Long hold lines.  Hurry up and wait appointments.  Confusion and frustration that comes hand in hand with mountains of paperwork.  The Department of Veterans Affairs holds a long legacy, both perceived and grounded in past experiences, of an enormous government entity that could not possibly care about the Veterans it serves.  It seems like any other job done by human beings, one in which motivation and inspiration to help the men and women who once served gives way to punching the card in just another government job.  Meanwhile, the ranks of Veterans, many of them combat tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, continue to swell with VA left playing catch-up.  Ten years into the 21st century and VA still primarily uses mail to communicate with Veterans.  In a world that has moved onto Facebook for communication and news, letters in the mail might as well be stone tablets.  Changing a government agency this large is as challenging as it is necessary.  The transformation has already begun, but today the Department marks a new effort to reach across the great divide that has separated VA and Veterans for so long.

I understand the issues of communication between VA and Veterans because I’m not just another government employee tasked with writing an anonymous blog.  Before I started at VA, I was a college student using the Post-9/11 GI Bill not only to go to school but to pay my rent.  Like many Veterans, I was using it as a source of income while getting an education.  The transition from the military to civilian life will never be easy, but problems can be compounded by the difficulties in not receiving VA benefits that assist in building a new life.  I found that out the hard way last year when VA was overloaded with GI Bill applications and switching from old to new equated with gambling and rent on the line.  After failing to find out the status of my claim and realizing it wasn’t an isolated incident, I wrote about my situation on my own blog.  Hours later, I was speaking with Keith Wilson, VA’s Director of Education Service, about the problems VA had with processing claims.  He explained the system it used was antiquated, and changes would be made, but the process would continue to be slow and arduous.

I was not the only one to realize a lesson buried in that call: when communication between VA and Veterans needed to happen instantly, there existed a vacuum of reliable, easy to access information.  If Veterans knew about the problems with processing claims, perhaps they would not have elected to quit the old GI Bill to receive the improved benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  Another semester to wait it out would have been preferable to guessing when the next check would arrive.  The problem was simple: information did not travel from VA to Veterans fast enough.  As part of the Department’s emerging strategy to communicate with Veterans, VA is using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now this blog, to make sure the exchange of information is a two way street.  We have opened every post to comments, and starting today we will accept Guest Posts from anyone who wants to voice their thoughts and concerns about Veterans issues.  Guest Posts will function almost like an op-ed section in a newspaper, so we welcome everything from stories about a compassionate VA surgeon to how long your disability claim is taking.  Veterans and their family members, employees, policy experts, members of Congress, everyone who has a say about Veterans issues of the day, we’d like to hear from you.

As the war in Iraq winds down and the war in Afghanistan ramps up, the VA must be prepared to engage Veterans of this and every generation if it wants to fulfill its purpose: to care for those who carried the burden of battle on their shoulders.  That can be difficult from office buildings isolated in downtown Washington DC, where few Veterans tread.  This is a new age of open government and accountability, and this blog will lead the Department of Veterans Affairs into an era of engagement with Veterans new and old.  Your mailbox does not factor into modern communication anymore.  We are excited to speak to you directly, but not nearly as excited as we are for the possibilities that come with you speaking with us.

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Published on Nov. 5, 2010

Estimated reading time is 3.7 min.

Views to date: 636

285 Comments

  1. VBA David April 23, 2012 at 8:15 am

    In addition, your local VA Regional Office is available for walk-in help Monday through Friday, 8am to 4pm, except federal Holidays. Call the national VA Helpdesk at 1(800) 827-1000 for your local regional office location. The regional office is seperate from VA Healthcare, but your concerns about any mistreatment can be submitted to our personnel in the Walk-In Office. Again, if you think you’re not being treated fairly, GO HIGHER! HOOAH!

  2. VBA David April 23, 2012 at 8:04 am

    We thank all our veterans for posting on this site, and the VA is here to listen to, and answer your questions.
    Here’s an answer to a very commonly asked question:
    “Will the employee that treated me so badly ever come to justice?”
    The answer is: Only if you tell someone. YOU ARE THE VOICE.
    If someone higher knows, then the individual responsible can be investigated. The post from Mr. Hudson regarding his horrible experience in Houston infuriates me. I thank God there are personnel who care that are reading and investigating any fraudulent actions reported, either here, in person, or via phone.

    THE VA PHONE LINES ARE FOR HELP AND JUSTICE, AS WELL AS COMPLAINTS. Please, please, please, report anything you believe is malpractice, mistreatment, or fraud of any type, to the supervisor in the immediate area. You may be frazzled from your recent experience, and not able to speak calmly. THAT’S PERFECTLY OK! If someone doesn’t want to hear your complaint, GO HIGHER. A veteran earlier posted that Congressional help is available. We at the Veterans Benefit Agency support all our heroes. HOOAH!!

  3. NoAble Vetrn March 5, 2012 at 12:59 am

    .
    This is only a summary of the abuse, neglect, harm, etc… It’s a summary of 22 years that my husband had to endure at the hands of the VA. The list below proves the culture of unethical behavior by many of the VA staff, and a culture of denial; they run ramped within the administration. I know the VA is a very large agency, and as such not every single person does illegal, uncompassionate, immoral and unethical behavior – just the ones we encounter. I also will grant that not every employee does wrong all the time, and I apologize if a good person at the VA reads this and is sadden by our experiences. I hope those ‘good’ employees help my husband too and wish only, if once, we could have come into contact with them over the past 22 years. I can prove most of what I state that happened to my husband, and though I’m not about to post his medical records and every letter written, evidence of calls and in-person meetings we’ve had over the past 22 years, If it become an issue of proof to obtain justice I can, as I said, prove most of these facts.

    Please note, I am aware this is an incomplete list of the horrible treatment my husband has had to endure. My intention is not to call everyone on the carpet and nit-pick smaller issues, but to give you a summarization of the problems my husband had to & is dealing with , the culture within the VA veterans are forced to overcome just to use their benefits. Disabled veterans like my husband have no other monies to get civilian healthcare; their only recourse is the patient advocate (who over the years we have dealt with ours we found her to be at best put off by dealing with minor issues and incompetent and unwilling to help with major problems. I know each complaint the patient advocate gets is to go to the Chief of Staff within 7 days, my husband has NEVER had the Chief of Staff call him, write him, or apologize to him. When we went to see the chief of staff, even with black-and-white issues no matter what, he defends the VA doctors… even after you talk to his secretaries who have always been helpful as far as they can go, suggest what they can, but when their authority as being secretary ends their boss, the chief of staff, ALWAYS fails my husband.

    SUMMARIZATION OF 22 YEARS HISTORY OF MY HUSBAND BEING IN THE VA:

    These are a summarized list of things the VA has done to my husband. I encourage you to read the My Husband’s Detailed VA History pages on this website for further information.

    1. Took his US Army severance pay – as he had NO money this was taken by keeping his VA…

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  5. Donald Marshall November 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I have found that the medical side of the VA is very good it is the benifits side of the house that falls flat on their face. I have never had a job that I could tell my boss that I will get to it in a couple of years.

  6. Vince September 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    OK something everyone should know is that the VA is made up of 3 administrations, the VHA or hospital administration, the VBA or benefits administration and the cemetery administration. The hospital administration has built a bad reputation and that bad reputation my very well be deserved. I know more about the VBA than the other administrations. The horrible reputation of the Benefits Administration is definitely well deserved. Enormous backlogs of millions of claims often are blamed on an antiquated system but speaking from experience the guilt lies more in a framework of upper level management which is deeply entrenched and either untrained or under-trained. Hundreds of technology positions being held by beneficiaries of the crony infested good old boy network who have no training or education in IT and little experience to draw from. Changes to try and make use of technology are shot down by management because they don’t want to risk a mistake being made which night cause embarrassment or risk their cherished retirement. The idea of having to break soem eggs to make an omelet never crosses their minds. contractor after contractor has been hired it create a new software tracking system for the Veterans Benefits Administration and they repeatedly, consistently fail. I understand it’s probably wrong to criticize when I don’t have any answers for how to fix tyhe problem but unfortunately it wouldn’t matter. No one would listen anyway. I hope to continue posting and if so I may be able to contribute some good suggestions.

    • Female Vet November 13, 2011 at 10:38 am

      I go to the VA in Columbus Ohio right outside Whitehall. I have had nothing but good experiences with all of my doctors, nurses, check-in clerks AND volunteers. One thing I did notice, if you want something done, you have to speak up and tell them. Civilian doctors only take one complaint at a time, the VA doctors want to hear it all – every ache and pain. You don’t have 15 minutes with the doctor, you have at least 30 – which is great too. First time visit? You get over 1 hour with your doctor, then you can spend all day getting tests, cat scans, etc.

      They also want to know about your mental state and ask casual questions regarding your everyday life. How are you with your job? Are you homeless? etc. I also like the fact that they offer free meals to homeless veterans. They send a bus to bridge underpasses to bring in the homeless vets. If you want good, compassionate care come to the new VA clinic in Columbus, OH. I am not a war veteran, having served 1985-1989, but I still get the same awesome respect.

      If you want to help veterans help themselves you need a non-profit (501)… something or other. Go to VA.gov under the business tab. There are a growing number of female veterans that are becoming homeless. I would love to help, but I’m just one person. I’m not going to give up though. What I would like to do is run a shelter for homeless female veterans on a aeroponics/hydroponics therapy farm. It would be like a horse therapy farm. Like I said though you have to file for the non-profit status first, then for a grant/small business loan. I’m 50 years old.

      I wouldn’t know how to make my dream happen now – especially in Columbus OH. I’m going to college at Franklin U full time while holding down two jobs to make ends meet. I’m not going to be able to work 60 hours a week much longer. In fact I have to go study & write a paper.

  7. paul Kraay September 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I recently tried to create a password and identity in order to follow my VA claim process on line. Since I was in the Army when we had actual service numbers instead of using our soc sec number I was denied access. The only way I can achieve the ability to use the VA on line service is to drive 6 hours one way to Chicago regional office with 3 pieces of identification and then they will allow me to register on line. I can walk into the local VA office or go online without ever showing an ID by simply providing them the last 4 digits of my Soc Sec # because I am in their system and get prescriptions but I can’t register to check my claim. Why can’t they check their system and see that I am in it and allow me access. If the fact that I am in the VA system is not good enough why can’t I walk into my local VA with ID instead of making a 12 hour round trip to accomplish the same thing. Looks to me like just another way to make it more difficult for older veterans thereby discouraging them to follow up on claim or even make a claim. You can track it on line but you have to drive 800 miles to get an on line ID Rediculous!!!

