To Mary et al.
Yes, I know Don and copy him on all my findings and I post his updates on my site as well.
He has done some good work for all Veterans.
We disagree some on what the government will do based on what they have done past and present and what they are planning on doing.
However, if you believe that logic of this will just go away like the PTSD let me step you thru a few things that have happened with this very same committee.
The PTSD review had not been announced when I was at the Commission last Sep only rumors among them. But what I did see written down and assigned to a committee was the diagnosis of PTSD and the fact that paying these guys 100% for PTSD may deter the Veteran from seeking work and that maybe a time limit should be applied and that was thrown around as two years like three of our toxic chemical issues the VA says is curable within two years and has that payment gate on them. That was on Thursday and I presented late Thursday and was going to leave early Friday morning. I then told my wife lets stick around and see what happens in the morning session.
Late Thursday they did have a women come in and talk about the success they had in curing PTSD and getting the guys back to work.
On Friday, which was not discussed on Thursday, was a study that was to be farmed out to the NAS/IOM on these very issues. How should it be diagnosed, how permanent, etc.
Many Veterans have written in to this commission including myself that the NAS/IOM is not this independent entity that is being advertised and that some other agency should be used like the IARC or similar.
Now shortly after that is when the VA announced it was going to review PTSD cases for fraud and misdiagnosis. The Senate VAC only said no, do not waste time doing that as we have over 600,000 cases pending and those need to be worked. Now do I believe that the VA is not reviewing claims? The answer is no!
Just like I did not believe the crap, the Secretary was putting out about the waiting times and claims that he just out and out lied.
His facts were:
Feb 06 when he indicted that last year, 97% of veterans who requested a primary care appointment got that appointment within 30 days, and 95% of those who requested an acute care appointment got it within 30 days. On the other hand, the number of Veterans waiting for first time exams, they were doing better on claims, etc and on an on with his lies to not only congress but also the nation.
In fact, every thing had gone up and the IG found some errors were as high as 61% off. The audit found that some VA staff, feeling "pressured," actually fudged the numbers.
Congress issues mandates to the VA yearly and the VA just ignores them or finds away to work around it. While the VAC subcommittee is charged to make sure that what they have stated gets done properly and in a timely manner the follow-up is almost non-existent. Even if they did the only thing they can do, is threaten with holding back budgets and then who really gets hurt? All laws and how those laws apply to Veterans are determined by the VA directed by the White House in the power given them in USC 38 Para 511. To include a court mandate for the VA to do something or perform is not worth the paper it is written on. Of course, this only applies to the Veteran Community.
The Veteran Community must realize the DOD/VA is out to redefine what a veteran is and what the entitlements will be. While yes some of it maybe grand fathered in; the chance of it all being is not realistic. While Don fights for your claims I am fighting to put Don out of business with at least less claims to be stymied by the corruption at the VA. There is a difference.
Now the most shocked person in the country was I after returning from the commission and then two weeks later they announce this review of PTSD claims. I thought how in the world did this take place so fast.
Then I started doing the math. In 2005, there was 10K drawing anything from actual toxic chemical damages and not all of those were in country Vietnam Vets. So even that number is somewhat misleading. This is up about 2.5K from 2000.
Then I look at approved PTSD claims of 72K. Well no, wonder the want to cut those back. That is where billions of dollars a year are going. Remember the scale for compensation is not linear the biggest savings is to cut 100% down to something less. Even a reduction to 90% in all cases reaps the government millions of dollars a year in savings. Like 7.2 million A MONTH just in a 10% reduction!
So do I believe they are not reviewing cases in an attempt to down grade. The answer is no.
I asked a direct question to the deputy secretary of the VA and his wording was, He knew of no review teams whose "sole purpose" was to review PTSD claims. Not what I wanted to hear.
Therefore, unlike Don, I do not think the PTSD issues has actually gone away; far from it with this new study given to the NAS/IOM. Now the NAS/IOM will deliver what ever the DOD/VA wants as results you can count on that. After four years of studying, they did in our toxic chemical issues and then comparing that with the rest of the scientific community it became obvious federal dollars buys scientific results. See another opinion on this at:
Now when the NAS/IOM gets done with their 1.7M PTSD study do you believe the VA will not use those results to review all cases for compliance. I certainly think that is exactly what will happen.
The congress mandates the use of the NAS/IOM so the findings will be cast in stone.
The VA works with the NAS/IOM and “is the contractor” even though the mandate comes from the Congress.
The NAS/IOM works under the thumb and constraints of the VA.
