Yup – Still Waiting for Benefits

Yup, I am still waiting for the disability benefits I have earned, but have continually been denied. I know what the problems is and it still hasn’t been corrected. It is not rocket surgery (new saying I found) and it is unfortunate that the more benefits they deny me and others, the more individuals become homeless, divorced, lose custody of their children, and the list goes on. I listen to all the politicians pontificate about how they are taking care of Veterans, but it is just a lot of hot air. They vote themselves raises, yet cut our benefits. It is shameful that they do this to those that fought for their Country and were told they would be honored for their service, but are not when the deny, deny, and deny again game continues..

It is a systemic problem at the VA and the VA Director is definitely making a difference, but with so many untrained and unqualified individuals, it is hard to make changes in a timely manner that will make a difference. Did you know that the program person that is looking over your medical records to determine you disability rating is not medically qualified or trained? That’s right, they are not medically trained so how can they determine my eligibility and my accurate disability rating? The bottom line is THEY CAN”T, but no one really seems to care that they are not trained.

You would at least think a practicing nurse, a physician’s assistant, doctor or other qualified and adequately trained individual are reviewing your medical records, but that is not the case. How is it I can’t read a lot of information the doctors wrote in my records and this person reviewing them cannot? I have a four year degree in Business Administration with a Major in Business Management, a Master’s Degree in Administration, attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and GS-13 in my former government job (now on a unplanned and forced disability retirement) with 30 years of Active and Reserve Military Service and 25 years of Federal Government Service and I can’t understand what they wrote or decipher the medical terminology let alone trying to read their abysmal handwritten notes in your medical records, so how does the person who has never even served in the Military, was never deployed to a combat zone, and has no disability themselves able to determine what our disability ratings are? Does that make sense to you? Well, I am here to tell you it makes NO SENSE to me either, but makes sense to the VA.

It’s not that the VA isn’t doing it’s job, it just isn’t doing it well enough. There are too many people entrenched in these jobs have but a high school diploma or maybe just a two year associates degree and they are responsible for interpreting the doctor’s medical information he wrote and yet with all the military service, education and experience I can’t? I understand a lot of it, but it doesn’t matter to the VA as I point it out and show where they missed the disability and/or symptoms, and they ignore what I show them and continue to deny, deny and deny AGAIN.

There are many other problems with the VA that need to be addressed and yet are not. For example: Since I am on a Disability Retirement from my federal government job, a 100% Disabled Veteran, and on Social Security Disability, the VA could ask me to help them determine disability ratings from someone who was in the military, was in a combat arms branch, was in both Desert Storm and Afghanistan, has 30 years of active and reserve service (54 years if you will since I was born in an Army Hospital in Germany and have been in the Army ever since), yet they don’t take the advice I give them or even bother to consider it. Shameful, just shameful. Yeah, ok, I get it. I can’t review medical records that are not mine, but I had a Top Secret/SCI Security Clearance and was in the Personnel Reliability Program, Nuclear Surety trained, and yet I can’t help a VA Employee get a Veteran the benefits he/she earned? Why not? I am sure that almost all Veterans would love to have me take a look at what medical disabilities they have and help the reviewer in coming up with an accurate rating. Heck, I darn sure would let someone do that with my records.

Well, that’s about enough for today. There will be more information coming and if I could get all my Army and VA problems worked out, you would see me here writing a lot more often. I know that it seems like there are nothing but problems, but why sugarcoat it? General Shinseki has done so much for the VA as evidenced by the neighborhood clinics, but with the entrenched personnel who survive political party changes, continue to deny, deny and deny again the benefits that many Veterans like me unfortunately earned and deserve. Just Sayin’

Our Next Big Threat!

A MOAA Member posted this on the MOAA Discussion page: As U.S. involvement in Afghanistan winds down, more emphasis is being put on protection the country’s interests in the Pacific. Is the Pacific region the next logical place for the U.S. to focus its military strategy?

Here was my response, tell me what you think!

Agree, however, having our forces in the Pacific is good because of the moron leading the RPK. Maybe he will go away and sometime soon. I do feel that the biggest threat the US faces is Russia. They are more of a threat than any other Country in the world. Why? The reason we won the Cold War was because we just outspent them, but now oil, diamonds and gold, they will soon have the ability to spend again and may wind up bringing another cold war with it?

China is not as big a threat as Russia. Why? Simple. When President Clinton took away US opposition to the PRC, they could and have expanded all over the world with their products due to cheap labor. China, as well as being our largest trading partner (more than the EU I think but I am not sure) as well as our largest “Creditor”, and anything they do to us results in massive problems for China’s Economy.

Again, why? The former USSR’s economy was not linked to ours the way China’s is. With the spending and expansion of industry in China and our investments too along with maybe a trillion $$$ or so, what happens to us, happens to them. If they did something to upset us or the rest of the world, kind of like we did with France when they would let us fly over their Country with our Jets during the initial phases of both wars, we basically boycotted them and their economy took a big hit and I don’t think that they have completely recovered.

