Showing posts with label Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Show all posts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sanders Stretched Truth on VA Record

If you read Wounded Times, you may have gagged during the debate too!
Sanders stretched truth on VA record during debate, some vets say
By Drew Griffin and Curt Devine
October 14, 2015
During the time the House VA committee held 42 separate hearings related to oversight of the VA, the Senate VA committee -- chaired by Sanders -- held about seven hearings on these issues.

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders touted his record on veterans' issues during Tuesday's debate, citing his position as the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs when Congress provided billions of extra dollars to boost healthcare for veterans last year.

"We went further in than any time in recent history in improving health care to the men and women of this country who put their lives on the line to defend us," Sanders said Tuesday, referring to $15 billion given to the Department of Veterans Affairs to decrease wait times and reform the troubled agency.

Yet some veterans groups and others criticize Sanders for what they call a lack of oversight of the VA, and for at times coming to its defense in the midst of the scandal that rocked the agency in 2014.
read more here

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mike Huckabee No Longer Ashamed He Wants To Kill VA

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Wednesday said the government does a poor job of caring for U.S. veterans and should get out of the business of providing health and medical care for those who served their country.
The Veterans Health Administration – the part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that handles medical care – should be "put out of its misery and most importantly, put it out of the government's" reach, said Huckabee, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president
Des Moines Register
Stunning! Simply stunning how someone wanting to hold the office of Commander-in-Chief has just admitted that he wants to kill the VA. Imagine that! No plans to fix it and make sure the politicians live up to their obligation to care for those who serve this country with their lives. No grandiose speeches of how much veterans deserve from us.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee cares so much they haven't even updated their website even though this is over 6 months after Repubicans took control.
The Finance Committee was the Senate standing committee most responsible for veterans programs from 1917 to 1946. After World War II, the Finance Committee handled the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, the "GI Bill of Rights," which extended to servicemen and their families, a number of benefits including unemployment assistance, education, vocational training, housing and business loan guarantees, as well as the traditional medical and pension benefits of previous times. Many experts believe this law was one of the most important elements in the expansion of the middle class following World War II.

The Veterans Affairs Committee had nine members in its initial congress, the 92nd Congress (1971-73). It now has a total of 14 members with Chairman Bernard Sanders and Ranking Member Richard Burr in leadership roles during the 113th Congress.

The new Chairman is Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

As for the House, they have had almost 70 years,
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives was authorized by enactment of Public Law 601, 79th Congress, which was entitled "Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946." Section 121(a) of this Act provides: "there shall be elected by the House at the commencement of each Congress the following standing committees": Nineteen Committees are listed and No. 18 quotes: "Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to consist of 27 Members." This Act has since been amended so that there are now 22 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives. The number of Members (Representatives) authorized to serve on each Committee has been changed from time to time. There are currently 29 members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

If they haven't been able to fix all the problems the VA has had over all these years then they should be ashamed of themselves!

Turning veterans over to for profit companies means their loyalty is for the companies and not the veterans.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Baldwin Sat on Report Others Pretended They Didn't Know Years Ago

"Sen. Baldwin had Tomah VA report for months" was the headline on the use of opiates as if it was anything new. None of this is new but it seems as if some bloggers have just discovered this issue. The story was linked on a report Town had up Sunday but as you can see, it is far from new and it appears that there have been many politicians just sitting on what they knew, since nothing was done about any of it.
"In September, the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that VA prescriptions for four opiates - hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine - surged 270 percent from 2001 to 2012. That far outpaced the increase in the number of VA patients and contributed to a fatal overdose rate that the agency's researchers put at nearly double the national average."

That was reported in 2013 by Aaron Glantz, Center for Investigative Reporting. The kicker was that also in the same report was the stunning admission of doctors writing prescriptions for these drugs without seeing the patient. Glantz followed that report up with another testimony told this part of what was going on.
"There are multiple instances when I have been coerced or even ordered to write for Schedule II narcotics when it was against my medical judgment," said Dr. Pamela Gray, a physician who formerly worked at the VA hospital in Hampton, Va. Primary care doctors who don't want to prescribe large amounts of opiates may resign, do as they are told or be terminated, Gray said. Gray was fired.
Dr. Robert Jesse gave testimony to the House Veterans Affairs Committee
Hearing on 10/10/2013: Between Peril and Promise: Facing the Dangers of VA’s Skyrocketing Use of Prescription Painkillers to Treat Veterans
"We also know that the long-term use of opioids is associated with significant risks, particularly in vulnerable individuals, such as Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and family stress – all common in Veterans returning from the battlefield, and in Veterans with addiction disorders. Chronic pain in Veterans is often accompanied by co-morbid mental health conditions (up to 50 percent in some cohorts) caused by the psychological trauma of war, as well as neurological disorders, such as TBI caused by blast and concussion injuries. In fact, one study documented that more that 40 percent of Veterans admitted to a polytrauma unit in VHA suffered all three conditions together – chronic pain, PTSD, and post-concussive syndrome."

But as bad as all this is, the reports of troops being medicated while still in the military have been going on longer.

Investigation needed Ambien and military use

Links to medications suspected with non-combat deaths

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Veteran Suicide Awareness Not Even Close To Being Aware

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 26, 2014

I have grown weary of reading about suicides and PTSD tied to military service. Few have gotten it right. It seems as if everyone has become an instant expert popping up on Facebook and writing opinions with very little based on facts. Veterans end up with information overload not knowing what is opinion and what is truth.

