A Two-Part Article on Veterans Issues by a veteran

 

1.      Should We Have any Faith and Trust in our President and Congress regarding these Veterans’ Issues?

 

2.      Should We Have any Faith and Trust in the Veterans Disability Commission Appointed by our President and Members of Congress regarding these Veterans’ Issues?

 

I will take the latter first, as that is ongoing at present, in the news, and in our present Veterans mindset, as to this seemingly pointing towards the President/DoD/VA creating a “Disabled Veterans Tax.”  Very similar to the Veteran’s Disability Tax for career soldiers that was started after the Civil War in order to save government money.

 

2.  Should We Have any Faith and Trust in the “Veterans Disability Commission” Appointed by our President and Members of Congress regarding these Veterans’ Issues?

 

Overall:

 

The first overall issue that strikes me at the very front end of this discussion has to be this commission was appointed by guess whom?  The President and some members of congress. 

 

Based on number one above which, I will put forth next as time and energy allows; this is certainly not a good sign for the Veterans, right out of the starting gate. 

 

A Veteran would have to ask, if this is indeed “for Veterans” and “for the Veterans Quality of Life” then why were not our Veteran Service Organizations (VSO’s) involved as they are more in tune with the collaborative adversarial Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) federal agency than high-ranking officers (retired) and enlisted that are politically appointed.

 

These high-ranking officers and enlisted no doubt still believe in the “magic kingdom” of our Department of Veterans Affairs and even our government in such Veterans Issues.  While one could conclude, the VA is an anarchical kingdom unto itself directed by the Executive Branch of government.

 

Yes, this commission is made up of high-ranking officers and enlisted with over 260 years of military service with many valor awards in combat.

 

 

When I met these courageous and valorous men they seemed to think of the VA as “the way it should be and as advertised” and “not how it actually has been in the past and is presently.”

 

The VA is a façade of rhetoric, manipulations, and out and out lies. 

 

Just recently, the VA advertised some numbers of claims and number of days on claims processing.  In addition, numbers as to the length of wait to get into the VA hospital system and the wait once in the system in order to get a single medical appointment were also put forth.

 

The Inspector General found discrepancies so far off that they were 61 percent off of actual data points.  When asked why, the VA employees said, “they had felt pressured to fudge these numbers.”

 

With this kind of recently found and reported “lack of integrity” at this federal agency and the past issues of integrity within this federal agency; why would any commission or any Veterans group also want this federal agency handling additional work loads, such as in Veterans Social Security Disability claims.”

 

Is there is an ulterior government political motive behind this commission already in place.

 

I would suggest a government/DoD/VA motive does exist!

 

When Dr. David Chu of the DoD came out and stated the United States could no longer defend itself because of the benefits paid to the military.  Veterans of this nation should have seen this coming.  I offered to debate the good Dr. as to why the Nation was broke and it had nothing to do with Veterans but his intestinal fortitude was not as great as his statements or so it seems.

 

Now I understand the government has now rolled the VA budget under the DoD budget at least in part, which is why, the DoD is going to come after Veterans and Veterans Benefits.

 

Veterans must remember once you have served your purpose in body and mind for your nation you are now just “a used up obsolete government/DoD asset.”  No matter what damage the DoD as representatives of our government inflicted on you. 

 

The VA’s job is then to maximize the DoD damage control to the budget with the obvious lack of integrity already reported above.  All of this activity overseen by the White House and their chosen philosophy of not supporting the Veterans of the Nation by using the Feres Doctrine and USC 38 Paragraph 511 and this so called “Veterans court system.”

 

Where is the outrage by our congress and our commander and chief at this lack of reported integrity and the actual manipulation of VA facts above?  They also seem to play a major role in this total VA façade.

 

The silence is deafening!    

 

The nation’s media seems to lap up this government propaganda as if it were water in a desert.   

 

Veterans know differently than this perceived concept of what it actually is the Department of Veterans Affairs is about and the VA tool usage by our political leaders in nothing but White House and Congressional budget control and cover-up for Department of Defense (DoD) mistakes.