The same thing can and will happen with China. They become hostile or cause us problems, all we have to do is boycott their products by purchasing something else or doing without, just like we did with the French, will cause massive problems in their Country. The Chinese people are now getting a taste of capitalism and how modern the world is with computers, phones, etc. and they like it and they want it and they have been getting it. Suppose we boycott them and they can’t use their phone, computer, or other nice technology as well as a better standard of living, all because we stopped buying good produced in China? It will definitely make them sit up and take notice when their standard of living plummets because there is a glut of Chinese made products. They have billions of people there and say just a billion of them get upset they can’t have what they had before, they will be very unhappy with what the politicians have done and having a billion pissed off citizens is something China can’t afford to have now and as the numbers grow, so will the discontent if they are isolated again like they were before.

Russia, not so much. Their economy is not tied with ours. They have incredible resources at their disposal. They still do not like the West and perestroika very much either and many would like to become the USSR again with all it’s satellite countries like before. Can they do it? Depends on who is in charge and what they are doing with all the money they have now. Probably building secret stuff just like Korea did, and we shall be in a world of hurt if they do.

As pertinent today as it ever was the quote of Dmitri Manuilsky still rings in my ears.

“We will offer the Christian world unheard of peace overtures, and these nations, stupid and decadent, will leap at the chance to be our friends; they will willingly cooperate in their own destruction. Then, when their guard is down, and they have gone to sleep, we will smash them with our clenched fist.”

Isn’t the old adage “History always repeats itself” and if we don’t “learn from history, we will suffer the same consequences as before” if we didn’t study history? Well, maybe now these words have new meaning??? Food for thought anyway.

Hope I made my point and people get it as the next war may be fought someplace other than the Middle or Far East and our allies will be who then??? Critical we retain a military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan on so many levels, that if we had to come from Europe to transport men and materials, then we will be in a world of hurt without a forward base of operations in another country.

Thanks!

Lambda5555m

The Army and VA Problems that won’t be Fixed Anytime Soon!!!!

The below is a letter that I am sending to my elected representatives with a plethora of problems and difficulties, that don’t seem to get any traction and have yet to be resolved. I still have many other problems with both the Army and the VA, but I think this letter is long enough, don’t you?

I would be interested in your comments, thoughts, ramblings, etc. Thanks in advance.

I hope this letter finds you doing well. There are serious and continuing issues with the Army and the VA and I could use your help to solve them. It is taking its toll on me and it is unfortunate that I have to contact you now.

I am writing to request your immediate assistance these very important matters. The Army did their best to deny me and many others, the proper disability and disability retirement when I got off of active duty and had they done the right thing and given me the proper rating instead of trying to deny and prevent Disabled Veterans like me from getting a disability retirement off of active duty because it cost too much and the Army wouldn’t do it. The VA makes it so difficult to get an accurate rating from them with their deny, deny, deny and then deny again mentality and wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why there are so many homeless Veterans and why Veteran’s are committing suicide at an unprecedented and unfortunately at such a high rate.

The Army’s failure to do the right thing, even after I appealed their decision, caused a lot of problems for me and caused my VA Disability Ratings to get lowered by the VA, then reinstated and now I am at 100% Disability. The problems I have are that there were so many misdiagnosed conditions, failure to diagnose anything at all, and many other serious problems that I suffer from when if I had been told and treated for them, I wouldn’t have such deplorable health problems.

I should have gotten a 100% Disability Retirement off of active duty, but due to cost (it was just too expensive and we Reservists didn’t deserve it) and the fact I was “Just a Reservist” and that would most likely led to a 100% Disability Rating with the VA as well since the aggravation of my disabilities and the additional ones I got and some Desert Storm serious medical problems were finally allowed to be claimed. I have written the President and asked for his help to correct these serious mistakes. I should not have to go through the many, multiple processes to get this done and the President can make it happen, especially since it involves both DoD and the VA. I had written to General Shinseki previously and he was able to correct a few of the problems, but there are still many that are not corrected that need to be.

I am asking for your personal support, to call the Office of the President on my behalf and request that my retroactive disability retirement be approved and my retroactive VA disability also be approved. This is the perfect time to get things done and something that one of your voters definitely needs help with several Federal Agencies. I very much need your help. Granted, you can’t do this for everyone, but not everyone is owed over $500,000 either and this is part of what I am asking for in addition to a few other things. I keep getting asked to support this campaign and that organization, and I would like to support the Wounded Warrior Program, the DAV, VFW, etc., but it costs too much. I don’t have a military retirement, but I am on a disability retirement. If I did have my military retirement too, I would be more than happy to provide some donations many worthwhile programs.

I asked for help from a few Veteran Organizations I am a life member with, but it seems they couldn’t be bothered to help and just pushed it down to the Regional VA level, when it really is a national problem. I offered a substantial scholarship to them, named after my Dad, if they would help me out, but so far, nothing. I think many Veteran Organizations forget that it is about the Disabled Veterans and not all about the “money”, although money is important. It is about taking care of things like I am requesting that makes an organization great and not just something to join and get asked for money all the time. There are many other Veterans that had the same thing done to them and I firmly believe that this led to a lot of them becoming homeless among some other things like medications and medical care.

