VetLikeMe Weekly June 12

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 Office of Acquisition and Logistics (OAL) Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor Program

 

VetLikeMe Weekly

By Phil Johnson

The VA is looking more and more like it is on a quest to put all small businesses OUT OF BUSINESS. This is most obvious in the medical arena, thanks to the Office of Acquisition and Logistics (OAL) Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor Program.  This program will, in effect, place every single socio-economic rated company currently doing business with the federal                         government in jeopardy of going out of business.  One of the major problems with this program is that a majority of VA’s are taking it (Med/Surg Prime Vendor Mandate) as a ‘stop doing business with the small businesses and are now moving everything over to the Primes’.  The program stops short of telling the VA buyers to stop buying from small business however. A majority of buyers read it as “move everything over to the primes.”

This program looks like it is designed to quietly and systematically force every single VA hospital facility within the VHA to, in effect, stop buying from the small, socio-economical rated business. Most have been providing great pricing, excellent turn-around on orders and great customer service.

The main position that the OAL is standing on is that it is “easier to work with a single supplier and get everything from one company” (these companies have enormous sales of anywhere from $150,000,000 and up).  But what the  VA’s and  the Primes won’t tell you is that the smaller companies are quicker to respond to the turnaround of orders, offer equal pricing and if the VA hospitals buy from Primes, the Primes tack on and extra cost percentage of doing business with the VA.

As a small business supplier to the VA, we make it our business to stock products in multiple warehouses across the country in an effort to regionalize our shipping.  If a VA facility tells us that they will continue to buy a product from us on a regular basis, we will stock this product for that facility at no charge. When the order comes in, it ships the very same day and the customer receives their goods the next day.  This in turn allows the VA facilities to operate in ‘just in time mode’ and keeps their inventory costs low as well as keeping inventories low and they get their materials in a single day. This also allows us to offer the same basic service that the Primes try to offer…next day service.

To take this a step further, I personally have contacted the offices of Senators Burr (R-NC) and Brown (D-OH), both of whom sit on the VA Oversight Committee and Congressman David Joyce (OH), not to mention the VA OSDBU.  They all say pretty much the same thing… “Thanks and we’ll look into it.” Meanwhile they don’t realize that by not doing something, they are placing their business constituency in jeopardy.

If you would like to see firsthand what the VA is doing with this program, visit this link:   http://www.va.gov/oal/business/nc/mspv.asp

It is incumbent on all  socio-economically situated business owners to stand up NOW and be counted and to contact, at a minimum, all the people listed above as well as all their individual  Federal Government Representatives.   If you value your companies, then do what needs to be done….STOP THE OAL and fight to get rid of this policy!

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SDVOSB News June 12, 2014

June 9, 2014 by Hardy Stone Filed Under: News, VetLikeMe Weekly

 

 

Editorial: Don’t turn Veterans Affairs problems into political football

[from Times-Herald Record] The men and women who have served their country in uniform deserve better than delay or denial of the medical care they need and have earned. So it is crucial to get to the bottom of allegations of misconduct at the nation’s veterans hospitals. America’s veterans also deserve not to be treated as so many pawns in election-year gamesmanship — but that sadly is proving to be the case in Congress’ increasingly hyperbolic response.

Read more:  http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140523/OPINION/140529834

 

 

Johanns Leads Charge to Support Veteran-Owned Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today was joined by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in introducing the Veteran Entrepreneurship and Training (VET) Opportunities Act of 2014 to equip our nation’s transitioning service members and veterans with the tools they need to start and expand their small busine sses.

Read more:  http://www.johanns.senate.gov/public/?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=e113ff59-3ad7-4568-a90c-e52529085603

 

Program, Book Aid Veterans In Post-Military Business World

By John Lovett Times Record

With an accelerated military draw-down in the Mideast, American war veterans are seeing decreased time to think about their post-military careers and returning to civilian life.

A new government program called Boots to Business, now just in its first fiscal year, is helping out. And at least one author has specialized in guiding military veterans into a post-deployment world.

