VA announced its newest round of changes to disability compensation regulations last week ushering in a new sequence of events ultimately designed to reduce payouts to veterans with disabilities.

According to the VA press release, the agency will start with conditions of the eye and other sense organs. The agency says its changes are to “better align with modern medicine,” but I think we all see the writing on the wall.

The agency does not need new regulations as much as it needs to at least start following the regulations and policies it already has in place. Case in point is the recent traumatic brain injury (TBI) scandal where we caught VA using unqualified doctors to examine veterans with residuals of TBI. The policy inside VA and common practice in the field of neurology indicates a nurse practitioner lacks the training necessary to diagnose TBI.

But common sense and policy did not get in the way of VA clinicians using unqualified doctors and nurses to conduct exams and screw veterans out of benefits. Over 24,000 thousand veterans were affected while VA was allowed to engage in its fraud without anyone losing their job. So, with any new changes, will VA examiners follow those?

RELATED: IG Releases Report Of TBI Scandal

The agency likely will craft new legislation that screws veterans out of benefits under the guise of the need to “better align” its fraudulent schemes to keep the cost of war down. This is what the agency has done since its inception in 1930. It will continue to do the same with restrictive, insurance adjudication legislation and policies that are adversarial to veterans in practice while claiming to be pro-veteran in front of Congress.

The press release is posted below in italics.

VA Updates Disability Rating Schedule to Better Align with Modern Medicine

Effective May 13, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will update portions of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD, or rating schedule) that evaluates the organs of special sense eye conditions, as well as gynecological conditions and disorders of the breast.

The VASRD is the collection of federal regulations used by Veterans Benefits Administration claims processors to evaluate the severity of disabilities and assign disability ratings.

VA is in the process of updating all 15 body systems of the VASRD to more accurately reflect modern medicine and provide clearer rating decisions.

“VA remains committed to providing Veterans with the benefits they have earned through their service,” said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. “And, with modern medicine advancing at a rapid rate, it‘s important to ensure VA’s disability rating schedule reflects these advancements.”

Several revisions were made to the general rating formula for diseases of the eye, including a new definition of incapacitating episodes that more clearly measures level of disability. Additionally, three diagnostic codes — diabetic retinopathy, retinal dystrophy and post-chiasmal disorders — were added. No conditions were removed from either portion of the rating schedule.

Several diagnostic codes were added to the schedule for gynecological conditions and disorders of the breast, including malignant neoplasms, benign neoplasms and other injuries of the breast. Several more diagnostic codes were restructured and revised.

Updates to dental and oral conditions and conditions related to the endocrine system were completed in 2017.

By updating these portions of the rating schedule, VA allows claims processors to make more consistent decisions with greater ease and ensure Veterans understand these decisions. VA remains committed to improving its service to Veterans continuously and staying at the forefront of modern medicine.

Source: https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=4057

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52 COMMENTS

  1. Sheesh…if they really wanted more accuracy with ratings, it would be more helpful to have examiners that don’t add to, twist, or outright lie with what was said/felt, incorporating that into their reports. Then, claims processors that do not make those “consistent decisions” when the report happens to be accurate, would be a wonder, too. While I am on the subject, VHA and VBA do have that connection when it comes to when an examiner reviews medical file that can serve to further hurt the vet…more twisting, adding to, or outright lying can be found in chart notes, also, not to mention the copy/paste that some practice from moons ago that may not still apply. Why are they not overhauling that mess?

    • @Mari

      You touched upon something long known really even if not acknowledged that has a PROFOUND impact on VHA as a health care provider.

      The reality is that veterans who receive compensation from VBA are of course aware VBA can and will reduce their income if their medical condition improves. Broadly speaking this puts the decision making process for the patient into the proverbial Catch 22 scenario when the benefits package as a whole is considered. If the patient decides to aggressively seek treatment for a condition that if significant improvement is made known to VBA could result in making them homeless then they have to choose between improvement and income. Those same patients seeking care outside VHA would have to consent to that same information being shared with VBA but not so of course if the improvement is documented by a VA doctor irregardless of the validity of the opinion or your consent to share it with anyone.

      So when a patient receiving VBA or in process of receiving VBA benefits attends a VHA appointment for care they most certainly will not fully disclose their condition in the same productive manner as they would outside of the VHA healthcare system. It becomes adversarial. Even worse being inside a VHA facility and being a VBA hopeful would most certainly be a motivation to exaggerate symptoms. The point is going into a VHA facility for a VBA recipient is from the moment of entry into the facility a potential and huge adversarial relationship JUST because they do not operate by the rules everyone else does outside of VA healthcare. The question becomes then; can an adversarial medical relationship between a patient and a medical provider EVER be as productive for the patient as one that is not?

      VA healthcare is a veteran benefit. That is what it is. What it is not is an equal and viable solution to providing healthcare on par with that generally available to all other citizen classes except veterans who must use their federal healthcare benefit only at designated facilities (VA) that they may also be engaged with in adversarial legal fashion for income. Examiners after all for a VBA generally walk the same hallways and use the same parking lots as VHA healthcare providers and patients.

