Showing posts with label VA claims. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VA claims. Show all posts

Friday, March 17, 2023

Black veterans #PTSD VA claims denied at higher rates

Before you read this, understand that this is not "new" for any veteran. Claims take far too long to be approved and the burden is on the veteran. Always and unrightly so. They have to prove everything and meet time constraints or see their claim having to be refiled instead of continued. It took my husband over 6 years and that was back in the 90s. I've heard even longer cases when families suffered financially and emotionally. To be wounded or injured while serving this country, body or mind and often both, have a medical diagnosis linking it to service, then enduring the VA rejection of the claim is like a dagger to their soul. Now adding in the color of their skin is a barrier to receiving the medical care and compensation they were promised. This story made me grieve!

Black veterans were more often denied VA benefits for PTSD than white counterparts, newly surfaced study shows

NBC News
By Laura Strickler
March 17, 2023

“Ever since I came back from Vietnam, I knew that I had a problem, but I didn’t know what it was," said one Black veteran.

Richard Brookshire co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore.
A newly surfaced 2017 internal Veterans Affairs report shows Black veterans were more often denied benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder than their white counterparts.

The analysis crunched claims data from fiscal year 2011 through 2016 and showed that Black veterans seeking disability benefits for PTSD were denied 57% of the time, compared to 43% for white veterans. The report emerged as part of an open records lawsuit filed by an advocacy group for Black veterans.

Terrence Hayes, a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the agency did not immediately have current data on a racial breakdown of PTSD disability benefits awards and said the agency “is gathering the data and will share it once fully compiled.”

Hayes wrote in an email that the agency could not comment on any ongoing litigation but that VA Secretary Denis McDonough is committed to addressing racial disparities as it relates to VA benefits.
In 2015 he applied to the VA for a service-connected disability claim for PTSD. Nine months later the VA turned him down. With the assistance of advocacy groups, he appealed the VA’s decision multiple times and received retroactive approval last month, seven years after his initial denial.

Forbes told Shaban that he believes racism played a role in his yearslong pursuit of PTSD benefits. “I dealt with it in the military and now outside of the military," he said. "As a veteran, I’m dealing with the same issues through this appeal process.”
read more here

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

SCOTUS: Veterans can't get retroactive benefits if they miss window

This article is only part of the story. The thing is, it has always been this way. Ask any veteran before reporters started to zero in on Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, and most had no clue what the hell came back with them from war.

I've been involved in this for 40 years and can tell you most of them had no clue what it was, what name it was called, or understood that waiting to "get over it" was the wrong idea. All they knew was how they changed from the person they were before they went into whatever war they fought. (Hell, most of us had no clue just living as survivors of what civilian life can do to us.)

I don't have a problem with the decision the Supreme Court made regarding a veteran trying to get compensation for #PTSD going back to the Gulf War. While that may shock some of you, the thing is, it has always been this way. I have more of a problem that our country forces the veteran to figure out what their service did to them within a year, instead of being proactive for the sake of the veteran.

The veteran had all the obligations to file claims and appeals on time but the VA doesn't seem to have the same obligation. If you are a veteran, do not fight them on your own. Their rules are rules for all veterans. The thing is, you don't have to fight them on your own. Turn to the DAV, VFW, or any of the other groups out there claiming they help with claims. Turn to your member of the House or Senate because they are supposed to have staff able to help veterans. 

Keep in mind,  you didn't fight the war alone and should have to fight this one alone now! Call in reinforcements!

Supreme Court is unusually late with first opinion of term

The Hill
The nine justices sided with the government’s position that veterans can’t receive retroactive disability benefits if they miss a one-year application window.
The Supreme Court handed down its first opinion of the term on Monday, ruling that a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not eligible for retroactive disability benefits after he missed a statutory window.

The ruling in some ways marked a return to normal, with the justices resuming the pre-pandemic tradition of announcing opinions live from the bench.
The case involved Adolfo Arellano, a U.S. Navy veteran who suffers from PTSD linked to trauma from his deployment to the Persian Gulf during the Iranian hostage crisis.

