This Friday, Feb. 24, join VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin as he takes questions from Veterans during a town hall-style digital event on YouTube Live.

Dr. David J. Shulkin was nominated by President Trump to serve as the ninth Secretary of Veterans Affairs, was confirmed by the United States Senate on Feb. 13, and was sworn into office on Feb. 14. Prior to his confirmation as Secretary, Shulkin served as VA’s Under Secretary for Health for 18 months, leading the nation’s largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 sites of care serving nearly nine million Veterans.

To engage Veterans directly, Shulkin and other VA senior leaders will join moderator Bill Rausch for a 30-minute discussion online via YouTube live.

Bill Rausch, Got Your 6

Bill Rausch, executive director of Got Your 6, will serve as moderator for the YouTube live discussion on Feb. 24 at 2:45 p.m. ET.

“Over the last year and a half I’ve gotten to know Secretary Shulkin as man of great integrity and passion, who is committed to putting Veterans first,” said Rausch, an Army Veteran and executive director of Got Your 6. “I’m thrilled that my fellow Veterans will get to see where his dedication to service comes from and ask questions about his vision for leading and reforming the department.”

Designed as a virtual “town hall” meeting, the YouTube Live event is the first social media event Shulkin will participate in since being sworn in as secretary. He will answer questions from Veterans and others in the community submitted in advance, as well as those posted live during the chat.

“Since 2006, YouTube has played a significant role in connecting the American people with their governments and elected officials,” said Brandon Feldman with YouTube News and Politics. “We’re pleased Secretary Shulkin is continuing this tradition and we’re looking forward to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to engage constituents through technology.”

The YouTubeLive discussion is one of several events over the next few weeks where Shulkin will meet directly with Veterans, Veterans service organizations, state Veterans Affairs directors, as well as VA employees to highlight the progress VA is making in delivering the care and services Veterans need and deserve.

“Among many critical efforts already underway, we will continue building on significant progress increasing access for Veterans, preventing suicide, addressing unique needs of women Veterans, supporting Veterans’ families and caregivers, continuing to drive down the disability backlog and Veteran homelessness, and pursuing necessary legislation to reform the outdated appeals process and for other critical legislative priorities,” Shulkin recently shared.

“When VA succeeds, Veterans succeed, and we look forward to a positive, collaborative relationship with Secretary Shulkin as he works to transform VA into agency that supports and empowers every Veteran across America,” Rausch said.

To participate in the event on Friday, tune in to our YouTube Live event page – click here – or watch via VA’s Facebook page at 2:45 p.m. ET. You can submit your question in advance by using the comments section below.  Not all questions will be answered, and please don’t include any personal health or secure information via the comments section. As always, IRIS is the best VA online resource to ask those more sensitive questions

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Published on Feb. 22, 2017

Estimated reading time is 2.7 min.

Views to date: 362

251 Comments

  1. Steven J. Pitkin March 6, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    I am 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran with a total of 29 years. I was on a large amount of pain killers and was taken so far down without any help. I was walking 2 miles daily, taking a foreign language online and College courses online. Now I am bedridden. I never abused the drugs I was given and I was monitored quite a bit. Now that I am 67 years old I live by myself, I have severe cervical and spinal pain along with both knees and both shoulders destroyed. I would like to see the VA relax the requirements of lowered pain meds for us older Veterans. It gave me a quality of life that I have now lost. I feel that the government has lumped us together with drug abusers when there is a shown need for us to be treated with higher doses of pain killers, and it’s not right. I’ve been injured many times as well as having been in the Military Medical Field. Please allow more flexability for us where surgery will not help.

  2. Lawrence B. Williams March 6, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I am a Vietnam era Veteran. I have a claim for PTSD pending a hearing at the appeals board. The DAV will represent me as they are also power of attorney of my claim. I was informed that there was 15,096 appeal claims ahead of my claim. It’s taken me 13 years (since 2004) to get my claim to the board after repeated denials and resubmissions.
    My claim was certified in June 2016. What will you do to help Veterans with claims get their claims heard and the compensation needed to maintain a normal life. President Trump is increasing the military buget by 54 billon dollars how will that increase help Veterans receive the the help and compensation they deserve for injuries received while serving their country.

  3. Nathan N Wallens March 3, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Sir I had mengitist while in Air Force had 5 spinal taps had submitted claims which always came not service connected to the issues and in 1985 a VA Doctor stated on a VA Form he thought I had arachnoiditis which in 2013 was proved to be cause of my problems and was awarded total and permanent 100% Service Connected Disability because of contamination to spinal fluid from one or more of the 5 spinal taps i had while hospitalizes and thing is I was never seen for any evaluations.ie; C&P exams, can I file for compensation back to 1985 without fear of loosing my present services connected disability. I was told by Veterans services in Augusta Georgia that I could very well lose my present benifits and should not press the issue even though I have been suffering with these issues which have progressively worsen over time.

  4. Damian Bennett March 3, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    The Doctor running the ” Opiod Dependency ” Program says it’s fine if I risk being arrested and incarcerated to buy Marijuana but can’t treat pain or anxiety? It just isn’t right.

  5. Damian Bennett March 3, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Mr. Secretary,

    What Alternatives will you offer Veterans being forced off of their much needed pain medications and put on Suboxone? I am a 100% Service Connected Disabled Veteran, and I am told that I have to take Suboxone for the rest of my life. But no one at the Michael E. DeBakey V.A. Medical Center are treating my pain or anxiety? Why? I’ve had over 20 surgeries but aren’t being treated for any of that. Could you please fill me in on what to do? Thank You Mr. Secretary.

    Respectfully,

    Damian Bennett

  6. Richard Bareford February 25, 2017 at 11:30 am

    [This is a re-post from yesterday, The first never showed.]

    In 2016 the VA revised its rule on who could apply for headstones and grave markers on behalf of veterans buried in unmarked graves. For the prior 4 years the VA permitted only the next-of-kin to apply, regardless of how long the veteran had been dead or whether a willing and able next-of-kin even existed. Between 1879 when the Army began this memorial program and 2012 long after the VA had taken it over there were no applicant restrictions whatsoever. The VA has never explained why the next-of-kin restriction suddenly became necessary. The 2016 revision returned to the original “anyone can apply’ policy, but only for those veterans whose service ended prior to April 6, 1917. After that date only a family member or some official legally responsible for the grave could apply. The choice of this date forever places the vast and growing majority of all veterans in a second class status (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc). Family members could always apply; that many have not is why there are thousands of unmarked veterans’ graves across the nation. At least one cemetery has taken the opportunity to mark its veterans’ graves, but it accepted the cost of placement. How many others will do so? The 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI is fast approaching, a time when the nation should recognize the service of that war’s veterans. It is outrageous that the VA has chosen that date, April 6, 1917, to effectively disenfranchise any veteran who lacks a willing and able family member or rests in a cemetery without a patriotic and charitable management. There are volunteers prepared to assume this burden. Let them.

  7. Kenneth Bowman February 24, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Why is it that a combat vet from the glue war to afganistan and back to Iraq can not get VA care.told not eligible and when trying to to get service related disability get shuffled to all departments.and if treatment or testing is done private insurance is billed at a outrageous cost..please reply SSG Kenneth Bowman

  8. Robert l mason February 24, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    I didn’t hear what I needed to hear. no words about correcting corruption , like at the corrupt VAMC, Cleveland, Ohio or the failure of the VAOIG to investigate crimes against vets by the VAMC. The VAMC is ruining my credit as they refuse to pay my approved hospital bills, Choice program keeps losing letters faxed by my doctor for more treatments,
    Most of all the cover up of what happened to me in 2007. i have on tape your VAMC Cleveland did this to scare me , intimidate me and break my nerves. THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT VETERANS.?
    Why did the VAOIG fail to investigate and then lied to my congressman? Why hasn’t my 5, July 69 claim and 77 & 83 remands not been processed.?
    In short why is your VA trying to kill me off? this no joke.

  9. Danny Godfrey February 24, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Dr. Shulkin, Just wanted to make you aware of Atlanta VA pharmacy outrageous charges. My VA DERMATOLIGIST WAS freezing skin cancer off my face, it was determined that I required a therapeutic shampoo. I received the shampoo “Assured T+Plus. Gel shampoo”. For which I was billed $24.00 per bottle. My wife found the EXACT same shampoo in our local Dollar Tree store for $1.00 per bottle. We have never ordered another bottle from the VA. THIS makes me wonder what else might be overcharged. Praying for you as you represent veterans in you new responsibility.

  10. Roger A. McGill February 24, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    When is Hypothyroid condition going to be added to the Presumptive list for Agent Orange?

