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Vijay Mehta
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xx Fraud & Abuse at Central Texas VA
« Thread started on: May 28th, 2008, 8:11pm »


http://www.veteransforamerica.org/2008/02/11/austin-va-researcher-alleges-mismanagement/
Austin VA researcher alleges mismanagement
by VFA on Feb 11, 2008

Marty Toohey, the Austin American-Statesman

Van Boven says superiors have hindered research into traumatic brain injury.

When the Department of Veterans Affairs announced last year that it was starting a brain injury research program at the University of Texas, Dr. Robert Van Boven predicted that his program would become “the birthplace for new standards of treatment” for wounded troops.

Now, seven months after he was hired, Van Boven said his VA bosses are responsible for “gross mismanagement, waste and possible fraud” concerning the program. Van Boven said program money is being used for research unrelated to brain injuries and that peer reviewers found that the work had no merit. After raising complaints, Van Boven said, his bosses threatened to further cut his research time. He filed official grievances with his Central Texas bosses on Feb. 1 and with the VA’s Office of the Inspector General on Tuesday.

“As a private citizen, I find it an unacceptable use of taxpayer money,” he said. “And now they’re trying to punish me for being a whistle-blower.”

VA officials said last week that they have formed a panel to look into Van Boven’s allegations but declined to comment further.

“At this point, we can’t comment before the investigation is concluded,” said Nelia Schrum, a VA spokeswoman in Temple.

Van Boven is the head of a program housed at UT’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus in North Austin, which is home to one of the world’s most sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging scanners. The VA is renting space and owns the right to use the scanner once a week.

The program headed by Van Boven is funded by a 2005 VA research grant and managed by the VA’s Central Texas arm. The original grant was $5.4 million and intended for all types of work using the imager.

For the first year and a half, $1.2 million was used to pay for imaging research into diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can cause diabetics to gradually go blind. The lead researcher, Dr. Kevin Carlin, was examining whether the body gives certain clues that a diabetic is at serious risk of blindness.

Van Boven was hired last summer and took over the entire grant. He said he wasn’t told his budget would also include research unrelated to brain injuries. Schrum said the grant Van Boven is managing is intended primarily but not solely for brain injury research. She could not say whether Van Boven was told that the grant could also be used to fund other research.

Van Boven says the eyesight research was flawed at best, would not produce results and needed to be suspended. But he said his bosses would not let him. He said Carlin and a consultant working with him have cost an additional $190,000 since Van Boven was hired, while producing no discernible results. Schrum said Carlin would not comment.

Van Boven alleges that when he complained, his boss threatened to cut his research time by 40 percent by assigning other tasks. He alleges his bosses took other actions against him, including chastising him for volunteering to help organize a fun run to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury and for inviting U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to the announcement without approval from his VA superiors.

This is an article from Austin American Statesman.

Congratulations to Dr. Van Boven. It takes a lot of courage to report suspected mismanagement of funds in our system. Typically, administration drums up some false charges, calls an Administrative Board of Investigation and intimidates employee into submission. VA disciplinary system is stacked up against the employee. How do we prove when the board is biased and being used as a hatchet board?

We hope Dr. Van Boven has courage to stand against the onslaught of coming disciplinary actions & review boards. Reporting suspected abuse should not be punished.

There are many others who have also noticed irregularities in our system, however many are too afraid to speak. There are some who have left out of frustration. IG will be well advised to contact those who have left the research program in recent past.

We shall be reporting more cases where anyone sounding the alarm has been punished.

Go Blue Bottom Up!

- Vijay Mehta.
« Last Edit: Nov 1st, 2008, 4:15pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx Dr. Robert Van Boven
« Reply #1 on: May 28th, 2008, 10:01pm »

Dr. Robert Van Boven has made impressive contributions check out
http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22author:R.+W.+author:Van+Boven%22&hl=en&lr=&start=0&sa=N

Article from Daily Texan Jan 4, 2008
Veterans to use UT brain scanner for closer look
By William Gest
Dr. Robert Van Boven joined the VA with high aspirations
http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2008/01/14/TopStories/Veterans.To.Use.Ut.Brain.Scanner.For.Closer.Look-3151143.shtml
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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is using UT's world-class brain scanner in a $4.2 million program aiming to study and treat hard-to-detect brain injuries sustained by veterans.

More than 1.6 million people have been deployed in the current military conflicts, and many have come back with emotional and mental health issues. It is now believed that many of these may result from traumatic brain injuries resulting from explosions and other combat hazards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20,000 servicemen and women have already suffered these injuries, causing a variety of crippling symptoms including inability to concentrate, emotional instability and depression.

Dr. Robert Van Boven, director of the Veteran's Affairs program, said that many veterans are suffering from brain trauma too subtle to be detected by standard medical techniques. The similarity of brain injury symptoms to those of post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to misdiagnosis, ineffective treatment and ruined lives, Van Boven said.