Read more: http://swtimes.com/business/program-book-aid-veterans-post-military-business-world#sthash.e8u9ujVq.dpuf

 

 

Why veterans have more money problems

Service members are twice as vulnerable to money-related issues than civilians

[from Bradenton Herald ] — Service members are almost twice as likely to carry some credit card debt from month-to-month (58%) than civilians (34%), according to a new survey carried out by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Pioneer Services, a division of MidCountry Bank in Bloomington, Minn. What’s more, twice as many service members as civilians have paid less than the minimum required payment in the last 12 months (6% for service members versus 3% for civilians), the survey found.

 

Read more:  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-veterans-have-more-money-problems-2014-05-21

Vets push Congress for more support of vet entrepreneur programs

By George Altman for Navy Tmes-

Veteran business owners and advocates expressed some frustration with federal programs intended to help budding entrepreneurs, but they largely pushed lawmakers to provide more funding and support for such programs, not less, during a recent congressional hearing.

Read more: http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140514/JOBS05/305140039/Vets-push-Congress-more-support-vet-entrepreneur-programs

 

 

As business owners and employees, Veterans

help build local economy

On Memorial Day, we honor the legacy of men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who bravely served their country. It is also a fitting day to recognize how military veterans among us have served to not only protect American freedom, but also contribute to our local economic vitality.

Read more: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/05/26/5171682/as-business-owners-and-employees.html?sp=/99/102/#storylink=cpy

 

 

These Are the Best States for Veterans Who Want to Start a Business

Our returning service men and women can take advantage of tax credits, loan help, and more.

[from TakePart]  It all started in California. In 1989, a new law was passed giving 3 percent of all state government contracts to businesses owned by disabled American military veterans.

The idea, promoted by the fledgling National Veteran-Owned Business Association, was simple: Every state has programs designed to help small business owners. Some offer support to minority-owned businesses or women-owned businesses. Shouldn’t people who were disabled in training or battle to serve our country get the same boost when they launch a business?

Read more:  https://news.yahoo.com/best-states-veterans-want-start-small-businesses-151118133.html

 

 

US Federal Contractor Registration Releases New Video

On VETBIZ Registration

[from Digital Journal]  — US Federal Contractor Registration‘s SAM Assistance Program has released their newest episode that covers VETBIZ Registration for service-disabled veteran owned businesses involved in government contracting. Businesses that wish to become registered in VETBIZ must qualify for the basic requirements of the registration. Some of the main requirements of the VETBIZ registration include:

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1970846#ixzz345cD62Tw

 

 

When it comes to winning contracts, small businesses

need to think strategically

[from the Washington Post]

By Deniece Peterson, Sunday, June 8, 12:23 PM

Ask any small-business chief executive competing in the federal market, and he or she will tell you that finding a niche within the competitive spectrum has become increasingly difficult.

Some small businesses find themselves competing against larger businesses that have ventured into smaller contracts. With the Small Business Administration’s changes to business size standards in 2012, some small businesses also find themselves competing against much larger — but now small, by definition — businesses for set-asides.

 

State Activity June 12, 2014

June 9, 2014 by Hardy Stone Filed Under: News, State News, VetLikeMe Weekly

 

The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act Becomes Law In New York

Last Updated: May 27 2014

Article by Patrick J. Kearney

[from official NY State web site]

The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act (the “Act”) was signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on May 12, 2014. Under this new law, veteran business owners will be eligible to become certified as a New York State Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB). The goal of the Act is to encourage and support eligible businesses to play a greater role in the economy of the State by increasing participation in New York State’s contracting opportunities. Towards that end, New York will award 6 percent of state contracts to businesses owned by disabled veterans and create the new Division of Service-Disabled Veterans’ Business Development within the New York State Office of General Services (“OGS”) for the establishment of a statewide certification program. The Division will be responsible for certifying eligible SDVOBs, and assist and promote the compliance of SDVOB participation in the state’s procurement activities.

http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/316544/Government+Contracts+Procurement+PPP/The+ServiceDisabled+VeteranOwned+Business+Act+Becomes+Law+in+New+York

 

Disabled N.Y. vets could get $400M of state contracts

For 28-year-old U.S. Air Force service-disabled veteran David Bradshaw, starting a small business was anything but easy.

Worth it, he said, but not easy.

The decision he and partner Brandi Madarish made to officially open Brandi Nichole’s Massage & Wellness, moving their home-based business into a Town of Poughkeepsie location, was just the first step.

Next came a confusing maze of options — or a lack thereof.

However, local veterans who have a business and want to work with the state have new support from New York. A new initiative was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers who supported the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act, enacted on May 12.