 

To me, as a Veteran, this commission certainly parallels in many ways the toxic chemical studies and the Gulf War studies the taxpayers of America have paid for in millions of dollars in good faith for our Veterans’ support.  While our own government entities and government personnel change the outcomes, commit scientific misconduct, and have denied the Veterans and their doctors a fair assessment of the Veterans health status for over 40 years.  (More on this subject in Number 1.) 

 

I do not make these charges lightly and those that have read my book know I cited many government medical study transcripts as well congressional oversight transcripts that point directly to a White House philosophy “not to support Veterans.”

 

“Vietnam’s Rain - Agents Orange, White, and Blue (Weapons of Mass Destruction)”

 

http://www.2ndbattalion94thartillery.com/book/bookorders.htm

 

It became painfully obvious to me during the four year study for my book that the Reagan/Bush White House made the official decision to “NOT support” Veterans and their widows for the DoD mistakes.  Of course, the previous White Houses just denied everything “to the death of the Veteran” until as usual they could deny no more and had to throw the Veterans a few pieces of scrap meat.  Yet, they still cover up many of the real medical issues and statistical facts.

 

Since our congress seems to be more worried about the next election and supporting their President then you can see where our Veterans literally stand-alone. 

 

I will contend the White House philosophy of the Reagan/Bush era still permeates our White Houses and our congresses as they figure more and more ways to rob Veterans.  (More on this subject in Number 1.)

 

These studies above were also advertised “as independent” as well as the National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine (NAS/IOM) reviews.  (More on this NAS/IOM subject later.)

 

The second overall issue has to be this commission is also advertised as being “Independent.”

 

Being “politically appointed” by politicians in this nation for Veterans Issues” can no longer be considered “Independent.”

 

One of the issues that one of the few congressmen we actually have that support us stated “in oversight” he did not understand and it was clear to him that there should be more “Independent Veteran involvement.”  Some scientist also testified they would rather see data from “independent sources” outside of those major players such as the VA or the Air Force controlled studies.  This does not speak well for our government on Veterans’ Issues since congress is aware and still does nothing!  

 

I guess the term “Independent” depends on what side of the fence you are on as to its relevancy and how the word applies.

 

If a former President can use Webster’s, as a defensive weapon, regarding the defining of the word “IS” and how it was applied.  Then I guess for the Veterans of the nation we also can use our former commander and chief’s defensive and offensive verbal tactics.

 

INDEPENDENT

 

Function: adjective


(1): not subject to control by others: SELF-GOVERNING

 

(2): not affiliated with a larger controlling unit b (1): not requiring or relying on something else: not contingent < an independent conclusion > (2): not looking to others for one's opinions or for guidance in conduct.

 

(3): not bound by or committed to a political party.

 

The E-mail that you use to send questions to was at one time going through the Department of Veterans Affairs.  That e-mail address has change to not reflect this VA.gov address but some other address called vetscommisson.intranets.com.  Whether this change of address actually reflects a change in internal processes is certainly unknown.

 

This certainly is suspicious as many of us Veterans have contended, if this is so independent then why do all questions and concerns go to the VA first; and then to the commission.  Not many Veterans, spouses, widows, or children of Veterans trust the VA or the VA officials in Washington anymore.

 

Then we have the Executive Director of this commission a Mr. Ray Wilburn whom I understand is employed by the VA itself.  He also seems to run these open meetings and is the one who controls who speaks and for how long.

 

So far, I have not seen much evidence of an “Independent Commission.”

 

This is even more compelling when I was in personal attendance when one of the VA big shots came down from Mount Olympus and spoke to those of us mere mortals in attendance and the commission.  He totally wasted valuable time of over an hour that could have been used by Veterans in attendance that had been cut from 15 minute to five-minute presentations.

 

His message during that wasted over an hour was:  “The VA is in charge here, you are nothing unless we say so because we control all the money!”  That was it in essence and could have been stated in 30 seconds.

 

The third overall issue has to be where in the world did this agenda come from “if not totally political.”

 

The entire agenda subjects are about cost cutting areas and not how the VA is performing to the levels, it needs to in order to provide as the self-proclaimed commission agenda purports the “Veterans Quality of Life.”