Although he missed the window to receive disability benefits retroactive to his discharge date, Arellano argued that the law is subject to equitable tolling, a doctrine that allows for extensions in extraordinary circumstances. Arellano’s attorneys argued he couldn’t meet the deadline because of his mental condition.

The justices ruled that Congress specifically provided that courts should not grant those types of extensions for the provision.
read more here

Thursday, April 30, 2020

VA Electronic health records plan massive failure continues

VA's $16 Billion Electronic Health Records Modernization Plan Is Failing, IG Says
By Richard Sisk
April 28, 2020
"For 10 years we've heard the same assurances that the electronic health records problem will be solved. It's incredible that we can't get this fixed." Rep. Hal Rogers, Kentucky

Claims piled up at the VA Regional Office in Winston-Salem, N.C. (VA Office of Inspector General)

A $16 billion effort to give veterans lifetime electronic health records that meshed with the Pentagon's has been marked by repeated delays and oversight failures that could have put patients at risk, according to reports from the VA Inspector General.

The IG reports released Monday detailed confusion in the overall implementation of the plan and failures to train staff and put in place adequate equipment for the pilot program, such as new laptops.

The first IG report, titled "Deficiencies in Infrastructure Readiness for Deploying VA's New Electronic Health Record [EHR] System," looked at how the Department of Veterans Affairs went about implementing the initial $10 billion, 10-year contract with Cerner Corp. of Kansas.

The VA now estimates that the contract, awarded in May 2018 by then-Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie without competitive bidding, will now cost at least another $6 billion for management and equipment.

The second report focused on delays and failures in the pilot program, even after it was scaled back from three test sites to one at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington.
read it here

Just some background on the problem since it was after all these reports the spending spree started...and kept going,

VA, more promises, more waiting on fix to come
VA claim backlog at 816,211 but IT cut back WFT
8,763 vets died waiting for benefits
VA 400,000 claim backlog causes search for tech savvy workers
Hundreds of Veterans Claims were in the shredding bins at VA Detroit office
VFW reports 4 VA offices involved in document shredding

VA Claim backlog hit 915,000 on May 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

93 Year Old WWII Veteran's VA Pension Claim Tied Up For 18 Months?

93-year-old veteran's pension application held-up for 18 months

WTVR 6 News
By: Bree Sison
Feb 11, 2020

The Problem Solvers reached out to at least a half dozen officials and advocacy groups on Jerry Horn’s behalf. Congressman Ben Cline called Bob Horn in late January to say his office had secured a favorable outcome in the case. The next day, Bob received letters from other federal officials and the VA stating the pension had been denied.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The family of a 93-year-old veteran in Charlottesville cannot understand why the Veterans Administration has taken more than 18 months to approve a pension application.

“It’s very frustrating. He deserves this. He earned it,” Dr. Bob Horn tells the Problem Solvers.

Like many members of the Greatest Generation, Bob’s father Jerome Horn did not talk about his experience serving in the United States Army during World War II.
read it here

Friday, January 24, 2020

Veterans who served in Thailand during Vietnam War denied benefits

Thailand veterans contend they are scientific evidence VA claims it needs to grant benefits

WFLA 8 News
by: Steve Andrews
Posted: Jan 23, 2020
Because their job descriptions didn’t place them on base perimeters, the VA denied their claims for disability.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A top VA official in the Tampa Bay area told 8 On Your Side this week the Department of Veterans Affairs has come a long way.

Margarita Devlin, principal deputy undersecretary for veterans benefits contends there is no longer a huge back-log of veterans waiting for their claims to be processed and completed.

However, claims languish for veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War and were exposed to a dangerous herbicide known as Agent Orange.

Most U.S. bombing missions over North Vietnam originated in Thailand.

