BUSH/DOLE VA REFORM SHORT ON REFORM, LONG ON “BULL”
by G. Duff
Yesterday, Tom Philpott, on www.military.com, wrote an on Bush/Dole attempts to “implement” needed VA reforms.
Please review his article for added background. However, Veterans Today is taking hard look at the VA reform plan that vets have waited decades for. Not entirely unexpected, we have learned:
THE BUSH VA IMPLEMENTATION PLAN IS 90% “SHELL GAME” AND 10% REFORM.
Tuesday, the “already infamous” Bush plan for screwing vets and their families was sent to Congress.
PROMISES OF INCREASED COMPENSATION, INCOME ANNUITIES AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR FAMILIES THAT WERE MADE LAST WEEK DISAPPEARED IN THE BUSH/DOLE PLAN SUBMITTED FOR CONGRESSIONAL ACTION.
HERE’S THE SHORT OF IT:
1. DESERT STORM/VIETNAM/KOREA/WW2 VETS GET NOTHING AT ALL.
2. ONLY DIRECT COMBAT INJURIES COUNT, LEAVING OUT THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PTSD SUFFERERS OR THOSE SUFFERING SICKNESS OR NON-COMBAT RELATED INJURIES…
3. DISABILITY LEVELS CAN’T “BLEND” AS THEY DO NOW. YOU ONLY GET PAID FOR THE “DIRECT COMBAT” PART AND NOBODY KNOWS HOW TO PROVE OR DEFINE THIS. UNDER CURRENT POLICY, DISABILITIES CAN ACCRUE FROM A COMBINATION OF WOUNDS, PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA, NON-COMBAT INJURIES AND ILLNESSES. THESE FACTORS WOULD NO LONGER APPLY TO RETURNING VETERANS AS THEY HAD FOR GENERATIONS.
4. PROBLEMS THAT SHOW UP AFTER DISCHARGE WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVE AND RELATE TO “DIRECT COMBAT”. VETERANS WITH CLOSED HEAD INJURIES AND ORTHOPEDIC PROBLEMS CAN LOOK FORWARD TO DECADES OF APPEALS AND LOST RECORDS.
5. COMPENSATION BOOSTS WILL BE BASED ON RANK AND YEARS OF SERVICE ……..WITH THE SMALLEST PAYMENTS GOING TO YOUNG ENLISTED RANKS WHO MAKE UP THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE WOUNDED/DISABLED. THOSE WHO SACRIFICE THE LEAST WILL NOW HAVE THE MOST TO GAIN.
BOB DOLE, IN A STATEMENT THAT COULD ONLY HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED BY A SUDDEN MENTAL DETERIORATION TOLD LAWMAKERS, “I THINK WE PASSED THE BATON TO THIS GENERATION. IF THEY DO A LITTLE BETTER THAN WE DID, THAT’S OK.
THE ONLY VIETNAM VET I KNOW OF THAT BOB CAN SAY “WE” ABOUT IS JOHN KERRY, ANOTHER MILLIONAIRE WITH AN EGO LARGER THAN MONTANA.
DID BOB DOLE ASK OTHER VETS IF THEY WANTED OR DESERVED NOTHING? NOBODY TOLD ME THAT I WAS PASSING A “BATON” ALONG WITH UP TO $1000 PER MONTH AND TRICARE HEALTH BENEFITS.
BUSH APPOINTED DOLE, WE VETS DIDN’T. DOLE SPEAKS FOR BUSH LIKE A NEW “KARL ROVE”….ALWAYS KEEPING US GUESSING WHO IS THE HAND PUPPET AND WHO IS THE PUPPETMASTER.
That Dole would sell veterans down the river so quickly should not be a surprise. Multi-millionaire Dole, back in 1976, called Vietnam, World War I and World War II, “Democrat Wars.”
Dole, who spent his career in Congress working for gambling, liquor and oil interests has never had a warm place in his heart for veterans, even though he had been the most visible veteran in Congress for years.
Dole, himself, was wounded in the last days of World War 2 and, after a lifetime of back stabbing politics, has polished his new “kinder” image. For more information on Bob Dole and politicians from both parties, please check out: www.realchange.org
Veterans who hoped that Dole had left his ruthless image behind have been sadly disappointed. The old “angry and bitter” Bob Dole was loosed on our wounded vets who now have to overcome Dole’s savage return to “shadow politics.”
Dole and Bush base their “baton passing” assumptions on a hideous lie. As a Vietnam veteran, that wasn’t a “baton” I got. It was the “short end of the stick.”
In fact, many Vietnam vets are only now managing to have claims processed by the VA that have been summarily denied, in many cases, for 35 years or more.
