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VA (Department of Veterans Affairs)

The United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world. This benefits system traces its roots back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law which stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony. The establishment of the Veterans Administration came in 1930 when Congress authorized the President to "consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans." (Source: www4.va.gov/about_va/vahistory.asp)

This forum also includes the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Perhaps you are working for the VA or interested in working for the VA. Here is a forum to share your experience with the VA.

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#1 Posted : Monday, April 02, 2012 12:15:17 PM(UTC)

Rank: Newbie

Groups: Registered
Joined: 10/1/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3

Hi all - 

I'm hoping that someone here might have some kind of suggestions or somewhere I can be referred to.

Here's basically a summary of my case - 

I have formally filed against the VA, I am a newly disabled veteran and a federal employee with the VA.  Currently, 25 of the 27 claims that I submitted have been accepted for investigation based upon discrimination based on disability and then reprisal for filing an EEO complaint and subjected to harassment and hostile work environment.  I have 5 more items to add.

Here are my immediate needs and concerns:

  • Delayed FERS disability application from August 2011 through March 2012 by VA HR and my department head.  This is causing me great financial hardship and now the cancellation of the surgical procedure (I require brain surgery) I need to correct my condition and extend (possibly save) my life.  The VA is refusing to make any attempt to remedy this which would consist of simply contacting OPM and explaining they made a mistake.  OPM has explained that the VA could do this and they would rush the application.
  • They have allowed me to work from home no more than 2 hours per day however, they refuse to supply me with a laptop or desktop to complete this limited work.
  • Repeated violations of HIPAA (I am an employee and a patient at the VA), breech of confidentiality of my EEO case and the mediation sessions, open discussions regarding my health conditions, harassment, retaliation.
  • Open discussions by my supervisor and department head discussion that I am on sick leave abuse, leave abuse, a performance plan; none of which are true.  I get repeated calls from co-workers that this occurs frequently.
  • Incorrect payment of hours worked from October 2011 through present, I have requested multiple times for this to be corrected with no response or action.
  • I have current medical documentation from my neurologist stating that I am unable to work through at least May 31, 2012 however my supervisor requires me to email/call her each day regarding my symptoms and if I able to come to work.
  • Supervisor, department head, and specific co-worker that have intentionally destroyed or removed evidence of all the incidents above before EEOC comes in to formally investigate my case.

VA EEO offered mediation, which I accepted.  Both parties attended mediation with an independent mediator in September 2011.  A tentative settlement agreement was reached which included me being able to work from home as able with continued medical documentation 4 – 6 hours per day as work was available.  However, this was not approved by Office of Regional Counsel because they deemed “it offered no resolution and was unfair” to me.  

VA EEO offered a second mediation, which I accepted.  Both parties attended a second mediation with the same independent mediator in November 2011.  This mediation ended within two hours, the mediator recused herself on the basis that the VA was not participating in mediation but rather attempting to force me into resigning her position at the VA.  Additionally, the mediator wrote a complaint to ADR and the VA regarding the handling of mediation by the VA and has offered to be interviewed and a witness for my EEO case and how I was treated during mediation sessions.

I have been trying to retain counsel but literally getting nothing but responses with lawyers that are interested but want 10 - 20k for a retainer.  I have contacted local law schools, legal aid, veteran's organizations, and other avenues and have been unsuccessful.  I know I have a good case and I have evidence of intent and documentation supporting each allegation.  But, I do not have that kind of cash for a retainer - no idea who does.

Now I'm waiting for my FERS to be approved (which the VA sat on from August through March before sending to OPM), SSI/SSDI to be approved and that can be another 3 - 9 months.  I have zero income, no joke - none.  I am a veteran, minority, and a federal employee and the VA is probably going to get away with what they have done.

I am a union member but apparently you can only file an EEO complaint OR a union grievance.  My union rep did not tell me this - would have been good to know several months ago.

I have filed a complaint with the privacy officer regarding the violation of my PHI as I am a patient at the VA as well as an employee.  I'm barking up every tree regarding the squatting on my FERS package for some kind of resolution.

Anyone have suggestions....?  I'm at my wits end.

#2 Posted : Saturday, April 07, 2012 11:56:26 PM(UTC)

Rank: Rookie

Groups: Registered
Joined: 6/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 42

So Sorrry to hear all of this, however it sure sounds correct to me. Filing an EEOC is a hard choice to make and will cost you dearly..take it from someone who knows too well! Does the VA do all this just because you filed a EEOC, not sure what you did or what region you worked in....but they can make many things very difficult for you.
My advice even though you are going through allot financially is contact your senator's office, makes sure it is a senior senator and let them take it from there! This works and may stop some things for awhile. Is there a way you can go out on Approved LVOP until your disabilty retirement is approved? Can you afford it, because it may be the best thing for your sanity at this time.
I am so glad I took the route I did save my sanity and my health and let me look at all this in a differerent prospective...once you are out you really see the whole picture and actually get to laugh at a few things...because you took control not them...good luck to you!
#3 Posted : Monday, April 23, 2012 8:16:54 AM(UTC)

Rank: Groupie

Groups: Registered
Joined: 9/13/2011(UTC)
Posts: 55

As crazy as this might sound, but, I am so relieved to read your post.  I had thought that my DOD agency was just picking on me.  After reading your situation which parallels my circumstances over the past three years, I am relieved and sickened at the same time.
I suffered a spinal compression injury walking on sidewalk approaching my course while on TDY..the base medical facility told me that I had suffered whiplash and would be sore for a couple of days so they sent me back to class and released me to make an international flight the next day.  Trusting the medical provider, I went back to class and with the help of a driver, airport and airline security and customer service, I made a safe back overseas to my base of origin.  To make things short, it has been over three years and 320 medical appointments later but I have not recovered.  I have three EO formal complaints, two OSC complaints, several Congressionals and nothing has stopped the abuse and/or incompetence of my agency nor has it encouraged process improvement or diligence.  My HIPAA rights, disability rights, employment rights have all been violated...I have been demoted three times, bullied into exceeding my work restrictions and agency denied that there is sitting in my sedentary position even though I was provided an osteopathic chair as an accommodation.  Upon my return to the US, I was assigned to a position that required 'prolonged sitting' as a physical duty, however, my agency failed to provide OWCP with the job offer to approve prior to placing me in the position.
I had DFAS calculate my compensation had I not been injured and or injured with accommodation avoiding any loss of income, my salary and allowance losses exceed $80k and I have lost almost 500 hours of leave. 
My agency has agreed to four mediations but has only appeared for one..we could not agree to terms so today I received an 'offer of resolution' to settle the first two complaints..the offer is less than the mediation settlement...if you have never heard of offer of resolution..study up, it is a new way to lessen your settlement and discourage you from moving forward.  In other words, it adds insult to injury...
If you want to talk, send me a private message..I think we need to compare notes..if not, best wishes!
#4 Posted : Friday, April 27, 2012 9:25:35 AM(UTC)

Rank: Senior Member

Groups: Registered
Joined: 10/2/2007(UTC)
Posts: 695

I am glad i am leaving the VA, i have worked for them twice and both times they SUCKED!

common sense
#5 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:28:04 AM(UTC)

Rank: Senior Member

Groups: Registered
Joined: 10/9/2007(UTC)
Posts: 229

#6 Posted : Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:45:45 AM(UTC)

Rank: Newbie

Groups: Registered
Joined: 1/7/2011(UTC)
Posts: 6

I noticed you're in Colorado, but give this guy a call; he might be able to give you some direction: http://www.justiceandmediation.com/
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