      • After 20 years of the same condition, federal regulations and law require the VA to leave you alone and they cant reduce you. The ONLY way they can reduce you is if you apply for a higher rating for something. My own VSO told me this and he just came back from updated training

      • They are not supposed to reduce your disability, but they will do their best to do so. They continually deny benefits, underrate claims and continually lower our benefits all in order to save a few $$$. If they could get rid of the waste fraud and abuse, then that would be a lot better than cutting our benefits. Now that they are revising the VASRD, does a woman still get a 50% rating for a hysterectomy whether it is really necessary or not while a combat Veteran gets his leg blown off and only gets 40%? The reason the VA and the military want one rating system is so they can rip us off and we can’t use one rating against the other, when they do need to be separate in all fairness. You would not believe what the Federal Government can and often does. They don’t follow the laws, regulations and other requirements if they don’t feel like it. I have seen some pretty crazy things that this Federal Government has done and they can and do whatever they want to do, from preventing us getting disability retirements, to lowering our benefits, to saying that the burn pits didn’t cause COPD and denying that Agent Orange didn’t cause many diseases. They need someone in their that will kick their butts up one side and down the other to make sure that the ratings and care we get are the best possible. They can’t seem to do this properly and I can’t understand why. Maybe they should actually read our medical records and the documentation in them…how’s that for a novel concept? Telling me I didn’t get a disease from Iraq or Afghanistan, when thousands and thousands of us Veterans get them, doesn’t mean they can just ignore it and tell us to go away. We are just political pawns taken out and used in election years and thrown under the bus afterwards… The only way they seem to take care of us is when things get really bad and they get nailed by the media, but once the media stops reporting on it, then it goes back to the way it was. Veterans organizations can really influence the way things are done, but mostly they do the optics and the issues that really affect even one of us is ignored. I hope that I can get it all figured out and correct by the time I die, but I am not hopeful.

  2. Well, if they are going to make treatment more consistent with modern technology and other insurance carriers claim histories, they will next institute no treatment at all. We are seeing this happen in more and more ERs as elders are just told to go home without being evaluated or treated. Death is the usual outcome. That certainly would save the VA tons of money, wouldn’t it??? This is just one more nail in the coffin of our Veterans. It makes me sick!

  3. This so typical of the US VA system. It has never been about what they can do the Veteran but what the Veteran can put into their pockets. While I was researching some disability claims I had open I come across the Canadian Veterans Disability Rating Schedule. And I was completely amazed at how straight forward their process is. There No Collusion or Obstruction of Benefits and is explained in a very simplistic way so any Veteran or Family member of a Veteran could follow it.

    It is so appalling at how our own citizens that we Swore to Protect and Serve have Betrayed us in our time of need.

    Here is a link if you really want to see how other countries treat their Veterans with Dignity and Respect.

    http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/services/rates

  4. Mari: “… not to mention the copy/paste that some practice … “

    Tell me about it:

    I filed a claim, submitting 3 reasons and bases in support.

    VA denied my claim, explicitly shot down two of my three reasons and bases, but never addressed the third.

    I resubmitted my claim, citing only the unaddressed reason and basis in support.

    VA, in a copy/paste of their first denial letter, denied my second submittal, again explicitly shot down the same two same reasons and bases in support I had cut, but never addressed the single reason and basis I had cited.

    That was a year ago.

    The copy/paste denial still stands, even after I sat down with VA, and provided copies of my letter pointing out their copy/paste error, and proof of delivery.

    • They tell us to file an NOD, but 2 1/2 years later, nothing done about it. I posted it on the Region IV FB Page and they say someone will contact me and yet….the same person will probably call and tell me that everything is being done. Do I have to wait 2 1/2 more years for it to be resolved??? If I did as crappy a job as the VA does, I would have been FIRED from my fed gov job.

  5. “VA is in the process of updating all 15 body system…”

    Well, when their surgeons and doctors can correctly identify 13 of the 15 major body systems and parts 60% of the time I guess that will indeed be an update. Just tell me when they figure out the large colon and all downstream related to that body system. Let us see how they update my ass? It could be worth a shot because it ain’t what it was before I went into the service, right? The pucker has lost the oval.

    • @Dennis–Here’s what the VA’s world class medicine will do for your out of alignment pucker:

      A) Referral to a Pakistani Pucker Alignment Seat Specialist, (PP & ASS, like a Nose & Throat M.D., but different…very different)

      B) The PP & ASS Dept. will have Veteran sit their bare ass onto an ass ink blotter several times,

      C) Veteran then places inked ass onto special pucker alignment blotter paper contracted for PP & ASS,

      D) IF PP & ASS should find your pucker is an oval or any other deviation, your BVA Disability will be reviewed and reduced because,

      E) Under new ass alignment rules @ BVA, it matters not if your pucker is deviated, and if it’s to extreme of being a prolapse, RAND recommends attending PP & ASS Art Therapy Group and use it as a paintbrush.

      F) PP & ASS Contractors are not responsible for the toxicity levels of ink utilized in pucker tests.

  6. In 2010, the AFGE and VBA officials began negotiations for the renewal of the VBA employee contract (set to renew in 2011). The hot item on the table were PERFORMANCE AWARDS (Bonuses). AFGE demanded, and VBA agreed to; changing the way the Performance Awards were calculated. Instead of a rating examiner earning “points” for completing a claim properly; AFGE wanted a “key-stroke” system put in place. That system, taken from predominately the Collections industry, rewarded employees for every key-stroke they made. This system went into place in 2011 and is still being used today. The outcome was that VBA rating examiners would “open” a file, send a letter and then move on to the next one. No actual work on the file really, just touch and go. Because the rating examiners are now held to a standard of number of “touches” per day / per month; complex claims are ignored, simple claims are denied or poorly rated. This entire system is what created the massive (1 million plus claims) backlog. Since they haven’t changed this processing method; rather they simply CHOSE to stop discussing ALL the 13 categories of claims publically, what we have now is an “Appeals Backlog”. (Quote from article in 2014, wherein my organization called the VA out on this practice and they openly acknowledged exactly this: “The Veterans Benefits Administration says that the changes in the way it reports its numbers are because it “continues to add metrics, not remove them,” said VA spokeswoman Genevieve Billia. “The same information that was available in the 2009 version of the [VA’s online report] is available in the current version which is why the Veteran Warriors group was able to generate their analysis across multiple years. “When VBA discusses claims inventory in the media, we and most of our stakeholders are discussing this group of claims directly associated with an original or supplemental claim to disability compensation or pension,” says Billia. “This group of claims we collectively describe as the ‘Rating Bundle.’ … The Veterans Warriors’ group graphics are accurate when it comes to displaying the entire universe of requests and claims from Veterans as they appear to be drawn from the [VA online report]. However, VBA has been and continues to focus on production to reduce the claims inventory for the Rating Bundle — the backlog — as those claims directly determine a Veteran’s entitlement to benefits.” http://www.tbo.com/list/military-news/altman-vas-calculation-of-outstanding-claims-questioned-20140309/ )