The Army and the VA should be held responsible for their improper determinations and lack of care. The main point I made was about a diagnosis for a serious medical condition that the Army and the VA doctors both knew about, yet failed to tell me or treat me for it. Most of this is in the attached letter that I sent to the President, along with some documentation that I am not going to provide with this letter, but you should be able to see what I am talking about. If you diagnose someone with a serious disease, then don’t treat them, there should be some consequences and mine are in the letter and they are the retroactive retirement and upgraded VA disability I requested.

Just a quick note here about the VA Medical System to show you an example of what it is like. I went for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy about 2 months ago and I woke up during towards the end of the colonoscopy. Talk about a shock to the system!!! I asked for more sedation medication, but the doctor refused saying she is almost done and wanted to have me just lie there and take it or she would stop where she was and not finish it. Talk about the lesser of two evils. She had a huge black guy in the surgical room lean over and put all his weight on me to keep me still so they could finish. Talk about pain!!! I don’t think I will ever had anything like that done at the VA and I guess I will have to use my civilian insurance that I pay for every month, to get a little better quality of care. I have not had much luck at the VA Regional Medical Center in Atlanta. The outlying clinics are good, but there are many areas of improvement for the VA to undertake I am doubtful if they will ever get up to the standard that is needed and/or required.

The most serious medical issue is the fact that two Army doctors diagnosed me with osteoporosis in 1991, yet they failed to tell me and failed to treat me for it, even though the doctor wrote in my medical records that it was “very unusual for a 32-year old male”. The VA during a VA disability examination for an appeal I had made for my herniated discs in my back also found out that I had osteoporosis and thought it also unusual for a male my age. The problem is they never told me or treated me. I had extremely brittle bones when they sent me to Afghanistan and had two back surgeries and was a 40% Disabled Veteran when I got deployed there in 2003 for 9 months. I found out when I got back that I had severe osteoporosis and could have easily shattered bones with them that brittle. I was at a – 4.0 on the T-scale, which was – 1.5 below severe osteoporosis.

Almost three years ago, I had a compression fracture of my L-3 vertebra, which was the one on top of the two herniated discs that had been operated on twice. Two Army Doctors and two VA Doctors never told me and never treated me for it and that is just shameful that it happened and unfortunately happened to me. My quality of life suffers due to their incompetence
I sustained the compression fracture on my vertebra picking up medical records from private physicians to submit to the VA. When I asked my civilian orthopedic surgeon why, he said because I had severe osteoporosis. He said I could have sneezed and had one fracture. He said it was the “good kind of fracture” and when I asked why, he said because it looks like it collapsed on itself and instead of severing my spinal cord or killing me, that it was better than the alternatives, so I guess I did have a “good kind of fracture” when you consider it that way. Really stinks that you have to consider something like that as a good thing!!! I am lucky I am not dead from that alone.

How much is one of your vertebra worth to you? Priceless I would imagine! Well they were to me too, but it appears that it means nothing to anyone else especially the Army and the VA. They just don’t care. I have been in both systems long enough to know that neither one of them is taking care of Soldiers who need care and have problems like me, both financially and medically. An overhaul is sadly needed. General Shinseki has done some really great things and changed some areas, but the Federal Employees (I used to be one) have been entrenched for so long that it is difficult to change things when they balk or flat out just don’t do it the way it should be done. Yes, you can fire a government employee. It just takes more time and effort to do the paperwork.

We had a more difficult time separating Soldiers from the Military than they do in the Federal Government System and I did just that when I had Soldiers that were recalcitrant and didn’t want to play by the rules. I would have fired many of them if I had the opportunity in the couple of Federal Agencies I worked in. They discriminate against Veterans it is incredible how much the Federal Agencies discriminate against Veterans and Disabled Veterans. Shameful, just shameful. Maybe someday that will be fixed as well. There are just so many issues and problems, I could take a lot of paper to list them. If possible, I would like to meet with you if you are down in your office here in Georgia.

One of the most severe problem I have, even though I was diagnosed with it on active duty and by the VA, they are telling me it is “not a service-connected condition” which I do not agree with. I was a Field Artillery Officer and the amount of time I spent out in the field was about 4 years of the 11 years I was on active duty the first time. I had to get out because of my back problems and it they had told me back then, I would have been able to potentially added it to a medical evaluation board (MEB/PEB) and possibly have had a disability retirement back in 1993 when I got off of active duty. Even if it wasn’t service-connected, and I know it was, then they should have told me and treated me and I would not have had severe osteoporosis, deployed to Afghanistan with brittle bones, and then had a compression fracture, which I am at greater risk for since I have already had one.

I was supposed to get a couple of teeth pulled at the VA, but since I am on Coumadin, the dentist won’t do the oral surgery with me taking it and no other doctors will take me off it. I was instructed to not take it for a week before my colonoscopy, but the oral surgeon told me that it is actually when I started taking it again that I would be at the most risk.

How can I get it done if I can’t stop taking Coumadin to keep my blood thin? I am taking it because I had blood clots in my legs and lungs and was hospitalized twice as I had to bouts of pneumonia back to back. The VA doesn’t seem to think that it is the result of my weakened immune system and my serious lung disease, even though this was a lung problem, and refused to pay the couple of hundred dollars I had to pay out of pocket at a civilian hospital. I am on Coumadin for life now, so I don’t know what they are going to do, but can’t understand how others get surgery done when they are on it?