 

So there is very little independence in the area of agenda.  Someone in politics or the DoD/VA created this agenda. 

 

This agenda was created not for Veterans but for the government.

 

Just some of the Agenda Subjects:

 

1.      Should the government continue to give the “Veteran the Benefit of the Doubt”?  (1)

 

2.      Should the government give lump sum payments for disorders at 20% rating or less?  (2)

 

3.      Should the government take DNA samples of Veterans?

 

4.      Should the government consider PTSD a permanent disability?  Is it curable to the point of allowing the Veteran to go back to work?

 

5.      Do the benefits paid to disabled Veterans discourage them from seeking work?

 

6.      Then it was also added in a special pronouncement by the Veterans Affairs Commission in the house and the senate that the commission should also evaluate Social Security in this scenario.  (This certainly does not meet the definition above of an “Independent” Commission.)  (Can you Veterans now see this as just a Political Agenda?)

 

7.      The improvement of government outreach to Veterans.  (3)

 

Does this agenda sound like it is for the benefit of the Veterans?

 

(1) When I was there I asked if we are going to look at continuing to give the Veterans the Benefit of the Doubt then we must ascertain where in the VA process and at what level it is actually given.  The answer by Mr. Ray Wilburn was they, the VA, will just tell you they give it to you.  I indicated that in any analysis that will result in a decision that you have to know what the comparison of (a) to (b) actually is.  If no one knows what (a) is, then how can anyone determine the actual impacts of doing away with (a) and replacing it with (b).

 

I had submitted a Marines case for Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) to this commission where the BVA had decided that there was 50/50 chance his PN was caused by his toxic chemical exposures.  The BVA then assigned more evidentiary weight to the Secretary of the VA medical conclusions that it was not associated.  Therefore, I asked where is the benefit of the doubt on admitted equipoise evidence; yet, the VA has more weight in this “Kangaroo court and Legal System.”

 

This commission wants to study doing away with something that no one can define what that something is.  (Just classic VA reasoning.)

 

(2) This lump sum issue has many many implications of which I tried to address several issues with no response or the responses were so naïve they were not real.

 

The main issue is this lump sum, which the commissioners indicated was the majority of Veterans were at 20% or less. 

 

My may concern was, is this mandatory.  They said no.  I asked how long before it would be since the government obviously wants Veterans off the roles.  No answer. 

 

I asked since I know that a toxic chemical war wound is different than a physical war wound how does that equate and is anyone concerned about this 20% wound eventually leading to a mortality wound as has happen by the 10’s of maybe even 100’s of thousand of our Vietnam Veterans.  No answer.

 

I asked if the Veteran either takes the lump sum as an option or is mandated later on to take this lump sum, is that Veteran still considered “Service Connected.”  I think most of you Veterans can see where this is leading.

 

(3) Improve outreach?  First, there has to be some semblance of an outreach program to improve it.  For over 50 years, there has been no VA outreach or even notification of our toxic chemical damages or what test to run or in Gulf War what to expect.  Only cover-ups and government fraud instead of outreach exists for the Veterans.

 

Two mules and a cow die from west Nile virus in No Where, US of A and for two days it is on the CNN and Fox News banner.  Yet, for Veterans even two times a year on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, as a minimum, there is nothing!

 

There is much more in 3 through 7 I tried to address at the commission but will not bore you with the details.  I can tell you this; I got no satisfactory answers as one Veteran who has studied the VA for four years now.

 

As a note:

 

Veterans must remember the political power they do have should they chose to use it which we seldom do.

 

However, after the word got out about the “social security offset” verbiage, under Veterans pressure the commission agreed to adopt a motion to clarify that there would be no mention or question of an offset of VA or SSDI benefits and to limit data collection from the Social Security Administration and SSDI.

 

While the verbiage was changed in the motion, the data being collected is still suspect as to what it will be used for at least in my simple mind.  

 

As some have already pointed out to me once the data is collected all is needed is another vote to change the verbiage back to original.  Not my thoughts but the thoughts of others. 
 

