I've been trying to get more people aware of the terrible toll the war is taking on our veterans. I am not talking just about their physical wounds but the trauma of being sent to do something that is based on the worst lies and disinformation one can imagine. Today I received an e-mail from citizens blogging for resonsibility and ethics in Washington about
a truly remarkable response from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to its FOIA request for documents relating to the VA’s abhorrent practice of under-diagnosing PTSD in veterans to save money. According to the VA, CREW is not entitled to a fee waiver -- meaning it has to pay for the costs of finding and copying responsive documents -- because there is no longer any public interest in this issue! Ignoring the wealth of news articles triggered by CREW’s and VoteVets.org’s release of an internal VA e-mail and the congressional hearing that release prompted, the VA claims that any records CREW requests "would not reveal anything new."
The full letter from the VA is at:CREW
They go on to say:
We know what that means -- fee waiver or not, the VA has no intention of letting any more incriminating e-mails out of its clutches. Let’s hope there are more courageous VA employees willing to blow the whistle on what the VA is, and is not, doing for our veterans.
The VA also claimed it could not respond to the request as written because CREW failed to identify the specific VA offices and employees that would have responsive records. As CREW made clear in its response, we are committed to shining the brightest light possible on the VA’s treatment of veterans suffering from undiagnosed PTSD and we will not back down from these shameless excuses that the VA has offered.
Ok recently I published this diary on this issue and am encouraged by the response of so many Kossacks to what I had to say: Shame on you all!
My wife has also taken a step that is more direct with a Vietnam Vet from our community. This fellow has been waiting for his paperwork to be processed for over a year. He is destitute, forced to give up his car and move in with another Vet who has finally begun to collect what they owe him. We live about 75 miles from the nearest VA Hospital (in Richmond, Va) and the lack of transportation, etc. etc. has made his situation impossible. She has taken him to Richmond and other doctors because there is no public transportation to serve his needs.
That often comes up in conversations with others and you soon learn that there is a systematic effort to loose their paperwork and do whatever necessary to keep from getting them on the roles or spending money on them in any way. Clearly this suggests that to be favored in that organization you devise ways of not spending money on veterans. Wait! Did I just say that? What can I be thinking?
I have offered to approach Senator Webb's office with this man's case. I am not able to sit around while this kind of stuff is going on.
Now, I am spending lots of my time on politics these days. I feel an urgency. The hot spell and floods we just had are not random events. The climate is changing because we waited to win political battles to do something. That approach does not work folks. The longer you wait the less likely a good solution will be at all possible. The same is true with these veterans. They can't wait for an election and then the squabbles about legislation, and, and, and...
So what do we do? We have to find some way of creating pressure for change right now. Any ideas?
Meanwhile the lack of interest in PTSD has wider ramifications than we are recognizing. What happens to a POW when held captive for long years and is subjected to torture, character break down, etc.? What are the chances for a return to normal? Who might this apply to? We are in a struggle for the soul of our Nation and seem to not recognize it. The study and treatment of these disorders is not an option. Did it ever occur to you that John Kerry was successfully swiftboated because there are a lot of veterans who are still confused about the meaning of the Vietnam War and what was done to them by you and I in the form of our government? Think about that. If it is at all true then we are in a deeper quagmire than most would even want to imagine.
I want to go on but realize it is my emotional involvement in the issue not that I have any more to say. I hurt inside as I write these things. I have all these questions and so few answers. All I know is that we are putting a lot of faith in this election, as we did the last, yet this thing goes on and worsens. Am I being too concerned? Can we wait?