SHAMEFUL: 16,000 UNPROCESSED FILES OF VETS WITH THE V.A.
Dr. Laurie Roth
November 27, 2009
We are apparently still at war with our troops and veterans when they come home from war. Apparently it is not enough for them to bravely fight for their country and to come back mangled and needing major help. For decades now the VA (Veterans Administration) has grown into a disorganized, unaccountable monster of non- representation to our vets in dire need of treatment. It has become an unbelievable, bureaucratic nightmare.
This week my blood pressure went through the roof when I interviewed Dick Phenneger a retired businessman and vet who had reviewed thousands of pages of veterans documents only to discover an enormous, not talked about sea of betrayal to our troops, not just recently but several decades back. He found and verified among other things that a Detroit regional office turned in 16,000 pieces of unprocessed mail and 717 unprocessed documents that had been sent to storage without any review. In another investigation many documents were actually found in shredding bins not in one office but several regional offices. The VA has a habit of saying “we don’t have your records.” NOW WE CERTAINLY KNOW WHY!
It also came to my horrified attention that Veterans are required to complete a 23 page application with endless details required for even the most basic disability and loss. As we speak, according to Phenneger’s exhaustive and accurate research www.veteranservicestransparency.org even the application process to get help (before the VA often loses the file), is a quagmire of legal documents and forms designed to confuse and discourage. Just think of a sick or injured vet trying to get help with the VA and finding an absurd amount of paperwork just to begin the process of getting help.
Then like many thousands, finding that they have lost your file and turned you down for care again and again. I found in my review of this topic that a good chunk of those that are homeless, you know that homeless, drunk looking long haired vet hanging out under the bridge, we just assume is a Viet Nam Vet….well guess what, most of them had their applications for help turned down by the VA. For others the YES for getting help was so long in waiting that their life was in ruins anyway.
Just when I thought I was losing it, it got even worse. The VA has set up an internal award system where they actually award employees who “dispose” of claims rapidly. Phenneger found in his digging that this causes in most cases an automatic denial of veteran’s first claim and in most cases a denial for a second or third attempt for help. The records from hell speak for themselves! 70% of claims taken to the Veterans Claims Court are sent back to VA for more work or to be redone. Isn’t that special? Turn a claim down so you can build a big bonus. Money talks and service apparently rots!
As is typical bureaucracy that is out of control and poorly run, most the big shot leaders think things are just fine. Michael Walcoff, the VA Deputy Undersecretary for Benefits talks about needing a system in place that holds employees accountable. There is apparently no accountability to give medical attention desperately and quickly needed by our vets.
It is sadly and vividly clear that the VA needs a total overhaul and confrontation by the Department of Defense and congress! We all must have a zero tolerance policy for anything but speedy and clear treatment offered to our Vets. They must also redesign the application to a sane 5 or under pages, not 23 pages of idiot legal documents and forms, designed to blow off Vets.
Under Dick Phenneger’s fine leadership, Veteran Services Transparency inc. www.veteranservicestransparency.org plans to inform the public about this betrayal and problem that has been building for years with the VA and explore solutions and action. They intend to expose those who are responsible, provide supporting documents and explore many solutions including lawsuits if necessary. They intend to send a letter and demand that those who destroyed veteran claims be held accountable and those who allowed such conduct be terminated. If they do not get an acceptable response within 10 days legal action will be initiated with their supportive law firm DLA Piper.
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When a service person takes an oath to serve their country, takes heat and comes home battered, they expect and need real care that was promised to them not autocratic bull rot, turn downs and delays!!! This cannot stand. We owe much more to our troops!
© 2009 Dr. Laurie Roth - All Rights Reserved