Media Chides Against Anti-Veteran Acts

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Shining the light in dark places, various local news outlets have caused discrimination and bias to be rolled back. Whether it’s the VA Machine or wealthy Americans, veterans have been defended by local news while national news turns its back.

VA Reverses – Vietnam Veteran Finally Gets His Due

First stop, Fort Edward, NY.

“Charles Coo­ley, a Viet­nam Vet­eran, is smil­ing today. For the past 2 years, he had his ben­e­fits cut despite suf­fer­ing from dia­betes, heart dis­ease, arte­r­ial dis­ease, neu­ropa­thy and asbesto­sis. The VA rat­ing board ignored fed­eral pol­icy and was caught by reporters.” Read more: Military Advantage

This was significant. For many years, disabled veterans receiving compensation have been afraid of requesting increases or filing appeals with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their fear: the VA will either reduce or sever their rating, with or without cause.

Such was the case for Mr. Cooley. He filed an increase because of the numerous ailments he had as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam. However, the VA ignored federal law. They not only denied Cooley’s claim, but they also severed his compensation entirely. Cooley and his wife were in danger of losing their home.

Luckily, The Post Star picked up his story from June 5-7, 2011. After some bell ringing and negative press, the NY Regional Office Director, Frank Logalbo, took action. His team pointed out that the rating board made numerous errors. Cooley then received 5 years of back pay and a full 100% disability rating. Prior to that point, he was incorrectly rated at 40%.

Three cheers for local media. While national media is seemingly fixated on Weiner-gate and new wars all over Africa, at least some veterans are receiving justice.

Background: Republicans’ War Against Veterans

To provide a little background: while the manufactures of Agent Orange (Monsanto and Dow Chemical) are not liable for the illnesses caused by the Agent Orange, the American taxpayers who stood by the call to war most certainly are on the hook. Thus, the VA is required by law to provide care and compensation to disabled veterans whose lives were forever altered by war.

The VA, however, does resort to illegal or unapproved tactics to stall or inhibit the disability compensation and benefits process. We call this “blocking and tackling,” similar to the techniques insurance companies use to falsely deny claims. They hope you drop the issue. Similar, the VA hopes you go away or die during the process. As the old saying goes, “delay, deny, hope that they die.”

Recently, House Republicans like Paul Ryan and Michele Bachmann have been telling veterans that they need to sacrifice for the country, again. Not only was the sacrifice of life and health not enough on the battlefield, but veterans are now expected to allow their services and compensation to be cut by politicians. Back in January 2011, Republican Michele Bachmann wanted to cut $4 billion from the disabled veterans’ compensation. In April, Republican Paul Ryan’s underlings told the DAV that it was looking to implement Option 35. Option 35 was an austerity measure developed by the Congressional Budget Office that would cause 130,000 veterans to go without healthcare.

These cuts were abandoned, but the cause was not forgotten. Instead, the House cut funding for a new courthouse for the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals. This is the court that oversees the VA’s Board of Appeals. Over 70% of the cases heard by the court are overturned with awards for attorney’s fees to the veteran’s side. This means 70% of the denials rendered by the Board are without cause or justification. Without the new courthouse, the court will still be housed with the VA’s headquarters, which does seem to be inappropriate at best. At the worst, it’s like asking the fox to watch the henhouse.

HOA Gets Ugly with Disabled Vet

Evans, GA is the second stop. Former Sgt 1st Class Sean Gittens is emerging triumphant after a local HOA attempted to block construction of his home. Severely injured in Iraq, Gittens qualified to have an adaptive home built for him by Homes for our Troops. HFOT builds 2,700 square foot homes for only the most severely disabled veterans at no cost to the veteran. The homes are specially designed to meet the special needs of these veterans.

Gittens himself is unable to talk or walk after suffering an IED explosion and subsequent stroke. The family is supported only by the limited income from the VA and from the help of organizations like HFOT.  Thus, it could not afford to finance the additional size necessary.

Six months after purchasing land and receiving approval from the Knob Hill Home Owners Association, HFOT had planned to start construction of the home last week. Unfortunately, HOA President Rick Trump and others had different ideas. They delivered a cease and desist order to HFOT at the jobsite. No clear reason was given at the time for the order.

Only later, during a CBS interview, did the HOA attorney reveal the intent of the HOA, to stop construction because the home was too small. While some homes within the neighborhood are the same size as the one planned by HFOT, the Knob Hill HOA wanted the Gittens home to be at least 3,400.

Now enters the local news. Following public outcry from the blatant discrimination of the HOA, now, the HOA claims it is onboard and only awaiting some additional forms. Yeah, right.

