Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Wednesday, October 31, 2018 which is Girl Scout Founder’s Day, Carve a Pumpkin Day, National Caramel Apple Day and (of course) Halloween.
This Day in History:
- On this day in 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.
- Citing failing health, General Winfield Scott, commander of the Union forces, retires from service on this day in 1861. The hero of the Mexican War recognized early in the Civil War that his health and advancing years were a liability in the daunting task of directing the Federal war effort. Scott was born in Virginia in 1786. He graduated from William and Mary College and joined the military in 1808; he had become the youngest general in the army by the end of the War of 1812. Scott was an important figure in the development of the U.S. Army after that war, having designed a system of regulations and tactical manuals that defined the institution for most of the 19th century. Although Scott’s tactics, many of which were borrowed from the French, were of little use in the irregular warfare the army waged against the Seminoles and Creek in the southeast, his methods worked brilliantly during the war with Mexico in 1846 and 1847. His campaign against Mexico City, in particular, is remembered for the strength of its planning and execution.
- On this day in 1864, anxious to have support of the Republican-dominated Nevada Territory for President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection, the U.S. Congress quickly admits Nevada as the 36th state in the Union.
- On this day, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle, is published. The book was the first collection of Holmes stories, which Conan Doyle had been publishing in magazines since 1887. Conan Doyle was born in Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he met Dr. Joseph Bell, a teacher with extraordinary deductive power. Bell partly inspired Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes years later.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Military Times: VA to fast-track benefits appeals for hurricane victims
- Defense One: Mattis Sets 30-Day Deadline for Yemen Ceasefire
- AP: 5 freed from Gitmo in exchange for Bergdahl join Taliban’s political office in Qatar
- Foreign Policy: Both Sides Are Overselling Trump’s Troop Deployment to the Border
- Army Times: Reactivated unit gives 82nd Airborne an armored component that packs a Marine Corps-style punch
- Delaware Online: Death of a veteran found in his car at Wilmington’s VA leads to changes
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Military Times: VA to fast-track benefits appeals for hurricane victims
By: Leo Shane III 20 hours ago
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WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials will accelerate appeals claim processing for individuals affected by the recent hurricanes that lashed the southeastern United States, calling it another way to help those veterans in need.
The move will affect any veterans in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia who live in counties declared disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. VA officials did not say how many of the more than 300,000 pending appeals currently in the system will be included in the new push.
In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said speeding up the claims process “for those veterans and their families affected by hurricanes Florence and Michael is the right thing to do.”
At least 53 people were killed as Hurricane Florence hit the eastern seaboard in early September. A month later, Hurricane Michael made landfall and resulted in at least 50 deaths across several states.
VA health and benefits services in those areas were temporarily disrupted by the powerful storms, but officials have largely returned to normal operations in the weeks since. At the height of the hurricanes, some infirm veterans were evacuated to facilities in different states while VA contracted with local doctors and pharmacies to handle other critical needs.
Veterans eligible for the faster appeals processing will not have to take any action to accelerate their claims. Board of Veterans’ Appeals officials said they will move ahead any cases with addresses in the affected region, and continue to fast-track those claims for the next six months.
The backlog of appeals claims has been a recurring complaint from lawmakers and veterans advocates in recent years. Cases typically take several years to wind through the system, with some topping five years or more.
After congressional intervention, VA officials introduced a new Rapid Appeals Modernization Program with wait times under three months for case completion. But many veterans have been slow to embrace that option, leaving their cases to wind through the traditional process.
A list of counties affected by the new announcement is available at the Board of Veterans Appeals’ web site.
Defense One: Mattis Sets 30-Day Deadline for Yemen Ceasefire
October 30, 2018
“We’ve admired this problem for long enough down there,” the defense secretary said.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called for a ceasefire in Yemen within 30 days, seeking to end the U.S.-backed and Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi rebels supported by Iran and negotiate a peace.
