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The past two years have been rough on my wife and I. Stuck with a Republican governor and homophobic V.A. employees have not made things easier for us. Sharon is fighting the V.A. and I am struggling to get a job because I have constantly been sick.

                           ...more after the orange french curve...

The state swung in favor of President Obama as we all now know but the attitudes of many Ohioans are not those of the president. Sharon fights with the V.A. everyday because of rude employees. They refused to address Sharon as Ma'am or Ms. Now that we are married Mrs should just cause hellacious bitching it is just going to get worse with V.A. Regional Office.  

She filed a claim for  Acoustic Trauma and finally won her case but they only back dated her claim to 2008. It was filed many years before that. The way the V.A. works, claims are supposed to be compensated back to the original filing date. We were counting on that money from the V.A. to get out of the state. When Sharon's attorney brought it up to the V.A.R.O. (V.A. Regional Office)  they admitted to the earlier date but now six months later they are still stuck at the first stage of the appeal even though they admitted to the earlier filing date. We have since filed a case request with our senator. Lucky(?) us Sherrod Brown defeated Josh Mandel. We hope.  

We are poor. If you are poor in Ohio dont expect help, especially if you are LGBT. With a household of two we bring in $2,070. After bills and medication we are struggling to get through month to month. Our budget? Here it is and if anyone out there has even one helpful suggestion please do chime in:

Rent: $350
Cell Phones: $185
Electric: $70
Groceries(for an ischemic patient): $500
Medication: $475
Car Insurance: $116
Internet: $38
Life Insurance: $8
AAA: $8.33
Gas: $250
Washing Machine: $15

If you add that up it equals $2015.33. That leaves us with $54.67 wiggle room each month if we stay on budget. What happens when our car breaks down or we need clothing? We either blow our budget or wait for some kind of miracle.  

Recently one of our vehicles broke down. The part alone was $177, if you don't know someone who will do the work you have to take it to a mechanic. Well that $177 part turned into $350 worth of work to a mechanic. That mechanic was a friend of my fathers who I have called "Uncle" since I was a child. We were very fortunate that that "uncle" very generously donated the parts and labor to get that car back on the road, otherwise we would both have been stranded 70 miles apart.  We asked for help from The Red Cross and The Salvation Army. Both of us were turned down. Sharon called in her county and I called in mine. She "makes too much money" and we can't get help. You would think that the V.A. might care enough about its veterans to help out during hardships but they are the last ones to give an inch and this is usually one of the first suggestions (passing the buck instead of offering aid) out of peoples mouths-"Oh your spouse is a vet? Will the V.A. help? " I don't mean to be rude but the V.A. doesn't "wipe vets butts" the way people think and I sorely wish the public would get educated to this fact.  

I cant remember the last time I felt healthy. The stress gets to you. I feel sick when I eat. Strep has gotten to me ten times in the past two years. Two surgeries on my knee this year has caused grief. My wisdom teeth are sideways. Arthritis kills me at all hours of the day. My medication wouldn't be so damned expensive if I could afford adequate health insurance but that is way out of the picture. I don't even want to think about how much proper dental insurance would be for us.

Most of Sharon's medical expenses are covered under the V.A. or Medicare except her dental work. She was going to the county dental office but now they refuse to see anyone unless you have cash upfront. We don't have readily available, loose cash "upfront" anymore than we can afford gas to travel 70 miles if Sharon needs to go to the V.A.'s Urgent Care so now the county dental bill remains unpaid.

It sucks when the lower and middle class are screwed over by the government and big business. You know our country is in bad shape when there is a one year waiting period for SSI/SSDI and that's not even to be approved, thats just to go in front of a judge regarding your claim!

I don't blame this on President Obama. He took on eight years of Bush's mess. When you are in grid lock and took on the mess that President Obama did you can't accomplish as much as people think. I want a country that is not based on greed but based on strength, caring community and education. Once that happens people will be better off. Hopefully the Affordable Care Act will soon help me afford adequate health insurance instead of what I call the "medical discount" that I currently get. That "medical discount" plan is again almost no help when it "assumes" people have a few extra dollars of loose cash and they can pay 30% of a bill while the "medical discount" plan oh-so-generously offers to pay 70%. That too is a bunch of crap. I have had to do without medicine I needed because I didn't have the 30%.  

I just hope President Obama can get this country back on track. People are suffering and want relief. The 1% need to give back what they took from the 99% to get where they are. Yes Mitt Money and "Queen" Ann I'm looking at you and I'm thankful you are no more.  Hopefully we are all around to see the ACA and Single Payer be a-borning.  