  11. noe February 24, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    How come when I call my doctor non VA it takes a day or 2 to get in.mostly one. but when I call the VA Satellite office it takes a week or two. maybe you should watch what thy do and follow them. every time I get in there’s only two person in the office

  12. AMEDEO TROTTA February 24, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Besides my conditions and a pending board which I have not been contacted about and I can only see on the website, I had to deal with a financial burden being unemployed for almost four months with a mortgage for children to stay home wife. Not one person offered services or to assist everything happened so fast and the Army didn’t even retain me with 18 and a half years of full active service I was released. I just wanted to make that clear because this is still happening to soldiers leaving the Army there is no care. My a cap services we’re all online they stated I didn’t have to attend and my command didn’t allow me to attend I only had six days to find a job and that’s all the leave that I was granted from my command. Uh Congressional was done but it was internal from my Brigade and Division on to my Battalion Commander for doing this to me and still putting this burden on my family where I still hadn’t paying off my debt. Circumstances and I am stuck with jet stress and just something that I cannot let go that I need to fight for and fight for meaning other soldiers that will be going through the same process that are just left abandoned because the process is broke. Soldiers Sailors Airmen Exedra have a timeline to get all their medical documents in at certain periods of time period like myself I submitted everything to my pee blow officer all my doctors names numbers Exedra and dates. So my for my first VA exam my comp and pen my people officer didn’t get any of the medical documents for me. This is what caused a roller coaster ride going straight down through loops and allowing me to suffer because it starts with that period documented wrong which hurt my Army evaluation which I still have to fight. I also have to just keep fighting and going through this while I have a full-time job getting sick trying to support my family is very exhausting. And you wonder why soldiers Airman Marines excetera that have PTSD just give up on life or just give up on the system because it’s flawed completely from beginning to end from active duty or Reserve component into the resort in to the VA it is disgustingly sad saddening. We need to change everything about this as I request for help not only for myself but for all the soldiers Airmen Marines Sailors exedra going through the same hardship is sad

  13. AMEDEO TROTTA February 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Hello comma I recently was medically retired in 2014 September. I am now at 90% but the VA through Fort Hood the gentleman told me just to put my foot even though it was my ankle and foot he had told me just put my foot cuz it was the same thing. So my raining was off everything has gone from 70 to 90% since me fighting it and I am still having to submit documents. It states that I’m scheduled for a hearing but I have not been contacted or reached out for this. I have been at the VA and visited and visited and my civilian providers as well and provided to Texas veterans commission with updates of my paperwork and there is still paperwork that I have not provided. It is been almost 2 years and a hearing that I have not even been told about but I can see it on my file. It seems like no one is pushing that’s not even a Texas veterans Commission. can this be expedited as this would be my first since getting out of the army. I have been misled through this whole process. And I have to continue to fight to get what is deserved about 100%. PTSD, ankylosing spondylosis comma severe arthritis and more. My mind and body are just getting exhausted going by providing which should and is already known and it’s been documented. Other issues exist as well but these are major to the point where my head arm shoulder is numb from nerve damage as well and me getting sick and missing work due to the IV treatments I was getting to stop or to slow down the ankylosing spondylitis period please help

  14. Daniel Lewis February 24, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Mr. Shulkin,

    The VA caregiver program has come under a lot of scrutiny. Most hospitals have their own interpretation of how the program is run and deem some medical diagnosis as qualifying while others dont. The Prescott VA in the Northern Arizona VA Healthcare system kicked over 250 caregivers overnight and the remainder of caregivers on the program are all rated tier 1. Connecting the dots and how the program pays it’s caregivers, it looks like the NAVAHCS is looking to save that money to hand out bonuses at the end of they year.

    Along with other programs and care, when will the VA have clear guidance across the board on how thesee programs are run and not off of “interpretation”. The law is clear, the coordinators of these programs and care are not.

  15. Tess Banko February 24, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Secretary Shulkin please appoint a prominent local veteran and experienced real estate developer, like Ed Roski (USMC ’62-’66), as Veterans Housing Czar to oversee and assist in development of VA West Los Angeles

    West LA’s master plan needs a campus manager who has detailed local knowledge and can work to ensure development and the further management of the new facilities. Appointing someone without this knowledge who may or may not move on to another position and location in the future will do a definitive disservice to the efforts on campus.

    Thank you for caring for our nation’s veterans, including myself.

    #VATheRightWay

  16. Susie Belanger February 24, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    A suggestion for the next town hall meeting: narrow it down to only 2 or 3 topics. We would then like to hear specifics on how the Secretary plans to address those issues. I realize this was the first meeting and he wanted to address as many questions as possible, now it could be addressing just a few at a time, unless you extend the meeting.
    Susie

  17. Dorothy Williams February 24, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    I have tried to comment on the VR&E question. However, I have not been able to respond because of the CAPTCHA.

  18. Amy Turk February 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Dear Secretary Shulkin,

    Thank you for hosting a Town Hall. I wanted to ask how will you work to end homelessness for women in Los Angeles? As a non-profit dedicated to ending homelessness for women, we would like to support your efforts to positively impact lives of female Veteran’s.

    Thank you so much,

    Amy Turk
    Chief Program Officer
    Downtown Women’s Center

  19. Ed Bowen February 24, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Regarding the use of this YouTube tool in the future, I advocate it regardless of how much time we can get…at least it’s speaking to we the veterans. How about using it as a tool with the VISN levels or even the VBA regional director/VHA Health Care System Directors (in line with the Town Hall type of approach to outreach)?

  20. Walt Hutton February 24, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I believe the new Secretary will do and outstanding job. Bob McDonald was outstanding.
    Thank you for helping us Sir.

    Walt Hutton

  21. Ed Bowen February 24, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Regarding burial benefits in the discussion today, pre determination. Very much appreciated in bringing this up. Our local VHA CBOC has the capability through its TeleHealth in office program for veterans and family members to use that system to access what they call TeleBenefits. This has successfully been used to apply for burial benefits “after the fact”, in transmitting needed documents and such to include clarity of the process.

    Can this pre-determination process and application be used in these types of communication portals to the VA?

  22. Wynn Vogel February 24, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Currently, there is a conflict in the health care benefits for disabled veterans. According to the VA Website, “disabled veterans rated 50% and higher are eligible for services with no financial assessment” for no-cost care. Yet, this year in some areas, the higher rated veterans are having deductibles taken out of their prescription and travel pay benefits due to an assumed financial assessment due to their higher disability rate of pay. This seems to discriminate against the higher rated disabled veterans for these benefits which are a part of their health care needs in saying part of our benefits are no-cost with no financial assessment and part of them require financial assessment.

  23. Ronald Santoro February 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    When are they going to fix the Phoenix VA urology for care, for the ten years I tried to work with them people come and go so there in no consistent care. One of the urologists is 82 years old…

  24. John K Sundstrom February 24, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Herbicide exposure claims for Thailand veterans have been granted, however is seems that claims for veterans who worked the same duty and locations are handled very differently. Can we expect a more consistent policy to expedite these claims?

  25. David Syster February 24, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Dr. Shulkin, Please have someone address what happens to a pending claim filed prior to the change to the new standardize claim form.

    • Jason Davis February 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      It will be processed. No issue here.

  26. Ken February 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I retired back in 2008 and have tried two times for a disability determination bot time turned down even with military med record and doctors input on my discharge med physical. I have tied a third time but have given up completely. Thank you for reading.

  27. Denise Nichols February 24, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Gulf war vets re GWI. Drs need education …VAconference with drs to review medical findings?

  28. lmkappler February 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Exactly how much money is wasted on these useless surveys that do not even address the real issues that plague the VA particularly in small rural areas and CBOC’s? Cronyism? Complete lack of Quality Control/Quality Assurance? Falsified Records? Turfing? Performing the same testing over and over and over again due to lack of follow through by Physicians/Residents/Students, none of whom that even bother to read a history,$$$$/TimeTimeTime/WasteWasteWaste? Are we just being used as practice for the 60,000 or so students/residents? Sure seems like it. You stated, as have your predecessors, that you have spoken to many Veterans about issues of concern. When will we be seeing you, perhaps, in the Upper Peninsula of MI?

  29. Col Randy Claxton February 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Is Burn Pit related exposure going to follow the long and arduous track that Agent Orange has? We can’t wait 20-30 years for answers and acknowledgment of related benefits…

  30. Kenneth H Pomelear February 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I am a Vietnam Era Air Force Veteran. I would just like to know why all the new FDA approved drugs for diabetes are not offered by the VA?

  31. Ed Bowen February 24, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Submitted yesterday but this system isn’t working in rural Washington State…no one to contact when you continue to get error messages.

    Secretary Shulkin, capturing your theme at your confirmation hearing about this VA will be “Veterans Centric”, would you please implement a valuable tool throughout at least the VHA for we-the-veterans of a phone directory system. Who to call to inquire about a program (or address, or email) and operational aspects of the medical system. Not a central call number that either doesn’t respond or spends so much time attempting to figure out what you’re asking for because that process doesn’t have a clue even to what the program even is. Many federal agencies have at least the means for you the user to search online for an employee contact, and others provide points of contact for specific programs and functions of the agency. This is not the case with the VA at large and the veteran is left with getting lucky to find a news article or old historic document that has the information of who to reference.

    Would you please bring back the option for the veteran to have the means to efficiently obtain those staff that are “centric” to the topic or program?

    My recent experience as an example, seeking information on the sunset of the contract with the third party insurance provider–Delta Dental, CA–for the Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program, and the third party not having those details other than generalities, it took researching and making 83 phone calls across the VA VHA spectrum where 95% of the contacts did not even have knowledge that such a program even existed. In a VSO news release there was mention about the extension of the program past the sunset date, and a quote from a VA director in the Atlanta area. Given that information, the local VA health care system HPM director, having knowledge about the program, was able to provide contact information for that VA staff in Atlanta. A four or five minute call to Atlanta resulted in tremendous amount of clarity on what the program was currently undergoing and what “might” be expected that provided the confidence the veteran’s needs would not fall by the way side. (They also added a news release about those details was forthcoming, and where to keep an eye out for that…something that is difficult in such a large system as the VHA) A root quality of the working staff of the VA; please give them the chance to work with us and start by giving us the means to get in contact with them. This to me is Veterans Centric. Thank you for considering this request.

  32. Ed Bowen February 24, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Please provide Megan Moloney’s contact information, this system is not accepting my comments and questions.