The coalition is seeking to reinstate the globally-recognized Yemeni government in the capital of Sanaa, currently held by the Iran-backed Houthis. The U.S. provides intelligence, targeting support, and training, as well as mid-air refueling for Saudi air forces. But the Trump administration’s support for Saudi Arabia and the war has drawn increasing scrutiny in recent months as the civilian death toll has mounted; in particular, an errant airstrike using a U.S.-made 500-lb. bomb that killed 40 school children this summer sparked outrage from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Turkey, believed widely to be the work of Saudi Arabia, has further inflamed criticism of U.S. support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The longer term solution—and by longer term, I mean 30 days from now—we want to see everybody around a peace table based on a ceasefire, based on a pullback from the border, and then based on the ceasing of dropping bombs that will then allow [Special Envoy Martin Griffiths] to get them together in Sweden and end this war,” Mattis said during remarks at the United States Institute of Peace, in Washington on Tuesday.
Mattis insisted that “I would separate out” the Khashoggi murder from the situation in Yemen, defending U.S. training of Saudi forces and describing them as productive efforts to help reduce civilian casualties. He also downplayed airborne refuelling support, noting that the U.S. refuels “less than 20 percent” of Saudi coalition aircraft. (The news site Military.com reported in September that as of Aug. 31, Air Force tankers had carried out around 3,000 sorties providing
“Our goal right now is to achieve a level of capability by those forces fighting against the Houthis that they are not killing innocent people,” Mattis said.
But a ceasefire as part of peace negotiations is “the only way we’re going to really solve this. Improved accuracy of bombs is still a war,” he said.
The top commander of U.S. troops in the region, Gen. Joseph Votel of U.S. Central Command, in an exclusive interview with Defense One on Monday, defended U.S. support for the Saudi-led fight against the Houthis. Votel said he understood Congress’ criticism but argued that the U.S. was helping to improve Saudi performance. “I think it is better if we are engaged in this than if we step away from this. And, I think, my personal view is we have a better chance of trying to influence them in the conduct of this by staying engaged than we do by walking away.”
Mattis expressed hopefulness that the Saudi coalition — which also includes United Arab Emirates forces —“are ready.”
The Houthis — and their patrons in Tehran — remain a key question mark in any peace process. The UN attempted to hold peace talks in Geneva fin September but the Houthi delegation failed to appear. “If the Houthis had not walked out of the last effort, we would probably be on our way [to peace] right now,” Mattis said.
“We can’t say we’re going to do it sometime in the future. We need to be doing this in the next 30 days,” Mattis said. “We’ve admired this problem for long enough down there.”
AP: 5 freed from Gitmo in exchange for Bergdahl join Taliban’s political office in Qatar
By: Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press 17 hours ago
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KABUL, Afghanistan — Five members of the Afghan Taliban who were freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for captured American Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have joined the insurgent group’s political office in Qatar, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday.
They will now be among Taliban representativesnegotiating for peace in Afghanistan, a sign some negotiators in Kabul say indicates the Taliban’s desire for a peace pact.
Others fear the five, all of whom were close to the insurgent group’s founder and hard-line leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, bring with them the same ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam that characterized the group’s five-year rule that ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion.
"The Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership," said Haroun Mir, political analyst in the Afghan capital. "What we are more worried about is if tomorrow the Taliban say ‘we are ready to negotiate,’ who will represent Kabul? That is the big challenge because the government is so divided, not just ideologically but on ethnic lines."
Efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s protracted war have accelerated since Washington appointed Afghan-American Zalmay Khalilzad as envoy to find a peaceful end to America’s longest war, which has already cost the U.S. more than $900 billion.
But Mohammed Ismail Qasimyar, a member of a government peace council, warned Washington against negotiating peace terms with the Taliban, saying Khalilzad’s only job is to set the stage for direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, something the insurgents have so far refused, calling the government a U.S. puppet.
Taliban officials reported meeting with Khalilzad in Qatar earlier this month, calling the exchange preliminary but pivotal. Washington neither confirmed nor denied the meeting, but Khalilzad was in Qatar at the time.
A Taliban official familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press that talks ended with an agreement to meet again. Key among the Taliban’s requests was recognition of their Qatar office, said the official, who spoke on condition he not be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
In an unexpected development, Pakistan also bowed to a long-standing Afghan Taliban demand that it release its senior leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who had been in jail in Pakistan since 2010. At the time, Baradar was reportedly jailed after bypassing Pakistan to open independent peace talks with Hamid Karzai, who was then Afghanistan’s president.