The truth is, most awareness being raised is not even close to what is needed to be known and it is inexcusable!

I was reading an opinion piece on Triblive and my head exploded to the point where I had to leave a comment. I hate to leave comments because it takes too much time considering I read up to 50 articles a day and would be impossible to leave comments on all of them. I have to be emotionally tied to it before I type the first word.

This is the comment I left.
On the suicides tied to military service, it is worse than you may know. When President Obama was a Senator, he served on the Veterans Affairs Committee and was very aware of suicides. So much so, he escaped the national press in 2008 while running for office to go to the Montana National Guards after the suicide of Spec. Chris Dana.

He knew about them then yet when suicides went up he held no one accountable. As congress continued to spend more and more money on failed programs, he let them instead of demanding accountability. Combat PTSD has been researched for 40 years, yet the outcome is worse than ever. When do we hold politicians accountable to the men and women they send into combat?

Obama got an earful while in Montana.
Before speaking, the candidate met for several minutes with the family of Spec. Chris Dana, a Montana National Guard veteran suffering from PTSD who committed suicide in March 2007, several months after returning from Iraq. Dana's stepbrother, Matt Kuntz, became a vocal advocate for better treatment of PTSD after Dana's death.

Jess Bahr, a Vietnam veteran, drove more than 200 miles from Great Falls to hear Obama. Before being bused to the event with a veteran-heavy crowd, Bahr said the number of homeless U.S. veterans was inexcusable and that the needs of retired warriors across the country were being ignored by communities.

“In Great Falls, they're building a $6.5 million animal shelter and we don't have a shelter for veterans. What does that tell you about priorities?” asked Bahr, a 1967 Army draftee who survived the Tet Offensive, a nine-month series of battles that resulted in more than 6,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries among American and allied troops during the Vietnam War.

Then Senator Obama made a promise that if he became President he would expand what the Montana National Guards started on screenings for PTSD.
The Montana National Guard has developed a program to check its soldiers and airmen for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder every six months for the first two years after returning from combat, then once a year thereafter. The program exceeds national standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense.

He kept that promise however when the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified they were not doing all the screenings they were supposed to be doing during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, no one was held accountable.

There is no doubt in my mind that President Obama is very aware of military suicides and PTSD as well as the dysfunctional congressional politicians inability to actually learn what works instead of writing checks supporting what has failed. After the repugnant Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program was instituted based on a research project to give school aged children a better sense of self-worth was pushed on our servicemen and women, suicides went up.

This farce of teaching soldiers to be "resilient" with this program increased suicides. It isn't that all of this was not predicted far ahead of thousands of graves being filled. Even I saw it coming back in 2009 when I stated this.

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Will Make It Worse
"If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them."

We let them get away with it! It isn't as if they didn't know what was going on. So what is their excuse for all of this now?
White House callous toward American lives
Trib Live
By Diana West
Friday, Oct. 24, 2014
At a time when our military has been at war for 13 years, suicide is at an all-time high, (post-traumatic stress disorder) is out of control and families are being destroyed as a result of 13 years of war, the last thing the president should be doing is sending people into West Africa to fight Ebola.”
Do you get the feeling that the United States government is trying to get us all killed?

OK, not all of us. Some of us.

I almost don't know how else to interpret the headlines, whether the issue is the 167,000 convicted criminal aliens who, despite deportation orders, remain “currently at large” or the U.S. consulates in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea that are still issuing travel visas to citizens from these Ebola-stricken nations at a rate of 100 a day.

The White House refusal to exercise elementary precautions to prevent an Ebola outbreak in the United States has become another notorious hallmark of the Obama years. I refer to the administration's failure to prohibit travel from the Ebola-stricken region into our formerly Ebola-free nation for the duration of the horrific epidemic.

Even now, the Obama administration continues to permit 150 travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to land every day, their unimpeded ease of movement our government's top priority. The rest of us take our chances. To date, we are looking at “only” two infected nurses. From the globalist perspective, this mean Obama's policies are working. The golf course beckons.
read more here

How about we stop talking about suicide awareness, since they have increased faster than when we were not talking about them and start talking about raising awareness on how to live on after combat and heal? How about we give these veterans and military folks some actual weapons to defeat PTSD and stop trying to find excuses for not doing it? How about we raise awareness that most veterans with PTSD do not commit suicide? How about we talk about how they heal better and faster when they stop trying to fit back in with people who can't understand but start to join other groups of veterans who do understand?

We've been at this for far too long to accept any excuses for the good that works to be ignored and the bad to be allowed to continue.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fort McClellan Veterans Sick and Dying From Toxic Exposures

Sick veterans who served at shuttered, toxic Army base turn to Congress, VA for help
By Barnini Chakraborty
Published September 19, 2014

WASHINGTON – Sue Frasier spent the first six months of her military career at Alabama's Fort McClellan. But that short stint -- 44 years ago at an Army base the EPA later would find so toxic it would shut it down -- was all it took for her to start getting sick, she says.

Her problems began shortly after completing boot camp in 1970 at the Anniston, Ala., base. Today, she says she's coping with asthma, a life-threatening gastrointestinal disease that required surgery, and fibromyalgia that results in long-term pain and tenderness in her joints and muscles.

"It hurts everywhere, but at least I can still walk and talk," she told

Frasier is among thousands of veterans who were stationed at the former Army base who believe they were exposed to dangerous polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. They repeatedly have turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs for help, seeking aid for medical treatment and a formal study of their ailments -- but say their pleas have been largely ignored or buried in red tape for decades. Today, they're looking to fresh leadership at the VA, and allies in Congress, to finally take on their case.