  8. Bill July 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    My story. I moved to Kentucky Dec ’09 after working for the Army at Redstone. I had a really good doctor in Huntsville, hated to lose her. After moving to Kentucky I was assigned a doctor in the Berea VA. I have been on pain meds for years for a crack in my back and severe DDD. This doctor put me on morphine suffate for the pain. From day one the morphine made me very sick, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, etc. I called Berea VA and told them the meds were making me very sick. I was told by this doctor “it’s the morphine or nothing”. I wa sick for over a year. During this year I went to the Lexington VA to complain to the patients advocate, emergency personnel, phamacist, etc numerous times. I was always told to see my primary care doctor, the one who put me on the meds. I really thought I was going to die. At the time I didn’t have the $ to see an outside doctor. I finally took myself off the morphine and went to the pain management doctor in Lexington. This doctor sent an email to the Berea VA telling them to put me on hydrocodone 5mg. The Berea VA doctor got mad and would not do it. Since I couldn’t get any response from Lexington, I filed a complaint with the Department of Veterans Affairs in D.C. I was finally taken off the morphine and put on hydrocodone. The next visit I was given a urine test for drugs. It took nine days from giving the sample to the testing, it was kept in the clinic at the Berea VA. The doctor told me he could fix it so I would never get another pill from the VA. Guess what, my drug test showed I had fentantyl in my sysytem. This is a drug 100 times more powerful then morphine. I have never used fentantyl in my life, it’s for people on their death bed. I wanted a retest, denied. A test of my hair, denied. This was pay back for filing a complaint with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Doctors name, Bennett. I knew when I first met him, he had a screw loose.

  9. Terry Bowman June 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Loss of VA Benefits: Is It True?
    Posted by: Terry S. Bowman
    In April of this year I was reading the minutes of the National Veterans Mental Health Council Conference Call (April 13, 2011) and noted a comment by one of the participants. It seems that a Veteran who was a volunteer on the Veterans Mental Health Council at one of the VA Medical Centers had been downgraded on his Service Connected mental health disability because the volunteer work he was doing “showed that he could work”. I began to investigate this issue and discovered more than one Veteran at more than one VA Medical Center location who allegedly had experienced the same. The issue, for a few Veterans, seems to be that they had volunteered in one capacity or another at their VA Medical Center; the VA likes for Volunteers to log their volunteer hours and uses the logged hours to give credit to Veterans Service Organizations and when recognizing Veteran volunteers; the affected Veterans were Service Connected with a 100% Unemployable rating for a mental health disability; and, after performing Volunteer work at their VA Medical Center and logging their volunteer hours, these few Veterans were notified by the Veterans Benefits Administration that their 100% Unemployable status was revoked because their volunteer work was evidence that they were employable.
    I have written quite a few letters and sent numerous emails in an attempt to determine if this is a true issue or if it is a bad rumor. Unfortunately, no one in VA has responded. In the meantime, word of this issue has spread to Veterans across the Country. Some Veterans who were serving in VA volunteer positions resigned because they feared their Unemployable rating was in jeopardy.
    It would help both VA and Veterans if the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) would issue a response to this issue from a VBA office that is high up in the chain-of-command; a position above the VA Regional Offices. A response from a position above VA Regional Offices is needed so that Veterans can rely on whatever the response is and not be concerned that individual VA Regional Offices might have different interpretations of the issue. A full explanation of the truth or non-truth of the issue, more than just a quote from the applicable law, and one that addresses the specific issue would be most helpful. (I and others have researched and read the applicable law. However, we all know that the law is subject to interpretation).
    To clarify, the issue that needs to be addressed by VBA is, “If a Veteran who is 100% Unemployable due to a mental health disability performs volunteer services at a VA facility and logs those volunteer hours, is there any chance at all that VBA would recognize the Veteran’s volunteer service as evidence that the Veteran is employable and would revoke the Veteran’s Unemployable status”.

    • Donald Marshall June 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      I hope this is not true. The VA will do anything to downgrade or disappove a claim. From the VA’s own website.

      What Is Individual Unemployability?

      Individual Unemployability is a part of VA’s disability compensation program that allows VA to pay certain veterans compensation at the 100% rate, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at the total level.

      What Is the Eligibility Criteria for Individual Unemployability?

      A veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of his/her service-connected disabilities. Additionally, a veteran must have:
      •One service-connected disability ratable at 60 percent or more, OR
      •Two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.

      How Do I Apply?

      Submit VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability to your nearest VA Regional Office. You can also call 1-800-827-1000 and request the form be mailed to you.

      Can I Work?

      Veterans who are in receipt of Individual Unemployability benefits may work as long as it is not considered substantially gainful employment. The employment must be considered marginal employment.
      •Substantially gainful employment is defined as employment at which non-disabled individuals earn their livelihood with earnings comparable to the particular occupation in the community where the veteran resides.
      •Marginal employment is generally deemed to exist when a veteran’s earned income does not exceed the amount established by the U.S. Census Bureau as the poverty level for the veteran only. See the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds.

      From the VA inspector General website:

      A former VA claims examiner was sentenced Tuesday
      to a year in federal prison for helping a co-worker
      cheat the government out of $40,000.
      Hack Carr, a 49-year-old St. Petersburg resident, also
      must serve three years of probation and make
      restitution for the entire loss.
      Carr formerly worked as a senior claims examiner at
      the Veterans Service Center in St. Petersburg. He had
      worked at the office 29 years.
      In a plea agreement, Carr admitted increasing the
      disability rating of a co-worker, military veteran Joy C.
      Brown. The change had the effect of improperly
      increasing Brown’s monthly payment from $444 to
      $1,159, court records said.
      In an attempt to conceal his crime, he destroyed a key document and counseled Brown to lie to investigators, court
      records said. Carr previously pleaded guilty to theft of government property, using a false document within the
      jurisdiction of a government agency, and obstructing an agency proceeding, his plea agreement said.
      Carr has forfeited his VA pension in order to make restitution.
      Carr was arrested last year after federal investigators eavesdropped on a meeting between him and Brown. Brown had
      been arrested and was cooperating with authorities.
      Brown was sentenced last year to 33 months in federal prison for stealing $615,000 in disability benefits. She
      manipulated the VA system to award a full disability benefit to her fiance, a St. Petersburg police officer. The officer was
      not charged with any wrongdoing.

      How can this happen Brown was a Benifits service center manager. $615,000 what the hell happened to her supervisor they should be fired and in jail.

  10. Barbara April 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I just wish I could get a straight answer regarding the status of a Nehmer claim, or wait is it a Nehmer claim? Depends on what day you call and who answers, I’ve heard everything from it’s a Nehmer, to it’s being examined to fit profile of Nehmer to they are figuring out the amount of compensation.
    I’ve received nothing in writing from the VA in over 2 years! Not even that I has a hearing scheduled for 3/4/11 and my DAV rep showed up and it had been cancelled but no one knew why. What the heck?

  11. Austin Dentist March 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    VETS should be taken care like a precious gem because they served the country and they had put their lives into risk just to give us peace and freedom. They are not machines that when they are no longer useful we will throw them. We must pay tribute to our vets.

  12. Nick March 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    As a vet and current architect I can appreciate your diligence in making the system better for those who have served our country.

  13. Carlos Simmons March 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Greetings and a deep expression of gratitude to all VETS. Thank you for serving our country. I am a VN Era veteran. I served in Thailand during the times when Agent Orange was being sprayed almost everywhere on post. I have no reqrets for doing what I knew was my duty as an American. I am a bit disheartened by the way veterans who did not have “grounds on” service are being treated. To this date, I have three of the presumptive illness acknowledged by the Veterans Administration as being caused by exposure to AO. My fight for benefits has also been an up-hill battle. My( as well as other veterans) quality of life has been deminished by health problems. All of these health problems surfaced shortly after I had been Stateside for a year or so. Encouragement from other veterans has keep me sane. That too is in question. How long can a person wait to have the anxiety of “approved or denied” relieved? I have filed a claim that has been in the Developmental Stage for what seems like forever. No C&P examination or other correspondence from VA to date. Hopefully, Nehmer vs Veterans Administration will net some positive results for all of us who served honorably and diligently for the U.S.A. God bless you all and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

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  15. gary November 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Form 21-526 Compensation
    Submitted on 10/7/2010 7:01:11 PM

    The confirmation information on this page is very important so print and keep this page for your records. The confirmation information shows your confirmation number and the VA Regional Office name and address which will receive and review your application. You should also print out a copy of your application for your records.

    It is possible that this office may transfer your application to a different office. If this is done, you will be told about this by e-mail, telephone, or by regular mail. But unless you get this transfer notice, direct all your questions and mail to the office shown on this page.
    How about we “Blue Button” this? It is the confirmation number to my claim that I sent over a month ago. I have not received anything in return, no notice that it was received, no VCAA form letter, no entry on e-benefits, no help from the “800” phone number. Nothing. I guess I’ll “carry-on soldier!”.
    Your confirmation number is 538178
    Your application has been sent to the Denver Regional Office

  16. Rene R. Ortega November 26, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I figured out that the VA is about twenty years behind in medicine and treatments because to be up to date might save lives, and that would put a strain on the VA budget.

    • Alex Horton November 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      You’re about 20 years behind in those assertions yourself, Rene. This article from Washington Monthly is dated, and there is a revised book about the topic, but VA hospitals typically rate higher than private hospitals. From the article, comparisons with Medicare:

      “The system runs circles around Medicare in both cost and quality. Unlike Medicare, it’s allowed by law to negotiate for deep drug discounts, and does. Unlike Medicare, it provides long-term nursing home care. And it demonstrably delivers some of the best, if not the best, quality health care in the United States with amazing efficiency. Between 1999 and 2003, the number of patients enrolled in the VHA system increased by 70 percent, yet funding (not adjusted for inflation) increased by only 41 percent. So the VHA has not only become the health care industry’s best quality performer, it has done so while spending less and less on each patient. Decreasing cost and improving quality go hand and hand in industries like autos and computers—but in health care, such a relationship virtually unheard of. The more people we can get into the VHA, the more efficient and effective the American health-care system will be.”

      You won’t always get stellar treatment in a VA facility, but that’s because of people, not the system (like any hospital on earth, they are not perfect and mistakes will be made). Horror stories pop up in the news because VA is a federal agency who must disclose medical errors to the public. Private hospitals aren’t held to the same standard of accountability. I declined my federal employee insurance to use VA medical care (as a 30% service connected combat Veteran), so I’m not just blowing smoke.

      You don’t have to believe me, take a look at the book “Best Care Anywhere.” It’s on Amazon.

      • Terry Bowman June 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm

        “Here’s another curious fact. The Annals of Internal Medicine recently published a study that compared veterans health facilities with commercial managed-care systems in their treatment of diabetes patients. In seven out of seven measures of quality, the VA provided better care.”

        This quote is from the article in Washington Monthly referenced in Alex Horton’s reply dated Nov. 26, 2010.

        I find it a “curious fact” that the VA would be rated so highly on diabetes care when some VA Medical Centers do not comply with VA’s own Clinical Guidelines for treating diabetes.

        My challenge to everyone who posts on this site is to “first, do your homework”. A bit of research on VA’s web will reveal VA Handbooks, Clinical Guidelines, Etc. You can also research public law concerning VA. Once you have found the appropriate reference, compare it to reality. So far, the reality I have found, puts VA dead last in providing quality health care.