Baradar’s release followed Khalilzad’s first visit to Pakistan since being appointed Washington’s peace envoy.
Baradar issued an audio message after his release to the Taliban. The Pashto-language message, heard by an Associated Press reporter, seemed to indicate he was preparing for a role in the insurgent movement moving forward.
Hakim Mujahed, a former Taliban member who is now also a member of the Afghan government peace council, said the presence of the five former Guantanamo prisoners in the Taliban’s Qatar office is indicative of the Taliban’s resolve to find a peace deal. He said the stature of the five within the insurgent movement will make a peace deal palatable to the rank and file, many of whom have resisted talks believing a military victory was within their grasp.
"These people are respected among all the Taliban," said Mujahed. "Their word carries weight with the Taliban leadership and the mujahedeen."
But there are some among the five who have a disturbing past.
Human Rights Watch accused Mohammed Fazl, the former Taliban army chief arrested in 2002, of overseeing the deaths of thousands of minority Shiites in 2000. The massacre outraged the world and followed the killing the year before of an estimated 2,000 young ethnic Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan by Taliban rivals.
Another of the five is Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former governor of Herat province, who was close to both Taliban founder Mullah Omar and al- Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Khairkhwa also had a friendship with former president Hamid Karzai.
The others include Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy intelligence minister, Mullah Norullah Nori, once described as the most significant Taliban leader held at Guantanamo Bay because of his particularly close relationship with Mullah Omar, who fought U.S.-led coalition forces in northern Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif and Mohammad Nabi Omari, a Taliban communications officer.
All five are from southern Afghanistan, the Taliban’s heartland.
The five Taliban were released in 2014 in exchange for Bergdahl during the administration of President Barack Obama after drawn out negotiations.
Bergdahl, who had been held in Taliban custody since 2009 when he wandered off a U.S. army base, was given a dishonorable discharge last year and fined $1,000 on charges of desertion and misbehavior.
Foreign Policy: Both Sides Are Overselling Trump’s Troop Deployment to the Border
The active-duty troops will mostly be putting up razor wire and moving border police.
By Lara Seligman
| October 30, 2018, 2:36 PM
President Donald Trump is deploying an additional 5,200 active-duty troops to the southern border of the United States in what he has tried to portray as an unprecedented effort to stem an “invasion” by a caravan of Central American migrants.
The deployment, dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot, is aimed at hardening security at the Mexican border and will bring the number of U.S. troops there to over 7,000—more than triple the number of U.S. forces in Syria as of last December.
That sounds like a massive number, and critics are already out slamming what they see as the militarization of the border just days before the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6. On the other side of the aisle, proponents of the move are touting “unprecedented” support for border security from the Defense Department.
But the actual facts of the deployment do not live up to the hype from either side. The move—coming right before crucial midterms while the caravan is more than a month away from reaching the U.S. border on foot—is arguably a political ploy. But it is far from unprecedented: Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama deployed similar numbers of troops to the border during their times in office, though not during elections.
More important, once they arrive, the troops’ mission will be relatively benign. Since they are legally prohibited from performing domestic law enforcement, the troops will spend their time putting up razor wire and offering logistical support to border patrol agents, rather than making arrests themselves.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) already has 1,000 officers charged with securing the border, Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during an Oct. 29 press conference. Their activities involve making arrests and conducting searches, seizures, and other law enforcement tasks.
Due to the large size of the caravan that may arrive at the border—the latest estimates peg it at 3,500 people—the Department of Homeland Security requested additional assistance from the Pentagon, McAleenan said.
“We’ve got to be prepared for the potential arrival of a very large group. And because of the size, we want to be able to handle it effectively and safely,” McAleenan said.
The 5,200 active-duty troops, in addition to the roughly 2,000 National Guard personnel already deployed to the borders, are prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act from performing law enforcement operations inside the United States; that responsibility at the border falls to CBP. Troops cannot enforce federal or state laws, and they cannot detain noncombatants at the border, said Joseph Kirschbaum, a director at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) who handles homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.
