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Hawaii VA director says he won't resign

Wayne Pfeffer's response comes after U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard calls on him to be fired

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:47 p.m. HST, Jun 13, 2014


The head of Veterans Affairs in Hawaii said Friday he will not resign after U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for him to be fired, claiming he has been "dishonest" with Hawaii's congressional delegation and is incapable of handling the needs of the island's 127,600 veterans.

Wayne Pfeffer, director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, said he apologized to congressional staffers for any misunderstanding about how long veterans wait for health care.

In her Friday letter to Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson, Gabbard wrote that Pfeffer "should be fired due to his dishonesty, lack of integrity, incompetence and his flagrant lack of transparency when dealing with those to whom he is ultimately accountable to -- the American people and veterans who defend freedom when faced with certain peril."

The Hawaii Democrat referred to statements made by Pfeffer in a June 5 briefing with congressional staff members at the federal building in Honolulu. Under persistent questioning, Pfeffer told Hawaii staff members that the current wait time in Hawaii for new patients at the VA was about 30 days. At the same meeting, Gabbard said, a member of Pfeffer's staff from the VA's enrollment department confirmed that the wait time for new patients was between 30-50 days.

That was just four days before a scathing audit by the VA revealed that new patients in Honolulu actually had the worst wait times in the entire system, 145 days.

In her three-page letter to Gibson, Gabbard said that four days after the congressional briefing, Pfeffer denied ever discussing wait times during the June meeting with members of her staff and other congressional staff members. 

"This blatant display of dishonesty undermines the nature of public service, additionally, it reflects an arrogant disregard for our veterans, and being held accountable to the American people," she wrote.

"In this urgent crisis, there should be zero tolerance for lies or misrepresentation about the dire situation our veterans are facing in Hawaii," she added.

Gibson's office in Washington, D.C.  said it has received the letter from Gabbard and will provide an official response.

Gabbard, a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard who served two combat tours in Iraq, said she had "serious concerns about the handling of information on wait times in Hawaii, and the dishonest statements made to me and my office by local VA Pacific Islands Health Care System leadership."

Adding that she has "zero confidence" that Pfeffer, who was named head of the VA in Hawaii eight months ago, "understands the severity of this problem, nor is he taking urgent action to address this crisis by expediting access to non-VA care for wait-listed veterans. He has been dishonest with me and the public, and has not been forthright or transparent with information."

She called for a "thorough review of the cause for the excessive 145-day wait times."

Pfeffer told the Associated Press Friday that he knew before the audit was released that veterans sometimes waited 100 days or more for their first appointment. 

"I didn't know it would say 145 days on the report. It varies every day," Pfeffer said in an interview. "I knew it was in that range, but I wasn't sure what date the report was going to use." 

Pfeffer said he told Congressional staffers that the wait was about 50 days, but he was referring to the wait time for veterans once the VA called them back to set an appointment.

"I tried to explain what I could, maybe I wasn't clear enough, but I certainly wasn't trying to deceive her," Pfeffer said. "I knew the information was coming out on Monday, so it wouldn't have made any sense to mislead her."

Gabbard told Gibson that some of the reasons that she has "zero confidence" in Pfeffer's abilities to continue is because Pfeffer seems unaware of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's directive last month to ensure long-waiting veterans were getting immediate access to care. Shinseki, 71, was driven from office by a growing scandal over the agency's health care system. The Kauai-born retired Army general resigned May 30.

Although Pfeffer's office told Gabbard that the electronic wait list for veterans already enrolled in the VA system was reduced from 1,800 in May to 677 as of June 9, Gabbard said she has doubts whether the VA here can drop it to zero as officials have told her staff on June 9.

Gabbard said she is still waiting for a response from Pfeffer the number of newly enrolled veterans waiting for care or the longest wait time a new enrollee has experienced.

At least one member of Hawaii's four-party delegation doesn't support Gabbard's call for Pfeffer's ouster.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a statement that she believes there are procedures within the VA to review Pfeffer's performance so that appropriate disciplinary action can be taken.

Hirono also wants to wait for the outcome of an independent investigation of VA's wait times that she has requested.

"We need to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong and put forward productive solutions to fix problems at the VA that have existed for years. Our veterans are counting on us," she said.

Hirono also referred to legislation passed by the House, which she co-sponsored, which she believes "strengthens these procedures to enable the VA to deal with these personnel matters more quickly. I expect that the VA is reviewing the performance of it's managers to hold them accountable." 

On Monday, Hirono wrote a letter to Richard J. Griffin, the VA's acting inspector general, to verify a 14-day wait time that VA Pacific Islands Health Care System provided Hirono's office for more than "91 percent of established patients requesting primary, specialty and mental health care appoints."

"Additionally," Hirono wrote, "the response did not address my request for information on the time it takes for newly registered patients to be established and seen by a VA Primary Care provider."

Responding to information supplied by veterans in islands, Hawaii's other senator, Democrat Brian Schatz on June 4 also sent a letter to Griffin, asking him to look into "second-hand" information from VA doctors and nurses that staffers at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center were asked  "to wipe their computers clean regarding patient wait times."

Schatz said Hawaii VA staffers were reportedly ordered to "cook the books" regarding patients' appointments.

"I request that you investigate these allegations as part of your nationwide review of misconduct at VA hospitals," Schatz wrote to Griffin. "We owe it to the 117,000 veterans living in Hawaii, many of whom are rural veterans on the neighbor islands who are already struggling to access routine care."

In response to Schatz's letter, Pfeffer wrote Thursday in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser: "It has been continually emphasized that our employees continue to document our veteran needs in an appropriate and timely manner. I am not aware that anyone has violated those principles. It is our desire to ensure our veterans are seen commensurate with their healthcare needs. Our lengthy wait times though regrettable show we are recording wait times in our health care system. We continue to seek ways to reduce wait times locally, while providing quality health care to each veteran."