    • Gary Hicks February 24, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      It’s working. You can pass your message here and I will give it to her personally, or you can email NewMedia@VA.gov. She’s coordinating the live Youtube event at the moment.

  33. Howard Hernandez February 24, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Secretary,
    As a member of the Los Angeles Region – Community Veterans Engagement Board I can appreciate the desire of all Veterans to participate in the master plan project, however the LAR-CVEB is an inclusive Board addressing the needs of all Veterans subject to the services of the Los Angeles Region. All interested veterans are invited to participate in the issues encountered by all veterans. The LAR-CVEB procedure has actively addressed these veteran obstacles separately and collectively for a substantial period of time. The addition of new members to the LAR-CVEB is available to Veterans and advocates. We respectfully request you to support the LAR-CVEB procedure and invite you to the participation in the LAR-CVEB process.

  34. Captain Henry Plimack, USCGR (Ret) February 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Dear Dr. Shulkin,
    We are the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) were wondering if the VA is submitting a change to the law that would allow Guard and Reservists deployed under 10 USC 12304b authority in support of CoComs will receive Post-9/11 G.I. Bill education benefits? I hope you will take a moment to let me know, so I can alert our colleagues in the Reservist community.
    Thank you for having an open door with Veterans of our Armed Services.

    • Allison - Education Service March 1, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Henry, thanks for your question. This change was submitted as a VA legislative proposal and it is included in the FY17 President’s Budget. Should anything change with the law, we will make sure to post it on the GI Bill website and our GI Bill Facebook. Thanks!

  35. Deborah Ladson Boatwright February 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Congratulations as our new VA Secretary I know you have a whole lot of questions coming your way, I too am a veteran fed up with how some of us are being treated I served this country proudly and frustrated to learn after all these years that I am not accounted for : What I”m referring to Mr. Secretary, I served 5 duty stations had medical treatments at 4 and my complete medical records is missing just plain obsolete, the pain and suffering that I am enduring at this time in my life is definitely service connected, but how a veteran suppose to provide evidence when their medical treatments file/records is no where to be found? This whole incident for me is a war zone I’m very upset and frustrated and truthfully Sir, when my family, friends and the general public praise and thank me for serving our country I really don’t feel like a veteran. Please take the time and effort to help me and other veterans who have this same issue.Thank you for your many years of service.

  36. Terry P. Smith February 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I am a Disabled Veteran who has a pending appeal. Why does it take 5 years for an appeal to be heard?? I have had terrific service from the VA Medical side of the triad but the Pensions and Compensation and Office of Veterans Appeals has been a nightmare! They will not answer phones, emails, snail mail, etc., no updates are ever provided, it’s like I’m dealing with a black hole, questions go in and disappear for five years before they start the review process. Then it takes five or more years to get a final decision from and Appeals Court Judge.

  37. David Johnston February 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Sir,

    After receiving a less than accurate physical examination after 12 years a reduction of benefits occurred of a service connected disability. Now after nearly a year I have multiple issues under appeal and no correspondence from Saint Louis as to the state the paperwork is under review.

    Is there any plans in place to reduce the backlog of appeals and claims or a timeframe?

  38. Tom Kraft February 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I have medicare part B, but I’m afraid to drop it because I don’t know if the veteran choice program will end after the “experimental period’ expires. I live 70 miles from the nearest VA clinic and 120 miles from the nearest VA hospital. This is a good program and we shouldn’t be sitting around wondering if it will be kept or scrapped.

  39. Joey Jimenez February 24, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Question: A Veteran with severe respiratory issues rated at 100% files for Special Adaptive Housing and is denied. The regulation VA Manual 26-12 appendix B dated Feb 12, 2014 Change 1 states, “Veterans with respiratory related injuries OR severe burn injuries that reduce range of motion, may have NEEDS that differ from other SAH eligible Veterans. It also states, “each RLC has a flexible and expeditious approach to APPROVING reasonable adaptations based on the specific need of the Veteran.” Has this regulation changed? Not everyone applying for SAH must be missing limbs as a prerequisite.

  40. Bonnie Carothers February 24, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Good day,
    I am writing to you to ask for assistance in shedding light on a major problem with our country’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Below is a summary, in his own words, of what my husband has been through, adhering to the VA process. I am also attaching a link to KPTV Fox who ran a story about our struggle.
    “My name is Tony Carothers. I was honorably discharged as an E-5. The process began in 1996 when I was discharged from active duty Air Force due to an injury incurred while on active duty. To date, I have not received any medical or pension benefits from the VA because they had continually denied that my injury was incurred while on active duty.
    I enlisted in the US Air Force in 1988, in which I served with honor and distinction, including selection to the US Secret Service as a communications specialist. In 1995 I was diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae, which began the process of medical separation from active duty, in which I received an honorable discharge in 1996. The official classification was ‘disability due to injury incurred while on active duty’ and referred to the Veteran’s Administration for Compensation and Benefits related to my disability. Upon discharge, I applied immediately with the Veteran’s Administration in Spokane, Washington, and was provided some funding for additional education and training. I continued to pursue medical and compensation benefits at the Spokane Regional VA center, submitting information and documents as requested, with no official response ever given; only ‘fill out more forms, and we’ll get back to you in 4-6 months’.
    In 2004 I moved to Arizona, and continued my pursuit of compensation and medical benefits through the Phoenix VA regional office, finally receiving an official response in 2008. The response was “Denied claim for Veterans’ Administration pension, due to lack of continued coverage”; i.e. The VA claims I did not provide evidence to demonstrate that I had a ‘continuation of care’. This is inaccurate as I submitted a list of all physicians and proper release of information.
    I continued my pursuit of benefits until I relocated back to Spokane, WA, in 2011, and connected with the Veterans of Foreign Wars veterans organization, and they were able to submit the claim again. This claim was acknowledged as valid, and denied in 2014 as “Service members records do not reflect that this injury was incurred on active duty”, which was in contrast to the documentation provided. I immediately appealed the decision and requested a hearing before a DRO in Portland, Or where I now reside. I was told that due to backlogs it would be another 12-18 months for that hearing to be scheduled. It took 15 months for the meeting to be scheduled, which was subsequently cancelled due to inclement weather, and a ruling issued without me having the opportunity to present my case to the DRO. An informal meeting took place on 12 December 2016, where I provided copies of my application in 1996. The VFW Officer, and VA officer agreed it was a valid application, however it did not have a government timestamp on it, therefore was not a valid document” as such they will only authorize 2 years of back pay. They also ignored the deterioration of the original injury and additional medical problems resulting from it and kept his disability rating at 20% which is what the Air Force determined he was 20 years ago.
    A Notice of Disagreement has already been filed, which leads to a 2-3 year wait for a formal hearing in front of a federal judge.
    We have tried to work through the system and is has failed us repeatedly. We are now to the point of engaging an attorney and spending more time and money fighting for what should have been finalized 20 years ago. We are reaching out for help getting our story out and hopefully gaining assistance in our struggle.

    http://www.kptv.com/story/34563971/veteran-says-va-denied-him-disability-benefits-for-nearly-20-years

  41. Kyle February 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Hello, my name is Kyle, I was in the Army 5 years. I got out with a medical discharge. Now my question is why are you willing to prescribe medicine know to cause so many problems and addiction, just to give us another schedule 1 drug to help with addiction, rather than let us have access to a harmless plant that helps so many of us out there? Marajuana is the only hinges that I have found to help with my depression, anxiety, PTSD, my chronic pain, and it gives my the will to enjoy life. The pill you prescribe make me into a zombie, I have no emotions, so keep deeper into depression and have no quality of life. The marijuana give me back my life, I don’t have nightmares anymore I get restful sleep instead of sleepless nights because I don’t want to see the images beating at the back of my eyes all the time.

  42. John Yori February 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Would you support a rendition of the VA Accountability Act which in part will provide you and your staff with more leverage in dealing with VA employees who continually fail in their duties and responsibilities to provide outstanding and caring physical and mental health care services to our veterans? Additionally, do you support stronger measures that have not since been provided to the V.A. Sec to ensuring the overall quality of life for our veterans seeking VA services and if so, could you expand on what you see those measures accomplishing for our veterans?

  43. Richard Cutting February 24, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Is there anything being done to shorten the time for a veteran to get their disability claims settled. It took me almost nine years so far. That is totally unacceptable.

  44. james m. carton February 24, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I served active duty USAF Air Police from 1958-1962 and received an honorable discharge. Upon separation from active duty I got a job that provided excellent medical care and therefore I felt that I didn’t need to register in the VA. Several years ago I realised that my hearing was impaired and told that I should have hearing aids. I questioned the audiologist as to what caused my hearing loss and she explained that loud noises could have caused it. In the Air Police Tech Training school, I fired the BAR, 30 Cal light machine gun, M-1 carbine and the 11911 Colt .45 all without hearing protection. This also was the same for annual qualifications. I also guarded jet aircraft on the alert pad that were run daily to be certain of their readiness. Everyone near had ear protection except the Air Police guarding them; we needed to be able to hear what was going on! I attempted to enrol in the VA at the VA hospital at Griffis AB in Rome NY but was told that because my retired teacher’s pension and Socilal Security benefits exceeded $39,000 I did not qualify, If this is in fact true, will my promise when I enlisted to have health care for life ever be fulfilled?

  45. Byron Phillips February 24, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Secretary Shulkin,

    Has the VA considered filling doctor & nurses positions using recent medical school graduates ?

    For a 4-5 year term commitment the VA would off set their student loans.

    Win-Win situation.