Many of the illegal drugs flowing into the United States come by air or sea.
Instead, the active-duty and Guard troops will mostly be placed in support roles, such as transporting CBP personnel and equipment and providing medical and logistical support and planning, Kirschbaum said.
The troops Trump is sending to the border are not primarily trigger-pullers. Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, said the 5,200 troops include units from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, some of whom are currently involved in building the border wall; three combat engineering battalions with experience in building temporary vehicle barriers and fencing; military planning teams; three medium-lift helicopter companies equipped with night vision goggles; military police; strategic airlift such as C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft; and medical units.
Eight hundred soldiers are already on their way to the border from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox in Kentucky, O’Shaughnessy said, with the rest set to arrive by the end of the week.
This is not the first time a president has sent troops to the border. Under Operation Jump Start, Bush began deploying National Guard personnel in June 2006. About 6,000 were sent to the border states in the first year; this number was reduced to 3,000 the second year of the operation. The Guard members were tasked with aviation, engineering, and entry identification, according to a report from the GAO. The operation lasted until July 2008.
Then, from July 2010 to September 2011, Obama sent roughly 1,200 Guard members to the border under Operation Phalanx. The defense secretary at the time limited the Guard mission to entry identification, criminal analysis, and command and control.
The scope and scale of Trump’s deployment are similar, said James Jay Carafano, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation.
“It’s hard to make much out of it because it’s very proportional to the kinds of things we’ve done in the past,” Carafano said. “This is no different or any more remarkable than what we’ve had before from one Republican president and one Democrat.”
The biggest difference is that Bush and Obama deployed National Guard troops while Trump is sending active-duty military. Trump himself has sought to underscore that difference.
“They’re not me,” Trump said during an Oct. 29 interview with Fox News. “I’m sending up the military. This is the military.”
But again, the legal authorities for domestic use of both kinds of troops are similar. Guard personnel can operate under two kinds of legal authority: Title 32 or Title 10 status. Active-duty troops operate under Title 10. That status means that active-duty forces are prohibited under Posse Comitatus from direct participation in domestic law enforcement unless specifically authorized by Congress, the president, or the defense secretary. Guard forces serving under Title 32 may in some cases participate in law enforcement—during national disasters, for example—but during previous border deployments the Pentagon has limited those activities, Kirschbaum said.
How much will it cost?
The Defense Department comptroller is reportedly working on a cost estimate for Operation Faithful Patriot, but the final tally will depend on how long the additional troops are deployed to the border.
For context, the GAO pegged the combined cost of both Operations Jump Start and Phalanx at $1.35 billion. Using active-duty rather than Guard or Army Reserve troops actually keeps costs down, according to Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
If the Guard or Reserve is used, “a big part of the cost is the additional pay required for calling up troops,” Harrison said. By contrast, if active-duty troops are used, “you don’t have to include pay because they are already on active duty.”
Still, some critics have argued that the move is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Kelly Magsamen, the vice president for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, called the deployment a “craven political stunt that sets a bad precedent and is arguably an abuse of power.”
Magsamen, who served on the National Security Council and in the Pentagon during the Bush and Obama administrations, called on Defense Secretary James Mattis to defend the decision publicly or resign.
“Sending active-duty troops to the border is a misuse of resources, when National Guard troops can perform the same duties,” Magsamen said. “Trump is only doing this to whip the public into a frenzy over an invasion threat that does not exist.”
Army Times: Reactivated unit gives 82nd Airborne an armored component that packs a Marine Corps-style punch
By: Todd South 16 hours ago
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More than three decades after getting out of the armor business, soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division have reactivated a company that will add Marine Corps armored vehicles to its formation.
Last week, the All American Division reactivated Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The unit had been deactivated in 1984 after having served as the United States’ only “airborne tank battalion,” according to the Fayetteville Observer.
The unit was active in the division since 1968 and served as an armored unit for airborne forces. It included the M551 Sheridan tank in its arsenal.
But this time around, soldiers will be driving a vehicle in the Marine Corps inventory, the Light Armored Vehicle-25A2. Members of the division began training on and testing the LAVs in 2016, as reported by Marine Corps Times.
