GARDEN GROVE, CA – August 24, 2009 – Veterans-For-Change is proud to hear that President Barack Obama recommends fulfilling the promises made to veterans by building a Twenty-first Century VA system. As a member of Veterans-For-Change, a non-profit vocal group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, my co-members and I would like to bring to your attention the immeasurable serious problems affecting veterans and their families every day.
President Barack Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention held in Phoenix, Arizona on August 17, 2009. He stated “Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. That’s why I’ve pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA. And I picked a lifelong soldier and a wounded warrior from Vietnam to lead this fight—General Ric Shinseki… We’re dramatically increasing funding for veterans health care. This includes hundreds of millions of dollars to serve veterans in rural areas as well as the unique needs of our growing number of women veterans. We’re restoring access to VA health care for a half-million veterans who lost their eligibility in recent years—our Priority 8 veterans…” In another section of his speech he stated, “To all those who have served America—our forces, your families, our veterans—you have done your duty. You have fulfilled your responsibilities. And now a grateful nation must fulfill ours.”
Perhaps you and the lawmakers of the United States of America are not aware of the problems affiliated with the VA and Veterans Benefits. Veterans-For-Change would like to address the following problems/issues.
Approved VA Claims Should set Precedent:
Repeatedly veteran’s claims are denied left and right for reasons that appear to be astonishing to the veteran. Many of these claims take years to get resolved. And when a veteran does his homework and discovers a claim identical to his/hers was approved by an RO (Rating Officer) and his/hers was denied then he/she files an appeal, any claims prior approved for the same reasons should set precedent for all veterans claims presented.
No two VARO’s (VA Regional Offices) and RO (Ratings Officers) view claims the exact same way, although they should, thus rendering entirely different results ranging from denial, to various percentages in awards. Shouldn’t these claims be treated in a manner making all Veterans equal and treated as fair, equal veterans who have done their duty, fulfilled their responsibilities, and thus deserve to benefit after dedicating their time, health and duty to a grateful nation?
When one veteran receives his benefit award, then it is time to look at this award making and setting a precedent for all future claims of the exact same nature and benefits awarded.
Veterans-For-Change is asking members of Congress to take a long, hard and serious look at the escalating flaws in the system, and draft and submit corrective legislation.
Benefit of Doubt on Veterans Claims:
Again, more often than not a veteran’s family members or surviving spouse’s claims are denied even when there is an equal amount of evidence on both sides, from the claimant and the VA that an illness, injury or death was or was not service connected. Also when there is a case of missing paperwork or a mishandled claim due to VA staff negligence again, the benefit of doubt is not siding with the veteran, spouse or family member. This is in direct violation of the VA’s own policies, procedures and regulations and seems to go continually un-checked, and uncorrected.
We ask that members of Congress take a hard and serious look at this flaw in practice, draft and submit corrective legislation so as to prevent such flaws and errors in practice in the future.
As part of general practices and as required by the VA, all veterans who file a benefits claim are required to go through a C&P exam, which is then submitted with the veterans claim. Unless the veteran makes it a point to stop by the records department and complete paperwork asking for copies of all medical records the veteran isn’t permitted to review the C&P and question any findings.
We ask that members of Congress take a long and thorough look into this situation, again draft and submit legislation that would allow the veteran a voice in any exam before documentation is submitted to the VA to be attached to his/her claim for possible omissions and corrections.
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.”
Members of Congress, 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!
Members of Congress, the President, and the Veterans Affairs should be 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 keep 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.
For further information:
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.