The Way We See It



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

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

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

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

Author

Alex Horton

Comments

  1. Alice Lynch    

    As a veteran who has been navigating the VA system for the past 25 years, I must say I’ve found my share of frustration in missed appointments because the letter didn’t get to me before the appointment date. I would welcome email conversation with the VA.

    1. Jason    

      I am very glad that the VA has reached out to the world with a blog.

      1. Thomas Hudson    

        My Ending Story of Duty, Honor and Country

        Houston, Texas: I am extremely appreciative of the medical care that I have received from The VA. I had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and have had several operations within the past year. However, there are several issues that are very frustrating and even traumatic.

        I will make several posts concerning them. But, first I will give you a summary of an event that I am unable to get over and focus on my medical condition because no one at the VA will do anything within reason to help me to bring closure. Also, due to this event and the ongoing implications of today’s events I am going compelled to , without any other recourse, discontinue my care and in effect ending my life, as I knew it, as a result of the VA’s in-action and malpractice.

        The event in question had begun in July, 2009. Due to my rare form of cancer the tumors in my liver re-least large amounts of hormones into my system. Because of that my mood swings are drastically affected. I had became suicidal when the mood swing had hit rock bottom. This happen for about three days at a time before the hormones would level out.

        Because of suicidal idealations I began to call the VA Suicide Hotline. I would tell them that I had learned from another veteran that you can buy insulin over the counter without a prescription. I am not diabetic. I had bought insulin and the syringes several times with plans to end my life. The problem was that I have an extreme phobia of needles.

        I then purchased sleeping pills with the idea of using them as a sedative hence enabling me to get the nerve up to stick the need in. Because I do not have any family I would want to talk to someone as if on my death bed while I died. Being very emotional and no one to call I had called the hotline. After several attempts I took the sleeping pills as a sedative and had even had the syringes drawn up ready to go. After taking the pills L had called the hotline just to talk and to tell someone by. Again, I could not stick the needle into myself and experience another anxiety attack.

        The hotline then talked me into going into the Houston VA emergency room since I was outside the hospital. I then went into the ER waiting room and guess what happened? Do you think that I was admitted to the ER and then the hospital? NO!

        I was immediately taken into the VA Police holding cell. Inside there a Lt. FRANK AREVALO kept on calling me a “punk” and telling me that I was attention getting. This went on for hours. I had asked him if I could see a doctor because I was experiencing the effects of the sleeping pills. After telling him that I had taken the pills he stated to me that I was lying and that I had my chance of seeing a doctor and that I was going to jail. At that point I had told him about the empty box of pills and the loaded syringes of insulin laying on my front sit in my car. He had continued to deny me medical attention. He did confiscate the insulin.

        Here I was in a hospital where the Hotline had talked me into going and a overzealous police officer denied me medical attention and maliciously files false information with the Harris County District Attorney to obtain a warrant for “telephone Harassment.”

        Here is an excerpt from the VA Police Report: “I observed a white male, brown hair, glasses wearing a gray t-shirt and blue jeans I knew to be Hudson in the E.R. waiting room. Hudson had been calling Telecare and the National Suicide Hotline stating he wanted to commit suicide numerous times.” “At 2230 hours, Ofc. Gann advised Hudson of his Constitutional Rights which Hudson waived and acknowledged he was using the hotline because he needed someone to talk to.” (Excuse me….1-800-273-TALK) I had been transported the next morning to Harris County Jail and charged with Telephone Harassment. A day later the judge was disturbed (he was a veteran also) and dismissed the charge.

        While in jail my car had been towed. The towed truck driver had stowed my briefcase which had allot of personal important papers. He took my checks and had forged my name and cashes a check while I was in jail. The towing company had me to sign a release of liability which at the time I had no chose because I had no money and needed my car out of empound.

        I had decided that instead of allowing an attorney to file litigation I wanted to try to resolve the issue within side the local hospital. I needed to do that for closure and to move on and focus on my serious medical condition. When I bring this issue up like in mental health I am immediately shut down. I had try to request a meeting within the Director’s office, Consumer Affairs and even with Dr. Marsh. The issue still haunts me today and the Lt Arevalo continues to harass me.

        The purpose of telling this story within this forum is to bring attention to all veterans that calling the Hotline has risks. Do you know what it was like to sleep in a jail tank under the influence of 25 sleeping pills and getting kicked when you don’t hear someone calling you? Do you know what it was like when sitting in a probable cause hearing the inmate next to you had been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a minor? Then, the police report concerning me is read and everyone hears that I am in jail because I was calling a suicide hotline operated by the VA and talking about committing suicide? One big laugh in disbelief!

        To this day no one in the VA cares enough to give me a credible hearing with the hopes of giving me closure. Instead, I get a stone wall. I also do not need a discussion with a police officer from the Houston VA alone. That is like the fox guarding the hen house. Due to my background, the Houston VA Police debating law with me is like a dog catcher telling a General how to fight a war.

        Due to my illness I have to go to chemotherapy and have many other appointments and other procedures and test that I need. Many of my medical supplies are due to run out of refills. I do not have the chance now to go back and do all of this because of what has recently has happen I just can’t continue to go back to this VA. I had mentioned to a VA staff member that all of the issues have effectively ended my life.

        I have recently had learned in one day that one of the tumors in my liver has double in size within 3 months and that my PSA level (prostate) is almost double the normal limit. Due to the tumor problem surgery is not an option anymore and therefore chemoembolization is planned. I am going to try and go to an urologist appointment tomorrow just to see about my prostate which I am extremely scared about considering my family history. After that, notwithstanding an intervention of help from the VA from the national level, I have no hope. My plans now are private but it does not include the VA in Houston. It also does not include calling the hotline ever again with hopes of receiving help after being arrested in a VA emergency room waiting room.

        Just one last question and point: can you imagine that after the VA puts enormous information out in the public domain that there is help and then you come out of a county jail after calling the hotline? I had lost my wife to cancer and then I took care of my dear mother and then she died from Alzheimer’s. After all of that and then walking out of jail I felt like my country had abandon me and that my heart had been ripped out.

        Now, I have to deal with my serious medical condition and the fact that there seems to be no hope of anyone within the VA of helping me to move forward. Also, I now have to worry that I will be arrested again for harassment for simply posting my story on this forum.

        In closing, I DO NOT attack an entire institution due to the actions of a few. I had served in the Army National Guard and in the Air Force active service during the Vietnam Era. I love my country and I love and support the men and woman in uniform and the ones who became Veterans. I just wish that the politicians and the VA would do the same and stop giving lip service when a veteran hurts such as I do because of this situation. Time is short and I invite any ideas of hope that you may have.

        1. Just A Vet    

          Thomas, your story touched me deeply. I would very much like you to contact me at justguy317@yahoo.com. Maybe I can help you think of options you may not have thought of yet. And shame on all of you here for ignoring this mans post. He is screaming for HELP!! Can no one give him the time of day. And VA are you not monitoring this site too?

        2. Caitlin Thompson PhD    

          Thomas, we are very sorry that this happened to you. It sounds like you had a frustrating experience, and we are concerned about you. Please know that we are available to talk with you and all Veterans at any time at the National Veterans Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. We also have an online Chat service available at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/. Caring staff will answer your calls or chats 24 hours a day/7 days a week. We are always available to ensure that you and other Veterans are safe. Wishing you the very best,
          Caitlin Thompson, Ph.D., Clinical Care Coordinator National Veterans Hotline

        3. William Sharp    

          After reading this post I can see that the human factor is still very alive in the world. I am a vet also and I have had some people push me around like trash also. The ego sometimes gets the better hand in situations involving vets. Mostly because we don’t educate the public. The Services do a great job caring for us while in uniform…but the police in general don’t have the training to handle a sick vet. Whoever sent the dogs after this vet should be given a night in the county jail for training…We are our brothers keeper…from the post from the good doctor if Thomas is still with us how is he doing?