  17. Just Craig November 25, 2010 at 1:21 am

    I have a general question for advice from those of you experts that know or perhaps learned through trial and error. I have letter’s from different doctors who have provided medical nexus letter’s on my behalf. I had one doctor write a complete twenty page report on my behalf, where as other doctor’s that submitted letter’s were very brief and agreed with the doctor that wrote the report. Is there certain or exact things that should be included in a medical nexus letter? As I am no expert and have learning on the fly I know that a doctor needs to ensure that he states that he has reviewed my medical records and then offer his proffesional opinion as either “More likely”, “Likely” or “Less than likely” that my disease or illness or injury was caused by my military service. I have a couple of witness statements provided by retired service member’s that I served with. One statement was half a page long and basically said who the veteran was, where and how long he served with me and that he witnessed myself and other service members doing a certain activity over several months on several occassions, he then signed the form with all his contact information. The other statement provided by another retired veteran went into greater detail and sited other specific incidences, his statement was over five types pages. I guess what I am driving at here is that I do not want to appear in a video hearing and find out later that I should have asked the doctor’s or my witnesses to include key information or phrases that was left out and could have been easily included. I found out today that my video conference hearing is scheduled for next year, so if I need to ask someone to prepare an enhanced or more clear statement on my behalf that I can get the ball rolling. As my claim is an exposure claim how many witness statements by different veterans do I need to prove my claim? How many doctor’s statements from doctor’s do I or should I submit? In my original claim I sent in one doctor’s statement and one witness statement as lay evidence. As it has been over twenty-five years since I was in service and serving with these vets, it’s real hard to locate one veteran, let alone finding a veteran that can truthfully remember myself performing a certain job over a period of time. If anyone has knowledge about this I would greatly appreciate your help!

  18. Mark Chamberlain November 21, 2010 at 2:22 am

    In the end there is some good care with the bad. If the Honorable Eric Shinseki ran this like a unit he was in charge of would he be willing to go to WAR with them, or would this be acceptable losses? I hope not, because there is a long way to go.

  19. 2TimeCancerpatient November 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I am a veteran of eight years active duty. In 2001 I was diagnosed with cancer, my doctor’s said it was due to my exposure to asbestos in the Navy onboard ship. I filed a claim in 2005 and after 24 months I received a decision, everything denied related to the cancer. My wife and I then educated ourselves, having received zero help from the Chicago Diabled American Veterans (DAV), if and when we could contact our Rep he would say “Sounds Good” to everything that we asked him about proving our claim. The claim came back and the VA representative said that my claim had been “Outsourced” to Muskogee, OK and then it just sat there with no action, then shipped back to the Chicago VA Regional Office where my claim was “Misplaced” then finally ruled upon. I was told that my appeal would take between 1-2 years, well after nearly 3 years the Decision Review Office ruled on the appeal, everything denied! Upon further investigating the DRO Supervisor admitted that there had been a “Disconnect”, that my newly submitted evidence was not matched up with my claim file. We were informed that a Suplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) would be issued in 1-4 weeks, it has been now 7 months. All during these now five years plus I have had another bout of cancer as well as so many secondary issues relating to my cancer, in addition I was recently diagnosed with Asbestosis (another fatal disease). Yet depsite two witness statements from retired Navy Vets that personally watched myself and other Navy personnel handle the asbestos, as well as 4 doctor’s from 4 different specialties that have provided free of charge medical nexus letters that state specifically that I am physically the way I am today directly as a result of being exposed to asbestos while onboard ship during the 1980’s. Yet now I must appeal the appeal? Which I was informed by my Congressional Representative that will take at least another two years before the SSOC will be issued! I must tip my cap once again to the Chicago VA Regional Office, you have proven once again that you as an organization can care less about veterans! Once again you have demonstrated that your negligence and incompetence has hurt another veteran and his family’s life. Once again Chicago VA Regional Office you have proven that you are and have never been held accountable to anyone, anytime! The statistics of your VA Regional Office being the least efficient and worst overall was once again proven! I just don’t understand how the people in my particuliar case can face themselves in the mirror? If they hate their job so much then quit! be replaced by people that actually care about what they do and that by doing their job honestly with dignity that they can actually assist veterans, rather than just rubber-stamping denials and looking for any loophole to send claims to appeals or to have these claims just be thrown back into the pile. Every job has stress, has backlogs, yet there is no accountability at the Chicago VA Regional Office. Who are they accountable to? You can leave requests by calling or writing the VA until you are blue in the face and never will any member from the Chicago VA Regional Office call you back, I know this personally as well as other vets that I talk to from here.The truly sad thing is that despite myself being housebound, gravely ill and so on, but that if I die before I receive a disability percentage with the cancer or its secondary issues, the the claim is “Dismissed without prejudice” and my wife will have to start at square one all over again! But yet as a two-time cancer patient I must now wait a minimum of two more years? I must appeal the appeal that was never even reviewed since there was a “Disconnect”? All I have asked for was to be treated honorably with dignity and with due process and fairness, something that the Chicago VA Regional Office knows nothing about. If anyone knows an individual or organization that I could contact that actually could help my wife and I, we would greatly appreciate it! I know having cancer and now asbestosis is not the same as being wounded in battle, it’s no glorious. However, I did volunteer to serve my country and am entitled to the same benefits that all vets deserve and have earned.

    • Mark Chamberlain November 21, 2010 at 1:24 am

      This is the we care less and do less. A lot of the V.A. is on the same page, but the ones that are not are the ones that they leave alone. They will tell you of how much they have done but it seems to be the one’s they have the least problem with. I Wish you could deal with a real person that knows your case and not a general system that is working with the screen in front of them. Come up to the 20th century then we can work on the 21st century.

  20. Wallace Rapp November 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I don’t understand why the VA goes to such great lengths to insure that their patients cannot communicate with their PCP except when in a fac to cas appointment. I am an AO vet with DbII and other issues. I can only see my PCP every six months he cannot order lab tests more than 90 days in advance. When I try to insure that he orders the labs before My appointment, I can’t get the message to him. The Advice Nurse will not “bother” him, his Nurse is not allowed to receive my calls unless she initiated contact, the email is diverted to the Freedom of Info office to determine if it is authorized (it’s not, only Dr to Dr eamil gets through). I tried for two weeks to get my labs ordered unsuccessfully. As the test he wants requires fasting for 12 to 14 hours, it is a big deal to me, and he is upset to see me without recent data. He is supposed to be a test case for the new email procedures, with In Person Authentication, which I have done, but they don’t seem to be able to get the messages through.

  21. Ralph Miller November 17, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I returned from Vietnam messed up in many ways. The VA claims examiners have virtually called me a liar more than once over the years. With a current claim in for liver damage following hepatitis from exposure to blood while in Vietnam, the saga continues. I am still being called a liar. VA rejects my evidence (including but not limited to a witness letter from another member of my unit). I recently learned VA has stooped so low as to deny that two of the guys I helped bag in Vietnam even died there (Yes. Their names are on the wall and in the book. The VA has repeatedly lost, shredded or ignored evidence submitted by me over the past 7 0r 8 years. It really makes me sick. I could give a longer list of their dirty tricks, but I get too worked up. I hope that the process goes much smoother for each and all of you. Signing off,brothers and sisters. P.S. How about a scroll bar in these boxes for posting comments.

    • David Gordon November 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      Well, If you were to give yourself an evaluation. Wouldn’t it be a good one?

  22. Joseph A November 16, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Terri Lewis,
    Hopefully, you helped him file a claim for benefits due to Parkinsons as it is a presumptive condition if exposed to Agent Orange.

  23. Alan Oates November 16, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    The ratings and payments on the new Agent Orange presumptive claims has started. It appears that there is a trend toward rating Parkinson’s disease at the minimum allowed (30%). One indication from a service officer was that VA is doing this to get the veterans paid quickly and then come back and relook at the claims. If this is the case, the decision letter should state that. As the low ratings are making veterans upset and causing stress.

  24. Michael Colyer November 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I am a veteran who served in Korea from January 1968 to February 1969. I have Parkinson’s Disease. I was assigned to the 7th Division, 2nd & 31st Infantry. I received Hostile Pay for hazardous duty required to be performed as indicated by individuals of HHC 2n Bn 31st APO SF 96207. Effective date, 1 April 68. I was on the DMZ for 4 months. Will I be qualified for presumptive agent orange exposure or only Vietnam Veterans. I’ve had parkinson’s since I was 48.

    I have copies of Specials Orders that substantiate the above statement.

    Do I have a Presumptive Service Connection for Parkinson’s?

    Respectfully,

    Michael D. Colyer

    • Joseph A November 17, 2010 at 12:03 am

      Agent Orange was used in the DMZ in korea during the time you served. It is possible that you have a claim for presumptive parkinson’s. Contact a good service organization to assist you.

  25. Eric Ammon November 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    well calling the VA is
    impossible–now they have resources to blog? You would better serve us by reponding to our claims which sit for 2 yesrs… WTH

  26. Mark Tressel November 15, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    What I want to know is who oversees the VA? They constantly are mixing my medical records with someone elses, and then use their disability file to deny mine. This has happened twice within the VAMC Ann Arbor. They blow smoke at you and then the doctors lie to you. Nothing like wanting a test that the dr calls you personally to schedule and then when you next talk he claims that he never tried to schedule. BS! If I ever ran a agency like the VA it would be defunct from all the lawsuits, butthe VA is immune from those. To top it off, after the mixing of personal medical information they are immune from HIPPA laws that affect everyone else. What makes the VA better than the other doctors? To mix up records and then use those records for a determination is criminal, but the enforcement people of VA OIG and the HIPPA law both claim I have no recourse except file another appeal.42 month and waiting… No if I can only find a way to put these pricks on the other side of the fence for a change…

    • Mark Chamberlain November 21, 2010 at 1:46 am

      If they can delay you as long as they can their hopes is that you will give up. Like my claims first they can not find the records then they say that going to a doctor other then a V.A. doctor does not count. It is Just a stall tactic to give them more time. Or why start a program where you can go to other DR. for treatment then the V.A. for treatment, unless they already know they are going to refuse it. Part of the lets tell them one thing and do another.

  27. Thomas November 15, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I have been visiting the Asheville NC VA hospital for about two decades, and I am 99% satisfied. Back in 2001 , I had my only bad experience. When my medicine was delivered to my home, I noticed that several of my heart medications were labeled incorrectly. The dose was doubled and the instructions to take them were doubled. I called the pharmacy and asked if a mistake had occured and I was told that there was no error. I went to the hospital and went to the pharmacy and asked for a print out of the latest order, and got it. I then asked to see my primary care provider, and when in her office ,I brought it to her attention, and she became irate with me. Other employees were comming and looking in her open doorway , till she got up and closed it. I had asked the pharmist what would of happened if I had taked the medications as the label instucted, and was told the results would of been grave. Basically my primary care provider call me a liar, till I showed her the old bottles and the new mislabeled bottles. The entire time she was messing on her computer, and then she turned to computer around so I could see, and the page she showed me was the order, which showed the correct medication orders, and said that there was no error on her part, that the pharmacy had made the error. I then proceeded to show her the hard copy I got from the pharmacy, which made so angry she told me me get out of her office. I told her I was going to file a complaint against her for a mistake that could of resulted in my death. I went immediately to the patients advocate and did so. Next time I went back to the hospital , she was no longer there. I My hard copy of the orders proved that she corrected the mistake while I was in her office.