Soldiers conducted airdrop tests with the LAV and chose it over the Army’s Stryker vehicle due to its lighter weight, portability and firepower, officials said at the time.
Four LAVs can fit on a C-17, versus only three Strykers. The LAVs being used by the division come equipped with a 25mm cannon.
Across the Army, units have shifted from lighter equipment to heavier, more robust and lethal equipment to counter what has been called a return to “great power competition” with Russia and China.
In September, Army officials announced that it would convert one Stryker brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team and an infantry BCT to an SBCT by 2020.
That followed a 2017 announcement that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd IBCT would convert to an ABCT.
The changes give the Army a total of 31 BCTs in the regular Army — 11 armored, 14 infantry and seven Stryker. The Army National Guard will retain 27 BCTs — five armored, 20 infantry and two Stryker.
At nearly the same time as these changes are taking effect, U.S. Army Europe is adding 1,500 soldiers to the current 33,000 troops in Germany. Those soldiers will add a field artillery brigade headquarters, two multiple-launch rocket system battalions, a short-range air defense battalion and support to the Army’s footprint in Europe.
The firepower upgrades provide tactical and operational benefits for the core mission of the 82nd Airborne Division’s global response force, which includes providing a quick-reaction force anywhere around the world as needed.
The global response force mission requires a battalion-sized element from the division to deploy within 18 hours anywhere in the world — a scenario experts think could be likely should Russia push into the Baltic states or into the Balkans.
The LAV is an eight-wheeled vehicle that weighs 31,000 to 38,000 pounds, depending its configuration. The vehicles also use a three-person crew and can carry an additional six troops, according to General Dynamics Land Systems.
The Observer reported that airdrop tests had been conducted on the LAV back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The 82nd also experimented with the LAV-25s during Operation Desert Storm.
General Dynamics conducted its own airdrop tests on both the LAV and the Stryker in the early 2000s, said Michael Peck with General Dynamics.
That required some minor chassis modifications to accommodate parachute rigging attachments. Marines most often deploy with the vehicles loaded aboard ship.
Last year, Marine officials said that the division was interested in obtaining as many as 60 LAVs.
The Marine Corps is in a long-term process of developing a new vehicle to replace the LAV but has not publicly divulged detailed work on the project by the Office of Naval Research.
Delaware Online: Death of a veteran found in his car at Wilmington’s VA leads to changes
Jerry Smith, Delaware News Journal Published 6:00 a.m. ET Oct. 30, 2018 | Updated 10:24 a.m. ET Oct. 30, 2018
More than a year after her father died in his car in the parking lot of the Wilmington Veterans Administration Medical Center, Shelatia Dennis still struggles to understand why.
Salathiel M. Gaymon Sr.’s body was found April 25, 2017, more than 17 hours after he walked out of the facility after his regular treatment in the Hemodialysis Unit.
Dennis believes her father shouldn’t have been discharged without having his condition assessed more closely.
Gaymon’s death prompted an investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, which published a report in September that judged the VA harshly but didn’t place blame.
The unit nursing staff did not appropriately monitor the patient’s medical status, the report said, but could not "substantiate" that the care contributed to his death.
An autopsy indicated that Gaymon had cardiovascular and kidney disease and "probably" suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.
The report did say that based on the available information and review of the electronic health record, quality of care concerns were identified related to Gaymon’s clinical management while in the dialysis unit.
Changes at the VA
Wilmington VA Medical Center Director Vincent Kane said a day doesn’t go by that he and his staff don’t think about the events leading up to the tragedy. He was appointed shortly after Gaymon’s death.
The OIG report and internal analyses sparked changes in staffing and procedures, including many within the dialysis unit and police department.
"If we could go back in time and know what we know now, I’m confident this wouldn’t happen," Kane said. "We’re committed to never letting something like this happen again."
Chief among the 14 recommendations from the OIG was having the proper number of staff members in the Hemodialysis Unit and providing continuous education in all areas of the unit.
According to Kane, that has happened and is now ongoing.