        4. Donald Marshall    

          This is the norm I have been fighting my claim for 19 years send letters request additional info loose paperwork request more loose C file, Anyhting to close the claim kept great records and proved that I was timely waiting going on 6 years for claims board. Filed for unemployability can not work waiting just about one year still no answer. Never give up my wife deserves better. So mant physical and mental issues I will be dead before they complete my claim then they can close it for no response.

    2. Joe Orawczyk    

      I agree with Alice on this. Email would be a wonderful tool to embrace in the VA’s attempt to communicate with us veterans, disabled or not.

      1. Brandon Friedman    

        Joe, we’re looking at doing more with email this coming year.

        1. Joe Orawczyk    

          Great news. Thanks. Of course as mentioned elsewhere, the proof is in the pudding. I believe the people who work at the VA have the very best of intentions, but every time there is a shift in political winds, priorities change – as does the funding. The point being don’t make any promises which require you to rely on superiors. For they have superiors too.

    3. Michalene Zulewski    

      Hey Alice, I bet you are the same one I know. All you have to do is call the 800 number any time of the day or night and get your appmts for the following 30 days. It is the same number to call to renew meds.
      Hope all is well with you. Have not seen nor heard from you in a long time.

    4. Alicia Martin    

      I think this is a step in the right direction. I personally waited 3 years to get a desion on my appeal. never mind that I did everything mandated on my part on time. I hope this will improve various areas in the va.

      1. greg johnson    

        Be thankful you recieved an appeal. I requested a BVA and never got it. Never heard from them. No reply’s to ltr’s sent either. Thanks DAV Deny All VETERANS. Thanks GA VA.

      2. William Sharp    

        Three years seems to be the national standard “we make em’ wait” should be the sign parking lot lol!

    5. Eric Roberts    

      That has happened to me several times recently. This is even after they implemented to policy that docs aren’t supposed to make appts without our input…well they weren’t doing it and I would get the notification either after the fact or the day before or not at all…I would get the automated call saying that i have an appt. I can make them if I have enough notice, but the day before is not enough notice. This blog is bug ridden…please fix it or it will be useless. I can’t even see what I am typing right now because the window doesn’t scroll.

    6. Bob    

      Let me start with a heartfelt THANK YOU!I have been in the VA system as a patient in Atlanta,and now in California.I want to express my feelings to the VA.I go to different Doctor!s offices with my fiance in the real world,and it is so glaringly obvious that they ALL have ONLY ONE CONCERN.WHO IS YOUR INSURANCE PROVIDER!!!!!The staffs,generally speaking dont make eye contact and make it so apparent that their job is MAKE SURE THEY HAVE INSURANCE,ARE A NICE BANK ACCT.The VA personnel that I have come in contact with are very personal and strive to make me feel that I am actually a human-being that they care about,not just a patient number on a piece of paper.The health care system in this country could and should make an effort to learn from the VA in this area.Thank you again VA,to all your caring,personal touch personnel,you are setting a great standard.We can only hope that the mainstream healthcare would take time to learn from you.This personal touch can,and I believe does go a long way toward any human beings healing process.

    7. Harless Marcom    

      I have received all of my medical care at the Portland, Oregon VA medical center for about six years now. I cannot express to you how great everyone at the VA has been. Their care for veterans is sincere. I am extremely glad that I chose to make VA my primary care team. THANK YOU VA!

  2. Bob Cerveny    

    I understand your thoughts and welcome them for an easier VA experience. I have had my problems since Nam . But I must also say, the proof will be in the pudding and when it is in my hands and not just another idea that may or may not work

    1. Randy Watson    

      @Bob Cerveny, I too am a VN Vet with Agent Orange problems but the VA has treated me fair and I have received my “Pudding”…so hang in there and YOU will have the pudding in your hands. KEEP FAITH…This is the NEW VA now and things will get much better for all VN Veterans and other veterans in the near future.

      1. greg johnson    

        I’m gald that they are FINALLY taking care of VN’s. I’m a Gulf War Vet. THEY have lied so much in my C&P’s it will never be right. It’s unbelievable the incompentence.

        1. greg johnson    

          I could fill this site with the last eight years I have been faced with dealing with the GA VA and its hospitals. They have done their best to run me off. It’s sad these people get paid to do this. NO OVERSITE WHAT SO EVER.

        2. greg johnson    

          WOW!!!!!!!! I got past two post and haven’t been CENSORed yet.

          I know it coming……

        3. Alex Horton    

          Greg, no censoring here. We want Veterans to say what’s on their minds.

        4. greg johnson    

          Hell Alex. That’s a nice thought.
          Went to the doctor yesterday at the VA. Hospital. As soon as I walked in, I could tell it was on again. No hello, no how are you…. straight to your going to lab. I asked what was the result from the last lab. You have to go to release of info…. YEAH, the same office that told me I was going to “have to pay 15 cents a PAGE” Nice stall tactics… Then I went on to try and explain the real reason I was there, SHE WOULDN’T HAVE IT. She read’s off these statements about me possibly SELLING my meds, and not taking them or going to the back market…..
          WHAT!!!!?????!!!!
          I am having problems GETTING GOOD HEALTH CARE and they think and am selling them. After I told here I had THREE abcessed teeth. She turned, filled out the meds. AND WOULD NOT LISTEN TO ANYTHING ELSE I HAD TO SAY ABOUT MY HEALTH PROBLEMS. I said to her, I am still having problems with my shoulder and arms hurting right here and here….

          SHE SAID, and I quote, “YOU AREN’T HERE FOR THAT”.

          SHE WOULD NOT LET ME GET MEDICAL HEALTH CARE BUT, FOR ONE PROBLEM. Talk about WASTE OF GOVERNMENT RESOURCES.

          NO ONE WILL HELP ME WITH MY PERSIAN GULF ILLINESS AND THE VA IS BEHIND ALL OF IT.

          THEN THEY FOLLOWED ME TO LAB AND MADE SURE I WENT. THEN THEY ESCORED ME TO RELEASE OF INFO.

          THIS IS HEALTH CARE, FAR from it.

          EVERY SINGLE COMPENSATION and PENSION exam is full of errors, that were place in purpose. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

          Some of it is slanderous!!!!!

          I can’t understand why I can only talk to the doctor about one problem PER VISIT??????

        5. Michael Kwas    

          you need to change vs, P&C has always been accurate and fair here at Hayden

        6. greg johnson    

          I started the post as HELLO ALEX not hell….

          would be nice it this blog had an edit for post.

        7. William Sharp    

          Bad doctor no biscuit! I have had only one doctor do this to me…it was on on active duty…I reported him to his supervisor and told him I was doing so…I was changed in the system and never had to see him again…choice in your care is a right! don’t put up with disrespect ever! If required you can ask for congressional help at anytime in the process of a claim…I just left Michigan Bart Stukap’s office was very good. There are others as well on the hill that will make calls on your behalf…it depends on the fight at hand…pick the battle wisely…

  3. Terri Lewis    

    On Friday of this week, my Vietnam Era brother-in-law who developed Parkinson’s disorder in his 30’s, cutting short his hopes, dreams and aspirations, visited the VA Hospital at Ft. Harrison, MT for an Agent Orange evaluation. After years of lingering between lives, the thought that his life will be improved by easing the financial burden for his medical care is appreciated. It was the wonderful electronic environment that allowed him to be alerted to these pending resources. We are grateful for the opportunity to communicate with this organizational behemoth.

