive the media…and worst of all, deceive you the veteran.
Who is hurt by the VA’s constant denial of reality, denial of the totality of the situation? Only the veterans are injured…only the veterans are DELIBERATELY denied benefits and services they EARNED…with limbs, heart, soul and sanity.
The Department of Justice has stated they will not investigate any of the DELIBERATE malfeasance that is happening across the nation – AT EVERY VA MEDICAL FACILITY. They are choosing to wait until the VA OIG gives them a sanitized report.
We hope you are not one of the 1.5 MILLION Veterans being ignored, lied to and treated with less concern than illegal aliens.
Julio Ortiz, the man who is accused of "squatting" and taking over a deployed
New Port Richey soldier's home has been arrested.
New Port Richey soldier grateful for help
at home with squatters
New Port Richey soldier grateful for help
at home with squatters
Friday, April 25 2014 10:32
PM EDT2014-04-26 02:32:27
GMTApr 25, 2014 10:32 PM
EDTApr 25, 2014 10:32 PM
Photo courtesy of
From Wheeler Army
Airfield on the island Oahu in Hawaii, Army Specialist Michael Sharkey wants
everybody to know how much he appreciates the help offered, after squatters
moved into his New Port Richey home.
From Wheeler Army Airfield on
the island Oahu in Hawaii, Army Specialist Michael Sharkey wants everybody to
know how much he appreciates the help offered, after squatters moved into his
New Port Richey home.
Squatters left dogs at soldier's house in
New Port Richey
Squatters left dogs at soldier's house in
New Port Richey
Friday, April 25 2014 3:31
PM EDT2014-04-25 19:31:08
GMTApr 25, 2014 3:31 PM
EDTApr 25, 2014 3:31 PM
One of the dogs left at the
The house of Army
Spc. Michael Sharkey sat almost empty early Thursday morning after two squatters
said they moved out the day before.
The house of Army Spc. Michael
Sharkey sat almost empty early Thursday morning after two squatters said they
moved out the day before.
How to help New Port Richey soldier after
squatters damage home
How to help New Port Richey soldier after
squatters damage home
Friday, April 25 2014 12:36
PM EDT2014-04-25 16:36:04
GMTApr 25, 2014 12:36 PM
EDTApr 25, 2014 12:36 PM
Many members of the community
are offering to help fix up Army Spc. Michael Sharkey's home, now that the
squatters have left.
Our 8 On Your Side
story about squatters who took over the home of a deployed New Port Richey
soldier has many of you asking how you can help.
Our 8 On Your Side story about
squatters who took over the home of a deployed New Port Richey soldier has many
of you asking how you can help.
Squatters moving out of New Port Richey
Squatters moving out of New Port Richey
Thursday, April 24 2014
6:50 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:50:51
GMTApr 24, 2014 6:50 AM
EDTApr 24, 2014 6:50 AM
Squatters begin moving out of
Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey
soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve
in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.
Our 8 On
Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home
has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now,
the squatters are moving out.
New Port Richey soldier says squatters
won't leave his home
New Port Richey soldier says squatters
won't leave his home
Wednesday, April 23 2014
8:58 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:58:50
GMTApr 23, 2014 8:58 AM
EDTApr 23, 2014 8:58 AM
Soldier & homeowner Michael
Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook
Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to
watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house
When soldier Michael Sharkey
was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his
New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house
Pasco County Sheriff's deputies took Ortiz into custody Monday morning after
an 8 On Your Side investigation uncovered Ortiz and his girlfriend living in the
His girlfriend, Fatima Cardoso, was also arrested.
They were charged with grand theft for stealing thousands of dollars in
electricity. Sheriff Chris Nocco said the pair allegedly illegally diverted
power for their use while living in the home.
The homeowner, Spc. Michael Sharkey, is deployed in Hawaii.
8 On Your Side broke the story of the pair living in the house without
“They are criminals living in my house,” he said.
The community and veterans groups were outraged. The pressure led the couple
to move out last week, in the middle of the night.
But outrage continued as some in the community questioned why the Pasco
County Sheriff’s Office didn’t arrest the squatters.
Ortiz insists that Lisa Pettus, a friend of Sharkey’s wife, made a deal to
allow him to live in the house rent free. In exchange, he says, he was helping
her renovate the home.
Pettus tells 8 On Your Side, however, that’s a lie. She says Ortiz knew one
of her friends and agreed to help her do some work around the house. Two months
after the work was complete, she says, she drove by to check on the house, and
found Ortiz living there.
It’s that story that helped convince the Sheriff’s Office to conclude the
situation is a civil matter. Sharkey’s wife and Pettus went with deputies to the
house on New Year’s Eve, but the Sheriff’s Office said they could not
On Monday, Nocco held a news conference explaining the day’s arrests and
defend his department’s decision.
Nocco explained his department was also upset about the situation and wanted
to help the soldier, but had to go by the law.
“If our citizens are upset about the actions of Julio Ortiz now, imagine if
we had to write him a check because we didn't do our job,” Nocco said.