    The actual nexus of this problem and the never-ending cycle of denials and remands of claims is based SOLELY on lack of training of rating examiners. The job description of a new hire rating examiner is nearly identical to that a receptionist in the VA system. These examiners are not required to be hired with prior insurance adjusting, claim rating or even medical transcription experience. Previous experience in these fields would prescribe a rating examiner that actually understands that medical language in the claims and potentially even understand the long-range complications that say, would be associated with a claim for “Bilateral APL Suspensionplasty” – 99.99% of the readers have no idea what that term is. The same holds true for 99.99% of the rating examiners currently employed by the VBA. Therein lies the problem. It is not a lack of policy, which is the problem. It is a lack of understanding, training, education and oversight. That medical term I mentioned is a PARTIAL AMPUTATION ON BOTH HANDS; which when rated exactly according to the schedule, would have resulted in a rating of 70% (dominant hand) and 60% (non-dominant hand) – and then the rule requires that both be rated as “Loss of Use” under the DeLuca Criteria. After 4 years, 5 appeals, 2 Congressional inquires – the VA closed that particular claimed issue with a 30% rating (DH) and a 20% rating (NDH); going on to scrub the veteran’s medical file to find other non-claimed issues to, when included with the other CLAIMED issues would bring the rating to 100%. There is a term for the use of THIS type of process in the insurance industry – “End Result Calculation”. Meaning that as long as they get to the correct final number; which claimed issues are correct is irrelevant. THAT does not serve veterans properly. In the highlighted case, the incorrect ratings of both hands left the veteran ineligible for other VA grants and services that the veteran should have been entitled to.

    We MUST force a full overhaul of the VA. Not just one program at a time or a few line items at a time. If an employee is not properly trained to do a job; regardless if it is the janitor or a rating examiner; the job will NEVER be done right.
    Very respectfully,

    YN1 Lauren Price, USN, (Ret.)
    Founder / Managing Director
    Veteran Warriors
    P: 727.247.8141
    F: 727.255.5085
    E: [email protected]

    http://www.veteranwarriorsadvocacy.com
    http://www.Facebook.com/vetwarriors1

  7. “https://www.change.org/p/president-of-the-united-states-call-on-president-trump-to-address-censorship-of-conservatives-by-big-tech?recruiter=339123595&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_more.pacific_abi_share_button_ordering_1.abi_featured_fb”
    We need to get the word out. Whenever we go against the Liberals agenda they censor us. I will be posting this on FB and twitter to try and get @realdonaldtrump the message. I will also send it diectly to the WH. Hopefully he will see what they are doing to our Veterans.
    Hang in there folks.

    • You think he’s going to help? The $ for those tax cuts need to come from somewhere. All due respect but why do you think he cares when he evaded the draft numerous times and mocked a POW?

      • @marinewive
        You are exactly right, why veterans have any confidence in a 5 time draft dodger, a proven liar and a manchild who so overtly uses the federal government as his personal property is way beyond my ability to understand.

  8. “[…VA is in the process of updating all 15 body system…]”-

    Milton Bradly just won a huge contract producing warehouses full of new “Operation Game”, red buzzer nose and everything, except these will help BVA identify all 15 body systems due to their printed with every Middle East and Indian Dialect and the organ parts are gummy…yep, sparing absolutely no expense, BVA felt our hard working examiners require a little motivational learning snack while identifying all the pieces and parts that make-up a nonhuman test subject.

    Batteries not included…another contract.

    • I’m not buying that playset. Firstly because the VA just took half my pension but secondly because I bet replacement packets of gummies are double priced.

      Fuck it. Bet it don’t even come with tropical flavors. Lazy.

      • Only various flavors of curry for the gummy organ game-pc refills in order to spread the net to all hut hacks in India to learn at the VA.

  9. “https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/m…-veterans.html”
    Veterans Go Back to Court Over Burn Pits. Do They Have a Chance?
    By Seth Harp May 17, 2018

    “On May 9, a federal appeals court heard oral arguments in a case about an explosive issue among U.S. veterans: the widespread use of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the potential health consequences they suffered as a result.

    The case, which dates back to 2008, consolidated dozens of lawsuits by hundreds of veterans and their families seeking to recover damages from the military contractor KBR Inc., but a trial court dismissed it in July 2017. It could be at a legal dead end unless the panel of judges, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturns the dismissal.

    The plaintiffs accuse KBR of negligence for exposing them to toxic emissions from open-air trash fires known as burn pits, which they say cause respiratory, neurological and other health problems. In tossing the case last year, the trial court accepted KBR’s argument that the American military made the decision to use burn pits to dispose of trash on bases, and that federal courts cannot second-guess the executive branch’s wartime decisions.

    One plaintiff, Lauren Price, a Navy veteran from Pasco County, Fla., who developed constrictive bronchiolitis after working at a burn pit in Baghdad, said in an interview that she has already given up hope. “I’ve stopped paying attention,” she said. After 10 years of litigation, the case is still at the procedural starting gates, and unless the plaintiffs eke out a win on appeal, it will be one of the biggest setbacks yet for tens of thousands of affected veterans who have received zero recompense despite years of advocacy by lawyers and nonprofits.