    Empty positions filled, med school grads get on the job experience, wait times reduced, vets get see sooner,

  46. Rev. Dr. Mark Rickter, DD Ret February 24, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    As a 200% Listed Yet only 100% Paid Disabled Veteran: WHERE is my Health-care?
    Why are my Civil Rights, namely
    a) 18 U.S. Code §241 – Conspiracy Against Rights;
    b) 18 U.S. Code §242 – Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law;
    c) 18 U.S. Code §245 – Federally Protected Activities [(b) (1) (A Thru’ E)];
    d) 18 U.S. Code §246 – Deprivation of Relief Benefits (i.e. Medical Care; Pay; Back-pay, as well as “Aid & Attendance”) VIOLATED Daily as I wait DECADES for Proper Care & Treatment, even over Admitted Negligence & Medical Malpractices?

    • Robert l mason February 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Don’t forget 42 USC 1997d, prohibitation against retaliation

  47. Thomas Goffe February 24, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Mr Secretaty,
    If I am ill, but don’t need my VA Er (67 miles one way) but can’t wait weeks to see my PCP, what should I do? My VA in Raleigh/Durham has nothing like commercial “Urgent Care” that I am aware of. Going to the Durham VAMC Er seems wasteful.
    What are my options?
    Tom Goffe
    100% P&T

    • Damian Bennett March 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Same Here In Houston Tom!

  48. Sandra Azud February 24, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    REposting my question as it isn’t showing here!

    My question is: How will you help veteran’s hold their VA Centers responsable for their neglect/malpractice before it causes the Veteran to take their life or die due to the horrible care at the VA? WE can’t sue you and writing letters till we are blue in the face does not help either.

    I am a Veteran suffering at the hands of the HAMPTON VA MEDICAL CENTER IN VIRGINIA and this isn’t the only incident but it’s the one I’ll use for now because it has messed up my once happy life that I had already faught so hard to reach after discharge from my service. I was able to maintain my PTSD and other issues and I volunteered full time at out local schools, and within my community and was a valuble asset to the groups I worked with for many years. After the VA failed to refill my medicines and lie to me about my DR. putting in for the scripts( she had retired a month prior but the nurse kept telling me my dr was working on it.. or had done it.)I was compleately detoxed and now I can no longer control my axiety , PTSD, and my pain. I have had to leave all the organizations I gave my heart and time to. I haven’t been able to return to college and I am only 12 credit hours from my Bachelors in human services. I am nolonger able to contribute to my community… I stay sick or holed up in my house in fear everyday. I was basically told by a lawyer that I absolutely have a case of malpractice and extreme negligence from the VA. The part that hurts and saddens me is the fact that the lawyer stated unless I die as a result of the malpractice/negligence it all really means nothing because of the hoops the attorney would have to jump through to sue them would cost me at least $50,000 to hire a doctor to testify. This is because the government has made it so difficult to come after them even in a clear case of them being in the wrong…… This says to me that my life isn’t even worth getting proper mediocre medical care. I volunteered my life for these people and I can’t even get what I should be entitled to. I am not even asking for the best medical care but I am asking for it to actually take place and for people at the VA Facilities to do their damn job and stop ruining my life!

  49. Kassidy Renault February 24, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    I am A Transgendered Veteran, in the face of the recent news of Trump Rescinding of Protections for Transgendered Students what can we the veterans expect moving forward. Does this signal a end or stemming of Transgendered Care by the VA or will things continue to keep moving progessively forward?

  50. Jennifer Loeb February 24, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Are you actually going to answer these real questions or blow us all off like the Department usually does and just answer easy questions that make you look good?

    Do you prefer your veterans die so that you dont have to deal with their claim or is there a legitimate reason for a 94 year old WWII veteran’s claim to not be fully resolved after 8 months? Still waiting….

    Why are the reps at Regional Benefits Office “not allowed” to connect callers to a supervisor or give out supervisor’s full name? How does that policy allow for accountability?

  51. Jennifer Loeb February 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    What do you plan to do to enforce policies that provide for expidited claims for elderly veterans? How is the VA being accountable for elderly WWII veterans waiting months and months for a claim to be resolved?

  52. Dreau Robbins February 24, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Secretary Shulkin, will you appoint Ed Roski (USMC ’62-’66) as Veterans Housing Czar to oversee development of VA West Los Angeles? #VATheRightWay

  53. William Lee Worthington February 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Mr. Sulkin, I am a Vietnam Vet with many disabilities. I was forced to retire from my job and move in with my Daughter 2 years ago or be Homeless. The VA has failed to live up to the promise that was given to us when we served this great nation. I believe that we should be given compensation during the waiting period. My brother John who also served in the marines died of Agent Orange 5 years ago. I feel that the VA would like us all to go away like John. Bill Worthington USAF

  54. Steve Whelan February 24, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    If this remains an issue, what plans do you have in working with the 115th Congress?

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/veterans-affairs-says-agency-faces-2-5-billion-budget-shortfall/

  55. Steve Whelan February 24, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Sec McDonald set several VA priorities for 2016.
    Of those remaining, how many will you carry over to 2017?

    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/01/21/mcdonald-lays-out-breakthrough-priorities-for-va-in-2016.html

  56. Michael Wilson February 24, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Dear Sec. Shulkin,
    Are there any grants available to help Veterans who served 20 years get a business off the ground in Maryland ? I was denied a loan due to not having enough collateral. Is there assistance or grants to help prevent Veterans from becoming homeless due to being out of work since Spring 2016 ?

  57. Christopher Cross February 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Sir, I use VA Health. In October, I was sent to a local Radiology Clinic, via Veteran’s Choice. In December I received a bill. I contacted my Patient Advocate at the Baton Rouge VA Clinic, he contacted someone in New Orleans who said it would be taken care of. Two weeks ago I received a collection notice. Again, I contacted my Patient Advocate, who said it would be forwarded to the person who takes care of this. Meanwhile, it’s going to wreck my credit because it was never taken care of in December. No confidence in my Patient Advocate.

  58. Issa Jones Traore February 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I am US Navy Iraq Gulf War Veteran with 100% disability. I received 50% of my effective date benefits but the other is still not paid because a psychiatrist said that I said that was doing some computer work. I denied it by even sending my Social security statement as proof of not working. I still didn’t get paid. Please help.

  59. Captain Henry Plimack, USCGR (Ret) February 24, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Dear Secretary Shulkin,
    Thank you for opening dialogue with the Veteran Community.
    As a member of the Reserve Officers Association of the United States (ROA) and the Mount Sinai (MS) – Selikoff Centers for Occupational Medicine (COM) Advisory Board, I was wondering if expanded use of civilian clinics throughout the country (like the MS COM), would help resolve the VA’s backlog of “occupational” issues facing veterans?

  60. Robert Small February 24, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Why is it if a civilian dies or is miss diagnosed at a civilian hospital that that civilian can sue that doctor or hospital, but when a veteran dies or is misdiagnosed by the VA that vet has no legal recourse? Why did I a vet sign a contract that made me liable if I did not apply to the turns of a contract that the VA is allowed to decimate?
    Why do I and all vets have no ability at all whatsoever to be able to hold the VA legally responsible for there incompetence?

  61. Thomas Lee Simpson February 24, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    1. There are too few VA hospitals serving a growing number of vets. Do you plan to build more VA hospitals?

    2. VA claims are so backlogged that it can take years to get a claim decision and years more for an NOD appeal. Will this issue get your immediate attention?

    3. After a bad experience in the CHOICE program (my case has been “under review” for 14 months without a decision) I must ask, what kind of CHOICE program might you recommend that will differ from the broken one now in place?

  62. David Procter February 24, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    What do veterans do after repeated telephone calls to the VA to make an appointment on a call-back basis? I have called dental twice in La Jolla and left messages to make an appointment. The dentist makes his own appointments and will not call back. I am 100% service connected, and this is in the third week now without a call-back. Thank you.

  63. Nolene Rodriguez February 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    I Have An Enlarged Spleen And Liver I Was Told That It Has Nothing To do With The Water In Camp Lejeune But The Va Hospital Can’t Answer A Simply Question Was The Water In camp Lejeune Responsible For My Sickness? One More Thing,I Try To Get A teeth Pull And The Va Wanted To Charge Me Around $700.00 Dollars So The Va Doctor Told Me To Go To Bellevue Hospital But The Hospital Only Pull Teeth The Hospital Won’t Do Fillings So I Was Sent To NYU And They Wanted To Charge Me $150.00 For X Ray & Exam And Each Teeth Will Cost Me $200.00 Dollars I Can Not Afford To Get Help When It Comes To My Teeth I Am On SSD..You Take A Look At Each Dental Waiting (at the va hospital) Area Of The And You Will See That They Are ALWAYS EMPTY..i Thank God For The VA Hospital It Has Taken Care Of My Back Issue,Vertigo,Ear Ringing,Liver,Spleen and So Much More..I live In Pain Everyday..so If You Can Help Me In Anyway I will Be Very Grateful …THANK YOU

  64. Jerry Baker February 24, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Dear Sec. Shulkin,

    Former Sec. Robert A. McDonald gave me his personal cell & e-mail address with the instructions to contact him if I was aware of wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior by a VA employee or a medical provider. Will you give me the same honor and task me to report to you as your predecessor has done?

    Jerry Baker, Indy IN

  65. Joyce McWhorter February 24, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Greetings, Would you please let us know when the gov. is going to admit that they sprayed herbiside inside the perimeter of our Thailand bases during the Vietnam war? Our Veterans are suffering and dying while the gov. keeps up the lye. also would you please tell me how many feet is “near” as in “near the perimeter?