    • 2TimeCancerpatient November 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

      Good for you that you followed through wiht your complaint as most vets that I encounter just throw up their hands and give up. Or they believe that since it’s a VA Hospital that less than outstanding care and service is acceptable. I go to the VAMC North Chicago and it has been a nightmare for both my sister who is a vet and I. I have been misdiagnosed with stage IV cancer based on an oncolosit’s opinion of a cat scan. I have received prescriptions for other vets as well as received wrong dosages for med for me. I endured an edoscopic biopsy without the benefit of pain meds or other drugs while four nurses/aids held down my upper body. The reason for this that I was given was so the doctor and his staff could then see more patients since I would not have to be monitored. I spoke with a civilian gastrenterologist who said that this was barbaric that I should complain to the VA and the state medical board which my wife and I did. I informed my first assigned primary care doctor at the VA that my back and neck pain has become unbearable and her response was “You are over thirty and as such your going to have aches and pains, you need to suck it up and quit complaining” Whereby I demanded another doctor who after reading the MRI and CT Scans informed me he didn’t know how I could walk let alone stabd the pain given that I had three bulging disc’s in my lower back and every disc in my neck was pressing on my spine, along with spinal stenosis, bone spurs and so on. Yet these people are not held accountable. They feel that it is my priviledge to be treated their versus a priviledge for these people to be employed by the VA.

  28. Maurice Wyman Scott November 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Now for a more positive note, the VHA here in Columbia, South Carolina, Williams Jennings Dorn Medical center is the best both private and governmental unit i have ever experience. The are honest health care providers, my Psychiatrist was so honest that he stated, “The veterans health continues to decline because of the effects of the local VBA”. A clear indictment of the broken staff.

  29. Maurice Wyman Scott November 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    As we’ve entered into another administration, an Administration which on the surface cares about the lives of Veterans, I appolode their efforts. As a sick, confused, and struggle veteran myself, I’ve taken the opportunity to independently document, and talk to other veterans since January 2010. Subsequently interviewing 86 veterans whose lives are being held in the balance by the Columbia Regional Office.
    The one central theme is and has of recent days become mine, that in a culture that employees can’t be fired, unless someone can prove gross neglience, that its just another day at the office mentality. These, as well as myself have the central theme, that its just a bait and switch, a interviewer, styled title VSR, calls you back, but quickly lets you know that you are on a time clock, answers nothing, and gives the same old excuses, which seeming after as many are probably job statements.
    The VBA, VHA, and every other entity of the VA system aren’t broken, its the folks that worry not about their job security, that makes this system broken, without oversight, or supervision it seems. I myself was told that the interviewer, VSR, upon asking for a supervisor, have no supervisor, and for some reason we believe that something really gets done.
    Since 2003, I have been fighting with the VA, and each time, I depended upon them to be fair and honest, not understanding the culture they believe, they have a job, security, so forget us, the consumers of the services. This last claim, which should have been relooked at CUE, but that wouldn’t have given the delay, deny, or hope that you give up because we are going to take our time theory to be realized. I started it in Jan. 09, they said they finished discovery or as they call it development in June 09; what i found upon denial that they did absolutely nothing; accident reports they said they couldn’t find, i wrote the agency, and after denial they sent them to me, and the most outrageous thing came in form of intentional concealing evidence, a c and p exam which said i wasnt sick, and hadnt been diagnosis, because the RO didnt include the same hospital that i had the examination in records, corrupt behavior. But the key to that, is when i got the C and p report, if faxed records to the Regional office to be place in my folder, diagnosis, but they again were ignored. So on and so on, but in talking to others, just sitting in the waiting room, I’ve found that deliberately misplacing, or removing records that would result in approvals is pretty common at this location.
    Then while we of veteran having served in the military understand what going to the IG’s office means, correcting a wrong somewhere, well because as a acknowledgement that the VA knows that wrongs are being committed, the OIG doesn’t investigate claim wrongs of any kind, staff lawyers, and highly paid personnel and the largest single issue you handle, and you don’t investigate, its a maze with admittedly harmful effects, no accountability.
    The Columbia Regional Office is a bad place, its staff are bad people who have become comfortable doing absolutely nothing, denying to delay claims as a practice, and no one will stand up to this kind of taxpayer abuse of power. But the wrongs can’t be corrected or observed with announced visits, because everyone prepares for an inspection, but when you are a regular person, without the national eye on you, see exactly what kind of service you receive, nothing. But the truth is in the files of the many veterans in this location, their lives are being ruined because no one will clean house, from the director, to the staff. I’m fortunate, I have a inside leak, so the handling of my claim while wrong was intentional and deliberate, as my leak told me, thats why it was done on a Saturday. This is folks lives, my and the entire body of people I’ve interviewed, they homes, cars, and families are being destroyed on purpose, and no person to turn to.

    But you know this, its not the system that has ever caused backlog, its the lack of dedication of staff, and when under pressure, they just perform a blanket denial program, passing the buck to the next level. In your own reaearch, you will find that of the last 100 claims that have been filed, denied, the same level by name of people have filed appeals, so you aren’t really reducing the claim volume, you are just reporting it somewhere else.

    So I say to you, that a house cleaning is required, from the rating department to the development department, the truth is bound to be exposed, its better if that truth comes from the VA. The veterans deserve better.

  30. Ron Ouellette November 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Why hasn’t ANYONE who handles replies answered my questions in regards to FAT BONUSES on top of Big Salaries being paid to these Hospital Administrators??? When you call to speak to the Hospital Director you get directed to a Patient Advocate??? Why??? Are they afraid to speak to WE,
    THE VETERANS, what the hell is the damn problem??? Don’t these “empty suits” work for us??

  31. Jerry Sisemore November 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    This is a letter I wrote to Sec. Shinseki and never received a reply I wonder why?

    —–Original Message—–
    From: sisemorejm1@peoplepc.com
    Sent: Apr 21, 2010 3:55 PM
    To: vip@mail.va.gov, shinseki@va.gov
    Subject: Vietnam War Vet or Vietnam Era Vet??????

    Your Honorable Shinseki.

    I just read an article on the Blue Water Navy.org website that said :

    “Department of Veterans Affairs Intends to Strip
    John McCain of Vietnam Veteran Title ”

    Is that true and if so does that mean that every man or woman that

    served in Vietnam on ships designated as Blue Water Navy is also going

    to be stripped of the title as well?

    I was on the USS Larson (DD-830) in 1972 in Vietnam we were chased by

    Vietcong patrol boats shot at and had a Russian Mig after us, luckily we were

    not hit and a Frigate that was with us shot the Mig down and we (the Larson)

    took out 2 or 3 of the patrol boats that were after us.

    We spent 56 days straight on the gun line we were also one of first ships

    to arrive at Haiphong Harbor when Nixon ordered the mining of the harbor where

    we watched a merchant ship off load supplies to the Vietcong. We couldn’t fire

    on the merchant ship but we sank quite a few of the sampans after they were

    clear of the ship.

    We were awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon

    and a Meritorious Unit Medal.

    My question is if they strip us of the Vietnam War Veteran title and

    replace it with the Vietnam Era Vet title where can I send my medals back

    to?

    This is a shame and a disgrace to the Navy Veteran that served their

    country just as well as Veterans on the ground. We were not in as

    immediate danger as those on ground but just the same we were there and

    served our country just the same.

    The VA is doing this because of the Agent Orange issues, and I for

    one do not think it is fair to any Navy Vet that was over there. I have a claim

    in for Ischemic Heart disease caused by agent orange I also had prostate
    surgery in July 2009. Someone
    who had boots on ground could have the same claim in that I have but he will

    be approved while I will be denied how fair is that to any Navy Vet that was there??

    I’m sure almost everyone is aware of the Royal Australian Navy’s ruling

    on it’s Blue Water Navy Vets. They are giving them the benefits they deserve

    and earned for claims against agent orange. They did scientific studies on ships

    that took sea water in to convert it to fresh water and found out that the process

    just intensified the toxins in agent orange and the U.S Navy used the same

    evaporators as the Australian Navy since most of their ships were built in the

    United States. We drank, cooked and showered in this contaminated water.

    No wonder why the Navy is seeing more deaths and claims for agent orange

    then the ones filed from Vets on ground.
    WHY ISN”T THE USA giving it’s Blue Water Navy Vets the same benefits

    that they deserve and earned????

    I’m sure the answer to that is MONEY. I think they estimated it would cost

    around 3 billion dollars to allow the Blue Water Navy Vets to file claims against

    the VA for the benefits of Agent Orange and if that is the case what about all

    the billions of dollars we are spending on the wars, earthquake relief, feed the hungry

    and all the thousands of billions we are spending on foreign countries to train

    them against terrorism. Why not use some of that recovery money to help the

    Blue Water Navy??

    Sir below is the open letter to all Veterans that you wrote please read it.

    Thank You

    Jerry Sisemore

    (Vietnam War Veteran)?

    ( or Vietnam Era Vet)?

    __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    My name is Ric Shinseki, and I am a Veteran. For me, serving as Secretary of Veterans Affairs is a noble calling. It provides me the opportunity to give back to those who served with and for me during my 38 years in uniform and those on whose shoulders we all stood as we grew up in the profession of arms.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has a solemn responsibility to all of you, today and in the future, as more Veterans join our ranks and enroll to secure the benefits and services they have earned. I am fully committed to fulfilling President Obama’s vision for transforming our department so that it will be well-positioned to perform this duty even better during the 21st Century. We welcome the assistance and advice of our Veterans Service Organizations, other government departments and agencies, Congress, and all VA stakeholders as we move forward, ethically and transparently, so that Veterans and citizens can understand our efforts.

    Creating that vision for transforming the VA into a 21st Century organization requires a comprehensive review of our department. We approach that review understanding that Veterans are central to everything VA does. We know that results count, that the department will be measured by what we do, not what we promise, and that our best days as an organization supporting Veterans are ahead of us. We will fulfill President Lincoln’s charge to care for “. . . him, who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan . . .” by redesigning and reengineering ourselves for the future.

    Transforming any institution is supremely challenging; I know this from my own experience in leading large, proud, complex, and high-performing organizations through change. But the best organizations must be prepared to meet the challenging times, evolving technology and, most importantly, evolving needs of clients. Historically, organizations that are unwilling or unable to change soon find themselves irrelevant. You and your needs are not irrelevant.

    Veterans are our clients, and delivering the highest quality care and services in a timely, consistent and fair manner is a VA responsibility. I take that responsibility seriously and have charged all of the department’s employees for their best efforts and support every day to meet our obligations to you. Our path forward is challenging, but the President and Congress support us. They have asked us to do this well–for you. Veterans are our sole reason for existence and our number one priority–bar none. I look forward to working together with all VA employees to transform our department into an organization that reflects the change and commitment our country expects and our Veterans deserve.

    Thank you, and God bless our military, our Veterans, and our Nation.

  32. Greg West November 12, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Thank you to all that have chosen careers with the DVA and caring for Veterans. Personally, I have not received better or more overtly caring, concerned treatment from ANY other health care institution.

    I get very angry when I hear persons, especially my Brothers & Sisters-In-Arms; complain about VA medical treatment. Yes, there does exist legitimate complaints. However; those complaints, more likely than not, are due to staff members that are generally unhappy with their own lives or work and should simply – MOVE ON.