"We hope we can better characterize and improve sensitivity to detect so-called 'invisible brain injury,'" he said.

Van Boven and his team believe that the new scanner can help diagnose these invisible brain traumas and work toward effective treatment.

The $2.7 million scanner, built in January 2006 and located at the Imaging Research Center at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, combines several brain scanning technologies and has twice the power of a standard MRI.

"We're pleased that the Imaging Research Center is able to contribute to research on this important problem," said Michael Domjan, UT psychology professor and director of the center.

Domjan said the scanner's location at the research campus in North Austin, will make participation in the program more accessible to veterans and their families because of parking availability.

The scanner uses fMRI technology, which allows researchers to track brain activity in real time, in conjunction with technologies that track neurochemicals and water movement within the brain. Domjan said the combination of these techniques allows for detailed study of the inner workings of the brain.

"This is a very powerful new technology for studying human brain function and studying processes in other physiological systems," he said.

Van Boven organized a team of highly experienced researchers committed to helping returning veterans. In addition to collaboration with renowned cognitive neuroscientists from around the country, the lab has eight full-time employees. Research assistant Ellis Blackmore, a former serviceman, served on a submarine crew in the 1980s.

"Being prior military, I wholeheartedly support anything that's going to help health care and make the lives of all servicemen and women better," he said.

Research assistant Mohamad Fakhreddine, who graduated from UT last May with a degree in mechanical engineering, said that the field of cognitive neuroscience is an exciting challenge.

"The type of work is very cutting-edge, a powerful tool that people are just beginning to tap the potential of," he said.

Van Boven hopes to begin studying patients as early as next month. On Thursday, the program will hold an open house to introduce the program to the University and research community. The event is expected to draw noted researchers and politicians, including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

"There is a contagious enthusiasm that is going on here," Van Boven said. "We are translating discovery into changing lives."
« Last Edit: May 28th, 2008, 10:32pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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« Reply #2 on: Jun 4th, 2008, 08:32am »


Dear Friends,

Please help support the 1st walk/run in the nation for combat-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) to be held here in Austin on Flag Day, Saturday, June 14th. Governor Perry will give opening remarks along with General Rodriguez, Commander of Camp Mabry. We are in need of those wishing to provide community service by volunteering in this altruistic cause as well as contributions, and participation otherwise. Music legend Willie Nelson will also be providing us with a special production for presentation.

Our objective is to increase public awareness and support of those who have "borne the battle" and made major sacrifices in service to our country. The presence and support of the Texas community will be critical to the success of the event. We as Americans owe those who have served and suffered no less than our full support.

Further information about the event for volunteers, contributions, and participants may be found at:

Article Link:
http://www.keyetv.com/content/news/generic/story.aspx?content_id=05807fba-e811-4ef0-92ba-d5349f7a7bcd

"Run in the Peace of Mind 5K on June 14" on CBS 42.

Kind regards,

R.W. Van Boven, M.D., D.D.S.
Chair
Organizing Committee
Peace of Mind 5K


This is an laudable project chaired by Dr Van Boven. Dr. Boven should be recognized not only for his clinical and research services but using his leadership skills to increase the awareness of combat related brain injury. Please support this project. - Vijay Mehta


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« Last Edit: Jun 4th, 2008, 08:51am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx OIG Report Released - Your Tax Dollar at Work
« Reply #3 on: Jul 31st, 2008, 6:27pm »


Here are the highlight of IG Report:

We partially substantiated the allegations of mismanagement of VA funds. Brain Imaging and Recovery Lab (BIRL) funds has been misspent. Since approximately September 2006, because 8 hours per week Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner time at $ 486.70 per hour was paid to the University of Texas at Austin without BIRL research to support expenditure of this magnitude.

Office of Healthcare Inspections (OHI) concluded that CTVHCS entered into a faulty contract.

We also found that CTVHCS did not comply with VA policy in contracting with a consultant at the BIRL and that the consultant was not employed with a valid contract. In the absence of a valid contract it was difficult to assess whether a fraud has occurred. (!!!)

We conclude that the Research and Development (R&D) Committee did not appropriately review expenditures for a principal investigator PI's project.

We neither substantiated nor refuted an allegation of waste in the use of MRI time for research of questionable scientific merit. However, despite not assessing scientific merit, we did find evidence sufficient to raise concerns regarding one PI's studies.

We concluded that the CTVHCS took allegations that a PI's research was of questionable scientific merit seriously. Nevertheless, it may not have gone far enough. For example, after negative reviews were returned the PI's work should have been further reviewed by Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the R & D Committee. We concluded that the allegations related to mismanagement of funds at the BIRL should have been addressed formally and promptly.

