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OFFE CD Provokes Scathing Review from VA Watchdog
Editorial by: John Waltz
Special Assignment Writer
Firebase Network

February 9, 2007,

 In reply to an article from the Larry Scott and VA Watchdog Veteran’s Group Handing Out Bad Advice in which Mr. Larry Scott accuses a ‘small group’ of veterans of irresponsible behavior harmful to our former military personnel. He states such behavior should not be tolerated. However, Mr. Scott does not divulge the name of this group anywhere in his report. You would think his readers would like all of the information associated with his story, not just what Mr. Scott wishes to acknowledge.

 The ‘group’ Mr. Scott is referring to is Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE), a subsidiary of Veterans For Veteran Connection a registered 501-C3 non-profit organization headquartered in Rochester, NY. This week OFFE released a ‘preview copy’ of a CD they have produced. OFFE is currently involved in efforts to insure mandatory funding for veteran’s healthcare and services - which is the primary purpose for the production of the ‘Veteran’s Medical Alert’ CD.

 To date, OFFE has secured the support of over 140,000+ labor union members in the New York area and many more are expected to join OFFE’s efforts to secure mandatory funding. They may be a small group in the eyes of Mr. Scott, but OFFE is growing rapidly and is expected to be a major influence in the national 2008 elections.

 In Mr. Scott’s article he takes the liberty of misquoting and misrepresenting the content of the CD. Nowhere on the OFFE CD does it say a veteran should not go to a VA hospital for scheduled treatment. The VA has done some wonderful work over the decades and most VA employees do a great job. We, who are the recipients of the VA health care system consider ourselves very lucky and are very grateful for the care when it is provided. However, medical services continue to be cut which has now led to deadly consequences..

 Mr. Scott received an 11 minute preview of the OFFE CD two days ago. The complete 23 minute version of the CD will be available to the public next week. OFFE plans to distribute 10,000 free copies nationwide over the next 60 days. Mr. Scott’s article was very contradictory and did a injustice to OFFE’s efforts and motives to promote mandatory funding for the VA., which can be clearly pointed out in one of his own statements, “The problems at Spokane stemmed from under funding (not having a 24/7 ER) and poor communication (veterans not understanding available services).” That is exactly what the OFFE CD points out - due to under funding services are being severely cut or removed. Is Mr. Scott shooting the messenger?

 In his own articles, “Second Veteran Dies after Being Denied Care at Spokane VA” and “Did lack of “Urgent Care” At Spokane VA Cost a Veteran His Life?” Scott further substantiates the validity of the OFFE CD. The CD clearly states that not all VA hospitals have 24 hour emergency services, which is true. In these two articles Mr. Scott himself warns veterans not to go to a VA after 4:30 pm. The graphic below appeared in Mr. Scott’s post on .

 Mr. Scott also states that the OFFE CD is at the ‘height of irresponsibility’ and should not be tolerated. Not tolerated by whom? The veterans I have spoken with think that it is the VA that is being ‘irresponsible’ and OFFE should be commended for their bold approach to bringing attention to the issues.  

A great deal of care was taken as to the accuracy of the information contained on the OFFE CD. OFFE conducted a number of interviews with families involved in the Spokane VA story. OFFE also interviewed Mr. Joe Manley the former director of the Spokane VA hospital to get both sides of the story. In these interviews it was made more than clear that due to the lack of services the Spokane VA was now turning sick veterans away.

 Mr. Scott claims the best idea for any veteran is to take the responsibility to know the availableresources at their VA facility. Since emergencies aren’t planned - how can you plan accordingly, especially, if you have to depend on a friend or family member? Will they know what to do in an emergency? What if the VA is the closest hospital? Do we have to send families to education classes so that they know all the services provided at a particular VA hospital? Or should they just call 911 for all emergencies? Telling a veteran and his family to call 911 rather than depending on the VA is not ‘bad advice’, rather ‘lifesaving information’.

 The importance of mandatory funding is made abundantly clear throughout the OFFE CD. Mr. Scott did not recognize this fact in his critical review of the OFFE CD. His statement of; “That is why we keep pushing for mandatory funding.” Who is ‘we’? Are we not all on the same side as veterans? Without mandatory funding for services or equipment available, how can we possibly claim that the VA healthcare system is the best in the country?

 It was never the intent of OFFE to cause static between veteran’s advocacy groups seeking the very same objectives. OFFE realized from the conception of the CD concept that it would be controversial and would get an emotional knee-jerk reaction from some people; however, every word on the CD is supported by documentation and/or written statements by the families that were turned away from treatment at the Spokane VAMC. The fact that some individuals can’t handle the truth is not/will not deter OFFE from distributing their Veteran’s Medical Alert CD nationwide.

 There are primarily two entirely different opinions on this issue which come from two conflicting points of view. Some people feel an allegiance to the Department of Veterans Affairs and to protect the VA from negative comments or actions, while others feel an allegiance and obligation to ‘the veteran’ first. OFFE is obviously among the latter.    

The OFFE Preview copy of the CD is attached to this article.  

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