The true cause of the veterans' ailments has never been officially determined. Fort McClellan housed several Army components, including a division for chemical weapons training and research. But many veterans suspect they were sickened by chemicals dumped near Anniston by Monsanto Co., which had facilities in the area and disposed of chemicals near the base.
Two pieces of legislation have been introduced to deal with the veterans' medical claims. A proposed Senate bill would establish a national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces. The bill has not advanced.

Over on the House side, a bill more specific to Frasier and similar veterans' claims, and backed by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., would require the VA to create a registry of everyone who served at Fort McClellan from 1935 to 1999. It then would require the department to reach out to those veterans and offer health exams and information about the effects of toxic exposure. It also would open up disability payments to the veterans.

The House bill, though, has been stuck in congressional gridlock for five years and hasn't made its way out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
read more here

Monday, September 8, 2014

If you love a veteran, this will tick you off

Several times you'll hear "Wounded Warriors" but they are not talking about the "Project" but the "Program" run by the DOD. Huge difference.
How do I enroll in the wounded warrior program?
Enrollment in the program varies by branch of service.

Army. Soldiers and veterans who meet the eligibility requirements and are not currently enrolled in the program should contact the Army Wounded Warrior Call Center for assistance.
Nationwide (toll-free): 877-393-9058
Overseas DSN: 312-221-9113

Marine Corps. Requests for assignment to a Wounded Warrior Regiment element can be initiated by the parent command, medical officer, medical case manager, WWR Detachment Officer-in-Charge, or the WWR Operations section. For more information on the referral process, you can contact the WWR Call Center.
Nationwide (toll-free): 877-487-6299
Navy. Enrollment in Navy Safe Harbor is voluntary. Sailors and Coast Guardsmen may self-refer to the program or be referred by a family member, their command leadership, or their medical team. For questions on enrollment eligibility, contact Navy Safe Harbor.
Nationwide (toll-free): 877-746-8563

Air Force. Eligible airmen should contact the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program Office. The Air Force has no minimum disability rating requirement for the AFW2 program, as long as the injury/illness is combat/hostile related requiring long-term care that will require an MEB/PEB to determine fitness for duty.
Nationwide (toll-free): 800-581-9437

Couple of reminders folks. The first one is that PTSD isn't new. Research on "shell shock" goes back to WWI and as for PTSD, research was cooking right along in the 70's leading up to this.
In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) added PTSD to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme (2). Although controversial when first introduced, the PTSD diagnosis has filled an important gap in psychiatric theory and practice. From an historical perspective, the significant change ushered in by the PTSD concept was the stipulation that the etiological agent was outside the individual (i.e., a traumatic event) rather than an inherent individual weakness (i.e., a traumatic neurosis). The key to understanding the scientific basis and clinical expression of PTSD is the concept of "trauma."
That was just in case you were led to believe that PTSD was new. They ran out of excuses decades ago. How did they get away with leaving veterans suffer all this time? Here is a great indication of it. This CSPAN video is of our members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Armed Services Committee going over all the troubles back in 2007. Clue here is, they've been repeating the same old tired speeches claiming to be upset, but the end result has been, well, BOHICA.

APRIL 12, 2007
Veterans' Disability Ratings The Senate Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs Committees held a joint hearing on the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments' disability rating systems and the transition of service members from the Defense Department to the Veterans Affairs Department. Among the issues they addressed were levels of disability assigned to departing service members, medical costs of long term care, the quality of medical services, and conditions at medical treatment facilities.

If you are a veteran, this is how it all happened. If you are a family member, this is why your family has been trapped in an endless cycle of tribulations. We've all been there. My husband's claim took 6 years and it was filed in the early 90's.

We know how bad it has been but the public thinks it is all new. Short attention span or too many reality TV shows, the truth is the press won't remind them of what we live with all the time.

One more thing to notice is all the Senators talking and still talking. Here are links to some of the things these people were talking about.
Walter Reed
Washington Post article by Dana Priest and Anne Hull
Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility


(Bradley Commission): Records, 1954-58

Yes, you read the date right.

We keep waiting to hear the problems have been fixed after members of Congress hold hearing after hearing, then we wonder if they ever heard enough to say "enough is enough" and fix it for real.

I know the speeches are hard to get through but unless you've tracked all these reports then you have no way of knowing exactly what they were fixing and when they knew they had to do it. The last question is, "Why didn't they fix all of this back then?" then maybe we can get to why we lost so many to suicide afterwards.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Senator Patty Murray on the 2006 Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing

This hearing took place one month after Nicholson was confirmed. Did the Senators take responsibility for what happened before that? Did Senator Larry Craig, the Committee Chair take any responsibility? That's the biggest problem of all. It doesn't matter which party is in control since both sides controlled the Senate VA Committee during all the years veterans have had to fight harder after they got back from combat than they did to stay alive during it.

Montel Williams is one of many all upset about the number of suicides a day but there is nothing new about this or the fact that most of them are Vietnam veterans. They are the majority of the VA claims and backlog. No one talks about them.

Increase $1,000 average to veterans costs. "These veterans have already paid the price" and "This is a non-starter."

"Veterans won't have beds in nursing homes."

