While cutting programs for veterans under the guise of a “lack of funds,” the Memphis Veteran Administration (VA) Medical Center also dished out over a $1 million in bonuses to its employees, according to an exclusive report by the Daily Caller.
The Memphis VA Center gave its about 2,000 employees approximately $1,005,644 in bonuses for the Fiscal Year 2010. And a spokeswoman with the Veteran Integrated Services Network (VISN) actually told the DC that the bonuses were in fact a factor when the Memphis VA Center cited a “lack of funds,” forcing the closure of a therapeutic aquatic pool in July 2011.
But, the VISN spokeswoman, Sandra Glover, said that the closing of the aquatic pool has not undermined the care for veterans in the Memphis area.
“The Memphis VA Medical Center is committed to honoring veterans with safe, high quality, accessible care earned through their service to the country,” the statement reads. “By law, funds for specific purposes cannot be used for anything other than what they’ve been appropriated for. It is a management decision to consider the cost benefit of maintaining programs and services within the organization.”
“No veteran has been denied services as a result of the closure of the therapeutic pool closure,” the statement continued. “Any patient that requires aqua therapy as a result of their plan of care will be referred to an accredited aqua therapy program in the private sector at VA expense.”
However, two whistle-blowers for the DC handily disagree, citing that the VA Center regularly denies veterans the access to aquatic pool with vets being that their healthcare plans do not cover the therapy. But, Glover said that no veterans have been denied access to the therapy, though veterans that the DC spoke with largely disagree.
Robert Jackson, a Vietnam War veteran who said he has used the aqua therapy pool on and off since 2005, had a different experience: He said that not only was his request for a voucher to use a private pool denied, but he was told that the VA wasn’t giving any vouchers.
He told TheDC that he knows of at least six other veterans who were also denied vouchers to use a private therapy pool.
Randy Wade — the former district director in the office of Tennessee Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen, whose district includes the Memphis VA Medical Center — told TheDC that on many occasions when the pool was open, more than nine veterans would be in the aqua therapy pool at one time.
As noted, the Memphis VA Center has come under fire in the past. Just back in 2013, two VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports found that three veterans had died in the VA facility because of “malfeasance and delays in care.”
The VA scandal first broke when it was reported that a total of 40 possible deaths of veterans, who were waiting for medical care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care hospital, was exposed. Then, a “secret list” was leaked and was allegedly part of a plan created by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to cover up the fact that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor.
The Memphis fiasco is just one of many VA scandals that has come to light over the past month. More allegations of extended wait-times and “secret lists” have come to light at VA hospitals in New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.
And it was noted, by the Hayride and the DC, that President Obama was warned of the scandal as far back as 2008, immediately after winning the presidency. However, mainstream media outlets have ignored this fact.