I think that the retroactive money is a lot less than what I think my vertebra cost, but I am being gracious. Because of their negligence, incompetence, sheer ignorance, stupidity, carelessness, malpractice or whatever you want tto call it, I cannot live pain free nor have a decent quality of life because of it. Now, if that were the only thing, maybe, but that is just one of the serious problems I have and the Army or the VA could not figure it out but civilian doctors can figure it out in about 5 minutes.

I also suffer from spinal stenosis and now I think Cauda Equina Syndrome that is very serious and has progressed from the spinal stenosis. The spinal stenosis is where my spinal cord is compressed from arthritis, scar tissue and a narrowing of my spinal canal, but the Army doctors even though they knew all of the symptoms, were incapable of diagnosing it for whatever reason. When I went to an orthopedic surgeon, he looked at the x-ray, listened to what I told him was happening and he said “you have spinal stenosis”. Would have been great if the Army would have diagnosed it, but they didn’t. The VA is not giving me disability for it and they should have known from all of the symptoms I had and if it had been reviewed by a “qualified medical professional”, they probably still would have missed it.

I was also diagnosed with sinus infection in all my sinus cavities not too long after I got off of active duty and even though I complained about my sinuses, they failed to diagnose it. The ENT doctor I went to looked up my nose and said “you have sinus infection in all your sinus cavities”. The Army missed this one too, or was that the point? Were they supposed to “miss these kinds of diagnosis”? Make me wonder especially since I was also diagnosed by an ENT Doctor with sleep apnea and all he did was look down my throat, yet the Army didn’t diagnose it or wasn’t supposed to? There are other conditonas too that the Army didn’t diagnose and the VA won’t say is service-connected so they don’t have to pay for it and the expensive medications I have to take, even though I am a 100% Veteran and they are actually service-connected.
It is really pathetic that I have to get out of the Army after herniating two discs in my back in Desert Storm during the war and the doctor told me I could “spend 10 more years in the Army or get out and find something else to do for a living”, so I took his advice. Still, even though I was in the Army Reserves, the Army decided to call me up and send me to Afghanistan, even though I had two back surgeries and was a 40% Disabled Veteran. Then they deny that my previous condition in my back was not aggravated from my service in Afghanistan when it was. Just my luck that the compression fracture of my vertebra I is right over the two discs I had to have surgery on because they were bulging and pieces were breaking off of the discs, so to have the compression fracture on top of those two discs, just presents so many challenges and a lot of incredible and intense pain for me.

I even have PROOF that they said I was “already compensated” for this by the VA. They were making the false assumption that the two systems are equal and so did the VA but the Army and the VA systems were and still are separate, although they are trying to merge them. No wonder I got 10%. That was illegal to do. It got aggravated during Afghanistan, but since I was getting disability from the VA, that the MEB/PEB doesn’t have to give me anymore because I was just trying to get more disability. Yeah, this Major put it in writing and I have the original document, so I do know they were not going to give any of the hundreds of people that had the same problems with the Army that I did, and they were not going to give any of us over 20%. Maybe if we weren’t Army Reservists??? Maybe if we….???

It is a clear case of the Army not doing the right thing and the VA following in their footsteps when the Army gave me only 10% for the same thing the VA gave me 40% for and the condition was aggravated in Afghanistan, and they decided “well if the Army gave you 10%, we are going to lower you to 10% too”. Can you believe that? I had to write to General Shinseki to get that fixed and it was, but there is still a problem with them recouping more than the SSB I got when I got out of the Army, but the VA was just didn’t want to bother to contact the Army and they owe me about $3,500+ for that.

As you read the letter I attached, you can get the reason I am asking for and why I should get it. I wonder how much you would consider the price for one of your “vertebra”? I think mine was priceless, but the Army and the VA won’t do anything about it and will have to be forced to do so, ergo the letter to the President. Think I am being unreasonable? I don’t, which is why I am asking for your help to get what I deserve and am entitled to as I am sure you might agree. I should get some support, since I didn’t get any when I went to the DAV VSO for help and wound up doing everything myself. I think I am “owed” a little bit more than the average Disabled Veteran, don’t you agree?

This is a serious problem and I don’t think that the Veteran’s Organizations Service Officers should be collocated right in the same office as the VA Counselors and those making disability determinations. I think that they might be influenced by the VA into not fighting determinations. I am not saying they are, but it appears that they might. The thing about perception is that if it is perceived so, then it is. I learned that as a Battery Commander. If you were perceived as unfair by your Soldiers, then you were, even if you weren’t. Stinks, but that’s the way it was. I think the VSOs right in the same building with the same .gov e-mail, is not a good thing. I would hope that the VA wouldn’t pressure anyone, but I wouldn’t put it past them, given their track record.

I will write additional letters and since I live in Atlanta, I am sure that I could get on CNN for an interview about what the Army and the VA did and are still doing. I would like for the person or organization right there with me saying they are supporting me in and getting the Army and the VA to do the right thing. I would expect you would agree, because I could just as easily say that I didn’t get the support I needed from the organizations and elected leaders. It works both ways. If I can get what I am owed, I have no problem donating to several worthwhile charities and other organizations after I take care of my needs first, but if I don’t, then until I get my retirement when I hit 60, I won’t really be able to contribute like I want to do.
I doubt I will live until 60, since the burn pits and other environmental hazards from Desert Storm and also from Afghanistan, caused COPD/emphysema and I will probably be dead before that happens, so I would like to get my retirement and increased VA disability before that happens, since both are terminal illnesses and have no cures.

