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Tue, May

Fact Check! Congressman Sherman Using US Vets to Boost His Re-Election Bid

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RUSS REPORT-Last week, once again, the Los Angeles Daily News paid homage to Los Angeles veterans by pandering to Congressman Brad Sherman whose fetid attempt to use veterans as pawns might boost his shoddy re-election bid. 

Rick Orlov’s Oct. 16, 2014 piece titled Rep. Brad Sherman’s Survey Finds Most Veterans Satisfied With VA was nothing more than campaign propaganda for a "do-nothing" Congressman who, shamefully, did nothing but pay lip service to veterans in Los Angeles and continues to do so just 2 weeks before an election. 

In his Press Release, Sherman touts, “I conducted a Valley survey because official VA records in Arizona and elsewhere had been manipulated and falsified to give the appearance of shorter wait times. Our nation’s veterans deserve the best healthcare available. I am working to ensure that facilities in the LA area are suitable to fit the needs of veterans in our area, including helping allocate funds to the Sepulveda Ambulatory Health Care Center, and the West LA Health Care Center (WLAVA). There is much work to be done to correct these alarming trends in long wait times and backlogs at VA facilities, which is why I am working to help pass reforms that ensure greater transparency and better management of the VA. 

Orlov’s piece is factually inaccurate as he relays that “71 percent of San Fernando Valley veterans reported receiving timely and adequate health care. The survey also found that 64 percent were satisfied with the time it took to get disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, education and training." 

Truth is, over four million residents, Neighborhood Councils, Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) and Civic organizations called for the VA to restore the Sepulveda facility back to a full service Hospital to accommodate the medical needs of veterans and returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Resultant of the closure of the Sepulveda Hospital, that really wasn't heavily damaged by the 1994 earthquake, several thousand veterans must now travel over 6 hours or more, round-trip, just to receive care at the West LA VA. Are those the satisfied veterans who Sherman polled? Often, veteran’s wait time for treatment exceeds 10 hours. Were ANY of those veterans a part of Sherman's poll?  

Sherman completely missed the mess in his own back yard as he referred to the Arizona facilities as his inspiration for the poll he boasts of- conveniently- two weeks before election time. Sherman has never actively fought for veterans- or their rights either in the Valley or in West Los Angeles. 

The actual number of veterans polled by Sherman was only 150 in the South and West Valley. So that means that out of nearly 400,000 veterans in Los Angeles- some 28,000 in the San Fernando Valley alone- 106 veterans were satisfied with the VA system. Who are these 106 veterans? 

The Daily News published the piece that misleads and misinforms its readers and has, frequently, given Sherman a pass on his indiscretions and falsehoods. The Daily News has endorsed Sherman as an incumbent in this, and other, elections. 

A survey of just 150 veterans, where just 71% say they were happy with services received from the VA, should have raised "red flags" as to the legitimacy of Sherman's survey. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that Sherman’s poll was nothing more than pre- election “hogwash.” 

Since the recent redistricting, the Sepulveda property is no longer in Sherman’s District and Sherman remains oblivious to the REAL problems that still haunt the West LA VA. 


 

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In Feb 2014, Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant at the WLAVA Medical Center, told reporters, “I actually filed a complaint with the VA [Inspector General] IG and the office of special counsel. The IG requested if I had any documentation. They wanted names. I gave them [about] a thousand names. The list I turned into the IG went all the way back to 1997. I filed the initial complaint with the IG. … The IG instead of doing their own investigation just gave it to the facility and made them aware of my complaint.”  

Mitchell lost his job. In fact, many "whistleblowers" lost their jobs or were demoted with cuts in pay. Sherman did not fight for Mitchell- or anyone employed by the VA with the courage to speak out against the abuses of veterans. 

Sherman said nothing about those veterans who died while waiting for care at the West LA VA.

In July 2014, NBC4’s expose titled, “Hundreds of Vets Died or Injured Under VA Care, Data Shows” shared information they obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request. 

NBC found 575 of the estimated 6 million patients annually treated by the department were affected by adverse events, up 74 percent from 330 in 2010.  The VA did not disclose details or individual outcomes. Thirty-four of those cases happened in Los Angeles – the second highest of any VA facility in the country. Now, the system, already under fire for long wait times and other alleged misconduct, is again facing criticism for the spike in these incidents.” 

Angeleno’s have a chance to weigh in on Brad Sherman’s record on veteran rights and the “help” he has given to veterans this November 4.  I suggest that Angelenos fight for these veterans and bump Sherman’s ass to the curb!

 

(Katharine Russ is an investigative reporter. She is a regular contributor to CityWatch. Katharine Russ can be reached at [email protected]) Photo credit: The Oregonian.

-cw

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 12 Issue 86

Pub: Oct 24, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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