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/new-york/2014/06/05/veteran-small-business-owners/10037809/

Maryland designs boot camp to help vets with business

Volunteers help with marketing

By Lorraine Mirabella

Baltimore Sun

Military veterans have a knack for building successful businesses, professionals say, but they have more trouble than non-veterans attracting investors.

That’s a challenge now being tackled by a crop of Maryland-based initiatives aimed at helping veteran entrepreneurs.

The organizers of a first-of-its-kind venture capital fund for veteran-owned businesses are trying to narrow the investment gap. Others have created a technology incubator to encourage veterans to specialize in cyber-related business. And instructors at a 10-week boot camp near Aberdeen Proving Ground are trying to help veterans bring services and products to market.

http://www.buffalonews.com/business/job-searching/maryland-designs-boot-camp-to-help-vets-with-business-20140526

 

Veterans program is off to slow start

Posted: Saturday, June 7, 2014 6:55 am

Associated Press |

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s program to direct more state contracts to military veteran-owned businesses has had a slow start during its first year.

State figures show that about 1 percent of those contracts have gone to Veterans Business Enterprises, while Gov. Mike Pence set a 3 percent goal when the program started last July, The Journal Gazette reported.

 

The Florida Republican who is Veterans Affairs’ worst nightmare

June 8, 2014 by Hardy Stone Filed Under: News, On The Hill, VetLikeMe Weekly

By David M. Drucker, The Washington Examiner | June 6, 2014 | 6:00 am

Congress,Senate,House of Representatives,Veterans Affairs,David M. Drucker,PennAve,Veterans,Jeff Miller,Magazine,Bernie Sanders

Jeff Miller shouldn’t be here.

The House is recessed for the week, and most of America’s representatives are in their districts meeting with constituents or campaigning — or traveling somewhere in the world on congressional business. In this election year, when anger at Washington is boiling over, Capitol Hill is the last place any incumbent wants to be unless they absolutely have to.

But Miller isn’t home in Pensacola, on the coast of Florida’s Panhandle, mingling with the 1st District voters the Republican has represented since 2001.

Instead, the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is burrowed in

his office, across the street from the Capitol, plotting the next several months

of his aggressive strategy to get to the bottom of a national scandal that has

enveloped the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It’s typical for Miller, 54, who has doggedly pursued the VA crisis since taking over as Veterans’ Affairs chairman three and half years ago.

“We will keep the light shining on the department as long as it takes to force them to change,” Miller said, during a half-hour long interview with the Washington Examiner. “They have lied to Congress, and part of our investigation over the next few months will in fact prove that out.”

To accelerate the Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s inquiry, Miller is hiring more staff investigators. The chairman said the VA’s bureaucracy remains belligerent and continues to stonewall his committee’s investigation, even in the wake of internal agency reports showing that “systemic” problems and malfeasance by senior VA executives led to veterans dying because they did not receive timely medical care. With more investigators, Miller can sidestep stubborn VA officials to obtain information.

For the foreseeable future, Miller plans to hold two oversight hearings of the full Veterans Affairs’ Committee every week the House is in session, beginning on June 9. Normally, Veterans Affairs’ meets as a full panel about once every other week. In August, during Congress’ month-long summer recess, Miller plans multiple committee field hearings and extensive visits to VA facilities across the country.

Miller’s immediate priority is to get legislation to President Obama‘s desk that makes it easier for the Veterans Affairs secretary to fire agency employees and hold them accountable for the myriad problems plaguing the department. The House recently passed a bill with broad bipartisan support, but Senate Democrats blocked the legislation. They worry that the House bill would enable VA employees to be unjustly fired without due process.

Miller’s bill is narrowly focused. The Senate bill takes a broader approach to addressing the VA’s problems, while treading lighter on the House’s priority of strengthening accountability. Particularly given the chilly relations between the Republican House and the Democratic Senate, it’s unclear if compromise is possible, although Miller’s staff and that of Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders have been in discussions that are expected to include direct talks between the two chairmen.

“We might have a slightly different approach, but that’s something that can be worked out,” said Sanders, a Vermont Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. “While we absolutely want to improve management capabilities — we want to get rid of incompetent executives, no question about that — you also need doctors and nurses.”