"VISN 20 hiring freeze"

"Veterans waiting"

Senator Obama 2006

Nursing home, "Illinois was set to lose $16 million in funding. This would shut down nursing homes."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Historic Veterans Bills Need Your Support

Historic Veterans Bills Need Your Support
Please Contact Your Elected Officials Today!
Chairman Bernie Sanders of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs has introduced critically important legislation, S. 1950, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. If enacted, S. 1950 would accomplish many of DAV’s most important priorities and legislative goals based on national resolutions approved by our members.

This massive bill would create, expand, advance, and extend a wide array of VA benefits, services and programs that are important to DAV and to our members and their families. For example, responding to a call from DAV as a leading voice for wounded, injured, and ill veterans, it would create a comprehensive family caregiver support program for all generations of severely wounded, injured and ill veterans. 

Also, the bill would fulfill DAV’s ongoing drive to enact advance appropriations for VA’s mandatory funding accounts to ensure that in any government shutdown environment in the future, veterans benefits payments would not be delayed or put in jeopardy. 

This measure also would provide additional financial support to survivors of service members who die in the line of duty, as well as expanded access for them to GI Bill educational benefits. A two-plus year stalemate in VA’s authority to lease facilities for health care treatment and other purposes would be solved by this bill. Crucially, the bill would fully restore military retirement cost-of-living adjustments that were outrageously reduced in the 2013 House-Senate budget agreement and the subsequent appropriations act. These are but a few of the myriad provisions of this bill that would improve the lives, health, and prospects of veterans—especially the wounded, injured and ill—and their loved ones, if enacted into law.

Please use the prepared electronic text, or draft your own version, to urge your Senators to cosponsor and support this important bill, and to bring it to the floor of the Senate for a vote as soon as possible. Also, we have prepared a second letter for you in this message to send to your House member to urge enactment of H.R. 813, the Putting Veterans Funding First Act, an alternative bill that would establish advance appropriations for all VA discretionary accounts. Please send that letter as well.

As always, we appreciate your support of DAV and your grassroots activism in participating in DAV CAN, our Commander’s Action Network. Your advocacy helps make DAV a highly influential and leading organization in veterans affairs in Washington.

Thank you for all you do for America’s veterans and their families.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Senate Veterans Affairs Committed missing all the facts

Senate Veterans Affairs Committed missing all the facts
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
March 21, 2013

I want to go back to the days when I didn't have a clue what was going on. Back to the days when my Dad, a Korean War Veteran was getting all the help he needed and I didn't pay attention to what he had to go through to make sure he got cared for. I want to go back to the days when I thought my husband's mild PTSD would not get worse. Even to the days when I thought there would not be more suffering the way Vietnam veterans did. That was 30 years ago and those days are long gone, never to return again. Judging from what I just read, it looks like things are even more screwed up than I thought they were.

I just read the press release on the hearing the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held on veterans committing suicide. I think I finally know why there has been absolutely no changes in the programs the government pays for. They just don't have a clue about what the rest of us are talking about.

Start with the number of OEF and OIF veterans Dr. Robert Petzel said were being treated for PTSD by the VA. He said 119,000 but the number on the VA website has this;

VA Facility Use by Recent Veterans with PTSD VA presents a report four times a year on the number of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) Veterans who were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and who used medical care at various VA facilities.

Read the latest report (664 KB, PDF) for data from October 1, 2001 to December 31, 2012. During this time, 286,134 OEF/OIF/OND Veterans were seen for potential PTSD at VA facilities following their return from these overseas deployments.
Summary A query of VHA health care utilization databases using the November 2012 DMDC roster yielded a total of 261,998 OEF/OIF/OND Veterans coded with PTSD at a VAMC and 70,044 Veterans who received Vet Center service for PTSD. Of these, 216,090 were seen only at a VAMC; 24,136 only at a Vet Center; and 45,908 were seen at both facilities. In summary, based on the electronic patient records available through December 31, 2012, a grand total of 286,134 OEF/OIF/OND Veterans were seen for potential PTSD at VHA facilities following their return from Iraq or Afghanistan.
So which is it? Where did Petzel get his numbers from and the larger question is, why didn't the Senate Veterans Affairs Committed know what the real numbers were before they held this hearing?
Senate Hearing Focuses on Veterans Suicides
Vermont Witness Testifies on Outreach Program

WASHINGTON, March 20 – A Senate panel today examined Department of Veterans Affairs efforts to provide mental health counseling for veterans who are committing suicides at a rate of more than 8,000 a year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has made progress, but is short of its own goal set last year to hire 1,600 clinicians by June 30. As of March 13, the VA had hired 1,105 clinicians.

“I want to commend VA for the strides it has made,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “However, I am very concerned that VA has hired only 47 clinicians in the last two months. Clearly the VA must step up the pace of hiring if it intends to meet its goal of 1,600 new clinicians by the end of June of this year. In order to meet this goal, VA will need to hire almost 500 clinicians in the next two months. Frankly, I don’t see how this is possible, and I want to know what the VA is going to do about it.”

Dr. Robert A. Petzel, the head of the Veterans Health Administration, told Sanders that the VA would streamline its hiring process to meet the June 30 goal. “We know our work to improve the delivery of mental health care to veterans will never be truly finished, but we are confident that we are building a more accessible system that will be responsive to the needs of our veterans,” he testified. Petzel told Sanders the VA is treating 119,000 service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for post-traumatic stress disorder.