Tampa Veterans like Dan Tolly and Paul Devane supported the war effort from Thai bases.
At Korat, Paul remembers the toxic herbicide Agent Orange landed on him as he worked near the flight line.
Dan Tolly served in the Air Force in Thailand.
read it here

Saturday, September 21, 2019

VA debt collection practices remain “too clunky and too confusing”

VA concedes its debt collection systems leave veterans confused, frustrated

Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
September 18, 2019
“The resultant debts owed by veterans often cause severe financial hardships for veterans and their families,” said Shane Liermann, deputy national legislative director for benefits at Disabled American Veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs sent out more than 600,000 debt collection notices to veterans and their families in fiscal 2018. (Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Marine Corps)
Veterans Affairs officials acknowledged to lawmakers that the department’s debt collection practices remain “too clunky and too confusing” to ensure families aren’t left in financial jeopardy. And they promised additional reforms within the next year.

“We are too often fragmented, uncoordinated and highly variable in our processes,” said Jon Rychalski, chief financial officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs, told members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday. “Frankly, we have a way to go before we can declare success.”

Last fiscal year, VA overpayments to veterans totaled roughly $1.6 billion, on par with mistakes in previous years.

The cases include mistakes in disability payouts after beneficiary information is updated, payments that conflict with other federal benefits like drill pay, changes in college enrollment that lower GI Bill eligibility, and simple math errors by department employees.
read it here

Thursday, September 12, 2019

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims says veterans get money back for emergency care

Court rules VA must pay for veterans' emergency room care, a decision that may be worth billions

NBC News
By Courtney Kube, Mosheh Gains and Adiel Kaplan
September 10, 2019

"All of this is unacceptable," said an appeals court in a decision that plaintiffs' attorneys say may yield up to $6.5 billion for veterans.
A doctor checks a patients prosthetic arm at the Veterans Affairs hospital in San Diego, Calif., in 2007. Charles Ommanney / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs must reimburse veterans for emergency medical care at non-VA facilities, a federal appeals court ruled Monday — a decision that could be worth billions of dollars to veterans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims said the VA has been wrongfully denying reimbursement to veterans who sought emergency medical care at non-VA facilities, and struck down an internal VA regulation that blocked those payments.

"All of this is unacceptable," said the ruling, which ordered the VA secretary to "readjudicate these reimbursement claims."

Plaintiffs' lawyers say that based on past estimates by the VA, the department is now on the hook for between $1.8 billion and $6.5 billion in reimbursements to hundreds of thousands of veterans who have filed or will file claims between 2016 and 2025.
read it here

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Vietnam veteran needed help, got bad paper discharge in return for service

A Vietnam veteran needed help. The government gave him a “bad paper” discharge instead

McClatchy News
JULY 25, 2019
“What person in their right mind would serve the country honorably and then come back and go AWOL? I had to have been nuts.” Charles Smith

When Charles Smith came home after two years in Vietnam during one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict, he was a traumatized 21-year-old who needed help.

But all he could think about in 1969 was getting away from the military and “drinking myself to death.”

Smith — now 70 years old and living in Conway, S.C. — displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a condition that wasn’t formally recognized by the U.S. medical community until 1980. He dealt with his pain by going Absent Without Leave, or AWOL.

That action affected the rest of his life.

He received an “undesirable” discharge in 1971, which at the time was a subcategory of “less than honorable.” Smith’s mental state and his exposure to combat weren’t part of the evaluation.

That became a double injury, because the designation meant Smith would not be eligible to get medical or mental health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or any financial benefits like disability payments, housing loans and education.

He is among tens of thousands of veterans who have experienced that same type of military separation, even though they are often among the troops who need care the most. Veterans believe many of these discharges are undeserved and call them “bad paper.”

