I don’t know which letter you are responding to, but I continue to be amazed at how some veterans continue to believe that no matter what Congress does for veterans, every attempt to make things better is somehow construed as an attempt to shortchange those who served. Be that as it may…
Since President Bush was elected, funding for the VA has more nearly doubled. At the same time, funding for many other federal programs has remained relatively flat. In fact, the latest budget proposed by the President for 2007 increased funding for the VA by nearly 12% over 2006 – while other major agencies, such as the Department of Energy had their proposed budgets cut.
Dear Mr. Schrade,
While I appreciate your response, I think you will find several issues that are not being addressed by our congress.
Funding levels are of course important and your point is well taken. The real issue is how much should the levels be and should have been over the last 40 years compared with the rest of the social programs and does money thrown at an agency that is accountable to no one - do any good.
During the most prosperous economic times in our recent history food stamps and free lunches goes from 26 billion to over 52 billion in 10 short years and yet no one finds this perplexing. Yet, every year Veterans face a budget crisis. Even a 1.5 billion VA miscalculation (fraud) is debated for months yet with the stroke of a pen Mr. Bush can give out 1 Billion to support illegal health care. So there is just a slight concern here as to which President Bush/Congress is actually concerned about.
So, if you want to believe your own press then as you said, be that as it may…
Now if you want to address the issues, which of course no money thrown away "or at" can fix, then lets have an open discussion.
I have the pulse of the veterans on my side and if you want to know what they think then I am ready to discuss at your place any time you are ready at my own expense.
Money does not buy integrity - even if it is four times the amount of money required.
We need congress to address the issues with “Veterans” not the VA who are hired and run by the White House and directed by White House Philosophy.
The VA fudges numbers at a heartbeat; even as recently when the IG reported their so-called "presented efficiency" in several issues such as claim turnaround, getting into the system, first time appointments, etc were totally bogus. The IG clearly reported that the VA employee’s felt pressured to fudge the numbers by at least 61% and yet there is no congressional outrage at this propensity to lie and to continue to lie. Money does not solve this issue. (If they found it at 61% you can bet it was much worse than that, we live it - the VA only reports what they want.)
Every time we get a new Secretary (and I watched the senate coronation of the new one which was a joke) they always say we are trying hard and promise to do better. Yet, they cannot give one example to the senators, who by the way do not demand examples, protocols, and critical path decision matrices to show why it takes decades to get a case through this nothing but budget control federal agency. Money obviously does not solve that problem either since it never does get better and in effect gets worse; yet, according to you the budget is twice what it was eight years ago.
Even when there is no critical path decision to be made the VA takes 12 to 18 months to get help to the Veterans on issues that are automatic and require the verification of three data points – two of which are a given. Money does not solve that issue. A little integrity and process changes is all that is required. Congress can then sit back and justify this lack of performance by the money in the billions you are giving this federal agency. HOW??????? This would be equivalent to a person reaching social security age yet they can get the money into the bank account in a couple of weeks not months or even over a year. How is this possible that only Veterans with an automatic claim approval, laying in a VA hospital, cannot get support for his family in a timely manner as he fights the “government caused cancer.” I would like to be in on that little explanation.
On the other hand, how about BVA remands sitting back at the local VA shops for over five years, never touched, and the Veteran dies with no support or even medical care that was needed. Can congress justify this lack of performance or is this just a conflict of interest and let’s just let the Veterans die and we will save a ton of money. Money cannot solve this issue either but a little bit of accountability may.
Not just Veterans are questioning these facts but now our widows are questioning what is really going on. Toxic chemical war wounds are totally different than physical war wounds yet they are treated the same at the VA with their gates on widows and orphans compensations. Can congress explain this to the widow and the orphan who now will lose because their husband or father was struck down by a toxic chemical cancer that kills in two to three years? Or again is this a VA conflict of interest - the guy is going to die anyway chances are - so lets not change the gate for these types of wounds.
Then we have the lack of outreach for over 40 years for our Vietnam vets in even letting them know what they can expect. Two mules die of West Nile virus and it is on CNN news ticker for days. Yet, the VA has not taken steps to inform our Nations Veterans and more importantly their doctors in such a manner. I still get guys coming to our reunions that do not know their cancers were covered or their diabetes is covered. Why? Because of no outreach by the VA, that would again point to a conflict of interest? Lets not tell the Veterans that they may want some preventative treatment or their doctors to look at them as toxic chemical exposure victims and not the normal patient. That he or she may have immune system issues leading towards a cancer or an autoimmune condition. Now in this case a few extra bucks may have helped but this common sense approach to outreach even two times a year for a week is not even a consideration by a federal agency that now has a conflict of interest, no doubt White House directed.