  66. James A. Carder Sr February 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    A very simple question Sir.
    If your military medical service records show in plain English, during Your Security exam you had blood in urine exams, let’s say 4 different times and no other
    test were done. Now you’re out of service and you file a Service Connected Claim for Kidneys and are denied, why, it’s documented in your file. Do the Examiner look or take the words of the C&P Examiner’s words by word, statue of limitations has been too long but if they read your file they would see you’ve been having Kidney promblem for 20 plus years.Then your records show 2 other illnesses in service records. Still another denial and another denial, but they’re listed you had this in your military medical service records. Why does it take several years for an appeal if it was already in your service records plain and simple diagnosis, SERVICE CONNECTED ILLNESSES NOTED IN MILITARY MEDICAL SERVICE RECORDS.

  67. Jerry Baker February 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Dear Sec. Shulkin,
    Give the below statement, would you consider creating a whistleblower type office at the VISN or Central Office level to address concerns of VA patients and their caregivers?

    Thank you for accepting your new position! Every day both VA employees and VA patients are faced with unfortunate medical and administrative medical decisions. Although a great number of VA medical and support staff are competent, well meaning, and focused on caring for VA patients, there are exceptions that cannot be overcome in a timely manner by a simple visit to the patient advocate office.

    Yours,
    Jerry Baker, Indy, IN

    • Jerry Baker March 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      I would appreciate your response!

  68. Paula Reading February 24, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    As President of the Transgender Veterans Support Group (TVSG) our members want to inform you that VA directly discriminates against Transgender Veterans in VHA Directive 2013-003 Rev by refusing to provide us with the surgeries and treatments we need to complete our transitions which the directive calls “Comedic” and/or “Elective”, which is far from the truth. Not being able to transition fully is one of the primary reasons the suicide rate for Transgender people are the highest in the United States and therefor Transgender Veterans as well, because lack of these treatments/surgeries take away our will to live in the bodies we have now and this is WELL documented facts that the VA refuses to acknowledge. Will you PLEASE change VHA Directive 2013-003 Rev to require our VA Hospitals to provide (Or pay for) these surgeries/treatments that are a “Necessity” for Transgender Veterans to complete their transition, lower our suicide rates and live in our correct bodies???

    • John Schmit February 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Paula,

      I support your right to life, liberty and persuit of happiness with zero judgment of what that entails. Everyone should be happy, self confident and know have that right person in their life to share it with. However, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why my tax dollars should pay for your sex change? Is it a service connected disability? Did you sustain and injury (mental or physical) in the direct line of duty that led you to identify as the opposite of your birth sex? If you were born with the identity issue, then it’s not service connected. Convince me why your surgery is as important as the 18 year old kid who got both his legs blown off, one arm, and all but two fingers on his remaining. No animosity, I truly do not understand.

  69. Ted Sejda February 24, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Hi, I am a 100% disabled Nam Vet. I have found a VERY SERIOUS FLAW in the ID bracelet vet’s have to wear at the VA hospital’s across the United States. My PICTURE my FULL Social Security number, and my FULL date of birth. All a person has to do is take a picture of any vet’s bracelet at any Vet hospital and they would have what I believe is enough info to sell their identity on the black markets, or to get credit cards, loans etc.
    I also kept my ID bracelet from a hospital outside the VA. and I can show you or you Representative the difference between the two and how they use a need to know only BAR CODE.
    You can contact me through my email address. if your interested in seeing the two ID bracelets. Thank You

  70. William Swears February 24, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I’m having no luck being promoted or even considered for promotion above GS-11 in the DOI. I work in BOEM, and the atmosphere here is that they’ll hire from a different cert in order to avoid considering veterans. Of course, it’s not official, but they talk about in the halls.

  71. Tyrone nears February 24, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    How can we find people to help with our problems once you get out to fix or lead us in the right direction that know what they are doing

  72. Charlie Dickerson February 24, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Mr Shulkin since you already worked for Obama, what hope do WE have that YOU will work with President Trump to improve the VA, CARE for US.?? All we had was friends, his political appointees, running OUR Medical Centers.

    • Jason Davis February 27, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      The VA mission doesn’t change. We care for Vets regardless of who lives at 1600 Penn.

  73. Hector ortiz February 24, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I am a service connected veteran. I just want to know what it’s happening with the clothing allowance that here in VA Puerto Rico they are not paying and you call and is very hard to get in touch to get a answer.

  74. joe lamay February 24, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I reciently recieved two responses back from my VA requests . both told me to expect a response time of 6 years for an answer are you going to fix this or will you do like you did on fox news this morning and mouth a bunch of weasel words with no real change

  75. Tyrone nesrd February 24, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    I would like to know why dfa and the va can not work together to take care of veterans problems after they are discharged. And why you can not get help for problems like if you got discarded in 2006 with 30 percent medical but you did not find out until 2014 but you have not received any back pay and in 2013 jyou got 100 percent from the va but you had to pay the va the money. And you owe dfa money please explain that to me.and my 30 percent medical do not count for any thing

  76. Manfred Adeti February 24, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Hon. Shulkin,

    Thank you for accepting this position and I hope Washington didn’t get in your way too much as you try to reform this department. With veteran unemployment, what plans do you have in place to ensure we get hiring preferences not just the talk? I have tried many open positions but they come back and say you don’t have the experience. How do I get to have a corporate experience if all I knew was the Army and Combat Missions? Thank you.

    • Manfred Adeti February 24, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      doesn’t get in you way ** correction

  77. David C. Cory February 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    What are the short-time and long-term plans of the current VA leadership to deal with the huge backlog and long delays of disability appeals, including those still at the Regional Office level as well as those at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals level? Thank you.

  78. Paul johnson February 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Hello Sir.I served in Vn.68 .69 on returning home .i married my girl in 69.we are still married.she has been with me thru all my my heath issues.some were unheard of back then.Now at 68 .i.m 100 % pt.It makes me sad too think.i have too live 10 years at 100% for my wife too recieve my award.i probaly will die.before 10 years and wife would have too leave our home.Please roll back the 10 ye a r wait .its just not right .thank you

  79. Donald Ackerman Sr February 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    The VA in Hot Springs is being close. It is a highly successful facility, and is in a community that cares d=for it veterans. Why with all the wrong are you closing a facility that is right for all the right reasons. The VA Facts, fail the truth test on why it is being closed. We the Veterans have spoke and no one is listening at the VA. Stop this insanity, build on what is here and help us end PTSD, Drug, Alcohol , and homelessness of our veterans who wish not to be homeless.
    The only poeople who see the need to close this facility are in the swam. Congress disagrees and all the consulting parties on the EIS agree that this facility does not need to be closed, and the reasons you have stated for closure are just not factual.

  80. Ken Hamilton February 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I recently heard that the Obama Administration OPM decided to take away disability payments for retirees. Our “pension” for serving, and the payment for injuries sustained while serving are two separate and distinct entities. Please research this dastardly deed by the Obama Administration. This is totally unfair, un-American, and must be stopped. Veterans should not be penalized for distinguished careers leading to retirement by denying them proper compensation for disabilities caused by honorably serving for many years. Again, service compensation and disability compensation are not the same, and should not be treated as such. Thank you.

    • Jason Davis February 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Ken, this has nothing to do with the previous administration. Federal law states you can’t double dip. This isn’t new. Look into CRSC and CRDP.

  81. H. James Hulton III February 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Please see above.

  82. Leah Bailey February 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I am a Desert Storm veteran who has fought a bigger battle with the VA that has gone on for 26 years. What good is legislation for presumptive conditions when the VA is still denying my generation of veterans for those presumptive condions? What is the excuse for a backlog of 5 years on appeals? For those of us who have waited 26 years for validation, it is a pure insult to see how easy it has been for post 9-11 veterans as compared to ours and the Vietnam veterans. I as a veteran have been told my anti-inflammatory medications are too expensive to be in the VA system, but a mulitmillion dollar, covered, lighted PARKING project was not. Where are the priorities here???

  83. H. James Hulton III February 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Dr. Shulkin, I would hope that the VA remains fully and permanently funded in the eyes of the Trump Administration. Let there be NO cutbacks in the VA so Veterans can receive full access to healthcare and every other benefit to which they are entitled.

    H. James Hulton III
    USAF Officer Veteran
    Vietnam Era
    Blue Bell, PA 19422

  84. Edward Payne February 24, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Secretary Shulkin,
    What are your plans for the debilitating health issues being caused from burn pits? Is it going to take 40 years and our young veterans lives to figure anything out, like Agent Orange?
    What plans do you have for the Choice Program? The Choice Program causes a lot of stress for veterans with PTSD/TBI. The process for being approved is very slow. Then once approved you have to find a doctor that is either approved or be willing to be approved and part of the program. Once seen by the outside doctor Tri West is not wanting to pay or is very slow at paying, which is causing these bills to either be paid for by the veteran or the bill being turned into collections and ruining the veterans’ credit. This causes more stress for the veteran with a stress disorder. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills that the VA refuses to pay for. I can’t afford any more.
    Are there any plans to further research CTE in combat veterans? At the current time the only research and trial studies available are for the NFL ONLY.
    Thank you very much for your time and taking the time to speak with us. You are very much appreciated.