  4. David Davis    

    I am glad to see the blog born. It is a step in the right direction. I am satisfied with the care I get from the VA clinic in Columbus, Ohio

    1. Terry Allen Sr    

      I too have had very good care at the VA here in Ohio

  5. Steve Smith    

    I count on the VA for all of my medical care. While not perfect, I know the VA keeps trying. I appreciate the VA reaching out and I am very thankful for the care I do receive.

  6. Joe Orawczyk    

    From your Suicide Prevention page found under the Resources tab is this counter productive observation: “Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide” is an apparent sign of someone who is suicidal. The message being what? Let’s discourage vets needing help from communicating about it for fear of being stereotyped and shunned? I look forward to a blog on this topic!

    1. Alex Horton    

      There’s no hidden message trying to discourage those seeking help. Writing about suicide is a well known sign of suicidal tendencies:

      http://www.suicide.org/suicide-warning-signs.html

      1. Jim Davis    

        I have to disagree. Having been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and hospitalized for suicidal ideation, I have often contemplated an exit strategy. It really helped put things in perspective for me and helped me work thru some of those feelings. While depression is something I will never be 100% cured of, there are things that I have found that make life better. And one of those things was having an honest dialog with myself about death.

        1. Alex Horton    

          You’re right, but I think the line is drawn at some point. On one side you have writing to organize your thoughts into words as a way of a mental release (that sounds like what you have done, and I do as well). On the other side, someone could be writing about death and suicide and feelings of hopelessness that are more of a cry for help than a way to create a dialogue with themselves. I think that is what they mean about it being a warning sign. The difference is intent it would seem

  7. ryan peters    

    As long as the VA continues to use its outdated methods it will continue to be a reminder that wounded warriors are second class citizens. The VA should not wonder what its like to be a wounded warrior they should actually try it sometime. Try losing your job because your injured, Try to afford to take care of your wife and children when you can’t prove your injuries were combat related fast enough. When you do prove it(why should we have to when it happened in Iraq)you find out it will be 10 months later before you see a penny.

    1. Alex Horton    

      As with any organization, you’re going to find people who aren’t dedicated to the mission. It’s just human nature. VA’s mission is to serve Veterans, and after working there for awhile, I’m surprised to see how many Veterans are actually employed and haven’t forgotten what it’s like to take care of their battle buddies. I’m a service connected Iraq Veteran, so you can at least count on me for support, but there are plenty of civilians committed to working for Veterans too. One of them is Lauren Bailey, who will be writing here about technology initiatives.

      1. Lauren Bailey    

        Ryan — your story and others like it are why I came to VA. Looking forward to having a dialouge with you!

  8. ryan peters    

    I wouldn’t do that to a fallen brother, shoot I wouldn’t do that to an enemy combatant. While the VA says we put Veterans first in their propaganda in their action they say you don’t deserve it. They say we will do everything we can to stall you providing for your family and we will suspect your a liar the whole time. The VA director should Try it shoot make up a fake veteran and actually walk through the process. You soon realize that this monster called the VA is not only rude, vague, but worse than that its liable for the suicides that are happening at ever increasing rates by injured vets.

    1. john king    

      When I go to the VAMC for treatment I know that cost is the main factor in my treatment. My access to the system is poor just because of the fact I can’t find parking at my VAMC. I am only 15 miles away but it takes an hour to get to the actual hospital due to having to ride a shuttle bus to the hospital.

    2. greg johnson    

      Ryan, I feel your pain. Man.
      First they diagnose me with all the problems. Then they throw hands full of meds at me. Which I have to PAY for. Then the deny my claims. Because they have lied so much in the records. IF ANYONE WITH A HIGH SCHOOL Education was to compare it to my ACTIVE DUTY Service Record, they would clearly see that, I was in the Gulf, when I stated I was. Unlike what the doctor stated. Then, she, two paragraphs later, states that I was in Bahrain and UAE. Then she states, the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) was doing DRUG RAIDS on ships. Which was done on the first ship I was on. Not the Lincoln. Then she ties the PTSD to a short visit to Bahrain and not to the first ship. So, this proves she was just going back in the records and coping old notes. But got it all screwed up. They have BAITED my record with a “GUN SHOT WOUND”. Guessing they taught I was going to file a claim. Sorry, didn’t work.
      My blood work before the C&P showed multiple H’s and L’s. During C&P, one high. After C&P, multiple high’s and low’s. You tell me what happened. I have had a doctor jump up in my face with her finger and provoke me. Because I wanted to know the result’s from pass bloodwork. You know, the bloodwork they TAKE EVERY VISIT. WHY????? Had a C&P done that I didn’t ask for. Was told it was for Gulf War, but, wasn’t. Then the doctor slandered me. Stating POLY Substance abuse. This is not true. A C&P exam was done, and she stated I have a SOUTHEAST MEDAL….. What is that? I have a SOUTHWEST ASIA SERVICE MEDAL. SO, ANYTHING THAT has to do with my service in the Gulf has been lied about. I could sit here for hours, but, my arms and hands are hurting. THANKS VA for denying me and causeing additional PAIN AND SUFFERING. FRAUD WASTE ABUSE AND NOW DISCRIMINATION. Enough to write a BOOK!

    3. 2TimeCancerpatient    

      Ryan I agree with you absolutely! If it is not in your service records then it never happened according to the VA. I was exposed to asbestos while in the Navy, yet my job as a cook says that I rarely encounter lagging or asbestos if ever, so deny it ever happened. This depsite that I have evaluations and a witness statement saying that I did the job and worked with lagging or asbestos. I called the national VA 800 number and talked to a rep and asked how many witness statements do I need to support my claim and statements that I have provided? All along I was told that one should be more than enough. Then a woman spoke honestly with me and said that the VA Claims Processors as a rule deny a claim at least she does if the Vet provided only one witness, her thinking was that us vets are in colusion and trying to get benefits that we don’t deserve if it is only one witness, but that if there is more than one it is unlikely to get more than one Vet to lie on my or any other Vets behalf. I said why doesn’t the VA then publicize this then, its hard enough to locate one Vet from over 25 years or more, to let alone find a Vet that you served with that can remember you doing a certain assigned task. So I recently as my appeal was not even properly reviewed after waiting 3 years, was able to find another shipmate that remembered myself and other cooks doing what I claimed we were assigned to do. But that’s okay since now the North Chicago VA Regional Office says that it will be another two or more years to have another review of my appeal. Waiting to have my appeal of my original appeal reviewed, sounds like typical VA huh?

  9. Nola Riley    

    I just they would call us before making appointments that we are unable to make because of prior commitments. They get angry when we have to reschedule. Also they blame us when they reschedule us because the doc is out. I sure hope this makes it better. Tomorrow I have a C&P eval for PTSD. It is funny because I was diagnosed with this in 06 and have sent in the paper work. And with the new law. I still have to prove it. What a waste of taxpayer money. It is no wonder we get peed off. Also I have tried to get a job at the VA and have submitted all the paperwork for that and they won’t hire me full time. I work agency there and I am good enough for that. But not good enough for full-time. I hope this new blog works!

  10. Joe Orawczyk    

    Problem with this Comment dialog box. In my last post I noticed it will not wrap around to the next line beyond the first few short lines. Once the box is filled up with text, it does not automatically scroll to the next line. In fact this is not visible to me right now. I have to arrow down to view what I am typing. Try it yourself and then feel free to delete this post.