I know the Army and the VA might balk at having to do it, but it is just as easy for me to drive over to CNN Plaza and I am sure that I can find someone to listen to my story and get me on TV. This will be a problem in about two weeks if nothing is done and I am sure that I can get some media to help me out, regardless of who will do it. They will try to say that I claimed it too late, when I didn’t, and that there are these 234.9837 things I have to do in order to get it done and I can bet that once I show up on tv, those things will magically disappear.

If you can’t help me, please let me know. It would be great if you made some phone calls personally, and following up with letters, but I guess you are too busy to do that, even though it might really help if you called the White House, DoD and the VA. It may seem like a small thing to do and I know you can’t do it for every Veteran that has problems, but it would be very much appreciated and I will continue to help Veterans deal with the issues they have and maybe my case could be an example of what should not be done and also show that perseverance prevailed in this case. I am sure at least a few thousand people are dealing with the Army and the VA over one or more of the issues that affect me directly. I can and still do help a lot of Disabled Veterans; I feel I am doing my part. Like it is a cruel joke, Veteran Organizations keep sending me life insurance brochures and telling me I need it. Well they may as well save the postage, as I am “not insurable” with COPD/emphysema that I got in Afghanistan from the burn pits.

The latest example of the difficulties I am having with just doing normal everyday things. I was trying to cut my lawn and I accidently flipped over the riding lawnmower and could have been killed just from that happening. Fortunately, the lawn mower didn’t cause any serious damage aside from bruises and other sore parts, but now I have to incur the expense of someone doing my lawn because of the medications I take might be the reason the lawnmower flipped and I don’t want to take the chance working with power tools that I need to use to do yard work.
I also have to get someone to clean my house because I just can’t physically do it. Just these two things cost me $600 – $800 a month just to do what I used to be able to do, but have extreme difficulty doing now. I don’t go out much either because I don’t know sometimes if I can use the brakes when I have weakness below the waist. I feel like a shut-in. Really sad state of affairs that has put me into this particular situation, but the time has come for the VA and the Army to step up and do the right thing.

I should actually be a poster figure about how you are not supposed to be treated by the Army and the VA and there are so many problems to fix that I may never get them all completed. I wrote the President, but that was more than 6 months ago and nothing since their e-mail response. I thought they would be more responsive especially since the White House always says how much they are helping Veterans, but I guess that’s not going to happen so it’s a lot of talk but no action.

The final thing and may be one of the most important personally to me and not medically related, but I have been in the Army all my life. I was born in an Army Hospital in Germany and have been in the Army ever since. I served the Army and Army Reserves for 30-years, active and reserve, but all I received for all those years of service, was “A piece of paper transferring me to the Retired Reserves”. That was it! I got the same from the Federal Government when I had to take a Disability Retirement too. I find that sad that I and others served and fought for our Country (just like my Father did for 21 years and he died from Agent Orange, before the VA said they are taking claims for it) and all that military service is not recognized and neither is the service to the people by working for the Federal Government. Shameful don’t you think?

I have been waiting to file my the Agent Orange claim for my Father who passed away in 2007, because we have the same name and it would get so complicated that neither would be done properly if at all. My Mom is anxious to have me do it, but understands why I was waiting. The track record of the VA has me worried that if I do submit it, they two will be intertwined and never be sorted out.
I know people who got Legions of Merit and rode a desk their whole careers when they retired, but all I got was a letter transferring me to the Retired Reserves after my Military Service and serving in two combat zones. I guess IRR members like me should just be glad we are alive and we should take that and go off into the sunset, but it is not the right thing to do and I thought you should know. Kind of like when your Parents would go to Florida and all you got was a crummy t-shirt.

Thank you in advance for your support. I really appreciate any efforts on my behalf and would hope that just a call from you to the White House and other Legislators, might help it get done and before the next Congressional election. I can but hope.

Can’t Fire A Government Employee? Guess Again!!!

I definitely agree the VA has to make significant reforms as the system they have is broken, but can be fixed if you get the right people in to do it. There are plenty of individuals and organizations that would help the VA fix their problems, but the VA isn’t interested until it is something that is ridiculous and makes the news. As far as government employees, they can be fired. The documentation needs to be done, but yes, if the supervisor or “boss” isn’t too lazy, he/she can do up the right documentation and to the right counseling and if they don’t live up to their responsibilities and are not doing a good job and yes they can be fired. Just do the paperwork. I was able to remove (fire) Soldiers while I was in the Army, but I had to do the paperwork. It can and should be done and to say it can’t be done is not correct. It can and should be done for the poor performers if the supervisors are doing their jobs and do the paperwork on them. Yeah, it takes time, but better to have 50 people that are good performers than 100 where you have 50% of the people who are incompetent or poor performers.

What’s Still Wrong with the Army and the VA???