Regarding calls for Pfeffer's firing, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said the priority now should not be on pointing fingers but on addressing problems at the VA and getting veterans the services they're entitled to. Yet, she said unspecified "immediate action" would be called for if "disturbing" allegations about manipulating records are true. 

The congresswoman said in a statement she called for a report on the VA's Hawaii operations in April but hasn't yet received a response. 

Pfeffer began his VA career at the Bronx, N.Y. VA Medical Center, where he started as chief of fiscal service. He has served in various capacities at 11 medical centers. Before coming to Hawaii Pfeffer was the director of the VA Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., from July 2005 until September 2013.

The VA in Hawaii provides outpatient medical and mental health care through a clinic at Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu and through five community based outpatient clinics on the Neighbor Islands including: Hilo and Kona on the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and Guam. Traveling clinicians also provide care on Lanai and American Samoa. Its website said is services 127,600 veterans.

------

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




Gabbard's Letter to Acting Secretary Gibson




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false wrote:
Finally, at least one of our congressional delegation is taking action to bring about change in a clinic that has been operating poorly for vets. Start a the top and it will work itself down to take corrective action.
on June 13,2014 | 08:01AM
false wrote:
Oh yeah, Tulsi, please call the Matsunage VA today and see if you get a person to answer your phone call and note when and if they ever returned your phone call. Use a pseudo name please.
on June 13,2014 | 08:16AM
atilter wrote:
heard horror stories from civilian clerical staffers about favoritism in the placement/positioning of mid-management personnel who have no clue about the either responsibilities of their post or have the ability or skill sets to accomplish them - or do not care.
on June 13,2014 | 09:16AM
Winston wrote:
The way bureaucracies work. If there isn't top down cost and quality competition, other drivers, like cronyism, nepotism, UncleDanism, take over. Not that these things don't exist to a degree in big businesses, but there, at least, the profit motive forces top management to put the best people in the organization.
on June 13,2014 | 09:35AM
wiliki wrote:
Baloney.... the system worked exactly like a business organization. Administrators were given bonuses for better performance. Like any business, greedy people cheat. talk about the stock market.....
on June 13,2014 | 09:45AM
inlanikai wrote:
Except in a "business organization" people get fired when they don't perform. Just ask the 15 at GM. Have you ever worked in a "business organization"?
on June 13,2014 | 09:57AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
You use GM as an example?! Government Motors.
on June 13,2014 | 10:37AM
Rite80 wrote:
A great example why the VA should never be privatized. The for-profit Heath industry monopoly answers to no one. Complain and they drop you.
on June 13,2014 | 10:00AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Are you kidding? Private answers to everyone. Their customers are there money stream. Treat them bad, no stream. In contrast, government just taxes more.
on June 13,2014 | 10:38AM
Anonymous wrote:
Exactly. Government bureaucracies are inefficient but at least accountable at some level. As long as they are generating profit, private entities are beholden only to their CEOs- integrity, well-being of their clients, etc. got nothing to do with it- look at big pharma and insurance.
on June 13,2014 | 05:57PM
lee1957 wrote:
Whenever you give the tools to manipulate the performance metrics to the people being measured you promote nothing but dishonesty and disfunction. Not that that doesn't happen in the private sector, but the free market has a way of correcting that behaviour and the government sector does not.
on June 13,2014 | 11:18AM
pcman wrote:
YOU go, Tulsi. Go for the jugular. Lying in government starts with the top, the president. It becomes infectuous. Even Shinseki started lying when he said he knew nothing about the problems. Even you, Tulsi, lied when you said Bush went to war knowing the Iraqis had WMDs. He went to war on the Iraqi Liberation Act that President Clinton advocated and signed into law in 1999. If you say you did not know, you are lying. The law was is called the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=55205. See the act itself which states that WMD is a reason for going to war: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-105publ338/pdf/PLAW-105publ338.pdf.
on June 13,2014 | 09:37AM
twk123 wrote:
Straight Up!
on June 13,2014 | 10:52AM
twk123 wrote:
Tulsi Gabbard is doing a kick-a** job at rooting out corruption like this guy who lied to our Congressional reps - Mahalo to her for standing up for what's pono!
on June 13,2014 | 12:02PM
sayer wrote:
I agree there is too much deceit in the government. But TG clearly has spoken out against the war in Iraq and currently in Afghanistan. Let's get our troops home and out of this religious civil warfare! It's tribal warfare all over the Middle East - not going to change anytime soon.
on June 13,2014 | 11:50AM
twk123 wrote:
Tulsi Gabbard is doing a kick-a** job at rooting out corruption like this guy who lied to our Congressional reps - Mahalo to her for standing up for what's pono!
on June 13,2014 | 11:56AM
twk123 wrote:
Tulsi Gabbard is doing a kick-a** job at rooting out corruption like this guy who lied to our Congressional reps - Mahalo to her for standing up for what's pono!
on June 13,2014 | 11:57AM
Ronin006 wrote:
If Tulsi is doing such a good job of rooting out corruption like this guy who lied to our Congressional reps, why hasn't she gone after the guy who lied repeatedly to all Americans about the Affordable Care Act, that being President Obama?
on June 13,2014 | 02:53PM
HawaiiNoKaOi wrote:
Obviously Ms Gabbard is right!.........she is one of the very few congressional leaders who is honest and has integrity! Aloha!
on June 13,2014 | 10:50AM
twk123 wrote:
Mahalo!
on June 13,2014 | 10:51AM
Skyler wrote:
First, thank you for your service. Agree. Liars in the VA should be routed out & replaced with honest Veterans. There's that old saying, "If you can't lead, GTH out of the way."
on June 13,2014 | 11:42AM
Ronin006 wrote:
How about liars in the White House?
on June 13,2014 | 04:15PM
Skyler wrote:
He'll be out soon enough, regardless.
on June 13,2014 | 05:49PM
serious wrote:
Get with it. ALL of our congressional delegates have made a negative statement against the VA since this is an election year. Normally the aggression is against the man in charge, why not call for Obama's resignation??? Isn't he "The buck stops here?'' In every scandal--I hear the same thing from him--I am getting madder and madder!! So are the taxpayers!!!
on June 13,2014 | 01:00PM
pcman wrote:
IRT serious. It is not what they say now but about their silence until now. Vets have testified in Congress every year about this problem. But no action has been taken in the last 6 years because even Obama and Shinseki have been silent. We need to change all the politicians that do not represent the vets equitably. Tulsi is good but she is playing politics. Vote out all incumbents and get people in who will stand up for vets from day one to the end of their terms.
on June 13,2014 | 03:37PM
rhusic wrote:
I think she is afer the wrong person. I have no problems with thw VA Medical Dept. The delay is at the VA Claims office, where they even cancelled their phone service.
on June 14,2014 | 02:51PM
Charliegrunt wrote:
About time, Tulsi responded. Oh, yeah, election time! Resign? Why has Congress not made making a false official statement grounds for firing?
on June 13,2014 | 08:07AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Congress has not made and will not make making a false official statement grounds for firing. If they did, most members of Congress and the President would be fired.
on June 13,2014 | 08:47AM
Ewasohappy wrote:
Ain't that the truth.
on June 13,2014 | 09:47AM
serious wrote:
This is not news. If she said she would try and repeal the Jones Act--in an elections year--that would be guts!!!
on June 13,2014 | 09:43AM
Skyler wrote:
Wish you'd run for office on that platform - serious-ly.
on June 13,2014 | 05:50PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Charliegrunt, 18 Bravo here. I agree with your conclusion. Trust in the VA is broken and the only solution is to remove "all" politically appointed administrators and start over.
on June 13,2014 | 10:44AM
false wrote:
That includes Brian Schatz.
on June 13,2014 | 02:30PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Hey False, did you know that Obama's appointment of Pfeffer, that he came from Louisville, KY as the VA Director (2005 - 2013) and they have big problems there.
on June 13,2014 | 02:48PM
South76 wrote:
Because of government unions....firing these incompetent people is next to impossible.
on June 13,2014 | 12:34PM
fiveo wrote:
Don't ask this guy to resign. He is not going to do so as he has no honor. Fire his behind.
on June 13,2014 | 08:09AM
mijoeca wrote:
She is wanting to hold Pfeffer accountable - how did she become a democrat?
on June 13,2014 | 08:10AM
atilter wrote:
since when does doing a good job of representing constituents have to do with being affiliated with any party? i feel sorry for your myopic view/attitude regarding the performance of anyone's responsibilities. it's too bad that shinseki had to be the goat for these inept bureaucrats.
on June 13,2014 | 08:45AM
Winston wrote:
"Goat": Implies no personal responsibility, a hapless victim. Instead, he was responsible.