  11. Brandon Friedman    

    Ok, so we’re now tracking on this issue concerning the comment box. It’s not working correctly with Firefox. We’ll work on getting this fixed ASAP.

  12. Robert Soucy    

    I’m a Nam Vet with nothing but praise to say about the Providence, R,I. VA. My primary doctor sets my appointments with only the most professional health care workers I have ever had the pleasure to meet. A big Bravo Zulu to all involved.

  13. sue demele    

    i think its nice that the VA is stepping up to the 21th century..but im sure it will make things easier for the wounded warriors..but there stil,l alot of VVets that need the VA help…what im concerned about is those being injured now with young families lossing healthcare if that warrior isnt able to work anymore but not considered 100% disabled ..my hubby is 90% disabled and only he has healthcare..but his family meaning me doesnt have medical mainly thru the state says he makes too much for me to get medical and i have fibromyalgia so whos taking care of us spouses who cant get care cause our VETERAN isnt 100% disabled…we spouses and children need medical support since our veteran cant work..
    thanks…lost in paperwork..

  14. Richard Pettit    

    As a Vietnam Veteran, I have put off contacting he VA, so I would have nothing hinder my desire to serve. I made my application online in June and have heard NOTHING since. Reading various posts this is Normal? Wow! So much for computerization and responsiveness. I realize I am one ofmillions, but I am the one affected.

    1. Steven Kraslen    

      Richard, I guess it depends on your location. I am in Illinois and use the North Chicago VA Hospital. I applied in Nov of 07 and had my first appoint ment in Dec 07. I now use one of their out-patient clinics for most of my appointments and transfered my primary care to that clinic. Hope you hear from them soon.

  15. Ann Shack    

    I really recommend everyone check out the My HealthE Vet website. Register from any computer, then visit your VA’s Pt Ed dept or ROI office to upgrade the acct (called In-Person Authentication). You can refill meds online, organize your health info (& access from anywhere). Some VA’s allow you to send secure msg (like e-mail) to your VA staff (the other VAs are coming soon). Viewing lab results & VA appt schedule is also coming in ~3/2011. http://www.myhealth.va.gov/

    1. Steven Kraslen    

      Ann, I also use My HealthE Vet and can’t wait for the email service to go active for my facility. Recommend that all Vets with computer access us ethis service

  16. William Eldrich    

    Some of my Dr.’s are allowing e-mail contact and it has been awesome.

    1. Randy Watson    

      As with me contacting my VA Doctor, I have always been able to send a Fax with what ever I need, whether it be an appt, or need refills on my meds. Then about two hours after sending a fax, I get a call from the Nurse.

  17. jason Shattuck    

    Iv been out of the Marines since 2002, however just this year in April I put my 1st claim in, I some how thought the VA was for Marines and other Vets that had been injured in war only. If it was not for a Vietnam Vet also a Marine I would have never even known just what PTSD is and I would not have know about the claim at all.
    Im still waiting on my 1st claim, I called the VA to find out about my claim, and after calling 5 times, I got a person, to tell me that they lost some kind of paper work.

    I guess, I am writing, because I want to believe in the VA, but I see massive ways of improvement.

    Have you ever called the VA? I have heard too many vets say this and I believe it “You don’t call the VA, you wait for them to call you and you better not miss the call”

    1. Alicia Martin    

      As a Vet and as a VA employee there are times when I have a hell of a time getting through to where I need to get to but the key is persistance! I’ve also found out a lot of valueable information comes from our older Vets. When you see them in the waiting area talk to them, share the knowledge! I would have long given up on my claim if it hadn’t been for a Vet telling me what he knew.

    2. Paul Szoldra    

      Oh they lost your paperwork? No way. That’s so odd. That never happens!

    3. Pam/TPA OEF/OIF Clinic    

      Jason – If you haven’t connected with the Marine Wounded Warrior Regiment Advocate in your area, please go to http://www.woundedwarriorregiment.org/
      and see if they can assist you. When the Marines say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine” they really mean it; you’d be surprised how helpful they are.

  18. jason Shattuck    

    I think my biggest complaint, with the VA is it really seems that either no one, cares about there job/you or know one knows about there job. I hate asking questions, because I can ask 4 workers and get 4 totally different answers to my question. Or they will look at you like a dear in the head lights.

    IDK what the fix is, but I just want to see if this things works and if someone is gonna read it or not.

    1. Brandon Friedman    

      Jason, try eBenefits. After registering, you should be able to find out the status of your claim. Here’s the link: http://www.ebenefits.va.gov

      1. keoni delacruz    

        @Brandon…..I tried the eBenefits online thing and it will not let you see certain things. I called the 800 customer service number and had to give all kinds of information to be sent to the supervisor then to DOD. I am still waiting to be authenticated to view my claim status even though they say we have to be enrolled in DEERS. I am in DEERS but in an inactive status due to my being discharged in 2004 with a service connected disability of 20% which I am awaiting reults of my C&P exam to raise the percentage due to the military telling me they would not medical retire me after 13 years of service but that VA would take care of me.

      2. Dave Bristol    

        MyHellthevet portal to eBenefits is always out of order

        Sigh.

      3. Melinda    

        @Brandon, I have been trying to register for the ebenefits page, as I already have a myhealthevet acct and have already been authenticated in person..but everytime I go to the portal to register through healthevet, it says it is under maintenance and to check back in a few days, i have been trying to do this since the ebenefits page started, are they going to fix this issue so we can register for ebenefits, without having to go through the in person authentication again!!! I live 45 minutes away from my satellite VA clinic and 2 and a half hours away from my main VA clinic, its not that easy to go through the in person authentication!

      4. jason Shattuck    

        I have enrolled, with them. I have to go to the VA regional office which is an hour away to be “authenticated” unless the VA Hospital that I go to normally, can do it, They did it for the healthyevet.

        Thank you for your reply Ben

        1. jason Shattuck    

          @ Brandon Friedman

          Ok, so to get a premium account I have to be “authenticated” which I am for myhealtyevet.com
          I followed the link that is on the ebeinfets page, it says under construction,
          I called the 800 number, that it gives, they gave me a new link, I followed, that and it is now saying “page flow error”

          So now what do I do, is it something that will be resolved soon?

    2. doug noble    

      So true, when I call the regional office to get a verification the answers are always different.

    3. Jim Davis    

      One of the worst things I was told by my social worker at the VA in JC, TN was that “no one here gives a D@#^ about you”. This is not something that vets want to hear coming from the people who are supposed to be helping us.

    4. john king    

      Go to Hadit.com on the web and go to the discussion forum. You can find out how to win your claim. I never heard of TDIU until I went to hadit. A year later I had it. Did you know that a TDIU vet with an extra 60% can get housebound SMC. That is an extra $300 bucks a month.

  19. doug noble    

    just a test
    is mail email?
    what is website?

    1. Alex Horton    

      Yes, the mail field is for your email address. Don’t worry, we won’t send you anything or track it. The website field is for you to put your website address if you have one. Then people can click on your name and go there.

    2. doug noble    

      how do we get here other than thru FB? va.gov? then what?

      1. Alex Horton    

        Type in http://www.blogs.va.gov in your browser. Then bookmark it for later so you don’t have to type it in again.

  20. doug noble    

    Went to ebenefits to register, and I got a pin,but says there is a security risk and won’t let me activate, now what?

  21. doug noble    

    at the bottom of this page it says done,but with errora on page, now what?

    1. Alex Horton    

      Sounds like it’s a problem with your browser, but we’ll look into any issues with eBenefits. I just got into my account just fine.

      1. doug noble    

        how do i change or fix my browser?