SPECIFIC ISSUES:

 

Recently the commission published the following:

 

1.      The goals of the Commission are to improve outreach, expedite the SSDI application and examination process, and to explore federal certification, which could lead to a single disability exam for all veterans.

 

I already discussed outreach and its nonexistence, which is also to minimize impacts to the government’s budget at the sacrifice of the Veterans.

 

Expedite SSDI application and examinations?

 

First, the VA could not and will not expedite an already approved claim for government toxic chemical caused cancer that is automatically associated to service in Vietnam.  My guys die from these cancers once diagnosed within 6 months and never got a dime while they and their family were fighting the Veterans cancer.

 

Do I want this agency now working my social security claim on the pretense that this agency will somehow expedite anything?  That has got to be the biggest joke in this whole thing.  In fact, in support of my guys, I point blank asked whom in government can light a fire under the VA’s rear-end.  The answer I got was, “absolutely NO ONE!”

 

I have no idea what in the world this commission means citing “a single disability exam.” 

 

The first thing is most of the time the Social Security unlike the VA does not require what the VA calls a Compensation and Pension Exam or C & P.  This is because the VA uses a totally different rating system with a cumulative math total.

 

In most cases, unless it is contested Social Security requires no such exam.  They have the test data, the doctor’s facts, and the specialist doctor facts.  As long as those tests and the doctors facts and test results meet the Social Security Blue book definitions by paragraph and section there is not much sense in Social Security taking the claim to adjudication.  Especially since the social security applicant as guaranteed by the constitution, they can have competent legal lawyer representation.

 

Unlike the Veterans Administration rules that this constitutional guarantee does not apply, until this federal agency tells you it is OK to have competent legal representation.

 

Ironic don’t you think that those that sacrifice mind, body, and soul to guarantee that specific right for “all citizens” are then “themselves denied such constitutional rights by our own government.”

 

The bottom line, “statement 1” is controversial and spurious at best since most disabled Veterans do not have a problem with Social Security disability.  In fact, most tell me they got theirs through in four to nine months.  One of the reasons is they seemed to realize the toxic chemical impacts of service in Vietnam more than the VA does.  Therefore, they see the same medical issues on Veteran after Veteran.  Including these are the same medical issues that someone, if they had any integrity, at the VA would look at the empirical data in the legal system of the BVA and say to himself or herself this is hard data and should not be ignored.  Yet, it is ignored on a daily basis within the VA and the leadership of the VA.     

 

 
2. Therefore, any study of SSDI benefits must be conducted for the sole purpose of improving access and timeliness of these benefits to veterans.  For example, possible recommendations based on SSDI d
ata could include:


a. Waivers for veterans with less than six quarters of SSDI eligibility;


b. Expedited reviews for veterans already service-connected by VA or for those medically retired from the military.

 

 

In Number 2, we do not need the VA meddling and again their idea of expediting anything would be someone else’s definition of stalling.

 

In all of Number 2, you only need a reciprocal agreement between the two agencies.

 

Christ the congress makes the laws of our nation; not the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, and certainly not this commission.  Although Veterans will eventually see, this recommendation by this commission used by those politicians that appointed them, when the Veterans’ rear-ending commences!  

 

3. Rather than individual data or data that includes income or medical diagnostic matching, the Commission voted to direct its research contractor, the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), to use only large, combined groups of veteran data.  There will therefore be no way to match the obtained data to any individual, in order to protect the privacy of veterans receiving SSDI compensation.

 

Again, this statement is so misleading.  We are not going to do this specifically but in great numbers.  What in the heck does that mean to anyone?  Of course, Veterans understand what data they are going after in bulk.  Is there any doubt in any Veterans mind or spouse of a Veteran or child of Veteran as to what is going on here?

 

4. The Commission also hopes to gain additional insights from this rolled-up, grouped data, which might lead to a greater understanding of the effects on quality of life for disabled veterans and the utilization rates of SSDI by veterans.  By understanding how many eligible veterans take advantage of SSDI and how that process works, the Commission hopes to understand how to improve the process and encourage all eligible veterans to apply for their SSDI benefits.

 

This statement is also misleading in its intent.  As in 3 above, I think most Veterans can see past this totally flawed and ambiguous statement.