    The absolute best VA IMO is the Muskoge VA Medical Center in Muskogee, OK. If one does have a legitmate complaint about anything, it is dealt with swiftly. The overwhelming majority of staff members are kind, caring and genuinly concerned about Veterans’ lives. This VA has fast become a ‘social meeting place’ for many area Veterans. We get together, help out when/if we can, share stories and visit with those wonderful staff members – time and schedule permitted of course.

    The second higest rated IMO, would be VA Medical Center – Topeka, KS. Here again; outstanding, dedicated, loyal and committed staff members. Great treatment and CLEAN facility.

    I have had only two ‘bad’ experiences in any VA Hospital, Medical Center or Outpatient Treatment Center. In those cases, I simply choose not to vocalize to persons outside of the facilities involved. It would only prove to be a source of irritation to someone that finds these facilities to be opposite of my experience. Plus, I have never cared to spread, listen to or perpetuate hatred or gossip.

    I am so very thankful for our Nation’s Veterans Hospitals and various care facilities and can not imagine being treated anywhere else.

    HOOYAH! DVA
    HOOYAH! Honoraable Secretary
    JOB WELL DONE!

    West
    United States Navy
    Disabled/Retired

    • Mark Chamberlain November 21, 2010 at 2:05 am

      It sounds you got good care so good for you. I have gone to Topeka for care and it was the worse I have gotten. First in 1997 they told me that all was in may mind. O” the real doctors have treated me and helped me out with the real medical problems. Since seeing them I have had two surgeries and need more. But as you say they are good! At what telling the real DR. what you need. I hope you don’t end up like me 5 Specials and two full time doctors for problems that they found between 1992 to 1997 and said I do not have. The question is do you work for them in any way if not great. Continue best wishs.

  33. DAN CLARK November 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I’M GLAD TO SEE SO MANY POSITIVE COMMENTS ON THE V.A. HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. I, ON THE OTHER HAND HAVE HAD NOTHING BUT TROUBLE. I’M A COMBAT VETERAN FOR THE VIET NAM ERA. I AM CURRENTLY 60% DISABLED DUE TO A LOWER BACK INJURY. I WAS RECEIVING SHOTS IN MY LOWER BACK TO EASE THE PAIN. ON MY LAST VISIT I TOLD THE PAIN DOCTOR THE SHOTS WERE NOT WORKING LIKE THEY DID AT FIRST. HE ORDERED A NEW MRI TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON AND TOLD ME THE SHOTS HAVE DISSOLVED THE PROBLEM AND IT WAS OK NOW. ONE MONTH LATER AND THE PAIN IS WORSE THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN. I HAVE BEEN SENT HOME FROM WORK BECAUSE I CAN BARELY WALK AND HAVE FALLEN TWICE. THE V.A. HERE IN COLUMBUS OHIO TOLD ME I WOULD HAVE TO EITHER WAIT 2 MORE WEEKS AT THER EARLIEST, OR GO TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM. I CALLED TO GET THE OK TO GO TO THE E.R. AND HOW WOULD THEY PAY FOR THIS. I WAS TOLD TO SEND THE BILL TO THEM AND THEY WOULD REVIEW IT. I CALLED A VSO AND HE TOLD ME THEY WOULD MORE THAN LIKELY NOT PAY, FOR PAST EXPIERENCES. I HAVE BEEN FIGHTING WITH THEM SINCE 1979 ON MY CLAIMS AND STILL DON’T HAVE EVERYTHING RESOLVED

  34. Solfine November 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Why should we have to scroll through 200 comments to leave a comment..
    If you want good communication rapidly make it easier to post information or Questions.
    Next week there will be 5000 comments to scroll through..
    Solfine

  35. retiredat44 November 12, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Update: I have a DRO hearing coming up in December 2010, for my illnessses from toxic chemicals exposure. Petroleum chemicals. I had direct contact daily, with soaked skin and clothing. USAF doctors removed me from my job for crosstraining. I became very ill with severe swelling, to the point of my arms and hands swelling to the point of skin breaking and bleeding, headaches. After a while my health improved. But, then they forced me to work again with chemicals, I got sick all over again.

    Int he USAF I was treated for chemical exposure, headaches, Intestinal illness, pnumonia,

    it is not a question of whether or not I got sick, it is a question of how much of my present illnesses were caused by the chemicals I worked with. My skin and clothing were soaked with these chemicals daily.

    Jet Fuel (JP-4), Leaded Gaosline, Diesel Fuel, and Trichloroethylene.

    I suffer from intestinal disease, pancreas disease, Nerv damage, tremors, shaking, chronic pain, headaches, edema, Myotonic Dystrophy, and much much more..

    I have not been able to work for 20 years. I am 54 years old.

    My claim was denied and they said that I had no evidence that Jet Fuel cuased my illness (even though I am already rated at 50% form Jet Fuel exposure and headaches). They never once mentioned all of the chemicals, only Jet Fuel. Plus my IMO from a toxicologist addressed the health issues from all of the chemicals.

    I want to ask why they ignored the evidence. If I listed al of my horrible illnesses I would be typing here for hundreds of pages.

    I recently spent six months in a hospital bed fightinhg for my life from pancreas cyst and disease. I suffered from many complications.

    I lost the ability to eat, to walk, and all my muscles wasted away. I did go through therapy and get the abilityt walk again, bit with a cane.

    I have been suffering from depression where every day I wonder I need to stay alive and suffer one more day. Every day I take my morphine all day so I can live with pain and eat.

    Laying in bed sick for 20 years. Scared to death of going back into the hsopital, the surgeons told me if I get sick one more time they will remove my pancreas. I will most likely not survive, the last 6 month hospital stay had me on death’s door the whole 6 months.

    I have to go to a hearing like I am a criminal.

    • Greg West November 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm

      Godspeed Brother. If you continue to have problems with your rating evaluation/determination, you might try writing your elected officials. I too played the ‘Deny, Deny, Deny ‘Till They Die’ game. I kept my appeals alive and eventually contacted my Senator. Within three months I received a 100% rating and a retro check in the amount of 106,448.37. NOT MIS-KEYED. I wish I were near your location, I would assist in ANY WAY I can. I am a Volunteer Veterans Benefits Officer. I do not work for or with any of the VSO’s. If a claim processed with good founding is denied, I now go directly to the appropriate Senator and/or Congressman.

      Regards – Your Brother-In-Arms,
      MCPO West
      USN Retired/Disabled

  36. Heather Kutie November 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    i would like to know if you have a paper from a va hospital stating you have agent orange how can they deny you benefits through agent orange. My father got sick in 1993 but until the day he died from a kidney cancer that the doctor first words were did you get sprayed by agent orange and then told he would not testify to saying that something is wrong. I just want what my father deserved and now my mother for having to deal with this problem with no help. Thanks to everyone that has served and that is still serving our great country

  37. RoN Maret (r.maret@sbcglobal.net November 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    When is MyHealtheVet going to deliver on what has been promised? It’s been at least 3 years since VA promised to see appointments and results of medical tests at the VA. In one place you say it is coming soon and another place you say 2010 – Don’t think you will make it. You never promised that you could download your personally entered medical history but that was all we have gotten. If I want to give my medical history to another doctor believe the results of VA administed medical tests and blood work would be what doctor would want most rather than what I enter myself regarding my health. Why not spend less time putting info on the site regarding every time the head of VA f__ts and give the veterans what they have asks for and want.

  38. David Gordon November 11, 2010 at 11:23 am

    You’re right, you can be TDIU and have an extra 60% and get Housebound. I was in that situation back in ’96 to ’99 but I guess this rule was not in effect. I wasn’t getting HB. Then in ’99 I was awarded 100% P&T. So here I am in 2010 Still Unemployable Stuck In-home on property because of my Physical and Mental disabilities but I don’t have housebound. I have the 100% but not the extra 60%. I am still unemployable, I don’t begrudge anyone anything but is it fair that someone that is 100% because of TDIU and also happens too have ratings that add up too 60% gets housebound. But someone that was TDIU with more than 60%, then is awarded 100% P&T and now I no longer have the TDIU title but I’m still unemployable but can’t get housebound?

  39. Miguel A. Rodriguez-Estrada November 11, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I am a Koran War Vet and have not used any VA benefits (Just the GI Bill on Education, which I used to study at the UPR in Puerto Rico). I have in many occassions tried to find information on any benefits that are available. I have been doing this since 1955 (year of discharge).

    TO NO AVAIL.

  40. Shannon Champ November 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    My Pap was a proud DAV!! He would wear his pins and caps proudly!! We were proud of him!! He passed away a year ago and gettin the widows pension for my Grandma is like pullin teeth. Its sad that they fought for our country and their families have to deal with this when they are gone. They just give us the run around with the 6 months back pay that they owe her. Just sayin!! God Bless!!

  41. Jenna R. Aquila November 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Over thirty years ago as a young RN I would pick up extra shifts at the VA hospital to supplement my income from my regular job. I remember that Vets who were admitted for non-emergency surgeries would wait at least three weeks in house before getting their surgeries. Particularly if you were on the ward which was a 40 bed unit assigned to one nurse. The four bed semi-private rooms were not much better but care was more immediate and palliative care was usually prescribed fairly early by interns, med students and if the Vets were real lucky, by the tough hardworking ex-vet full time RNs. There were two to four private rooms on each unit but they were for VIPs or for those who required quarantine. What drove the quality and timeliness of the care were the med students, interns and the residents who were the instructors – and they were slow. Average in house stay for a hernia was four to six weeks because these Vets made excellent guinea pigs. They had every test and procedure imaginable and they waited long periods between each one due to a lack of organization. The general consensus was that those “test subjects” were chosen because they lived alone or had no living spouse or were homeless but in general good health. The Vets on the ward were also mostly WW II vets, a few Korean war vets – Viet Nam war vets were usually on other floors or in the psych units – most VN vets had an initial psych eval as part of their admission. The Ward quickly became home to those admitted as they waited for their “surgeries”- most of which were unnecessary – they turned their bed and side tables into neat little living quarters, keeping them neat and clean, most changing and making their own beds as long as they were able. They organized card games, played chess and sat about telling stories and broke bread together. And they sang.
    One morning after breakfast on a particularly gloomy and rainy day, after an announcement surgeries scheduled for the next day were cancelled. The Vets coped as usual with jokes, a few curses under their breath and than sat on their beds waiting for procedures, meds and anything else that was the morning routine(which usually lasted to lunchtime), they were more quiet as usual probably because of the rain – the ward looked darker in the rain, the sound of the rain soothing.
    One Vet had his radio on, a breadbox size off white electric 1970’s clock radio, that was tuned to a local Country Music station, in a second nearly every man was singing along with faraway pained wet gazes, their postures resigned, the usual jocularity absent:
    ” Lord, I hope this day is good
    I’m feelin’ empty and misunderstood
    I should be thankful Lord, I know I should
    But Lord, I hope this day is good
    Lord, have you forgotten me
    I’ve been prayin’ to you faithfully
    I’m not sayin’ I’m a righteous man
    But Lord, I hope you understand”

    As I recall this, there are tears in my eyes; I will always remember these men, that rainy day and the song they sang which so epitomized their experience not only as patients at the VA hospital but also as United States Veterans.

  42. Keith Allen November 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I agree that emails would be an outstanding technological addition that the va could employ to help all vets.

