Sunday, February 5, 2017

Historical Facts on VA Claims Prove Neither Party Delivered

Right and Left Stuck Veterans With Agony
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 5, 2016

If you think this is anything new, it isn't.
"The VA’s handling of benefits claims has been the focus of sharp criticism for the past decade. The agency has struggled to respond to growing numbers of disability applications from veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
That came from a Newsday article about a Gulf War veterans fighting for his claim to be approved and getting help for PTSD.

Veterans have been fighting for this country and fighting the government since the Revolutionary War.

A significant factor working against Revolutionary War veterans was their small number. The Continental Army never comprised more than 30,000 officers and men. The vast majority of Americans had nothing personal at stake in the plight of veterans after the war. Citizens who did feel the matter personally were unable to do much about it. American politics in the 18th and early 19th centuries was controlled by a small elite group of property holders. Most of the men who had filled the ranks of Washington’s army couldn’t even vote.By the time the Civil War began, the situation was quite different. The 1820s rise of Andrew Jackson and his populist democracy, which made voters of almost all adult white males, had created a Congress far more susceptible to popular pressure. The scale of the Civil War, in which more than 2.2 million men served the Union and more than 1 million served the Confederacy, left few families untouched.

During the Reagan Administration, there was a backlog of claims. 
These cutbacks would be accompanied by a shrinking of V.A. hospital staffs and other health-care resources for veterans. The number of Veterans Administration employees working on medical care programs would decline, under the President's budget proposal, from 193,941 in the fiscal year 1986, which began Oct. 1, to 185,039 in 1987 and 171,674 in the fiscal year 1991, the documents show.

During the Bush Administration there was a backlog of claims. During the Clinton Administration there was a backlog of claims. 
These problems remain decades later. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), there are almost 300,000 veterans homeless on any given night across the US. Veterans of the Gulf War and Iraq, like their Vietnam brethren, are fighting today for recognition of their medical maladies, such as Gulf War Syndrome, which includes symptoms of fatigue, skin rash, headache, muscle and joint pain, memory loss and difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, sleep problems, gastrointestinal problems and chest pain. PTSD also continues to be a serious problem. From 1999 to 2007, the number of veterans receiving disability compensation for PTSD increased from 120,000 to more than 280,500.

During the other Bush Administration there was a backlog of claims
Coming on the heels of the discovery that veterans' benefit claims forms may have been shredded in regional offices nationwide, two veterans' organizations have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs. They're attacking a related and, they say, similarly egregious problem: the time it takes for the VA to make a decision on a disability claim.Clogged with more than 600,000 pending claims, the VA takes an average of more than six months to make a decision—70 percent more time than it took four years ago, the claimants allege. That means that disabled veterans can't access their disability pay when they're transitioning back into civilian society and need help the most, say critics.If the claim is denied, an appeal takes even longer—an average of four years. Some stretch into decades. In comparison, private healthcare groups usually process claims in less than three months, including appeals.In response, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of Modern Warfare filed a preliminary injunction in a D.C. district court today against the VA. The two organizations, which together represent about 60,000 veterans, are asking for the VA to adhere to a time limit: 90 days to decide initial claims for disability benefits and 180 days to resolve appeals.

Just as there was during the Obama Administration
“Part of it is all these new veterans in the system who came in – Agent Orange, PTSD. It means a lot more claims and, despite additional resources, it’s resulted in longer waits,” Obama said last month at the Disabled American Veterans’ annual convention. “And that’s been unacceptable – unacceptable to me, unacceptable to Secretary Shinseki.”At of the beginning of August, VA reported about 780,000 claims are pending, with about 500,000 of those claims in its inventory over 125 days.

What they all have in common is that Congress, with jurisdiction over all of it, promised to fix the problems veterans faced, but failed to do their jobs. Yet one more reason why it does not matter if they have a D or an R after their name. Neither party has respected the point that when it comes to getting the care these veterans paid for it ahead of time when they put their lives on the line.

If you want to talk about the problems with the VA and want to go on Facebook with a political rant, and do not know the facts, you are part of the problem. When it comes to both sides, neither party has lived up to their claims of supporting the troops or honoring veterans because neither party has fixed a damn thing they promised they would do.

If you think it is a good idea to privatize the VA, you are ignorant of the historical facts, along with the simple fact that our veterans paid for the care they were promised and are not civilians. THEY PAID FOR SERVICE FROM THE VA WITH THEIR OWN SERVICE TO THIS NATION!
Former Marine James McKenna wants the VA to help him with PTSD
By Martin C. Evans
February 4, 2017
Former Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James “Jimmy” McKenna has struggled with anxiety that his Veterans Affairs doctors have linked to rocket attacks he endured during the Gulf War in 1991.

He said the anxiety has crippled his ability to hold a job as a correction officer in the Nassau County jail. The sound of the prisoners, banging doors and the tense atmosphere revived feelings of danger that McKenna said he had developed during the war.

“I was reluctant to accept it, but as time went on, I realized I needed help,” said McKenna, who has been enrolled in inpatient post-traumatic stress disorder programs at Veterans Health Administration facilities for much of the past year.

But McKenna, 48, of Wantagh, said he was rejected for benefits from the VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration when he applied during his hospitalization at an upstate facility. He said that rejection came as financial pressures related to his inability to work pushed his family toward foreclosure, and threatened his wife and four children with homelessness.
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