The VA scandal burst into public view in May, when a Veterans Affairs Department inspector general inquiry found a rash of operational shortcomings at the agency’s health care facility in Phoenix. Among them: 3,000 veterans were waiting an average of 115 days for a first appointment with a primary care physician. Additionally, VA executives in Phoenix willfully fudged the numbers and attempted to cover up the problems.

Further investigating by the VA’s inspector general said these and other problems highlighted in the report were “systemic” and extended beyond Phoenix to other facilities around the country. The matter forced Eric Shinseki, a decorated retired Army general, to resign as Veterans Affairs secretary.

The findings were hardly surprising to Miller.

Last year, he visited the Atlanta VA, where executives failed to disclose the death of a veteran who had tried to admit himself but was turned away and later committed suicide at the hospital. He held a field hearing in Pittsburgh, where executives received performance bonuses despite a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak that led to six deaths. In January, Miller visited VA hospitals in Columbia, S.C., and Augusta, Ga., where at least nine died because they had to wait too long to undergo routine procedures.

Miller said the problems with VA health care run even deeper, declaring flatly that the Phoenix inspector general report was the beginning of an avalanche of similarly troubling findings that would become public in the coming months. And that, Miller said, doesn’t even account for an agency that conducts its ordinary business, such as contracting, without employing basic management practices. Miller acknowledged that this troubling culture is partly the result of years of lax congressional oversight.

“It’s not a question of money,” added Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., who has constituents that use the Pittsburgh VA. “I contend that there’s a tone deafness within the bureaucracy.”

Miller argued that a willingness on the part of both political parties to simply throw money at the VA, whose mission it is to serve America’s military heroes, is responsible for the agency’s behavior.

Even now, lawmakers are careful about how they discuss the VA and its ongoing problems, for fear of ending up on the wrong side of voters and politically powerful veterans advocacy organizations. It’s why the Veterans’ Affairs committees in both chambers tend to be among the most bipartisan in how they operate. Veterans groups are similarly wary of criticizing the VA, worried that attacks might look political and diminish the bipartisan goodwill they enjoy.

Miller has chosen a more confrontational approach.

The Floridian said he knew when he became Veterans’ Affairs chairman that the department needed reforming, but conceded that he was unaware of the extent of the problems until he began digging into the inner workings of the agency and reviewing complaints. He said that VA employees’ unwillingness to provide basic information to the committee, requested as a part of its standard oversight function, added to suspicions that major problems existed.

The answer to the problems at the VA has always been to “write a bigger check,” argued one critic of the department, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly. Democrats and Republicans on Miller’s committee have acted in bipartisan fashion at almost every turn. But the chairman is described by some as the first lawmaker to upend the usual dynamic and demand that the VA ferret out bad employees and overhaul its operations.

“Jeff Miller was willing to have the courage to tell hard truths early on,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “This discussion would not be anywhere near where it is now without Miller and his staff at the committee. When no one else was willing to do the hard work to expose this, Miller was.”

 

SDVOSBs Take It On The Chin: Federal Circuit Denies Kingdomware Appeal

June 6, 2014 by Steven Koprince Filed Under: Law, VetLikeMe Weekly

In a crushing blow to SDVOSBs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied the appeal

of a lower court decision allowing the VA to procure goods and services using the Federal Supply

Schedule without first considering whether SDVOSBs can satisfy the requirement.

Rejecting well-stated objections by a dissenting judge, a two-judge majority held that the purpose of the “Veterans First” rule is to ensure that the VA meets its SDVOSB goals, and that so long as the VA meets its SDVOS goals, it is free to procure services and supplies from the Federal Supply Schedule without first considering a SDVOSB procurement.

The Court’s decision in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. vs. United States, No. 2013-5042 (2014) is the latest (and possibly last) in a long-running battle between SDVOSBs and the VA over the SDVOSB preferences adopted by Congress as part of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006.  Because it has been awhile since the last decision in this battle, I have summarized the relevant history before diving into the particulars of the Federal Circuit’s decision.

The Aldevra Cases and Court of Federal Claims Decision

In late 2011, the GAO issued its decision in Aldevra, B-405271 (Oct. 11, 2011).  In the initial Aldevra decision, the GAO held that the VA had violated the law by procuring supplies using the FSS without first conducting market research to determine whether two or more offers would likely be received from eligible SDVOSBs under the so-called “Rule of Two.”