Then we have the mandated congressional ruse on using the NAS/IOM to be contracted by the VA. Yet, no one in congress can tell the Veterans is the NAS/IOM doing what the congress intended in our mass Veterans Issues. On the other hand, is this just a congressional show also? I personally witnessed the program manager of the NAS/IOM lying to the Disability Commission. A direct question by Commissioner Grady was responded with a direct lie. Veterans cannot find out if the NAS/IOM is mandating such proof with their mandated constraints from this as you say a well-funded agency that even a god-like person could not find to that level. These scientists may think they are Gods gift to Veterans but in reality, they are not very forthcoming on the processes they use (subjective or not). What are their constraints mandated in the contract or with a wink and nod from the VA and our White House; or how is it they alone can say something is not associated yet every study known to mankind says it is or at least shows a “significant correlation” or “an increased risk of incidence”, which is what our congress has portrayed as their intent for Veterans. There is a big – huge - large disconnect here that the congress will not address. Money is not the issue; integrity still is a big part of the equation. The congress spends money on an issue that should be addressed by the real toxicology experts at our EPA. However, it seems the difference between what a Veteran can develop and what the American citizen can develop from the exact same toxic chemicals, only the Veteran was exposed to exponential amounts more, seemed to be totally different. Amazing how that works in our nation that a single toxic chemical can tell the difference if you had a military uniform on or not and you “will not” develop what the person who did not have on the military uniform. Just utterly, mind-boggling congress lets this White House/VA sham go on!
Your statement about the VA hospital system is just a little down on what is reality.
Ask a veteran which he would rather go to given a choice. I think you will find your article is off base.
Number one the driving distance in emergencies is an issue only for Veterans - not illegals mind you. Don’t even start with the VA will pay for that. (See latest issue in article below.) The Veteran would have his home repossessed before that happened. Another VA conflict of interest that is allowed to go on and on and on and congress does nothing!
Number two waiting months for an appointment time that is scheduled for 15 minutes and then your are run out is not exactly what I would call quality care. Oh but they will reschedule you another appointment months from then. This is nothing but assembly line care.
I think the Diane Sawyer special showed more about the VA system and the cowards at the head of the VA than any article you pointed out including the fact that the wives of these men were afraid to speak out because of what? VA retribution either real or perceived against their Veteran Husband. Money does not solve that - only integrity.
Christ had that been illegals being treated that way in our nations hospitals the lawsuits would still be on going and congress would have had a running fit in place demanding this and that. For our nations veterans there was not even a peep from congress or the VA big shots. Except the VA hospital administrators were allowed to retire in quiet.
Many Veterans will not even speak out because they are afraid of local VA retribution against them and their claims they desperately need approved and have waited on for years, if not a decade. Now how fascist is that!
Even when they know they are correct and it cost them $6,000 dollars. Rather than fight a battle and face the wrath of the VA they capitulate. Congress does nothing.
That is what the VA has become - not a friend but an “adversarial agency” directed by the White House of which our elected congress will not challenge. Maybe due to self-incrimination or just lack of even giving a damn about a segment of society that will not vote as one.
Now if you and/or any congressman or senators want to openly discuss these issues then I am your Veteran. If you only want to "tit for tat," I can do that also.
Be sure and have the VA there and the NAS/IOM, and get some members of the oversight committee’s in there and lets really get into just how the congress has “not done its job” for the Nations Veterans, widows, and orphans and seemingly could care less.
Make the NAS/IOM answer direct questions from our congress, which in fact they refused to do in the oversight meeting of Ranch Hand in 2000. A simple thing called integrity is required.
Now as to your last statement in all honesty put your self in our place. Would you not look to vote for someone else? Anyone but what we have now - even if the green polka dot party.
I would bet you would.
Anyway, you have your chance to find out what is really going on. What you and your senators do with it is of course up to you and them. If all you are interested in Bush and his budgets then you have already lost the battle and certainly any such battle with me, you and your senators could not possibly win.
Bush cannot go on National TV during one election and state to the Veterans, "How did I do on concurrent receipt? Then accept the applause and the votes that come with it. Then when he can no longer be elected appoint a commission to see if the government went to far "in not robbing millions of veterans" by implementing concurrent receipt. Then under the pretense of "quality of life" assign an agenda that is nothing short of government anarchy.
That is about as disingenuous as it comes and nothing but "pure politics" from our own President.
So you find it hard to believe and yet we in the millions find it hard to believe that our own congress will not listen to what we are saying and proving and have been saying for almost 50 years now.
So I would ask. What else are we to think?
The congress does not believe the millions of us compared to the one Secretary of the VA who is paid to say what he says and obviously has a White House/DoD directed conflict of interest; or do they just not give a damn.
In either case, it does not speak well for our elected congress; republican or democrat, it makes very little difference.
You copied Mr. Phillips on your e-mail to me and Mr. Phillips and Mr. McLemore are both aware of my outspokenness and yes they have helped me with my own claim which is now in its fourth year. "Thanks to them and only them," I did get an approval on diabetes and finally had a C & P on nerve damage of which I am waiting the outcome now. They got a blow by blow of what my wife and I were going through here daily for weeks in nothing but total incompetence. That is what your double budget is buying.
