Biden administration breaks a sacred trust with America's veterans

Sadly, the tragically ironic saying about the Department of Veterans' Affairs' operations is once again appropriate: "deny, delay, death."

Denis McDonough, a non-veteran, was sworn in to be the secretary of Veterans' Affairs.  He is a capable bureaucrat, having served previously as President Obama's chief of staff.  So he truly owns the Department of Veterans' Affairs and represents President Biden, another non-veteran, as the advocate for all American veterans.  This is his nonpartisan sacred trust.

The Board of Veterans' Appeals recently issued a ruling by an administrative veterans' law judge, assisted by his career legal counsel, which has become binding legal guidance to the disability and compensation bureaucrats in the Veteran Benefits Administration.  These men and women are tasked with adjudicating combat disability claims nationwide.  Before benefit case managers can address the service compensation for a veteran's combat injuries, they have to collect the Medical CVs of all doctors involved.

The official case law issued by an administrative veteran judge reads:

Obtain and associate with the file (combat veteran) CVs for all VA clinicians who have conducted VA medical conducted, VA examinations, or provided medical opinions.

In my professional judgment as the former first assistant for congressional and public affairs, the lawyers in the Board of Veterans' Appeals have crossed a huge and unforgivable legal line.  Imagine if lawyers had to undergo a review of their legal credentials by DOJ bureaucrats before initiating a malpractice lawsuit!

What this DVA judge and his legal backup have done is called into question the professionalism of doctors while also imposing a huge waste of time before helping American combat veterans.

In one specific case for a disabled Vietnam combat veteran after the "collect all CVs" legal requirement, it has taken over a year to just begin case development.  The legal requirement by Title 38, the basic congressional law establishing the Department of Veterans' Affairs, is thirty days for disability case development.  

One can only imagine the chilling effect on capable, experienced doctors being notified that mid-level veteran bureaucrats can pass judgment on their medical credentials.

There may be hope for my fellow veterans, in that the Biden administration is anticipating a huge Republican "Red Wave" victory in the 2022 midterms.  Hopefully, with many Republican combat veteran candidates winning congressional seats — like fellow decorated Naval Academy Grad Hung Cao in my Virginia 10th District — there is hope for the future.  Make no mistake: such honorable combat veterans understand in their very core what it means to be a DVA oversight advocate.

In anticipation, the Biden administration has selected the general counsel of the Department of Veterans' Affairs to be a White House legal counsel to address the coming "red wave" of combat veterans elected in 2022.

WASHINGTON — President Biden's legal team is laying the groundwork to defend against an expected onslaught of oversight investigations by congressional Republicans, should they take one or both chambers in the midterm elections — including preparing for the possibility of impeachment as payback for the two impeachments of President Donald J. Trump.

As part of those preparations, Mr. Biden and his White House counsel, Dana Remus, have hired Richard A. Sauber, a longtime white-collar defense lawyer who is now the top lawyer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to oversee responses to subpoenas and other oversight efforts, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The secretary of veterans affairs, Denis McDonough, praised Mr. Sauber's work at the department. "He has a deep understanding of government," Mr. McDonough said in a statement, noting that he would be a welcome addition to the White House.

Mr. Richard A. Sauber was sworn in as the General Counsel May 3, 2021. As the Chief Legal Officer of the Department and Legal Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, he oversees and coordinates the work of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) Central Office Law Groups, OGC's District Chief Counsel Offices, and OGC's National Practice Groups, which provide legal services in areas encompassing all of VA's Veterans' programs, personnel, torts, and general law subject matters.

Of course, our combat veterans should not need to wait until November 2022.  It is simple: right now, Secretary McDonough and his general counsel could fix it by withdrawing the flawed legal ruling imposing needless delay on the processing of veterans' claims.

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