  43. Wendy McIntosh November 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    As a civlian with the department of defense, I recognize how difficult change is in a huge organization. That said, I think the VA is making astounding efforts to change the way they do business, how they treat Veterans, and basically have turned an organization from a “we could care less about you” place to “can do, will do, what more can we do” organization. They deserve the recognizaton of the amazing efforts everyone in the organization has made. For the Veterans, just as an American Citizen – I want you to know that we want you to receive first class care, first class treatment – we want to know that you are taken care of physically, mentally and emotionally and we want the system to be so responsive that the VA contacts YOU before you even know you have a problem. I hurt for everyone of you who have problems getting appointments, have felt you are not a priority, have had to deal with anyone who made you feel less than human or simply abandoned you to trying to figure out how to get what you need and deserve or made it more difficult to do so. I personally have lost my precious son to suicide. He was only 20 years old. He had no way of knowing that the pain of his depression could change, and that he could return to life whole. He didn’t give anyone the chance to help him. If any one of you are suicidal, don’t think your death will be unnoticed, or that no one will care. You will be surprised to know that hundreds of thousands of us care, we work on suicide hot lines, we send packages to troops, we look the streets for homeless vets and try to get them to shelter. If you are sucidial – PLEASE get help. There are many hotlines to call -if the “offical” hotline scares you, call a local hotline. Allow others to help you and serve you. You have done your duty, now let us do ours. PLEASE tell the VA what needs to be changed. They want to get it right. They want you to know how much America Cares.

    • Alex Horton November 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks, Wendy. We appreciate our close relationship with DOD and look forward to working with you guys to make the transition out of the military as seamless as possible.

    • William D. Caddell November 12, 2010 at 5:36 pm

      Wendy,

      I agree wiyh you about the Suicidle patients and getting help. As a Retired VA Police Officer, I can assure Vetrans that when a local Police Officers comes to your house, after a hotline call, it is for a welfare visit in an attemp to save you and get you professional help.

      I also want to point out that as a Veteran, i agree that the degree of medical care has improved. The VBA Regional Offices are still abusing us Veterans by the practices of Shredding applications for benefits, post dating applications for benefits and misrepresenting the findings of the C&P exams in thw Award/Dnial letters. If you have read my posting, you know I am a victim of the last tactic We put our lives on the line to give the employees of the VBA the freedom to work, and this is how they show their appreciation!

  44. David Kessler November 10, 2010 at 11:58 am

    As a vet I a very happy with the services that I have received over the past years. I am also very happy to see the administration come into the 21 century. I feel that we can all benifit.

  45. Terry November 10, 2010 at 10:47 am

    The “missing letters” for appointments are hard to beleive. In my work life, I can’t ever recall once either we or another entity not recieving a posted letter. This has happened with me at least four times in ten years getting care from the VA.

    • Raymond Taylor November 13, 2010 at 10:24 pm

      The VA calls me to verfy my appointments , LR,Ark.

      • Terry November 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm

        I recieve confirmation calls as well, but if I don’t know an appointment is pending, the call often comes too late. The VA has a problem in this area nad it needs o be fixed. Specifically there are postage costs being wasted,missed appointments and the subsequent rescheduling, and stress on us, the patients. I really love the eternal revolving door of ” oh, we have central appointemt scheduling, now appointments are done at the clinic level, oh, we are back to central scheduling”. If you only ever go half way, you will never get there.

  46. Mary Hall November 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

    FREEDOM IS NOT FREE THESE ARE WORDS THE VA SHOULD LIVE BY EVERY DAY WHEN THEY SPEAK TO VETERANS.

  47. Greg Marshall November 10, 2010 at 5:58 am

    Neither my parents nor I had/have any use for the VA. For me, a service connected long term knee problem was not found to be worth anything. In my Dad’s case, he was a Bataan Death March survivor and POW at Nagasaki. The day after the bomb, they were taken into the city to help clean up, and a guard hit him with a rifle butt, opening a wound and leaving a scar that was visible the rest of his life. 33 years later he developed cancer under the scar, which leads to the most likely cause being radiation getting into the wound and later causing the cancer. The VA tactic was to deny his claim since there was no way to “prove” that the cancer was caused in service. Oh, despite the increible ordeals that he went through as a POW the fine bureaucrats at the VA saw fit to award him a 15% disability after he retired.

  48. doug noble November 10, 2010 at 4:27 am

    There has to be better communication between the vet and the service organizations the vet chooses to be Power of Atourney. After decisions are made my POA, the DAV, never consulted with me after the VA Rating Officer screwed, and denied me 4 times in as many years for SC. My DAV POA Rep never once called me to talk to me about denials and reasons given for denial by the VA RO. I reopened my claim 3 times with new evidnce correcting the reasons for the denial, each time to get more stupid reasons. Then I went to the DRO with a hearing, and he reversed the denials, granting ing me SC, but screwing up on the % and effective dates for a mental condition and the TDIU by 4 years. My DAV POA never consulted me and now I’m off to the BVA for an appeal on effective dates.If I had a paid POA or one that was getting a % of my back pay< I'm certain they would have called me to dicuss the decisions and reasons for.
    I'm not bitching about the Local Service reps, just the ones at the national level that sit around the VA regional offices who sign off on veteran claim decisions agreeing with the VA to proceed sending ofical paperwork to the veteran.
    I suggest the POA communicate with the vet and lots of the C.U.E.s could be fixed before the claim had to go the BVA for appeal. This would lessen the backlog of claims that wait in lines for years, and be justice to us vets.

    • Doug Noble November 11, 2010 at 1:46 am

      No replys?
      I gwess every one is happy with their POAs, right?

  49. David Davis November 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Hey VA Blogster, where is your search function on the blog? I would like to search by contributor, or by quote.

    • Alex Horton November 10, 2010 at 11:09 am

      David, it’s at the top of the right sidebar on the homepage.

  50. William D. Caddell November 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    After reading some of the issues many veterans are encountering with the regional benefits office, I felt compelled to share mine. I began this journey in October 2004. I am service connected and it took 5 years to get my back service connected, even though my initial claim included 196 pages from my official military medical records reguarding injuries to my back. In January 2010, I went to a private doctor, who ordered an MRI on my entire back. It revealed 4 fractured vertbre, amongst other issues. The VA granted a 10% rating in June 2010. I applied for 100% permanent and total after being forced to medically retire. I recieved the Denial letter on the 100%. When I read the letter, I found some major descrepancies. I attempted to receive a copy of my C&P Exam notes and could not! I contacted U.S. Senator Jim Demint (R) S.C. Office and was then able to get a copy of the exams. The denial letter contradicted the findings of the specialists that conducted the exams. The denial letter was a fraud to try to the minimize the extent of my service connected injuries. I then initiated a Senate investigation into this fraud in July 2010. Two weeks later, I received a phone call from the VA Regional Benefits Office in Columbia, S.C. The man on the phone was irate at the fact that a Senator contacted their office reguarding the fraud. He stated that they would “FIX” the denial letter, but it would not affect my rating! The Three issues which were improperly documented would qualify me for 100% alone! BUT WAIT!, There is more>>>>

    I was employed as a Police Officer At the VAMC Charleston, SC. I received a major shoulder injury on 20 September 2010. I was FORCED to medically retire based on me not being able to perform the duties of a Police Officer. There were openings throughout the hospital such as Dispatcher, clerk, HR and others. I begged for a transfer into One of these jobs, but was denied! I was forced to go on a “Leave without Pay status”. This is a Charleston VAMC exclusive policy, and is NOT in writing! When my retirement was approved, the VA was suppose to reimburse me for my full pay from 23 October 2009-3 March 2010. To this day, I have not received a Dime! OH, by the way, did I forget to mention, The HR specialist responsible for my retirement packet, sent my packet up incomplete? After I got the required information to OPM, my retirement packet sat in an inbox until, once again, I contacted Senator Jim Demint’s office. And what happened after that contact? My retirement packet was approved Two Days Later! I took another Eight months before I saw my First full retirement check!! I also failed to mention that in accordance to OPM guidelines, (Chapter 60), I should have been placed before being retired! I lost about $400K in that deal! I am not the only one that this happened to. There were Two other Police Officers and several others who have endured the same. We are still attempting to find a Lawyer to assist us with this issue!!

  51. Charles Stamper November 9, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I am a veteran and I worked for the VA at the hospital in Jackson, MS. I was there about a month when an employee there accused me of using “foul and abusive language” by telling him that “I had spent more time in the latrine than he had working in x-ray”. He filed a grievance. Then union members (AFGE) told me in the grievance meeting that “because we wanted andmin to hire an Afro-American and they went against the grain and hired you, a Caucasian instead, we are going to ruin you here by word of mouth. We are a small hospital and a family and you don’t fit in”. Well, I was fired later and I went to the ACLU and the EEOC. If you are a white man at the VA don’t expect any help there. Thank you Mr. Obama.

    • William D. Caddell November 9, 2010 at 10:22 pm

      YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! I worked at the VAMC Charleston, SC and had encountrered a Major Hostile Worke Environment, to include the denial of my Union Representation (MAJOR Labor Law Violation). This was WELL documented. When I went to the EEO Office,I was informed that there “Was no such thing as a hostile work environment for a caucasion male”! Perphaps this had something to do with the facts that the Chief of Police failed to qualify with his assigned weapon, The Assistant Chief signed off on a fradulant qualification for him and I refused to comply with the Assistant Chiefs orders to fradulantly write off over $5 Million in lost equipment! Guess who is still employed and in line to become the Chief of Police at The Charleston, SC VAMC? It is not me!!

      • retiredat44 November 10, 2010 at 2:31 am

        I got very sick from chemicals and was removed form working with petroelum chemicals as a fuels specialist when I become violently ill from them.

        The USAF doctors treated me, and I had also been hositalized several times for several inllnesses while on active duty during my 5 years.

        I was sent to cross train to a field not working with chemicals. I was given a list to schoose a new job from. I tried to choose several jobs and was told they were not for white males. They were for minorites only.

        I chose a job working at a weather station in a new squadron. A few weeks later they told me to chage to a new jpob and sent me to work at a job once again workign with chemicals. I get very sick all over again.

        After almost 5 years int he USAF, I left, and after I got out and tried to work, I continued to get sicker from the fuels, JP-4, Dieasel, and Leaded Gasoline. Also the Trichloroehtylene used to clean offset presses in repro-grphics.

        I got 50% VA disability 15 years ago. I have bene suffering from intestinal disease, Degenrative disc disease, necrotizing pancreatitis, nerve damage, Myotonic dystrophy, severe chonic pain and very long periods of hospitalization,. or up to 6 months.

        I have filed for an increase of benefits. I have been denied over again, and I also got an IMO form a toxicologist for my disability claim. The VA Claims totally ignored evedence. I have bene waiting 2 years for a face-2face DRO hearing in appeals, and so far I get no word on a hearing.

        My VSO is with the American Legion. The VA claims office is ful of nincompoops and incompetents. All I need is 5 mintues to straighten out the blunders made by the VA in my claim.

        is that freaking to much to ask! Eveyr day I worry I wil end up back ina ahospital bed with my severe necrotizing pancreatitis. I have been able to work for 20 years, ti detroyed my family and my life.

        The VA continues to fight. MY VSO says a hearing date should be soon.

        The VA hospital has treated me great, mostly. But the VA Claims system only abuses sick/disabled veterans.