We were concerned that the funds intended by Veterans Integrated Network (VISN) 17 to support clinical and research activities were used to fund research exclusively, and we were concerned that the BIRL might constitute a research project in and of itself.

Please see the entire report by clicking at this link this is an interesting reading for all
http://www.va.gov/oig/54/reports/VAOIG-08-01105-171.pdf


I am not very familiar with research protocols etc but it strikes me that

Page 8. "CTVHCS indicated that this was paid because the contract obligated the facility to pay for 8 hours of scanner time per week whether or not the facility used the scannerr time. However upon review of the contract, this obligation is not specified. Rather, payment was to be made on an hourly basis, which was estimated to be 8 hours per week. Nothing in the text ofthis contract obligated the BIRL or CTVHCS to pay for 8 hours of scanner per week."

Wow, who would sign a contract promising to pay $ 487.70 per hour whether we use it or not? And how come it took IG to figure out that payment was to be made based on hour used?

Page 1
"We also found that CTVHCS did not comply with VA policy in contracting with a consultant at the BIRL and that the consultant was not employed with a valid contract. In the absence of a valid contract it was difficult to assess whether a fraud has occurred. "
So all you got to do is not to have a contract. Then IG can not tell whether or not fraud was committed. This is the consultant who was paid $ 107,462 working one day per week - that translates into $ 537,310 at full time rate! Not bad for a guy who had no contract. Besides VA Handbooks 5007/16 and 5007/17 do not permit hourly payments under a fee basis contract. (page 10)

Page 5 One of the allegation
" ... misappropriation of funds was the results of an incentive to a physician with NO research experience or nor (sic) ANY original publication to accept (an administrative position), a post which according to the Chief of Staff was "difficult to get anyone to take."

Page 16. OIG found that," Despite being an inexperienced researcher PI 1 has had a distinguished career and has a long-standing interest in research. When being recruited for an administrative position, multiple facets of his worrk responsibilities schedules and professional opportunities, including being able to pursue his research interest were negotiated.
Wow again. Translated in simple english, if you have a distinguished career and if you have long standing interest in performing brain surgery VA may be justified in hiring as a neurosurgeon!

Once again I think Dr Robert VanBoven deserves our appreciation for having courage to speak up when he noticed that something was not right.

Go Blue Bottoms Up! - Vijay Mehta
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 3rd, 2008, 12:21pm »

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/08/03/0803va.html

They find no evidence of widespread fraud or cronyism, as alleged.

By Marty Toohey
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Department of Veterans Affairs investigation has partially substantiated allegations of waste and mismanagement in a VA brain-research program housed at the University of Texas.

Leaders at the VA's Central Texas branch made contracting mistakes that cost possibly hundreds of thousands of research dollars, according to the VA's Office of the Inspector General. The investigators also concluded that VA officials moved too slowly when apprised of concerns by Dr. Robert Van Boven, who oversees the $6 million research program.

But the investigators also dispute the broadest of Van Boven's allegations, such as cronyism among his superiors. And while the report does not tally total dollar amounts, it indicates VA superiors misspent far less than the $1.2 million Van Boven says they did.

The investigation came at the request of Van Boven, who began making complaints shortly after taking over in July 2007 as the head of a brain-injury research program housed at UT's J.J. Pickle Research Campus. The program uses a giant scanner to perform cutting-edge research into brain injuries among returning troops.

The program has been suspended for six months amid several investigations and reviews, including the one just released.

Bruce Gordon, the director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, said that the investigators' conclusions are an "appropriate representation of the issues and provided excellent guidance for improvement of VA research efforts." Their recommendations, he wrote in response to e-mail questions, are already being implemented.

Van Boven said the report vindicates his concerns.

"I'm grateful the (investigators) substantiated that there was waste and mismanagement," Van Boven said. But he said the investigators didn't look thoroughly enough into the areas where they disagreed with him.

One of the conclusions of the inspector general's report was that a consultant made more than $100,000 at the brain-imaging center while working without a contract. The spoken agreement violated government spending policy, according to the investigators, and the lack of documentation made it impossible to determine whether the contractor defrauded the government, as Van Boven alleges.

Gordon said there are no other contractors working for the Central Texas VA without a contract.

The report also found that the VA misread a contract to rent the UT brain scanner, and unnecessarily paid for scanner time for almost a year. The VA paid well over $100,000 in scanner time it mistakenly thought it was obligated to buy, the report says.

But then the report begins to contradict Van Boven.

It found some of the excess purchased scanner time was not necessarily wasted because it was used by another VA researcher, Dr. Kevin Carlin. The longtime Air Force endocrinologist studied brain patterns associated with diabetic retinopathy, a condition that causes some diabetics to gradually go blind.

Van Boven alleges that Carlin was unqualified to use the scanner and secured its use through friendships with VA leaders.