                                 ...oh and one more thing-
     Governor Kasich, remember Mitt Romney? Ohio has a message for you:

                                         YOU'RE NEXT!  

Originally posted to punkin4 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:14 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ok where did Kos hide the french curve? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    by glbTVET on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 07:52:44 AM PST

    •  straight talk (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I gav up my AT&T phone a few years back and switched to straight talk - $30/month gets you 1000 min, 1000 texts and internet access. $45 gets you unlimited everything. That should save between $90-135/month on phone service. Everything helps!

      Good luck

      •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

        Yes I know about these programs now, unfortunately when we signed a two year contract a year ago they were not as widely talked about here as they are now. We cannot switch until our contracts are up. :(

  •  I'm sure you've already done most of this, (5+ / 0-)

    but brainstorming I thought of a few things.

    If you have to pay for Sharon's attorney, you may want to consider a phone call to a law school in your area (U of C if you're in southwestern Ohio, Ohio State or Capital in the Columbus area, Cleveland Marshall or Case in northeastern Ohio to name a few) and see if their clinic programs have any options to help out.  At the least if they can't help out with the case they may have some advice as far as who may be able to.  Most law schools also have an active LGBT community and might have connections in the LGBT community or know of LGBT lawyers who do pro bono work who could be some help.  Not that you'd need a LGBT lawyer, of course, but sometimes having someone who understands on a higher level can really be a plus when you're dealing with stressful situations!

    Call Sherrod Brown's office.  It's amazing what one phone call to the right place can accomplish sometimes, and I can't think of anyone more deserving of help from an elected representative than a veteran.  Might be able to cut through that red tape.  Also, call your representatives.  Feel free to call every day - they get paid to work for you, and they damn well should be proud to be on the case in this situation!

    I used to live in the Columbus area and did a lot of temp work there - not sure if that's up your alley, but some of the jobs pay decently so they can be a good stopgap if there's anything available.  I know they've also had a lot of federal jobs at some new building they opened up a few years ago, in case you're in the area and weren't aware (like I said, most of this you probably already DO know!)

    If I think of anything else I'll re-reply. :)

    Not that it puts food on the table or gas in your car, but my thoughts are with you both!  ((hugs))

    Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today. -- James Dean

    by celticshel on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 08:32:23 AM PST

  •  I'm glad you wrote the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Americans need to know the truth. I live in California and in my naivete thought vets got taken care of.  Now I know they don't.  I'm pissed that universal health care didn't get through the system during BO's first four years.  I keep hoping!  

    I hope more can come up with ideas that will free both of you from the hardships you have struggled with for too long.

  •  i don't know if you're on a cell phone contract or (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    punkin4, indres, Odysseus, Turbonerd

    what your needs are, but the Net10 pay-as-you-go phones now have a 30 day unlimited minutes card for 50$.

    There's also some really cool phone apps for groceries out there.  My co-worker has one for a regional grocery chain called Safeway.  His cell number is associated with his Safeway 'member' card.  When he gets groceries he can take a pic of an item and if there's a manufacturer discount/coupon associated with that item, when he checks out the coupon is automatically deducted from the purchase price, in addition to whatever discount the 'member' card allows.  He's saving 100-150$ a month on groceries for his 4 person family.

    as far as the VA goes...  i only have a semi-facetious suggestion.  move to Seattle.  or San Francisco.  I met with some of the staff in Seattle and was just incredibly impressed with them.  I worked with some vets who were homeless & utilizing the SF VA and they had nothing but praise.

    to republicans rape is "God's will" but homosexuality is somehow a "choice". republican yahweh is a dick.

    by bnasley on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 11:33:40 AM PST

    •  oh! Duh!! I totally forgot: sometimes your (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      congressman/woman can help with VA stuff.  I worked retail and made a passing comment to a coworker about not qualifying for some benefits.  An assistant to my congressperson happened to hear and was very insistant about giving his ofice a call.

      I don't know how responsive your state and national reps are but...  Just make sure you document everything and have a cogent argument.  They're generally willing to listen but the demands on their time are phenom.

      to republicans rape is "God's will" but homosexuality is somehow a "choice". republican yahweh is a dick.

      by bnasley on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 11:46:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I sympathize with your plight . . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indres, punkin4, Odysseus

    . . . . and maybe a suggestion re: budget.  I am also struggling and I bought a cheap phone ($20 something at Target) and a phone card. I don't have a plan because I can't afford one. I don't play games on my phone, have any "apps," surf the internet or try to find the nearest movie theater. I just make calls and make a clumsy attempt at texting.

