Thursday, May 22, 2008

How McCain Will Treat You, Veterans. Not Exactly Subtle...

The Senate yesterday approved $165 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan well into the next presidency, but in a break with President Bush and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, it also approved billions of dollars in domestic spending that includes a generous expansion of veterans' education benefits…In so doing, McCain went against virtually every veterans organization, from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion to the more partisan, which has aired blistering advertisements against him...

"I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country," Obama said. "But I can't understand why he would line up behind the president in opposition to this G.I. Bill. I can't believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans." McCain blasted back, questioning Obama's knowledge of veterans issues and his commitment to national security… "I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did," he said in a lengthy statement.

Actions speak louder than words Mr. McCain. Trotting out your self-proclaimed care for veterans, based on your military experience, doesn't wash - especially when you skip the vote for the G.I. Bill (which you were going to vote against anyway) - so that you could attend a fund-raiser for yourself. So, you will be as out of touch with the country as your predecessor. And despite your protestations, you don't give a damn about your fellow veterans, Mr. McCain. If they didn't know it before, they do now.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, May 19, 2008

"VA Staffer Discourages PTSD Diagnoses"

It's easy to take pot shots at a huge bureaucracy like the VA, and much of their failings have to do with lack of outside support, like inadequate funding. But we can't let laziness, or the sole priority to cut costs, result in disgraceful and and even disgusting purposeful actions on the part of VA decision makers, preventing deserving veterans from getting the care they need...

From Veterans for Common Sense...

Temple, Texas, May 15, 2008 (CBS) - A Department of Veterans Affairs team leader in Texas suggested mental health professionals should diagnose patients with "adjustment disorder" rather than post traumatic stress disorder in order to save time and money treating veterans, according to an internal VA e-mail.

VA Secretary James Peake immediately called the e-mail "inappropriate" and a violation of VA policy. On March 20, Norma J. Perez, a PTSD program coordinator and psychologist at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center in Temple, Texas sent an e-mail with the subject line "Suggestion" to several staffers including psychologists, social workers, and a psychiatrist. In the e-mail, Perez wrote "given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I’d like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out." She then went on to say "consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder. . ."

Read the scandalous VA internal e-mail, obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and

"This means the veterans will not get disability benefits and health care for PTSD," Paul Sullivan, the executive director of the advocate group Veterans for Common Sense, told CBS News.

Andrew Pogany, an investigator with the National Veterans Legal Services Program, said he thinks "purposely misdiagnosing someone is a serious ethical issue that [could] fall under malpractice."

"VA staff across the country are working their hearts out to get our veterans the care they need and deserve," said U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash), a key member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, "But e-mails like these make their jobs far more difficult."

In her e-mail, Perez also told staffers that "we really don’t . . . have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD."

Sullivan, whose group has a pending lawsuit against the VA to force the agency to improve the treatment of veterans, said this "shows our suit has merit and that the VA lacks the capacity to provide proper care."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Time, Let’s Do It Right For Veterans

This isn’t the first time we have gone to war and then have quickly forgotten our troops when they returned. I saw it for the first time 30 years ago as Vietnam ended. In one respect it was worse then, because many citizens also blamed the troops for the failures in South East Asia.

Our sons and daughters and friends continue to die and be wounded, both physically and mentally in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet… and yet… once again, our returning veterans, now coming back in our communities, are quickly dropping under the radar – their basic needs for health care, education, jobs, and housing are now being crowded out once again by other priorities.

Now obviously, problems like the economy hit all of us, including veterans. Veterans don’t expect the public to put veterans in front of all these other issues, but they do hope for awareness and advocacy for their needs, given the special trust put in them for what they do for their country and their state.

National Guard, Reserves, and Active Duty troops are being stressed to the limit. They are pulling their fair share and more in deployments, with perhaps the biggest deployments yet to come. Fully 1/3rd of returning war vets have mental disorders, including Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the percentage with lifetime disabilities is higher than in any previous war – because, thankfully, we are so much better at saving lives. Yet the cost for taking care of them will be with us for 50 years or more with many of them.

Many veterans that I talk to also believe this country is going the wrong way, and they also want this war to end quickly and responsibly.

· They want wisdom in the use of our best-in-the-world military, not arrogance.

· They want our sons and daughters in the military to be taken care of responsibly and responsively.

· They want our National Guard available for the state emergencies that will inevitably come.

· They want pre-emptive warfare considered as a last resort option (as it was during the Cold War), not a first resort.

· They want our country to restore its commitment to the Geneva Conventions and Habeas Corpus.

How about you? If you want the same things, don’t sit back cynically and say ‘they have forgotten us vets before, they will do it again.’ Get involved in the election. Email and phone your representatives. Make your voice known, and this time, let’s do it right for veterans.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link