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Ex-Worker Accuses VA of ‘Callous Indifference’ to Veterans

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Jamie Fox (center) stands with veteran Hosea Roundtree and former VA worker Ann Williams. Fox said she lost her job at the VA’s Oakland office after arguing that Roundtree’s benefits were wrongfully denied.

Bay Citizen – A former Department of Veterans Affairs employee accused the agency today of “cover-up after cover-up” and a “callous indifference” to the plight of veterans it is supposed to serve.

Jamie Fox, who lost her job at the VA’s Oakland office after arguing that a veteran’s benefits were being erroneously denied, appeared in federal court in San Francisco as part of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the agency.

She was joined in court by Hosea Roundtree, the Navy veteran whose application for benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder was denied on the grounds that he had never seen combat even though he had witnessed the 1983 shelling of Beirut.

“We are being cheated out of our benefits,” Roundtree said after the hearing. “I want to stand with someone who was standing up for us vets.”

In the courtroom, Elizabeth Laporte, the federal magistrate hearing the case, ruled that Roundtree’s disability claim file should be entered as evidence in Fox’s wrongful termination suit. “The denial of benefits are at issue,” Laporte said.

“If we had not complained to Oakland VA management about the discrimination and prejudice in our workplace, we would still be there, doing the job we loved, helping other veterans like Hosea Roundtree,” Fox said.
In a deposition in 2010, the then-head of the VA’s Oakland office, Lynn Flint, argued that Fox exceeded her authority by advocating for additional review of Roundtree’s disability claim, slowing down her productivity. Fox, Flint said in the deposition, should have sent Roundtree a letter denying his benefits whether the decision was “right or wrong.”

In legal pleadings filed in federal court earlier this month, the agency took a different tack.

In court papers filed earlier this month, the VA’s attorney, Victoria Carradero, cited a story on Fox’s case produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting, The Bay Citizen’s parent organization, and said the VA “is entitled the opportunity to investigate” allegations that benefits were wrongfully denied and “demonstrate their lack of merit.”

Fox’s case comes amid increased scrutiny of the way the VA handles disability claims. Nationwide, the number of veterans waiting for benefits has grown to about 900,000, and the average wait time zoomed to 262 days this fall.

Veterans awaiting a decision from the VA’s Oakland office, which serves veterans who live between Bakersfield and the Oregon border, wait more than a year on average.

“We are being cheated out of our benefits, I want to stand with someone who was standing up for us vets,” Hosea Roundtree said.
Mistakes also have been an issue. A CIR review of a year’s worth of audits by the agency’s inspector general revealed a problem of chronic errors – committed in up to 1 in 3 cases – and an emphasis on speed over accuracy that clogs the VA system with appeals, increasing delays for all veterans.

VA officials have argued that the inspector general’s reports “do not present a true picture of the overall quality of the work performed” by VA employees because they focused on a subset of high-profile claims. Agency representatives could not be reached for further comment.

For her part, Fox characterizes the Roundtree case as a smokescreen designed to detract from allegations of employment discrimination brought by another former employee of the VA’s Oakland office. That employee, Ann Williams, alleges she was taunted regularly for being a lesbian.

At the time she lost her job, Fox said she had just come forward to corroborate William’s story. “If we had not complained to Oakland VA management about the discrimination and prejudice in our workplace, we would still be there, doing the job we loved, helping other veterans like Hosea Roundtree,” Fox said outside the courtroom.

The VA has denied that any harassment took place in filings in the Fox case.

Source: Bay Citizen, November 27, 2012, by Aaron Glantz

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2 Responses to Ex-Worker Accuses VA of ‘Callous Indifference’ to Veterans

  1. Jerry Ballard USNRet says:

    I would like to explain my situation and then follow it up by giving you information about what is happening to Veterans all over the Country. For my neck of the woods, I have to contend with the Veterans Administration in Oakland, CA.
    They are located at:

    Oakland Regional Office 1301 Clay Street, Room 130 N Oakland, CA

    I served in the United States Navy for 20 years as a Ship’s Serviceman and also as a navy Photographer and retired July 1998 at the Naval Hospital at NAS Lemoore, CA

    In 1996, while attached to the USS Anchorage LSD-36 we were on the Persian Gulf and I was responding to a Snoppy Alert as Photographer going from the Bridge to the Signal Bridge up the ladder when I fell from the top step loosing my footing and falling 15 feet into the hard metal skidded deck below.