Ortiz and Cardoso face several years in prison, if convicted for stealing
Meanwhile, Veteran Warriors is coordinating a massive cleanup and remodel of
the property. They hope to have the house ready when Sharkey family returns home
Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.
Folks, we don't have enough time or space to bring you up to speed!!! The response to the media attention over the squatters stealing Spc. Sharkey's home while he was deployed to Afghanistan and the complete lack of authority for law enforcement to do ANYTHING, has been AWE INSPIRING!!!
For a full update on the mission - please go to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VeteranWarriors1
We have set up a GoFundMe account to cover any materials that are not donated. It can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/8mgjy0
Please share both of these pages FAR AND WIDE!
WFLA Channel 8 in Tampa, FL has been running this story for a week...and you will not believe what has happened in just a week!! We got the squatters out almost immediately due to public pressure and thousands are coming forward to help. Channel 8 coverage can be found here: http://www.wfla.com/story/25346656/soldier-grateful-for-help-at-home-with-squatters
For the next 2 weeks, VeteranWarriors has a delegation in DC to meet with legislators in our ongoing efforts to Overhaul the VA. While there, we will be discussing proposing legislation to make it a criminal act to "squat" in a home in Florida.
This is a fast moving and rapidly changing event. We will make every effort to keep all of you informed.
Squatters take over an Afghanistan Vet's home in Florida. Now they are gone but they damaged the house. To read the story from the local news: http://www.wfla.com/story/25320239/outpouring-of-support-for-new-port-richey-soldier-dealing-with-suspected-squatters
To help or donated services, email: email@example.com
To donate money: http://www.gofundme.com/8mgjy0
Talking about the “Backlog” of Veterans’ claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs(VA) reminds me of the old Abbot and Costello skit – “Who’s on First”, no matter how slowly you ask the question, the dummy you are speaking to still goes in a circle with the answer.
The VA now only publically discusses “Original Entitlement Claims” inventory and backlog. To hear them tell it, they have finally beaten the monster that has haunted their dreams for two years.
This week, the VA stated that the total inventory is just over 600,000 claims.
In January 2014, the VA got tired of being beat up over the claims inventory, so they “sorted” all the “dirty laundry”. Now they have piles of dirty laundry and only discuss ONE load of it. They will not acknowledge any of the rest of it.
The VA is now asking veterans to “Refile their dependent claims”, instead of the VA processing the existing ones. We question where the existing ones are and why the big push for veterans to use a system the VA has had since October 2012. Why hasn’t the VA used it all along instead of letting these claims stagnate? http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/13707/new-technology-automates-veterans-requests-to-update-family-member-status/
The inventory is still over 1.6 MILLION claims and nearly 900,000 in backlog.
The Total Claims Inventory is: 1,640,497, (VA only reporting 600,200) = 1,038,297 claims not being discussed.
The Total Claims Backlog is: 866,203 (VA only reporting 325,144) = 541,059 claims not being discussed.
This is a Total of 1,579,356 claims that are not being discussed…or maybe they have been thrown away, shredded or lost? The VA won’t explain why they want the dependent claims refiled and won’t discuss the Appeals, so we may never know!!
The VA’s reports can be found here: http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/mmwr/
I was brought up to believe that getting an education, especially a “higher” education, including advanced collegiate degrees, implied that you were more intelligent. The process is supposed to broaden your thought processes, deepen your understanding of the world around you. Apparently, those beliefs could not be more wrong.
Yesterday, in the New York Times, there was an insidious article by one Kathleen Belew. Ms.
Kathleen Belew is an “a postdoctoral fellow in history at Northwestern University, is at work on a book on Vietnam veterans and the radical right.” She is also a “Mellon Postdoctoral
Fellow in History, is also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rutgers Center for
Historical Analysis. She received her Ph.D from Yale University for “Theaters of War: Paramilitarism, Mercenaries, and the Racist Right from Vietnam to Oklahoma
City." While at Rutgers she will be teaching history courses, including the
“Aftermath of the Vietnam War” and “The American Vigilante.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/opinion/veterans-and-white-supremacy.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1
Ms. Belew is obviously highly educated. So much so, that she now deems it her place to grace the rest of us with her opinions on the Vietnam war, Vietnam war veterans, veterans in general, and best of all, how those of us who have gone to war and come home with brain injuries, have the potential to become racist terrorists.
I thought I had read it or seen it all - all types of stupid and uneducated comments about Veterans being "dangerous, volatile, violent or even terrorists".
The author of this article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/opinion/veterans-and-white-supremacy.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1, Kathleen Belew, could possibly be the worst of them all!
For decades, our brothers and sisters who fought in Vietnam, who came home to be treated like
monsters, have fought to overcome the stigma of serving their country in a war that American's hated. They did without the parades, the handshakes, and the thanks. They did this because they are honorable soldiers', not monsters.
For the last 12 years, millions of us have served our country in 2 wars. Most of us were lucky to come home vertically. Many of us came home broken. Living in places that explode around you, losing friends who are like family, driving in places that no sane person would go ~ will make you that way.
