Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dark Ages: When veterans beg someone to end their suffering

There was a time in history when men were sent by their king to battle in foreign lands. Back then, the king had to go too, leading the way. The king had someone trained to tend to his wounds, so he was well taken care of. The warriors were not so lucky. On the battlefield, some begged to for someone else to end their suffering. Few survived to make it back home but if they were wounded, back home, they were on their own.

Society has changed a lot since those dark days. We have doctors deployed near units with helicopters rushing the wounded to aid. The survival rate is at an all time high but the amputation rate is also at an all time high. We want to think that the wounded are cared for physically and psychologically but too often we forget about the financial part of their lives. Who is supposed to pay their bills when they are too disabled to work? These men and women were paid by the government during their service. The same service that caused them to be wounded. They no longer have those paychecks to pay their bills and feed their families or even put gas in the car to get to their appointments at the VA. They are told they have to wait for their claim to be processed before they can be compensated. 756,000 of them are waiting for their claims to be approved right now.

Do we leave them in the Dark Ages when they beg someone to end their suffering or do we step up and make sure they do not regret for a second they survived after their service?

Our views: Not good enough (June 15)
Pentagon, VA must speed up sharing health care records

“It’s a bureaucratic quagmire,” says Bill Vagianos, president of the Brevard Veterans Council and district director for the Florida Veterans Foundation, which encompasses seven Central Florida counties that includes Brevard. “I’ve seen some improvement, but not a marked improvement.”

It’s a situation many veterans in Brevard County know well:

Long delays in getting health care and disability benefits because the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are not sharing their medical records, the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

Multiply that across the USA, and you’ve a got a red-tape nightmare as hundreds of thousands of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are returning home seeking help many are not promptly receiving.

The problem received scandalous attention in 2007, when the Washington Post reported that hundreds of severely wounded soldiers and Marines were struggling to recuperate in slum-like conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center outside Washington.

Many had been released from hospital beds but still needed treatment — treatment that was not forthcoming because military and VA record sharing was a disaster, keeping them in limbo.

As a result, the total number of pending claims has skyrocketed from 448,000 last year to 756,000 today.

Some veterans find the stalling so infuriating they give up, falling through the cracks and not getting the help they need.

read more here
Not good enough

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