  22. chekawa    

    I’m another Nam Vet with nothing but praise for the West Haven, CT. VA and the Providence, R.I. VA. Both units have gone beyond the normal in attending to my health and saving my life.

    1. Steve Whitmore    

      Location, location, location. Seems to apply to VA facilities too. The Providence, R.I. VA facility is first rate in all categories except perhaps too few staff for the demand for services. My hat is off to them for dedicated service under difficult challenges.

  23. Ed Hill    

    In the over three years I have been going there,I have received excellent care from the Northern California VA Hospital at Mather Field. I just wished they offered full dental benefits to everyone.

    staff to be concerned, caring

    1. Terry Allen Sr    

      I get the VA dental benefits and have been waiting for new dentures for over 6 Mo

  24. Bill    

    I too think that VA healthcare is generally pretty good. You have to pro-active however. My main complaint is the lack of communication. I filed a claim in March 2010 and have left 1/3 dozen messages with the RO to call me back with no response whatsoever.

  25. Thomas Talbert    

    Hope this works. I tried to sign up for evet. Filled out the paper work, watched to video, went to local V.A. to sign up. I was number five in line . Waited forty minutes and was still number five in line. I went home.

  26. Dave Bristol    

    Try dealing with the Orlando VAMC fee basis office and you will find real frustration

  27. James F. Widener    

    Back in 1998 I went into dept for health care because I was not aware that prostate cancer was Agent Orange related.

  28. Keno Phillips    

    I am glad to see that the VA has come around to the era of new ways of communicating with the Veterans and getting to know each one of us and getting a better understanding of what each veteran is looking for to get out of the VA as in treatment and communicating with there local VA doctor.

  29. James    

    I don’t care how I’m contacted, I just want my claim to be processed.

  30. John    

    Brandon: What is taking so long for all of the VA Hospitals to join the VA site?

    1. Brandon Friedman    

      Which site do you mean? They’re all on VA.gov. Here’s the link:

      http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/division_flsh.asp?dnum=1

      1. John    

        Brandon: Sorry< I was not clear enough. I was talking about facebook at the following:
        /www.facebook.com/VeteransHealth?v=app_7146470109#!/VeteransHealth?v=app_10442206389

        1. Brandon Friedman    

          Ok, got it. It actually takes a while to get the medical centers the resources they need to launch social media sites. So, at this point, we’re launching around 3-4 medical centers per week. We’ll get there. . .just keep checking back.

  31. Nicholas    

    Give Veterans Dental Care! If you agree and like this repost it on every VA post! I have been emailing Senators, Congressman and the President to have them introduce dental care as part of the standard VA Health Care System, and I encourage you too. Only a small number of veterans qualify for the dental care coverage offered today.

    1. Lauren Bailey    

      Nicholas, perhaps you should consider submitting a guest post about dental care and Veterans. More information about submitting guest posts is in our right hand column.

    2. George    

      i think all vets should get dental care va is not very clear on this matter. vietnam vet with 30% disability whaiting on claim for ihd agent orange related would i still be able to get dental care with a copay or would there be no dental at all?

  32. Nancy    

    A great business idea for vets who want out is a 29,000 sq ft former hotel with 11 finished apartments, an unfinished third floor, and a commercial restaurant and retail space on the ground floor. Basement space too for a private club in this dry community of Meade, Kansas. Check out the Lakeway Hotel for transitional housing or other cooperative business venture ideal for veterans.

  33. MSgt Foster, USAF, RETIRED    

    This open communication channel is vital if the VA is serious about changing from advisary to advocate. It is essential in this day and age to have open contact with those rare breed of people who have defended our nation and were exposed to many harmful chemicals, environments and of course hostile fire. TRUTH, RESPECT, OPENNESS AND FAIRNESS is a requirement of this open communication. Let’s start with AGENT ORANGE shall we. DoD and Congress do not want to be honest and continue concealment and denial where AO was used and when it was used. I highly recommend the establishment of a VA Veterans AO commission to establish records of use and time periods of Agent Orange outside of Vietnam. STOP PLAYING WITH DISASTER BY DENYING VETS WHO ARE DYING OF IT AND THE VA GOING TO THE JSRRC WHO HAVE NO RECORDS OF AIR FORCE BASES. PLEASE STOP SENDING AO CLAIMS TO JSRRC.

  34. Len Griffin    

    Communications problems. Most of my care at VA Hospital has been very good. The main problem is getting or leaving information. At the Atlanta VA hospital it is not too bad contacting a clinic. My provider is almost impossible. Called Oakwood Clinic and placed on automatic hold for 30 minutes at a time til I hung up. Are they really that busy? Is anyone assigned to answer the phone?
    Called TAPP, clinic never responded. Sent a FAX again no response. I really don’t want to drive down to the clinic 35 miles away to ask a question. Soon e-mail will be started there I hope.

  35. Jeff    

    While having an appointment, I found out the next days appointment had been canceled. So I went to patient advocate and filed a complaint. I still don’t know if anything happened as a result of that.

  36. Randy Watson    

    @Brandon….How hard would it be to have the Nehmer Claims added to the Ebenefits “Check Status of Claims”. My claim and appeals have all been adjudicated with a favorable decision, but however, I’m presently under Nehmer Review for an earlier effective date for my IHD claim due to the new presumptive of IHD and AO Exposure.

    1. Terry Allen Sr    

      Add me to that same list Im in the same boat as you

  37. Karen Meter    

    I think the Vietnam Era and in-country vets feel they don’t matter to the VA. Everyone falls all over OIF and OEF and WWII vets, but, we’re the “bad boys” of the veteran community. We’re dying in record numbers, too. Acknowledge our contribution.

    1. Alex Horton    

      Karen, the new presumptions for Agent Orange go a long way to righting the wrongs Vietnam Veterans have suffered:

      http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=1991

      1. paul satlowski    

        Alex big deal the youngest Vietnam vet is 53. from my inf.co there are 29 alive last year we had 8 lung removals and 6 by passes thats 14 out of 29 amost 50%.I myself have dietetics and heart problem the dr at U of M in Ann arbor said its AO and i have 2 veins that cannot be repaired due to gunshot scaring .So dont talk for us unless you are us

        1. Alex Horton    

          Paul, you are welcome to submit a guest post so you can speak on behalf of Vietnam Veterans. I don’t speak for anyone except VA and myself.

    2. George    

      Karen we have always been labeled the baby killers and spit on by those that we sacrificed every thing for hopfully things are changing its time for them who did to start paying the bill for what we have earned if that means they have to keep working the rest of their lives and not retire so be it

    3. Bob Ventrella    

      Karen,
      I know you! Yes the new Veterans are being treated with kid gloves. I ama counsellor at FFSO Gt Lakes. BUT the guys like me who were in Vietnam (at least at the NCVAMC) are treated with respect, and professionalism equal if not better than any civillian Hospital. The problem I see is in claims. There is a delay and a 100 day window for developement is innaccurate. I can do a PDD (for a new retuernee) 90 days before separation and have an approval before separation. I cannot do this for a Vietnam vet nor any other conflict. AgentOrange is a man made Plague! Not onlyt our vets BUT thousands of Vietnamese children who have this wonderful legacy. All of us must do our claims accurately! Provide evidence so they can go through.

      1. Redcatcher    

        The dismissal of Vietnam Veterans as relevant is bigger than the VA. I hear news reports nearly daily that make PTSD, Suicide and TBI new problems. Experience counts!

  38. Tammy Hurley    

    Glad to see my VA moving forward with technology and communications.