But the report found Van Boven's charge to be largely inaccurate, noting the $6 million grant could be used for all manner of brain research.

"Despite being an inexperienced researcher," the report states, Carlin "has had a distinguished career and has a long-standing interest in biomedical research."

The report does not decide whether the research was scientifically worthwhile. Five outside experts brought in by Van Boven panned Carlin's work, and the report chides Carlin's superiors for not requiring him to collect more data.

Van Boven has several other complaints not addressed by the report, including his belief that his research was suspended as part of a larger effort to punish him for speaking out. The White House's Office of Special Counsel is investigating the claim.

Gordon denied the allegation and wrote that the program was suspended during a standard review process that was delayed while the inspector general's office conducted its investigation.

Paul Sullivan, the director of advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense and a VA critic, said that whatever the VA decides to do about the program, it should decide it quickly.

"This is research that could help our wounded troops," Sullivan said, "and they're the ones who are hurt by this delay."

mtoohey@statesman.com; 445-3673


Well that IG did not find an evidence of widespread chronyism and fraud is declared as success by Mr. Gordon. In fact the report stated that due to the fact that there was no valid contract they could not decide if there was fraud or not.

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« Reply #5 on: Aug 5th, 2008, 09:32am »


Support Veterans for Common Sense:
http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org

Bureaucratic problems within VA delay much needed research and treatment for our veterans diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. A VA Inspector General report found that VA wasted money and time conducting research in Texas. "This is research that could help our wounded troops," Paul Sullivan said, "and they're the ones who are hurt by this delay." There also seems to be a problem with improper VA oral contracts and with VA e-mails discouraging PTSD diagnoses in Texas.

VCS keeps close tabs on VA through Freedom of Information Act requests and publicizing our veterans' stories. We work to ensure our veterans are properly cared for when they return from fighting for our country. Please, give to VCS today to fund our work caring for America's veterans.
« Last Edit: Aug 5th, 2008, 09:34am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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« Reply #6 on: Nov 1st, 2008, 06:02am »

News: October 31, 2008

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=696352

Shoot the Messenger!
VA tries to fire whistle-blower doctor
By Laurel Chesky

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It all began with such promise.

The Brain Imaging and Recovery Laboratory, launched in January, would hunt for treatments for what has become the Iraq war's signature ailment: traumatic brain injury. A program of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, BIRL was housed at the University of Texas' J.J. Pickle Research Campus, where VA researchers had access to UT's $2.7 million brain scanner to help diagnose invisible head injuries.

But now, BIRL's research has ceased, and the program's director, neurologist Dr. Robert Van Boven, has been suspended from duty with pay since September, while the VA decides what to do with him. On Oct. 15, the VA held a closed hearing to determine whether or not to terminate Van Boven's employment. A board presiding over the hearing is expected to make a recommendation to Thomas Smith, the director of the Central Texas system, within a few weeks.

Van Boven is a compact, tightly wound man. Fast-talking and brimming with energy, he could serve as poster boy for the type A personality. His educational and professional feats match his tireless demeanor. Van Boven earned a doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Illinois and an M.D. from the University of Missouri. He completed two neurology residencies, at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and at Northwestern University. He has worked as a clinician at the National Institutes of Health and as an associate professor at Chicago Medical School and Louisiana State University.

The Central Texas VA system, based in Temple, hired Van Boven in July 2007 to start up the BIRL program. At the time, VA officials may have considered themselves lucky to find Van Boven and woo him into running their modest $4.2 million brain research program. Van Boven, in turn, was excited to work on potentially groundbreaking research that could help thousands of soldiers returning from active duty with head injuries.

"I had a chance to help 40,000 veterans with brain injury," Van Boven said. "I felt this was a gift and a blessing to help those who have served and suffered, and I am well trained to do it. ... I don't want these soldiers to become the next generation of homeless veterans."
Uncovering Waste at the VA

But within a few months, the relationship between Van Boven and his bosses was turning sour. Maybe they weren't expecting a take-charge go-getter like Van Boven. And perhaps the doctor wasn't ready for the stodgy, insular environment of one of the country's most notoriously inexpedient bureaucracies.

The VA in general and the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in particular are not models of efficiency. The Central Texas system – which runs two hospitals in Temple and Waco, five outpatient clinics, two nursing homes, and two rehabilitation centers – ranks 118th in patient satisfaction out of 139 veteran health-care systems in the country. The local system made national news when the press was leaked an e-mail from Norma Perez, a post-traumatic stress disorder coordinator in Temple, advising mental-health professionals not to diagnose patients with PTSD "straight out," because "we really ... don't have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD" – a serious mental illness that can, among other things, lead to suicide and homicide.

