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BS: News on VA?

Doug_Remley 14 May 03 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Claymore 14 May 03 - 04:08 PM
artbrooks 14 May 03 - 08:36 PM
NicoleC 14 May 03 - 10:34 PM
Doug_Remley 15 May 03 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,Claymore 15 May 03 - 04:32 PM
PoppaGator 15 May 03 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Claymore 15 May 03 - 05:23 PM
Doug_Remley 16 May 03 - 12:22 AM
MarkS 16 May 03 - 05:14 PM
artbrooks 16 May 03 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Sorcha 16 May 03 - 05:51 PM
PoppaGator 16 May 03 - 05:57 PM
GUEST,Sorch 16 May 03 - 06:02 PM
artbrooks 16 May 03 - 06:14 PM
GUEST,Sorch 16 May 03 - 06:17 PM
artbrooks 16 May 03 - 06:24 PM
The O'Meara 16 May 03 - 06:35 PM
GUEST 16 May 03 - 06:44 PM
artbrooks 16 May 03 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Sorch 16 May 03 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Claymore 17 May 03 - 05:32 PM
MarkS 18 May 03 - 02:48 PM
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Subject: BS: News on VA?
From: Doug_Remley
Date: 14 May 03 - 03:33 PM

Now that we have the first wave from Afghanistan, and another certain to come from Iraq, I have seen nothing on the possible funding of the VA. They are so far behind that being sent to an outside institution by the VA for a test they could not handle at the VA (Maine Medical Center was where the test was done) I have been dunned by a collection agency which had full knowledge of all aspects, yet threatened MY credit rating if not immediately paid. I do have a brain cell left and exhausted all venues only to receive another letter. This bothers me.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 14 May 03 - 04:08 PM

As a 60% disabled vet who thinks the VA walks on water, I am unclear on exactly what your problem is. In order to protect your confidence and to get you assistance right away, may I suggest you call (800) 827-1000, which is a regionalized hot-line for Veterans assistence.

They may not operate 24 hours in Maine, but when you get through, they will give you VA representatives to call who work for you on a case-assignment basis. You will need your DD-214, social security or (prior to '72) your service number, and they can proceed from there. Also each congressman has a VA rep on his staff, who can connect you to the right resources. There is an abundance of help out there if you know how to access it. Good Luck!


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: artbrooks
Date: 14 May 03 - 08:36 PM

I don't think there is a final budget for fiscal year 2004 (which starts October 1st) yet. At last report (March 25, per the DAV), the House/Senate Conference Committee had agreed upon the Senate's $3 billion increase for VA health care rather than the House's $15 (over 10 years) cut.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: NicoleC
Date: 14 May 03 - 10:34 PM

I hope so, art. Last thing we should be doing is curtailing the VA's budget again with a whole new generation of vets waiting in the wings, now. Promises made to vets should be kept.

I may be generally in favor of not sending more kids off to fight senseless wars, but I see it as a social contract between those who faithfully serve and bear the brunt of decisions they don't make, and those who stay home and enjoy the benefits without the risk. It disturbs me to see this kind of social contract bandied about as a political toy. The vets lived up to their end of the bargain; it's pretty shameless to try and back out of it.

Some vets are getting great service, but many others aren't. I can't help but wonder why, because if we knew why, maybe we could fix it.

(Gee, am I ranting tonight? I'd better go work on the cookbook some more...)


