Saturday, June 24, 2017

POTUS Is Too Old To Not Know Better

When Does Accountability Actually Happen?
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 24, 2017

"Responding to an Obama-era scandal in which veterans died waiting for doctor’s appointments" is just too sickening to be funny at this point. 

President Donald Trump displays the “Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017” after signing in the East Room of the White House, Friday, June 23, 2017
Responding to an Obama-era scandal in which veterans died waiting for doctor’s appointments, Mr. Trump said the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 will “make sure that the scandal we suffered so recently never, ever happens again.”
“What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved remained on the payrolls,” Mr. Trump said. “Our veterans have fulfilled their duty to this nation, and now we must fulfill our duty to them.”
Gee that sounds really good and what happened with the last President was really bad. It sounds that way but it is pure political bullshit!

History has shown that none of this is new but it also proved that all the speeches about them giving a crap in the first place, have produced too little changes for the better.

Last week we had to battle to make sure that senior veterans did not get hit by the "unemployable" portion of their comp being cut. Well, veterans actually won that part because folks paid attention and fought back. The problem is, it wasn't the first time veterans had to fight for what they should have been able to count on.

Here is a little blast from the past
This is from just before the last President took the oath in 2009

Wounded Warriors in Beetlejuice altered universe

Getting benefits for post-traumatic stress, for losing flexibility, for being in the kind of shape in which you want to work but can't do what you once did — these are the kinds of injuries backlogging the system. 
"We're combating an archaic VA system," said LeJeune, who has been in contact with the state's congressional delegation about his concerns. 
Congress introduced a bill signed into law in December 2007 that increased veterans' funding to help reduce the 400,0000 backlogged claims and 177-day average wait, according to information from U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's office. 
"It has become an adversarial system," said Shea-Porter. "It certainly isn't supposed to be that way. The frustration we're hearing is accurate. Congress is aware of it. Part of the problem is, we didn't have resources; we were forced to make these terrible unfair decisions." 
LeJeune has been fighting to get his disability rating at 100 percent. It is now at 90 percent. 
"Two-thousand seven hundred dollars a month total disability," Worrall said. "That ain't a lot to live on, (along with) Social Security. I used to make $85,000 a year on the job. I'll be fine because I've planned for retirement. My ability to make that kind of money is gone. What happens to these kids who never had a career? You're going to make them live on three grand a month?" 

That cut was nothing new. Politicians have been pulling that stunt for decades. Veterans had to fight to stop Congress from cutting $75 million from homeless veterans. Oh, almost forgot to mention that was back in 2011.

Then again, historical facts hardly ever get mentioned anymore when the press does a report that should actually matter enough for us to get the whole truth. Messy business telling the truth is. When you are up against popular folks telling you what they want you to know, they somehow manage to trip you up with nonsense.

Time for history lesson  
Am J Psychiatry 1991; 148:586-591 Copyright © 1991 by American Psychiatric Association
Suicide and guilt as manifestations of PTSD in Vietnam combat veterans

RESULTS: Nineteen of the 100 veterans had made a postservice suicide attempt, and 15 more had been preoccupied with suicide since the war. Five factors were significantly related to suicide attempts: guilt about combat actions, survivor guilt, depression, anxiety, and severe PTSD. Logistic regression analysis showed that combat guilt was the most significant predictor of both suicide attempts and preoccupation with suicide. For a significant percentage of the suicidal veterans, such disturbing combat behavior as the killing of women and children took place while they were feeling emotionally out of control because of fear or rage.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, PTSD among Vietnam combat veterans emerged as a psychiatric disorder with considerable risk for suicide, and intensive combat-related guilt was found to be the most significant explanatory factor. These findings point to the need for greater clinical attention to the role of guilt in the evaluation and treatment of suicidal veterans with PTSD.

Although the link is from 1991 it applies even more now.