Yeah, still. These two Agencies have significant problems and they are going to get worse once they go to the one standard disability evaluation. This is going to be a joke. In theory it will work, but in practice it won’t. When was the last time two Federal Agencies joined together to do something like go to the one disability rating evaluation and got it right? I can’t remember. I can remember the Agencies passing out awards to those that make more money than many of us and recognizing senior staff for their excellence, when they should be recognized for their incompetence. Really? Yeah, unfortunately they pick people that have no clue what they are doing and put them in Federal Agencies and they can’t find their way to the bathroom, let alone make decisions that affect millions of people. They don’t know what those individuals they cause problems have been through and get to a point where they have to fight the bureaucracy when they get back from fighting the enemies of the United States. Maybe they went off to fight the wrong enemy? The paper pushers do their best to make things more difficult under the guise of making things easier. Isn’t that kind of like an oxymoron? I think so! When can we expect things to change for the better? Well, since they don’t listen to Veterans about the problems and what the solutions can be, from those who know, they just make their decisions in a vacuum and get awards for doing so. Well, take that award money they get and give it to those that were denied disability compensation when they deserve it. I guess the Deny, Deny, Deny and then Deny Again philosophy is running rampant when it comes to approving claims. There is a lot more to come on this particular subject so stay tuned.

Sent to the VA Advisory Committee – Will They Respond???

I am not happy with the way things are being run at the Atlanta Regional VA Office and your committee needs to know about the things that are happening and the problems I have encountered. I can’t get all my medications from the VA even though I am a 100% Disabled Veteran. I have name brand medications I take and can’t afford the civilian co-pays anymore. I keep getting told no on my medications and that there are no exceptions. For example: I take Lunesta every night because of my horrible insomnia. If I don’t have it I am awake all night and fall asleep during the day and I can’t do that. The VA says I can only get 20 tablets of sleep medication because I could get addicted. The only thing I am addicted to is getting a halfway decent night’s sleep and to withdrawal every 20 days is ridiculous and why do I have to go through it? I have had insomnia ever since Desert Storm and it got worse in Afghanistan, yet I can only get 20, so my health suffers for 10 days while I can’t take anything for sleep. Ridiculous. The VA has to be more receptive to my needs, illnesses and diseases and they are not. My health is bad enough that I can’t afford to do without or pay premiums and very high co-pays for my medications. I have other issues as well. Even though I submitted all the required documentation, even from my civilian doctors, the Atlanta Regional Office keeps denying serious medical conditions that were the direct and indirect result of serving in two combat zones – Desert Storm and Afghanistan – and the VA denies them and says they aren’t in my medical records. How would they know as they don’t read them or have properly trained medical personnel that can read them otherwise they would have found where I have osteoporosis identified by the Army in 1991 and the VA in 1994 and neither told me or treated me for it, so I broke my back a couple of years ago and have to sleep sitting up and have done so for almost 4 years. It is ludicrous that they deny the service connection, but to say it isn’t in my records is sheer incompetence. Even on the remote chance it isn’t service connected, they should have told me and treated me and the Army and the VA did not. That is just one serious problem I have and when I was deployed to Afghanistan after 2 back surgeries and as a 40% Disabled Veteran, when I came back, I found out I had a – 4.0 bone density where I had brittle bones and could have been seriously injured while in Afghanistan. There are a few other things that I have had just no help with the VA on and I have submitted a fully developed claim, but obviously, even doing that I can’t get the right determinations. I asked for the training, qualifications, education, and experience and if the VA personnel reviewing and assigning disability ratings were Veterans, Disabled Veterans, had served in a Combat Zone or hurt in a combat zone, but they denied me that information. I wanted to meet with the person who decided my claims, but they told me that they couldn’t because I could develop a relationship with that person and my claim could be influenced by doing so. What? I don’t want to date the person, I just want to know why they rated or said something wasn’t service connected. Obviously submitting it in writing didn’t work maybe in person it would, but that was denied as well. The Regional Office ripped of people who should have gotten travel to and from the VA by not letting them know they had a travel voucher. What I was told by one of the receptionists was “if you don’t ask for it, we don’t volunteer the information” so basically if you didn’t know you were entitled to one and ask for it, they didn’t give it to you unless you asked, but if you don’t know you are supposed to get one, how can you be expected to ask? What happened to all that money? I wrote the VA IG, but they weren’t interested that Veterans were getting ripped off as it wasn’t a lot of money and they were doing big things not little things like what I told them about them not giving us what monies for travel we were entitled to. I should have been 100% right after I got off of active duty with a 100% active duty disability retirement and gotten 100% from the VA as well, but the Army knowingly and maliciously denied us our disability retirements and they know they were wrong, but won’t fix those that should have gotten them and retroactively at that. My back got worse over in Afghanistan and when I got back and went through a Medical Evaluation Board, the Army decided that we were Reservists and deliberately (I have written proof) and knowingly denied me and many others the disability retirements we should have asked because “they cost too much” so they just gave us 10 or 20% and told us to go to the VA. My injury was incurred during Desert Storm while I was on active duty and then it was aggravated more severely when they sent me to Afghanistan, yet they said I was already compensated for this disability by the VA, but it occurred during active duty tours, which should have qualified me for a disability retirement, but they refused to give them to us. They also didn’t consider all the serious medical conditions I got over in Afghanistan and those things that got worse that I had in Desert Storm. It took years to get the VA to acknowledge that I had serious diseases from the Burn Pits and other environmental hazards and that I did have serious medical problems from Desert Storm because they have reports that say these conditions were caused by my Desert Storm service. The VA also won’t contact the Army to find out how much money I actually got when I took the SSB and got out because of my back injury and surgery. I was given the wrong amount based on my years of service. The Army gave me the SSB based on 13 years of active duty, because I was getting paid for 13 because of my Army Reserve Service before I came on active duty, but they should have only paid me for 11 years of active duty so I had to send them about $4,000 back, yet the VA took the entire $67,000 back from my disability payments from the VA. I don’t understand why they can’t do that and have asked over and over and over again, yet they still won’t fix this problem. I hate to be so verbose, but there are serious problems that need to be addressed. Not correcting these can result in Veterans becoming homeless or committing suicide. These are just a few of the reasons why these things happen and there are many more. I hope that you can take a few of these examples/problems that I have and make fixes for me and others. I should have gotten a disability retirement off of active duty at 100% and the VA should have given me 100% also, but neither did. As a matter of fact, the Army gave me 10% and then the VA said, “Well if the Army gave you 10% we are going to lower our rating you had for 10 years to 10% too”. How could they do that when it got worse, not better? I had to write the VA Director to get this fixed and I still only have 40% for it because they refuse to acknowledge no matter what documentation I provide that it got aggravated significantly and should have been more than 40%. These types of determinations are incorrect and yet no matter what I give them, tell them and have doctor’s stating I do have these conditions and they are service-connected, they still refuse to acknowledge them. I want my disability retirement off of active duty and my 100% disability rating by the VA retroactive to when I got off of active duty. I don’t know what else to do except start writing letters and contacting the media to see if they can help me. I don’t want to do this but Congress and the President have done nothing even after I wrote them about these problems so I am left with few choices. I don’t want to make the Army and the VA look really stupid and incompetent, but that’s the way it’s going to be and sooner rather than later. Maybe you can help, maybe you can’t, but I will find someone in the media that will tell my story and maybe the moral outrage will get some of these serious problems fixed. Thanks for your attention to these most important matters.