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: Doug_Remley
Date: 15 May 03 - 12:03 AM

Apologies, Claymore. The last I had heard, where bush denied funding Congress wanted an increase. I had seen nothing and wondered if someone had noticed information I had missed. I, too, think the VA is filled with compassionate, caring staff who do as much as they can with limited funds, dealing now with increasing numbers and no funding. Bush, as the COIC and President has reneged on a social contract where one's life is a role of the die against health care. One of the young reservists aboard the USS Cole said "this is not fair, I did not sign up for this." Or, the young Army nurses hundreds of miles behind the lines in the First Gulf War. I have called. One of our Senators is Olumpia Snow, I got the most in-depth response from Susan Collin's office and now, nothing. I merely cited an example with which I have first-hand knowledge.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 15 May 03 - 04:32 PM

Actually the one thing to be kept in mind is the fact that the Veteran population as a percentage of the whole, is decreasing fairly rapidly. The Martinsburg VA is a superb facility, but with the deaths of the "Greatest Generation" reducing the Vet population, the VAs are having to close wards. When I had my heart attack last month I was the only one in a 10 bed ICU. Later I was moved to a four bed room on the last active ward in the hospital (a total of some forty patients).

So when you read of cutbacks, understand that the VA has a large capacity, which is untapped. The Martinsburg facility has the capacity to grow to 250 fully staffed beds within 24 hours of notification, but under the current Federal Response Plan, that occurs under Presidential Order. The hospitals then fall under FEMA if it is within a Federal Disaster Area, or DoD if it is a declared War.

The plan calls for the triage to occur within the theater of war so that, for example, all spinal cord injuries are put on one plane and land at a National Guard field near here. If they were chemical injuries they would go to another VA specializing in that medicine, somewhere elese in the US. At the point of simple convelesence, they would be flown to a local VA near their Home of Record.

And every congessman has a member of his/her staff to facilitate Veterans Benefits. They coordinate with specially trained members of various Veterans organizations, such as the AmVets or Veterans of Foreign Wars, who are called Claims Representatives. These claims officers are assigned to work only for the Vet, not the VA, in processing the paperwork, and attending the hearings, to assure the Vet is getting all the assistance he deserves.

But do understand that VA benefits are not the same for every veteran. I was drafted and served in Viet Nam, and get different benefits than say a Gulf War Vet who enlisted. These differences occur mainly in the college programs, but they sometimes affect medical benefits, especially if the Discharge was less than Honorable.

But all in all, the system works well, and is well ahead of the planning curve. For example, the VA is now opening wards for female veterans, specializing in the long term effects of combat injuries on females, as well as a preventative medicine program.

Don't believe everything you read about the loss of VA benefits. With all of the Veterans groups on the sidelines, and the personal attention of congressmen who understand that veterans are one of the highest voting groups in the US, nothing but very large excesses will get cut, if that.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 May 03 - 05:04 PM

There may be empty beds in some VA hospitals, but I don't believe everywhere, especially not in the largest cities. There have been news stories lately in New Orelans about vets being turned away from the VA Hospital; I *believe* the reason has been overcrowding (no space) rather than any other factor such as the individual's qualification. There are still a lot of homeless, mentally-ill Vietnam era vets on the streets hereabouts.

For the record, I'm an honorably discharged "Vietnam era" vet who managed to stay out of combat, and who hasn't yet required VA Hospital services. My knowledge of VA issues comes more from my father's experience; after WWII and Korea, he spent a couple of years in VA hospitals, underwent experimental surgery (which did save/prolong his life), and then had to go though a lot of red tape to estabish his disability.

The government originally argued that his disability was not "service-connected," since he was cured of the diseases (malaria & tuberculosis) contracted while on active duty, and was left disabled after being discharged, by the VA-Hospital surgery that fixed the original problem by removing 60% of his lungs, among other things. With the help of the VFW, he eventually won his case (at the Supreme Court level) and got some retroactive benefits before he died.

Even without the threat of reduced funding, the VA fails *some* veterans even in the best of times. I don't dispute that many if not most vets get all the help they deserve and need, but there have always been some whose cases don't fit any of the established "molds," and even the best-intentioned VA employees are sometimes unable to help.

If the VA budget is cut at the same time the government is sending young men and women off to more and more foreign adventures, there will be many more sad stories to tell.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 15 May 03 - 05:23 PM

Not if we win wars with some two hundred casualties in the first Gulf war and approximately the same number in the recent conflict. Remember that we lost over 58,000 in Viet Nam and some half a million in WWII.