 

I want to also include the sample this committee staff put out as some sort of defensive posture.  This is what the VA commonly does.

 

“After sitting through nearly two-days of public meetings, a Vietnam veteran who suffered Traumatic Brain Injury and other debilitating conditions came forward during the Public Comment period on May 19.  Like many of you, he had been led to believe certain misgivings about the Commission. 

 

Instead, he expressed his respect and gratitude for the work that the Commission is undertaking in fulfilling its mission.”

 

What that is supposed to do as VA propaganda I have no clue.

 

We all respect those on the committee for their service to the nation and so forth.  They are just misguided as to which way to “March Order.”

 

In other words the commission with these statements above now all of sudden rather than “offset from VA to SSDI” study is now looking to solve a problem that does not exist and never has existed but they need the Social Security data to solve this nonexistent problem.

 

All Veterans know where this is politically headed and that is a “DISABLED VETERANS TAX!”  No different than the government robbing of our career military retiree veterans for over 130 years to the tune of billions, maybe even trillions of dollars with what is called the “Veterans Disability Tax.”

 

The two rating systems of the VA and the Social Security are not even close to being the same and the results of the disability are even treated differently.

 

In the one case, the social security is not interested in a partial disability and when a 100% or qualifying for Social Security you are allowed to try and work part-time up to $860.00 gross per month.  Including that even though you are on Social Security they may call you in from time to time or even come visit you to make sure you are disabled to the point you were or close.  While they do have some ratings that will make this less likely to happen such as, “not expected to recover or improve.” 

 

The VA on the other hand, you can be 90% disabled and still working and even a 100% disabled and still working depending on the math stack up of disabilities.

 

If congress wants to solve this commissions “perceived problem” and actually help the Veterans then they should pass a law stating:

 

Both agencies “shall” honor with reciprocal agreements the findings of the one as to disability rating.

 

Notice I said “SHALL” instead of “WILL.”  That means in legal terms it is a command and must have an auditable trail that the agencies are in compliance and complying with the law. 

 

Of course, as usual this means nothing to the VA as they ignore congressional mandates all the time and even when it is a law they as the congress has given them the power to implement the laws the way they see fit which, is essence how the White House sees fit.

 

With the power of the VA and being, a government within our own government even a courts mandamus act is ignored as the VA thumbs their nose at the court.

 

The VA has become an “appointed government” with legislative, executive, and judicial powers over one segment of society within our elected form of constitutional government. 

 

In other words by recognizing each others work, a short form can be used no different than a 1040a short form for filing taxes.  This would obviously reduce the burden on both federal agencies.

 

However, that would make sense with logic and our government when it comes to making things simple and making sense does not have the aptitude for such things, except when it comes to illegals.

 

I will repeat here what the Vietnam Veterans of America stated:

 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) system is not a veterans’ benefit, nor was it intended to be.  We understand that at least one commissioner has said that because veterans paid into the system while they were in the military possibly for only two years or less, and while many have paid into that system for thirty-five or forty years since discharge, that the brief time paid in makes it a “disabled veteran benefit.”

  

Frankly, this is as intellectually specious as claiming that because many veterans paid auto insurance and Department of Motor Vehicle charges on their car in their home state while they were in the military that auto insurance is all so a “veterans’ benefit.”

  

Our organization is against a “disabled veterans tax,” no matter what the guise.  Just as prohibition of concurrent receipt of military pension for longevity and VA compensation for service connected disabilities is essentially a tax levied on veterans for being disabled, so too would any offset of any SSDI payments to American citizens who happen to be veterans who are disabled as a result of their military service.

 

The Federal laws, regulations, as well as the patterns and practices governing Social Security in general, and Social Security Disability in particular are totally different from those governing VA Compensation & Pension.  The SSDI criteria, categories, and definitions of disabilities differ greatly from those of VA and Title 38, United States Code.

 

To even contemplate an “offset” says to us that there is contemplated new tax increase on veterans for being both disabled and an American citizen under the civilian system, and for being disabled as a result of something that traces to their military service.

