by Frank Holmes, reporter
On Tuesday, a 58-year-old veteran bought handfuls of fireworks and walked up to the entrance of Atlanta’s VA Hospital – but he wasn’t celebrating.
John Michael Watts strapped the explosives inside his clothes between pouches of flammable liquid, then doused his clothes, stood on the steps and set himself on fire. Watts said he was an Air Force vet protesting the terrible service of the Veterans Administration.
Watts, among many other veterans was put through torture under the care of the VA during the Obama administration — and President Donald Trump has crafted a way to provide proper care to the men and woman that risked it all for our country.
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While Watts stood on the steps, burning up, a quick-thinking employee saved his life, although the fire left Watts with burns over 90% of his body.
But he’s actually the second vet to protest the VA by setting himself ablaze in just over two years – the last one died at 51 – and there’s plenty to protest.
A series of reports shows that the medical system that cares for our Wounded Warriors is a huge and deadly mess clogged with the bodies of veterans who didn’t have to die.
A blockbuster new report reveals that 16 veterans died unnecessarily in one year – in one VA hospital alone.
The VA facility in Memphis also saw 65 vets develop infections or other preventable complications due to neglect or poor hygiene between October 2016 and last October.
The walls in all of the facility’s examination rooms were dirty – and other floors and ventilation grills were filthy – and the grill contaminated the food they were served, according to the 75-page report.
That’s just one of the black marks against the failing VA system which only deteriorated under former President Barack Obama.
The VA just withdrew a new report that would have shown that it failed to report 900 veteran suicides between 2008 to 2015 – mostly during the Obama administration. VA officials say the number is a mathematical error.
But we know exactly why at least two vets tried to kill themselves.
Another one of the VA’s obligations is caring for 40,000 elderly, retired vets every year.
But the VA gave 60 of its 133 nursing homes the lowest possible rating – one star – last year.
Elderly vets in the government-run agency were more likely to suffer severe pain or develop bed sores than patients in private-sector nursing homes.
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Retired veterans were more than five-times more likely to be in pain, among other acts of outrageous neglect.
At the VA nursing home near Tuskeegee, Alabama, a Navy veteran from the Vietnam era suffering from dementia wandered out of the facility – and he’s never been found. Officials finally declared 72-year-old Earl James Zook dead.
Zook was given psychiatric drugs, like a third of all patients at some facilities – much higher than the private healthcare sector.
“Everyone looks like a zombie,” said the son of a 93-year-old WWII vet the VA zapped with mind-altering drugs. “It was a huge drop-off in the way they provide care at the VA versus a private facility.”
The report found that even the top-rated VA facilities rated lower than private facilities.
“I thought it was my idea,” Trump said at a rally in Fargo on Wednesday. But vets have been begging for an alternative to the VA system for decades.
“I got it done,” Trump said with pride this week.
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He also cleaned house – firing 912 employees in the first few months of this year and demoting 36 others.
Then suddenly a funny thing happened – all the VA’s outrages, which the media covered up during the Obama administration, started hitting the newspapers.
Why all they all in the headlines now? The Deep State is trying to pin all these faults on Trump and stop him from cutting off their money, jobs, and top-notch benefits.
The Memphis VA facility’s director spilled the beans. He said the report about his hospital “focuses mostly on events that occurred under the facility’s previous leadership dating back to 2014,” when Obama was in power.
“We’ve got a very sick organization,” said VA whistleblower Sheila Meuse, who exposed Obama-era abuses in 2014. “The important thing (for the VA) is to squelch the whistleblower.”
Another employee, who exposed VA abuses but is still on the job, told NPR, “If you say anything about patient care and the problems…your life becomes hell.”
During the Obama administration government bureaucrats put each other first and crushed whistleblowers for years – and now they’re trying to fight back Trump officials trying to put veterans’ health first.
Our soldiers risked everything to protect their country. The least we owe them is to keep them in good health once they come home – but we may have to start by putting some VA officials into another government-run facility: a penitentiary.
Frank Holmes is a reporter for The Horn News. He is a veteran journalist and an outspoken conservative that talks about the news that was in his weekly article, “On The Holmes Front.”