"Inept": another passive word, as in, "gosh, what a goofy mistake I made when I inadvertently described a 145 day wait as two weeks. Oh, silly me." These bureaucrats were corrupt, criminal, but not "inept".

To diminish, dilute direct responsibility and disconnect it from consequences amounts to "every kid gets a trophy" thinking.


on June 13,2014 | 09:41AM
twk123 wrote:
well said
on June 13,2014 | 10:54AM
atilter wrote:
i say goat because the evil culture existed before shinseki. inept is quite accurate in its usage here - (your illustration) and subjectively decoding and para-phrasing pfeffer! but i admit that the additional adjectives are quite appropriate also. and - i do not believe that every kid should get a trophy for just showing up! just to clarify...!
on June 13,2014 | 11:19PM
Anonymous wrote:
Watching the "Mission Accomplished" speech while still fighting.
on June 13,2014 | 10:13AM
Paulh808 wrote:
So it is boogie man Bush again. Sorry after 6 years, that boat won't sail anymore. The Dems own this mess along with everything else going wrong in this country.
on June 13,2014 | 04:12PM
cojef wrote:
You either know your facts before mouthing off untruths as this article indicate. 145 days as opposed to 30 days is huge discrepancy and something has to give. Guess who loses? Pfeffer.
on June 13,2014 | 08:11AM
KimoSabey wrote:
Bravo,I think that the congresswoman should have done her own research as I have. She followed my lead from my facebook to ask for private care now. I asked the vets about the problem not the VA. So if she was on the ball her office may have had some complaints to follow up on. Now this is headlining for the campaign.
on June 13,2014 | 08:15AM
lew4543 wrote:
Why stop with only one person ? Let's have all elected officials that are dishonest with the public resign aslo. Then we would have no elected officials at left to govern anything/anyone. No governor, mayor, president etc...
on June 13,2014 | 08:15AM
atilter wrote:
if we could eliminate the money and power incentive aspect of the political under-belly, proven talent and positive ethics would not have a problem rising to the top!!!
on June 13,2014 | 08:51AM
DVM wrote:
It is refreshing to see an elected official from our state demanding accountability instead of tolerating mediocrity. Go Tulsi!
on June 13,2014 | 08:19AM
liberalsFAIL wrote:
Representative Tulsi is following the lead of Donna Mercado Kim :) Go get em!
on June 13,2014 | 08:29AM
HOSSANA wrote:
Give me a break. She is just another politician taking advantage of a political issue to make a name for herself. She is a veteran and she should have known about this problem that existed years ago and should have taken a survey of the veterans themselves to see if they were getting the services that they are supposed to be getting but she is only now reacting to what a VA administrator told her which were lies but, as a congressional delegate,she should have investigated the problem THE RIGHT WAY instead of reacting like she is now...and don't give me this garbage that at least she is doing something now....she should have initially called for Shinseki to resign instead of saying well, he is not the problem..No, she is just a political opportunist like all these other politicos in Hawaii.
on June 13,2014 | 10:01AM
sayer wrote:
Nah she is a straight shooter - doing the right thing here. What's she supposed to do - let it ride? Get that guy out of there! No chance of the problem getting fixed otherwise.
on June 13,2014 | 10:29AM
twk123 wrote:
agreed
on June 13,2014 | 10:55AM
lee1957 wrote:
Don't you think veteran's that are her constituents bear some responsibility for making the problems known if they had issues with the wait times? That is one of the functions of our elected representatives, but don't expect them to be mind readers.
on June 13,2014 | 11:21AM
Nevadan wrote:
Naive
on June 13,2014 | 05:52PM
inverse wrote:
Schatz. did not request Pfeffer be fired, instead asking higher ups to "investigate" instead of taking a stand and demand Pfeffer be fired for lying to both Gabbard and Schatz. You want to bring up Gabbards service in the military compared to Schatz who has none? You are actually making the case for Gabbard over Schatz.
on June 13,2014 | 01:11PM
Skyler wrote:
Seriously.
on June 13,2014 | 01:35PM
nonpolitic wrote:
Hear, hear! Agreed Hossana.
on June 13,2014 | 02:17PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Hey, what's another 115 days?
on June 13,2014 | 08:24AM
Bdpapa wrote:
I still don't understand how it took so long for them to speak up? Its good that they did but obviously they don't have their finger on the pulse of anything. They need to be pro active not reactive.
on June 13,2014 | 08:26AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:15AM
Skyler wrote:
If you only read the SAd, that might be the answer to your question. As far as Rep. Gabbard goes, lots more info on her web page, fbook, other news sites, etc. Some local media have a funny way of pushing out only what they want you to see.
on June 13,2014 | 11:54AM
liberalsFAIL wrote:
Representative Tulsi is following the lead of Donna Mercado Kim :) Go get em!
on June 13,2014 | 08:36AM
Rickyboy wrote:
Following Mazie's lead. Hana and Schat what's up??
on June 13,2014 | 08:38AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has known of the VA problems for as long as she has been in Congress since 2007. So what lead did she take? From in front or from the rear? Leading from the rear is an oxymoron. In the rear, you are following.
on June 13,2014 | 10:11AM
DAGR81 wrote:
schatz requests more investigations, Gabbard demands positive action...and schatz wants us to elect him as our Senator. The one good thing that came from his appointment as Senator by Abercrombie is that it revealed his ineptness as a leader.
on June 13,2014 | 08:45AM
false wrote:
But he excels in pandering.
on June 13,2014 | 09:01AM
Winston wrote:
Also has nicely filmed campaign commercials. Meaningless, but nicely filmed.
on June 13,2014 | 09:43AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
And Asian in-laws whom he features most prominently to pander to one chunk of the local vote.
on June 13,2014 | 10:54AM
Winston wrote:
Two scoops rice.
on June 13,2014 | 11:21AM
Skyler wrote:
No forget the furikake.
on June 13,2014 | 01:40PM
inverse wrote:
Like Ginger said in an old episode of Gilligan's Island, chop suey dixie style.
on June 13,2014 | 01:17PM
false wrote:
with chopsticks.
on June 13,2014 | 02:33PM
maluao wrote:
The definition of transparent!
on June 13,2014 | 05:32PM
Bully wrote:
I agree, fire the liar.
on June 13,2014 | 08:46AM
Ronin006 wrote:
The VA health care system was established to provide care to veterans with service connected injuries and diseases, but it seems like every veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are filing claims. Why is that?
on June 13,2014 | 08:55AM
serious wrote:
The simple answer is that they can get away with it.
on June 13,2014 | 09:41AM
Dolphin743 wrote:
I don't believe you put much thought into your answer, serious. At least I'd like to think that.
on June 13,2014 | 11:45AM
lee1957 wrote:
I did a quick lookup on the VA site for eligibility and it extends to almost all who have served. However, they have eight priority categories, and the last category had another five subdivisions. I'm not sure where the line is drawn, but not all categories are actually served. The highest priorities rightly go to those with service connected disabilities. I was curious as I am retired military but do not use the VA. As I would fall into category 8e my chances of getting care are virtually non-existent, and I'm okay with that.
on June 13,2014 | 11:25AM
maluao wrote:
If the VA served ONLY service-connected disabilities, would there be any wait at all? And then could concentrated resources allow for better care once vets get to the front of the line? That seems the efficient way to do things...
on June 13,2014 | 05:34PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
That's how the VA started and what it should return to. The taxpayers should take care of only service related cases, the rest of the vets need to go see their own doctor like everyone else.
on June 13,2014 | 06:45PM
Locokane wrote:
It's because those veterans are outbriefed on VA entitlements several months before they are released from Active Duty. Furthermore, medical documentation and referrals to military board certified doctors are more common than for Korean and Vietnam vets who got the corpsman overview and occasionally referral to a volunteer doctor. That's why many vets who served in previous wars have a harder time proving their illness.
on June 13,2014 | 01:21PM
Anonymous wrote:
Honolulu VA for established vets has a lot of positives; especially compared to other places. Don't think there is a reason yet to ask for anyone's resignation.
on June 13,2014 | 08:55AM
Skyler wrote:
His resignation isn't being 'asked for' because of positives. It's for lying & trying to deny the cover-up.
on June 13,2014 | 09:23PM
LYD wrote:
Hirono, Schatz, Hanabusa = investigate = conventional = safe = insider mentality Gabbard = terminate = unconventional = risk = outsider mentality
on June 13,2014 | 09:04AM
ycyjpark wrote:
I totally agree.
on June 13,2014 | 09:56AM
WestSideTory wrote:
There was a Vet on Rich Hamada this morning who's been trying to get seen at the VA. He's rocking the boat and the VA reached out to him. He had a meeting with two Doctors and two nurses. They claim that there is more to this mess than just wait times for appointment and more is going to come out. Additionally, he said there are about five doctors planning a quiting in the next month or two, and that will leave only seven doctors at the VA to handle all the Vets. Like someone stated Tulsi or the other 3 hacks have to start talking to the Vets if they want the truth on what is happening.
on June 13,2014 | 09:19AM
berrygood wrote:
Those Doc's were scheduled to go a long time ago. Another politician jumping on a hot topic for political gain. and we all get sucked in like something real will happen. Good luck with that.
on June 13,2014 | 09:34AM
Dolphin743 wrote:
My experience is that it took about 15 months after applying for benefits at retirement to get my initial assessment appointment at the Honolulu VA. After finally getting getting a full decision two years after applying, it took another three months to get a primary care appt for one condition and then another 2-3 months to get an authorized referral to a local private provider to actually get the issue dealt with. Once I was in touch with a local private provider everything went smoothly and quickly. It's going to be hard to convince me there isn't a deeply rooted problem inside the VA care facility here in Honolulu.
on June 13,2014 | 11:54AM
Skyler wrote:
One of them did go to each island & listened to the Vets - the sole purpose of the trip, but you'll never hear of that here.
on June 13,2014 | 09:24PM
irakaniho wrote:
Your article implies that Mr. Pfeffer is the head honcho for Veterans Affairs in Hawaii. I believe he only heads the Hawaii VHA for health but not the Hawaii VBA for benefits. Who is Pfeffer's immediate boss? Fire him first for screwing up both VHA and VBA with more than 145 days wait time to resolve claims before even getting to health care.
on June 13,2014 | 09:20AM
Komatose wrote:
When everyone thinks the same no one is thinking. Sounds like another rats nest of bureaucrats. Consolidate all military care veterans&active in one plan. Civilian life to boot camp, to military service, to debrief (Reverse boot camp training), to civilian life. When caught lying court-martial/firing. Tell the truth/uphold the Constitution. Simple directions yet there seems to be way too many off track because of greed/fear/incompetence. Tulsi did it. Why are so many damaged vets unemployed/homeless.Civilian Corps(reverse boot camp training) would at least get them an opportunity to segue into family/social/employment mode temperaments and skills. Or as I call it the law of : "You broke it, your responsible to fix it"
on June 13,2014 | 09:34AM
ready2go wrote:
Go get 'em girl!
on June 13,2014 | 09:37AM
BO0o07 wrote:
I'm not a new patient but I've been a VA patient for almost 30 years with service connected disabilities. My medical review/evaluation use to be every 12 months, then slipped to 15/16 months and was told earlier this year that the wait times are now 18 months. When the waiting times slipped from 12 to 15/16 months, supposedly the reason was because many Hawaii deployed veterans were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. We have pulled out of Iraq and have less troops in Afghanistan, yet there is still a waiting time for new VA patients up to 145 days. There should be signs of improvement after 8 months of Pfeffer's leadership. At the very least, Pfeffer should have told the truth about the wait times.
on June 13,2014 | 09:45AM
Skyler wrote:
No excuse to lie outright. Better to be truthful and have it hurt than to make like it's A-OK and get caught out.
on June 13,2014 | 01:43PM
Komatose wrote:
Before the spelling nazis jump in: "You broke it, your responsible to fix it" you're is the correct use. BTW If I ever get caught like these traitor/lying/incompetent government workers/"public servants" Ha ha ha! I should be fired on the spot collect all my pension benefits, and be sentenced to Bellows Beach Cabins for 15years to life. And not allowed to leave the front gate. Congressmen will be turning themselves in when that comes down. ;-)
on June 13,2014 | 09:47AM
Skyler wrote:
No spelling nazis here - you're safe.
on June 13,2014 | 09:26PM
Slow wrote:
Is it any wonder why Tulsi has become the most popular political figure in Hawaii? She takes action.
on June 13,2014 | 09:51AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Shhhh...you going wake Mazie.
on June 13,2014 | 10:56AM
Skyler wrote:
lol
on June 13,2014 | 01:43PM
Bdpapa wrote:
She is doing something at least, but she seems to be one dimensional towardsthe military.
on June 13,2014 | 11:38AM
localguy wrote:
While I can respect Tulsi's military experience, she is already acting like a seasoned beltway bureaucrat. Senators and congressional reps are quick to call for someone's resignation, try for photo ops during "investigative hearings" anything to make them look good. That said, when it comes to holding our do nothing senate and congress accountable, none of them want to talk about it. How many times have these two clueless groups willfully shut down the US government at a cost of billions? Congress is directly responsible for the New England Medical Compounding fiasco which killed innocent people, ruined the health of others. They are currently the most do nothing senate and congress, least work done in decades, both have approval and work ethic ratings in the gutter. Yet not one member will accept responsibility for their willful failure, spinning their incompetence a thousand ways. No one will say they are accountable and resign. True hypocrisy. Tulsi needs to understand this and back off on her rants. Unless she will consider resigning for her groups willful failures.
on June 13,2014 | 09:52AM
sayer wrote:
She should resign because Congress is a failure? That's why she's there - to help make it a success. She's taking firm, proactive action which is exactly what we elected her to do.
on June 13,2014 | 10:32AM
localguy wrote:
Every elected bureaucrat says the same thing. I am not part of the problem. I am there to make it better. So who is to blame? They become part of the problem by working the party line versus what is good for the country. They can't work together, can't get the job done.
on June 13,2014 | 11:28AM
Wpsinc wrote:
It seems that the American People are a lot safer when the Government IS shut down!!
on June 13,2014 | 01:49PM
localguy wrote:
Lot less money wasted paying lazy, clueless, do nothing bureaucrats in the congress and senate. Only in it for #1.
on June 13,2014 | 06:02PM
HOSSANA wrote:
Our congressional leaders are too little and too late...they should have sampled the veterans themselves years ago to ascertain how the VA was operating and STOP making the VA a political issue for themselves now that it has become a political issue in Hawaii. None, incl. Gabbard, has shown me any profile in courage as they are always reacting instead of taking a proactive approach to the problem.
on June 13,2014 | 09:57AM
Holomua wrote:
Hanabusa is late.
on June 13,2014 | 10:01AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Holomua. HanabUSA has no clue. Vote her out. She is always out in right field playing politics while the ballgame is going on.
on June 13,2014 | 03:41PM
CloudForest wrote:
VA = OBAMACARE everyone just needs to bend over and get used to it.
on June 13,2014 | 10:06AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:14AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:14AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:15AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:15AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:15AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:16AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ricky. Mazie's lead? She has been in Congress since 2007. Where was she over the past 6 years? Napping? Was she leading from behind? Leading from behind as defined by Obama is not leading. That's following. Don't you think? Leading from behind is an oxymoron.
on June 13,2014 | 10:16AM
ryan02 wrote:
I agree with the other posters -- Gabbard was elected based on her campaign's emphasis on veterans' issues. Yet, she was just as clueless about the VA's problems as all the others. So all this time she's been all talk and no action. "Fire him!" is more tough talk to cover up her own ignorance and apathy (apathy until the story became headlines, that is). She's as useless as all of Hawaii's other politicians.
on June 13,2014 | 10:25AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
She is very skilled in social media and in getting press coverage.
on June 13,2014 | 10:56AM
twk123 wrote:
Mahalo Tulsi for leading the pack with out loud clarity & honesty! Since Vietnam when my Col. Dad went MIA (we were immediately told to move out of Marine base housing) this is a total shame on USA for Not Caring for those who put their Lives out there for ALL of US! Big Shame on Pfeffer and his "stock answer" email yesterday to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Clean It Up Please!!
on June 13,2014 | 10:50AM
DemBones wrote:
When are you going to call-out your father.
on June 13,2014 | 11:00AM
saveparadise wrote:
Tulsi is a hottie when she's angry.
on June 13,2014 | 11:03AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Pfeffer and everybody else at VA Hawaii must be fired for deliberately lying and cheating. No excuses, just fire them!
on June 13,2014 | 11:24AM
nitpikker wrote:
maybe ALL va directors should be axed.
on June 13,2014 | 11:52AM
localguy wrote:
We should start at the top and ax all those in congress and the senate. Both organizations have the worst approval and work completion record in decades. Cleaning house would be a great start.
on June 13,2014 | 06:04PM
Skyler wrote:
Who is this 'we'? WE all only have one vote each, so unless you can come up with a better rallying cry than 'everyone in office sucks,' you'd best get yourself out there & start sign-waving.
on June 13,2014 | 09:35PM
entrkn wrote:
I am a Veteran and I completely agree with Rep Gabbard and thank her for taking this initiative.
on June 13,2014 | 12:04PM
retire wrote:
VA hospitals have been a disaster from one administration to another, doesn't matter who's in office it just doesn't work. Privatize it and get some financial effiency in place so veterans can get the service they deserve.
on June 13,2014 | 12:39PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Just close em all down and let them be absorbed into the private system. Here we have an experiment gone wrong on a national scale of a predictor of ObamaSore (yes not ObamaCare) going in the wrong direction and still King Barry wants it HIS way !!!!! The resign request needed to go to the office of The President of the United States of America.
on June 13,2014 | 01:08PM
pcman wrote:
IRT retire. I agree. I am a 20-year vet and have chosen to use my own health care, TRICARE, now MEDICARE. For those who have their own insurance or are on MEDICARE, I would suggest you just drop out so those who need the VA care can get it. As Hillary said, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
on June 13,2014 | 03:55PM
maluao wrote:
You got it...if only!
on June 13,2014 | 05:39PM
localguy wrote:
Privatize? Really? How quickly you forget all the for profit hospitals who willfully try and rip of the government through inflated medicare billing. Government had to reprimand these clueless hospitals, telling them anyone who has had hospital work, been released, then has complications at home, then returns to the hospital, will not have corrective medial work covered by the government. Suddenly hospitals started doing their job. Wow.
on June 13,2014 | 06:07PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
That's where MediCare needs to be made private. All stuff that cannot be handled by Government needs to be made private. Government is good for only one thing: FILIBUSTERS !!!!