Almost immediately, Van Boven observed what he calls fraud, waste, and research mismanagement totaling $1.2 million in misused funds. He was concerned about research being conducted at BIRL by a VA physician – an inexperienced researcher, Van Boven says, whose work was flawed and of "highly questionable scientific merit." To be certain, he sought the opinion of five experts, including researchers at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard, to review documents related to the research. "All five uniformly panned the research," Van Boven says.

Moreover, the research was costly. Exper­i­ments took more time on the MRI brain scanner (240 hours at $487 per hour over nine months) than they should have, Van Boven thought. And the research didn't have anything to do with traumatic brain injury incurred in combat. The research was related to diabetic retinopathy, or blindness triggered by diabetes.

According to Van Boven, he also discovered that a consultant helping with the research was billing the VA for hours that he had not worked and that a grant proposal the consultant had written was plagiarized, lifted almost word for word from an Oxford University document posted on the Web. The consultant was paid $107,000 in fiscal year 2007, with, according to Van Boven, little to show for it. "There is no grant proposal, no publication, nothing has come out of this research that the VA spent over $1 million of taxpayer money on," he says.

In September of last year, Van Boven voiced his concerns to Dr. Paul Hicks, associate chief of staff for research with the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. According to Van Boven, Hicks took no action. In the following months, Van Boven repeatedly asked VA leadership for an investigation into the research he alleged was fraudulent. Those requests were not only ignored, but Hicks stripped Van Boven of his oversight duties concerning the diabetic retinopathy research and threatened him with reassignment. When contacted, Hicks referred all questions to Nelia Schrum, the Central Texas system's public affairs officer, who replied in an e-mail, "It is the VA policy not to comment on ongoing administrative reviews."

In February, Van Boven went over his bosses' heads and reported his concerns to the VA Office of Inspector General. In a July 29 report, the office partially substantiated his allegations. The report agreed that "BIRL funds had been misspent since approximately September 2006 because eight hours of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner time [a week] ... was paid to the University of Texas Austin without BIRL research to support expenditures of this magnitude." The report "neither substantiated or refuted" Van Boven's allegation of waste in the payment of the consultant due to a technicality: The consultant didn't have a contract with the VA. In the absence of a contract spelling out expectations, the Office of Inspector General could not determine whether or not the consultant was overpaid.

However, the report did conclude that payments to the consultant were against VA policy. "VA Handbooks ... do not permit hourly payments under a free basis contract," the report states. "Rather, consultants must be paid on the basis of services rendered and not on the basis of time taken to complete tasks."

The report recommended that the Central Texas VA cease paying for the eight hours a week of MRI scanner time in the absence of a contract and execute a contract with the consultant for further work. The report also recommended that the Central Texas VA's Office of Research & Development and Institutional Review Board review the research in question and address issues identified in the report.

"All recommendations of the VA's OIG report have been appropriately addressed and necessary actions taken to ensure compliance," Schrum wrote. "More oversight has been put in place to ensure that research complies with directives put in place by our Institutional Review Board.In addition, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System has just received a three-year accreditation after an extensive review by the Association for the Accreditation for Human Research Protection Programs."
How Do We Get Rid of This Guy?
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 1st, 2008, 06:03am »

You'd think Van Boven's VA bosses would have been happy that he had rooted out misuse of taxpayer money. If they were, they didn't show it. Instead, they called for an investigation into allegations of misconduct against Van Boven – allegations which, curiously, began to accumulate soon after Van Boven started needling his VA bosses about his concerns over waste and mismanagement.

Now a bona fide whistle-blower, Van Boven won't be so easy to kick out of the VA system. Federal law protects people who allege misconduct within an organization from retaliation, including harassment, demotion, or termination of employment. Nevertheless, they're trying. VA officials in Temple have assembled a laundry list of allegations against Van Boven and are using it as grounds for possible termination. Among them:

• Insubordination for defying orders to refrain from organizing a fun run to benefit traumatic brain injury research – even though a letter from the VA regional counsel opined that Van Boven was free to organize the event as a private citizen.

• Hanging a personalized door tag outside of his office.

• The use of profanity and engaging in "threatening gestures" at work. The employee who made the allegations occasionally socialized with Van Boven's family outside of work and has since moved out of state. Van Boven admits he occasionally used profanity at work but says it was never directed toward a person. He says he never made threatening gestures to the employee.

• "Disrespecting" Sen. John Cornyn at a BIRL event attended by the senator. The VA alleges Van Boven inconvenienced the senator by allowing the event to run long in order to allow two veterans not on the agenda to speak. Cornyn's office wrote a letter denying that Cornyn felt disrespected.

• Sexual harassment. A subordinate claims that he overheard Van Boven asking a female UT researcher about her sex life. The researcher, who does not work for Van Boven, wrote a letter vehemently refuting the accusation.

In mid-September, Van Boven was suspended with pay and now awaits the review board's decision and his professional fate. (The review board, incidentally, declined to hear testimony from Van Boven's former supervisor, who wrote a letter in support of him.)