Few Vietnam vets ever received disability compensation at close to the ratings they deserved.
Most Vietnam vets, especially PTSD victims, were never able to survive the VA circus to begin with. Everyone knows this. THIS WAS THE PRIMARY PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FOR OUR CURRENT RETURNING VETERANS IS THAT THEY ARE SUFFERING EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEMS AS VIETNAM VETERANS, NOT THAT THEY ARE DIFFERENT. SUGGESTING DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS TO IDENTICAL PROBLEMS IS MOTIVATED BY “CHISELING” AND NOT A DESIRE TO HELP.
After decades of mistreatment of every kind, Vietnam vets are even denied the remote possibility of benefitting from even the smallest gain for themselves and their families.
Vietnam vets returned to the US to medical care and facilities that were the worst in our history. Thousands of Vietnam vets died of neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the VA.
The sometimes “magnificent” and often shabby VA hospitals and clinics of today were MUCH WORSE when Veterans returned from Vietnam. Medical standards, even for that earlier time, were totally ignored. Only the most serious of the maimed were take in, and those were subjected to treatment guaranteed to lead to pnumonia, infection and death.
THIS GENOCIDE AGAINST VIETNAM VETERANS HAS BEEN ONE OF AMERICA’S DARKEST SECRETS. THOUSANDS OF AMPUTEES FROM VIETNAM DIED OF INFECTIONS DUE TO POOR HOSPITAL CONDITIONS AND EVEN POORER STANDARDS OF CARE.
EVEN DECADES LATER, VETS WITH PTSD FROM THIS “MAJOR CONFLICT” RECEIVE IRREGULAR TREATMENT, MOST OFTEN FROM DOCTORS UNTRAINED IN THIS AREA. A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF VIETNAM VETERANS WITH PTSD REPORT THAT THEIR SYMPTOMS ARE INCREASING WITH TIME.
WE HAVE LEARNED THAT THE ONSET OF SERIOUS PTSD SYMPTOMS CAN OCCUR YEARS AND EVEN DECADES AFTER LEAVING SERVICE.
WE ALSO NOW KNOW THAT PTSD IS A LIFELONG “EXPERIENCE” THAT GENERALLY GETS WORSE WITH TIME AND CAN GET MUCH WORSE WHEN COMBINED WITH LIFE STRESSES SUCH AS PHYSICAL DISABILITIES, ILLNESS OR MULTI-YEAR CONFRONTATIONS WITH THE VA.
MORE THAN A FEW PTSD SUFFERERS LIST INTERACTION WITH THE VA AS A SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IN INCREASED SYMPTOMS. SUICIDES BY RETURNING SOLDIERS WITH PTSD AFTER HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE VA “INTERACTIONS” WAS ONE OF THE PROBLEMS MEANT TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE REFORM PROCESS. THAT THE ANSWER TO THIS PROBLEM SEEMS TO BE A SOLUTION THAT WILL ONLY MAKE THE PROBLEM WORSE MEANS ONLY ONE THING. THE MORE “THEY” TALK CHANGE, THE MORE “SAME” THEY GET.
OUR NEWEST FEAR IS THAT PROGRAMS DESIGNED FOR EARLY DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF PTSD SUFFERERS, THOUGH WELL MEANING, ARE VERY LIKELY TO BE MISUSED AS PART OF ADMINISTRATIVE “COST CUTTING” MEASURES.
WE ALREADY SEE CLEAR SIGNS THAT “LIMITATION AND EXCLUSION” OUTWEIGH EVERY OTHER FACTOR AND THAT WE SEEM TO BE ENTERING A PROCESS DESIGNED TO CREATE MORE AND MORE BUREAUCRACY IN AN ATTEMPT TO HIDE PROBLEMS RATHER THAN MAKING SERVICES ACCESSIBLE TO RETURNING VETS.
THE END RESULT COULD VERY LIKELY BE TO DENY TREATMENT AND BENEFITS IF AND WHEN CONDITIONS DETERIORATE AFTER LEAVING SERVICE, WHICH IS, OF COURSE, THE “NORM” FOR PTSD SUFFERERS.
A NEW “CLASS SYSTEM” FOR VETERANS IS BEING CREATED WITH VIETNAM VETERANS, AGAIN BEING SHOVED ASIDE.
JOINING VIETNAM VETS ARE THE VAST MAJORITY OF CURRENT RETURNING VETERANS INCLUDING ALL PTSD SUFFERERS AND ANYONE WHO HAS A DISABILITY TIED IN ANY WAY AND ANY PART TO SOMETHING OTHER THAN AN ENEMY PROJECTILE IN DIRECT COMBAT.
TOP OF THE NEW FEEDING ORDER WILL BE THE ARMY BRASS, AS USUAL.
