The New Look Of DisabledVeterans.org

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DisabledVeterans.org

Benjamin KrauseAmidst the most outrageous scandal in recent history, we at DisabledVeterans.org have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure greater accountability of Veterans Affairs employees. The goal here was to use social entrepreneurial theories to help fix VA from the outside without the multi-billion budget of many government contractors VA overpays.

It was really an experiment at first to answer the questions: 1) Do veterans care enough to support a market solution when getting their benefits? Or, 2) do veterans only want help from the nonprofit, traditional veteran organization industry and the Department of Veterans Affairs?

So far, the experiment is working, which means the resounding answer to the first question is “Yes!” and “No” to the second. Veterans want accurate information when they need it on their own time in the comfort of their home — not at the pace and place dictated to them by the traditional power brokers that have a functional monopoly on capital and access within this industry.

Funding for the project started with my own disability back pay for a few years. These efforts during that time produced fruit as a result of the exposure of unethical and harsh treatment of veterans at that hands of the monopoly. I testified before the Democratic Platform Committee, changed VA Vocational Rehabilitation policy on covering health insurance, met with senior leadership at VA including Under Secretary Allison Hickey, met with numerous elected officials including ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Michael Michaud and Rep. Tim Walz, and pushed a media attack that increased awareness of the problems while helping Veterans For Common Sense. Awareness was increased and many veterans benefited.

It has been a good ride thus far, but there is far more that needs to be done. The current scandal is a sign that the traditional monopoly has failed to hold individuals accountable for monstrously evil treatment of veterans across the country. How do you destroy a monopoly? Increase market competition and consumer knowledge — the answer can be found within basic information economics theory related to problems of A-symmetrical information and signaling theory — that I read up on while at Northwestern University and University of Minnesota Law School.

My biggest goal now is to encourage everyone to treat VA as a business. We need to rate VA employees on customer service. We need to increase understanding of policies and procedures to get health care. We need to educate veterans to advocate for themselves. I approached VA to build out this kind of platform in 2013 but the prospect did not sit as squarely as I had hoped. So, like all good entrepreneurs, I put together a plan to fill this information vacuum with the help of the entire DisabledVeterans.org community. Again, this endeavor was self funded with my own disability money, and look at what it did do and what it will do moving forward.

Some of you may have noticed the new user interface we rolled out over the summer. That was just the start. Here is what will be new over the next month on the website:

  • Employee Directory – this will be a kind of “Angie’s List” of VA employees for veterans so we can rate their behavior and treatment of veterans nationwide. This will increase knowledge and insight and help us file ethics complaints.
  • Forum – this will be a platform of information exchanges between veterans.
  • Online Veterans Resource Center – this is the new subscriber / membership section where veterans can readily access guides and videos to help with benefits. Vets can get the information they need at any time, anywhere they have an internet connection.

For 8 months, I have worked with a couple different companies to increase usability of the website and increase its speed on a shoestring budget to help fight evil forces within VA.

Nick Hempsey, a Navy veteran, has been putting together a great user interface and has built in the new subscriber back end for easy access to guides, videos and case studies. These resources should prove invaluable for veterans and be easily available for all users. Nick’s company is called Studio 412 Design.

Speedilicious is providing hosting and content delivery services to ensure all users get the information they want as quickly as possible. Nothing affects the user experience more than the speed of a web page, and the Speedilicious folks are experts at speed.

Aside from these two growing small businesses helping out, this new face for the DisabledVeterans.org web community would not be possible without all of the readers, supporters and collaborators who have helped build the momentum toward greater VA accountability both on my website and on other websites.

As far as collaborators and fellow advocates, no one has worked harder and more fearlessly than Ron Nesler, creator of VAisLying.com and the Facebook group VA is Lying at pushing for justice. He is a friend and occasional collaborator on all issues VA. I have never seen a Facebook community grow more quickly and am proud he is a friend.

