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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?

Originally posted to don mikulecky on Tue Jun 10, 2008 at 08:27 PM PDT.

Poll

The situation regarding veterans and PTSD

21%6 votes
0%0 votes
25%7 votes
50%14 votes
0%0 votes
3%1 votes

| 28 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  TIP JAR (17+ / 0-)

    once again rec this to get the veteran problem and PTSD some attention!

    An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 10, 2008 at 08:28:43 PM PDT

    •  REC This Diary Up to the TOP (5+ / 0-)

      This evening I got an email from an Iraq Veteran trying to find out information he is lost and in MA I think, he found me on Obama's Web site cause I link to Veterans Groups, a lot and he asked me which was the official one and some other stuff.

      Ideas:  One place we all decide on maybe IAVA.or
      where we can by location find VETS who need help like your wife is doing, using zip code and miles from your home to Vet's address, list of needs, etc.

      I am sure if this was done from one location it would be very helpful, even the Vets are confused about where to go.

      I just shipped about 100 pounds of books, protein powder, traveler sheets (10' cocoons), 30 insect repellent kerchiefs, wipes, pistachios, a lot of other stuff.  Dragged it to the post office in my prius and loaded the dolly into the car, unloaded the dolly out of the car, and put boxes 1 on top of the other.  Now at 60 years old I'm a little rusty on shipping and receiving, but I'm devoted :)

      A Blue Star Mom

  •  I Don't See Any Chance For CHANGE Now (4+ / 0-)

    but it's an absolutely ideal time for AWARENESS.

    The framers very deliberately designed our system of government to change course very slowly even by horse & buggy Colonial era standards. There's literally nothing we can do to change that in the imaginable future.

    Because national election is coming up, this is a spectacular opportunity for pro Veteran public awareness. Unlike progressive causes, for veteran support the Republican message machine might try to ignore it but they can't fight it.

    I'm sure if you're in direct contact with needy veterans you'll need to go to work specifically for them, knowing how the government is going to continue fighting them for the next 8 months.

    But I think for the rest of us, organizing and publicizing these shameful conditions and tying them to the chance to change government with Obama and the Democrats would be a huge win for all concerned.

    We all know where these men and women are headed under McCain.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jun 10, 2008 at 08:42:29 PM PDT

    •  What about the veterans who will vote for McCain? (2+ / 0-)

      how many?  How much influence?  Swiftboating?

      An idea is not responsible for who is carrying it. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Tue Jun 10, 2008 at 08:46:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pro Veteran Political Clout: VMFP, VoteVets, etc (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky, Sundiata

      Veterans and Military Families for Progress - started after the 2004 election:

      VETERANS and MILITARY FAMILIES for PROGRESS is a national organization dedicated to ensuring that the rights and needs of veterans, active-duty service members and their families are:
         - understood by the American public,
         - endorsed by our elected officials, and
         - protected by legislation, regulation, and public policy initiatives.

      Unlike traditional veterans service organizations,  in that family members participate at all levels of our organization, with full voting rights and the organization's 501(c)(4) status allows it to:
      Use a majority of funding and time to advocate and lobby Congress and the Executive Branch for issues of policy affecting veterans and military families
      Apply the remainder of funding and efforts to endorse and work on behalf of candidates for national office who embrace its position on these issues.

      Votevets, helmed by Jon Soltz and Brandon Frazier.  Got its feet wet in the 2006 campaigns of Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Tammy Duckworth, and Tim Walz airing its first controversial "body armour" ad which got a huge amout of earned media coverage.  This organization has been instrumental in elevating vets (and active duty) issues in the media and public.

      Forget the yellow ribbon thing: Have you joined or donated to Veterans and Military Families for Progress (www.vmfp.org) yet?

      by Maura Satchell on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:04:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It took me 5 years to get it (4+ / 0-)

    Meanwhile, because I had ptsd, I could not hold down a job, got thrown out tof my aprtment twice and had legal problems.  All is well now, but I sure could have used the exdiency of the situation.

  •  Contact Patty Murray (5+ / 0-)

    Guys, Patty is THE most powerful voice on the VA committee fighting with the VA about this very issue.  You need help, she will help you.  

    http://murray.senate.gov/

    Contact me at switzer (at) gmail dot com, I'll see who can help you there.

