GARDEN GROVE, CA – August 5, 2009 — Veterans-For-Change, a non-profit vocal group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, networks together to share the following problems/issues that must be addressed.
Priority Medical Care for Disabled Veterans: Veterans-For-Change, along with veterans nationwide, are extremely upset that disabled veterans are not given priority for medical care over those who are not disabled or those with illnesses that are not combat related. According to the website: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/veterans-disabilities.html, “Between October 2001 and February, 2008, more than 30,000 veterans serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and surrounding duty stations have been wounded in action. 1 Many of them have lost a hand or limb or been severely burned or blinded. Others have been diagnosed with hearing loss, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and other service-connected disabilities.”
Perhaps we, Veterans-for-Change should remind you what the definition of disabled veteran entails:
Disabled Veteran Definition(A) a veteran who is entitled to compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to compensation) under laws administered by the Dept of Veterans’ Affairs for a disability (i) rated at 30% or more, or (ii) rated at 10% or 20% in the case of a veteran who has been determined under Section 3016 of Title 38, U.S.C. to have a serious employment handicap,
(B) a person who was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.
Members of Veterans-for-Change appreciate all veterans’ needs, the medical care, and services needing to be addressed. We find it imperative to meet those needs in a timely fashion, not procrastination, and “hurry up and wait attitudes.” Veterans-for-Change knows the importance of each and every need, but disabled veterans should take priority in medical attention and care with the exception of an emergency case.
What we recommend and demand is for the VA to invest and install a Twenty-first century appointment system as a way to determine the veteran’s situation and automatically place a priority score on the veteran giving priority on his/her appointments.
Feres Doctrine Reversal — Prevents military, vets, and spouses from suing the government for malpractice. Daily Veterans from all walks of life and military experiences, receive minimal, even poor medical care with misdiagnosis, botched surgeries, incorrect surgeries, improperly given medical procedures which place their lives, health, and ability to have a quality of life at risk, or worse actually killing them. The veteran, spouse, or at worst the widow has no real recourse against this as opposed to civilians due to the Feres Doctrine which prevents a veteran or spouse to file charges in court for medical malpractice.
Currently, there are two bills submitted, one to the House and the other to the Senate which would “suspend” the bill, but suspension is not the answer! Complete and total revocation is!
The VA should be held accountable for any and all medical personnel regardless of position, be it a nurse, technician, counselor or physician.
We expect members of Congress to see this for what it is and take the necessary actions to reverse the Feres Doctrine, and to force the VA to be accountable for medical staff, equipment, and care.
Defoliant & Pesticide Chemicals: “Part of the United States strategy against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese was to deny them cover and food. Knowing that the area of Vietnam that borders Laos and Cambodia was a key transport route used to move troops and supplies from North Vietnam to the south, the United States planned to defoliate large areas of jungle to hamper these movements. The Mekong delta, a Viet Cong stronghold, was also marked for defoliation, as were areas used by the Viet Cong for food growing…” http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/aftermath/agent-orange.php “Spraying began as early as 1961 in a campaign coordinated by America’s Central Intelligence Agency. By late 1964, when United States involvement in the war was on the rise, the defoliation campaign also gathered momentum, peaking between 1965 and 1967. Australian troops were also involved in the use of herbicides and insecticides, the latter being widely sprayed in Phuoc Tuy province, particularly at Nui Dat. Even during the war herbicide use attracted growing criticism in the United States with the first reports of birth defects in children born in areas subject to aerial spraying appearing in 1965.” The after effects of these chemicals are still under debate and needs to be addressed, finalized and compensation should be IMMEDIATELY granted to all families and Veterans affected. Many of the rainbow chemicals [Agent Orange] were used in places like Viet Nam, Korea, Cambodia and many veterans have filed claims for illnesses cause by the use of these chemicals and have been awarded benefits due to exposure. Many of these claims are still in the ‘processing stage’ or ‘decision stage.’ We, ask why???
Nevertheless, the problem still remains. Many of these chemical agents were also used and stored state-side affecting thousands of veterans with the same illnesses as those who served overseas, yet their claims continue to be denied repeatedly. This MUST be CHANGED, especially since our President has stated many times, that Change was coming!
VA Employees being held accountable: As in civilian life all doctors are required to hold a valid license and malpractice insurance in order to practice medicine. This should hold true for VA Hospitals as well without exception. However, this is far from the situation.
Interns and Residents are hired because they are cheaper. They do not have the qualifications or experience necessary to complete their training and care for Veterans. Doctors are hired and no valid license or insurance is required as they’d be safe from prosecution due to the Feres Doctrine. Many of these medical professionals do not conduct themselves in a professional manner. It is time for change.
All VA employees should be held accountable at all times for proper procedures, proper medications, proper medication dosages, and following all VA medical guidelines as well as moral and ethical guidelines when dealing with veterans and their families. Professionalism, compassion, and quality of care should be required and improved significantly. VA employees should be trained effectively, with Twenty-first Century medical technology. They should be providing the best possible care at all times, and when in violation of any policy, procedure or guideline these representatives who service Veterans should be held accountable for such violations whether it’s a formal reprimand, placing documented notification in their employment jackets and if and when necessary, going as far as reporting to the American Medical Association any violations that may result in probations and up to and including termination.
President Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.”
You, as Americans, and politicians of a free society, do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to provide benefits and care, regardless of the costs involved and in a reasonable timely manner! You do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to care for those who did the job the average American Citizen didn’t want to do.
Our veterans cannot escape the effects, physical ailments, illnesses, and emotional wounds of war, or the effects of working in an environment on base where chemicals and other ‘confidential’ and dangerous materials reside. Freedom is not free; it comes with a price tag. Veterans paid a gigantic price, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Only a war veteran can comprehend how that price was paid for in full by our military and war veterans, along with their spouses and children! The price they paid for their devotion to their freedom does not have a monetary amount and it could be considered priceless since the effects of war leave so many emotional and physical scars that cannot be repaired. The price our war veterans paid was distributed in full with blood, sweat and many tears!
Isn’t it about time Congress, the President, and the Veterans Affairs actually stood tall and are held accountable for the actions, inactions, and in many cases poor quality of care? Our soldiers stood tall, able, and willing to fight the battles to keep America free and safe. Isn’t it time America and our legislators performed the same task, to protect our freedom and our pride. Isn’t it time that Congress, the President, and the Veterans Affairs granted what our Veterans need to live a quality of life with their dignity and honor intact?
The actions of Congress and the actions and policies of the VA seem to express so loud and clear that it would have been far better had our men and women not served or died at war than to suffer the denials, the schemes, shenanigans, and the maltreatment provided by the government of the United States. Take a stand with us today and do what is right to keep America strong. The choice is yours. You must decide.
Veterans-for-Change – [email protected]
Jim Davis is the son of USMC MGySgt. Lesley Davis (Ret.) who passed away on April 24, 2006, from ALS caused by Agent Orange. His dad’s mission before he passed on was to ensure all veterans, spouses, children, and widows all received the benefits, medical care and attention, and proper facilities from the VA.
Because of the promise made to his dad to carry on the mission, in May 2006 Davis began as a one-man show sending out 535 letters every single week to all members of Congress requesting and politely demanding the fulfill their promises made over the past decades to care for life those who wore the uniform and their families.
Veterans-For-Change was born in August 2006 with a very small membership of 25 people composed of veterans, spouses, widows, family members, and friends and to date continues to grow.