“It’s taking time. That’s more suffering mentally, physically and spiritually, really, because you still will continue to drink or use drugs or whatever you want to escape,” he continued. “And most folks get discouraged, because they’re taking ‘No’ for an answer.”
read it here

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Blue Water Veterans Filed Lawsuit Against VA Comp Delay

Lawsuit filed against VA secretary over delaying benefits for Blue Water Navy vets

Published: July 22, 2019
“These veterans are dying at a high rate every single day,” the complaint reads. “[They] deserve the peace of mind and sense of closure that accompanies a granted claim for earned benefits.”
Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie testifies during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 26, 2019. CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES
WASHINGTON — A lawsuit was filed Monday against Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie over his decision to delay claims processing for tens of thousands of “Blue Water” Navy veterans until next year.

Military Veterans Advocacy and the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, arguing Wilkie doesn’t have the authority to delay work on the claims until Jan. 1, 2020 — a decision he announced earlier this month.

Blue Water Navy veterans served aboard aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships in the territorial seas of Vietnam and fought for years to prove they were exposed to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange. Because of a federal court case and a new law passed by Congress, they became eligible in June for VA disability compensation.

Advocates stressed in their complaint that the veterans can’t afford to wait for benefits. The lawsuits names one veteran, Johnnie Harper of Louisiana, who “is not expected to survive” until 2020.
read it here

Friday, June 21, 2019

POTUS renewed John McCain's choice for veterans healthcare

POTUS takes credit for McCain's biggest mistake?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 21, 2019

While POTUS takes credit for the Veterans Choice Act, he ended up taking credit for one of the biggest mistakes John McCain made. Yes, it was something that Senator McCain pushed for a long time. He managed to pull off pushing to get veterans into the private hell all of the other elected members said was so bad for citizens back when he was running for the presidency.

McCain sells out our vets
The Nation
“We should give them freedom to choose to carry their VA dollars to a provider that gives them the timely care at high quality and in the best location,” McCain has said. AFGE sees it as a backdoor attempt to undermine, or even destroy, the VA. According to Phillip Longman, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and an expert on the VA, such ideas aren’t always inappropriate (disclosure: in 2006 I worked at NAF, where I provided research assistance to Longman and others). Private services, he says, can in some cases be essential to veterans in underserved communities. “But his idea shows just how uninformed [McCain] is about veterans and the VA. Veterans who are already in the system don’t want to get out,” Longman says. “Every veteran who moves from the VA system into the private system will find it more dangerous and more costly.” And there are additional concerns. AFGE points to incidents like the ones in Hayward and Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Last summer veterans facilities in those cities outsourced the operation of their clinics to a private firm, Corporate Health and Wellness. Within a few months the company, citing major financial losses, jumped ship, leaving veterans in search of care locked out for weeks.
Then followed thru with this.
Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014
Most advocates make the point that our veterans pre-paid for their care when they became wounded and disabled serving the nation. Treating them... subjecting them to the same system the rest of us deal with is heartless neglect of those who made us a promise, delivered on it, and then they were betrayed when it came time to care for them.

So now you know how far back this goes and how sickening it is that members of Congress just said, veterans did not deserve their own care, this is what POTUS claimed...even though as you just read, John McCain started it all and Obama signed the first bill to do it.

The Hill reported this
President Trump at his 2020 campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday took credit for passing a veteran's health care bill that was signed into law by former President Obama. "We passed VA Choice," he said, referring to a bill that allows veterans to seek health options outside the Veterans Affairs-run system. "You go out now, you get a doctor, you fix yourself up, the doctor sends us the bill, we pay for it. And you know what? It doesn't matter because the life and the veteran is more important, but we also happen to save a lot of money doing that.""They've been trying to get that passed also for about 44 years," he added.
But he had the same speech last year too.

Donald Trump: GOP just passed veteran's Choice after 44-year wait. Actually, it's 4 years old

President Donald Trump has been barnstorming for Republicans in the midterms. On Oct. 1 he landed in Johnson City, Tenn., to help U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, covering familiar ground about the improving economy.
He touted securing $716 billion for the military, and he gave Republicans credit for giving veterans a new health care option.

