What Veterans Think: Comments this Week


Veterans this Week: May 27 to June 2

I want to recap the things veterans are commenting about on this site and Facebook about the issues. I need to know what you think to ensure I am writing about topics you feel are important.

Here is my goal for DisabledVeterans.org: to fix the VA, one bureaucrat at a time. This can mean removing bad apples. This can mean presenting new policy ideas to VA decision makers. I am down to do whatever it takes to get shit done. This has always been our goal, but this is the first time I have written it down.

This week and moving forward, we focused on Inspector General reports into the Veterans Affairs. We also wrote about the coming political elections. Thank you for reading and taking the time to tell us your thoughts.

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Veterans Apply for Disability in Historic Numbers

Nivnoc pointed out how heroic veterans were in serving their country in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His concern is that disabled veterans should not be forsaken once the military uniform comes off.

DisVet42R said the increase in disability claims for compensation is the result of multiple deployments. “when you don’t fully recover from something before being subjected to stress on that injured part, it will go back to where it was or worse.” DisVet42R also believes the high disability compensation claims rate is caused by high health care costs. He said the cost of health care is now so high that disabled veterans need the VA care in order to not go broke.



Five Veterans’ Deaths Linked to VA Medical Center

There wasn’t much feedback on this Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. The Veterans Affair OIG did not name the doctor who caused the deaths. None the less, a veteran believing they were impacted by medical malpractice should contact a lawyer immediately. Let us know if you were impacted by the Marion Illinois Veteran Medical Center.



Alabama to Close 17 Veterans Service Offices

Each state is different in how the money comes to the state Dept. of Veterans Affairs. For example, the Minnesota Dept of Veterans Affairs receives money from Federal Funds and various State Funds. The MN DVA budget is $198 million per year.

The Alabama Dept of Veterans Affairs took a 15% cut to its General Fund appropriation. This comes from the State of Alabama tax coffers. In 2013, the fund will be reduced by another 34%.

These 17 offices account for 25% of the 70 total Alabama veterans services offices. That’s a lot. Next year, the cuts could be even bigger.

Readers on Facebook were active on this article. One disabled veteran commented: “Uncle Sam under the influence of Obama and his kroonies.”

Patrick Bellon, Executive Director of Veterans For Common Sense wrote in, “Just another instance of the “real” mericans showing they support the troops.” Bellon is an Iraq war veteran and fervent supporter of any cause supporting veterans and disabled veterans. He has long been concerned that those who are quick to send Americans to war will just as quick pull back veterans benefits once new veterans return from battle.

David Sanderson wrote in, “I look for the Feds to start doing the same thing. It’s called ‘balancing the budget on the backs of veterans.’ Welcome to 1975 boys and girls.”

Each state is different in how the money comes to the state Dept. of Veterans Affairs. For example, the Minnesota Dept of Veterans Affairs receives money from Federal Funds and various State Funds. The MN DVA budget is $198 million per year.

The Alabama Dept of Veterans Affairs took a 15% cut to its General Fund appropriation. This comes from the State of Alabama tax coffers. In 2013, the fund will be reduced by another 34%.



Policy Priorities for Dept of Veterans Affairs

I received an email from a DC insider about the Veterans Affairs Rewrite project. The person wanted me to reconsider my position. My positions as that the Veterans Affairs Rewrite would be bad for veterans. After reading the sources, I changed my position. The Veterans Affairs Rewrite “could” be bad for veterans. It could also be good for veterans, in a perfect world where the Veterans Affairs (VA) is always benevolent and Veterans Service Organizations always make policy decisions that are in the best interests of veterans.

Any time the VA suggests a rewrite, I am always worried. This time, they are rewriting the regulations for disability compensation. No matter what, there will be a fight over language.

Veterans Service Organizations will support language that increases disability compensation. VA will support language that reduces total compensation. VA has a legion of lawyers and policy experts at its disposal. Plus, it has American taxpayer dollars in the sum of $150 billion. Veterans Service Organizations have some lawyers and policy experts and a few million dollars.

I am worried.



New Survey: Veterans Lose Confidence in Finding Jobs 

Skipsteward1 wrote in about high unemployment rates in New Hampshire. “NH Unemployment Statistics Labor Force (April 2011) 736,490 employed.  (April 2012) 731,920 employed,  4570 less jobs then in 2011.  Unemployed (April 2011-2012)  34,910,  Rate 4.7%.  So where are the jobs there are none as far as I can see.  The same was back in the early 1990’s after the Gulf War.  When the soldiers came home the jobs that they once had were no more.  So who is fooling who I have to ask that question.”

“I have to laugh about this economy as to the recent article in the paper and I quote it : ‘May’s Jobs Report Disappoints Across the Board
Well, this is a bad employment report — across the board. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy created just 69,000 jobs in May — the fewest in a year — and the unemployment rate crept up to 8.2 percent.’ So where are our returning veteran or for that matter anyone suppose to find work.  It has not gotten any better then 4 years ago.”

I agree with Skipsteward1. It looks like, from the numbers, that veterans employment, and employment in general, may be getting worse. During an election year, we can guarantee that the employment statistics will be skewed. Therefore, do not believe headlines about employment news. Focus on the stats in the article and check sources.



VA Audit: Over 40,000 Veterans Appeals Ignored

In my mind, the results of this audit were alarming, and not only because the number of ignored claims is high. What concerns me most is that the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General appears to be covering up for the VA offices. The report does not specifically state which regional offices are bad actors. This prevents Congress and state officials from investigating the problems.

Further, the report does not draw logical conclusions. I came up with the “over 40,000” number using my calculator. The numbers I used were based on the audit’s numbers. The audit does not allow readers to conclude what the VA average is for length of appeal. Without a concrete average, the normal reader will not be able to know if their claim is caught up in the “round file” of the VA. In the end, it provides no value to disabled veterans since they cannot pinpoint problems.

Vnam_marine said “I filed a claim on apr 24 2000 and then again on apr 20th 2007 when the VA reopened my claim then filed a NOD on jan 8 2008 Just received on june 1 2012 letter from St.Petersbug Regional Office dated may 24 2012 that it will take between 350 to 400 days from the date of the letter may 24 2012 before I can go before the VBA……well jan 8th 2008 to jun 1 2012 is 1641 days i think i have waited long enough already.  I guess this is the VA standard of 125 days.”



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