  85. Robert Steven Thompson February 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I am approved under the 40 mile rule to receive Veterans Choice option/Healthnet. My primary care provider has been assigned. I started out getting approvals for healthcare to the Primary Care provider. However, my last several requests for visits to care provider and for flu shot and for pain-management injection have been bogged down/ignored for more than 3 months. I’ve written my Congressman to investigate. I’ve spoken to VA/SLC Veterans Choice go-to-guy. I’ve filed a grievance with Healthnet. I’ve been assured my requests for approvals have been expedited. BUT NO RESULTS to date. Flu Season is almost over. I’m still in need of pain management. I need to visit my health care provider. NO APPROVALS … just excuses and promises unfulfilled. For me, Veterans Choice is NOT working; it’s broken; it’s ineffective; it’s inefficient. I’m hoping VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin can and will get to the bottom of our problems with Veterans Choice Program. The Vets Choice was established so as to provide us vets with quick access to health care. I, for one, am not getting served. I live 200+ miles from SLC VA and 2+ hours from nearest clinic. 3+ months awaiting care approval is beyond ridiculous. Thank you, Sir!

  86. R.M. Crockett February 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Greetings,
    Why have so many claims for Gulf War Syndrome been denied?
    I believe it’s up to 80% now.
    I served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and from what I understand, many of us are suffering from unexplained illnesses.
    According to the link below, once the Vet shows symptoms and can show they served in the area, then they can be compensated.
    Hopefully the compensation will aid them in getting care for their issues.
    http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/medically-unexplained-illness.asp

  87. Casey H. Springer February 24, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Mr. Shulkin and fellow constituents, I am a disabled Veteran and I understand a new contract is under negotiations to replace the 3 year temporary contract for CHOICE program. Provider agreements, contracts that typically go to the lowest bidder, and regional attorneys that have significant biased influence on healthcare (and benefits) for Veterans all hinder progress in care. That being said, I have a three-fold question.

    First, what are the positive key elements in the new Veterans healthcare contract?
    Secondly, will opinion based language finally be allowed in primary care notes?
    Lastly, why are Veterans who recieve wrongful discharges having such a low approval turnover rate in D.C. with board members? Especially in PTSD or TBI related cases where treatment was never provided.

  88. Casey H. Springer February 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Mr. Shunkin and fellow constituents, I am a disabled Veteran and I understand a new contract is under negotiations to replace the 3 year temporary contract for CHOICE program. Provider agreements, contracts that typically go to the lowest bidder, and regional attorneys that have significant biased influence on healthcare (and benefits) for Veterans all hinder progress in care. That being said, I have a three-fold question.

    First, what are the positive key elements in the new Veterans healthcare contract with other local providers? (More actual choice, documented faster times, higher quality of care, ect …ect….).

    Secondly, why can’t health care providers write opinion based language in their doctors notes? This regional attorney influenced limit on doctors and PCP’s takes away opportunity for earned benefits. Especially for vulnerable Veterans, and lastly, will opinion based language finally be allowed in primary care notes?
    Lastly, why are Veterans who recieve wrongful discharges having such a low approval turnover rate in D.C. with board members? Especially in PTSD or TBI related cases where treatment was never provided.

  89. Kenneth Lewis February 24, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I am 100% service connected disabled veteran of Vietnam. What is being done, or will be done about the disgraceful number of veterans committing suicide on a daily basis? I have been mentally abused recently at a behavioral health unit of the V.A. I fear retaliation and though I’m in dire need of help, I’m afraid to go to the V.A. HELP

  90. John C. Davidson February 24, 2017 at 11:36 am

    My local veteran’s service claim the can help me buy food and pay housing expenses, but not any medical bills I accumulate locally. Aren.t there other Federal programs that could take care of those problems while few exist concerning healthcare for those living more than 40 miles from a clinic which actually is a place where you are just referred to a VA Hospital that is usually even further away.

  91. Cherie wiser February 24, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I love the VA and boast about how great it is any chance I get.
    I was wondering if CHAMPVA will cover ABA therapy for autism soon. Some states require insurance to cover it, but since CHAMPVA is federal it doesn’t have to cover it. My daughter phased out of ABA 2 years ago, so forgive me if in that time it’s coverage has begun. Also, Thank you for your vow to never privatize. You’re doing a great job.

  92. James A. Smith February 24, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Will you appoint retired US Navy Commander John B. Wells as your Deputy Secretary of the VA?

  93. Louis F. Spagna February 24, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Recently 2 of my medications have been reissued in smaller quantities than I was receiving and paying a co-pay of $8.00 for a months supply and I am still being charged for a month’s supply for each item even though one says on the package it is a 14 day supply for AVERAGE use effectively costing me 4 times my previous cost for my serious condition that is above average. How can this be changed? I have been told, unofficially, that this move is a result of the VA not having enough funding, is this true?

  94. Raymond Melninkaitis February 24, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I have been working for the reinstatement of presumption for the Vietnam Blue Water for 7 years. Last year we had 77% of the house co-sponsor HR 969. I know that we have support of the majority of the Senators, although some do not officially co-sponsor bills. There is a petition for the restoration off presumption with over 80,000 signatures. There are also legal actions being taken. The VA took this action unilaterally in 1991 and can reverse it with the mandate issued of the Secretary of the VA.

    So, my question is: Why does the VA refuse to rescind this decision rather than force both legislative and legal action?

    • Raymond Melninkaitis February 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

      The VA took this action unilaterally in 1991 and can reverse it with the mandate issued of the Secretary of the VA. My apology, the year was 2002.

  95. Sharon February 24, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Women have worn the uniform of service for decades; however, today they remain invisible within the Veterans Administration. Can you tell me how your plan to outreach to our female soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guards during your administration on the benefits and services that they are entitled because of their wiliness to protect and serve our country in the armed forces as they transcend to civilian life.

  96. James Carter February 24, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I am an Air Force vet who retired after 22 years. I just recently received a VA determination of 40% disability. My question is that if I had not retired from the AF would I still get a VA disability check? If so then why do they reduce my retirement check by 40% and give that to me as my VA disability? I earned my full retirement by serving those 22 years. I should not be penalized for being retired. I should still receive my full retirement plus my VA compensation. Please explain.

    • Jason Davis February 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      James, this is federal law, which state Vets can’t “double dip.” Look into “CRSC and CRDP.”

  97. Gary Higgins February 24, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Why is interstate sharing of my personal health records not accessible between Michigan and Florida while I am south for the winter? Okeechobee Satellite center said they can’t access them to use here. With computers it seems like a simple matter of entering SS number and sharing with Florida and nationwide for all veterans.

  98. Ford Ulrich Ross, Jr. February 24, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Please address the lack of clarity of procedural matters for obtaining VA entitlements to cognitively slow thinking veterans. Welcome to the military.

  99. Michael Hayes February 24, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Secretary Shulkin, we have heard you say the VA will continue to work towards the modernization of the VA. Can you tell us what types of modernization projects are planned. Also, with the hiring freeze for government workers in effect, it is known that IT staff are not excluded from the freeze, even though there are shortages in this area of expertise. This seems to restrict the ability to modernize. How does the VA intend address this shortage of IT staff and simultaneously modernize the VA? Thank you in advance for your response.

  100. Linda February 24, 2017 at 9:38 am

    What is being done to increase the amount of ‘professional’ health professional (Nurses, Doctors, Physician Assistant, etc.) veteran employees at the MEDVAMC in Houston?
    Will Title 38 employees be allowed to use ‘veterans preference’ when attempting to gain employment at the VA?

    Title 38 employees (Nurses, Doctors, Physician Assistants) are not allowed to use ‘Veterans Preference’ when applying for positions at VA hospitals. The MEDVAMC in Houston has fallen well below the 35% rate for employing veterans. (I requested information under the FOIA and they were in the low 20s for veterans employment.) I was told by a Veteran Recruitment Authority that the facility hires veterans mostly to fill low level positions such as housekeeping, food service, receptionist. The facility currently employs only 6% Registered Nurses that are military veterans.

  101. K.A. Davis February 24, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I just got off the phone with the True result people. It seems my meter has been discontinued for sometime. My question is why did it take test stripes not staying in my machine that the VA sent me to find out that it was expired and no longer in use. Can you’ll improve upon this.

    WHY WON’T THE VA BUY ONGLYV3ZA FOR THERE PATIENTS. IT IS WHAT I TAKE.

  102. Arthur Busch February 24, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Mr. Secretary,
    Would you please address why 38 USC, 38 CFR, M21-1MR and Veteran Affairs appellate decisions are not universally applied as written by RVSR’s in Regional Offices across the U.S. during the VBA rating process? Could this be the reason that the number of VBA appeals is roughly equal to pending VA Disability claims? If so, what steps will you be taking to curtail or eliminate the widespread practice of ignoring-or selectively interpreting-federal law, VA directives and appellate decisions in such a way that is so often unfavorable and blatantly adversarial to Veteran claimants?

  103. john baskin February 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

    my question would be, with the trump administration cutting everything, will the VA still provide care for the lgbt veterans? particularly the transgenders.

  104. Ray Kent February 24, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Do you plan to approve the recommendation of the “Expert panel” and approve Bladder Cancer as being caused by Agent Orange Exposure?

    AND

    If you really want to improve ethical behavior in the VA why not really hold supervisors and managers to a higher standard than their subordinates by mandating that conduct penalties for supervisors and managers be set at least one level higher than the current Guide for Penalties?

  105. Merl naumowicz February 24, 2017 at 8:31 am

    I retired after 23yrs in the Navy would like to know why I, and my fellow veterans, should trust you when you say you will fire people? You’ve been the number two at the VA for eighteen months and as far as I, or my fellow vets, can tell you’ve done nothing yet. So why should you expect us to give you basically another chance?