Thursday, May 30, 2019 breaks down the VA mail you just got so you understand it

Major VA Change Info Coming to Your Mailbox
By Amy Bushatz
May 30, 2019

Have you checked your mailbox lately for news from the Department of Veterans Affairs? Veterans around the country have started receiving a letter and brochure from the VA updating them on major changes coming to health care access.

The letter, signed by Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, is dated May 7 and briefly lays out the changes, including new access benchmarks and a new urgent care benefit.

"We are excited about these changes that will strengthen VA care and care obtained through our community partners," the letter states. "The changes empower you to find the balance in the system that is right for you."

Here's what the flier says about the changes, known as the Mission Act -- and what they mean.

VA Health Care Eligibility
Veterans who have enrolled are eligible for care from VA hospitals based on a tier system that looks at their service-connected injuries, income and other criteria. Although the flier touches on eligibility, this system was not changed by the Mission Act. The flier also mentions an "annual patient enrollment system;" however, veterans do not need to take any action to remain enrolled, although the VA may reassess eligibility.

VA Community Care Eligibility
The Mission Act's predecessor, VA Choice, established rules around who could receive care outside the VA hospital. Based on a variety of factors such as health needs and where the veteran lives, the Choice program let veterans see providers within a civilian health care network.

Now, that community care program has been given an update to include new eligibility standards. You can see a community-based doctor if:

Care is not available within the new access standards, which cap wait times at 20 days and drive times for 30 minutes for primary care and 60 minutes for specialists.

Necessary care is not provided by the VA at a nearby facility.

You live in a designated state or territory where the VA is not full service, including Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You are grandfathered into the old Choice rules, which allowed for community-based care if you lived 40 miles or more from the nearest VA hospital.

The VA doctor believes community-based care is best for you.

The VA has designated the type of care you need as not meeting standards.
read more here

VA Whistleblower:POTUS Purged 200,000 disabled veteran claims?

Trump administration breaks campaign promise, purges 200,000 VA healthcare applications

Washington Examiner
by Scott Davis
May 13, 2019

"The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs is absolutely unacceptable,” presidential candidate Donald Trump said when speaking at a rally on Oct. 31, 2015, in front of the retired battleship USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va.
"Over 300,000 — and this is hard to believe, and it’s actually much more than that now — over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care," said Trump.

Trump’s strong condemnation of the Obama administration’s handling of the backlog of hundreds of thousands of veteran benefits claims made him the overwhelming choice for many veteran voters in 2016.

But after two years in the White House, the Trump administration has decided to execute a plan to purge 200,000 applications for VA healthcare caused by known administrative errors within VA’s enrollment process and enrollment system — problems that had already been documented by the Office of the Inspector General in 2015 and 2017.

In purging this massive backlog of applications, the VA is declaring the applications to be incomplete due to errors by the applicants, despite the OIG findings and in violation of the promise Trump made to fix the system. This purge has the dual effect of letting the VA avoid the work of processing the applications and absolving the agency of any responsibility for veterans’ delayed access to health and disability benefits.

Under the supervision of Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, VHA managers last November instructed the agency’s IT staff members to purge over 200,000 pending healthcare applications.
read more here

If people bothered to actually look up facts whenever a politician opens their mouths...then maybe they would all stop lying!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Atomic veteran fighting the VA seeking justice for others like him

Atomic veteran continuing the fight for benefits after denial from VA

Enid News and Eagle
By James Neal
Staff Writer
May 6, 2019
"The main thing was for them to take a better look at the other people they treated this way," Simpson said. "I'm not the only atomic veteran that's been treated this way by the VA."

An atomic veteran is continuing a fight for benefits — for himself and other veterans subjected to atomic testing — after his most recent claim was denied by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Richard Simpson, of Hillsdale, holds a photo of an atomic bomb test within 500 meters of the trench he was in with his Marine Corps platoon in 1953. (Bonnie Vculek / Enid News and Eagle)

The News and Eagle first wrote of Richard Simpson, of Hillsdale, in a story last December about atomic veterans' efforts to gain disability benefits for conditions related to radiation exposure. The were ordered to participate in a series of tests between 1945 and 1962 in which the U.S. military subjected troops to atomic blasts to observe the effects of radiation.