During the Vietnam War, “rear eschelon” brass collected purple hearts and bronze stars from poolside action and “salad fork” mishaps. Under the new rules, the “Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon” will be collecting more mysterious wounds to supplement their already huge retirement pensions. We seem to be creating a “workers comp” system for the “watchers”. One can only imagine the potential abuses this will cause. Generals will be suing for “slip and fall” injuries and our JAG will have to take on “ambulance chasers”.
FOR MANY YEARS, THE VA PRESSURED STAFF INTO FAILING TO DIAGNOSE PTSD AND AGENT ORANGE ILLNESSES AS A WAY OF SAVING MONEY.
FOR MANY YEARS, THE VA REFUSED TO HELP VETERANS WITH CLAIMS AND ACTUALLY LOST THE MILITARY RECORDS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VETERANS.
THE VA IS STILL DENYING MANY AGENT ORANGE ILLNESSES. EACH NEW ILLNESS ATTRIBUTED TO AGENT ORANGE IS DONE SO ONLY AFTER YEARS OF DENIAL AND A BRUTAL FIGHT. MOST AGENT ORANGE SUFFERERS DIE BEFORE THEY RECEIVE A CENT IN BENEFITS.
THE VA STILL FIND GULF WAR SYNDROME TO BE IMAGINARY.
Now, Bush and Dole are ready to leave Vietnam vets out of the improved system, lumping them together with the few WW2 vets as though they were already dead which, to a significant degree is true.
ANOTHER FRIGHTENING ASPECT OF THE NEW BUSH/DOLE PROGRAM IS THAT IT LIMITS THE SCOPE OF BENEFITS TO “COMBAT VETS” BUT TIES ITS ANNUITY TO RANK AND TIME IN SERVICE.
IMAGINE BUSH HAVING THE PRIVILEGE OF DEFINING THE TERM “COMBAT VET”. WE KNOW HE IS FAMILIAR WITH “KEGGER, “DUI” AND “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”. I ALWAYS THOUGHT “COMBAT VET” WOULD BE BEYOND HIM.
UNDER THE BUSH/DOLE PROGRAM, REAL COMBAT VETS, GENERALLY OF THE LOWEST RANK AND SHORTEST TIME IN SERVICE WOULD RECEIVE ONLY A FRACTION OF THE AVAILABLE BENEFITS WITH THE MAJORITY GOING TO HIGHER RANKING OFFICERS AND SENIOR NCO’S, A GROUP WITH MUCH MUCH LOWER COMBAT INJURY PERCENTAGES BUT FAR MORE PRIVILEGE.
Dole had suggested that this annuity stop at retirement age, as those eligible for the annuity are also eligible for the highest military retirement awards and those who receive the lowest annuity generally qualify for no military retirement. Bush supports the continued annuity payment thru retirement, though payment amounts are skewed to favor only high pay grades, especially flag officers.
Bush supports TRICARE benefits for any vet who leaves service because of health reasons but:
BUSH ALSO REQUIRES THAT NO BENEFITS WOULD BE AVAILABLE UNLESS RECIPIENTS WERE DISCHARGED: “DUE TO COMBAT-RELATED SERIOUS INJURY”
THIS DENIES TRICARE BENEFITS FOR VETERANS WITH POST TRAUMATIC STRESS, WHICH ELIMINATES THE MAJORITY OF ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS.
ADDITIONALLY, “QUALITY OF LIFE” PAYMENTS WOULD ALSO BE DENIED THOSE WITH PTSD DISABILITIES OR THOSE WHOSE DISABILTY WOULD RESULT FROM A COMBINATION OF FACTORS SUCH AS SERIOUS COMBAT RELATED ILLNESS OR PTSD.
UNDER THESE CRITERIA, SET FORTH BY BUSH, PAYMENTS WOULD ONLY GO TO A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF ELIGIBLE IRAQ WAR VETERANS AND NOT ONE SINGLE VETERAN FROM EARLIER CONFLICTS INCLUDING VIETNAM, DESERT STORM, KOSOVO OR OTHERS.
Service organizations such as the VFW found the Dole-Shalala report “hollow” and impossible to implement. It is now obvious to any reasonable person that the Dole document was purposefully ambiguous AND FILLED WITH EMPTY PROMISES OF HIGHER DISABILITY PAYMENTS, ADJUSTMENTS FOR LOST EARNINGS AND MEDICAL CARE FOR FAMILIES THAT BUSH AND DOLE HAD NO INTENTION OF HONORING.
Gordon Duff is a Detroit native who served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam and currently lives in Maumee, OH. He is a specialist on military history, international banking and is an avid chef and wine enthusiast. Gordon travels extensively and spends much of his time in Europe.