I got guys that are the same as me and yet in less than a year they are at 60-100% yet my claim lingers for four years now.
Of course my outspokenness has not helped my claim at the Atlanta VA and its stalling I am quite sure of that. You know, those avenging angels at the VA. I have the scientific and statistical data and I will not be or have my guys and my Marines treated this way just because the VA answers to no one.
If someone does not speak up then we all have lost the war. We may win individual claims here and there as a battle on the VA lottery system budget control; but the real war for Veterans as the best citizens this nation has to offer is then lost.
In fact in talking about how good the VA is my wife finally called the VA about my appointment. At my last appointment they said they would call me for my next appointment which is where you get your meds prescribed. I thought this was out of the norm as I has always been given an appointment before I left. I was out of meds and they had not called in over six months. They of course apologized for me falling through the crack, "once again."
No sir, I am not going to beg the VA or this government that caused all my medical crap for anything. I will fight them for it and given a level field I will win; but I will not beg!
If they cannot do what they say they will do - as I would and my guys - then to hell with them.
Time someone in our government made this agency accountable to something and to some kind of standard.
The Toxic Chemical Corridor
Incident that just happened to one of my guys.
Here's one for you, Charles.
Sunday night (Monday morning) at 2 am I was awakened by the urgency to pee. I went to the bathroom and....could not go.
I exited the bathroom and paced around in there for a few minutes, returned to the toilet and stood there silently for 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minutes. Finally, I was able to urinate a relatively small amount considering being awakened for the deed. (I've got kidney stone problems).
At 2:30 am, I had significant pain develop along the ureter line on the right side where I've had a kidney stone wedged in the ureter, unable to pass.
At 2:45 am, I took a hydrocodone for pain.
At 3 am until 5:45 am, I paced the floor, sat, lay down, stood up, paced, etc. in excruciating discomfort.
At 5:50 am, I left for the hospital ER.
From the time of arrival at the ER until I was discharged at about 11:30 am I was in tremendous pain, had been given morphine and other sedatives to relieve the discomfort. When I was discharged, I was unable to drive home and my wife had to come get me. She stayed with me at home the remainder of the day. I threw up once and had to continue the hydrocodone.
Yesterday I was seen by my PCP at the V.A. I was seen on request from last week when I went to the V.A. ER to request lithotripsy because of a failed litho test on April 6.
During the discussion with the PCP yesterday, I told him when I went to the local hospital ER I presented my V.A. Card and went thru the protocol with them that I was told to do by V.A. personnel in the event of an emergency. (Thank God, I didn't have a heart attack).
At the time, I was to leave the hospital I checked out thru the billing dept. About 15 minutes was used up in there re. billing the V.A. for my ER treatment. All of this was explained to my V.A. PCP. He said: IT IS NOT LIKELY THE V.A. WILL PAY FOR YOUR TREATMENT. He asked why I didn't come to the VA's ER. I told him I was barely able to drive to the local hospital that when sitting in a car seat, the pain is worse because I'm "sort of folded up.” I also told him I had to pull off the side of the road due to gagging reflex and stomach distress (I thought I was going to vomit). He then said "why didn't you have your wife drive you down here?" I told him I was in such pain I would never have made the hour-long trip.
Then I told the V.A. PCP that I followed the VA's protocol that I had been told to do in the event of an emergency. As a 100%, P&T disabled Vet I did what I was told to do. I told him the VA needs to have written instructions for us to follow. I told the PCP that I'm already out about $500 for this kidney stone and that's why I was trying to get a lithotripsy performed at the VA. He said there was only 1 Urology doctor at the VA and my PCP said it would be up to 3 days before I heard from him. As to lithotripsy being provided, the PCP didn't know.
He then asked if I wanted to be referred to the V.A. ER. I asked if I would be given any sedating medication and he didn't know. He said he'd like to give me a shot of ______
and I asked if it had a sedating effect. He said "not usually but some people do get drowsy." I told him I'm extremely sensitive to medications and since I have to drive home, I can't chance it.
BOTTOM LINE, CHARLES: I WAS LIED TO BY THE VA ON WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION. AS A 100%, P&T DISABLED VETERAN I FEEL "HAD".
SO I'M CONTINUING ON THIS SAGA (I've had this stone since early March) AND FAXED THE PCP A LETTER LAST NIGHT ALONG WITH THE NARRATIVE REPORT OF THE CT SCAN THAT WAS DONE BY THE LOCAL HOSPITAL, AND TOLD HIM I WOULD SEEK TREATMENT ELSEWHERE THAN THE V.A.
Basically, they lied. They out and out lied! And I'm pissed. I've also still got this stone, a 5 to 6 mm rock wedged and stuck in my ureter. As far as the VA is concerned, in my opinion, they don't give a shit.
So much for 100% P&T Vets.