Beyond this, I am hoping to bring in some veteran interns from local universities to help shed light in the darkness that is the big great mess we call the VA Scandals of 2014. Between now and the 2016 elections, the waters are likely to get rather rough.

NOTE: I have heard rumors that some individuals may be claiming to represent the interests of this web community and the website DisabledVeterans.org, which is owned by Armo Press, LLC. To be clear, it is my website that is managed under the umbrella of Armo Press, LLC to limit liability, etc. I funded this operation with my disability compensation back pay and have worked my tail off to make this happen.

Moving forward, should anyone claim to represent our interests, please ask me before cooperating with those individuals. No one other than me is authorized to represent these interests, Armo Press, or its property.

Now, let’s ensure this endeavor is of the highest integrity and fierce drive to punch a hole in the darkness.

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10 Comments

  1. Interesting but why is there no telephone numbers on VA correspondence from regional office representatives? Don`t want to be bothered by veterans phone calls on the matter?

  2. anyone who stands up for the veterans of these here united states is welcome. It always starts with one person and I thank you for this site. On this site I fill I can vent the concerns I have with the V.A. knowing that other veterans are having the same problems that I have. I would like to see more on how to obtain advocacy. Due veterans trust agencies such as the D.A.V. Ect. I for one, do not fill they have a system that can help veterans when they are attacked by the V.A. In my experence with them was they will send letters to the V.A. about concerns a veteran is having with the V.A., the V.A. responds and what ever the V.A. says that it, no futher assistance is given. Your on your own. I have been attacked by the V.A. and the V.A. management let the attacker answer the inquire sent by the service orginazation and that was sufficient enough for the D.A.V. to not take futher action. I have sent a file to the Inspector General office in Washington D.C. containing about 50 pages of evidence, that showed the V.A. falsely acussed me of disruptive behavior and also showed that the employee that made the claim of disruptive behavior, was only doing so, for coments I made about her performance, when we worked at the same V.A., before I retired and the V.A. higher management let her do it with no evidence, she was able to distroy everything I worked for and for what, because her fillings were hurt. Where does a veteran go, when the I.G.,s office hides or distroyes evidence that a veteran sends to them to clear their good name and be made whole again. I for one will not stop my letter writing until I get someone to listen to me and look at the facts. I have never ever been disruptive and I never want my grandchildren or their children to look back at my past records and see that the V.A. had claimed that I wanted to shoot someone and only hearsay was used to convict me, with out any evidence. nor offering me the oppurnity to clear my good name, why because they do not want another black eye on their record, as the proof would show that there are very big problems and their employees are running amuck. It took me fourty years to prove my disability claim for P.T.S.D, after finding out the V.A. had all the evidence they needed from the begaining and made me suffer everyday for those fourty years. If I live another 40 years, I will not stop trying to get someone to listen and correct the injustice until the day I die. Civil and constitutional rights denighed veterans needs to stop. Thanks again for setting up this site and maybe one day the veterans will get the respect they deserve.

    • Hello James,
      The VA has allowed this behavior, and I have evidence all the way back to the seventies. External Advocacy is the answer. I will help.

    • James,
      Your story is compelling not only on its own merits, but because thousands of vets have gone through this same punitive, retaliatory Orwellian nonsense with these bastards. At the very core of this closed process of the Disruptive Behavior claims is the illegal and unconstitutional denial of due process to every veteran targeted as allegedly disruptive. Every veteran deserves to know who has accused them of what, and a formal hearing where they may have a chance to defend themselves. The VHA keeps this process secretive and denies due process. It is not just unconstitutional—a little document many vets gave their lives to uphold,—but at the end of the day, it is Un-American. Totalitarian or dictatorial, take your pick. Is that what we signed on for? Is that what we sacrificed for? Why do we let them get away with it? You know, the other day I approached the President of the local chapter of the VVA, and asked him what position they were taking on this issue. The first thing which surprised me is he claimed to know nothing about DBC’s. The second thing, which revolted me more than surprised me, is he launched into his spiel reciting how the group was non-profit and therefore could not express any political viewpoint. Really? The National Chapter of the VVA has a very strong and well-articulated position on this subject, raising many criticisms while offering up concrete recommendations for improvement and change.
      I tore my VVA card up because the day I belong to some watering hole squad of war-story telling misfits who will not raise a finger, or a voice, while the same brothers whose backs they once had are dying because of VA greed, incompetence, and neglect,—well that would be the day I retired from the human race.