    The controversy is at a point where it could become the subject of a Supreme Court decision or an act of Congress. Here’s a brief introduction to an issue that has risen over time from the lowest military scuttlebutt to the highest levels of American government.”…

    This is a much longer article.

    • Sounds like the executive team at KBR needs to start dropping dead from acute lead poisoning…

      • I hope that lead has been dished out in the middle with a solid copper jacket.

        Our chu’s were a fire hazard. I was glad to leave and sleep in a thin tent in injun country.

        It was a kbr trucker that backed a trailer into something, bending the ladder I eventually fell off and became a life cripple.

        Seriously fuck kbr

  10. Been waiting since 2008 to have choroidal melanoma… eye cancer .. considered… deny appeal…deny …appeal… deny… disability lawyer again deny… again appeal…. eye removed due to cancer.. toxic exposure… agent orange.. waiting ..waiting… till death due us part.

  11. Just some more of the same old adversarial VA that screws over veterans all the time. Screw the damn VA!!

  12. Thank God I just got a letter from the VA on Friday saying they have decided to take half my benefits. Started from $250 a month, fought up to $1400 (far cry from what was promised) now half is being stolen back in under 7 years. Service connected for spinal and muscular-skeletal injuries from a fall that left me permanently crippled with a bum hip,leg, arm, shoulder and many broken ribs. Got fucked out of the gate on tbi and ptsd.

    Thank God I tried to email this site and got turned away automatically the day before yesterday.

    Thank God attorney after attorney keeps turning me away countrywide.

    Thank God ohio politicians are too corrupt to help.

    Thank God the DAV keeps jerking me around and refusing to help. Scum sucking pig fuckers.

    Thank God my kid will finally have to go hungry since if you’re a white male in this state you are denied all help.

    Why thank God?

    My conscious will be clean with the wicked acts I’m about to do.

    Hope you don’t run across me.

    • Forgottendisabled,

      Although you certainly have been through a lot. Do not play into their hands and let them trigger you into doing something you will ultimately regret. For them this is a game where they write all the rules while holding all the cards as they continually press you and all Veterans to try and trigger a bad response. They then win the game and you suffer even more as does your family. While they get to spin the response into more money for them.

      For some like myself, I had to quit their corrupt game severing their control over my life and emotions. Then started a new game where I hold all the cards and write all the rules. You have the same access to the Web as I do and can do the same as me. Research the acts of the Veterans Administration and learn to write about how it is so wrong in so many of the things it is doing to harm Veterans.

      Post them here and under other articles on the Web. The more you inform Veterans and others the greater your impact.

      God Bless and hug your children. Don’t let the corruption at the VA destroy anymore of your life, abilities or lead you down the wrong path.

      Seymore

      • Seymour: Good advice for a vet on the edge, thank you, Brother. The only way to win this fight is to get into power. All of you guys and gals are doing a great job of pushing this incredible boulder up the hill. Ben has given us the ammunition for which we can push harder and longer. I would support Ben for Sec of the VA and, although it may seem far fetched, so was the question of the ultimate outcome at one time in the Argonne Forest, and Tarawa. Pres Trump needs to KNOW; So keep pushing.
        Again I see that if we can get more people like Ben through law school and practicing and bring other vet lawyers into the foal to deluge the VA with lawsuits for medical malpratice when these “evaluators” make decisions, we will have taken a big slice out of their power. I had the D.C. Regional Director admit to me, (off the record, he said) that Claims Adjusters were throwing records in the trash, but “he was doing the best he could”. Public airing of the actions of corrupt and incompetent VA personnel is a start. Demanding removal of the boobs is also something we need not give up on. Continuous pressure is necessary at all weak points, and remember the VA does not employ the highest paid people in their respective fields. Keep a log and check with guys like Dennis, Seymore, Namnibor, and others who have a real grasp of the issues. Whenever possible get Choice instead of in house treatment for a second opinion. Semper Fi.

    • @Forgottendisabled:

      I suggest you contact Senator Sherrod Brown, OH, as his office back 10 years ago helped me with the VA and SSDI, and Sen. Brown even has a Registered Nurse on staff and dedicated help for Veterans.

      I still have the business card so the name of the RN may have changed since then so here’s a series of localities/#’s, hope you will at least try Sen. Brown, as he certainly helped me pull myself through the VA/SSDI anal canal and want to believe he’s one of the good guys:

      Cleveland Office: 888-896-OHIO
      Lorain: 440-242-4100
      Columbus: 614-469-2083
      Cincinatti: 513-684-1021
      Wash., D.C. Swamp Office: 202-224-2315
      “”HTTP:/brown.senate.gov

    • Totally feel your pain there been going through same shit myself. Its a big screw job va doesnt follow their own rules but holds you to standards so high you can bever reach it. They set the bar so high by breaking the laws you just die in the end. Been denied for 8 years for a ptsd claim, been denied 12 years for surgery so i can breath through my nose. Its not a life wirth living i promise you that.

    • Great post nam. I kinda like my primary care doc because he knows I’ll reach down his throat and pull his lungs through his teeth. Unfortunately the rest of the dog doctors are a little harder to intimidate!

      • I always say I will pull their lungs out through their nose, but hey, teeth work too!!!