           Of course this may not help if you're locked into a contract . . ..  

           Hope this helps!

  •  Can you explain what acoustic trauma is? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    punkin4, Odysseus

    And how the VA assesses it?  What degree of disability do they ascribe to it?  How does it impact somebody?  How does it limit them employment-wise?  I'm curious.

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:01:12 PM PST

    •  Acoustic Trauma (0+ / 0-)

      is caused by loud extreme noise such as bombs, explosions, gun fire, aircraft take offs ect. Acoustic Trauma is severe hearing loss and is tested as such. It impacts you socially and on how you function. You cannot hear and that causes safety issues. If you have to deal with customers or other employees it would make it hard for you to communicate and understand things.  

  •  I'm sure this won't help you but it might others (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indres, punkin4, Odysseus

    until recently I made less than you, in San Francisco (the 2nd most expensive city in America) and saved $4,000 a year.
    The obvious difference was drug costs. I pay $15 a month for generic blood pressure meds - nothing like you and easily the difference. But there are a couple of items that caught my eye:
    You pay $185 for (2?) cell phones. I pay $23 for a land line. In CA AT+T has a program that gives limited service for $10. (CA law requires it, and requires that a notice of it be included in your bill, but then we have a Democratic legislature) Of course there are reasons to need a cell, but for every person I know who has to carry one for a job or a medical reason I know 10 who make less than you and assume that their 8 year old children need one.
    You spend $374.33 a month (not counting maintenance and repairs) on your car. I spend $100 a month on the bus. Again probably necessary for you, but for most Americans a car is the most expensive and least necessary expense, unless they use credit cards. Could a car share service work for you?
    You did not mention health insurance, but you did mention a 70% discount. The only reason I'm alive today is because I ruptured a blood vessel in my eye and a clerk in the ER directed me to a county program that gives a 50% plus discount to the uninsured. There are such programs, (you found one) even individual doctors - they say that insurance paperwork / nonpayments are so steep that they make a higher profit at a 50% discount, and the doctors who realize that tend to be better physicians - but it can be hard to find such programs. Like I said, I only found mine by luck.
    Problems like yours can be overwhelming, and even if help is available it is often hidden. It sounds like crap, but sometimes "don't give up" can be the only useful advice.

    •  The issue with the cell phones (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Turbonerd

      Up until about a month ago Sharon and I were staying 70mi apart and cell phone was our only way of communicating. Now we live together but are stuck in a contract for another year. Even if we wanted to drop our phones and get cheaper ones we cannot without our carrier coming after us.

      •  I have never had a cell phone contract, so I (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        don't know how those work. If you cancel your service, can you simply pay an early cancellation charge and be done with it?

        If not, and if you're truly stuck in the contract for another year, get a Skype account now and you can talk long distance free (as long as you're talking with another Skype customer). For something like $30/year (iirc) you can get an extended Skype account that will let you dial USA (and perhaps Canada and Mexico also - I can't remember right now) landlines and cell phones on an unlimited basis.

        The cost of cell phone contracts these days is shocking and I will not submit! I might add that I'm also living on a very limited budget of around $1,000/month, so I simply don't have $$ for cell phone contract. I do have a pay-per-minute cell phone that I recharge on a yearly basis ($100) and I always have minutes to burn at the end of the year (but they roll over to the next year as long as I put some money on my account).

        Don't know what kind of cars you have, but your insurance costs far exceed mine. I'm paying approx $250/year, but I'm driving a 1995 Camry, and my driving record is flawless, so your mileage may vary. My carrier is GEICO.

        Perhaps others have suggested you contact the company that produces your meds to see if they have some sort of program for people who need financial help. Might reduce your monthly outlay on prescriptions.

        Good luck!

        Obamacare covers Romnesia

        by Hanging Up My Tusks on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 05:01:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Try CREDO Mobile (0+ / 0-)

        I switched a year ago. They're pretty good service-wise (they use the Sprint network), and they're definitely easier to deal with than the other carriers (and more progressive too). When you switch, they give a credit (up to $350 per line) for the other carrier's "early termination fee." Family plans with unlimited talk and text start at $85. Data is $29/mo per line unlimited. Special offers here.

        (Not an employee, just a happy customer.)

        Reforms come from below. No man with four aces howls for a new deal.
        Keystone XL will raise gas prices!

        by Turbonerd on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 06:48:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you everyone for recommending and commenting on my diary.

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