on June 13,2014 | 08:53PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Resign and be fine, or u will be fined !!!
on June 13,2014 | 01:01PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Facts matter little when there is a photo opportunity and the chance for serious media face time.
on June 13,2014 | 01:02PM
Skyler wrote:
Disingenuous comments matter little, period.
on June 13,2014 | 06:02PM
sailfish1 wrote:
We don't want Pfeffer to resign, we want him to be FIRED with no pension and a huge black mark on his resume so that he cannot get another job.
on June 13,2014 | 01:11PM
Locokane wrote:
I am glad that U.S.Representative Gabbard is using the management principle of, "Believe, but Verify" on what Pfeffer told her on the wait times. If the I.G. investigates the Matsunaga VA on the total wait time from the initial date of a vet 's service connected claim to when the vet gets approved to an initial VA PCP appointment if the vet ever gets there, it will surely disappoint and surprise our congressional delegation. Preffer should resign like Shinseki to stop the further embarrassment he will face unless he wants to keeps his employees under his thumb so they won't blab on him.
on June 13,2014 | 01:11PM
iwanaknow wrote:
How much was Pfeffer making per year and how much was his boss making per year?
on June 13,2014 | 01:28PM
Skyler wrote:
Exactly. Pfeffer has lost face by playing the "CYA" game.
on June 13,2014 | 01:52PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Pfeffer should be FIRED, maybe even arrested for criminal negligence.
on June 13,2014 | 01:21PM
Wpsinc wrote:
If you think the VA system is bad - Just wait until ObamaCare kicks in fully in 2017!
on June 13,2014 | 01:46PM
Bully wrote:
I may have misled you but I did not lie. Spoken like a true politician.
on June 13,2014 | 01:52PM
nonpolitic wrote:
I find it ironic that Ms. Gabbard, a veteran herself and self-proclaimed champion of veterans, did not know of this situation beforehand. I mean she must know other veterans or at least talk to veterans. It also seems unreasonable to believe that none of her veteran constituents have complained about this issue in the past, being that everyone seems to be coming out of the woodwork to "pile on" to this growing fiasco by adding their own personal health care horror stories to the mix. This instant righteous indignation being exhibited by Ms. Gabbard and Mr. Schatz seem to be carefully constructed by their media teams to maximize their PR impact. I say enough spouting already and just fix the problem. Escalating threats and one-upsmanship among congressional delegates won't help our veterans . . . shutting up with the press releases, buckling down and finding real solutions will.
on June 13,2014 | 02:15PM
Barefootie wrote:
that's probably because she has private health insurance and not applying or using any VA benefits!
on June 13,2014 | 02:42PM
entrkn wrote:
No one is calling for his resignation. Everyone is calling for him to be FIRED, with extreme prejudice...!
on June 13,2014 | 02:18PM
Rickyboy wrote:
Has the only veteran fo the congretional delegation has had the opportunity to utilize the VA service in Hawaii? Always mentioning the fact of being a veteran yet clueless as to the problems until now! Go with the flow..?
on June 13,2014 | 02:30PM
Barefootie wrote:
This article just continues to shine a light on how out of touch, Senator Hirono really is in Washington! I would recommend that the VA replace all of their regional directors with new people; start at the top of the food chain, start cutting as you work your way down the totem pole of problems that has continued to plague the VA system for more than 4 decades and counting!
on June 13,2014 | 02:34PM
localguy wrote:
Need to do the same with our senate and congress. Leaders just can't get the job done, both groups have approval and job satisfaction ratings in the gutter. No one has a clue what to do to take care of the American people.
on June 13,2014 | 06:08PM
Rickyboy wrote:
Comment was sent for approval..
on June 13,2014 | 02:36PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
u too? Oh well I thought the comment approve person was in love with me. I'm steamed that they been two timing me !!!!!
on June 13,2014 | 09:03PM
ninilchikman wrote:
Resign? From a govt job that is almost impossible to be fired from thanks to the Democrats? This is just for show. He knows she has no power. Keep the democrats in power and this is what you get from a public servant. Maybe he will go on paid sick leave for this "stress"!
on June 13,2014 | 02:41PM
hikine wrote:
The culprit is the person who thought up of delaying care for the veterans. Sometimes managers lie to their superiors that everything is going well until the bubble bursts! I have a feeling he was kept in the dark about the whole matter.
on June 13,2014 | 03:23PM
Skyler wrote:
That was publicly said to be the same with Shinseki and it didn't fly, obviously.
on June 13,2014 | 06:04PM
Mythman wrote:
Said it before and I say it again, U of H medical school took over the mental health department and used it as a branch of its graduate school where young women who graduated with degrees in child psychiatry worked as shrinks for combat hardened vets. Mismatch. Whose interests were put first in this instance. Very easy to objectify with a little research Captain Gabbard.
on June 13,2014 | 03:23PM
Maipono wrote:
Here is an example that Obama and the Dems have used how good "single payer" healthcare would work. Many argued that Obamadon'tcare would be someday evolve into or should have been a "single payer" system. This is why your vote counts, and let's vote out all the incumbents in the House and Senate, and don't replace them with Obama Kool Aid Drinkers like Schatz, Hirono, Hanabusa and Gabbard.
on June 13,2014 | 03:30PM
oahujeff wrote:
Well, I think it's ridiculous, the witch hunt mentality. Do you guys even know what "wait time" means in the VA? If a patient schedules an appointment and then no-shows, and then no-shows again and then reschedules, his/her wait time is now listed as over 90 days. Yes, it's true! I could bitch for days about the outrageous inefficiency of the VA and other govt bureaucracies and I don't know this director personally. So don't get me wrong. But I know a "herd mentality" when I see it. And you guys need to put your freaking torches down and stop empowering our politicians as they demonize people for making inaccurate statements. Especially when they have no real personal stake in the matter. Like the guy said, it would be crazy for him to intentionally mislead someone right before the report came out. Personally, I think the people demanding resignations are making fools of themselves. They should be looking at SYSTEMS (like giant bureaucracies) and how impossible they are, instead of targeting individuals. I think it should all be privatized.
on June 13,2014 | 03:36PM
nitpikker wrote:
pfeffer trying to cover his behind.
on June 13,2014 | 03:54PM
roadsterred wrote:
Why should he resign when he knows that he can't be fired? He's protected by civil service and it'll take years before he can be fired? How ironic, Eric Shinseki was in charge of the department, but he had no authority to fire anyone because they were protected by civil service. Does anyone see something wrong with this picture? Federal, State, and County employees are civil service employees and are a protected class.
on June 13,2014 | 03:57PM
Skyler wrote:
Shinseki couldn't be fired either & guess what? He's gone gone gone.
on June 13,2014 | 05:13PM
Nevadan wrote:
Shinseki served at the pleasure of Obama. The pressure on Obama became too unbearable.
on June 13,2014 | 06:03PM
Skyler wrote:
Pferffer is supposed to be serving the Veterans of Hawaii but he lied & tried to cover it up by denying he gave out rosy numbers. Hopefully the pressure on him will also become unbearable.
on June 13,2014 | 09:39PM
Skyler wrote:
The VA needs a dam good shaking-up, and Pfeffer is part of the problem, unfortunately. Nothing honorable in lying to cover for your lack of action, so I agree with Rep. Gabbard & those who support firing his lying self. Our Veterans deserve better than this, Mr. Pfeffer.
on June 13,2014 | 05:20PM
localguy wrote:
While at it, our congress and senate need a good shaking up. Too many dysfunctional bureaucrats ripping off tax payers. Both groups have the worst approval and job completion record in decades. People need to resign for their incompetence.
on June 13,2014 | 06:10PM
localguy wrote:
Tulsi was just trying to grab some headlines for her failing political career, not understanding VA employees are not hired and fired by Congress. Would think she would have learned this by now. Might want to let those in charge at the VA do their jobs. Tulsi needs to get back to work on her job as congress. Her congress, has the worst approval and work completion record in decades, in the gutter.
on June 13,2014 | 06:00PM
localguy wrote:
Gabbard was just trying to grab some headlines for her failing political career, not understanding VA employees are not hired and fired by Congress. Would think she would have learned this by now. Might want to let those in charge at the VA do their jobs. Gabbard needs to get back to work on her job as congress. Her congress, has the worst approval and work completion record in decades, in the gutter.
on June 13,2014 | 06:00PM
2_centz wrote:
I side with Wayne, and I think Tulsi is the one who should resign. Tulsi sounds like a "bitch", and she acts like she will be a bigger bitch if she remains in Washington DC.
on June 13,2014 | 06:23PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
With Obamacare now in force, everyone including Vets should have health insurance either thru their employer, the health exchange or Medicare/ medicaid. Why would anyone wait 145 days to see a doctor for anything, even if it's free?
on June 13,2014 | 06:52PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Fire him!
on June 13,2014 | 07:03PM
RandolphW wrote:
Tulsi is right on target on this one. This lying administrator should be fired for lying.
on June 13,2014 | 07:13PM
jkjones wrote:
Here is what happens at the Spark. The better personnel are rewarded by being placed in the back of the office and the interns are placed where there is more traffic. The result is poor service to the vet at the counter. Experienced personnel should be placed where the rubber meets the road. Not in Hawaii.
on June 13,2014 | 07:27PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Popular topic with 139 comments already
on June 13,2014 | 08:39PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Comment has been sent for WHAT !!!!!!!
on June 13,2014 | 08:40PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Approval stoopaid !!!!!
on June 13,2014 | 08:54PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Nepotism, nepotism, nepotism, nepotism. When the finally attempts to halt the gravy train, it's conductor gets naturally upset.
on June 13,2014 | 09:05PM
Warrior32 wrote:
He needs to resign, just his hair cut alone makes him an embarrassment to Hawaii
on June 13,2014 | 10:55PM
atilter wrote:
in other cultures, the head man would make the honorable and ethical choice to bite the bullet! i guess the wagons in washington will be circled for pfeffer. we'll see, won't we?
on June 13,2014 | 11:09PM
CAROLKEYWEST wrote:
The VA service is horrindous everywhere -that's nothing new. It's an election year so thank God it's going to be better. What about Gabbord- is she going to resign her lucrative weekend warrior job so she can focus on her primary job- her constituents?
on June 13,2014 | 11:43PM
Skyler wrote:
?? Got nothing to do with being an election year. Perhaps you think it's fine to continue the status quo on the VA. Most think otherwise.
on June 14,2014 | 10:55AM
64hoo wrote:
this whole VA problem is Obama's fault after Obamacare became law people had to start signing up including vets which takes awhile to process to get there help so blame Obama and his cronies in the senate and house for making obamacare a law behind close doors voting. everyone and vets suffer for this whole fiasco.
on June 14,2014 | 12:14AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
I wish we would stop honoring President Obama by calling it ObamaCare. Let's call it ObamaAinokea.
on June 14,2014 | 01:39AM
false wrote:
Yea, & like YOU'RE So mistake-free & perfect Rep. Gabbard. Lily-white pure, you're not. Nasty public mud-slinging finger-pointing by you, Senator Schatz, & other critical pols (for self-image to garner more votes in an election year?) BEFORE a proper investigation has even begun; is very distasteful. Geez, be part of the SOLUTION; offer ideas on how the VA can be improved. Take the high road; the harder path (it's harder because you have to actually THINK & take real action); do the mature thing. Rabble-rousing, criticizing, complaining & finger-pointing is the coward's way; and solves nothing. But it's real easy to do, isn't it?; and maybe at least to some people; it makes pols like yourself LOOK like a "champion for justice." I applaud Director Wayne Pfeffer's gracious apology, mature calm under fire, & responsible courage in remaining in office to help rectify the VA's many problems; problems which had begun & multiplied DECADES BEFORE his tenure. He's having to clean up OTHER inept directors', managers' & workers' compounded messes and to clear up any unintentional misunderstandings. The Veterans Administration is a behemoth of an organization and it's unfair, unreasonable & just plain mean to expect an overnight fix from ANY VA director and to punish & blame ONLY the director for any deceit or ineptness in the thousands working below him. Investigate and then take disciplinary action against those people who actually WERE the ones who falsified documents. As Rep. Hanabusa has wisely said - the focus SHOULD be on FINDING SOLUTIONS to problems at the VA & GETTING our VETERANS (who fought for our freedoms) the SERVICES that THEY ARE ENTITLED TO! As fun as this publicity-blame-game is; it just causes even more unnecessary delays for our veterans and hurts them further. It's now time for solutions; time to move forward!
on June 16,2014 | 10:41AM
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