        • retiredat44 November 10, 2010 at 2:39 am

          Wish I could fix my spelling mistakes, buyt my hand shake and tremble badly, with tremors and involuntary movements. one mistakes is where i meant to say I have not been able to work for 20 years due to illnesses.

          I have been lying in bed sick for 20 years, I take morphine so I can eat.. But I think that helps with a little info on my suffering and the VA BS!

          If the VA does not want to hear the frakkin truth, then don’t put up a forum where Vets and tell everyone the nastiness we get from the VA claims system, and the abuse we took when we go sick and ijured on active duty.

          and the lies about the whole claims sytem being fixed is total BS! We are not stupid, we know you are lying dooshbags!

          It’s time to step up or give the jobs to people who care!

    • Wendy McIntosh November 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

      Charles, I’m so sorry to hear of how you were treated. In every place in life there are evil people. What happened to you is wrong, very wrong and I want to acknowledge that. I personally think that President Obama would be apalled to hear about how you were treated, but I guess we will never know. I would like to suggest that you give President Obama a chance that the people at the Jacsonville VA did not and not to look at his color, but at the person instead. I don’t say this to insult you, becuase it is obvious you have been insulted enough. I hope you have found work elsewhere in a place that values your veteran status AND your personal status that doesn’t reflect on race.
      Wendy

  52. Nelson November 9, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    ABOUT TIME…

  53. Thomas November 9, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I read that the VA has begun making payments for the 3 newest diseases that were added to the agent orange list. When should I expect to get a letter from the VA informing me of the decision of my claim? The last I heard from the VA, was a phone call telling me that my claim was included in the Nehmer case.

  54. Michael E. Anderson November 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    I am a retired veteran that has been in this terribly broke system since January, 2004 and still in the appeals process. I am a perfect case study for everything that can possibly go wrong with a claim. My claim has been LOST for months, with a “tracker” put on it and finally found. It was erroneously CLOSED for a few months, and all the while I’m thinking it is still being worked. I even received a check for 75K for another vet that had my same last name, along with his personal information regarding his claim and erroneously sent to our address! One of the supervisors actually drove from the regional office in Baltimore to pick up the check from our house the very next day! That was the most attention I’ve had in the past 7 years!
    I‘ve read some of the Congressional Hearings on the Hill regarding the VA and would be an excellent candidate to testify on how terribly unaccountable some people are involved with the claims processing. The Congressional Inquiry line is an absolute waste, and I have had them involved in querying on my case for 2 years now, but they provide no more than the 1-800 numbers, nor do they seem willing or enthusiastic about rendering any help. Is there not anyone that can provide accurate information??
    I was recently awarded 60% for one of my disabilities, but of course the VA messed up with the retroactive back pay to 2004 and it is now stuck in the ‘audit” phase back at the VA from DFAS. It has been in the audit phase since August and DFAS even did the worksheet and provided it to them. They cannot even do accurate math calculations on back pay?? Not surprising since it took a whole year to just have my wife added as a dependent after we got married! I think this is a huge part of the problem, no one is accountable for the numerous mistakes and they just continue.
    As I’ve said, I would be a great case study for almost EVERYTHING that can possibly go wrong. There has not been one thing connected with my claim that has not been fought for. My appeal is currently at the Huntington, WV VA and I am waiting on a rating for one remaining disability that’s been remanded. Realizing they work under a tremendous amount of pressure, I am well aware of the fact that I am not the only priority. But looking at my history, I still believe I would be perfect for the case study I mentioned earlier.

    • Mark Chamberlain November 10, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      I have been working on a claim for 20 years on and off. The VA keeps on asking for more info. When I submitted all the paper work from the DR. and specialist, They said that I had to prove that I was in the gulf. Had 3 gulf war physicals by then. Next was that I did not use the VA for treatments, so for the last five years I have gone to the VA. Now they cant find all my paper work. Said they are still trying to find my records. Strange it only took me 6 months to get them, and they said they had them during all the refusal’s. Like the news said put you off and hope you DIE or give up.

      • Tim Sorrell November 15, 2010 at 1:16 am

        Michael and Mark….if you read the comments on this blog, and check out the VA Facebook page comments, you would start to realize, that there is thousands of us in the same position. I was amazed. The VA claims there are currently 200,000 waiting for decisions on claims and appeals. I’d bet, that 50% of those, are over 5 years old.

  55. robin temple November 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Why haVe I had to endure two consecutive VA malpractices….lost my house…now my health…I will die from complications…and I’m now permanently disfigured/100% disabled/in constant pain….with NO ACCOUNTABILITY? I LIVE IN A CAMPER. WITH ANOTHER VICTIM OF MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA…..BETTER KNOWN AS RAPE…AND PUINSHMENT FOR REPORTING IT. PLEASE? ID REALLY LIKE AN ANSWER. WHY DO I MEET SO MANY ADMINS. THAT DO NOTHING? BUT COLLECT A CHECK AFTER RETIREMENT? BECAUSE THEY KNOW SOMEBODY? THEIR WORDSS NOT MINE. RON SHARPE…DIRECTOR OF FRANK TEJEDA IN SAN ANTONIO….HIM…WE GO WAAAY BACK..he’s COLLECTING 80% AND A FUULL CHECK FROM VA…HE PLAYS TENNIS AT NIGHT…HIS WORDS…WHILE ID LOVE TO BE ABLE TO HIT A BALL WHILE STANDING…HE SAID MY MEDICAL DELEMA WAS COMPARABLE TO HIS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE…WE COULD BOTH IE ANY MINUTE SO WHY GET STRESSED WHEN MY DR HANGS UP ON ME? I’M HOLDING DOUBLE THE DOSE OF MORPHINE AND TRIPLE THE GABAPENTIN AND CAN’T GET THE PROPER AMOUNT…I TAKE DOZENS OF PILLS DAILY TO STAY ALIVE…NO WORRIES. I’VE GOT FOUTEEN HOURS TO WASTE AND THREE DAYS OF SCREAMING PAIN TO RECOVER…..WHY?

  56. Mike Rickey November 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I have not had any bad service from the VA. The doctors have always been nice. I have been in the system since 95. I have hip surgery coming up so I will go in with a good spirit. So far so good.

  57. Steve November 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    My wife is currently receiving benefits from the post 9/11 GI Bill. We have been receiving the appropriate benefit checks, but they always start so late into the semester and in such haphazard amounts, that it is hard to keep track of whether we are receiving the correct amounts. Would you be able to start including a breakdown of where the check amount came from and for what period it is for so that we can properly account for what is coming in? Whether this came electronically via e-mail, over a website, or included with the check, either way, some breakdown would be nice.

    Thanks!

    Steve

  58. bella November 9, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    First, thank you for this site. I ask my question on behalf of all the AO widows due to Parkinsons and other new “presumptives. For those of us who have submitted claims, when can we expect an answer of some kind ?
    Also about the Nehmer act. Will this be researched and automatically paid.
    If so ~ from date of death or date of first diagnosis ?
    If none of this is done, how can we update our information?
    Thank you on behalf of all the AO widows . B

  59. Fred Foskey November 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I have to tell you… medical care is great at Hampton VAMC but your internet applications are horrible and one side blames it on the other. I have tried to see my my e-benefits page and yes I received my level two through myhealthe-vet, I can see my cofidential payment history but thats it, I have an NOD appeal in and am unable to see anything else. It tells me that I have no active appeal. I can see some posts from the past and thats it. I also can’t order my personel file. I try to send an IRIS and I get a return of CGI error. Is someone working on these problems and if I am the only one who should I talk to? I wanted to let you know that Roanoke regional said its e-benefits fault and e-benefits said its the regional office’s fault. PLEASE fix this soon.

  60. Allan November 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    John Buono,

    Call the VAMC travel dept and ask for your travel pay to be sent in a check to your address.
    If you get any flack, talk with your VAMC patient advocate about getting it resolved. If that doesn’t work request a hearing with the VAMC administrator.

  61. Robin A. Schmidt November 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I am a Korean war veteran. I served with F-2-1, Ist Divisioin. fromNov.9 ,1950 to May 1951. as a machine gun squad leader.

    I received frost bite at the Chosin Reservoir.I applied for compensation in 1957 and was told I never had frost bite and that my records were destroyed in a fire in St. Louis.In 1976 I was sent to the VA hospital inCincinnati, , Ohio. It was dertemined I did have frost bite so I received 20 percent disability. I was told I will never be compesated for the lost ernings from 1976 to the present.

    It is a shame our government is allowed to do this to a veteran.

    Robin Schmidt

    • Joseph A November 16, 2010 at 11:47 pm

      Robin,

      Get a Service organization like Paralyzed Veterans of America to look into your case. It could be a case for clear and unmistakeable error which could pay you back to your original date of application. It is possible.

  62. Allan November 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    many forms are asking for our email addresses already.

    Since it has taken 11 yrs for me to get 1 of 6 issues decided on appeal, emailing may save some time. Five yrs were spent in that dead zone where nothing gets done called the, “AMC”.

  63. Frank November 9, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    I read a few of the blog comments, but don’t have time to read them all, so if this redundant, please excuse.
    The problem from my perspective (I work for a VA org.) is too much red tape; from the forms to understanding eligibility. The money is there and as with many (if not all) government organizations, it is a long arduous and painful process getting the help where and when it is needed. Streamline the process!
    There are people who need the money now not six months to a year from now.
    Even the grant per diem process turns potential housing providers off.
    I just talked to the widow of a Viet Nam vet (I’m a Viet Nam Vet, too) who has been waiting since 2005 for her request to be processed (her husband was alive then). She resubmitted in 2009 and still no information.
    Also, the 800 number is complicated. I had to play with the calling tree to get a “live” person, so I could tell my clients how to get to a real person.
    Hire compitent, confident people who want to help others and then give them the tools, and let them do their job.

  64. Al Comeau November 9, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I use the “My Healthy Vet” website to refill my prescriptions, etc and was wondering when a “scheduled appointments” feature will added to help me view my upcoming appointments.

  65. PWC November 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

    My husband is a Vietnam Vet – he volunteered to serve his country – as an only son he wouldn’t have been sent to Vietnam – BUT HE WENT – and as a helicopter gunner spent 2 years flying through Agent Orange. Now he has liver cancer, Hep C, diabetes and caught in the VA paperwork loop for 3 years now. He goes to his job when he can and throws up after every meal – but he has to go to work – because the VA will not come through for him. We have received the letter recognizing and knowledging that he will be covered for his illnesses – but just received another letter stating there will be a delay in processing. My husband is waiting for a liver transplant and waiting for the VA compensation he deserves. What excuses does the VA have – when they can process those returning from IRAQ so quickly and leave our Vietnam Vets to perhaps die while the VA drags their feet?

    • Jerry Sisemore November 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm

      I have a cousin a Vet Nam Era Vet that has Hep C also and they told him it was an Asian strain of hep c. He is waiting a liver transplant also he has done all the programs that he was told to do like quit smoking, drinking and go to 6 months of classes for smoking and 6 months of classes for drinking he did all that and they got him on so many medications that he doesn’t know what day it is sometimes, well during all his time with the classes and waiting to be put on the list for a transplant he got very depressed and started smoking again know they kicked him off the transplant list and told him he had to do the classes again. He went to his doctor today to complain about some meds he was taking because he looses control of his bowels, the doctor told him he had a choose take the meds. or die. They also told him today that anytime he felt things were getting to hard to handle he could die anytime he wanted to and that they would make him as comfortable as they could. What kind of shit is that to tell someone? My cousin is getting so bad with this hep c that he could die anytime his liver just isn’t processing things like it should. Sure the Va cares about you if it doesn’t cost them anything.