The National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV) estimates 195,000 to 300,000 U.S. troops were subjected to atomic testing during that timeframe.

Simpson, then a platoon sergeant in the Marine Corps, participated in Operation Upshot-Knothole in 1953, in which he and his men were placed in trenches about 500 feet from a 350-foot tower, on which an atomic bomb was detonated.
read more here

Monday, April 8, 2019

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" or worth billions?

Why can't veterans trust members of congress?

No need to think too hard on this one. Considering there was a time when no member of Congress really wanted to serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee before it was turned into a money maker for anyone who can profit off their suffering, it is everyone's game now.

To think, these con-artists actually think they can get away with subjecting veterans to deplorable conditions by failing to fix the problems at the VA just for the sake of their rich buddies and fat retirement funds. 

Why else would they be pushing to turn your care over to for profit companies instead of making sure you got the best care possible at the VA?

Read this story from NPR back in 2016 and see what he was up to back this,
SIEGEL: Ten billion dollars put into Veterans Choice, and there are now more vets waiting for care than before. What do you do now? What's next? What happens?
MILLER: We continue to work with the department, with the secretary, with the veterans service organizations that are out there. I believe that many folks now accept the fact that Choice is going to be here. I think it's going to take some time. I mean, nobody expected this to be resolved overnight. You can go back and check the transcripts of most of the interviews, and nobody thought that it was going to be resolved immediately.

Hell, people like Jeff Miller could have saved a lot of lives and caused a lot less heartache had he not been more focused on his own retirement while he served as head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Now we know why!

The Congressman Who Turned the VA into a Lobbying Free-For-All

April 04, 2019

Jeff Miller helped open up the VA to private contractors. Now he’s out of office and lobbying for those businesses.

The Indian Treaty Room is a grand two-story meeting space in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House, with French and Italian marble wall panels, a pattern of stars on the ceiling and the image of a compass worked into the tiled floor. Over the years, it has hosted signing ceremonies for historic foreign policy pacts such as the Bretton Woods agreement and the United Nations Charter.

On Nov. 16, 2017, it hosted a different kind of gathering: an intimate meeting called by the White House to discuss the future of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the 10 months since Donald Trump had taken office, his administration had been pushing a bold and controversial agenda to privatize more of the VA’s services.

The Trump administration’s ambitions are well documented. But what has not been publicly revealed until now is the extent to which the VA—a sprawling agency with a $180 billion (FY2017) annual budget that includes the nation’s single largest health care system, a network of cemeteries and a massive bureaucracy that administers the GI Bill and disability compensation for wounded veterans—has become a massive feeding trough for the lobbying industry.

The VA’s then secretary, David Shulkin, was at the previously undisclosed meeting, along with a contingent of conservative thinkers on veterans policy, including current and former members of Concerned Veterans for America, known as CVA, an advocacy network largely backed by conservative donors Charles and David Koch. Also present were “Fox & Friends” host Pete Hegseth, a former CVA executive repeatedly floated to be Trump’s pick for VA secretary, and David Urban, a right-leaning CNN commentator who served as a senior adviser on the Trump campaign.

According to emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the group drafted a strategy to “echo/amplify” Trump’s “priorities/initiatives” for accelerating the privatization process. According to three people who were there, the participants discussed how best to respond to expected resistance from traditional veterans advocates, who historically have opposed privatizing key agency services. Representatives from “the Big Six” major veterans organizations, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, were not invited.