Once the results are published the VA will have every right to go back and review all claims for the new precedence established by the very entity congress mandated the VA use and congress will not have a leg to stand on to stop it since they are now part of it. Convenient I admit but never the less that is what is going on.
I predict this will happen I am just not sure at what level and how much they will be looking to cut.
At the committee itself it was thrown around that 2 years should possibly be the limit for 100% PTSD.
The other issue they discussed was the length of time the Veteran had to submit any claim, which I took also as inclusive to PTSD against the government via the VA for service connection. That also was discussed as to two years from discharge after that too bad seek help from the civilian sector as the issues no longer applied to service connection.
I argued the best I could that in all cases that did not make since like our long-term toxic chemical issues, which are still manifesting, and other like issues of chronic involvement. Now was I arguing for just Nam Vets? NO all veterans past present and future.
Therefore, this committee is still well ingrained in the PTSD review and I will state this will happen sooner or later I just cannot identify the levels yet. I think we will know after the NAS/IOM publishes its bogus government paid for study and see what the study says. If talks about limits and work related stuff, you can bet your bottom penny a review will take place for the new compliance. Veterans had better be ready to prove your cases again!
The other issue this committee was discussing when I was there in Sep of 05 was the DNA thing. My questions were are you now going to look for the perfect soldier and is this DNA going to be used against the veteran in claims such as you already had a predisposition to cancer therefore what ever we did to you is immaterial. I got no satisfactory answer to my questions that made any sense. I could also tell on this one there were some committee members that were not happy about this issue of checking a Veterans genetic background.
YET, the VA has already announced this will happen in another million-dollar study. Therefore, it took from Sep 05 to Apr 06 for them to issue March Order on this project.
The other issue this committee was involved in was the lump sum payment for disorders that were at 20% or less.
Again, I argued that if this is optional, how long before the VA makes it mandatory like workman’s compensations. The answer was this would be optional. I again said yes and how long before it becomes mandatory since it looked like to me the president was trying to make veterans issues like civil service issues. I got no answer.
I then argued how long would it be before the %level moved up. I got no reasonable answer.
I then argued that while a 20% lump sum payment to get the Veteran off the records would he remain service connected. I got no real good answer.
Why would that be important outside of the possibilty of an escalation of problems. The states sometime offset a service connected disability to things like real estate taxes but you must be "service connected." Over years this adds up to more money in the Veterans pocket as well as his family.
I then argued that while a 20%, lump sum for a physical wound might and I said might without looking at it further might apply to a physical wound. However, 20% diabetes wound can be mortality in the end with many years of disability involved and you cannot compare these in the same category.
By the way the VA has also moved out on this subject also and wants to get Veterans off the books.
The answer I got was well it will be optional and again I asked the same question will this be law that the VA cannot go back and make this mandatory. I got no real good answer.
My thoughts were the VA could apply any rule of law in any form they want since USC 38 Para 511 gives them the authority to do that very thing.
I believe what they intend to is take an average of payment across the civilian issues like workman's compensation. Like for instance in the civilian world if you lose a finger then that is rated at so much lump sum payment. So they would take the 20% disability, whatever it is, and then associate to a lump sum based on what the disability is for.
You see I have studied this process for over four years now and lord help me I am starting to think like these folks.
Now the other issue that I think was the most relevant to a point was this “do we continue to give the Veterans the Benefit of the Doubt?”
Again I argued first you must tell us where that Benefit of the Doubt is applied and to what levels. You cannot do matrices on something to compare the impacts if you do not have a starting point; so where is it given and what level.
The answer by Mr. Wilburn who by the way seems to run this committee even though it is advertised as independent from the VA (BS) was that the VA will just tell you they give it to you. I said your answer makes no sense. The question is should we continue to do something. If you cannot identify what that something is then how do you judge the impacts of not doing it? Again, he said the VA would just tell you they give it to you. Needless to say, my logic and reason was about gone and not getting a simple answer to a very pointed and specific question and temper was going up so a real verbal exchange took place. I wanted to deck him but my wife said no you are here fighting for all Veterans not just yourself.
Then I find this guy is the VA liaison to the committee. What in the hell, was he doing involved in the questions if this is such an independent committee?
Now I see as more events unfold as to the why this was even a topic.
As you know, the VA is rewriting USC 38 Chapter 5 in its entirety. I have a copy but have not gone through all the issues yet. In my overview I found them clarifying the definition of expert witness and lay witness and other associated issues. That could have major implications.
