More than 1,500 discouraged veterans turned out this weekend to get a turn in the "Project SALUTE" Winnebago.
"Young said he can't find his medical reports, if they were ever filed. The nuclear program went civilian; other files were burned in a fire in the 1970s, he was told. His claims have been turned down repeatedly at the regional veterans office with the denials stipulating that he couldn't produce records. His appeal to Washington is six years in the waiting.
Young, 73, of Charleston, sweeps his hand to the dozens of veterans sitting hunched and apprehensive around him in the Armory Park Community Center in North Charleston.
"Everyone you see here has been denied in the regional office. My claim has been sitting as long as some of these guys have been born," he said. "You can't find anybody who was in service with me. They're either dead, or in jail, or something.""
"Ohlen Baird was driving the van when it pulled into Jacksonville, Fla., last year and found 250 people already waiting in an early morning line. He shakes his head to think of it. "Knowing there are people out there who got shot at, risked their lives, and can't get their benefits straightened out," he said. "There should never be a delay.""
"A VA spokesman said no one was available to explain the two-year delay." Quoting Matin Evans in a newsday.com article titled:
"VA to reimburse vets who paid for nursing home care".
No VA employee was available to explain the two-year delay. Yeah, right, that's just the VA's way of saying "We don't want to talk about it if it looks bad".
Where's the CHANGE Shinseki?
VA Nursing Homes: Speaking to a cheering group of veterans at a Stony Brook nursing home, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) on 17 FEB excoriated the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to implement a 2-year-old congressional mandate requiring it to pay for severely disabled veterans living in nursing homes. At least eight patients at Long Island State Veterans Home have been forced to pay some or all of their care out of pocket, according to Schumer and the home. Two of them have died while waiting for the law to come into effect. One of the veterans living at the hospital is Omaha Beach survivor Julian Oleaga, 88, who has paid more than $90,000 since he was admitted last year for leg and back injuries that have left him unable to walk. "Congress did its part, it's the VA that is holding the money," said Oleaga, of North Babylon, who has turned to relatives for assistance. "Of course that's not right."
The Veterans Benefits, Healthcare, and Information Technology Act of 2006 was signed into law with much fanfare by President George W. Bush. The then-chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Steve Buyer (R-IN 4th), said at the time that the bill included $3.2 billion to enhance health care "for the veterans returning home today, and those who served in the past." The law provides nursing home coverage for veterans who have a 70% or greater service-related disability and who require nursing home care. There are 4,800 veterans on Long Island with at least a 70% disability, Schumer said. VA spokesman Terry Jemison said on the morning of 17 FEB that he was looking into the status of the program. At 5 p.m. he said he still could not find an answer. Schumer said that, although the VA is expected to reimburse veterans when it begins implementing the law, there is no reimbursement provision for families should a veteran die before then. Guido Izzo, 87, who came to the $250-per-day nursing home two years ago after Parkinson's disease led to a spate of falls, said he and his wife spent about $15,000 of their joint resources for his care before depleting their resources and becoming eligible for Medicaid. "If I pass away before this is settled, she loses it all," Izzo said.
The VA never spelled out how a new, federally mandated reimbursement plan would work for 135 state veterans homes across the country. Without those regulations, states could not file for reimbursements. As a result, veterans have paid for their own care out of retirement savings and social security benefits. The federal government "shouldn't be balancing its budget on your strong backs," Schumer told veterans. Schumer aims not only to force the VA's compliance with the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act, but also to have the agency pay back veterans for costs they have incurred since former President Bush signed the bill 22 DEC 06. According to a Long Island State Veterans Home release, "VA staff has indicated to Sen. Schumer's office that the regulations are undergoing the Office of Management and Budget review process." The VA already had come under criticism during the Bush administration for failing to simultaneously prepare for the needs of World War II veterans and the injuries of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, 80% of patients at the Stony Brook facility depend on Medicaid for their care, which they become eligible for after they have spent all of their personal savings. "I had money in the bank," said John Budrick, 90, a blind veteran. "They took it all."
[Source: Newsday E-edition Martin Evans article 18 Feb 09 ++]
"Dr. Jacques Durr, a former Bay Pines physician fired on Nov. 7 - in retaliation, he says, for exposing patient safety issues - said the VA failed in its ethical duty to inform patients."
That quote is taken from an article in the St. Petersburg Times titled: "Computer bug affects records at Bay Pines, other VA hospitals". Story Here
The same writer of that article, William R. Levesque, did an article that appeared in the November 26, 2008 edition of the paper. That article, titled: "Doctors seek inquiry of colleague's firing at VA hospital", states that Dr. Durr's colleagues "...are calling for an investigation of what they say was the improper firing (of Dr. Durr)..." Story Here
MO of the VA when dealing with an employee who does the right thing.
A brouhaha has broken out over the fact that Sears is selling licensed apparel that is being made in China. The apparel has insignia of the U.S. Army on it.
What we are wondering about is this: The Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Canteen Service (VAVCS) operate retail stores in Veterans hospitals
all over the country. Each of these stores is chock full of apparel that is festooned with insignia of every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Almost the entire
inventory of this apparel is "Imported From Various Countries". Those countries include China, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Where is the outrage
from all of the Veterans groups over this egregiousness?
We provide this page from the VAVCS online catalog to illustrate our point.
Does this make you think: "Typical Government"? If yes, please take a moment to contact your elected representatives and tell them that you don't think the government
should be selling Militaria made in foreign countries in Veterans hospitals.
The reason that there is no uproar over this is because it is a VA operation and the VA has the Veterans Organizations in their pocket.