  106. THOMAS SEDIVY February 24, 2017 at 8:13 am

    The choice program is Broken and is suppose to end in August. They referred me to a doctor for my first appointment 9/15/2015 and I have seen this doctor for over a year and CHOICE HAS NOT PAYED ONE BILL. On march 5th they will turn everything over to a collection agency. I have spent so many hours trying to get this fixed and even have a Chief of care trying to help and still no one will pay the bills. So my credit takes a hit because there not paying the bills? How do you plan to fix the choice program? We spend hours on the phone only to be put on hold and than no one answers. Do these folks get paid every time the phone rings? How can they refer us and than not pay? How do you expect the doctors to take choice patients and than NOT pay Them?

  107. DAVID W SUNKLE February 24, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Yes I am a Retired NAVY Veteran. Viet=Nam 1967 to 1971. ShipBoard out in the Gulf. Plane Guarding OUR Carrier’s & Picking up Their Refugee’s. We made Our Own Drinking Water.

  108. Anthony Allman February 24, 2017 at 2:25 am

    Secretary Shulkin,

    There are an estimated 2,728 homeless veterans in LA County according to local housing authorities. The VA West Los Angeles master plan, adopted by your predecessor over a year ago, calls for the development of at least 1,200 permanent supportive housing units for homeless veterans over the next decade. Can you get it done faster? #VATheRightWay

    Respectfully,
    Anthony Allman
    USA ’01-’03

  109. jack ravin Aide to Sec. Cleland February 24, 2017 at 1:06 am

    Dr Shulkin
    I am a Viet Nam vet who served with and work for Max Cleland. I am involved with many special programs to help veterans especially Suicide Prevention. I wrote Veterans-SOS (sustaining our support) that connects mentors from the VSOs with active soldiers during and after their service in a mentor relationship. Everyone on both sides of the aisle at the DOD and the VA Suicide Prevention Office want to implement it. However they depend on each other’s cooperation. They are currently prevented from doing so. When will the VA and the DOD break down the wall and start working together to stop the 22 a day.
    ( look in the top drawer of Bob’s desk. He has a copy) . I’m also the veteran advisor on the new Burns/Pope film coming out April 24 called Veterans Affairs. It has a lot of potential for good as it tells the truth about the VA, past and present. Your part in the film is impressive and I appreciate everything you said.

  110. Freaky Deaky February 24, 2017 at 12:01 am

    When is the VHA going to be replaced with REAL health insurance?

  111. Brad Ward February 23, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Mr. Secretary,

    What is your professional opinion on the federal hiring freeze which is preventing the VA from hiring more employees to serve our veteran community? Have you spoken with President Trump regarding the matter and what steps will you take to ensure the VA can hire the most qualified and competitive medical staff to care for our veterans?

    Thank you for your time, efforts, and consideration.

    -Brad Ward
    UCO VetHERO Coordinator
    U.S. Army Veteran
    Military Police

  112. Thomas Bates February 23, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    After combing through my medical records using the myhealthevets blue button I discover that the VA hospital I reported to failed to notify me of a potential tumor spotted in my brain a year prior. I attempted to have my medical records transferred to another VA hospital becaise I did not trust going back to the same VA and the second one was closer to my residence. My primary care provider could send me to the other hospital because the systems don’t communicate with one another and so I had to go out of pocket to pay for my health care because they refused to transfer me out of the original hospital. My question is why are the electronic mediums through which our medical work is processed by the VA not able to communicate with all the other VA facilities and what can be done to fix this?

  113. Bruce Burgess February 23, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I’m combat wounded. I attempted to gain civilian care with my wife’s insurance. The civilian physician cringed at caring for me. He stated there is no financial incentive for him to invest research and time into Veteran specific issues. We are too few in number to net him a profit. My wife’s insurance is worthless unless I have a commonly treated issue, like the flu. I don’t have the flu. I have multiple fractures and a massive TBI with vision loss.

    How will you incentivize civilian physicians to educate themselves, and build experience in battlefield injuries, when no incentive exists? Won’t I face a reduction in the quality of care received? If this continues, won’t the day arrive where no physician is trained in battle medicine?

    My physician is correct and his logic regarding medical care in a free market is sound. There is no room for the wounded in civilian practice. We don’t deliver them a profit. Just headaches for infrequent issues relative to those found in standard family practice.

  114. K.A. Davis February 23, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I have heard rumors of a list of troublemaker vets . I truly hope you don’t have such a list. Also do you think you can get AFGE (the union) with 10 PARKING Spots CLOSE To THE BUILDING GIVE Up THERE slots for handicapped parking by the pharmacy entrance. The Dallas VA really has parking problem and when I see people getting off nights run out and wait for there friends on days to get there so the slot goes to there friend who work there it is a real parking problem.

  115. Samuel Barton February 23, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Sir,,,,,,, Will you consider allowing Veterans with a fifty percent plus disability rating to shop at the Px facilities. ,,,,,,, congrats on your appointment

    • Jason Davis February 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      The PX is operated by the Department of Defense. There are some whispers that something may soon be happening that will allow Vets to shop online.

  116. Robert l mason February 23, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Why hasn’t my 5, July 1969 claim and 77 & 83 BVA remands been processed, the Cleveland, Ohio R/o has verifed they haven’t , along with the Appeals Management Center? Also why has the VAOIG lied to my Congressman David Joyce, by saying I hadn’t contacted them within 5 years of an incident, i gave my congressman copies of emails and direct post staring right after the incident. This incident is where the VAOIG said for some reason I had to talk to a Patient Advcoate, keith Dixon at the VAMC , cleveland, ohio. On legally aquired audio tape Mr. Dixion admits the whole thing about illegally locking me up in a VAMC mental ward was done to scare, intimidate and break my nerves???
    The incident was done against me because I complained about a corrupt VAMC, C&P doctor. i won the A&A claim at BVA and the judge said the C&P doctor should have done the interview and write up not a nurse. Then the C&P doctor wrote an email to the R/O , DRO’s working my case and called me a lair fraud and a trouble maker???

  117. Richard S. Cirino February 23, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Sir, The VA is supposed to recognize a claim for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Because of a previous denial for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the VA is sitting on the claim, stating the new Non-Hodgkin’s may be caused by the previously denied claim. This example is what you are faced with. This particular claim was started in 2006. My math could be wrong but that adds up to 11 years of backlog. Can you fix the backlog honestly and fairly?

  118. David February 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Hello and congratulations on your new appointment to VA Secretary! A lot of questions here for you to ponder but my question is that past VA Secretaries have had programs to promote veteran hiring within the VA. What are your thoughts and what actions will you take to accomplish this task if you are in agreement with the former strategies? It appears that the last program has lost st traction as the female veteran employee that was assisting me had indicated that the program was severely cut back and she was forced to find new employment herself? Will there be a replacement program to assist those service members/veterans and when might those assets be available? The current option of using the Veterans Employment Service Office is a poor option as there is no longer that one on one assistance that existed before last fall?? The DOL option that is advertised is/will not serve as again there are no real people options. I can’t see where the cost could have been that great as they seemed to have accomplished everything by email, phone or messenger for Apple users? Sorry, we just need some basic guidance?

  119. Robert Faeting February 23, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    The Honorable De. DAVID SHULKIN,

    Sir, I wrote a definitive Veterans Guide to Filing VA Claims and submitted a proposal to have the VA purchase the guide and provide to all locations across the country. With an estimated 184 Billion dollar budget, purchasing this guide would be a drop in the bucket. If Vets had all the information they needed to file Fully Developed Claims, the VA would be able to race through claim decisions. My question is why will the VA not purchase this guide for the millions of Vets who need the information? It seems this would be a crucial communication outreach program and it would assist not just Vets but the VA with their mission. At a time when 509K Vets are embroiled in the VA claims backlog, I would think this is something the VA would want to desperately Institute. Robert Fearing

    • Jason Davis February 27, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      Robert, thanks for the comment. Presently, all of the information Vets need to file claims is available for free on our website. In addition, we have video step-by-step tutorials and published regulations, public contact employees, and social media and phone center customer service. Last and certainly not least, Vets are encouraged to use VSOs if they feel they can’t file a claim on their own. VSOs are also free.

      Currently, the number of claims older than 125 days is about 100,000, not five times that much.

  120. Donald P. Souza February 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    When will the hiring freeze be lifted

  121. David Florez February 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    What are you going to do different to establish accountability and discipline in an organization that is struggling to serve the Veteran? Being an OIF/OEF Vet I am aware of the slow and long process of using the VA system.

  122. Gregory Murphy February 23, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Secretary Shulkin
    As A Blue Water Navy Vet who did 3 Westpac tours off the coast of Vietnam,let me assure that we were their also. Those of us who sailed in the territorial waters off the Vietnam Coast, were awarded the Vietnam service medals for service in Vietnam. Now the VA states we did not serve. Our Agent Orange presumptive exposure has been taken away, regardless of the Original intent of the Agent Orange Act.
    Earth Science 101 teaches that if you spray 21 million gallons of AO on the land, it will get into the Gulf of Tonkin via rivers and streams.The ships evaporators enriched the water we drank and showered in.
    Science is fact. Why has the VA denied this evidence, when most VSO and many Veteran Org. agree.
    Please Sir change this unjust policy and stand with and for us.
    Thank You for your service,
    Thank Us for ours,

    Greg Murphy
    Proud Blue Water Navy Vet

  123. Basil Horn February 23, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    I am a veteran of the Navy with 22 years of service. Presently i have PTSD that was diagnosed in Oct 2014 with 70% disability. Almost three years ago I applied for 100% disability because I cannot work. In June of 2016 I also applied for 100% while receiving treatment for PTSD exacerbation and self medicating. My question is:
    1. Why did my 100% increase while in treatment for six months go through an appeal process?
    2. Why, after almost three years, did my original app for 100% increase in disability because I cannot work also go through an appeal process even though my medical record proves my disability and the severity of my condition?

