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Friday, February 08, 2008

Comment from a VET

"I wish Congress had to live with VA benefits."

The VET who made this comment to me is the very one who so graciously donated to our organization in support our work so that we could establish our Veteran's Special Resources Project.

I wish members of Congress would try this out for a few months, even Bush and Chaney should try it too. All of them should also give up their fat benefit and retirement packages paid for by tax payer money, and level the playing field with the citizens.

If we get a real president in the next election, serving "by, of and for the people", it's possible we might have a change. After all, universal health care doesn't come with garnishing wages as proposed by Mrs. Clinton.

Our vets really need our support, the war doesn't.

Veterans not entitled to mental health care, U.S. lawyers argue
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care, the Bush administration argues in a lawsuit accusing the government of illegally denying mental health treatment to some troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The arguments, filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, strike at the heart of a lawsuit filed on behalf of veterans that claims the health care system for returning troops provides little recourse when the government rejects their medical claims.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is making progress in increasing its staffing and screening veterans for combat-related stress, Justice Department lawyers said. But their central argument is that Congress left decisions about who should get health care, and what type of care, to the VA and not to veterans or the courts.

A federal law providing five years of care for veterans from the date of their discharge establishes "veterans' eligibility for health care, but it does not create an entitlement to any particular medical service," government lawyers said.

They said the law entitles veterans only to "medical care which the secretary (of Veterans Affairs) determines is needed, and only to the extent funds ... are available."

The argument drew a sharp retort from a lawyer for advocacy groups that sued the government in July. The suit is a proposed class action on behalf of 320,000 to 800,000 veterans or their survivors.

"Veterans need to know in this country that the government thinks all their benefits are mere gratuities," attorney Gordon Erspamer said. "They're saying it's completely discretionary, that even if Congress appropriates money for veterans' health care, we can do anything we want with it."

The issue will be joined March 7 at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti, who denied the administration's request last month to dismiss the suit. While the case is pending, the plaintiffs want Conti to order the government to provide immediate mental health treatment for veterans who say they are thinking of killing themselves and to spend another $60 million on health care.

The suit accuses the VA of arbitrarily denying care and benefits to wounded veterans, of forcing them to wait months for treatment and years for benefits, and of failing to provide fair procedures for appealing decisions against them.

The plaintiffs say that the department has a backlog of more than 600,000 disability claims and that 120 veterans a week commit suicide.

In his Jan. 10 ruling that allowed the suit to proceed, Conti said federal law entitles veterans to health care for a specific period after leaving the service, rejecting the government's argument that it was required to provide only as much care as the VA's budget allowed in a given year. A law that President Bush signed last week extended the period from two to five years.

In its latest filing, however, the Justice Department reiterated that Congress had intended "to authorize, but not require, medical care for veterans."

"This court should not interfere with the political branches' design, oversight and modification of VA programs," the government lawyers argued.

They also said the VA "is making great progress in addressing the mental health care needs of combat veterans." Among other things, they cited a law passed in November that required the department to establish a suicide-prevention program that includes making mental health care available around the clock.

The VA has hired nearly 3,800 mental health professionals in the last two years and has at least one specialist in post-traumatic stress disorder at each of its medical centers, the government said.

Since June, government lawyers said, the VA has had a policy that all veterans who seek or are referred for mental health care should be screened within 24 hours, that those found to be at risk of suicide should be treated immediately, and that others should be scheduled for full diagnosis and treatment planning within two weeks. A new suicide-prevention hot line has been responsible for "more than 380 rescues," the lawyers said.

Erspamer, the plaintiffs' lawyer, was unimpressed.

"Nowhere do I see any explanation of what kind of systems they have in place that deal with suicidal veterans," he said. "There's no excuse for not spending the money Congress told them to spend on mental health care and leaving $60 million on the table when people are going out and killing themselves."

E-mail Bob Egelko at
This article appeared on page A - 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle


doctho said...