VA – Philosophy? Deny, Deny, Deny then Deny Again!!!

My story is pretty complicated, but in short – The Army denied me a Disability Retirement off of active duty. They rated me at 10% when the VA rated me 40% for the same condition, but the Army would say it was aggravated, which it was, and just said get off of active duty and go to the VA. I appealed the decision, but never heard back from them. When I figured they weren’t going to respond, I filed with the VA. I thought if the Army corrects their determination, then it would be easier to go to the VA with that rating and they would accept it. Instead, the VA lowered me from 40% to 10% because that’s what the Army gave me. It took me quite some time to get this fixed and the VA admitted they made a mistake and gave me the retroactive money back to what I had before at 40%. They also don’t understand that my serious back condition was and still is aggravated from my service in Afghanistan and they sent me even though I was a 40% Disabled Veteran and had two back surgeries from two herniated discs that happened in Desert Storm. It was an uphill climb, but I finally wrote the VA Director about it and the 40% was restored and a DRO reviewed my records and I got 100%, however, I should have had that from the Army for my disability retirement and 100% from the VA, both retroactive back to Feb 2005. I requested the highest VA disability in the Special Compensation Tables because of their incompetence in diagnosing my osteoporosis. I was diagnosed with 1991 by the Army Doctors I saw and they never told me or treated me for it, even though the doctor wrote that osteoporosis was “unusual for a 32-year old male”. The VA, did an examination for my appeal of my initial rating that was 10% and they said I was fine and they weren’t going to change anything, but they did not too long after because I had another surgery and then it got upped to 40% retroactively back to when I got out. The VA doctors both knew I had osteoporosis and they never told me or treated me. They sent me to Afghanistan with very severe osteoporosis so bad I could have shattered a bone or bones. I didn’t find out until I got back and told the doctor my bones hurt and my leg had atrophied, he ordered a bone scan and I was a – .4 on the T-scale which is very bad. Three years ago, I picked up a few civilian medical records to take into the VA and for my Federal Disability Retirement Request and the vertebra right above my two heniated discs had a compression fracture and collapsed. The doctor said that this was the good kind of fracture, because it didn’t sever my spinal cord or killed me. I asked him why this happened and he said “because you have severe osteoporosis and I could have sneezed and broken one:. Pretty scary huh. I haven’t been able to sleep lying down since it happened over three years ago. The orthopedic surgeon I saw and discussed the same things that were happening to me as the Army knew but didn’t do anything, but when I told him the problems and he looked at an x-ray of my spine, he said “you have spinal stenosis”. Less than 5 minutes and he could have figured it out and the Army and the VA had years???? I also had to have sinus surgery because I had sinus infection in all my sinus cavities. The Army didn’t bother to diagnose it, but not too long after I got off of active duty, the doctor looked up my nose and properly diagnosed it. Another doctor in his practice I saw, looked down my throat and said I had sleep apnea and a sleep test confirmed it, but the Army didn’t. Why? Incompetence, ignorance, lack of concern, ineptness, malpractice, yeah they all apply. I have a letter that I have submitted to the VA quite some time ago from a Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, who was an Endocrinologist and now in private practice that the Army sent me to when I was on active duty, did a list of things that were service-connected and caused by my military service and the VA does nothing about it and denies my claim for osteoporosis saying it wasn’t service connected when a former Military Doctor said it was and they denied it. They had no clue about the 4 years I spent out in the field and in the woods because I was a Field Artillery Officer and yes, they meant “FIELD” Artillery. Someone didn’t know what they were doing when the denied it. I should have gotten a rating for that with the Army, but it was too expensive to give Army Reservists disability retirements. I have written proof from a PEBLO Major that said I was already being compensated for my “disability by the VA” and I shouldn’t be given more disability for the aggravation of my original disability I got on active duty. When I got back and it had aggravated my original disability very severely, the asked me why I went? Why? Why? I didn’t know it was optional? You either go or go to jail and being a Lieutenant Colonel and working for the Federal Government and getting VA Disability, I am just going to throw that all away? The Active Duty Army was and still is just as incompetent as the VA. Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to medical problems and the financial problems are also ones that need to be addressed and I will tell you about them at another time, but you won’t believe it. If there was a problem to have, I had it. I must have all the problems that all the Veterans have and then some. What a story it is. Hopefully, Veterans and Veterans Organizations will help and get rid of the VA’s motto to deny, deny, deny and then deny again. I appreciate any assistance you can offer to me and any other Disabled Veterans out there. They owe me hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is not a small amount of money as you can see. I wish I could get interest and penalty money from both of them, but… probably can’t but if we could, that would get the point across. Then I will have the ability to go anywhere and help Veterans if necessary and will do work for you as a volunteer as well and will definitely be more of a contributor to Veteran’s Issues.