But it was the presence of the most powerful lobbyist for the companies now trying to get a piece of the VA’s budget—a tan, affable Floridian named Jeff Miller—that would have raised the most eyebrows, had his attendance been known at the time.
As the head of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Miller helped write the very privatization legislation that opened the door to his lobbying operation. As an early Trump backer and a name repeatedly floated as a potential VA secretary, Miller personally shaped the president’s policy; he drafted the Trump campaign’s 10-point veterans policy paper, largely based on proposals he was unable to pass in his time on the Hill. (Moran said Miller also has communicated directly with Trump “on occasion” since joining McDermott.)
read more here

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

VA overpaid disabled veteran, now he needs help to pay bills again?

We all know that our disabled veterans have to fight for the benefits they were promised...after fighting for the country and in the process becoming disabled for the country. (As if that should be OK with anyone) It takes a long time to get their compensation claim approved. During that time, they do not have income coming in, especially if they are so disabled, they cannot work.

Bad enough? Nope! The VA determines their compensation and then sends them a check. Over time, the mistake can add up after months, even years. Once the VA discovers their mistake, they turn around and want all the money back all at once. If this seems acceptable to anyone...this country has some serious issues!

VA mistake forces veterans to seek help to pay bills

The Dayton Daily News
Published: March 27, 2019

FAIRBORN, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — Veteran Rodger Zink went three months without receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to correct a nearly $15,000 overpayment mistake he alerted the agency to and which the government caused in the first place.
Zink, 36, of Fairborn, is one of around 200,000 U.S. veterans who are at risk of falling into debt due to mistakes by the VA, the agency designated to help them once they leave the armed forces.

Zink, who retired from the National Guard for medical reasons, said he had his benefit payments withheld from around Nov. 28 to Feb. 28 so he could pay the VA for the $15,000 overpayment.

“They don’t care about the vet,” Zink said. “They just care about the debt even though it’s their screw up.”

A new law proposed by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown-D, Ohio would only allow the VA to collect debts accrued within the last five years and would prohibit the department from withholding more than 25 percent of benefit payments.

Zink served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was discharged from the Air National Guard in 2011 for a brain injury and was later placed back on active duty to get treatment for a brain tumor. Despite Zink’s concerned phone calls to the VA, the agency kept paying him around $3,300 a month in disability.
read more here

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Pre-9 11 disabled veteran families will have to keep waiting for Caregiver benefits?

Senators urge VA not to fumble expansion of caregiver benefits | Military update

Pensacola News Journal
Tom Philpott, Military Update
March 9, 2019

“At this point they have not responded to any of our inquiries,” said Murray in our interview. “They are not answering our questions. They are not telling us what they have in mind. So, we are doing everything we can to make this visible so they, if we have to, are embarrassed into it.”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) says she is grateful to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on behalf of thousands of caregivers of veterans who suffered severe physical or mental injuries while in service since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

At Murray’s request, Wilkie last December ordered suspension of further downgrades or stoppage of caregiver benefits to current recipients until VA can attest that its health care facilities nationwide are running and resourcing the caregiver program consistently and as Congress intended.

On the other hand, Murray says, she and Democratic colleagues in the Senate are alarmed by other VA actions related to expansion of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) to older generations of severely injured veterans as Congress directed under last year’s VA Mission Act.

“VA continues to miss deadlines and not get it right,” Murray said in a phone interview Wednesday. “And we have got to make them step up to the plate and make this work.”

In a Feb. 28 letter to Wilkie, Murray and nine other Senate Democrats, including ranking members on veterans affairs and armed services, contend VA already is months behind in needed upgrades to information technology to begin to extend caregiver benefits to qualified veterans of the Vietnam and Korean War eras by Oct. 1, 2019, as Congress directed.

The letter also charges VA officials with a lack of transparency as they draft regulations to implement caregiver expansion, and criticizes some steps VA has said it wants to take to hold down future program costs, for example, by tightening access to caregiver benefits and changing methods for calculating caregiver stipends. The letter warns Wilkie that VA lacks authority to make some of the changes eyed without getting Congress to change in law.
read more here

Looks like our generation will have to keep waiting.....

Sunday, January 13, 2019

How it became OK to push veterans out of the VA!

Time for Congress to investigate how it became OK to push veterans out of the VA!