  13. I’d love to see them try and give a justification to reduce me. I just went through TWO major back surgeries since October of last year and they are hinting about a third one. I have close to 40 pounds of screws nuts and bolts holding my back together and I now have an ass crack that goes clear up to between my shoulder blades. And I have been classified as 100% perm and total since 2004. I have had to have over 12 different sizes of braces for my legs as they have atrophied so badly my left leg is a grand total of less then 8 inches in diameter (its suppose to be a minimum of 19 to 24 inches around) which means I have lost close to 72% of my muscle and tendons in my left leg, and my right is swiftly heading that was as I am over 55% in that one. So anytime they want to try or get froggy, let them start jumping and me and my attorneys will make them wish they had never heard of me.

  14. I am rated 70% physical w/5 rated service connected physical injuries, 2 injuries at 0% and due to one of the 5 rated, am on 100% IU total and permanent. ALL of my injuries are actual service connected in the line of duty over a period of years.. i.e. I did not get them in the same situation. There were three distinct occurrences in my case over a number of years I served. One a crushing injury on board ship early in my career, another a device explosion years after that and the third a couple years later.

    Even so, it took 4.5 YEARS to get through the system. My full V/A disability claim finally completed in 2012 at which time I was retired fully. Not only that, with all I have been through, none of my ratings are PTSD. None. They are all physical injuries. And NONE of them are follow on or caused by another medical problem/injury. I.E. my leg injury due to bullet wound was not caused or brought on by the explosion that injured my neck/spine and TBI.

    The big support and rep groups like DAV, PVA etc were ALL worthless. And if any of those people are reading this, perhaps it is time they stop playing politics and START representing disabled Veterans on the personal level.

    During that 4.5 years, I was given $970 a month to live on.. w/ a daughter I was raising on my own. I am not going to get into the struggle about how bad it was but suffice it to say I have been there.

    The reason I am writing though is for a few reasons.

    First, after reading this article, I do NOT see how this change at the V/A is a negative thing. By ADDING some new diagnosis options to the list, they have increased the ratings that can be granted to Veterans and while I am a man, I even noted they added a number specifically now for women, which is a great thing. I don’t see how this article goes from them increasing possible diagnosis for ratings to reducing what they want to give us.. Someone needs to explain that too me because that is NOT what I read at all.

    Second, I see a lot of ‘angry’ posts from Veterans talking about how they keep getting denied even on appeal, how they have numerous ailments which would at first glance seem obvious yet for some reason the V/A just denies every time, including all appeals. I don’t buy it. While it took me 4.5 years to get through the process, part of the problem was the verification of my service connections. Getting records, documents, medical reports and incident reports when medical entries were either not available or were limited in what they actually documented.

    One of my major injuries was very very limited in the medical reports so the V/A also went back through incident reports, testimony and other data to confirm, that yes, indeed that injury was in fact service connected. It was not because there was a question of whether it occurred and where, rather what my actual medical condition was, what I was treated for and the impact physically/medically it had on me.

    They also had to open classified records in a couple cases and they DO have specific people that have top secret or above security clearances JUST for this very reason. To be able to access those closed records for purposes of verification. I know that goes through Washington D.C. and it takes a bit of time. I learned about this because that had to be done for part of my claim as well.

    The point is, when I see people posting about how their records are classified or some such thing, how they “disappeared” or were destroyed or were lost and they blame the V/A, I know for fact that is bullshit in many cases. And in those cases where that IS legitimate, there ARE other avenues for verification as I have explained and will explain further. Veterans Korean War and older, are the primary group that does have problems in this regard but 99% of Veterans who served AFTER the Korean War, have records somewhere that can verify things, if nothing else, can give the V/A names and duty locations for investigating further.

    Getting hurt serious enough to warrant a service connection IS going to be documented somewhere, some place, some how and in some manner.. whether in records, letters, people you served with or any local medical care you got during that incident. PERIOD. And any claim to the contrary, is bullshit.

    And before one of you replies with “well the V/A in your area may be a ‘good’ one etc..” Wrong. Why? Because my process went from Norfolk VA, to then San Diego CA, from there to Milwaukee Wi, then to Wichita Kansas and then 2 years later back to my home state, Madison Wi. And NONE of these count the other places I got care follow on for many of the injuries.. places like Gaeta Italy in the medical bay on board the USS Puget Sound. Or Portsmouth England or on board DD-974 USS Comte de Grasse… and others.

    Having a legit injury is not something you went to sick call once and never again until suddenly you put in a claim at the V/A. An legit injury is something you have been seen for a few times at least, possibly by different clinics, commands, bases etc over a period of time. If you went once to med call or sick call and then 20 years later decide it is a service connected injury, you are full of it.

    For me, moving around from base location then through discharge and subsequent having to move homes I lived in before coming ‘back’ home for good, also slowed down my process over the 4.5 years, IT DID NOT stop it nor impeded the V/A from finding and investigation ALL my records, both service AND medical..

    I also had medical records all over the world literally. Italy from the 1980’s where I nearly died, too Norfolk Naval Hospital, Walter Reid in DC, Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, Hines V/A in Chicago and quite a few other places. I had 3 of my major surgeries ON active duty at 3 different Naval Hospitals, in fact. I have had additional via the V/A and in fact am going in again, 14 JUN 2018 for another… 2 weeks from the day I am writing this…. oh and BTW, I have waited for this surgery for just under a YEAR because of the back log. It is the 4th attempt to save my r-arm and shoulder.. the first 3 attempts have failed.. if this fails, I most likely will lose use of my r-arm/shoulder.. and I am r-handed dominant.

    So I can also say that if you did something, somewhere it is IN your records.. and if that is vague, there are people YOU SERVED WITH that can testify by writing a letter backing up your claim. One of my ratings was determined that way because the medical and personnel file were vague in exactly what injuries I had after an incident. It documented something happened but not exactly what my injuries were or how they occurred in the incident. So the V/A used that information to contact former military that were there during that time.