  •  This is a very important issue... (6+ / 0-)

    which deserves more attention!

    "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

    by Viceroy on Tue Jun 10, 2008 at 09:06:21 PM PDT

  •  Maybe a photo or two would get someone's (3+ / 0-)

    attention.  Some of our troops have seen Iraqi's incinerated by a form of phosphorous and the photo's are worse than anything you could ever see, and that is just 1 photo, and our guys/gals have been there 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 times, with little rest.  

    We cannot wait on government we need more focus on how we can help.

    A Blue Star Mom

  •  Both specifically and generically (3+ / 0-)

    As you point out in your reference to global warming, veterans are just one example of a chronic problem. Our system isn't very good at dealing with problems as soon as they are identifiable, but tends to wait until they are blatant, critical and more expensive (both financial and human cost).

    This is often because we don't wish to either change our behavior or examine the behavior that created the problem.  We very highly value an unrealistically positive notion of ourselves, and of the things we more or less mindlessly do.  We will ignore lots of evidence and pay a heavy near-term price rather than face up to our own dilemmas and imperfections.  The belief in American exceptionalism (that we are permanently superior in some way to all other nations)accentuates this general human tendency.

    Surrounding the need to take care of veterans is our unwillingness to grapple realistically with the problems of a permanent and professional military in a democracy, and with the disparity between the popular idealization of war and the realities of armed conflict.  Because we don't want to deal with what combat does to people, we avoid recognizing and dealing with the consequences for veterans. Because we do not recognize the gulf between the imperatives of military service and the necessary habits of democracy, we do not have an appropriate voice for veterans that is separate from the disputations about the use of the military.

    So while lots of problems "can't wait" for our slow political process, the inability  to fix our political process and culture (or even talk about them objectively) virtually assures that we will always have problems that we let go too long, and have more of them than the political process is prepared to deal with.

  •  Rec this up or rescue it! (3+ / 0-)

    I've been fighting since 2002 and they did indeed lose my file from July 2005 until June 2007.

    Since Feb I am in BVA appeals and that means a two year wait.

    In the meantime I have an 18k euro bill for PTSD treatment 2005 - 2006 and I am being threatened with debtors prison.  Yes, they still have that here.

    The VA will not service connect, therefore not pay and I just found out that the ONLY thing my social insurance will not pay for is war-related injuries.

    I am in a catch 22 and looking at possible jail if the VA fucks around for a couple of more years.

    I guess it could be worse, I could be like the countless other veterans who will literally die before they even see an approval or denial to appeal on their cases.

    "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Jeffersonian Democrat on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 01:03:45 AM PDT

  •  I am (3+ / 0-)

    a 100% disabled veteran whose 1st claim (80%) took 19 months and whose 2d claim (100%) took 13 months can tell you that the primary purpose of the VA adjudications process is to deny as many claims as possible or to make the veteran so tired of fighting the system or hope that the veteran misses an appointment to the claim can be closed.

    The only hope is to remove the adjudications and pension determinations processes from the VA & DOD to a separate agency.

  •  Contacts for help (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    Paul Sullivan - Director of Veterans for Common Sense - Paul@veteransforcommonsense.org.
    Paul is a former VA analyst and was a whistleblower at the start of the war that warned the VA would be unable to handle the influx of Veterans.

    Steve Robinson Toll-free: 888-334-VETS

    IAVA, of course, has a huge network of support across the country.

    Joshua Kors, journalist, has been covering the Personality Disorder "defense" and way the military ko's claims of PTSD by veterans - josha@joshuakors.com - he has contact with a number of lawmakers friendly to the issues that might help.

    Barack himself has been a tremendous friend to veterans, listening earnestly to their issues and co-sponsoring a number of helpful pieces of legislation.

    Godspeed to these veterans, where's their yellow ribbon!  

    Forget the yellow ribbon thing: Have you joined or donated to Veterans and Military Families for Progress (www.vmfp.org) yet?

    by Maura Satchell on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 02:53:16 AM PDT

  •  Write a diary on the service-connection process! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    Most non-vets don't know anything at all about this critical governmental function.  I'd like to hear about the ideas for reforming the process.  

    "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees" Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's last words

    by Sundiata on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 06:26:02 AM PDT

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