    • Jason Davis February 27, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Basil, a Veteran doesn’t get to pick the percentage they want to apply for, they file compensation and a rater determines the severity of injury/condition according to available evidence. The severity of injury/illness can be found in the rating criteria under 38 CFR. Your questions are also addressed in your claim decision letters, which state why the VA rated you for the condition you were rated, as well as why not a higher evaluation, as well as what VA would need for you to be rated higher.

  124. Michael F Kvintus February 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Secy. Shulkin , In 1991 a Agent Orange Bill was passed giving presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to Our Vietnam Veterans including The Blue Water Vietnam Veterans . 2002 the VA changes the regs to boots on the ground and excludes the BWNVV since then it is a up hill battle with the VA trying to get any claims approved . The BWNVV were exposed and the VA has been given plenty of evidence to support presumption of exposure . The Va excludes ships that anchored in the harbors myself being one of those . I have several medical conditions directly related to exposure to agent orange .I was on the USS BuchananDDG14 anchored in DaNang Harbor . I have the deck logs showing this and also Operation Ranch Hand Mission logs showing spraying all over DaNang Harbor . The days directly before we were there and the days we were there ,maps of sprayed area , dates and gallons sprayed but the VA continues to deny my claims . WHY? I’m asking you to change the VA Policey of Boots on the Ground and include the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans . It is the right thing to do and it was the original Intent of Congress to include the BWNVV . Please give me your views on this matter Thank you Mike

  125. Samuel Hammerschmidt February 23, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I am US Navy Vet (66-69) and the lack of action for Veterans filing claim and appeals is absolutely ridiculous and a hardship for the Vets waiting for ruling and documentation. I am Decorated Vet in Combat Zone.
    Claims are in many instances unresolved or ruled on for more than 7 months while Veterans wait for the Care and service that is due to them for their service.
    Appeals are even longer and when you call and check on the progress the staff phone people let you know that they are so busy and that due to that appeals can take up to 432 days to be answered. My appeal ins in the process and is 5 and will be 6 month in March since being filled. I have received one letter stating only the appeal is in process. Nothing more and that time frame is disrespectful to Veterans
    Veterans are concerned and not willing to file complaints and do not continue to complain as they are concerned about retaliation and there claim being denied due the there complaints. The proof is in the history of the Phoenix whistleblowers that brought the appointment times issue and poor service resulting in Veterans Deaths because they covered it up and were to busy – Men and woman died due to this cover up . I first inquired and filled for VA Care coverage in late 2009 and did not get coverage until late 2015.
    I and my Veteran Brothers deserve Respect for what was risk in our dedicated Service.

  126. Joseph Graham February 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Secretary Shulkin
    Why do Regional Offices such as Phoenix, AZ. take 2 – 3 years to view a Notice of Disagreement before a Decision Review Officer? Many Veterans including myself, that I know personally, have already spent a year or more getting to the point where they file a Notice of Disagreement and then must wait an additional 2 – 3 years or more to have their NOD Adjudicated?
    Respectfully,
    joseph graham Vietnam Veteran

  127. Harrison Koh February 23, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Please provide further exemptions on the hiring freeze so that job applicants that are waiting for hiring decisions will be notified.

  128. E. Denise Caldon Sorkness February 23, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Dr. Shulkin:
    I am a Veteran’s Widow, Mother of a Navy Officer (he is currently deployed) and Author of a book sharing my now twenty-year battle with the VA titled: “STALL, DENY AND HOPE THEY DIE” – The VA’s Unwritten Policy…The Story of One Widow’s 19-Year Battle with the VA. Our children were just 2, 4 and 6 when we learned my Husband had two years to live as a result of his service-related disease certified by the VA from exposure to Agent Orange. He lived for nine; however, we slowly watched him die and “lost” him physically and emotionally just prior to his death on 17 July 1996 due to PTSD and extensive chemotherapy which resulted in his erratic and violent behavior confirmed in Medical Assessments submitted to the BVA. When I filed for my DIC Spousal Benefits, I was told a woman he was living with (they were never married as we were never divorced) had filed for my benefits with false information on her Application. The VA has paid her my benefits for now twenty years while I raised our three children alone and worked fulltime. After 12 years of VA denials to my repeated Claims, I flew to D.C. in 2008 for a BVA Hearing. The DAV rep. said, “Denise, the VA Regional Office in Atlanta dropped the ball. They will NEVER admit their mistake in your Claim as it would open up too many other claims like yours. You do know…the VA’s unwritten policy is “stall, deny and hope they die.” Thus, the title of my book now shared worldwide. I flew to D.C. again on 7 Feb. 2017 to join Commander J.B. Wells, Military-Veterans Advocacy, in his 16 meetings with members of Congress and Senators regarding Bills needed to address critical issues in the VA. Commander Wells used my 20-year battle with the VA as an example of the VA’s infamous Appeals’ process known as the “Hamster Wheel.” *See link below. I won a Joint Motion for Remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in 2010; yet, NOONE enforced compliance to the U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling. My file sat on someone’s desk for 7 years. During my recent trip to D.C., I received a call Senior Judge Lawrence B. Hagel, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, had ruled a favorable Memorandum Notice (9 pages long) telling the BVA to expedite and fix their “error.” Dr. Shulkin needs to know – with NO ENFORCEMENT in place mandating the BVA to comply to U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims rulings, Judge Hagel’s favorable Ruling will, again, sit on someone’s desk at the BVA just like the favorable ruling I received in 2010 from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Our youngest son is a Navy Commissioned Officer currently deployed, and the VA does not know my name….I pray Dr. Shulkin will. I have been interviewed on five Podcasts, spoken at Veteran forums, and my 2013 speech in TN is on YouTube. I can be reached anytime on my Cell: . PLEASE CORRECT THE APPEALS PROCESS SO MY FAMILY DOES NOT HAVE TO WAIT ANOTHER 20 YEARS. GOD Bless,
    VA File Number: .
    U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Docket Nos. and

    EDITOR’S NOTE: SENSITIVE INFORMATION REMOVED FROM POST

  129. Susie Belanger February 23, 2017 at 10:22 am

    US Navy Vietnam veterans who served offshore Vietnam , bays and harbors have been abandoned . In 2002, they were stripped of their earned and deserved Agent Orange benefits. Blue water Navy Associaton and Military Veterans Advocacy, Inc. as well as myself have been in the fight for 15 years to restore these benefits. When they took an oath to protect this nation at all costs including their lives, our country made a promise to care for them when they returned. Once again as I saw first hand upon my husband and myself returning to the states in 1968, we were treated horribly. NO WELCOME HOME FOR US. With a stroke of a pen, Sec Shulkin you can correct this injustice before we all die .. They ask only for their earned and deserved benefits, No More, No Less. Thank you for allowing me to be the voice for all these honorable veterans
    Susie Belanger
    Proud wife of US Navy Vietnam Veterans

    • Robert A Buono February 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Thank You Susie for your service to the BWNVV organization. I along with the other 90,000 vets that are part of that group need desperately the help and earned benefits that this issue represents, before we are gone. I am hoping that in this direct session with Sec Shulkin , we will finally see some positive movement on this serious issue.

  130. Ira Johnson February 23, 2017 at 9:55 am

    With the VA needing change in so many areas in order to maximize its effectiveness, how are you going to be able to get the resources that you need to make this happen? From prior discussions you mentioned that you needed to bring on in excess of a thousand top people.At the compensation rate that was mentioned it would be nearly impossible as those people would have to take monumental salary cuts. Additionally, with the limitations on Federal spending how are you going to be able to acquire the funding that is necessary in order for you to lead the changes that are necessary?

  131. Adam Hemsath February 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

    You say you are going to fire “underperforming VA employees.” The VA is already understaffed at many locations across the country. With Donald Trumps hiring freeze, which has already hurt active duty military and veterans alike, how will you get competent, capable employees to fill the jobs vacated by the firing of “underperforming VA employees?” What will be your measurement to identify these “underperforming VA employees?” How will those jobs and the vacant jobs that already exist be filled?

  132. Jean Royle February 23, 2017 at 9:38 am

    When will the Va allow Cannabis theraphy without Hassle from staff, and Blood work etc, especially for those states which legally allow it. There is so much research to prove its benefits, for so many different Medical Issues..

  133. Madison John February 23, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Sec. Shulkin,
    There are hundreds of Veterans from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) residing in their respective home islands. Some of these islands are very remote and due to our geographical location, COFA Agreement (between US and FAS), etc., we have none or very limited benefits. We humbly request assistance in the following programs/benefits:
    1. FSM be included in the Rural Health Programs and Benefits
    2. Job Assistance Programs
    3. Home Loans/Assistance Program
    Thank you

  134. Mark Pendergast February 23, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Will you pls answer my spouses E-mail? It has been weeks waiting during the transition. Thank you!

  135. Alice Arnold February 23, 2017 at 7:54 am

    When will the VAMCs be held accountable for care? And make all VAMCs across the board have the same care? Care is difficult enough to receive and then it is different from location to location.

  136. Marian Vanella February 23, 2017 at 7:39 am

    The myhealth.va.gov blue button is not working with the most current information. I know there is a three day hold for notes, labs, etc. but is not processing the up to date info for visits after the 3 day hold period. I’m sure there is