    Third, like I said, I see a lot of ‘angry’ posts others and I am sure my comment will bring even more. And while all service connected disabled Veterans have room to be angry about getting through the claims process, what makes me even more angry is how many Veterans are in the system getting free medical care for no valid reason at all.

    As a service connected disabled Veteran, I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in a V/A around the country and watched people get care for things OBVIOUSLY having nothing to do with service connection. I have waited (and currently AM WAITING) for appointments and care for months and in a current case, for over a year, because of the long wait time of Veterans in front of me… And a couple of them are getting care in one of the same clinics as I am that has NOTHING to do with their service.

    How do I know? Because many like to talk to much. One of them had a bad motorcycle accident OFF duty, OFF base and was screwing around driving down an interstate highway when he lost control. Another “had a bad experience shaving and shaving caused him to break out on his face thus warranting a 100% service connected injury”.

    I have seen many of these cases where it is pretty damn obvious, what they are being treated for has nothing to do with the time in service they had.. yet because they served a year or two during no conflict peace time periods, they feel entitled to full blown free medical care. Well guess what? NO YOU DON’T.

    And this is a huge reason the V/A is so damn backed up and why those like me have to wait a YEAR for needed surgery and care in some cases.

    Yes, there are some situations where a service connection is not figured out for years later.. We all know that. But let me be clear again, I am not talking about those. AND those CAN be determined BY your time in service, your location during that service and other means. And that is a fact. I am talking about the obvious. Breaking your foot does not cause you to get throat cancer. Getting appendicitis does not cause you to have TBI, PTSD etc. Breaking a leg does not cause liver, colon or stomach cancer.

    1) My suggestion and recommendation to those reading this that fit into any of these situations is this. If the rep you have is not doing it, get a new one. And KEEP changing until you find one that care enough to help for real.

    2) If you have to, dig up records on your own. Look up those you served with that CAN back up your story. Get them to write a certified letter on your behalf. Commanding officers and others are also a great source for verification. My very first commanding officer from the 1980’s remembered me and the situation even all this time later.

    3) Keep track of things YOURSELF. Don’t just hand it off to your rep (DVA/PVA or whomever you are using)

    4) Start a real journal that contains two important factors. Every day, write down how you feel, your activities, pain levels, impact on your life due to your medical issues and BE specific. More important, do not miss a day.. Write down exactly WHY and HOW your ‘injuries’ are disabling and why you deserve care and service connection.

    5) Stop blaming the V/A out right for everything. Yes, the V/A has problems. But the one thing I personally have found is that when you get past the politics, the lazy administrative types and the dirtbags, the medical care itself is excellent. Not 100% of the time.. I too have had my nightmare situations (Hine’s V/A in Chicago), but more then not, the medical care I did get was top notch.

    If my post makes you angry, then it served its purpose. Why? Because either you realize YOU need to step up more depending on how bad you want it, as I had to do OR fall into that category where your ‘ailments’ are not actually service connected but you feel entitled anyhow.

    If this post makes you angry and you ARE legit, then get off your ass and step and do some of the leg work. Get involved and personally follow up on things. If you are legit and your condition truly is service connected and warrants a rating, then do something about it. Don’t just sit back expecting some no name no face person in a cubicle to take pity on you and fix it all while you sit back and wait for a pay day.

    And in this latter case, you can get angry all you want.. I stand by what I said. The V/A is for SERVICE CONNECTED injuries and disabled Veterans. You can complain all you want but it was NEVER intended to be a total and complete for life free service for all that served regardless if it was one year or 20.

    • Wow !!! Jake – maybe you should reconsider and at least get some treatment for the PTSD.

      Just wondering about the motorcycle rant – You do realize that if that fool was in service at the time of the accident – that is service connected. Just because off duty off base – does not mean “out of service”

    • @Jake Part 1 of 2 (The forum only allows so many words to be posted at once): My first instinct when reading your reply was to respond with sarcasm (i.e., “I’m your huckleberry”), as I considered using circumstantial evidence and emotively-fueled words to refute a number of your anecdotally-supported claims—especially because I believe you are deliberately trying to anger people (as you even admit towards the end of your response)—and then I thought about what reaction to your words I was having. Thinking critically of my own position and determining that an emotive response would prove unhelpful, I took a moment to gather my thoughts and here I am responding from a cognitive rather than emotive frame of mind. It is my hope that my words are well-received and taken into consideration. Even if this is an unreasonable desire, perhaps others who read our words will be able to glean some knowledge from our responses.

      First, thank you for sharing your personal account and related medical information. It sounds as though your lengthy struggle with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability process could have been quite frustrating, and you seem to have weathered the storm appropriately. Kudos! As well, and with suspicion that my opinion in this regard holds very little weight, I commend you on having raised a daughter on your own and under what seems like were significantly stressful times at one point. I applaud you, even if the imagined sound of my electronic clapping is unanticipated or even unwanted. Well done!

      Second, I, too, observe many, many angry veteran’s posts. Not solely in this forum, I monitor a number of veteran-centric forums to gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding that I apply concerning my own VA benefit experience. I find that many of the angry responses are unhelpful and serve no other verifiable purpose other than to pass a proverbial hot coal from the hand of an enraged veteran to other hands of veterans who perhaps are dealing with hot coals of their own, seemingly for nothing more than the process of universality. “Misery loves company” plays a key component when seeking to validate the notion that our suffering is shared by others. Again, this can be unhelpful to me, and I acknowledge your general sentiment pertaining to the same.

      I can appreciate your candor and courage it took by highlighting, and even anticipating the emotively-charged responses you may have imagined would result from your response. This is, however, where we part ways. I can no sooner apply my subjective experience with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) as a constant and indisputable truth concerning all veterans any more than you may. Believing the consumption of dairy products that may cause flatulence within you most certainly also applies to all people would be a bit of a stretch. While we share similar traits and experiences as humans, not all of our lives are lived precisely the same. Even with our identities intersecting along a similar trajectory—in this case, veteran-centrically—“warrior culture,” à la Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (ret.), is not a monolith. Simply put, your experience with the VBA does not necessarily reflect the experience of others whether you “buy it” or not.