  66. Stanley K Wright November 9, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Why does it take so long for the VA to make a decision on a remand and appeals and also claims? When all of the evidence is in the record.

  67. Thomas November 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

    When attempting to view the ebenefits website while using Foxfire as my browser, I kept getting a problem loading page message, so I closed Foxfire and began using Internet Explorer, which allowed me to view ebenefits homepage. Once there, I attempted to login, and was told that the site was an unsecure website, and advised to close the page. I opened the page again and clicked on register, I read about how to register and it was so confusing that I forgot about the whole idea. I have already got a my healthevet account, can I use that login to gain access to the e benefits account? Please give me some easy to understand directions on how to access and use the ebenefits site.

    • Kathleen November 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      Thomas,

      Unfortunately the link with MyHealtheVet on eBenefits is not performing as it was intended, so you cannot use your MyHealtheVet account to register for an eBenefits account. We are working hard to correct this problem. Currently, to obtain a premium eBenefits account online you must be a retired Veteran with a DFAS MyPay PIN, or active duty or DoD contractor with a CAC card. If you do not have either of those you must visit your local regional office and complete In-Person-Proofing. You will need to bring two forms of ID with you. This is required to ensure your privacy is not compromised.

      • Thomas November 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm

        So in order to access ebenefits, all I have to do is drive 250 miles to complete in-person-proofing. That sounds like to VA sure is trying to simplify things. Why cant this be accomplished at my VA clinic or VA hospital ?

  68. John Buono November 9, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Yea sure the VA cares, yea right how about this one… I needed a medical procedure done so the clinic that’s been treating me authorizes me to go to a nearby civilian clinic… which is across the street from the VA clinic, but still an hour and a half away from home. So when I go to get my travel voucher, they tell me that they can’t issue me a travel voucher because the place that authorized the payment to the civilian clinic is for some unknown reason a different clinic than the clinic that has been treating me, so they tell me I have to go there to get the travel voucher paid. Only one problem with this theory, that place is ANOTHER hour and a half away from my house, so I’m like “You’re telling me I have to drive another hour and a half to get my money, then another 3 hours home? That’s ridiculous!” Oh it gets better, the guy I had been talking to, he was in charge of the travel section, guess what he does? He threatens to call the cops on me because “I’m being too loud…” I told him you’re lucky I’m still doped up from the procedure I just had done, because I wasn’t even close to being loud yet. His response.. “Well I have the authority to grant your travel voucher but I’m not going to because you were too loud to me…” So people, that’s your “caring” VA for you…

    • Dan Goff November 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

      There are always two sides to every story. Do not let emotion get in the way of the facts. Keep the facts simple and write down names and numbers.Everyone has a supervisor and the patient care representative can help you.
      Don’t let your conversation escalate to yelling or being loud no matter what. You will get an escort. You will get escorted to the door. You might have a behavioral flag placed in your chart. You won’t get your needs met.

  69. Terry Allen Sr November 9, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I got a letter yesterday from the VA Nehmer Team out of Huntington WV saying that I have to file a new form 21-4142 all my history is in the VA s files online sence 2004 and they wanta VA Form 21-686c Declaration of Status of Dependents to reflect back to 06-2007 .I have been on 100% SC for over a year and I have been Merried to the same Woman for 33 years and she has the ID card from the US Army get Campva and all Why do I have to do all the paper work over again Dont they read the PC info on the Vets they are doing the work on

  70. William Gordon November 9, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I have noticed in the last year, things seem to be changing at the VA. I think there was a lot of people that work there, felt that they would do the minimum to collect a check. I think that there needs to be a change in some personal. Just yesterday, I called to change an appointment, the cue was 5-15 minutes, and to expect a call back. Well 15 or so hours ago, still no call. This is just one of the few things that are screwed up with the VA. I also have a Dr. I can’t understand, and for the most part, could not care anymore for me than a man in the moon. I have had to make sure my girlfriend goes into the exam room when I visit. If you are going to send people over to fight, you must make sure you can take care of them when they need it, no questions asked.

  71. Mary Hall November 9, 2010 at 8:50 am

    My question is why would the VA not give me a PTSD C&P exam.Or did I need to request this during my claim for PTSD?

    • Tim Sorrell November 15, 2010 at 12:58 am

      Mary..In my case, they did not administer my C&P exam till 6 years after my filing, and in the stage of appeal remand to the Veteran’s Board Of Appeals. That was last year, had to repeat the exam this year. I feel like the skipped it on purpose, from the proper stage, which is before your first decision, to play a delay game. I would bring it to their attention. Maybe through your service organization service officer representative. And again, they might not help you. I’d make some calls yourself. Good Luck.

  72. Bre B November 9, 2010 at 2:32 am

    It’s really awesome to hear how great the VA treats everyone who likes the VA enough to follow their blog. This blog, in theory, is a good idea, but nothing but propaganda. People tend to follow things online that they are already interested in–only fueling opinions they have already formed. That is all this is, with a couple of opposing initial entries that will eventually be lost in the spiral of silence. But this blog doesn’t fool me, nor do any other publicity stunts the VA pulls. The VA has ruined my life. My father has fought the VA for what he is entitled to for over 30 years, investing more time in his “battle” with them, than his relationship with his children and loved ones. Whether it’s the PTSD that has trickled down to me, or the Agent Orange poisoning, this “war” will take him to his grave–completely alone and unsatisfied. I encourage someone at the VA to take a look at Gerald Brest’s case for maybe some inspiration to do more than publicize a fake promise of an open forum.

    • retiredat44 November 9, 2010 at 4:24 am

      The people that run the va claims system will not care unless they are the ones getting screwed, until then they are overpaid buttholes who go home each nite only thinking of their next vacation. To the dooshbags/incompetents who screwed many claims, up yours!

    • Denise Amundson November 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm

      Bre-
      I would call your father’s situation pretty unfortunate and I am sorry.

      I don’t work for the VA. That being said, I think you are being unfair. Your opinion is yours, but I hope you might at least give them a shot at trying to make things better instead of calling this propaganda. By your statement, the VA is damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

      Being constructive is harder to do than being able to criticize. I have seen the moderators here ask for people to write guest posts. Why not you and your experience? Maybe there is something we can do to help you. You never know. Try it.

  73. Terry Allen Sr November 8, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I have been Married to the same woman for over 33 years even with her a large part part of my service time .The VA has all of my info on file, I have been on 100% SC for the past year and she has her ID and all, Today I got a letter from the VA for the AO Nehmer IHD claim I have had new as of March 2010 and in my letterit says that I have to file new forms that say that I have Depdants. But my letter did let me some thing that I have to show that if I had depdants or not back untill June 2007. Dont they know how to read the PC that is in front of them it is all there.

    • Joseph A November 16, 2010 at 11:39 pm

      Terry,

      The VA send out questionnaires every eight years to see if dependents status has changed. If you move and do not give the VA a correct address things could get ugly. It is important to keep address updated with VBA and VHA – two separate Departments within the VA. One computer system does not talk to the other.

  74. AL, VN VET November 8, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    My NOD has been collecting dust for >7 months. The C&P never should have been ordered in the first place for service connected metastatic stage 4 cancer… Now they have another mess to add to the backlog. when it could be fixed in 5 minutes!

  75. Jon H November 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    I have had to wear custom arch supports for the 40 years. The last pair I had made was while we were in Germany at Landstuhl Hospital. That was in 2001. Since then I have tried to get arch supports through the VA. I have not had a comfortable pair made and my feet keep getting worse and so do the arch supports. It might sound trivial but I have had numerouse surgeries on my feet and I can’t walk without arch supports. Walking is very painful because of the inferior supports that are offered from the VA.
    Now I am on insulin and have applied for increased compensation and that will more thanlikely take several years and it will probably be denied.

  76. Joe Average Vet November 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Shinseki promised to “break the back” of the backlog this year. Well, its well into November, and it appears more likely that the million man backlog is breaking the VA, not the other way around. The only thing broken so far has been the VA’s promise to care for the Veteran and his widow made by Lincoln. I challenge the VA to keep their promises…if they ever want to put the Shreddergate scandal behind them, then they need to keep their promises.

  77. Tom November 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    “The debut marks VA’s latest outreach effort aimed at improving the way VA and its clients engage online.” I am a Vietnam veteran and proud of it, so if the staff of this blog and the VA wants to improve its outreach efforts, please use the word veteran not client when referring to veterans. We have earned the title of veteran.
    Do you know that there is a movement in this country to change the name of Veterans Day to Remembrance Day? When I see the words Remembrance Day I cross those words out and replace them with the words Veterans Day.
    I am not a politically correct person as you can see.

  78. retiredat44 November 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I have a story, it has already been published on one website.. and I will not put links here without permission.

    The VA disability system is run by nincompoops. it takes 2 years just to get a face-2-face with a DRO hearing to show evedince that was totally ignored on pupose by fools who can’t seem to read.

    IN 5 minutes I could have cleared up any problems yet they set the system up so you ca nnot posssibly speak to anyone in person until they grant a hear 2 year after you file and get denials..

    they only have the goal of forcing sick/disabled Vets to die so they can never get their claims through..

  79. AL OWENS, VN VET November 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    If the VBA were half as good as VA Medical, there would be no blog! Latest development from VARO St. Petersburg: Order a C&P exam, misinterpret the C&P report, ignore Oncology & Rediology reports, declare Veteran to be cancer free! I feel so much better..

  80. Bob Ventrella November 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Hi out there, back again. The NCVAMC is now NAVY and VA. The treatment is fantastic. These folks saved my life! My wife also a vet remarked about the super ER. I volunteer at the NAVY base 2 mornings a week due to disabilities cant work. BUT give the system a chance and if you are in our area call the FFSA ret aFFAIRS OFFICE we are listed in the VA reg aas SCOTT AFB but the phone no is correct.

  81. Bob Ventrella November 8, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Claims , I volunteer as a counselor at the Gt Lakes NS. I do have a MS/Ed and it helps BUT we can and do help expidite the claim YOU must give us the ammunition if not a Govt MS Facility, Also cmbt. The average on PDD is 50 days on a normal Dis. about 90. BUT it must be complete. Thanks I realize the frustration and a lot of you from the Mid East have Lung problems get them examined. I was there for three yrs as well as SE Asia.

  82. Will November 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    The VA is a joke. Every time I go back to school in the fall, I have to fight tooth and nail to get $ for my Post 9/11. The customer service..sucks. This year (Fall 2010) I started on Sep.20. It’s November 8th and I HAVEN’T GOT A DIME.Good job, VA.

    • Will November 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm

      I called and I had to threaten to sue the VA and poof I got money.

  83. Willie Putteet November 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    As a vn vet Im very pleased with my care at Canton Oh clinic.
    TheDr and nurses go out of there way to take care of us
    W