SDVOSBs, understandably, were overjoyed by the first Aldevra decision.  But that joy quickly evaporated when the VA refused to follow the GAO’s recommendation.  The VA continued ordering from the FSS without first applying the Rule of Two, and the GAO kept sustained bid protests complaining about the practice.  In December 2011, the GAO sustained a protest filed by Kingdomware Technologies, in Kingdomware Technologies, B-405727 (Dec. 19, 2011).  Additional “sustain” decisions followed in early and mid-2012.

But in November 2012, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims reached the opposite conclusion.  In Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. The United States, No. 12-173C (2012), Judge Nancy Firestone ruled that the VA had appropriately procured an Emergency Notification Service using the FSS without applying the Rule of Two for SDVOSBs.  Among other reasons underlying the decision, Judge Firestone’s opinion stated that the 2006 statute is “goal setting in nature” and therefore does not necessarily mandate SDVOSB preferences for all VA acquisitions.

Following Judge Firestone’s ruling, the GAO discontinued hearing protests challenging the VA’s failure to apply the Rule of Two.  The GAO suggested that it stood by its opinion, but that Judge Firestone’s decision gave the VA justification to continue ignoring GAO recommendations, making it pointless for the GAO to decide additional protests on the issue.

The Federal Circuit’s Decision

Kingdomware appealed Judge Firestone’s decision to the Federal Circuit.  The case was heard by a three-judge panel consisting of Chief Judge Sharon Proust, Judge Raymond Clevenger, and Judge Jimmie Reyna.

On June 3, 2014, the Federal Circuit issued a ruling upholding Judge Firestone’s decision.  Judges Proust and Clevenger decided in favor of upholding Judge Firestone’s decision; Judge Reyna dissented.

Like the decisions of the GAO and Court of Federal Claims before it, the Federal Circuit’s decision focused on the language of the 2006 VA statute.  Although various parts of the statute were discussed, the primary focus was on the language of 38 U.S.C. 8127(d), which states:

(d) Use of Restricted Competition.— Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), for purposes of meeting the goals under subsection (a), and in accordance with this section, a contracting officer of the Department shall award contracts on the basis of competition restricted to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans if the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans will submit offers and that the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the United States.

A second subsection of the same statute, 38 U.S.C. 8127(i) specifies that when the VA is implementing the Rule of Two under 38 U.S.C. 8127(d), the VA is to prioritize SDVOSBs first.  The established order of preference was not in dispute; the question was whether the Rule of Two (and the SDVOSB preference under the Rule of Two) applies when the VA procures goods and services using the FSS.

The two-judge majority held that 38 U.S.C. 8127(d) does not require the VA to apply the Rule of Two before it uses the FSS.  The majority wrote that Congress did not “speak directly” to the question of whether the FSS is an exemption from the Rule of Two.  Therefore, the majority wrote, it was appropriate to grant deference to the VA’s interpretation of its statutory mandate.

The majority then focused on the phrase “for purposes of meeting the goals under subsection (a).”  The majority agreed with the VA that the Rule of Two is “the required procedure for meeting these goals.”  The majority continued, “[a]ccordingly, the agency need not perform a VOSB Rule of Two analysis for every contract, as long as the goals under section (a) are met.”  The majority noted that the VA had met (and exceeded) its goals in recent years:

As it stands, there is no reason to compel the Secretary to set aside any contract for a Rule of Two inquiry before using the FSS notwithstanding his goals, as Kingdomware requests.  The VA has consistently met the mandatory goals for procurement from SDVOSBs and VOSBs in each year since the Veterans Act of 2006 went into force, and Kingdomware does not contend otherwise.  The Secretary has complied with his statutory mandate to both set goals and meet them, and accordingly, the VA contracting officer’s decision not to set aside the contracts at issue was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law.

The majority affirmed Judge Firestone’s ruling, and denied Kingdomware’s appeal.

Judge Reyna’s Dissent

Judge Reyna issued a sharp dissent from the majority opinion.  Judge Reyna wrote that “[t]he plain language of the 2006 Veterans Act unambiguously requires VA contracting officers to conduct a Rule of Two analysis in every acquisition and does not exempt task or delivery orders under the [FSS] from this imperative.”  Judge Reyna wrote that the majority’s opinion “guts the Rule of Two imperative of its full force and effect . . ..”