And as I stated up above, not all Vets get the same benefits, nor should they. I have seen cases where the homeless have claimed to be Vets, received aid, and then were discovered to be imposters. It apparently is a common ploy to gain sympathy from the ignorant. Many times as a cop, I would run into such scum, and I would immediately check their story out, then hit them with every charge that applied. The numbers of garbage who claimed to have been on a "secret mission where no records were kept" were legion. I remember the stupidity of the quote (which still occasionally surfaces) that there were three million homeless Vietnam vets, which was one million more than those who served "in country".

Those who got Dishonorables still get some benefits, whereas I believe they should receive none. But I don't make the rules... But I do wish that those who lie while trying to obtain benefits should be given mandatory prison sentences.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: Doug_Remley
Date: 16 May 03 - 12:22 AM

Satellite photos show the extent of burning crude oil plumes for probable extreme pollutant syndromes and the reaction to rapid deployment combat will undoubtedly swell the ranks of "PTSD." Though PTSD is in quotes I do not want to disparage its reality.

I DO agree with Claymore That I was terribly surprised after the tales of castigation I had heard (yes, people did move away from me in the plane, but the Uniform really did smell) that the VA had a large nummber of "wannabees." They were terribly vocal and often attacked one's own reality, innuendo being, in cases, more telling than record.

The big stick comes finally to a very sharp point, a small percentage of the whole. There were, actually, very few manoever battallions in contact. I'm certain this holds true for current conflicts though the military may be more streamlined through technical advances in logistics.

Here in Maine the VA has stopped all outreach programs and there is a two-year wait for a Patient Care Physician, though Urgent care is always available.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: MarkS
Date: 16 May 03 - 05:14 PM

Hi Claymore

Please offer a hint on how to claim VA health benefits. I too am a namvet, but thankfully have never needed medical services. Now, running the race with the calender and looking ahead to the age when health issues become more frequent and urgent, I wonder if the VA is a resource I should try.
Thanks
Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: artbrooks
Date: 16 May 03 - 05:39 PM

Mark, start by showing up at your closest VA medical care facility with your DD 214 in hand...my wife (who is looking over my shoulder) says you should call ahead. They will all have a health care coordinator, or somebody with those duties. You will be assigned a "primary care practitioner," who might be a Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner rather than a physician...and they are just as good if not better. You'll be encouraged to get a base-line physical, which may, depending upon the patient load, take quite a while (6 months plus) to schedule. Depending on the particular facility's procedures, you may be issued a VA medical ID card while you are there, and that will expedite any visits you have to make to urgent care.

If you have any service connected disabilities, even if they don't bother you and they have no relation to whatever you need medical care for, make sure they know about it. Disabled vets get priority (sometimes).

VA care is not free. There is a copay for prescriptions...I pay $7 each for mine. There is a very complicated set of priorities, ranging from Priority One-100% service connected vet, to Priority Eight-non-service connected vet who makes a lot a money. The lowest priorites also have a co-pay for treatment ...something like $40 per visit.

Be patient with the bureaucracy...the system is paper-work oriented, which can put people off.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Sorcha
Date: 16 May 03 - 05:51 PM

I think it is appalling that years ago the military pretty much forced their new memebers to smoke--'Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, pick 'em if ya don't'(crawl around on your hands and knees and pick up butts) and issuing free smokes in C-rations. Now, the VA will not cover smoking related illness at all. Sen. Paul Wellstone was working on getting emphysema, LC, etc. coverage re-instated when he died.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 May 03 - 05:57 PM

Claymore, you are undoubtedly correct that many of the basket-case street people claiming to be vets are in fact imposters. Hadn't heard that "secret mission" excuse -- pitiful.

I still believe that *some* of those guys are genuine, though, even if there are relatively few of them. And I doubt that the craziest ones have kept track of their DoD paperwork...