All of which raises another question: Why would an obviously smart and qualified neurologist put up with such nonsense?

Van Boven says he's looked for other work – but something called "Google" has thus far worked against him. When you search his name, the whistle-blowing stuff lands at the top of the heap. He had accepted a job at a small private practice in Illinois, but when the doctors there read about the brouhaha in Austin, they decided not to hire him. "They said they were worried about loyalty and integrity," Van Boven says. "My reputation has been damaged. Some people might admire a whistle-blower, but nobody wants to hire one."

So for now, Van Boven is standing his ground and fighting like a soldier against the VA. The doctor has now reached beyond the VA and has contacted a host of federal agencies with allegations of waste, mismanagement, and misconduct of VA officials in Temple. He has sent letters to Cornyn, the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and even the FBI. And he's just beginning.

"My reputation is at stake, so there is no slipping away into the night," Van Boven says. "If they succeed and I am truly a dead man, then they will have to deal with the stench of my corpse."

The VA Office of Inspector General's July 29 report on the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. (32 Pages)
http://www.austinchronicle.com/media/content/696352/1vaoigreportvanbovenallegations.pdf


VanBoven's letter to VA Office of Research Oversight dated July 19, 2008
http://www.austinchronicle.com/media/content/696352/2vbtopuglisi07-19-08.pdf

VanBoven's Letter to Senate Veterans Affairs Committee dated October 21, 2008. (12 Pages)
http://www.austinchronicle.com/media/content/696352/3vbtosenatevetaffairs10_21_08.pdf

This detailed article in Austin Chronicle on October 21, 2008 highlights the serious challenge faced by anyone who is trying to root out the fraud and abuse in our system.

As a long time employee of Veterans Health Care System I know that Dr. Robert VanBoven is not alone, many others feel the same way but fear of retribution holds them back. The system is stacked up against any one trying to fight the injustice.

We hope the VA leadership locally and nationally will wake up and develop a system where such issues can be resolved in a fair and impartial manner and employees who expose injustice can be rewarded and not punished for their commitment to Veterans.
- Vijay Mehta

This is also posted at NAVAPD website
http://www.navapd.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=178
« Last Edit: Nov 1st, 2008, 08:55am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx Write Baby Write
« Reply #8 on: Nov 7th, 2008, 10:13am »

Here is a comment posted at VCS website posted in response to this article. I think the commenter does have a point. What do you think? - Vijay Mehta

Posted on Nov 2, 2008 by cjd
"
It appears the good Dr. got into someones honey hole and they want him out. I personally am going to send this article to all the news agencies and hopefully one will pick it up and run with and give the good Dr. a fighting Chance. Where is Sen. Cornyn on this matter. I think he should start using his powers to help us and Dr. if he really cares. I got a response from his office on a matter and I will forward to him and his VA representatives working in the office. Everyone should send this article to every new story, Sixty Minutes, 48 hours, Bill Moyers etc to get this story the national heading it needs. Righdt now it appears to be ketp on tha regional level and that is what the VA brass want. WE, have to get it out in the news. You have heard of Drill baby Drill, WeLL, Write baby, Write.

CJD "


We need more CJD's all over the country.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 7th, 2008, 10:14am »

If this kind of thing is going on for sometime does NOT mean we shut up with it anymore!!! (response posted at VCS site)

3 Nov 2008
Brunotm - View member profile

"Nothing New" but it needs to end NOW! Just because, or maybe it should be because, this has been going on "for decades" does NOT mean we should put up with it anymore! If this stuff has been "SOP" for this long, why have guys like Charles here been putting up with it? Why haven't you been needling the VFW & the American Legion, the DAV and etc. as well as your elected representatives again and again on this issue? We are trained warriors, for God's sake we should stand up and FIGHT for what is our right! If our bros. & sisters at the VSO's don't fight for us, replace them! If our elected reps won't fight for us, throw the bums out no matter what party they belong to! The next time a vet w/TBI or PTSD kills themselves or others I suggest the family of the victims file class action lawsuits against the VA as an organization and against the VA Staff as individuals - but maybe shouldn't wait for a "next time" - we should do it NOW. VCS should take a lead on this if no other VSO will do it. Paul, if you lead we will follow!
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xx Comments postted at Austin Chronicle
« Reply #10 on: Nov 7th, 2008, 10:15am »

Comments posted at Austin Chronicle website:[/colr]

[color=Red]Where should U.S. Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs Really be Looking by guest | hide/show
Shouldn't somebody check to see if the consultant was funneling money back to Van Boven's Superiors? 10-31-2008


CTVHCS reeks of corruption by guest | hide/show
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Bruce Gordon was the most corrupt public official I have ever known personally. You shuold look into the reasons he "retired" to a job at Scott and White. They have railroaded other good doctors as well. For heaven's sake, someone with integrity please investigate this place. The VA won't take care of its own problems without public pressure.