If you are lucky, you find moments of laughter and seconds of peace. Rarely at the same time, but treasured just the same. We are not dangerous. We are not violent. In fact, the largest percentages of us are in hiding...either in reality or in our minds. We have to work at appearing normal, to come across like the rest of the community.
But there are a few lost and broken souls who become unhinged. They may not have ever served, let alone gone to war. Being a soldier does not give you a free dose of insanity. Being human can put you in the line for it.
The author implies that soldiers' and veterans' of being the REAL threat that Americans' must be wary of. Her warning is clear, "Would he have received greater scrutiny had he been a Muslim, a foreigner, not white, not a veteran? The answer is clear, and alarming."
I find it ironic that someone so learned would espouse such narrow-minded drivel. I really could not believe the small blurb about Ms. Belew in her byline in the NY Times article. When I started looking for Ms. Belew, I started with where she claims to work – Northwestern University. That esteemed center of higher learning has a search engine for staff and faculty. This led me to go further down her biography. It seems she taught at Rutgers in 2011: Then in 2012, she did a guest spot at University of Arizona, while a “Fellow at Northwestern University…” I went back and looked at Yale, where she got her Ph.D….in 2012…, not 2011 like she states on Facebook.
What I did NOT find anywhere, is her full biography. Her Facebook page says, “
Work and Education.
Northwestern University, Postdoctoral Fellow.
Rutgers University New Brunswick, Postdoctoral Fellow · 2011 to 2012.
Yale University, Class of 2011 · PhD · American Studies · New Haven, Connecticut..
University of Washington, Class of 2005 · Comparative History of Ideas · Seattle,
Green Mountain High School, Lakewood, Colorado
I did this digging because I wanted to know what type of “education” she has that it completely shrunk her mentality and narrowed her outlook so severely. I also wanted to know if this “expert” on Vietnam and combat veterans with PTS, has one second of military training or experience. From what I can find…she has not ever spent a second in our boots.
This “educated, expert” should keep her uneducated, narrow-minded, stereotypes to herself. For someone who claims she wants to teach others, she appears to have nothing to offer.
I on the other hand, have an offer for HER…perhaps she should join us at our Rally
on May 21st. Get to know a few thousand of us. Then we will ask her how "afraid"
she felt...when we have a show of hands of who has PTS.
IGNORANCE IS BLISS - 274,157 Appeals are Falling on Deaf Ears! ~ VeteranWarriors Wasteful Wednesday Workload Report
The definition of “APPEAL” is “(verb) - make a serious or urgent request, or (noun) - an application to a higher court for a decision to be reversed.”
It has become apparent that the Department of Veterans Affairs does not own a dictionary. According to the VA MMWR as of April 14, 2014; APPEALS have risen by 24,343 in 12 months. That is a 110% INCREASE in appeals in just one year!! The VA’s reports can be found here: http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/mmwr/
The Secretary and his minions consistently behave as if none of the FACTS are real;
– as if nothing matters but what they think.
The other definition that the VA fails to understand: IGNORE – “refuse to take notice of or
acknowledge; disregard intentionally.”
The Total Claims Inventory is: 1,647,836, (VA only reporting 609,249) = 1,035,665
claims not being discussed (An increase in IGNORED CLAIMS of 2,922).
The Total Claims Backlog is: 873,392, (VA only reporting 331,875) = 541,517
claims not being discussed (An increase of IGNORED BACKLOG CLAIMS of 919).
In review: The Department of Veterans Affairs will NOT discuss; APPEALS skyrocketing, the BACKLOG GROWING and their continued silence on any of the thousands of complaints being lodged almost daily.
VeteranWarriors Wasteful Wednesday Workload Report ~ The 1,576,263 veterans and their claims are “…NOT RELEVANT…”!!!
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs refuses to answer questions about preventable deaths on his watch. He refuses to even acknowledge the tens of thousands of complaints by Veterans about the way his agency employees conducts themselves, treats veterans, handles claims or even the criminal actions of his employees.
Secretary Shinseki denies any requests for transparency, clarity or enforcement of the very laws that govern his office. He is so deeply in denial about the abject dysfunction and complete dislocation of his agency that he only allows Undersecretary Hickey to report only “good news” to anyone ~ even if they have to concoct the “good news”!
Once again, the VA claims “success” over the backlog and accuracy of the claims they are processing. The VBA is now professing to have reached their self-stated goal of “90% Accuracy”, and are “almost there” with getting rid of the backlog.
NOTHING could be further from the truth. The VA’s Monday Morning Workload Report (MMWR) of 4/7/2014 can be found here: http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/mmwr/
According to the VA MMWR as of April 7, 2014;
The Total Claims Inventory is: 1,650,306, (VA only reporting 614,641) = 1,035,665
claims not being discussed (“not relevant” according to the VBA).
The Total Claims Backlog is: 877,955, (VA only reporting 337,357) = 540,598
claims not being discussed (“not relevant” according to the VBA).
To recap: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs will NOT discuss preventable deaths, criminal employees, providing chronically sub-par leaders with huge bonuses, thousands of veteran complaints and most egregious of all: Over 1.5 MILLION Veterans claims that they deem IRRELEVANT!