With respect to 38 U.S.C. 8127(d), Judge Reyna stated that “[t]he statutory provision at issue could not be clearer.  It provides that contracting officers ‘shall award contracts’ on the basis of restricted competition whenever the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that the Rule of Two will be satisfied.”  Judge Reyna pointed out that “the word ‘shall’ is ordinarily the word of command” and that when it is used in a statute, it is usually “mandatory.”

Judge Reyna noted that the GAO “has sustained more than seventeen protests” in connection with the VA’s refusal to follow the Rule of Two before using the FSS.  Judge Reyna wrote that the GAO’s “special expertise” in bid protest matters should have been afforded deference.

Judge Reyna then turned to the majority’s reliance on the “prefatory language” of 38 U.S.C. 8127(d) regarding VA goals.  Judge Reyna wrote that such prefatory language does not limit an agency’s obligation to follow a mandate specified in the same statute.  Judge Reyna also wrote that there is “no evidence in the record to show that VA contracting officers rely on, or have access to” data about the VA’s achievement of its goals when it makes contracting decisions, and “the GAO has explicitly held that an agency’s belief that it has satisfied its small business goals does not affect its obligation to conduct a Rule of Two analysis.”

Judge Reyna concluded that the majority’s opinion “undermines” the purpose of 38 U.S.C. 8127(d) and renders it “superfluous” by interpreting the statute no differently than the VA’s existing Rule of Two obligation under the FAR.  Judge Reyna concluded:

In sum, the majority adopts an untenable construction of the 2006 Veterans Act by holding that the agency need not perform a VOSB Rule of Two analysis for every contract, so long as the goals set under subsection (a) are met.  The majority’s holding deprives the Rule of Two mandate of its force and effect, it impedes congressional objectives regarding set asides, and it renders 8127(d) inoperative and unnecessary.  For these reasons, I dissent.

Where Do SDVOSBs Go From Here?

Under the Federal Circuit’s rules, Kingdomware has the option of petitioning for an “en banc” review of the decision; that is, a re-hearing by the entire Court of Federal Claims.  However, there is no entitlement to an en banc re-hearing, and the Federal Circuit’s rules limit the situations in which en banc rehearings are granted.  I do not know whether Kingdomware intends to request an en banc rehearing.

The only other judicial option would be a request that the U.S. Supreme Court review the Federal Circuit’s decision.  As much as I would love to see the Supreme Court take on the issue, the Supreme Court only accepts a very small fraction of the cases it is asked to hear.  It is likely (although of course not certain) that the Supreme Court would decide not to hear the case.

This means that the Federal Circuit’s decision may be the last judicial word on this subject.  If so, SDVOSBs will need to take their case to Congress, and push for an amendment to the statute to clarify that “Veterans First” really means “Veterans First.”  For SDVOSBs, the battle has been lost, but the war may not be over yet.

 

Message from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs

June 5, 2014 by Hardy Stone Filed Under: All Articles, Editorials, Featured, News

This address was sent courtesy of Vietnam Veterans of America

Not all Veterans are getting the timely access to the healthcare that they have earned. Systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses. I will use all available authority to swiftly and decisively address issues of willful misconduct or mismanagement.

 

VA’s first priority is to get all Veterans off waiting lists and into clinics while we address the underlying issues that have been impeding Veterans’ access to healthcare. The President has made clear that this is his expectation.

 

Even as we implement these immediate actions, we will work with Veterans Service Organizations, members of Congress, academia, public and private organizations, and with all other agencies and institutions that can help us move forward.

 

We will also continue to depend on the faithful service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of Veterans above their own, those who serve Veterans with dignity, compassion, and dedication, and who live by VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

 

Finally, as we accelerate our access to care, we will not lose sight of the fact that the quality of VA healthcare remains strong. Ten years of external validations have consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare rate our hospitals and clinics as high or higher in customer satisfaction than patients give most of the Nation’s private sector hospitals.

 

On behalf of all Veterans, I express my appreciation to Secretary Shinseki for his leadership of VA. For decades to come, Veterans will benefit from the transformation begun in the past five years.

 

Thank you for your support and dedication to Veterans and our mission to serve them.

 

Sloan D. Gibson

Acting Secretary

 

 

 

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