"We’ve added a tremendous amount of staff since my arrival," said Kane. "We want to make sure we have processes and staffing in place to prevent tragedies moving forward."
Problems in Wilmington
The police department has a new chief and those involved in the Gaymon tragedy were disciplined.
Appointed rounds directed by VA policy were not done, meaning no one noticed Gaymon.
"Those rounds should have happened. It’s devastating to us," Kane said. "We’ve added more cameras and a training officer to make sure officers are compliant."
A man of principles
Dennis described her father as a man whose love of family was matched only by his love of God.
She said he had no problem expressing the love and pride for his family and was an affectionate man who couldn’t encourage his kids and grandchildren enough.
Family looks for answers in father’s death
But Dennis said her father also was all about advocacy and justice and often spoke out against injustices in the world. That is why one of his favorite musicians was Bob Marley, she said.
Dennis believes what happened to her father was an injustice.
"The quality of care that he was given was very poor," Dennis said recently from her Dover home on what would have been her father’s 64th birthday. "It seems like anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. It makes me so angry that they could get away with this."
Dennis said her father’s blood glucose readings were through the roof that day in the Hemodialysis Unit, he was administered the wrong medication at the wrong time, his blood pressure was critically high and he was allowed to be discharged.
"He was not OK," she said. "How could they not see something was wrong? If they had, maybe we wouldn’t have had to have a funeral in May."
Gaymon had been a regular patient at the Wilmington VA Medical Center since 1997 after he was diagnosed with diabetes. His medical records indicate he was often "noncompliant" in his treatment regimen and his diabetes was "uncontrolled" from 1997 to 2017.
Dialysis was initiated in early 2016, and a few months later a kidney specialist ordered a blood sugar reading prior to each of his dialysis treatments.
Critical to Gaymon’s treatment were differences of opinions about unit policies concerning the patient’s finger-stick blood sugar check.
Gaymon’s blood sugar was obtained 38 minutes after starting dialysis and it was shown to be critically high.
According to the OIG report, a unit registered nurse believed it was acceptable to test the blood sugar within an hour of beginning treatment.
The Office of Inspector General staff found no such policy.
The OIG determined that the combination of the timing of the blood glucose test, which found Gaymon’s blood sugar critically high and sparked a "routine" call for insulin rather than "stat," or immediately, resulted in more than a two-hour difference in treatment.
The OIG report said the nursing staff did not check Gaymon’s blood glucose before releasing him.
Policies regarding treatment of Gaymon’s critically high blood pressure also were called into question by the report.
Gaymon was given medication to bring down his high blood pressure and then released 18 minutes thereafter.
The medication given reduces blood pressure within 30 to 60 minutes, with the maximum decrease occurring within two to four hours, the report said.
The report also said there was no evidence that staff conducted a full clinical assessment or provided Gaymon with instructions regarding the effects of the medication, including drowsiness and a recommendation not to drive.
Dennis said video from the facility showed an unsteady, unhealthy individual in medical distress as her father walked out of the dialysis unit and fell on the hood of his car before getting in it.
"The report was more confirmation," she said. "We already had a gut feeling that there was very poor quality of care and that there was definitely negligence on their part. We just didn’t understand to what extent."
Dennis believes that even though the nurses and doctors failed her father, the Department of Veterans Affairs Police had an opportunity to "pick up the slack had they been doing their job."
If police had done timely rounds in the parking lots as policy requires, they would have noticed Gaymon sitting in his car in a no-parking zone in valet parking.
A hospital volunteer came across Gaymon in his car and alerted police.
"If they would have noticed him within an hour, that might have been enough time to alert the doctors and get some help," Dennis said. "There was no dignity in the way he died."
The officers were supposed to walk or drive the facility every hour, "so long as they are not on another call or doing a report.”
The report said the facility’s police officers violated policies by leaving the patient’s car in a visible illegal parking spot for more than 17 hours.
Dennis recognizes her father’s death affected changes, but said she will forever hold the facility accountable for taking her father away "too soon."
"There were so many opportunities for people to make decisions that would have supported his life being sustained," Dennis said. "The healthcare was obviously the first misstep. But if the police force would have been doing its job, my father might still be alive today."