From Senator Akaka 2006

In addition, a March 20, 2005, article in the Los Angles Times pointed out how concerned veterans' advocates and even some VA psychiatrists are with VA's handling of PTSD services, saying VA hospitals are "flirting with disaster." The article highlighted the situation at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, specifically the Los Angeles VA hospital, which last year closed its psychiatric emergency room. A decade ago, VA hospitals in Los Angeles had rooms to treat 450 mentally ill patients each day. After a series of cutbacks and consolidations, however, the main hospital can now accommodate only 90 veterans overnight in its psychiatric wards. During the same 10-year period, the overall number of mental health patients treated by the VA Greater Los Angeles increased by about 28 percent, to 19,734 veterans in 2004. Mr. President, if this is how VA handles PTSD care for our veterans at the nation's largest VA hospital, how does that bode for the rest of the nation?

VA Cuts 2006
WASHINGTON, May 27 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Budget Resolution passed by both houses of Congress will result in staff reductions in every VA Medical Center at a most inauspicious time—as veterans return from the war in Iraq and as increasing numbers of veterans need care from the system, said Thomas H. Corey, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).
The impact will be significant among those returning troops who suffer from mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), those who have sustained loss of limbs, and other serious injuries.

Military Suicide 2005
Gordon Smith: "It's a tragedy to ever lose a soldier for any cause, but it just seems extra cruel when the cause is suicide. They're defending our country, America's interests and if we can't give them mental health assistance when they're in harm's way, we're really falling down on the job."Preventing suicide is a very personal issue for Oregon Senator Gordon Smith -- his own son Garrett committed suicide. 88 active duty soldiers killed themselves in 2005, a number that was up 13% over 2003 and more than 70% over 2001.


VA officials agreed that the earlier estimate of 2,900 new cases for all of fiscal 2006 was an “underestimate.” Indeed, it was even lower than the 3,600 cases the VA diagnosed in the last three months of fiscal 2005.

VA Budget request in 2006

"This budget request indeed has glitter," Bock said. "But I am not yet sure how much of it is gold. It is a budget request that appears to table long-needed construction dollars, particularly in the area of grants for state veterans homes and leaves CARES (Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services) under-funded again. It takes a $13 million bite out of VA research. It also fails to provide sufficient funds for staffing and training in the Veterans Benefits Administration to address a claims backlog fast approaching one million."

Bock said he sees the estimate of 109,000 new VA patients in 2007 from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a step toward better forecasting. "The under-estimated number of VA patients from the ongoing war contributed mightily to the $1.5 billion budget shortfall for VA health care in 2005," Bock said. "This appears to address that." He also applauded a requested increase in mental-health-care funding, from $2.8 billion to $3.2 billion.

Wait time to process claims in 2006 145 days
Although the Bush administration expects the backlog to continue rising, its 2007 budget proposal calls for decreasing the staff that directly handles such cases - 149 fewer workers, from the current year's 6,574.

The VA has long wanted to reduce its backlog to less than 250,000 claims. But the department's most recent projections have it rising to nearly 400,000 by the end of 2007.

Those are just a few reports from my old site. You know what is on this one.

Wait time 180 days in 2008 and 69,000 veterans waited more than 30 days for an appointment.

“For the 400,000 veterans, including combat-wounded vets, who are having to wait too long to have their [health] benefits cases reviewed, this bill means over 1,800 new VA caseworkers to reduce the unacceptable delays in receiving earned benefits,” Edwards said. “For veterans with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health care issues, and lost limbs, this bill means renewed hope to rebuild their lives.”
President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 today, handing over an extra $3.7 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Bush had to sign the act by Jan. 18, or VA would have lost the promised extra funding, which will be used to hire and train people to process the backlog of more than 600,000 benefits claims, said Dave Autry, spokesman for Disabled American Veterans. Some of the money also will go toward medical research for conditions such as traumatic brain injuries. 
That was reported on Army Times January 17, 2008 and the link is still on Wounded Times

Veterans dying waiting for care in the news

29 Patients at Marion VA January 2008 and there were more, and more, and more.

Ok, and now for accountability: Exactly when does that happen?

Hint: It won't happen until we actually pay attention enough to know when what happened and who did it first!

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