I had the pleasure of meeting USAF Veteran and Founder of EvincibleVets, Ricky Barnes, on September 30th when we met Arizona State Senator Dr. Kelli Ward at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. Ward visited the VA to gain insight into some of the serious problems that continue to exist in the VA system and to address Barnes’ concerns. He gave her a tour of the facility including inside some of the clinics. Ward is the only elected official who has actively listened to Barnes as he publicly shares the details of his tumultuous dealings with the medical center and difficulty in getting the treatment he needs.
Ricky Barnes served this country for more than 15 years in the USAF before being involuntarily discharged due to medical reasons in 1999. He received forty thousand dollars in severance pay with 10% disability with no retirement or medical care. He was later forced to pay back the entire forty thousand dollars. This is where his fight began, at the office of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), fighting for his own well-being and the benefits he deserved. Barnes said, “Don’t blame the VA Medical Center for all the issues taking place. Blame the “head of the dragon and not the tail”. According to Barnes, the military falsified his medical records in order to relieve him from duty.
Ricky Barnes’ story must be heard and must spur action. He has audio recordings, documents and videos to corroborate all of his claims. His attempt at prompting a Congressional investigation was thwarted when D.C. sent his forms and letters back to Phoenix.
On the Rebooting Liberty Now radio show Monday, Ricky elaborated on his case and his organization, EvincibleVets; this was the first of three radio shows leading up to the November 9th protest. Listen to the show replay HERE.
In the next two shows we will expose the corruption surrounding Ricky’s case, specifically involving the altering and falsification of medical records. We’ll continue to discuss the root of the problems and how we can affect change through Senator Flake, Senator McCain and our Congressmen and women. Based on McCain’s track record the outlook is bleak for the next year. On a brighter note, McCain’s leading primary challenger, Dr. Ward, is not only a Physician, but also a Healthcare Administrator and a military wife. She is dedicated to finding and fixing everything that ails the Veterans Health Administration. In the last poll by Gravis Marketing, Ward was ahead of McCain by nine points.
Ricky has been trying to get a response from John McCain for many years and has received no help or any worthwhile response. He did have a chance to ask McCain questions while being videotaped on April 18, 2014. Barnes:
On April 18, 2014 I recommended to John McCain that Congress should approve a program were Veterans can receive non-VA Doctor’s care, and John McCain replied that it was a “Foolish” Idea to outsource Veterans to non-VA Doctors who need medical care. June 10, 2014 Congress approved the same program I suggested and now Veterans can receive medical attention from non-VA Doctors. Hopefully next time John McCain will listen instead of calling something “Foolish”. I told him about these issues in 2005, which he refused to listen then. John McCain has ignored me since May of 1999, which I have many more “Foolish” Ideas that need to be implemented. He has failed us Veterans in a horrible way. Who is Foolish Now?
The protest in November is two days before Veteran’s Day. There are other groups taking action to expose and demand change at the VA as the protest date approaches. The grassroots movement created by Ron Nesler, an Army veteran, had a large billboard installed 0.2 miles from the VA hospital which reads: “VA is LYING, VETERANS are DYING“.
The comment from a VA spokesperson to ABC15 Monday about the billboard is absolute posturing:
Our nation’s Veterans – among them is 40 percent of our workforce – served to protect our rights. To this, the Department of Veterans Affairs respects this and any other organization’s or individual’s right to express their opinion.
Phoenix VA Health Care System works diligently to create a collaborative, problem solving environment that is conducive to the needs of our patients. We encourage anyone with a specific concern to contact our team of Patient Advocates who work as liaisons for the Director’s Office.
The crux of the problem with the VA healthcare system is a communication breakdown and lack of accountability.They are not creating a collaborative or a problem solving environment that is conducive to the needs of their patients. The Patient Advocates are not welcome in the meetings with the doctors. When the Patient Advocates invite the doctors into their meetings, the doctors do not attend. This is just one example. Multiple sources told me the lack of communication between departments and the lack of education for the patients are driving up wait times. I asked Veterans about the Patient Advocates, some said they got the necessary attention to their problem. One patient said, “the Patient Advocate’s hands are tied”.
People can make the excuse that the VA system never expected so many veterans to need service all at once; they weren’t prepared. There’s no time for excuses. It’s past due time to take care of the men and women who voluntarily served and sacrificed their well-being for our country. They must have their healthcare needs met. Twenty-two suicides a day is unacceptable and preventable. Where is the honor in Congress or in one of the many layers of bureaucracies. If Veterans can’t be provided care at their local center, they should be quickly afforded the care at a nearby hospital or physician’s office. It’s not that complicated. We need strong leadership to step up, take the reins and see this fight all the way through.
I hope you’ll follow this unfolding story and share the information about the November 9th protest. Ultimately, we should have a VA protest in every city. Ricky provides regular updates on the EvincibleVets – Facebook page.
11/9 Phoenix VA Protest – Facebook Event Page.