      While your subjective experience taught you that retrieval of evidence can drastically slow the benefits process, as you seem to use this anecdotal knowledge as an absolute constant in reference to others, correlation does not suggest causation. If a tribal individual whose lifestyle was largely removed from general civilization observed that every time people drew umbrellas the behavior was associated with rain, the person may conclude that umbrellas caused rain. While there remains a strong correlation between umbrellas and rainy days, umbrellas undoubtedly do not cause rain. Likewise, your personal experience with records attainment and review having slowed the benefits process doesn’t necessarily serve as the blueprint for other veteran’s cases. Not always is the matter as simple as searching for and reviewing evidence that results in other veteran’s cases being delayed, denied, or falling to the wayside.

      Additionally, while your mention of classified evidence was true of your case, it doesn’t serve as irrefutably true for all other cases; to that point, nor does the insinuation of lost medical records relating to the implication of fallacious claims by others—or as you so eloquently put it, “bullshit.” Take my case for example. I served with a top secret security clearance while performing as a Marine Corps Embassy Security Guard (formerly called Marine Security Guard) in locations abroad. This was during a time when physical medical records were used rather than electronic. A portion of my medical records was lost while serving at diplomatic posts, never to be seen again. I sought medical treatment and the information actually had “disappeared,” as you state, from my record.

      There’s no reason for me to lie about this. I have nothing to gain by presenting a false account. After all, you aren’t tasked with verifying my explanation for the purpose of VA benefits. All the same, here I am sharing a true personal account that flies in the face of your proposal. Wisely, I do not believe a subjective scenario applies to all others. Similarly, your dismissal concerning the accounts of others could use comparable skepticism. Some veterans did in fact have a portion of their medical records vanish from existence. You don’t have to believe this in order for it to remain an objective truth. I’m not proposing that a magical medical record-eating unicorn materialized out of thin air and consumed a portion of my medical records. My suggestion isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, in other words. Some medical records do disappear.

      Additionally, your claim of “bullshit” concerning the lack of documentation for all claims is mildly speculative at best and shamefully judgmental at worst. The effects of posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other injuries are not always immediately evident—which you actually admit later in your rant…er…statement. Some service members may carry on unaware of the residuals of these conditions for years. As such, proper in-service medical documentation may not be readily available from service medical records. Stating, “Having a legit injury is not something you went to sick call once and never again until suddenly you put in a claim at the V/A,” is invalidating, shortsighted, and unnecessary. Again, using your limited understanding about such matters as a be-all, end-all example is somewhat misguided. Keeping in mind that perhaps you are well-intentioned concerning your ridicule of others, I think it is important to identify the aforementioned.

    • @Jake Part 2 of 2: Third, in keeping with your third point, I again express that my current response to you is not generated from anger. That stated, it isn’t your moral, ethical, or authoritative position (or otherwise) to confirm or deny who can or can’t “be angry about getting through the claims process.” Each individual is not as you are. We have a host of automatic, secondary, and even tertiary emotions that interplay with cognition. You simply aren’t the appointed arbiter of human response mechanisms. Likewise, your subjective observation concerning who shall and shan’t receive “medical care for no valid reason at all,” while noted as nothing more than meaningless drivel, remains arbitrary when considering your observation isn’t reflective of most, the majority, or all veteran’s situations. If I talk to veterans at a local VA and then use my flawed interpretation of their subjective experiences as a brush by which I paint the majority of veteran circumstances with, chances are I will have overstated by unsound position.

      I simply do not know what each veteran has experienced, and neither do you.

      Besides the no true Scotsman fallacy you employ, I’d like to highlight a particular critical flaw in your argument. You state, “I have seen many of these cases where it is pretty damn obvious, what they are being treated for has nothing to do with the time in service they had.. yet because they served a year or two during no conflict peace time periods, they feel entitled to full blown free medical care. Well guess what? NO YOU DON’T.”

      A) A length of service beyond the generally prescribed 24-months requirement to obtain veteran status is a purposeless designation and reveals your personal bias to those who may have served less time than you. If Pvt. Smuckatelli finishes initial and secondary training, is deployed to an imminent danger/hostile fire zone, and is sent home within a month of being in theater and is subsequently discharged for injuries relating to a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, who are you—or anyone else—to claim the veteran’s proposed six months of service was any less significant than someone who retired after 20 years? B) It matters not whether a veteran served during a period of conflict. Again, your bias is showing. C) A cursory review of current VA policy shows that eligible veterans rate health care, regardless of your capitalized retort to the contrary. There are far too many links I could point you to which support my assertion. Simply Google: “do veterans rate medical care,” prepare a cool beverage and some snacks, and have at it. You’ll find plenty of information that may correct your misunderstood position. (Safety advisory: Use of liquids while interacting with electronic items is inadvisable. Proceed with caution.)

      As a snarky point of contention, because you brought it up, your statement, “Getting appendicitis does not cause you to have TBI, PTSD etc.,” is easily challenged through objective evidence. According to Kirmayer, L. J. (1996). Confusion of the senses: Implications of ethnocultural variations in somatoform and dissociative disorders for PTSD – A. J. Marsella, M. J. Friedman, E. T. Gerrity, & R. M. Scurfield (Eds.), Ethnocultural aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder: Issues, research, and clinical applications (pp. 131-163). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association – the author plainly stated, “Indeed, in psychosomatic research, it has proven easier to identify stressors as precipitants of the onset of functional syndromes symptoms than of organic disease. Acute abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and surgery for possible appendicitis with removal of a normal appendix all have been found to be more commonly associated than organic disease with recent life events” (p. 137). Cross reference that with the current Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 38 – Chapter I – Part 4 (May 17, 2018), and it remains easy to see that diagnostic code number 9421 relates to Somatic Symptom Disorder, which per Kirmayer can relate to appendicitis. Thusly, a primary organic condition can lead to a secondary psychological condition. (How’s that beverage and delicious snack so far?)