There was a times when taking care of the veterans who became disabled after serving this country, was a sacred duty for the rest of us. There was a time when Presidents and other politicians promised the best care this country could provide for them, because they understood, veterans were prepared to die for this country.

Then came a time when they were no longer ashamed they failed to fulfill their end of the duty and veterans suffered. More promises and more pointing fingers, while veterans suffered.

More years and more suffering has brought us to their repulsive conclusion that they now should be treated like all other citizens and the debt we owe to them no longer matters, has taken over the soul of this Administration.

The VA is an obligation to this nation! It is not something that can be sold to away. 

V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care

New York Times
By Jennifer Steinhauer and Dave Philipps
Jan. 12, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers, setting the stage for the biggest transformation of the veterans’ medical system in a generation.

The Rocky Mountain Regional V.A. Medical Center in Colorado. President Trump made reforming veterans’ health care a major point of his campaign.CreditCreditDan Elliott/Associated Press
Under proposed guidelines, it would be easier for veterans to receive care in privately run hospitals and have the government pay for it. Veterans would also be allowed access to a system of proposed walk-in clinics, which would serve as a bridge between V.A. emergency rooms and private providers, and would require co-pays for treatment.

Veterans’ hospitals, which treat seven million patients annually, have struggled to see patients on time in recent years, hit by a double crush of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and aging Vietnam veterans. A scandal over hidden waiting lists in 2014 sent Congress searching for fixes, and in the years since, Republicans have pushed to send veterans to the private sector, while Democrats have favored increasing the number of doctors in the V.A.

If put into effect, the proposed rules — many of whose details remain unclear as they are negotiated within the Trump administration — would be a win for the once-obscure Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the network founded by the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, which has long championed increasing the use of private sector health care for veterans.
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They have Trumps ear but will we prove we have veterans' backs?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Vietnam veteran's claim trapped by 3 Presidents

Tri-Cities veteran worries he'll die before getting disability claim compensation

WJHL 11 News
By: Jackie DeFusco
Posted: Jan 08, 2019

ELIZABETHTON, TN (WJHL) - Vietnam Veteran William Ward of Elizabethton, a Purple Heart recipient, knows he's on of the lucky ones.
"When the Tet Offensive started we had 28 helicopters and in 40 days we lost 14 helicopters and 21 men."

The former helicopter crew chief said he flew one thousand missions in six months and was shot down three times.
Now, the 71 year-old is worried he may die before he's compensated for a disability claim he appealed fourteen years ago.

"When I landed in the airport in Chicago, I was spit at, I was called names that I can't repeat. And it seems like Vietnam veterans, we were pushed aside and we're still falling through the cracks," said Ward.

Ward has a number of symptoms of service, including PTSD, type two diabetes, hearing loss and sleep apnea.

He appealed his disability claim in 2005. "Next month is February. That will be 14 years that I have been waiting for this," said Ward.
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That would be during the Bush Administration, followed by Obama and now Trump!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Navy veteran diagnosed by VA doctors...denied by VA?

Navy veteran with throat cancer continues uphill fight with VA for disability benefits

Updated: Jan 5, 2019

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte veteran Dan Parks has been fighting with the Department of Veterans Affairs for five years to get disability benefits.

"This has been an uphill battle all the way,” Parks said.

Parks showed WSOC-TV paperwork from multiple doctors who determined his throat cancer was caused by exposure to ionizing radiation during his service in the Navy.

He took care of guns and ammunition in the early 1970s, including in an area that housed nuclear torpedo heads.

Now, because of the cancer, his larynx and thyroid were removed.

Twenty-four years after his diagnosis, he still has side effects and takes 18 pills a day, and the VA denies his disability benefits.

"If the VA won’t respect their own doctors' decisions, who does a guy turn to?" Parks asked.

Parks has been in the appeals process, but just in the past month, he received a letter from the VA that states it couldn't find his transcript and he has to start over in his request for disability benefits.
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