A new day is dawning at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Well into his second year in office, President Trump is seen as a  serious man living every day in the White House dedicated to initiating the changes he campaigned on.

Trump Nation sees a fighter on its behalf in the Churchill mode: "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

Ironically, that is also why his demonstrated over-the-top critics in the MSM are so outraged: because he has been effective so far.

TDS, Trump Derangement Syndrome, is real:

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is a mental condition in which a person has been driven effectively insane due to their [sic] dislike of Donald Trump, to the point at which they [sic] will abandon all logic and reason.

The challenge is to not let TDS infect the federal government and especially the Department of Veterans Affairs (Special Agent Peter Strzok, et al., have shown that the infection was active at the FBI and DOJ).

Consequently, in an area in which I have had lifelong experience as a proud veteran and  being honored to help my fellow veterans for Presidents Reagan and Bush (41) and the on the House Committee on Rules, it was a good day when the Congress and president joined forces to create a better Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.).

On June 6, 2018, in a signing ceremony replacing the Choice Program with "The VA Mission Act of 2018," the president forcefully stated, putting a marker down, to all V.A. employees:

When malfeasance was uncovered at VA, "They couldn't do anything about it," Trump said at the signing ceremony.  "Good people that worked there, they couldn't take care of the bad people.  Meaning, you're fired; get the hell out of here."

As is the case with most everything good or bad in the federal government, as the president pointed out, it most always comes down to the people.  The V.A. had a long run suffering the undue influence of government unions, in partnership with the Obama administration, in interfering with honorable, fair, and legal accountability.

Now, with a new secretary coming on board, it is time to reach out to the veterans and their families who read the American Thinker to help all understand just a few of the laws and procedures on their side when they engage with the Department of Veterans Affairs, under Title 38 legislation in this age of President Trump.

First, prior to empowering the veteran, a V.A. national service officer once told me, "They have ways to get you," so knowledge is power.

  • The benefit of the doubt should go to the veteran when competing medical findings are presented in asking for service-connected benefits.
  • Even if one had a pre-existing condition prior to service, if something aggravates that condition, especially in combat, it is service connected to disability compensation.
  • In reviewing one's claim process, keep in mind a nasty way that government bureaucrats can "get you."  It is called "spoliation of evidence."

Spoliation of evidence is a term often used during the process of discovery.  Spoliation of evidence happens when a document or information that is required for discovery is destroyed or altered significantly.  If a person negligently or intentionally withholds or destroys relevant information that will be required in an action is liable for spoliation of evidence.

Spoliation of evidence is an act that is prohibited by American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 37 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Title 18 United States Code.  Sanctions for spoliation are preventative, punitive and remedial in nature.  Separate tort actions are also permitted.

  • Finally, here is a way the V.A. "bad people" weaponized the misuse of privileged medical information in an illegally and malicious way: they violate HIPAA, the Health Insurance Privacy Protection Act, to hurt someone.

Misuse of privileged information is a nasty issue that has come up in recent years at the V.A., in three different organizations: the Hospital System, Benefit System, and Board of Veterans Appeals.

Just one of many, many reported cases of HIPAA violations:

Another VA Headache: Privacy Violations Rising at Veterans' Medical Facilities

Deceased vets' data has been sent to the wrong widows.  Employees have snooped on the records of patients who've committed suicide.  And whistleblowers say their own medical privacy has been violated.  In response, the VA says patient privacy is a priority.

With respect to HIPAA violations, my fellow veterans can report what occurred to the Office for Civil Rights at HHS.

Therefore, going forward, let us all hope a few of the rules mentioned above and many others in Title 38 increase veterans' knowledge and that they and their families will have more power in dealing with the V.A.

Humans are fallible and may make innocent mistakes; those in that category just need better training.  The focus on accountability should be on those who should know better and on "ways to get you" being identified.  As appropriate when a V.A. employee intentionally crosses a line violating his sacred mission, as President Trump said to those bad people, "you're fired!"

Ed Timperlake was the first assistant secretary of the V.A. for congressional and public affairs and subsequently public and intergovernmental affairs, when the Veterans Administration was elevated to Cabinet status.

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