    As a result, I was unconscious, I had broken two ribs, messed up my back, and had a concussion on my head, as well breaking all the bones in my nose. To this day I do not remember that fall. However the Commanding Officer Paul C Cassani was on the Bridge with the Exec. Officer Lt. Commander Michael J Carlin when I fell.

    It was reported that I had did a complete flip falling on my face and rolling over. I spent 7 weeks in Sickbay, on the ship and upon arrival back I was sent to physical therapy. I returned to active duty and was transferred to NAS Lemoore when I finished my career with the navy, having retired in July 1998
    In 1998 I applied for VA Disability for my legs, arms, ankles feet, and other disabilities I suffer from still today, including Nerve damage from the fall in 1996

    I currently have 50% disability from VA and have requested TDIU or what is referred to as 100% Disability from VA. I no longer work and since 1998 when I retired, I have still not been rated for my ankles and feet and other disabilities from the VA Administration in Oakland, CA

    Under the guidelines of VA Law says:

    “ A Veteran is entitled to a 100% disability rating if he can establish that his service-connected disability(ies) preclude him from obtaining gainful employment. In VA Law, such claims frequently go by the abbreviation “ TDIU” referring to a TOTAL DISABILITY RATING BASED ON INDIVIDUAL UNEMPLOYABILITY

    Under VA Law, A Veteran can qualify for a TDIU rating any time “ One “ or more of his Service-Connected disabilities prevents him from obtaining employment, “ REGARDLESS OF THE PERCENTAGE OF HIS DISABILITY RATING”

    I have met those guidelines and yet VA still refuses to give me my disability. I have since 1998 when I retired, filed claims, and filed appeals over and over and over as well as many other Veterans have.

    I have had many VA Pension exams, I would like to discuss two of those because it is related to the irresponsibility of VA at VA Hospital Fresno, California

    I have a medical disability called Dermatitis which I received while working in the darkroom ion the USS Prairie AD-15 in 1984 while working with darkroom chemicals, there appeared to be a pinhole in the glove and thus I contacted that.

    On a Pension exam related to rather I should received additional compensation, At VA Hospital Fresno, CA I was told to my face that I was a liar and that I did not have Dermatitis which was already clearly stated in my Medical Records. I told him that I did and again he called me a liar and thus my increase of Disability was denied.
    I then stopped taking my medication which is Dapsone and within one week I broke out with boils all over my body. On the back of my legs, on my knees, elbows, groin area, buttocks, area, and head. I went to the emergency room at VA Hospital Fresno, CA and they documented that It covered 85% of my body including my head.
    I was in great pain and yet I had to prove I was not a liar. The Emergency room staff Doctor acknowledged what I had as well as my dermatologist . On many occasions in calling Claim Representatives at VA in Oakland at 1-800-827-1000, they have acknowledged these medical records and yet refuse to rate me

    On another Pension Exam at VA Hospital in Fresno, I was yelled at to get down on my knees when I could not because of back pain. The Doctor yelled at me because I refused and when I complied as much as I could, they documented in my Medical records, falsifying intentionally that I was fine and I was not. He was a liar

    I have been working to get my Social Security Disability and after being denied, I got an Attorney called Binder and Binder to represent me. At my Court hearing, the judge commented about the Pension exam where the Doctor had yelled at me and stated I was fine.

    It was because of the falsifying of my Medical Records that resulted in denying me also Social Security Disability that I was entitled to. I worked 40 years and put into Social Security and they denied me my disability because of the lies from So called doctors at the VA Hospital Fresno, Ca and this is why I have sought to fight them back on the internet through the use of Graphics


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