A First Cavalry Division Veterans Wife Speaks out!
Both Senate and House oversight committees have a tremendous power---the power of the pen to strike out the budget!
The DoD (being an arm of the executive branch) and the VA (being a specially formed and prosecuted “judge and jury'” want to keep the wrangling between themselves and veterans out of the public forum and the courts. This amounts to an employer wanting to settle a workman's comp claim without ever going public or an accident victim given a cash settlement so that an insurance company is never contacted. This approach might produce justice if all are satisfied. However, clearly vets are not.
Hence, someone needs to review all regulations and laws and see if legal standards are met.
The BIG problem is this.....you vets do not have equal protection under the law.
Illegal immigrants are given more right to be heard in our courtrooms than you vets.
There is a historical reason for this.... several times in our history the government has reneged on promises to veterans (revolutionary war, war of 1812 and later after the civil war). It was abundantly clear that our government could be put in great jeopardy if held hostage by armed militias who are demanding money and compensation for fighting a war that is past history. Therefore, they created the VA. Sounded like a good idea to make this special category of people less than citizens and have less than full right of equal protection under the law. Add the Ferres Doctrine and the lack of regulatory control over the VA itself (no one making certain that the VA follows its own published regs) and you have the mess we are in today.
I WILL SAY IT AGAIN. THE BIG PROBLEM IS THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHTS...VETERANS MUST DECIDE WHAT RIGHTS THEY HAVE AS CITIZENS WHO HAVE SERVED AND PUT THOSE FORWARD AS A PLATFORM FROM WHICH ALL VA PROCEEDING MUST SPRING FORTH.
YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE LESS RIGHTS THAN A PRIVATE CITIZEN.... YOU SHOULD HAVE MORE!
This is way more important than how C&P exams are conducted or how much money that the VA allows for such and such a condition. IT IS FUNDAMENTAL!
Therefore, the real problem is that the media does not enter into the picture (because all adjudications and decisions are private between the Vet and the VA), and no grievances can be heard by an outside party i.e. an appellate court. This denies you the ability to even begin to obtain justice. It all boils down to cronyism versus how well veterans can organize and unite over single issues.
Well I can tell you that the VA is winning, hands down. They have the budget. They have the manpower. They have the authority. You vets have none of that. You have a few chartered organizations that are easily distracted into side debates (like passing pie in the sky measures for indigent vets or category 8 vets), etc. These vet organizations are more concerned about keeping their bars staffed and the beer flowing than in obtaining any lasting change that will give you veterans real justice (not just for now or with one group of war vets, but for all time).
This is how your rights as a Vietnam Vet have been violated:
1. Unfair draft.
Draft deferments were based on ability to enter higher education. This discriminated against those men who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths or were not born with a taste for higher education, or were not gifted to be able to make the grade to enter college. A good attorney could argue that the draft took away personal rights to happiness and was a glaring example of discrimination due to class (if you were too poor to go to college to get a deferment), race (if you were a minority that was excluded from attending all white universities), if you were from a rural area--had no college or university near your home and couldn't afford to live on campus, and disabilities (if you were learning disabled or had a subnormal IQ, or attended a high school that did not prepare you for the rigors of college life. You all are still feeling the effect of that unfair system and that should be quickly acknowledged by vet organizations far and wide.
2. You had your rights suspended once you entered into the military.
You had no right to voice your opinion--- you had no right to change the system by voting (especially if you were under 21), you had no right to pursue happiness, or to a day in court before a regular judge. Those were all waived when you raised your right hand and were sworn in. Not a matter of choice in the 60's.
3. You were not allowed to choose your MOS....
Thereby precluding some to exposure and some to the ability to avoid exposure to all sorts of toxic events--- including firearms, explosions, chemicals, etc. If you played the flute in the Marine band...I very much doubt that you would have to sweat having peripheral neuropathy now.
4. The DoD had a duty to care and did not.
Medical supplies and first aid were not always available or even acknowledged. Training, protective equipment, and care after an exposure simply were not done. Just because you had no constitutional rights, does not mean that soldiers had no human rights. You needed more from the Red Cross than doughnuts from dollies. You needed more from your commanders than a crowded Bob Hope show. You needed humane treatment. Moreover, you did not get it.
5. You are now, as veterans, not given equal protection under the law.
VA standards do not compare or relate to OSHA standards or EPA standards. Why not? Why do workers or citizens have these rights and soldiers and veterans do not? You have no right to have an individual case heard through a tort process. You have no right to demand compensation for a condition that is not listed on the Federal Register. Moreover, what is listed on the Fed. Register is not nearly complete (by design).