      Fourth, addressing your unsolicited advice to veterans that is based on subjective rationale, I can appreciate your straightforward, self-deterministic, and practical proposals. You offer some useful methods for veterans to help better advocate for themselves by the promotion of personal responsibility. I can appreciate that even if much of your response over all is tailored specifically to yourself and serves as not much more than the psychological process of projection. The pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps approach works for some, and not so much for others. At any rate, I choose to believe you actually mean well and I thank you for the five-point proposal.

      Lastly, and this is where I get to the real crux of the matter, you state, “If my post makes you angry, then it served its purpose.” Again, I initially noticed an internal response and decided to explore what I was thinking and feeling before responding. If my understanding of your statement is accurate, given your own admission, you meant to anger other veterans while at the same time preemptively calling out angry veterans as people you had little tolerance for—as indicated by the breadth of your statement. This is an irrational perspective to maintain and seems more like intentional trolling than behavior warranting the label of altruism. Alas, it is not up to me to decide your motifs.

      Ignoring the simplistic dichotomy you provide (i.e., the either-or scenario you propose is the case of others being angered by your words), I will follow the training I received in the Corps and complete this shit sandwich (starting and ending with praise while placing the actual content intended for consideration in the middle). You took the time and put forth the effort to draft a response that I suspect is or was meaningful to you. I’ve noticed you’ve not taken the time to reply to those who’ve replied to you, which I will chalk up to the potential busy life you possibly live, maybe venturing from veteran board to board while systematically correcting the injustices you perceive to be taking place. Good on ya’ for stepping up to the plate and batting what I suspect you believe was an out-of-the-park home run. I truly hope your fortune continues inevitably and that your parting statement (“You can complain all you want but it was NEVER intended to be a total and complete for life free service for all that served regardless if it was one year or 20.”) never becomes a reality for you. Thank you for your submission.

      • Outstanding response!!! I love it. Wish I could still write like that…classic, just classic…guess we will never see that person again…:-)

      • cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿

        @Just Passing Through: An amazing response, not in a million years could I have written anything so eloquent.

        YOU ROCK.

  15. With all them “injuries” i am amazed the dod kept you on active duty and didnt medically discharge ytyp!

    I would love to prove some of these statements not accurate but i just am to depressed to type. The va kills veterans. The va cheats. The va profits off the sick. Enough said its fucking evil shit.

  16. Yes. Talking about medicine. The Army treated me with this medicine Butazolidin/Phenylbutazone for severe shoulder pain. This medicine is been taken out of the marker because it kills people. 30 years of my claim for this poison the VA still denied my claim for toxic chemical they injected to my body and now this shit. How long before these people go to jail for the “Human Inhumanity to Human” Veterans.

  17. From; “The Gateway Pundant”
    Dated: 18 May 2018
    Titled;
    “Unions spent $1.3 BILLION from Membership Dues on Liberal Groups From 2010 to 2017!”

    By; Jim Hoft

    (66 Comments
    381Share 151TweetEmail)

    NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    There’s lots more in the article.
    If you think it’s only about “$15 hr/wage”! Think again.
    How many unions are in America? How many do y’all think are attached to the “AFL/CIO”? How many unions get elected officials to pass bills aimed at fucking everyone – including veterans?

  18. So who will the next acting secretary of veterans affairs be? Thomas Bowman?

    Following the formal filing of Wilkie’s nomination to become the next secretary of veterans affairs. Wilkie is required by law to step down from his Current Acting position of Sec of Veterans Affairs until he is confirmed.

    Will Trump dis Veterans and allow Bowman to take the position while Wilkie goes through the confirmation process with the Senate?

  19. The point that the VA does not follow their own rules is dead on target Ben.

    The problem will not be resolved because the climate in the bureaucracy in DC is the same. The Lords of the Ring out there look and study and they dont see anything wrong. Its business as usual to them because none of them follow the rules.

    One possible way to bring the issue up is a massive effort by Veterans. The VA provides care for many millions of us. Organizing a massive demonstration of 1 million Veterans is one way to put the topic into the main stream media. We have to set the purpose and collect $$ to help get bus loads from all over the nation to pack the streets of the swampland and maybe, just MAYBE, we can force their hand into making the UNIONS that have corrupted the VA into following the same rules we have been forced to follow for decades.

    It is a massive effort to put together something like this. I know I dont have what it takes to get it done.

  20. Need to start holding POTUS Trump accountable for the promises he made during the Presidential Campaign, and what POTUS mentioned in his first State of Union Address. Did you forget already? Well, it’s not unpatriotic to hold a President accountable, he made the promises not anyone else.

    It would seem to be a good idea that Trump should start calling out ALL the Politicians who need to get working on the VA. The needs of the 21st. Century Veteran aren’t being met. IMO

  21. That’s what con artists do, they promise you the moon in order to get your money (or vote). Trump isn’t accountable to anybody but himself, most certainly not accountable to veterans or the average citizen making less than 100K a year. Fellow veterans, we’ve been had, sorry to tell ya.

  22. I don’t use va hospitals mainly because I fear for my life, an orderly at vamc pineville beat a patient to death and an internal investigation deemed it an accident and kept the orderly on for four more years.

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