    1. Randy Watson    

      @Tammy, We can Thank Dr. Peter Levin “Team Peter” and Secretary Shineski. And just watch, there will be more new programs and ways to Benefit ALL VETERANS to include us Vietnam Veterans. I have the utmost confidence that everything will get better.

      It’s already been proven with the new Agent Orange Fast Track, Ebenefits and other new programs for PTSD and other disabilities.

      1. Terry Allen Sr    

        Randy I have been having no luck in getting on line with the EBenefits program at all and is Fast Track just for the new case files or for the Nehmer ones too?

        1. Randy Watson    

          @Terry…As far as the Ebenefits site, it may be under maintenance right now. I was on there earlier and did not have any problems.

          As to the New Fast Track, that’s designed for 1st time claims under the new presumptive diseases added to the Agent Orange list. It does not have anything to do with Nehmer Cases or if you had already filed a claim prior to Fast Track being activated.

  39. Terry Goodbody    

    I have tried to upgrade my eBenefits so I can get at my claim. I did the in person verification through MyHealth but for over two weeks it says the system is down for maintenance so that doesn’t work what does?

  40. Joyce Drake    

    My husband was VN era veteran, he was partially diabled.Then he was tested for anget orange,Positive. He was treated and considered totally diabled form Post Traumatic Stress. He recieved a pension for his diability but when he applied for the other parts of the claim he was told that he would be recieving total benefits. He passed away before the VA finished his paperwork so his wife and two children were denied those benefits and were not told offically but just the let know not to rock the boat because they would lose all benefits.

  41. DeDe    

    I just started working at the VA in WV and was amazed that Veterans were not being able to sign up for e-mails or get info out to Veterans thru Facebook or the other options available. The older Veterans coming into our office seem not to have computers and they like to have face-to-face contact with a VSO. We don’t see many young Veterans come in but I always give them the VA.gov address. I say, the faster the information gets to the Veterans, the faster they can be helped.

  42. Steve Louzensky    

    Thailand Vet 71-72.First heart attack at 37. Since IHD,CAD,PAD,Neuropathy,Prostate Cancer.All denied, yet the Gov admits to herbicide use in Thailand. Afraid I’ll die before approval.Why no prsumptives for Thailand?

  43. Susan    

    It seems like I have been fighting for Jim’s rights for years. He is a totally disabled veteran (wheelchair bound) and it took many long months to get his certification thru. The one good thing is that he gets outstanding care at the VA medical center in Martinsburg, WV but whenever we have to deal with the regional office in Baltimore, MD I just want to cry sometimes. We did have one or two people there who helped us, but it seems like nobody is there to monitor the end results. We actually had a contractor who did work to accomodate Jim’s wheelchair and it will cost us at least $11,000 to redo it right. The sad part is that the VA has already paid this contractor and then basically deserted us and left us with a real mess. Why Didn’t they protect us from this??? I still don’t understand how this could happen.

  44. Bert Gooch    

    I have an issue with the VA Direct Deposit line. I need to change my direct deposit and for the last week and a half I have called the 1-800 number and received the recording that “we are sorry but due to a large volume of callers we cannot take your call at this time”. I have called different days and times and still have not talked with anyone. Is there a solution to this?

    1. Randy Watson    

      @Bert, Don’t call the standard 800 number. Go to this website and it will give you a different number to call or do everything online. Hope this helps
      http://www.vba.va.gov/ro/muskogee/dd.htm

  45. Donna    

    My case was remanded to the Atlanta VA….it is has been 2 years, and I have not heard anything. I am afraid if I die while waiting my dependents will not get what they deserve

  46. Terry Allen Sr    

    @ Randy dose the VA have a web site that I can check on my case file for AO under the Nehmer

    1. Randy Watson    

      @Terry, No they don’t. I had asked Brandon if there was some way they can add the Nehmer Cases to Ebenefits so as we can check the status of our Nehmer Claims. So right now about all you can do is call the 800 # to check the status, But if anyone else knows a different way to check these claims, please post it.

      1. Terry Allen Sr    

        Thanks for trying anyway. oh ya dont forget to change your time for this site

  47. Tim Taylor    

    I recieved a call from my VA NCM 2 months before my retirement date and it blew my mind, Tuskegee, AL VA. I sent a email in to check on my Quick Start Claim and got a call the next Morning, I have been pleased with the VA in Tuskegee, Al they seem like they care about us Vets.

  48. yonkeltron    

    Offload some of this to the developer community. Create some sort of an API to schedule appointments or get data or anything. Open the API up to the world and you’ll be amazed how many developers will volunteer their time to help veterans.

    1. Lauren Bailey    

      Yonkeltron, you couldn’t be more right. I have so exciting news about how private industry is using technology to help us advance the quality of care Veterans receive at VA.

  49. Tim Closson    

    The VA is run by crimanals who don’t give a damn for the veterens they are supposed to be caring for. http://www.wkrg.com/alabama/article/wounded-iraq-war-vet-recounts-struggle-to-get-help/1189487/Nov-06-2010_4-16-pm/

    1. Lauren Bailey    

      Tim, are you related to the Veteran in this story you cited? We would love to have him submit a guest piece.

  50. Dwayne Showell    

    I very please that VA is coming into the 21st century using the latest technologies. Coming from a desert shield/storm vet who was treated poorly so went to civilian side for care. This will help the next generation of military personnel!

  51. Dave Stevens    

    I have recently become eligible for VA medical coverage (Viet Nam era vet with lower income). I have been pleasantly surprised with my experience in enrolling in the program. I used the VA website to sign up and had no issues. I also like the MyHealthVet web access for things like refilling meds. Keep it up.

    1. Lauren Bailey    

      Dave, I’m so happy to hear that MyHealtheVet has been helpful! We have exciting news about HealtheVet technology coming soon! Thanks for reading!

  52. Chris A    

    Congrats on launching the blog. I hope it serves as a great tool for many Vets and their families.

  53. James N. Smith    

    I’ve been in the VA system for almost 10 years now and have had very few problems. Most of my negative issues were not with the system but with people who don’t really care, and those have been rare.

  54. Lloyd E.    

    The VA needs to recognize service conection for vets with Hepatitus contracted from air guns used to give imunizations in the sixties and seventies. I am sure there are alot of vets being denied there service conection.
    Many thanks for providing a forum to make our issues public.

  55. Mitchell bagwell    

    I have been waiting on a claim from April 2010 and still no anwsewer about my claim or my temp 100% Does anyone know how I can find out besides calling the 1800 number

  56. J. Don    

    Recently I had my back operated on, removing the limbra from the L5-S1 disc. My question is. How does this poeration effect my 50% VA disability? Since it was done by Tricare. I was under the impresition that it would raise my disability rating. How do I go about informing VA. about this surgery?

  57. almoore    

    I’m a service connected disabled veteran. When I was boarded out of the Army I was never told of the VA. A month or so after my discharge I received a letter telling me that my disabilty had improved and that instead of medical retirement I would get a one time payment of disability severence pay. Not long after that I suffered a relapse and wound up in a VA hospital where a claim was filed on my behalf. Since then the VA has cut my rating down from 100% permantly and totally disabled to 10%, all without any kind of exam or re-evaluation. I don’t care so much about myself, I’ll get by but what about all of the disabled vets that aren’t improving that are getting their ratings cut?

    1. almoore    

      I forgot to mention, once my VA claim was approved I had to pay back the disabilty severence pay.