6. When seen by a C&P examiner, you are sometimes seen by an examiner who is less than experienced or credible.
C&P findings are changed and even both the written the 'rules of filing and compensation' are vague and open to interpretation. Veterans are compensated un-uniformly (supposedly because of differences in living expenses across the country) but yet, Medicare providers must follow a strict code wherein conditions are compensated by average across the nation. C&P examiners do not follow international diagnostic standards and in fact widely vary in how they examine, report, and decide cases.
7. You are given no input into arbitration over any condition you may have that is service connected.
You are given no protection under the law...you, in fact, have no right to privacy about your condition if you want compensation. You do not have any input into who sits on the appeals board (not elected, but appointed by a somewhat secretive and widely variable process). Persons who sit on appeals boards are not necessarily veterans and not necessarily equipped with sufficient knowledge base to evaluate medical data---credentials are not ever given. These examiners and evaluators are not necessarily licensed and not even identified to the veteran whose case they are deciding. All clearly violations of human rights.
8. Veterans are not given opportunity to improve the system.
There is no QA or QI in the C&P process. Veterans are given the least amount of information possible, treated as less than an individual (cattle call appointments at inconvenient times and days at highly inaccessible facilities in unfamiliar and often unsafe inner city areas with little or no help to navigate through the C&P process...not even directions to the facility or instructions about what to bring or not to bring. There is no attempt to make veterans comfortable while the process unfolds--- no food sometimes available, no care for veterans who are waiting and cannot care for themselves, no personal care items (sometimes not even toilet paper in the waiting room bathrooms) no idea how long the wait will be, etc. although these might not be violations of rights, these practices serve the purpose of discouraging veterans from asking for and receiving needed compensation. These system wide detractors are easily remedied.
9. Veterans were grossly underpaid by their 'employers' the DoD while in service (no overtime pay, no bonuses, no paid vacation time, no minimum wages). Therefore, veterans were probably not able to seek out outside health care for a while after discharge. Who would pay for it?
10. There are no provisions for veterans whose religious beliefs do not include medical care by a physician.
A veteran who does not believe in going to doctors will not have the documentation necessary to establish a service connection within one year of discharge yet, may have contracted serious conditions and diseases. A veteran must submit to the C&P process, even if he doesn't want medical care at all, just justice.
11. Veterans do not have the unequivocal right to refuse treatment.
If a veteran misses an appointment, for ANY reason, they must restart the process again. If a veteran says no to a treatment, there is a chance that they may have their compensation denied or cut.
12. Soldiers were often unwitting subjects in quasi-scientific experimentation.
They are given no informed consent, no right to follow up data, no right of refusal, no right to treatment for conditions caused by the experiment and no right to experimental results/outcomes. These are human rights afforded by the scientific community.
There are many more situations where veterans are put in powerless positions and are mistreated while in the health care system. It really sickens me. This health care is far worse than anything I have ever seen and in my lifetime, I have just about seen it all.
By the way, the town hall meeting format is informal and is not a bona-fide research method for gathering information at the grassroots level. Whoever designed the commission's mission and procedures was a politician and not a scientist. The entire process is faulty.
I think they were trying to do a cheaper version of a focus group study. But the only info they rec'd is who exactly might be vocal enough to be in opposition or in favor to huge changes to the VA. You are right about the bottom line about the true purpose of that circus----it is to justify taking away 'double dipping of social security while receiving VA compensation.' I feel that if anything is dispensable at all, it would be VA health care.
It is of no quality and very little real value to most veterans. Give XXXX the compensation and he will horse-trade the poor care he might receive by unqualified personnel. As long as he receives Medicare, I can live with that. So, what if we have to pay co-pays? That is what medigap insurance and having a wife as a nurse are for!
If the measure of striking un-employability funds is the true heart of this commission, I can guarantee a cascade of unfortunate events. Many of these vets have already spent the money-- car payments, house payments, etc. If half of a vet's financial security is suddenly gone.... bankruptcy, crime, and lots of anguish will follow. I can also predict that suicides among Vietnam Vets will go up dramatically! Why? You are entering a period in your lives when suicides DO go up, statistically. The added turbulence of promises made and then broken will disrupt family systems.
Let's face it. Many veterans are on the edge of divorce anyway. Take away the financial assets and put the veteran in the liability column will cause many wives to say I CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE!
So a whole bunch of vets will be penniless, homeless, and rootless--- all because the government thinks vets are getting too much!
Yeah, that is what will happen.
YEP this lady can watch my back anytime!