In other testimony at the hearing, Andre Wing of South Burlington, Vt., told the committee about a successful outreach program in Vermont, where fellow veterans go to the homes of service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. “One of the reasons the Vermont Veterans Outreach program has been so successful is our grassroots way of doing business. We are the ones going to the veterans’ home and working with them to find what they really need. The issues range from health care, emotional support, disability benefits, homelessness, employment, or financial assistance,” said Wing, the outreach program’s team leader.

The veterans outreach program in Vermont was launched in 2007 with federal funds secured by Sanders. It has since been adopted in other states.

Other witnesses at today’s hearing spoke about their personal experiences.

Kim Ruocco is the national director of suicide education at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. “We have found at TAPS that peer-to-peer support plays a key role in helping traumatized families find healing and comfort,” said the widow of Marine Corps Maj. John Ruocco, who committed suicide seven years ago while awaiting a redeployment to Iraq.

Jacob Wood served in Afghanistan with a Marine who took his own life after returning from the war. To instill a sense of purpose in returning veterans, Wood founded Team Rubicon, an organization which has used veterans’ military experience to aid victims of natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti.
The Marine's name is Clay Hunt. Clay was co-founded of Team Rubicon.

I wrote and open letter to Senator Sanders about Comprehensive Solider Fitness increased suicide warning ignored and producing 57% Military suicides happening after they sought help

RAND reviewed these programs and their findings supported what I have been saying all along.
but there is almost no evidence that resilience can be taught or produced.
Table 3.2 List of Resilience Programs Reviewed
Assessment of the Army Center for enhanced Performance (ACeP)
Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR)
Employee engagement Program (nSA)/Corporate Athlete
Energy Project
Gallup Consulting
Joint Speakers Bureau (JSB)
Landing Gear
Marine Resiliency Study (MRS)
Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness training (MMFt)
National Guard Resiliency Program
Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS)
Passport toward Success
Penn Resiliency Project (PRP)
Preventive Psychological health Demonstration Project (PPhDP)
Promoting Alternative thinking Strategies (PAthS)
School Mental health team (SMht)
Senior Leader wellness enhancement Seminar (SLweS)
Soldier evaluation for Life Fitness (SeLF)
Spiritual warrior training Program (SwtP)
Warrior Resiliency Program (wRP)
Warrior Resilience and thriving (wRt)

Warnings against using Xanax and Valium were ignored on top of all the above.

When will the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee actually understand what they are dealing with so they make sure money is spent wisely and they actually do something to prevent suicides tied to the military?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Senator Sanders to head Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

Thank you Senator Murray for the work you did. I just hope Senator Sanders will take a good look at all the failures that have happened leading to suicides and attempted suicides going up while Congress kept funding the same failures instead of changing them.

Sen. Murray steps down from head of vets’ panel
Army Times
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Nov 15, 2012

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who stood toe to toe with the Obama administration on expanding government assistance for the caregivers of severely disabled combat veterans, will step down as chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to take on a new and bigger role in shaping the federal budget.

Murray announced Thursday she will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee in the 113th Congress, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of current chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Her move, which will receive almost certain approval from her fellow Senate Democrats, provides an opportunity for Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with and receives committee assignments from Democrats, to become the new chairman of the veterans’ committee.

Murray’s move is no surprise. She has been part of the Senate Democratic leadership and was the Senate chairwoman of the 2011 Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that tried, unsuccessfully, to reach a bipartisan agreement on taxes and spending.

“I had to really think about stepping down from the [veterans’] committee because these issues have been such a passion for me,” Murray said in an interview. “As I thought about it, I decided I could really fight for veterans just as strong on the budget committee.”
read more here

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

American Legion says veterans should get interest for waiting

I totally agree! When you think about the fact the VA has rules on when paperwork has to be filed, but doesn't seem to be held accountable for not getting claims processed right on time, this is only fair. When my husband's claim was tied up for six years, it was a burden no family should be expected to endure while bills piled up and the VA charged us for his care. Yes, they charged us because back then private insurance companies could just deny the claim and say it was the VA's responsibility to take care of him. When we couldn't pay, they just took our tax refund. Once his claim was approved, it was bitter sweet because of all the suffering we had to go through.

Maybe having to pay interest would get the Congress to make sure the VA was fully funded enough to have enough trained claims processors to take care of all the influx of disabled veterans when they change rules.

Legion: Pay interest on delayed vets’ claims
Army Times
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 3, 2012

Disabled veterans waiting longer than 125 days for their initial disability claims to be processed should receive interest on top of their retroactive benefits, says the new commander of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ group.

Today, payments on approved claims are backdated to the day they are filed, but interest is not paid.

James Koutz, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who leads the 2.4-million member Legion, said payments with interest would be a small recognition by the government that veterans had been forced to wait too long for pay they deserved.

His suggestion came Wednesday during a hearing before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees to hear from the Legion’s top officials. Similar hearings featuring other military and veterans’ groups are held throughout the year.
read more here

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Too many wounded still in limbo, senators say

Too many wounded still in limbo, senators say
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 26, 2011 15:49:52 EDT
On the eve of a hearing that will focus on the long-term human and financial costs of war, two senators are demanding explanations from the Defense Department about why it is taking so long to discharge severely wounded combat veterans.

Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairwoman, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel, are using the delays that faced Marine Cpl. Todd Nicely, who lost his legs and arms in an explosion last year in Afghanistan, as an example of the human costs of war.

Nicely, whose wife Crystal will testify at Wednesday’s hearing, waited 70 days for a doctor to complete a summary of his medical condition so he could proceed with a disability review. His paperwork was processed only after Murray visited him in the hospital and brought his case to the attention of Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn.