      1. Melinda    

        wow, i didnt know that you have to pay back the disability severance pay. I got out of the Navy back in 2004, and was told I was service connected, but with no rating. They gave me the severance pay also. After that I had to have surgery that Tricare paid for, and now 6 years later, I am still having problems with my disability. I have just registered with VA healthcare about 6 months ago. I was told that before I redo my claim for benefits that I need to BUILD a claim with the VA hospital to show more evidence. I have also been told that hardly no-one gets rated on the first try, Im not sure how true this is, but its what I have heard) Im just trying to figure out what I should do, wait and get more evidence or go ahead and try again.

        1. almoore    

          I didn’t even have to try. I probably should have been transferred from WRAMC straight in to a VA hospital but they just discharged me and sent me home to fend for myself. When I had my relapse I went to a local hospital and they referred me to a VA hospital.

  58. Chester Crump    

    I am happy to see that the VA is starting to attempt to keep up to date on the veterans they serve. It is a good beginning. First to the blog writer, when you start of by saying something to the effect of ‘veterans some which have been combat tested like Iraq and Afghanistan, ‘ you are forgetting that there are still Veterans of Kroea and VietNam that are still having to fight for thier benifits. Don’t write us off like the pepole did when we came home. It was not a welcome site to see.

    1. Alex Horton    

      Chester, didn’t mean to disrespect any Veterans. My point was that there are many Veterans to take care of within the VA system, and as long as Iraq and Afghanistan continue,the number will keep on growing. I haven’t forgotten about those eras – my grandfather, a Korean War Veteran, speaks about it every time I talk to him. My Vietnam War Veteran uncle is the same.

      1. Chester Crump    

        Alez thanks for the responce, it is appreciated. But I hope that you see my point that if you are going to generically make reference to combat personnel, then be sure that you mention ALL combat confilcts not jus the ones that are going on.

  59. Jim Davis    

    Having just left a VA domicilliary after a one year stay, I was amazed that local employees were unable to decipher the fact that I was an inpatient there. I had requested a ciopy of my medical records in preparatio nfor a change in locale. After having not recieved them one month later, I checked with ROI. They informed me they sent the records to my old address from two years earlier. When I attempted to have that address removed, I was informed that they could not change it. It seems that no one knew how I could get that accomplished and to this day, I am not sure if it ever has been done. While it is nice to see the VA start to come into the modern age with a blog, it is still a long way from being where it needs to be to effectively serve the needs of veterans.

    1. Denise Amundson    

      Jim,
      When you do get those records in your hands, I encourage you to make yourself a copy so that you don’t have to keep retracing your steps. If you can, find a friend with a scanner to digitize them and put them on a CD or portable flash drive. I cannot tell how many times I have dealt with inattention to detail and this will save you much time.

      You can also submit a form for the address change if what they claim is true about sending it to an old address.
      The Form number is VA-Form 20-572. Again, fill it out, sign it and make several copies!!

  60. jim spivey    

    I think this is a step in the right direction . Can never get throughto my doctor at Atlata Va. Jim

  61. Rick Hegdahl    

    Hello to Brandon, Alex and Lauren.

    Good to see you all creating the new blog to increase access for all vets.

    Best wishes to you all.

    Rick

    1. Chester Crump    

      this is true. However the Veteran has been working on it for quiet some time as it appears. There is NO EXCUSE for it.

  62. Natalie    

    I believe in anything that will improve the lives of our veterans. This blog is a wonderful start. Thank you!

  63. Jennifer Horton    

    Is this for the VA Education (Ch 30) benefits also, or just medical? I have had soooo many problems with my education benefits since the end of 2009 and they are still not straight. I had to get my Congressman’s office involved, and even then, there were huge wait times in getting anything done on the part of the VA. I have incurred large debts and severe financial strain because of this and still the benefits office acts like a wait of a few months is not a big deal. It’s now been 11 months without them getting it right. For a single parent like myself who relies on this money to go to school and support myself and my child, it is detrimental. I would like there to be some better organization and better communication on that end of things so that it doesn’t happen to me any longer and so that no one else has to go through what I’ve been going through, and still am going through.

  64. Jason Kahl    

    Please post the current questions for disabled Veterans to get a Mobility Appointment, everyone should see how impossible it is to get adaptive equipment that works off the sidewalk.. This is nuts I just had to spend $5200.00 on a power scooter that works outdoors

  65. Luis Concepcion    

    After working for this organization for a year and a half in what I think is one of the most grueling jobs I’ve ever had, I can tell anyone, without compromise, that the VA truly cares about Veterans, widows, and dependants. The organization has just been handed a tough deck of cards. Every claim that reaches the VA, whether to a Pension Management Center, a Regional Office, or a VA Medical Facility, has URGENCY attached to it. Now, multiply this by millions and millions of customers, just about all with an intense need, and you get this impression that stakeholders may have. I know the organization is not perfect and has plenty of room for improvement but I refuse to see this glass half-empty. I really believe the VA is doing the best possible job under the existing legal structure limiting the organization. I can also understand how individual urgencies will make someone who’s been waiting 6 months or more for the resolution of their claim want to complain/want the system improved upon. I get it. But to say that the organization is uncaring? I think is way more than a stretch. This from my point of view.

  66. Mike Smith USN (Ret)    

    As Obama says’If you are a Christian, a Soldier, or a Hunter You are probably a Terrorist” I don’t see how the Veterans Admin can get anything accomplished with a person like this in charge.

    1. Stan Lukas    

      To Mike and Lawrence:
      I see the VA making great strides since President Obama’s election, and since his appointment of General Shinseki to head the VA. I am a combat wounded Vietnam Veteran, and I receive outstanding medical care at the Providence, RI VAMC, and the Hyannis, MA Outpatient Clinic. The staff at the VR&E in Providence are also great. My only negative experience with the VA is the slow and cumbersome claims process. The current administration treats veterans with compassion and dignity. Past leadership was more concerned with saving money (Send ’em to some God-forsaken place to get screwed up, and then to Hell with them when they come back). We’re fortunate to have President Obama and General Shinseki.

  67. Mike Smith USN (Ret)    

    My son started going to school using his post 9/11 GI Bill. He was not told that he has to get his teachers to verify that he is going to class every semester, when they have to sign in when they go to class, and the VA rep can get a copy of this to submit for school funds. Now he hasn’t been paid for 3 months and he gets letters that he needs to submit the letters from the teachers after he has already submitted them. He can’t get unemployment sine he is going to school, so his allowance is all he has to live on and take care of his 2 kids. Why are they only paying the housing allowance for the days you go that month. The rest of the month you need to live on the street?

  68. Robert Hill    

    It’s amazing how a VA hospital that has been around since 1969 cannot accomodate our Veterans in wheelchairs, electric scooters or those Veterans who are larger in size in the Cafeteria Dining Room. A suggestion to improve this 5 years ago was piled under a stack of excuses. Even today when more of our Veterans utilize electric wheelchairs or scooters to get around of facilities, they can’t even sit down and eat a meal beacuse there is no place for them to sit down and eat without having to go to the other side of the hospital. HOW SAD !!

  69. Don    

    I’m new to blogging (I’m a diabled veteran and VA employee), so is there a way to categorize the content of these blogs? For example, if veterans wish to write about just the VA disability claims process, all related responses would fall under that topic, and not be blended together with all the other issues (VA health care, education, agent orange, etc…) being discussed. This would make it easier for veterans to follow specific issues of interest to them, and allow VA to categorize responses and learn from them more easily. Just a thought.

    1. Dan Goff    

      On the VA facebook page, there are discussion forums where specific issues are posted.
      You’re right, though, as I read the blog people are posting different subjects and not sticking to the original thread topic.

