Desert Storm Diaries- almost a year ago now

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by Denise Nichols, Staff Writer

Sept 24-25, 2008– VA Gulf War Veterans Advisory Public Comment

I wish to thank the committee for a start in the right direction in having one way teleconference available for this meeting.

I wish to further highlight the need to utilize live videoconferencing with live 2 way input from remote sites for public comment.@ This could be done by utilizing all VA hospital facilities and opening the door to outreach to the Gulf War Veterans of 90-91.@ This is desperately needed when veterans can not afford to travel.@ These veterans are handicapped and should be afforded this access to public advisory committees.@ Any less is truly not acceptable.

     

I want to also stress that this advisory committee publish a tentative timetable of dates and places where you will be meeting in the future!@ This is again imperative to provide outreach to the Gulf War Veterans of 90-91.@ This way affected veterans can plan ahead and bring their situations to you and their suggestions for problems to address and resolve for not only themselves but others.@ Many of them have vast knowledge and can offer very concise suggestions for improvement.

Mr. Chairman and the committee I also recommend that you investigate the situation with Aid and Attendance that Gulf War Veterans have applied for and been turned down.@ How many cases are there of these needs being unmet and denied?@ We have a female Gulf War Veteran that has MS and requested A and A and was denied.@ It is humiliating for her to have to count on her family members her children to help their mother with basic needs.





Her husband already adapted their home for wheelchair accessibility and received no financial assistance from VA for that situation.@ This is unacceptable for our gulf war veterans 90-91 to be left in these situations!

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Mr. Chairman just this past 2 weeks I have had more request for assistance for veterans for disabling conditions related to diagnosed cardiac conditions that are life threatening, these veterans will die if they are not afforded VA benefits and medical care.@ These are young veterans below the age of 50.@ WE need the statistics on diagnosed illnesses!@ WE need this to be public knowledge to assist the veterans and their health care providers.@ Drs they turn to in the community need to know what is happening in relationship to these gulf war veterans of 90-91.@ The raw data would help.@ Let the veterans know they aren’t alone!@ This is called been real and truthful and sharing the data without any spin!

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It also would be important if veterans that have these problems that have not reached out to the VA to know they need to at least forward their information on their diagnosed health problems to the VA.@ Personally I would like to see more registries or a central office that could handle just collecting this data and posting it as Information to share!

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It has been 17 years also 18 years and the gulf war veterans of 90-91 deserve openness now more than ever.@ WE need Doctors and nurses and patient advocates and VSO’s to have this knowledge!

WE do not need more statements of Stress related………or Psychosomatic………..

Anyone that follows and tracks obituaries can find many of our gulf war veterans at an early age are dying at home!@ To withhold data that might help is an Omission of DUTY.

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Many of these veterans have lost access to the internet because they simply can not afford it!@ They and their families are lost in the dark until we hear from a family member!

WE want a hot line set up for gulf war veterans and their family members so they can communicate their issues to one office and get the help and assistance they need now.

This committee will hear from veterans as you have started to hear slowly at this second meeting and we hope that you have people in attendance at each one of these meetings that will jump in and help resolve the problems these veterans are having.@ We then hope the committee sees areas of common problems@and know that action can not wait a yr!@ That things that are brought up needs to have quick follow up for all the rest not at a mid term report but ongoing.@ An example is to look at aid and attendance needs for gulf war veterans.

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I had another situation from the last meeting a Policeman and Gulf War Veteran in Golden Colorado had Guillian Barre syndrome.@ They went to the VA for help and were denied!@ Luckily he was a policeman and turned to other government programs for help and got help…and also help from the policeman and insurance.@ Was it connected to Gulf War we do not know but there is a possibility.@ How many other Gulf War Veterans have had Guillian Barre Syndrome?

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How many Gulf War Veterans now have Parkinson’s or Cardiac problems or Renal problems, or have had Liver transplants etc.@ Will each of us that have been out here helping each other know of these cases and it is heartbreaking to know our Comrades who served with us are not getting the help they need and earned.

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Sir the veterans and their health care providers need the data!@ For 18yrs we have maintained the communications and bulletin boards at great cost and time to help each other!@ Where is our country’s commitment to us?@ We have been the ones to respond to their needs even when we ourselves are ill.@ Personally not very long goes by but that an urgent call for help or a potential suicide comes in, even from other states.@ WE need back up and resources now!

