Dear Senators Wyden and Merkley,
I am a Veteran who, for 20+ years, has helped other Veterans and active duty personnel. Long before the VA recognized PTSD, I was among those beating on Congressional doors back in Illinois where I came from, I was trying to get help for Gulf War veterans with this problem. I have "talked down" at least a dozen suicidal Veterans - and a couple of active duty people. Most of the time I tried to help veterans get their disability.
I know the numbers tell you that things are getting worse under General Shinseki's leadership. From The New York Times to Jon Stewart at The Daily Show the subject matter has been thoroughly covered. Those of us who have fought with, argued with, pushed, pulled, yelled at, and stood up to the old Veterans Administration know that General Shinseki spent the last 4 years reforming the Veterans Health Administration. His work, his care, and his determination have totally changed that agency for the better. However, his mission is not complete.
The Veterans Benefit Administration is a totally different story. The General needs to be given a new mission. The VBA needs to be re-created. I suggest that a working group be established to do the job. Whatever the working group produces should be done behind the scenes. Other countries have done a better job with veterans benefits. That working group needs to understand what works for Canada, Australia, and Israel.
In the meantime, Jon Stewart on the Daily Show got it right for the most part. The Veterans Administration needs an additional 125,000 [at least] limited time personnel to move the accrued cases through the existing process.
REQUEST: I am asking you to support Congressional demand for the Veterans Benefit Administration to be re-created into an efficient operation with professional personnel at the helm. Meanwhile provide the VBA with sufficient money to pay limited time personnel to deal with the accrued backlog, and sufficient money to pay the claims.
There are a whole host of veterans who, long ago, were denied benefits. The number of denials, and the errors generating the denials have come to be known by the VBA's own acronym: CUE - Clear Unmistakable Error. Many of these claims have been turned down knowing that the health of the veteran is precarious. Currently the claim dies with the veteran (in certain cases the claim survives if the veteran was married, and certain expenses are paid by the VBA if directly related to that veteran's care - however getting payment is yet another paperwork nightmare).
REQUEST: I am asking that you initiate legislation that, for the next 5 years, will make every Veterans Disability Claim a part of the Veteran's estate. The claim will survive the veteran and pass to the Veteran's heirs. As it is, the Veteran is the one being penalized for the Veteran's Administration's problems.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dick Pierce [ llbear on Daily Kos ]
A Note to my fellow KossacksThis weekend, in all likelihood your life will intervene with your good intentions to properly remember those who have died in their service to our country. Here is one thing you can do, taking about 10 minutes, to help those we will be honoring take care of those they left behind - write two letters just like these:
REQUEST: I am asking you to support a Congressional demand for the Veterans Benefit Administration to be re-created into an efficient operation with professional personnel at the helm. Meanwhile provide the VBA with sufficient money to pay limited time personnel to deal with the accrued backlog, and sufficient money to pay the claims.
REQUEST: I am asking that you initiate legislation that, in anticipation of a major improvement at the VBA, for the next 5 years, will make every Veterans Disability Claim a part of the Veteran's estate. The claim will survive the veteran and pass to the Veteran's heirs.
Thank you for your consideration,
. . . and thank you for your action.