  70. Robert Hill    

    One issue that is a problem within the VA system is that many of those in poistions of Higher Authority within the Medical Centers ARE NOT Veterans. This should be a MANDATORY requirement for any Executive Level Personnel. What a difference it would make if Administration actually understood what it is like to be a Veteran and what frustrations Veterans feel. There should be more Veterans also employed in Direct Care positions. How can you relate to your patients if you have no idea of what they have been through. The lack of desire to find out more about our Veterans military history is absolutely essential in developing a better plan of treatment. Our Veterans are Living History, that our children will read about or that we have read about in history books.

  71. Bryan Briskey    

    I have nothing but praise for the VA healthcare. They have been takingreally good care of me. But the regional office is a diffrent story, when i was discharged i recieved a disability severence pay, which was paid back in full in March 2010 after 3 audits and help from a local Senators office they still cant find the mistake. I contacted debt management and they found pay errors in less tahn 15 minutes but they stated that i have to go through my regional office. Va owes me alot of money, but i cant get then to see the mistakes. does anyone have any suggestions? I also contacted DAV and they were no help (the local DAV office told me to handle it myself)

    1. john king    

      I was at the Tampa VAMC last week to use the pain clinic. While I waited for the usual urine screen for illegal drugs a vet dropped dead in the waiting area. We are packed in their like sardines. The pain clinic is great as long as you don’t have pain. I went there years ago asking for celebrex and they gave me morphine instead because it is cheap.

    2. Joseph A    

      Brian,

      Ask the VA Benefits Office to do a Financial audit of your VA Compensation. It may take a couple of months but they will get to the bottom of it. Also, the VA takes the gross payment for severance pay unless you provide a LES that shows the taxes that were deducted. Maybe that is the problem. Hope this helps.

  72. charlotte freifeld    

    As a disabled vet I’ve been in the VA health care system for more than 12 years and for the most part the care has been very good. Recently some progress has been made with e.health records and I know there’s more on the horizon. I’m looking forward to being able e.mail my doc and look up my appointments on line. I’m hopeful.

  73. Lawrence R Lilly Gurley, AL    

    I am 100% and have been going to the Birmingham, AL VA since 77. Will have my 30th surgery in Jan. I also use the Huntsville VA. All of my Dr’s and Surgions, all nurses and even the clerks have treated me with the highest respect that I could ever ask for. Most vets that I talk to are well satisfied. I pray every night that there were no classes of disabilities. All vets should recieve the same benefits.

  74. Willie Putteet    

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

  75. Will    

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

    1. Will    

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

  76. Bob Ventrella    

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

  77. Bob Ventrella    

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

  78. AL OWENS, VN VET    

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

  79. retiredat44    

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

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

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

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

  80. Tom    

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

  81. Joe Average Vet    

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

  82. Jon H    

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

  83. AL, VN VET    

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

  84. Terry Allen Sr    

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

    1. Joseph A    

      Terry,

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

  85. Bre B    

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

    1. retiredat44    

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

    2. Denise Amundson    

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

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

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

  86. Mary Hall    

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

    1. Tim Sorrell    

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

  87. William Gordon    

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

  88. Terry Allen Sr    

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

  89. John Buono    

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

    1. Dan Goff    

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

  90. Thomas    

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

    1. Kathleen    

      Thomas,

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

      1. Thomas    

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

  91. Stanley K Wright    

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

  92. PWC    

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

    1. Jerry Sisemore    

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

  93. Al Comeau    

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

  94. Frank    

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

  95. Allan    

    many forms are asking for our email addresses already.

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

  96. Robin A. Schmidt    

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

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

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

    Robin Schmidt

    1. Joseph A    

      Robin,

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

  97. Allan    

    John Buono,

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

  98. Fred Foskey    

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

  99. bella    

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

  100. Steve    

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

    Thanks!

    Steve

  101. Mike Rickey    

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

  102. robin temple    

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

  103. Michael E. Anderson    

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

    1. Mark Chamberlain    

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

      1. Tim Sorrell    

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

  104. Thomas    

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

  105. Charles Stamper    

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

    1. William D. Caddell    

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

      1. retiredat44    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        1. retiredat44    

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Wendy McIntosh    

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

  106. William D. Caddell    

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

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

  107. David Davis    

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

    1. Alex Horton    

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

  108. doug noble    

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

    1. Doug Noble    

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

  109. Greg Marshall    

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

  110. Mary Hall    

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

  111. Terry    

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

    1. Raymond Taylor    

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

      1. Terry    

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

  112. David Kessler    

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

  113. Wendy McIntosh    

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

    1. Alex Horton    

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

    2. William D. Caddell    

      Wendy,

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

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

  114. Keith Allen    

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

  115. Jenna R. Aquila    

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

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

  116. Shannon Champ    

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

  117. Miguel A. Rodriguez-Estrada    

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

    TO NO AVAIL.

  118. David Gordon    

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

  119. RoN Maret (r.maret@sbcglobal.net    

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

  120. Heather Kutie    

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

  121. retiredat44    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Greg West    

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

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

  122. Solfine    

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

  123. DAN CLARK    

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

  124. Greg West    

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

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

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

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

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

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

    HOOYAH! DVA
    HOOYAH! Honoraable Secretary
    JOB WELL DONE!

    West
    United States Navy
    Disabled/Retired

    1. Mark Chamberlain    

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

  125. Jerry Sisemore    

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

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

    Your Honorable Shinseki.

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

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

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

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

    to be stripped of the title as well?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    clear of the ship.

    We were awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon

    and a Meritorious Unit Medal.

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

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

    to?

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

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

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

    served our country just the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    that they deserve and earned????

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Blue Water Navy??

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

    Thank You

    Jerry Sisemore

    (Vietnam War Veteran)?

    ( or Vietnam Era Vet)?

    __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

  126. Ron Ouellette    

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

  127. Maurice Wyman Scott    

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

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

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

  128. Maurice Wyman Scott    

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

  129. Thomas    

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

    1. 2TimeCancerpatient    

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

  130. Mark Tressel    

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

    1. Mark Chamberlain    

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

  131. Eric Ammon    

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

  132. Michael Colyer    

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

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

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

    Respectfully,

    Michael D. Colyer

    1. Joseph A    

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

  133. Alan Oates    

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

  134. Joseph A    

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

    1. David Gordon    

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

  135. Ralph Miller    

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

  136. Wallace Rapp    

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

  137. 2TimeCancerpatient    

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

    1. Mark Chamberlain    

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

  138. Mark Chamberlain    

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

  139. Just Craig    

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

  140. Rene R. Ortega    

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

    1. Alex Horton    

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

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

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

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

      1. Terry Bowman    

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

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

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

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

  141. gary    

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

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

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

  142. Business IT Service    

    Hello I am so delighted I found your blog, I really found you by mistake, while I was looking on Search Engine for something else, This message are obviously from your personal experience. It’s a authentic and fantastic for anyone. I will remain awhile for your message. Really I am impressed with your message content. Keep up the great work. I will bookmark your blog and have my friends check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else . I respect you from the core of the heart.

  143. Carlos Simmons    

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

  144. Nick    

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

  145. Austin Dentist    

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

  146. Barbara    

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

  147. Terry Bowman    

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

    1. Donald Marshall    

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

      What Is Individual Unemployability?

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

      What Is the Eligibility Criteria for Individual Unemployability?

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

      How Do I Apply?

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

      Can I Work?

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

      From the VA inspector General website:

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

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

  148. Bill    

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

  149. paul Kraay    

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

  150. Vince    

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

    1. Female Vet    

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

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

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

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

  151. Donald Marshall    

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

  152. NoAble Vetrn    

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

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

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

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

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

  153. VBA David    

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

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

  154. VBA David    

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

Comments are closed.