11-01-2008


I want to PUKE! by Wife of Vet | hide/show
This makes me want to vomit! What in the world are we coming too? Thank GOD for Van Boven! I wish I had a place for him to work for ME! What is wrong with businesses that they wouldn't want an HONEST person working for them, unless they are not honest? We need to be actually taking care of Vets, instead of stealing MY money for their own gain! 11-02-2008

Not only.... by MarineGulfWarVet | hide/show
should justice be done on paper and practice, that Dr. Hicks should have his ass whipped! 11-02-2008

somemaverick said... | hide/show
Thanks for bringing the wrong doings of the VA out. McCain should carry dr. Boven around instead of the plumber and conduct an inquiry against his supervisors and strengthen whistle blower act. 11-02-2008


Officials are Hiding by A Veteran | hide/show
The Officials are hiding their ineptitude and their lacking the smarts to run a part of the V.A. they should be sent overseas and into the desert like a true soldier, carrying loads of equiptment in the l20 - l30 degree heat, noi mail from home etc. 11-02-2008


But if you knew him... by guest | hide/show
you wouldn't regard him as such a great guy. I don't doubt there are problems with what he's trying to "fix." But he's no angel and probably could have approached it a little more professionally. Seriously, this guy is unpleasant and abrasive. 11-03-2008 (Note: The person making comments forgets that the issue is not about Dr. Robert VanBoven but it is about the fraud and abuse of our tax dollars. Dr. VanBoven is not running for any popularity contest. He simply pointed out to the superiors and then had balls to notify the Inspector General and office of special counsel etc. We need more of Dr. VanBoven! - Vijay Mehta)


Messenger wounded again by guest | hide/show
There is a white paper already circulated in high places that spells out corruption since 1984. All of these governmental officials including the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs have failed to act to clean up the corruption. The experience of Dr. Van Boven is just another in a litany of physicians and nurses that have gone on record with the media only to find that "nobody cares." Just hold a congressional hearing, make it known to the public and see what happens. Just call me anytime or read the book: "Aftermath, a war of memories." 11-03-2008
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xx VA Watchdog site picks up the story
« Reply #11 on: Nov 7th, 2008, 10:15am »

http://www.vawatchdog.org/08/nf08/nfnov ... 0108-3.htm
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xx Congressman Murphy being contacted
« Reply #12 on: Nov 7th, 2008, 10:16am »

3 Nov 2008
Posted by Dianne Shatin at VCS site:

Surprise, surprise...Vets Treated Like....

I will send this online information to my Representative, Patrick J. Murphy. He is at this time the only Iraq veteran serving in the US Congress and veterans's issues is his number one 'cause'. But we need a concerted, intensive, campaign with no let up to gut the VA and get our veterans the quality care they deserve and need, NOW! NO EXCUSES! It simply takes the political will. The money is there! Instead of pissing away billions to other countries like China for feel good warm and fuzzy projects, let's turn our focus where the rubber meets the road...our wounded warriors, now! Period. Amen. You'd have thought the heinous conditions at Walter Reed would have been enough to shake up Congress and the American people on what poses as 'health care' for our veterans...

United in a concerted effort.... massive countrywide action will yield results.
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xx Media in Chicago area being contacted
« Reply #13 on: Nov 7th, 2008, 10:17am »


3 Nov 2008
George Patton writes on VCS website

veterans, I salute you and offer my sincere apologies--you deserve better

Recently, it has leaked to the public that some VBA employees across the nation have purposely thrown veterans' mail in the garbage. This is a problem because, in most instances, a veteran's claim for compensation may hinge on the missing article. I have come across veterans that have assured me that they sent in documents pertinent to their claim, only to be informed that the mail was never received.

