Thomas W. Stoddert, US Army Retired, is right on every point and I applaud his courage to write a very exacting letter.  My tenure at Madigan Army Medical Center as the NCOIC of the Department of Medicine made me aware of mismanaged policies and management issues.  I worked with a wonderful staff of professionals and paraprofessionals who conducted themselves very appropriately and courteously, with politeness, knowledge, experience and timeliness.  However, all of our efforts were frequently clouded by the frustrations of personnel shortages, ancillary demands of personnel, frustrations secondary to multi-echelon mismanagement issues, and numerous other problems.

The Department of Medicine includes 13 separate sections, clinics, and sub-departments, each with specific medical missions comprised of doctors, PA's, nurses, medical technicians, and support personnel, including military and civilian staff.  Some clinics have direct access through central appointments while many others required a referral from the primary care provider.  All too often miscommunication between various services and ancillary personnel would complicate scheduling problems.  An appropriate example: Patient "A" might be scheduled to see doctor "Z" in a specific clinic, but Dr. Z had to cancel all appointments because he/she had to support another military mission somewhere else on post or deploy to another country.

Frequently, the appointment schedule confusion was not because of medical staffing, but due to Central Appointments or Tri-Care issues for providing less than appropriate information to the patient and the provider.  Regardless who was at fault, the senior enlisted member of each clinic, section or department always tried to resolve relevant matters at the lowest level before involving the members of the Patient Representative Office and Patient Affairs Office. 

As the NCOIC or the department, I coordinated with the Patient Representative Office and Patient Affairs Office and designed placard's which identified the OIC and NCOIC of each clinic, section and department with a current photograph and a customer service statement bent on resolving problems or complaints at the lowest level.  The commanding general at the time accepted the design and ordered that it be implemented throughout the hospital.  The implementation was done in 2000 and I hope it is still in place. I am confident that the NCO's and OIC's at each level are fully capable of resolving conflicts and complaints, providing they get support from the senior management of medical care at Madigan Army Medical Center.

On the other hand, I and many others have all too often witnessed many frustrated and dissatisfied patients and family members who lack the patience to allow the system to work as it is designed.  These patients complain every chance they get and they become very loud and ugly about it, making treats, breaching the chain of command, and writing letters and memos to anyone who will listen.  The members of the Patient Representative Office and Patient Affairs Office do everything possible to bring providers and patients to a equitable arrangement, resolve appointment conflicts and ultimately bend-over-backwards.  Still, the patient complains and will ultimately use the same tactic every time they feel the need, regardless of how well or how often they have been treated with the same professional level of care that all patients and family members are given.

I am not blind and I do not wear rose colored glasses.  I know there are problems with the management of care at Madigan Army Medical Center and other military medical facilities.  However, there is no single mission in the military service that is as resource intensive as the medical mission on a daily basis.  Then the medical facilities must comply with and satisfy military and civilian laws, protocols, standards, inspections, and funding agencies.  All of this while still supporting the military missions of deployments, training, education, reassignments, and command emphasis issues. 

So, yes, a problem exists, but it will take the collective initiative of the soldier's at each facility to make the improvements, with the support of the Army Medical Corp senior management and mass influence of money and personnel.

Sincerely,
Alan B. Candia
U.S. Army (Ret.)   

Reader's Response Below
Thank you for your courage to tell it like it is!   The General is a good person but what can one person do?   Do you know who the members of her so-called command group are?   The Deputy Commander for Administration is ineffective, disinterested, weak and lame.   The Deputy Commander for Clinical Services is pretty smart but he is a poor leader, has no clue what his subordinates are supposed to do and he is leaving in a few weeks.   The Deputy Commander for Nursing is also lame and she is about to retire.   The Hospital Sergeant Major is also about to retire!    In addition to the problems you described, there are many others.   For example, I wish someone would approach Mr. and Ms. Horrell  and ask them what they know about nepotism and the merit system!   Madigan is a wonderful institution and has many great people but the fat, ineffective and overstaffed upper management needs to replaced and realigned now!  

Husband of a very concerned member of the Madigan Team  
Question:
I am rated 100% unemployability. My ratings are as follows.
30% for chlorache from Agent Orange exposure
30% for PTSD
40% for diabetes
It also says on my award letter, "No Future Exams."
My question is do you think they can re-examine me in the future and take away my benefits?
Thank You,
Bob Clark

Answer:
Bob, Thanks for writing in to the "Veteran's Voice."

The VA can require a future exam at any time  if they feel there may be an issue of fraud or if a   gross mistake was made. But generally in cases like yours where they say no future exams,
they mean just that.