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The veterans have bunkered in like Matt here and others that came these two days!@ They have little funds to come and tell you.@ Maybe the VA hospital here could open up some empty rooms to at least give them bed down site when they come to DC or elsewhere to meet the committee.@ Maybe the VA in DC and the Wriisc could take the walk-ins when we get them here.@ Maybe some of the people that presented to you could be available to resolve problems fast!@ And then also communicate downward to the VA’s and benefit people the problems and make solutions happen now!

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Maybe the VA’s across the country should allocate one day a month for gulf war veterans to come together and get their issues addressed on site?@ I have still got a good mind and can offer lots of ideas for quick reaction methods to address our needs.@ WE do not need further delays or committees talking around a table we need ACTION PLANS implemented just like the VA responds to Hurricane needs of veterans!

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WE can all do this if we get a proactive, pro veteran spirit born here in DC and across the country at each VA.@ We do not need Disney to be paid millions to come train the VA we need an attitude adjustment!

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We are tired of not being given the benefit of the doubt!@ Matt here has an aneurysm he needs surgical help now!@ His life is worth it.@ Figure out if it is service related later.@ Grant him a pension now to help until his claim gets readjudicated.@ WE found out in his case he was never ever given a C and P exam now that is not his fault.@ Who messed up?@ Well it is time to identify people that mess up and hold them accountable.@ His wife and children are worried sick and here we are bringing him to DC to get help!

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How many do we have to physically bring up here!@ How many ill 100% rated veterans with issues they still need help with@have to reach out and drive to get them to bring them to help?@ How many?

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How many do I have to call out of the bunkers who have been forsaken by their own country?@

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Many times it takes a Mom or Dad who have their own needs to get angry and to get involved to get their grown War experienced veteran sons and daughters the help and assistance needed.@ You have info in front of you of one set of parents from Nebraska with a GW Veteran son that has MS the family i.e. wife and children are falling apart.@ The mom and Dad had to step in…Now I say that is a CRIME!@ The mom isn’t here today because her Mom died.@ This Mom came to DC to welcome their other son home from OIF/OEF.@ How many parents and families will have their adult children serve this country when the facts of these struggles come forward from across the country?

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My family has three of us affected from the@gulf war. A cousin’s ex husband, my nephew, and me.

My brother who is a VN vet 30 yr person who is still serving this country in a very highly critical defense contract job has had to reach out and help his son, an ill gulf war veteran from the clean up after the war.@ Yes our family was a military family….all thru history.

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WE have the NON Deployed like Becky Cann in Texas@who are extremely ill from exposures and can not get help!@ She was going to come but she is desperate financially after being turned down once again.@ We have Maggie from Oklahoma another nondeployed desperately ill.

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I am tired Mr. Chairman.@ I am tired of the spin and the rat maze I know there are answers out there and truth that is right below the surface.@ You heard from Major Rokke he is one member of the Preventative MED Team that was at Centcom level.@ The team members are still there and suffering themselves!@ They know what happened why aren’t they allowed to testify in full?@ It is past time for truth and details.@ We refuse to go like the atomic veterans and the Agent Orange veterans.@ WE want answers, we want data, and we want diagnosis and treatment so maybe we can survive or live a better quality of life.

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Many of the gulf war veterans have significant neuro cognitive problems and need actual hands on help to get through the claims process much less to get medical diagnosis and care!@ We need our medical care providers both VA and civilians to know all the facts so we have a chance at life!

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I lost two close gulf war veterans to cardiac problems recently.@ These are ones I personally knew about and I still feel their lives could have been saved!@ When our veterans try to contact their comrades they are finding them dead or missing.@ Units need to recontact each member that served and compile data and DOD could help and the IRS and Social security and other government agencies could help to track them down….@ We need to know by unit and location what the status of these veterans are now!

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During Congressman Shays hearing a Marine testified he went back to people that were involved in their unit family support and was able to track his Marines down.@ And the stats on that unit were not good!@ I will supply you with that testimony after I return home.

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I push you to not take the normal course of an advisory committee….I will push you and others will too to action and fast.

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By the way again how does the VA know if we are having dental and eye issues if they do not even let us in to get exams and have it documented and data collected?@ These are significant problems that need to have data and attention!@ There have been way too many dental problems and vision problems to ignore this anymore!@ Cannot we have a policy now to allow gulf war veterans with these problems to be seen now and assessed regardless of service connection?

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Thank you for your time.

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