----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2008 10:31 AM
Subject: A Do-able improvement
for military veterans
If 1,000 people were to contact their Congress Critters about this
idea, it might happen. And who knows? It might help. Throwing away more money to be wasted by the politicians and the bureaucrats
is certainly not helping the disabled veteran.
Martin Schram: Why is VA adversary, rather than advocate, of vets?
When it comes to war and peace, we indeed are two Americas.
One fights our nation’s wars. The other pays those who go to war so
the rest of us, our children and our grandchildren, won’t have to.
At least, that is the way it is supposed to work. But a new book, written
by this columnist, details scores of shameful ways in which our nation is failing the men and women who volunteer to fight
our wars in distant lands — and especially when they return home and discover they must battle anew, this time with
their own government, just to get treatment and benefits earned long ago.
“Vets Under Siege: How America Deceives and Dishonors Those Who Fight
Our Battles” (Thomas Dunne Books) chronicles more than a half century of tragic tales of veterans who have been wronged,
stacks of dust-gathering studies of delays and denials, official studies followed by official inaction, as problems festered
and veterans suffered.
There is the sad story of Gulf War Army veteran Bill Florey, who developed
a rare cancer after being exposed to Iraqi chemical weapons that the U.S. Army mistakenly detonated at Khamisiyah, Iraq.
A series of horrendous failures and treatment delays left him horribly disfigured
Then the VA coldly rejected his modest request for service-related disability
compensation — without even checking its own data that would have proven the merits of his request. The VA case adjudicator
simply asserted in adversarial language that it was “less likely than not” that Florey’s chemical exposure
caused his cancer.
Florey died of his brain cancer on New Year’s Day, 2005. Six months
later, a government study discovered that actually it was twice as likely as not that Florey’s chemical weapons contamination
caused the cancer that killed him.
There is the tale of Eric Adams, a military policeman from Tampa, Fla., who
served in both the Gulf War and the Iraq War. His job in Iraq included leading truck convoys through dangerous territory.
A roadside bomb exploded in front of his convoy and when he braked, a truck smashed into the rear of his rented van, which
had no seat belts.
Back home, a VA adjudicator initially felt there was inadequate proof that
his service even constituted combat conditions!
Then the adjudicator challenged the claim for treatment of Adams’ post-traumatic
stress disorder — even after presidential commission recommendations and presidential directives that stressed the need
to provide proper treatment and compensation to suffering veterans.
When Adams, who’d seen friends killed in war, showed the VA adjudicator
that he had been diagnosed by two VA doctors as suffering from PTSD, the VA changed its ruling: The new ruling was that, yes,
Adams did indeed have PTSD as his VA doctors had diagnosed. But the VA again rejected his claim — on mind-numbing grounds
that this former military policeman could not cite the specific wartime incident that could be verified as the “stressor”
that caused his PTSD.
There was the case of national guardsman Garrett Anderson, of Champaign, Ill.,
a truck driver who was interviewed on CNN, after an explosive device cost him his right arm, broke his jaw and left him with
a body riddled with shrapnel.
Anderson didn’t get to collect service-related benefits payments for
the shrapnel wounds because the VA adjudicator actually wrote the following decision: “Shrapnel wounds all over body
not service connected.”
Not service connected?
How else did the VA think he got riddled with shrapnel?
Taken together, the tales, statistics and studies make clear one conclusion:
The Department of Veterans Affairs has become infused with a mindset in which senior officials, mid-level bureaucrats and
low level adjudicators have too often acted as veterans’ adversaries, rather than veterans’ advocates.
The VA adjudicators often function as if veterans are assumed to be attempting
to bilk the government. Veterans are often left to find lawyers to fight their battles against the VA. This mindset within
certain segments of the VA was not addressed by the recent presidential commission’s recommendations for veterans’
affairs. But no other solutions can succeed until it is recognized and addressed.
One solution: To banish the mindset of a VA adversarial role, the VA should
help veterans gather all information and build their best case for benefits claims.
And to foster a new mindset and instantly re-badge the bureaucracy, the VA
should be renamed as the Department of Veterans’ Advocacy.
A PTSD Disabled Vet has been battling his state government
for over seven (7) to get justice in a Legal Malpractice case. His Governor Office refuses to acknowledge the vet's
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Say, "It ain't my job to help...
In one poll: 7,311 to 1. Say
there Should Be A Federal PTSD Veterans Advocacy Agency.