“On May 1, Shinseki issued a written statement announcing that the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system and two others have been placed on administrative leave amid claims of a secret waiting list and allegations that 40-plus veterans died waiting for care.”
Yesterday I talked about putting Hollis’ photo in my garage and realized our work was not done. Later, I saw the news about Vets dying because the VA was not doing his job. Over a year ago an executive producer for CBS news called after reading the article on Hollis that KVAL reported on. She wanted to use Hollis to tell the story about the back-log, but, I suggested she talk with living Vets.
“Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:28 PM
Subject: CBS News Request/VA Backlog/Hollis Williams
I’m a producer with the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and I’m working on a piece about the VA backlogs and how in spite of these backlogs, and other issues some administrators were given bonuses. I ran across your blog/tribute to your friend Hollis and saw that you believe he might still be alive if he had not been denied medical help by the U.S. Government– the VA, SSI, or Medicare. I’d love to talk to you more about this. Could you please email me with your contact info, or give me a call. My contact info is below. Hope to talk to you soon.”
Take note that this blog in under attack by Alley Valkyrie who considers herself an advocate for the homeless, and back-up for Belle Burch, along with a half-dozen anonymous people. Should I show Alley’s threats to KVAL? How about Scott Pelley?
I knew H before he became homeless. When I saw him again after ten years I realized he had become the character in my novel ‘The Gideon Computer’ that my childhood friend, Nancy Hamren bid me to write. She suggested I write the history of the hippies. I chose to write about the Last Hippie of the future – who is homeless.
To find Hollis dead, after we found so much hope – has left me deeply wounded. When I walked into Ken Kesey Square the day I met Belle, I was trying to get over my grief, and be around homeless folks again. The Kesey family named a yogurt around the first girl I ever kissed. We were thirteen.
It is very common for an old man to right his memoirs, talk about the loves of his life. I never dreamed I would fall in love again, and this love would be a fatal one.
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – John Presco raised the flag Monday to remember his friend, Hollis Williams.
Presco hopes in the next few months he can raise enough money that Williams’ death will not have been in vain.
“He doesn’t have a home right now. He’s homeless in a morgue and I’m entering my anger stage on that,” said a downcast Presco.
It’s anger that he’s working out with a hammer. Presco mounted a new U.S. flag this Monday, raising Old Glory for the friend he lost Friday morning.
Presco said he found the 58-year-old Williams dead in his apartment Friday – an apartment Williams had moved into only 2 months ago.
According to other vets, Williams was well known in the homeless community who was often at a nearby Safeway store, collecting cans.
Now, a makeshift altar is set up in a vacant Laura Street building that Presco says was briefly used to hand out clothes to the homeless.
Presco wants the memory of his best friend to live on. His dream is for a veterans “stand-down” center that bears the name of Hollis Williams.
Presco said he wants to copy “stand-downs” held in Lane, Douglas and surrounding counties, to connect vets with mental health services, haircuts, job training and more.
“We got to let our veterans know that they haven’t fought in vain and that we care for them,” Presco said.
He said he doesn’t know where he’ll find the support or how long it will take – but to remember his longtime friend, he won’t give up easily.
“I suffered some homelessness and abandonment and stuff like that,” Presco said, “so I’m not going to abandon my friend.”
The property and house on Laura Street is being sold, so locating a center there is unlikely. Presco said that’s the kind of layout he’s looking for.
Services for Hollis Williams will be next Sunday 1:30 p.m. at Campbell Senior Center in Eugene.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered a “face-to-face audit” at all Department of Veterans Affairs clinics, a spokeswoman told CNN on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted to subpoena Shinseki in the wake of accusations that his department is responsible for deadly delays in health care at some of its hospitals.
The Shinseki subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list, first reported by CNN, of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital.
VA scheduler in Texas: I was ordered to ‘cook the books’
The House panel agreed to issue the subpoena in a verbal vote Thursday morning. Shinseki will testify May 15 before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, CNN also learned.
Veterans groups call for resignation
Attention on the secretary follows months of CNN exclusive reporting about U.S. veterans who have died while they waited for treatment at VA hospitals across the country.
CNN has submitted numerous requests for an interview with Shinseki; the secretary has refused them all.
On May 1, Shinseki issued a written statement announcing that the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system and two others have been placed on administrative leave amid claims of a secret waiting list and allegations that 40-plus veterans died waiting for care.
“We believe it is important to allow an independent, objective review to proceed,” Shinseki wrote. “These allegations, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and if the Inspector General’s investigation substantiates these claims, swift and appropriate action will be taken.”
Phoenix VA officials deny secret wait list; doctors say they’re lying
Shinseki told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that he would not resign over the allegations.
“I serve at the pleasure of the president,” Shinseki told the newspaper when asked whether he would step down. “I signed on to make some changes. I have work to do.”
The plans to conduct an audit come after Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona wrote to Shinseki, urging a nationwide audit of the scheduling system currently used at VA medical facilities. A news release from Kirkpatrick said the letter was being circulated among her House colleagues.
Read Kirkpatrick’s letter to Shinseki (PDF)
At a White House daily briefing Tuesday, press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama takes seriously the allegations that veterans died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital, Carney said. He repeated that the VA’s inspector general is conducting an independent investigation into the allegations.
Watch this video
Why won’t the VA’s Shinseki talk to CNN?
Watch this video
Deaths tied to VA hospital’s secret list
On Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed Carney’s comments, telling reporters that Obama still has “complete confidence” in Shinseki.
And House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that he is “not ready to join the chorus of people calling for (Shinseki) to step down,” calling “the problems at the VA … systemic.”
On Tuesday, Shinseki said on NPR that he was determined to find out whether the allegations are true.
“Allegations like this get my attention,” Shinseki said. “I take it seriously, and my habit is to get to the bottom of it.
“If allegations are substantiated, we’ll take swift and appropriate action.”
On Monday, the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, and another veterans group, Concerned Veterans for America, called for Shinseki’s resignation.
The national commander of the American Legion said the group’s call for Shinseki’s ouster is a very serious gesture.
“It’s not something we do lightly. But we do so today because it is our responsibility as advocate for the men and women who have worn this nation’s uniform,” said Daniel M. Dellinger.
Pete Hegseth, CEO of the Concerned Veterans of America, offered a statement: “We’re proud to stand with The American Legion as they take this courageous and historic stand. As America’s largest veterans organization, their moral authority on this issue is unimpeachable. We applaud their demands for accountability at the very top of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”