  

Gathering the data (which in and of itself may well be of questionable legality without the consent of all of the veterans involved) simply means that someone on this commission, or on the staff, is contemplating using it.  You do not put the clip in a weapon and the round in the chamber unless you are seriously contemplating pulling the trigger.  This would seem an apt analogy to the gathering of SSDI data.

 

 If the Commission is going to start delving into all income and all wealth of each service member or veteran, where do you stop? 

 

Do you examine 401(k) plans and possible “offsets?”

 

Stock & Bond portfolios and possible offsets?

 

 Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and possible offsets?

 

Inherited land and possible offsets? 

 

The spouse’s income and possible offsets? 

 

The income of the extended family and possible offsets?

 

The answer to all of these is a resounding "NO!” you do not have the right to get into these areas, as they have nothing to do with the individual citizen’s military service.

 

VVA does not, and will never accept this attitude, whether intended or not, as it does great dishonor and disservice to the men and women who have served their nation well in military service, and are now lessened by virtue of that military service.

 

 

All of the above simply because a citizen chose to wear the uniform of the United States Military.

 

Get ready Veterans the political fight of your life as well as your family is coming!

 

VETERANS Counter Point:

 

If this commission and our President and our members of congress that appointed this commission under the already stated agenda of addressing the “quality of life” and getting the benefits to the disabled Veterans in a timely manner to support them, then I submit the following agenda as counter point to what is presently going on.  Which are nothing but cost cutting and taking away of Veterans Benefits and that includes a “Disabled Veterans Tax.”

 

Instead of attacking the Veterans, this commission should concentrate on the VA and how their process and procedures do not support anything this committee says it is studying. 

Every year Veterans and their families get the same rhetoric from the Secretary of the VA.  “We are trying hard and promise to do better.”  Unfortunately, this never happens and congress is neither interested nor inquisitive as to the why this never happens over the last 30 years.  In fact, the performance gets consistently worse with little legitimate explanation as to the “why.”

 

The Secretary puts out figures that are neither accurate nor factual yet even when this lack of integrity to our nations veterans is exposed our congress once again remains silent and less than effective in demanding real answers and examples. 

Perhaps that explains the question as to the “why” the lengthy delays in approving a Veterans claim above; mandated government budget control.  Implementing such delays and having this VA track record of a dismal VA performance then monetarily rewards our own government.

 

Does a conflict of interest exist rewarding poor VA performance?  I believe the answer is yes. 

This commission and congress should demand answers as to how validating one simple data point can possibly take 12 to 18 months to get the Veteran and his family his disability approved and money to that Veteran and his family for his disability. 

Certainly there is huge difference between a physical war wound and an internal cancer war wound and should be treated differently in time, time to diagnosis, and time to mortality.  Yet, the VA treats these wounds as equal and the same in mortality.  This is totally nonsensical and against all medical and scientific logic. 

This review should demand explanations from the contracted NAS/IOM as to how other studies show significant findings in many areas associated to our Toxic Chemical Legacy and Gulf War Issues and only this government contracted body finds differently. 

 

These significant findings are in many areas of systemic body systems such as neurological damages, hematological damages, hepatic damages, endocrine damages, and immunological damages.  All of which is found in empirical data at the BVA.

 

These findings are significant in these areas with findings of significant standard mortality ratios (SMR), significant Odds Ratios (OR), significant Risk Ratios (RR), p-values of difference between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans found to a p-value of <0.05, p-values found in association with the dioxin, TCDD to a p-value of <0.05.

 

Yet, the NAS/IOM some how can find a way to “not find” these many issues associated to either the dioxin, TCDD or significant increase or increased risk of incidence by serving in a wartime environment in Vietnam or exposure to the chemicals in the many bases around the world.

 

Then our government turns around and contracts with the same folks for the PTSD studies. 

 

I think we already know what the outcome will be and the study is not even started yet.  This is the same contracted agency that said our Gulf War deaths and disabilities were created by stress in a 100-hour war; also proven false by many other independent studies. 

 

So yes, Veterans already know the outcome of this study before it even begins and by the way so does the DoD/VA and our own congress. 

 

Kelley

DMZ 67-68