I think with the chronology of what has gone on from the commission to now there is every chance they are going to do away with all presumptive issues and include that in the doing away with the benefit of the doubt. I am also hearing this from inside the beltway. They indicate that even diabetes presumption to dioxin that is awarded is costing the government a ton of money in secondary issues.
Remember at one time you had to prove exposures. There was no benefit of the doubt given as in presumptive exposure.
Now some have said they cannot do that. I agree in some issues where the NAS/IOM actually declared associations. However, in USC 38 the Secretary of the VA has the power to add any disorder regardless of study results as presumptive. This has been done in several disorders by the VA one of which was diabetes. I have not looked at all the ones that were declared presumptive. Therefore, I do not know all the impacts.
To undue this would not be going against science but only the previous VA secretary’s opinion.
I will go out once again on a twig and state this will happen eventually to what level and grand fathering and all that I have no clue. I do know the DOD/VA wants to do away with any presumptive disorders.
Rewriting USC 38 chapter 5 I think is the beginning of this process where every veteran will individually have to prove individual cases as it applies to science. By the way, the VA says that a previous decision has no bearing on the next decisions. In other words, there is no legal precedence to follow like a real legal system.
This also would provide even more stalling tactics to limit budgets per year.
I think that is one reason why the VA guy would not answer my question.
Now as Don said the PTSD issue has gone away; I disagree and have given you my reasons the main reason being cost by the VA in which now takes away from the DOD budget. You think the VA is ruthless. The VA cannot hold a candle to the DOD.
The same holds true for this social security offset. I would bet this is actually coming out of the DOD to the VA.
Now I do not know if this will happen or the grandfather issues or not. I do know it was discussed at the breaks in Sep of 05.
I do know that the so-called head of the commission, General Scott sent a letter to the VAC and the Armed Forces committee if the commission should look at this issue. The answer by our own congress to that commission was YES!
Now the fact that congress has given the OK to even look at must be a major concern and yes maybe not for us but for our present and future veterans.
In my opinion and I was surprised at the other sites at the outrage of the congress even giving this commission the purpose of studying such issues. Congress does not have that power in any segment of society except the Veterans Community.
When the 9/11 victims got millions of dollars, did congress question their social security status and levels?
Are we to assume that all levels are to be looked at in any civilian disability case and if they are making too much then offset their social security. If a person is awarded millions by a drug company for damages in health; are they to now forfeit part of their social security that they paid into for 35 years so others can use their money that they worked for?
No you will not find that as the ACLU and other organizations would be outraged.
So the fact that our own congress seems to think this is worth looking at for Veterans is a very scary thing. Even the congressional go ahead should be dealt with.
However, every one just says, “oh that will never happen and if it does it will not affect me.” Over 50 years ago Veterans thought the Feres Doctrine would never happen but it is alive and well and used daily to deny Veterans.
Now let me take the other side of the coin for a minute and take the other stand as to why as some say this will not happen, then why are we spending millions on it.
What most do not know is the president and some members of congress appoint this commission.
Now that means that they are in fact by default representing their respective appointees.
I just heard the other day and I have not verified it yet but I am working on it. This commission votes blind. In other words, we have no idea who is voting for what. By default, once again we have no idea who in congress or the president these commissioners are actually voting for and the reflection of those that appointed them as to any directed political agenda. Neat trick if you want to do something and not have your name associated with it.
To me this is also an outrage if I find what I was told is true about the blind votes.
Now will this commission sell their soul for politics?
Lets review what they get.
Now there are thirteen members on this committee and you are now talking about a large piece of change.
So if I really believed this was not going to happen at some level or the fact that this offset should not even be studied I would be outraged at spending this much money on something that according to some is not going to happen and shall not happen.
Now I understand this commission has submitted for an additional year of studies. Hell, I would also with that kind of salary and benefits and all expenses paid.
In fact, I asked if they needed any help since in my opinion these generals and such were not educated enough, in the subjects to make reasonable educated decisions. I was told they needed no help. Ha Ha
Now what are their published duties?
Go to this .pdf and read what their duties are limited to:
It says nothing about reviewing a social security impact or any such issues associated other than those, “…provided under current federal laws to compensate Veterans and their Survivors for disability or death attributable to military service.
Not WHAT WAS EARNED IN SOCIAL SECURITY BY WORKING FOR 35 YEARS! Social security has nothing to do with benefits that apply as this mandate says attributable to military service.
Therefore, in the eyes of many Veterans, this is way out of bounds of the purpose and charter of this commission. So why are they wasting my money and yours?
I think because they were told to!
Be forever vigil when it comes to our government and the single segment of society that has no constitutional rights, the Veterans and their survivors.