  3. Please read ( be instructed by ): Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptives (by law clerk Nichols October 2010); And, The Court Ordered Nehmer Training Guide Policy (211A) February 2011 and Nehmer Training Guide February 2011 Revised VA compensates class counsel for all of it’s work on Nehmer claims. One should not have to get a lawyer (or group of lawyers to enforce (let’s say ) The DVA to follow the strict guidelines. The Buffalo DVA denied my claim(s) as late as December 10, 2013. The Buffalo DVA claimed that they could not find government records and of Buffalo DVA intranet, of my service in Vietnam exposed to herbicides (etc.). Yet, I went on the internet and found The January 2010 Co0mpensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) provides Information on Vietnam Naval Operations. And, The June 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211) provides ADDITIONAL Information on Vietnam Naval Operations. Both C & P Bulletins…ships lists … provides the crew of the USS Newport News CA-148 …presumption of exposure to herbicides without further development (for operations on rivers and deltas). The January 2010 C & P Bulletin clearly states: ” There is no reason for the DVA to hold the claims of anyone who served on the above listed vessels during the indicated time frames.”” My medical records were reviewed April 2014. The Buffalo DVA examiner made the diagnosis of my ischemic heart disease goes back to as early as 2000. I addressed the facts to DVA Attn: Nehmer Working Group Washington DC : to include that, according to the Nehmer Court Ordered Guidelines, compensation must be paid within 21 days. Further delay by Buffalo DVA and/or DVA Attn; Nehmer Working Group (211A) Washington DC , my claim is indicated going to the Board of Veterans Appeals. My last inquiry of the 1-800 number operator indicates the average cycle time is another 380 days delay for processing. I don’t find such added to the previous 4 1/2 previous years, follows the strict guidelines/intent of Nehmer to process claims/appeals . My medical records indicate that I have suffered throughout the many years especially physically and mentally. Yes, I salute The Buffalo DVA with both hands middle finger extended.

  4. I can’t believe all of the money spent on upgrading the VA records, database and other types of information storage. It is not that difficult and I have done it several times and made it really easy to input the information with little training and get the results out that is needed/required. I have been very successful doing this, but I am not a programmer and have one that could do it, I design it and he builds it. It is REALLY SIMPLE to design and easy to build, but have offered several times to help, but they don’t want good ideas or suggestions on how to make things better.