Doug: What does "PTSD" stand for? I assume you're talking about "Gulf War Syndrome," but am not familiar with this particular acronym.

If funding is down and claims are up (which could certainly happen if we ever move into a country that *really* has biological & chemical weapons and is able to deploy them), there will be serious financial pressure to deny all claims that are in any way ambiguous. "How do you *know* your cancer has anything to do with that time you got gassed out in the desert?"

I watched my old man get the runaround from the government for years while I was growing up. I *know* his experience was not typical, and that most WWII vets did very nicely by the VA -- better than veterans of more recent conflicts. But I have seen firsthand that benefits can be denied unjustly, which is why I firmly believe that it can and will happen in the future, without hesitation, if the need increases and the money is not there.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Sorch
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:02 PM

PSTD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, not quite the same as Gulf War Syndrome.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: artbrooks
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:14 PM

Sorcha, emphasyma and smoking-related cancers (such as cancer of the larynx) can be considered service-connected. It takes no more of a run around than getting anything else accepted 50 years after a person gets out of the military. There is no automatic presumption, however.

PoppaGator, PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this generation's euphamism for shell shock. It is a medically-accepted medical condition, and is not, by any means, limited to veterans. Another very common version of it (unfortunately) is post-rape trauma.

A good book on the wanna-be's and other fakers is "Stolen Valor" by B.G. Burkett...but he has his own agenda.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Sorch
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:17 PM

Art, can you e mail me instructions on just exactly how to do it? I have a friend whose mother in law was Navy/WWII and the VA is refusing to cover those costs. Thanks! Don't PM, because my cookie is not reliable.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: artbrooks
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:24 PM

Call me, Sorcha


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: The O'Meara
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:35 PM

I would suggest that anyone planning to make a claim for VA care should do so through one of the service organizations like the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans, or the VFW or VVA. Most of them have service officers in or near VA hospitals and they really do know the ropes.

As to phony vets, I knew a guy in Cheyenne WY when I lived there who had a "secret" Medal of Honor - all the information about it was "still classified!" The fact that no one could find anthing in any of the registers proved it was true, according to him. Interesting guy. Still goes "to South America on secret assassination missions."

O'Meara


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:44 PM

I heard a story a while back about a vet who went to the VA years ago (after he was out of service) for 90 bucks to meet the rent. Just a loan. They sent him to the Red Cross, who helped him out and told him to forget about repayment. 30 years later he discovered the Red Cross was his 'guardian'. So watch those folks.

Didn't Bush and Congress just declare all vets over 65 will now have to rely on Medicare for health issues. That's WW2 and Korean War age. No VA benefits...just straight coverage like all other Americans under Medicare and Medicaid? Didn't read all the posts here, so maybe that was mentioned. Seems like a low blow, in my opinion...to not deliver on the promised.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: artbrooks
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:47 PM

GUEST@6:44, I think your information about Medicare is incorrect.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Sorch
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:48 PM

OK, Art


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 17 May 03 - 05:32 PM

Reference the claims process mentioned by Poppa Gator: The VA regulations require that the benefit of the doubt goes to the veteran. Also the veteran does not need extensive paperwork to get admitted into the VA. Even the street people would know enough to have their records retrieved (unit in combat, year entered service, service number, location drafted from, first, second, or third duty station. etc.) The Serivce Representatives know how to access the various unit diaries, ships logs, promotion boards, medical treatment records from MASH type units, pay records from disbursement centers, etc. In short nobody is still on a secret mission... you is or you ain't, period.

And remember the 800 number I gave in the second post to this thread. It will put you in contact with assistence with a day or so.


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Subject: RE: BS: News on VA?
From: MarkS
Date: 18 May 03 - 02:48 PM

Thanks all, for the help and advice.
M'Gawd. You really can find ANYTHING on Mudcat!!!
Mark


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