The Chicago VBA RO has for years been scrutinized by Sen. Obama and Sen. Durbin in an effort to determine why Illinois’ veterans receive minimal compensation for their injuries--when compared to other states. This is alarming because our state has quite a large veteran population. The workload has been a great problem for this office as they continue to struggle to reduce pending compensation claims. This is due to being short staffed, as well as having managers who received their promotions by being friendly with those in power. Here is a brief breakdown of the organization: Triage: 1st Stage At this stage, this is where a veteran's initial and subsequent paper work comes into the agency. At a minimal, the mail received in Triage (the mail room) should be processed in about seven days and placed in the appropriate claims folder. However, this is not the case at this office. Mail sometimes stay in the mailroom for four to six weeks and, in some instances, are misfiled or lost. Pre Development: 2nd Stage At this point, veterans service representatives (VSR's) are tasked with examining the veteran's claims folder and sending appropriate notice to the veteran. For instance, they are supposed to ensure that a letter acknowledging receipt of the claim is mailed to the claimant. It usually takes months for this correspondence to be mailed, usually at the request of the veteran repeatedly contacting the office and pleading with it to send the material. The document is important because it is proof (receipt) that the claim was received and the veteran does not have to be concerned that the claim has been “lost” of “misprocessed.” This receipt is also relevant because it explains to the veteran what is needed to grant compensation, as well as inform the veteran to submit private treatment records or other evidence they may help to establish the claim. A major problem at this stage, the VSR's sometimes fail to identify all the issues the veteran is seeking compensation. Therefore, some exams that should have been ordered or not, and when the veteran finally gets his or her award letter, the person discovers that he or she must contact the VA, once more, for proper and complete adjudication. Once, the exams have been complete and the required documentation collected, the VSR reviews the claims folder to determine if it is ready for a decision. If it is, the folder is transferred to the RVSR—the decision-maker and evaluator. Rating Board: 3rd Stage At this stage, the claims folder is brought to the RVSR for a decision. In theory, at this stage the case has been properly developed and awaiting a decision. However, 50% of the time (and I am being generous) the claim is not ready for a decision. For instance, the VSR (2nd stage) may have failed to examine the received medical examinations thoroughly to decide if all issues needing a medical opinion have been provided. Hence, claims folders are passed to RVSR's missing exams, service treatment records, and DD-214. The case is not ready for a decision and must be deferred for other examinations or other items, delaying the veteran’s claim. In some instances, Triage (the mail room) fails to adequately process mail. For instance, a veteran may have submitted additional evidence showing compensation is warranted. However, if this information is not entered into the database and the mail placed in the claims folder on time, the veteran's claim may be denied—and I have witnessed this quite often. Production standards are another problem at this office that are contributing to an employee’s mistakes. For one, a VSR must process a certain number of claims per day in order to meet his or her quota. Sometimes they are only half-heartedly reviewing the claims folder. In reality, they are tasked with examining the service medical records and identifying in-service disabilities and conditions, private medical records and tabbing relevant information that will assist the RVSR in rendering a decision. However, when there are four volumes of military medical records, a person cannot possibly examine them all and make his or her arbitrary quota for the day. The RVSR is also under arbitrary production standards. He or she must receive a certain number of credits to meet an irrelevant quota. You have evaluators missing / ignoring issues that should have been granted. It is not that they want to shortchange the veteran; the system is not set up to allow an evaluator to properly assess the entirety of the claims folder, which can be as much as four to five volumes. At this office, the sentiments are not "do a good job" so that veterans may receive the benefits the US promised. Instead, in all my years, it has always been let's process as many claims as possible to get the backlog down and, if we miss an issue, the veteran can always file another claim. I have worked at the Chicago VBA RO for over five years and am a veteran myself. If I was seeking compensation, I would want my claim handled appropriately and given the proper amount of time to render a fair and balance decision. Unfortunately, that does not always happen at this office. There are some great employees in this office, and many go beyond the call of duty, often staying late to complete a claim. Nevertheless, management (at this office and those at the national office) continue to place unreasonable pressure on employees. When this occurs, it is no surprise that veterans are being harmed. There have been recent reports that some psychologists and psychiatrists are refusing to diagnose PTSD when the finding is warranted, with some administrators instructing medical staff to make the veterans come back several times before giving away the golden goose. This is not the way we treat our veterans. They demand our deepest respect, sincere thanks, and an authentic pat on the back.[color=#FF0000] I am contacting the national media and local media in the Chicago land area, as well as veterans organizations with anticipation that it will spark interest in veterans’ compensation.
[/color]
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« Reply #14 on: Nov 7th, 2008, 10:17am »


Here is another post by someone under the name VA Doc at VCS website. One more testimony to the state of affairs. We hope Obama Administration would take a deep look at the problems facing the front line workers. We owe it to those men and women who put their life on line for our freedom. I would suggest to this doctor to send a list of the patient in which his reports have been changed and the name of your VA to office of Inspector General. Also let them know that if within one month proper actions are not taken then you may go to Veterans group or news media or Senate Veterans Committee. - Vijay Mehta

all true

I am a doctor in mental health at one of the VAs- staying anonymous for obvious reasons- and none of this surprises me. The corruption in our mid level management is rampant. Those of us who try to do the right things by the vets are actively blocked from doing so. I have been yelled at cursed at, and threatened by supervisors. I have to do compensation and pension exams as part of my job- my reports have been changed, without my knowledge or permission, prior to being released. Only certain people are "allowed" to diagnose PTSD because others of us do it "too often" and therefore are deemed incompetent. Everyone knows about it and it continues because there is NO security that anyone will back us up or protect us if we say something. The Whistleblower Act sounds good- but even though a whistleblower can't be fired for the action, his or her work life can be made so miserable that the only real option is to leave the job.
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