Readers wishing to share their views can call or mail the Knob Hill HOA President Rick Trump. In a twist of irony, for the past 7 years Trump was theDirector of Student and Financial Services for the University of Phoenix, the largest recipient of veteran educational benefits. (People in this position have been under investigation for swindling students into taking out student loans they would never be able to pay back.) So it appears that while veterans were good enough to pay part of Trump’s salary with which he bought his home in Knob Hill, an actual veteran isn’t good enough to own a house down the block.

While government and big business is turning its back on disabled veterans, Middle America still supports her veterans.

 

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9 Comments

  1. AS A VIET-NAM VET WITH LUNG CANCER AND OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS, I SALUTE YOU FOR ALL THE WORK YOU DO TO KEEP US VETERNS IN FORMED. THANKS, DANNY

  2. So it is ok for congress to get full pay after only serving one term in office and Veterans serve and sacrifice and get a pittance. Something is wrong with this picture. Congress needs to be voted out.
    Veterans should automatically get all the benefits Congress gives themselves.

  3. We have spent the last 40 years trying to get hearing loss to no avail. The doctors at the v.a. do not help you at all. In fact the try hard to disavow any claims . They are on 3 month shifts at the Cleveland Wade Park Facility. The employees at the hospital ignore the patients and call them crazy if you try to get help. Our Congresswoman started out helping us but then got rid of all of advocates. Especially the ones that really help like the Vietnam Veterans that were working for her. The V.A. itself sits around talking on the phone and do not do their work. Its one big party for them while we suffer with ischemic heart disease, agent orange poisening, excluded because we have ptsd. They want us to put a gun to our heads. while they collect benefits they do not deserve. Now McCain wants to screw us too….fire his fat cat butt!!!!!!!! The claims are not read…they are just sent through a computer with all kinds of contradictory answers that do not make any sense at all.

  4. My husband and I went to a D.A.V. meeting in Columbus. By far they are the most caring and helpful organization we have met. However, we have lost 150,000 veterans due to suicide and disease and old age. They need more members to support them . Please try and scrape up the money and join. They have a lot of valuable information and hands on help. We contacted a radio station WHK and Pastor Ernie Sanders agreed to give them free advertisement. Blogs do not help anyone. Except to get out a little anger and hopefully reach a few veterans. The local media , newspapers did not want anything to do with the D.A.V. The Christian radio stations are willing to help and listen and inform the local community. It is my prayer that all veterans get the help that they need. However, they must let any media know so these tyrants will be exposed.

  5. I am a Vietnam Veteran, I served during the years of 1966 and 1969. I am also a disabled Veteran, (service connected) I lost my hearing while serving my country. now, I’m unable to work because of other injuries and joint disease, I’ve had skin cancer and it was caught just in time, but, it’s more than likely will come back. I was exposed to Agent Orange, But, the doctors at the VA are not going to help me with this if were to file a claim on this. I have no documentation to back this claim up. I’m not able to work and have not done so in over ten years, If it were not for SS disability and what little the VA has awarded me on my hearing lose, my wife and I are barely getting by. If our country is going to send it’s men and women to war, they damn will better give us the support that we deserve after the war is won. I know one way to end all wars, each country should put it’s elected officials there right along side of the men and women that put their lives on the line for a small amount pay, about the first shot to ring out, the war would be put on hold until they could have talks to reconcile it’s differances. There would be more talk than and less Guns.

  6. I am an Afghanistan female veteran with PTSD and TBI disability. I recently bought a condo in Playa Del Ray, CA. I have been harassed by HOA management several times. Is there any way to fight them to stop harassing me ? I feel being discriminated against because I am a disabled female veteran.
    Thank you

  7. I Would Like To Add When You Do Not Now Have An Insurance Policy Otherwise You Do Not Remain In Any Group Insurance, You Will Well Really Benefit From Seeking The Assistance Of A Health Agent. Self-employed Or Individuals With Medical Conditions Ordinarily Seek The Help Of One Health Insurance Brokerage Service. Thanks For Your Blog Post.

  8. I am the wife of a 100% disabled veteran with a prescribed service dog. Our condo association in Florida denied my husband access to the pool (where our mailboxes happen to be) with his dog. They have also denied a further request for reasonable accommodation to build a privacy barrier for him and his dog so he can enjoy our patio space on our dime. It happens to abut a condo walkway where everyone can see as they walk by. My husband suffers severe PTSD. Six months later, our attorney is now having to deal with the Association’s insurance company’s attorney who is asking us to indemnify the Association against any actions associated with the dog (ie bite). Meanwhile, this is a PETS ALLOWED development and no one else has ever been asked to do so. Our request for a permanent barrier is being met with resistance. We have a good case for discrimination and are weeks away from filing a federal lawsuit. It has taken a tremendous toll on both us. Moreover, it’s sad that our fellow neighbors not sitting on the Board of Directors will end up paying for the callous and unlawful actions of the Board.

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