Congress has been screwing our vets since Washington was a General: As a member of The Sons of the American Revolution, with a strong and proud military family, I feel Our government has been playing games with our veterans ever since the Oneida Indian Nation fought in the Revolutionary War. They were among our first American Solders and took up arms against the British to help our nation earn its independence after our Revolution. Our new government used land seized from the British to compensate our veterans and the Oneida veterans were stripped of much of their original territory, by having 10 million acres of land taken from them. Look how they have been treated by an ungrateful country.
Then the Civil War produced thousands of wandering veterans. Frequently addicted to opiates, they were known as tramps,Our first homeless vets, searching for jobs and, in many cases, literally still tending their wounds.
More than a decade after the end of World War I, the Bonus Army descended on Washington - demanding immediate payment on benefits that had been promised to them, but payable years later ,and were routed out of Washington DC by the U.S. Military,led by George Patton. In 1946,The to end all wars, the VA had beds for about 82,000 patients but the VA rolls swelled to 15 million in just a few months and the hospitals were virtually all swamped. There were 26,000 non service related cases also on the waiting list. The VA was building new hospitals but had money for only 12,000 more beds. They came too few too late. The Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952, called the Korean GI Bill, provided unemployment insurance, job placement, home loans and mustering-out benefits similar to those offered World War II veterans. The Korean GI Bill made several changes, however, in education benefits, reducing financial benefits generally and imposing new restrictions. The effect of the changes was that the benefit no longer completely covered the cost of the veteran’s education.
The most publicly and perhaps most painfully,That comes to mind was Vietnam Tens of thousands of war weary veterans, infamously rejected,crazy, or just forgotten by many of their own fellow citizens,elected officials,demonized by the media.

Presently our current service members have who have had repeated and extended deployments to war zones, have shown a rise in post-traumatic stress and other war-related wounds among troops,and 120 Suicides a week. While it is good to support your troops that are serving our interest it is better to demand accountability from those responsible for the lack of their care in these injuries. It is utterly disgusting that VA hospitals are turning away those most in need. Those in charge of VA hospitals need to take responsibility for their lack of actions. I believe the whole VA system needs an overhaul and very soon. More and more wounded troops coming home and they need both physical and mental health care.

Our troops deserve the best of all aspects of care! Wake up, America! We fail to take care of our own as we should and I think it's time that we start.

This will surprise nobody who has ever encountered the VA medical system. The entire operation is a horror show mostly run by lazy, self-important, arrogant and self-satisfied bureaucrats. This kind of treatment has been going on for years and years and years. VA hospitals are in hopeless situations. This type of treatment is the rule and not the exception for those who are closely associated with regular active duty military. It’s sad, but true.

If certain services cannot be provided for a veteran or current military patients then they are suppose to be referred to a civilian facility with no cost to the service member or veterans. Many of our own are going without and this shouldn't be a surprise for the VA system when it comes to treating any new service related conditions by ignoring it' In this situation, the Iraq veteran is in the same boat as the Vietnam veteran in the 1970's. At least now, they have a name for it,It's called PTSD, and like Agent Orange has been proven,So well depleted uranium be proven but the VA doesn't take it seriously tell a very large group of veterans die from their exposure.

It's terrible that our country is still ignoring the cries of our vets. It's no surprise what is happening with the Syracuse Veterans Hospital if similar acts are occurring around the country. I've have made many attempts in the last four years to talk with Mr. Cody, the head of the VA hospital in Syracuse NY, about these conditions He is self-important, arrogant, with a “don't call me I'll call you” attitude and there has been no dialog. I believe that Mr. Jim Cody should tender his resignation for the good of our veterans.Veterans Preference....Staff the VA with Veterans!

Dennis Thorp is a native of Frankfort and served as an U.S. Army medic during the Vietnam War. He is co-founder of Agent Orange Victims International.


jacksmith said...

Bottom Line:

It looks like you got some vote fraud hanky-panky, and selling of votes going on in the democratic caucuses. Obama seems to be doing disproportionately well in the caucuses where it is easier to commit vote fraud, and sell votes. Obama has not been doing as well in the non caucus primary's where you can't cheat the vote as easily.

I smell a pole cat. I smell the Karl Rove vote fraud machine at work. This looks like past presidential elections where most voters leaving the poles said they voted for the other guy. But Bush still won. No wonder Obama thinks the republicans have some good ideas. Apparently a lot of republicans are voting for Obama in the democratic caucuses.

The insurance companies, and medical industry that have been ripping you off, and killing you are determined to keep you, the American people from having good universal health care. So it seems they are supporting Obama. Along with the republican vote fraud machine.

This looks like a great story for a team of aggressive investigative reporters. Or maybe some good documentary film makers like Michael Moore, or Oliver Stone.

If I were the Clinton's, I would focus like a laser bean on what has been going on in the democratic caucuses. No wonder the Republicans like Obama so much. Looks like he's their man in the democratic caucuses.

I'm absolutely convinced now that Hillary Clinton is your best choice for good universal health care coverage. And HR 676 (Medicare For All). "Single payer, Tax Supported, Not For Profit, True Universal Health Care" free for all as a right. Like every other developed country in the world has. See:

"HR 676:
For church goers: less money to insur. companies and more to the church- lots more.
Srs on Medicare: save way over $100/wk. Because no more medigap, long term care & dental insur. needed. No more drug bills."

They really think you are all stupid, inattentive cash cows... It may be time to bring back Bad Bill, Good Bill.