The VA can, if they have sufficient reason, propose to lower a rating percentage only if they        believe you may have gotten better or something has happened and they have to review
certain awards. This can happen as an example as the result of a mandate from Congress. The   issue of PTSD, was getting a lot of nasty attention by the national press and the VA went back   and started looking at this issue when it was awarded to  non-combat veterans.

However, the general rules are basically after five years, service connection can not rescinded,   but the rating percentage can be lowered; after ten years there can be no reduction in the rating percentage or severance of a service connected condition unless there was fraud.

All this to say, if you got a fair rating and they have said no future exams, just run with it. The  VA does not like to hassle vets when they do not need to.

Now, the down side, FYI. The VA does  routinely check up to see if you are working and so does    the Social Security Administration. They both allow you some grace in making some extra income because they know staying home vegetating is harmful. However, 100% unemployability is just that and both agencies frown on a veteran receiving benefits because they can not work and then go out and work full time. So check carefully and see what they allow you. I was told recently that these rules may have changed not too long ago.

Assuming you are not working you may want to consider doing volunteer work in the community and/or working with veterans. Here is where the fun starts. The VA, through the education department,  will sometimes purchase items to make a veteran's life more meaningful. In my case they helped me purchase computer equipment so that I can write like I am now and aid other veterans. Now that there is a war on, there are many opportunities to use your talents and experiences for others, particularly other vets.

So good luck and welcome home.
Thom
Thom Stoddert
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Veterans For Peace....???
by Thom Stoddart

  There are times when evil must be called evil and attention focused on it. This is the case of a group called “Veterans for Peace.” Hopefully patriotic Americans will see and respond to the danger that this group presents to our country.  But first let’s define the term, “veteran’s group.” I think every one would agree that a veteran’s organization is a union of veterans with the primary focus on veteran’s issues and legislation. Such an organization would never hurt active duty soldiers or betray their country. Second, when veterans and non-veterans march in an Armed Forces Day parade or a Veterans Day parade, they do so to honor this country, veterans, and active duty soldiers.

  Veterans for Peace (VfP) publically states they are a veteran’s group, but they are often in the news reflecting poorly on the veteran community. They have tried to take part in veteran related functions where they can gain political points.  Until recently, they marched in the Armed Forces Day parade in Bremerton, WA, but are now refused permission. They have marched in other events and raised the ire of real veterans. VfP has stated on the Thurston County, Washington cable station their intention of getting in to the public schools to “educate” children on VfP’s  anti-war efforts. They are very pro-active; but are they really a veterans group as they claim and how do they obtainpeace?

  I first observed them several years ago. I believed, like many others that this is a free country and that if you are a veteran and anti-war, you are free to believe as you want and to reasonably express it. As time went on I started to study them. I asked for interviews, information, and other pertinent facts as to who they are and what they do; all they would give me is a suggestion to visit their web sites. The website for the Olympia, WA chapter is named after Rachel Corrie, an American protestor who stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer while it was trying to knock down a Palestinian building used in terrorist activities. (it is useful to remember the Palestinians cheered on 9/11 and have no problem supporting blowing-up innocent teenagers and favor the complete annihilation of Israel.) Rachel Corrie died when she placed herself in front of the bulldozer’s blade, unable to be seen by the operator. One has to wonder why this young woman’s name was chosen to represent an American veteran’s group.

  I contacted Mr. Ken Schwilk, co-president of the Rachel Corrie chapter of VfP and asked him “What percentage of VfP is made up of veterans?” “Does the character of discharge from military service matter for membership?” and other questions that would lend credibility to the name “Veterans for Peace.” He would not give me any answers, but he promised to take them to a board meeting for decision. I offered to let Mr. Schwilk read the draft of this article before final publication in an effort to be as fair and accurate as possible. I was never contacted by anyone. Schwilk’s interesting career can be easily Googled on the internet. While he was serving on the Olympia, WA City Council he was arrested for attempting to interfere with the movement of military equipment between Ft. Lewis and the sea ports. In one news article, he complained of the police disrupting their efforts to interference with the military. There is also evidence of ongoing co-operation between VfP and MoveOn.org on various projects.
  The events surrounding the Armed Forces Day celebration this year in Bremerton WA, the home of a major Navy Base and Headquarters were related to me by the president of our local Area Chamber of Commerce. These events were further collaborated by a local newspaper article in the Port Orchard Independent, dated June 12, 2008. Both sources serve as examples of VfP’s deceitfulness and help to illustrate their real motives.

  The previous year, VfP marched in the Bremerton Armed Forces Day parade and passed out their anti-war literature along the parade route. This was against the rules for parade participants; no distribution of religious or political material. The parade president received many complaints from veterans who believed VfP members were not real veterans. This same question has been brought up at the recent Auburn, WA Veterans Day parades.