In a Tuesday letter to Lynn, Murray and McCaskill said Nicely is a prime example of what happens to wounded warriors caught in limbo. “They cannot start civilian employment. They cannot enroll in school. They cannot move on with their lives,” the letter says.
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Too many wounded still in limbo, senators say

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lack of DOD-VA coordination hurts treatment of combat wounded

Senators blast DoD, VA for bad coordination

"Army reporting 14 percent of soldiers have been prescribed an opiate, with a third of them being prescribed more than once." Senator Patty Murray

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday May 18, 2011 13:47:48 EDT
Combat veterans are being poorly served as a result of weak coordination between the Defense and Veteran Affairs departments, a key senator said Wednesday.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairwoman, said drug abuse and suicides among recently separated combat veterans can be partly blamed on inadequate coordination as service members leave the military and become the responsibility of VA.

A lack of coordination also hurts treatment of combat-related wounds. Amputees are an example, Murray said.

“Where DoD has outstanding prosthetics, VA needs to do much better,” she said. “I was shocked to hear of a veteran who, after receiving advanced prosthetics from the military, went to VA to have them adjusted and maintained. When the veteran got to the prosthetic clinic, the VA employees were fascinated by the device, having never seen that model before, and were more interested in examining it than the veteran.”

The services have used narcotics heavily to treat service members, with the Army reporting 14 percent of soldiers have been prescribed an opiate, with a third of them being prescribed more than once, Murray said.

“It is imperative that these individuals receive a truly seamless handoff to VA medical care so a provider there can manage those medications after the individual has left the service,” Murray said. “If that link is not made, those new veterans become far more likely to abuse drugs, become homeless or commit suicide.”
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Senators blast DoD, VA for bad coordination

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

VA submits statements late, cannot testify

VA submits statements late, cannot testify

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Apr 22, 2009 17:39:19 EDT

Department of Veterans Affairs officials were barred Wednesday from providing testimony before a Senate subcommittee because they didn’t deliver their prepared statements far enough ahead of time.

That may have stopped some fireworks; the testimony included strong objections to legislation pending before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, including a bipartisan bill to increase benefits to family members who become significant caregivers to disabled veterans by providing specialized training, some health care benefits and a monthly stipend.

VA officials also wanted to express concerns about a bill that would make Iraq and Afghanistan veterans eligible for readjustment counseling — officials say it would give those veterans access not available to other veterans — and sought to oppose a rural health care proposal for veterans because it would have the government pay for air transportation when that is the best way to get to a veterans hospital, which could be costly.

The veterans committee, like most other congressional committees, wants to receive administration testimony several days before a scheduled hearing so the staff has time to review it and come up with questions.
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VA submits statements late, cannot testify

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rumor on Obama and veterans proven false

Rumor on the Internet has it that Obama is against veterans and wants to cut VA benefits. I've seen these rumors for a very long time but after a conversation I had today with someone I really admire, it's time to put this rumor into the ashbin of the people that started it.

I told my friend what I know about Obama's feelings toward veterans and that I have a lot of hope in him. He was shocked. Then I told him how Obama, after delivering the speech during the 2004 Democratic Convention, he had the opportunity to sit on any committee he wanted, choosing Veterans Affairs over others. He said that was where his heart was. (This article points that out.)

Aside from this then candidate Obama traveled to Montana to meet with the brother of Spec. Chris Dana. Dana committed suicide and his death touched the heart of the commanders of the National Guard so much so they decided to do something about it. They created their own program to address PTSD. After 27 years of working on PTSD, working with veterans and investing more than half my life in studying the programs offered, this program really showed great promise. Obama, as a senator, on the Veterans Affairs Committee, could have picked any program out of thousands to study, but he picked this one. This showed how much he was paying attention. He picked the best one. Quietly, without being surrounded by hundreds of photographers, he met with Chris Dana's family and the Commanders. He promised that he would take this program nationally if he ended up being elected.

This is how seriously he takes the plight of our veterans.

When you read rumors about President Obama doing anything against the veterans instead of for the veterans, remember what is true and what he is doing, then slam the people sending you false rumors. No one likes to be lied to and you shouldn't tolerate it from people calling themselves your friend. They have their own agenda and it isn't what is happening to our veterans.

Obama renews pledge to transform VA

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 16, 2009 17:00:01 EDT

President Barack Obama spoke Monday about keeping his promises to transform veterans programs and cast that pledge against the personal story of his grandfather, a World War II veteran who benefited from VA help.

Speaking at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which marked its 20th anniversary as a cabinet-level department, Obama expressed confidence in his VA secretary, retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, to fix much of what ails the agency.

Obama said the homecoming of U.S. combat troops as they withdraw from Iraq over the next 18 months will be a “test” of the nation’s commitment to veterans.

“I intend to start that work by making good on my pledge to transform the Department of Veterans Affairs for the 21st century,” he said.

Transformation, he said, began with a plan to add $25 billion to the VA budget over the next five years.

“With this budget, we don’t just fully fund our VA health care program — we expand it to serve an additional 500,000 veterans by 2013; provide better health care in more places; and dramatically improve services related to mental health and injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury,” he said.

“We also invest in the technology to cut red tape and ease the transition from active duty. And we provide new help for homeless veterans, because those heroes have a home — it’s the country they served, the United States of America. And until we reach a day when not a single veteran sleeps on our nation’s streets, our work remains unfinished.”