  5. Ben wrote: “My biggest goal now is to encourage everyone to treat VA as a business. ”

    Sorry, but I could not disagree with you more on this approach. Why reinforce their bastardized version of the corporate culture? They have no business utilizing this structure; they are a specialty agency whose primary mission is to provide health care and services to veterans.
    The toxic autocracy they have created with the corporate model is precisely why we discover these petty appartichiks covering up deaths and padding their performance goals in order to receive over $200 million in “bonuses”, just like a mini-Goldman Sachs.
    It’s just another incredible travesty of tyrannical bureaucratic greed borne on the backs of suffering veterans. To add insult to injury, these clowns presume their position to be authoritative in every instance, with every veteran. If you should soundly disagree with the VHA, they will implement an ascending series of “access restrictions” to the health care you are guaranteed. They do not hesitate to use Orwellian tactics, including a fair share of ‘newspeak’ and doublespeak. Example: I phoned my local clinic one morning to follow-up on why I had alerted them to an urgent state of health I was experiencing the day before, but never heard back from anyone there. When I raised my voice in frustration with their deplorable efforts to sidestep accountability, I was labeled disruptive, and heard from the DBC committee from Ft. Harrison. But there’s more, and this is where you can really see the doublethink come into play: the ‘disruptive’ in Disruptive Behavior Committees has a kind of two-fold meaning the way they (illegally and unconstitutionally) employ the term. It refers not only to the (subjective) reports of incidents of behavior (like shouting or cursing or threatening to sue them, etc.), but the DBC’s turn around and suggest that what the (angry or upset or frustrated or disgusted) vet is guilty of is disrupting the VHA’s ability to provide health care!! Do you see how maddening this is? In my instance ( and I’m confident many, many others), I was complaining about not having received instructions relevant to greatly needed urgent care, and they turn around and retaliate against me, saying my raising my voice disrupted their abilities to provide veterans care.
    Let me reiterate my original comment: I think it is wrongheaded to accept or reinforce the corporate hierarchical model the VA has donned, and that this should be resisted every step of the way.

    Mad as Hell in Montana

  6. I am a US Navy veteran of the Cold War and Vietnam Conflicts. In the 1970s, before the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was developed, I was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder by Veterans Affairs psychiatrists. After eight years of unsuccessful treatment with psychiatric drugs which severely damaged me both physically and emotionally to the point of ischemic strokes and suicidal ideation, I was extremely fortunate to recover completely within a few months. I had learned about Orthomolecular Therapy based on tissue mineral analysis of a hair sample and Creative Psychology through my own research and in 1982 was able to obtain a source of these treatments independent from the VA and at my own expense.

    My VA psychiatrist, who later rose to the presidency of the American Psychiatric Association, refused to acknowledge my use of Orthomolecular Therapy, the hair test results, or Creative Psychology and termed my recovery a “spontaneous remission”. Since 1982, I have lived a healthy, productive life, free of not only the need for psychiatric drugs, but all other prescription medicines as well.

    In 2007, concerned about the suicide rate of veterans diagnosed with PTSD, I began to attend a PTSD group at a VA CBOC Clinic. After only a few meetings where I shared my story with other veterans, I was taken aside by a VA psychologist and psychiatrist and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a rare and extremely disabling condition in a twenty minute interview, and banned from further participation in the PTSD group.

    When this new diagnosis affected the renewal of my life insurance policy, I requested the medical records of my recovery in the 1980s. I discovered that all such mental health records in DVA VISN 1, in the 1978 to 1990 time period, had been spoliated. No records remain. I am convinced that thousands of veterans could have made recoveries similar to mine, with thousands of lives saved, had VA psychiatrists run studies on Orthomolecular Therapy and Creative Psychology instead of destroying all evidence of a veteran’s drug-free recovery. I have recently been examined and tested by well-qualified civilian forensic psychiatrists and a QTC, Inc. C&P medical examiner, who find in me no evidence of any mental illness.

    • How can we change the disruptive committee, They are destroying veterans lives. I have been fighting the V.A. for 10 years over disruptive behavior, written to the Director in denver, thru the V.F.W., senator, patient rep washington d.c., who told me he was not their to do anything but to insure that I am not afraid of the v.a. treatment at my local clinic. Then tells me to complete a packet of my concerns and send it to the V.A. I.G., I did so and the I.G.s office lost my packet and stated they had not received it, U.S. mail tracking system shows different, that they did receive the packet. This committee is in my opion is using this ave to hurt veterans, why do we veterans have no say. Has anyone here contacted Bob the new head of the v.a., I have and I think every veteran that has had the v.a. place their name to the disruptive committee call Bob’s office in washington, there is a real person on the other line. Also call their senator, congressman, V.F.W., american legion, we need to flood the Inspector generals office with complaints of how the v.a. is using the committee to harm veterans.

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