  In 2008, VfP again applied to march in the Bremerton parade. Permission was denied by Chris Larsen, president of the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce, who stated in the Seattle PI newspaper that he believed VfP was attempting to hijack the parade for political purposes.
  The Chamber stood its ground and would not grant permission for VfP to march and they suffered for it. The president and staff of the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce received phone calls from across the USA threatening and verbally abusing them.

  Chris Larson explained that VfP had the opportunity to file a formal disagreement to re-negotiate permission. Instead, according to copies of emails I was given, VfP contacted other “like minded groups” i.e., ultra    left wing political organizations, anarchist, and biased left leaning news
papers in the Puget Sound region. Their obvious desire was not to correct the situation, but to humiliate and put pressure on the Chamber of Commerce for refusing their so-called “veterans” group the chance to march and demonstrate in a patriotic parade. VfP, still assembled and marched at the end of the parade, unofficially. The story only gets worse…
According to Mr. Larson, after the parade buses with elderly veterans from the Old Soldiers’ Home were brought to a BBQ given in their honor. Local high school students had volunteered to serve the vets. The students were spit on and verbally abused by VfP and/or their minions just for serving elderly veterans hamburgers and hotdogs.
  The story of Jesse MacBeth is a difficult and convoluted narrative. Last winter, I heard of a veteran (the name was withheld from me at first), who was brought to the Tacoma VA Veterans Outreach Center by VfP. At that time, the VA employee told me that this group was rude and demanding of the staff; insisting that a veteran who they just brought in be given treatment and compensation . Their vet later proved to be a phony. In time I was able to put enough of the pieces together to know that it was Jesse MacBeth of Tacoma, WA. After MacBeth’s initial contact with the Vets Center, a Veterans Service Office (VSO) suspected that he was not a Purple Heart recipient, not an Iraqi war veteran, and did not take part in the killing of hundreds of civilians with his unit of Army Rangers, as he had claimed. The VSO made a complaint to the VA Regional Office in Seattle.

  Mac Beth’s actual military papers record that he was eliminated from the Army after only 44 days for “performance and conduct.”  Thus by VA regulation and Federal law MacBeth is ineligible for the status of “veteran” and is not eligible for any VA benefits.
  Mike Barber’s story in the Seattle PI on September 21, 2007, states that MacBeth made many false claims about his real military history; for which he became the “poster boy” of the anti-war movement. This story records that internet videos made by MacBeth were translated into Arabic and obtained by Al Qaida.  MacBeth, stated at his trial that he was sorry for lying about everything and discrediting the anti-war groups.  Please note here that he did not have remorse for his traitorous acts to this country.  Despite the lack of details such as who did the translations, facts do show that Jesse MacBeth did leave the shadows to openly go to the Tacoma Vets Center accompanied and supported by the organization called Veterans for Peace who apparently did not recognize a phony veteran. He said what they wanted to hear, so they believed him. In the end they inadvertently exposed him. VfP stabbed this country in the back with the use of a 23 year old man with an obvious personality disorder, but what about their national efforts?

  They claim to be a veteran’s organization, yet even a cursory check of their web site shows that veteran’s issues are low on the list of their priorities and they are not chartered by congress to weigh in on legislation concerning veterans. The web links are just ordinary hyper-links to other commonly known veteran sites. The majority of the web site celebrates their anti-war efforts. VfP changes their primary web page often, but last spring, they bragged about their demonstrations at Fort Benning, GA and other major bases. It becomes obvious that the national efforts of VfP are attempts to demoralize and interfere with active duty soldiers. VfP can not be unaware that their efforts are being watched by the enemies of this country. It is a well established fact (see below) that the North Vietnamese Army was encouraged by the anti-war movement of the 60s.

  Like others, I am convinced that VfP is not a veteran’s group in the traditional sense; they instead have hijacked the name to gain status and credibility for a political cause. Their literature states “associate membership is open to all like minded people.” Though to be a full member you must have a DD-214. Evidence that has been gathered strongly indicates relationships do exist between VfP and other anti-American groups. They are not for peace, not when they attempt to demoralize active duty soldier and betray this country while we are at war. They can not be unaware that their activities lend support to this country’s enemies; all the while the lives of thousands of this country’s men and women are endangered. Does it bring peace when their efforts encourage our enemies to fight on? I suppose they are for peace at any price, including freedom.

  Do your own research on this organization and share what you find with others. I  encourage you to contact VfP and request copies of their tax documents, noting where they get their funding. As a non-profit, 501 (3) c organization they are required by law to make available such information upon request. Sources of donations are very revealing evidence. Lastly, contact them with your information and demand explanations.
*VfP did confirm their membership number to be 7500-74% veterans =5,600 out of 25 million.
You do the math...      
Thom Stoddert, former VA Rating Specialist
Bio Here

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