Veterans Try To Help VA Help Veterans????

I offered to help them design a simple easy to use database a couple of years ago and give them the benefit of my 30 years of active and reserve Army service having served in both Desert Storm and Afghanistan, but I never heard anything back. I offered to come and teach them what disabilities we have are and how we have to deal with them and why they just shouldn’t deny them, but I never heard back. I can’t understand when the VA can have someone who only has a high school education, never served in the military, never went overseas, never served in a combat zone, doesn’t have a disability and/or doesn’t have a wound or injury caused in combat zones and last but not least, they are not medically trained and yet, they can decide our disability ratings??? Getting more people in isn’t the problem, getting in people that have served and been in combat and has a disability….hmmm where can we find people like that??? How about our returning Disabled Veterans. I can’t hold a full-time job but would volunteer to be a information source to find out if something is reasonable or why this happened to a Veterans, given that I was also a military dependent and I have been in the Army all my life. Maybe, just maybe, they will ask and get some help from those of us who have been there and done that, some many times over!!!

VA Backlog and Accuracy

My philosophy – It doesn’t make a dang bit of difference with the amount of time, money and resources they throw at the backlog problem if they aren’t making the right decisions and denying Veterans what they have unfortunately earned. The reason for the number of appeals increasing, is because such poor/unfair/incompetent decisions have been made on Veteran’s disabilities. Again, the deny, deny, deny and then deny again motto of the VA is causing most of the problems. VA Appeals would be down if they just had trained, qualified, competent medically trained personnel reviewing the medical records to begin with. I submitted a fully developed claim, yet I have the VA deny many of my service-connected injuries and illnesses that do nothing but get worse. Maybe if they asked the Veterans to help them by giving advice and using their experiences to help them understand the serious medical conditions, we would get better claim decisions and fewer appeals, but hey, this is the government we’re talking about. Silly me. I am trying to help the government when the government doesn’t want it but then it says we are the government and we are here to help!!! www.veteransdeniedbenefits.blog.com Just in case you wanted some additional diatribe!!!

Weapons Owned By Veterans

I was raised in a gun-free home by parents that were strict Catholic and my Father was in the military. I didn’t have access to guns and was taught that they were a bad thing, but going into the military myself and having spent 30 years in active and reserve service, I have several weapons at my house. I live in a nice neighborhood and people ask why I keep weapons in this neighborhood. I tell them “where do you think people are going to come and steal from?” They certainly don’t go to the poorest parts of town do they? They come to neighborhoods like ours where they can steal expensive stuff. Having a weapon and using it when necessary is something that we all are allowed to do by law. Trying to take them away denies us our Second Amendment Right. We are already being stripped of some of our Freedom of Speech Rights and then critics of the US will continue to deny us all rights if left unchecked. What would have happened if the US didn’t have weapons when we had the American Revolution against the British? We would have been speaking the king’s English with a Queen, Monarchy, and Houses of Parliament, that’s what we would be doing. The military understand the reasons to have a right to own weapons and they certainly are trained in how to use them, but how many military or Veterans go in and shoot up a school? Yeah, right. It’s the civilians that seem to have a monopoly on this particular activity, not the military or Veterans. We have done nothing to warrant our weapons being taken away and nothing to deserve the unfair portrayals in the media, but they are keep trying to disparage us. It is Un-American to treat us like we are criminals and/or second-class non-American Citizens instead of those of us who fight and defend this Country, including those in Law Enforcement. We are responsible individuals and we should be treated as such. Shameful what our government wants to keep doing to the military and law enforcement by tying our hands. Just Shameful….