Obama said his grandfather enlisted in the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and after the war went to college on the GI Bill and bought a home with federal government help. Obama said his mother was born at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., while his grandfather was deployed.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Filner Releases Views on VA Budget Request

Filner Releases Views on VA Budget Request
March 13, 2009

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) released the following statement upon submitting the Committee’s Views and Estimates letter to the House Budget Committee:

“The Administration’s preliminary budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs calls for a total budget of $113 billion, a $15 billion increase above 2009 levels. The request includes $52.5 billion in discretionary funding – an increase of $4.9 billion from 2009, or 10.3 percent. The bulk of discretionary spending goes to VA medical care. This budget proposal marks the first time any President has submitted a budget that exceeds the recommendations of the Independent Budget. The budget forecast calls for a $25 billion increase over the next five years. Although we understand these numbers are not binding on future years, and the levels are lower than the amounts that will be needed, we applaud this move toward presenting a more honest and accurate look at our financial picture.

“The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs supports the President’s budget and has recommended an additional $800 million above the Administration proposal. This increase includes $600 million to safeguard veterans’ medical care funding and $200 million to assist the VA as it begins its transformation into an organization more aligned with the needs of veterans. We believe the VA can meet the needs of our veterans with this proposed budget.

“Over the past decade, this Committee has raised a number of issues on behalf of our Nation’s heroes that have not been addressed by the Executive branch. It is refreshing to receive a budget proposal that focuses on the issues of homelessness prevention, increasing education benefits, expanding health care access to more veterans, and cleaning up the claims backlog. Although this budget outline lacks detail and specifics, I look forward to working closely with President Obama and Secretary Shinseki to meet the needs of our veterans, provide for a strong and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs, and ensure uninterrupted benefits and services. We must spend these resources wisely as we work to create a 21st Century organization that serves our veterans. Americans demand this and our veterans deserve nothing less.”

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ex-servicemen hope president-elect focuses on military issues

This young boy, turned into the man I married. He came home in 1971 from Vietnam. I've been doing outreach work with veterans who have PTSD ever since the day we met 26 years ago.

While all veterans have my heart, the Vietnam Veterans have tugged at my soul. Understand that this is coming from someone who has dedicated her life to our veterans. I take all of this very seriously, spend countless hours researching history as well as what the politicians do and fail to do. The following defense of President Elect Obama does not come without facts that can be found by anyone willing to look for them. Most of the links are on this blog.

There is a comment in this article claiming that Obama has not done anything for veterans since he entered into the senate. This is a false claim and spun by the GOP. I've heard it all too often. The fact is when Obama had many options of choosing which committees to serve on, he wanted to serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee. Aside from his grandfather and uncle being veterans, his heart was with our veterans. Obama was advised that the Veteran's Affairs Committee was not a high profile committee but it was where he felt he was called to.

Up until the Democrats took control, albeit limited in the Senate, mountains have been moved for the sake of our veterans. From the largest budget increase in history for the VA, to programs gearing up to help veterans with PTSD and TBI, to all the advances in research, Veteran's Centers opening up and the GI Bill, Obama has been a big part of all of that. He did not do anything with the glare of the media focused on him but did so quietly believing it is the obligation of this nation to take care of our veterans. I have watched this man since the day he was elected to the senate and have read his speeches as well as interviews he's given. He is the real deal when it comes to our veterans and our nation as a whole. He has not paid lip service to our veterans in the past and will not in the future.

Most of the claims against him have come from people who also believed that McCain, as a veteran, had the interests of veterans in his own heart, yet he has only provided lip service to them. From the POW's returning from Iraq after the Gulf War, going to court to sue the Iraqi government, McCain was not fighting for them when Bush killed the law suit. McCain's voting record against veterans and what they need has been deplorable no matter what he or anyone in the GOP claim. The facts speak for themselves. There is a grand delusion that has been harming our veterans for too many years. Don't believe me. Instead look up their voting records for yourself and find out who has been providing lip service and nothing more from those who have done the work on behalf of veterans. If you have not been keeping informed of what the reality is, you will be astonished at how wrong you've been.

Vets hope Obama fulfills promises
Ex-servicemen hope president-elect focuses on military issues
Staff writer

Like many in the region, local veterans are hoping last week's election of Barack Obama as president will bring change for the country -- specifically, for the country's veterans and military men and women.

In the days between the presidential election and the Veterans Day holiday, area vets expressed their hopes for the new administration.

Bernard Williamson, of the Veterans of Foreign Wars McEvoy-Dempsey Post 10585 in Derby, said he hopes Obama will work on a few issues that Bush's administration hurt instead of helped.

"Bush's administration closed Veterans' Affairs hospitals, decreased veterans' benefits, and didn't help veterans wage-wise," said Williamson.

Williamson is also concerned about troops overseas, saying he hopes Obama will "do something for men and women in service right now."

Tim Kelly, 61, of the Connecticut branch of Disabled American Veterans, also is interested in seeing how the Obama administration handles decisions about veterans and the military. Like Williamson, Kelly hopes Obama doesn't cut funding for veterans.

And, as a Vietnam veteran, he is worried about how Obama will handle the war in Iraq. "I hope they don't just go in there and withdraw troops and waste 4,000 lives," said Kelly, referring to the men and women who have already died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

World War II combat veteran Joseph Minto, 87, has one simple hope for the Obama administration. "I hope he fulfills his promises,"

Minto said. "He promised everyone something, so I don't know if he will come through."

Some, like Kelly, said they can't predict what Obama will actually do for veterans. He said he doesn't know what to expect from Obama because he hasn't done anything to be judged on.

"We really don't know because he didn't do anything for us while in the Senate," Kelly said, adding, "there's a lot of lip service with the Democrats but they never do anything."

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

How will military greet Obama?

A few things to consider here. First is that Bush said he listened to the commanders, but he ignored anyone daring to disagree with him. That is a fact and many experienced, loyal, dedicated generals resigned instead of following callous orders that would cause unnecessary deaths. The other is to remember that while President Elect Obama does not have military experience, he does have something Bush never did. A great respect and heart for those who serve. It came from his own family. He's shown this when as soon as the became a Senator, Obama joined the Veterans Affairs Committee and fought for veterans to be taken care of. Just look up his record and his speeches to know exactly how he feels about the men and women serving this nation.

How will military greet Obama?
Sunday November 09, 2008, 7:22 AM

Barack Obama will enter the White House without any military experience and with a playbook that emphasizes diplomacy, behind a president who waged two wars and presided over some of the largest-ever defense budget increases.

So, how will President Obama be received at the Pentagon? Much depends on his first moves.

One of his senior security advisers, former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), said even though the president-elect has experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he’ll need a strong defense team that works together well.

“He will have to pay a lot of attention to a secretary of defense and the close advisers to the secretary,” Hamilton said. “The whole military, national security establishment will be watching that with care.”

And since the military is trained to follow orders, insiders say it is receptive to the change of command.

The military needs to be ready to offer its advice while scrupulously avoiding any attempt to shape the agenda, said a senior defense official familiar with the transition. “It is to everyone’s benefit to shorten the learning curve for whoever is coming in,” he said, especially because this is the first wartime transition since 1968.

Senior officers will be ready to follow the orders of Obama, who has not stirred any detectable negative response in the military command, said Dov Zakheim, who was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon comptroller. And if they balk, one former senior officer pointed out, there are plenty of other officers to be promoted.

President Bush wasn’t shy about using the military, but his relationship with top military commanders was sometimes sour, particularly over issues related to the war in Iraq.

Early on, Bush deferred to Rumsfeld, his first defense secretary, who dumped Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki after he told Congress more troops were required for the invasion of Iraq. And while active-duty generals muted public criticism for the rest of Bush’s term, retired generals spoke out.

In 2004, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni raised early concerns about the execution of the war. Then in 2006, six retired generals went public with their concerns.

Bush responded with a surge of forces, and extended officers’ tours of duty from 12 to 15 months for a force already strained by multiple, lengthy deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his book “The War Within,” Bob Woodward detailed how that decision was made over the objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Veterans and Military Families for Progress Endorses Barack Obama

Veterans and Military Families for Progress Endorses Barack Obama ...
MarketWatch - USA
WASHINGTON, Oct 29, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- By vote of the Board of Directors, Veterans and Military Families for Progress ( proudly endorses Senator Barack Obama in the upcoming United States presidential election. Founded in 2005, VMFP is dedicated to ensuring that the rights and needs of veterans, those currently serving (including national guard and reservists), and their families are understood by the American public, endorsed by our elected officials, and protected by legislation, regulation, and public policy initiatives.

As the grandson of a veteran of World War II, his appreciation of veterans' issues is underscored not by words but by actions. He serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has shown leadership by introducing several non-partisan bills, some of which have been enacted into law, for the benefit of veterans. He shares the values of our military forces, and fights to ensure our forces are well-rested and properly equipped. Of particular interest to VMFP, Senator Obama shows superior support for veterans' "coming home" issues such as accessible physical and mental health care, expanded educational benefits and job opportunities, and reduction of homelessness and suicide within the ranks of America's veterans.

From his days as head of Harvard's Law Review to the moment he entered the Senate, Obama's leadership to our country has been recognized. His superior commitment to the issues that are critical to veterans, those serving, and their families is unsurpassed by other candidates in this election. His public support for full funding of the Veterans Administration and his declared determination to provide for the establishment of a national veterans and military family policy give veterans and their families hope -- hope that at long last a president will support veterans in such a way as to honor the sacred trust of those who have served and sacrificed.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Former lawmaker stumps for Obama

Former lawmaker stumps for Obama
By Susan Redden

The endorsement of Barack Obama by former Secretary of State Colin Powell should help convince voters who are still undecided leading up the Nov. 4 presidential election, former U.S. Rep. Tim Roemer said Monday during a stop in Joplin.

Roemer was a congressman from Indiana from 1991 to 2003 and is president of the Center for National Policy, a nonprofit institute dedicated to improving public policy outcomes. He said he has campaigned for Obama throughout the Midwest, and is spending this week meeting with veterans and visiting veterans’ halls to talk about Obama’s stance on veterans’ issues.

He said Obama, after he was elected to the Senate, asked to be placed on the Committee on Veterans Affairs, “because he wants to make sure that veterans get the help they need in health care, education and housing.”

“He sees it as a sacred trust because of the sacrifices veterans make for our country,” Roemer said. “He’s fought for the funding increases and changes in the bureaucracy to make sure they get what they deserve.”

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This is one of the biggest points that keeps getting missed. Obama could have gone onto any committee he wanted after his speech in 2004, but his heart was tugged by veterans. Maybe he felt he owed it to the members of his own family who were in the military as much as to all veterans. They matter to him and he's proven it. McCain, well, his votes proved that while he loves to claim them as his own, he has not served them.