HURRY UP AND WAIT — NOTHING LESS THAN A 21ST-CENTURY VA

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Garden Grove/CA –– February 11, 2010 — As the Founder of Veterans-For-Change, an advocacy group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, my co-members and I would like to bring to your attention the ever increasing serious problems affecting veterans and their families every day. In August, 2009, President Barack Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention held in Phoenix, Arizona. 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.”

Perhaps you are not aware of the problems affiliated with the VA and Veterans Benefits. Veterans-For-Change would like to address the following problems/issues.

Dental Care:

Dental Health Care for all veterans is a major concern. According to the website, http://www.palo-alto.med.va.gov/hcservices/eligibility.asp, “Federal law limits the dental benefits provided by the VA. The question needing to be clarified and addressed is: “Who is eligible and HOW do they apply for this benefit? The website continues describing eligibility:

  • “Veterans who receive money for a service-connected dental disability, or those who are 100% service-connected for any condition;
  • Veterans who were prisoners of war;
  • Veterans recently discharged from active duty who did not have their dental treatment completed before discharge. They can receive one-time treatment if their DD214 shows dental treatment was not completed. An application must be made within 180 days of separation from active duty.

Who is eligible for emergency dental care?

  • Veterans with an outpatient dental emergency, such as severe pain, infection, trauma, or significant bleeding, may receive an evaluation free of charge. Treatment for patients not otherwise eligible is limited to treating pain or treating a dental condition that endangers the patient’s life or health. These patients will be billed for the treatment and referred to the private sector for routine care needs. The present fee for emergency care is $298.00 per visit.”

With the economy and unemployment escalating at such a rapid, unpredictable rate, it must be stated that $298 for emergency care is something most veterans, homeless, retired, or living on a stretched budget, cannot afford. Most of these veterans will fail to get dental care – of any type, and their health will continue to deteriorate.

For most veterans, it takes months to get a simple appointment, or VAMC’s do not have the proper facilities to care for and meet their needs or the needs of their dependent children.

Countless thousands of veterans and their dependent children often go without proper dental care and treatment due to a lack of services provided at a VAMC or lack of funds to pay privately. In the event you are not aware, healthy dental care is crucial for a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle. Many Veterans who do not have medical coverage, or cannot afford dental health checkups will have their health deteriorate, all because of the lack of medical coverage for dental care. Dental Health Care is also a matter of quality of life, and can be related to self-esteem. Regular dental care works to cure oral health issues such as gingivitis (periodontal disease) and decay which in turn can also cause major health problems and/or worsen those the veteran already has including heart conditions, Diabetes. If dental care is left untreated, these treatable diseases could deteriorate the body and health of the Veteran.

A simple preventative Dental Health Care Program could really make the difference to Veterans, their spouses and minor dependent children. Treatment on a regular basis could improve the health of the Veteran, thereby reducing the costs and expense of not just dental care, but total health care. If a preventative care program was initiated and limited to those who are 30% service-connected and above [and on a small sliding scale fee system based on current income] could make a significant difference. For Veterans 50-100% service-connected there would be no fee based service, but a portion of their benefits and those less than 50% could be phased in over time.

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You, as a citizen of these United States, can change this by writing your Congressional member to let them know the Hurry Up and Wait tactics for our Veterans must stop! You can draft legislation to correct this problem and help not only your veteran constituents but also veterans and their families nationwide. Since 2010 is an election year, this could be a great way to stand up and make a statement for our legislators to work together. The easiest way to write to your Congressional member is to click on to http://capwiz.com/naus/mailapp/ and follow the user friendly availability of this site. Additional ways to contact them is a great site titled Write Your Representative, https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml Simply typing in your zip code will bring up listings of your district, including mailing addresses and phone numbers. What a great and easy way to voice your concerns and to remind your district that 2010 is an election year!

Conditions/Illnesses all have equal % scales without maximums:

The ratings and awards pertaining to Veterans for all the various accepted and presumptive illnesses do not have the same rating scales, nor are they equal to their counterparts cross country. For example: A veteran in Michigan receives a 50% disability rating while a veteran in Washington State receives a 100% disability rating for the exact same PTSD GAF score.??? With such a complex system for rating, http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/bookc.html and the inequality in the various scales, would it not be best for all to have a single rating system beginning at 10% and increasing by 5% up to 100%? And when a veteran is classified as 100% he/she would automatically be considered 100% IU (Individually Unemployable). Consistency is the key!

VAMC’S all to be fully equipped with the same top notch equipment:

Are you aware that many VA Medical Facilities are still using antiquated equipment that is outdated old technology? Now that we are in the Twenty-first century, where technology is ALWAYS only a fingertip away, when will the VA join us in their ‘nothing less than a 21st-century VA?’ We should be providing our Veterans the best care possible and this would include replacing old and outdated technology especially in terms of medical equipment.

With the buying power that the VA Healthcare system possesses, Veterans-For-Change sees absolutely no reason in the world that with this purchasing power on a scheduled annual basis, certain pieces of medical equipment cannot be replaced or updated throughout the VA Medical facilities nationwide. The quote from President Barack Obama ‘nothing less than a 21st-century VA’ must be fulfilled!

For example, an EKG machine is expected to last five (5) years, so every five years the hospitals should order replacement machines for all the VAMC’s. With the buying power of the VA Healthcare System, we imagine ordering several thousand of the same piece of equipment would net at minimum 25% off from the normal wholesale price. Let us think of the expense as a cost savings since the availability to treat and cure many diseases will be more than a goal – it will be reality!

Additionally, in-service training could also be done on a national level via tele-video conference. One instructor teaching hundreds via the internet video and telephone conferencing, again resulting in a cost savings of thousands of dollars by educating the medical staff on the new operational procedures – thus bringing medical professionals into the availability to treat and cure many diseases — nothing less than a 21st-century VA.

Written exams and certification on each piece of equipment would be ideal, and there is no question as to the ability and availability to operate and maintain the equipment properly and keeping it clean and sanitary, preventing cross contaminations of various infectious diseases. Veterans-For-Change would suggest that the IRS guidelines on life expectancy of various types of equipment be used as a tool and proposed schedule of equipment replacement.

Veterans-For-Change expects members of Congress to uphold the promises of decades to care for those who fought to defend our Country, and to practice what was established by the Continental Congress in 1776 — “the United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans for any nation in the world.” Now, in the Twenty First Century, it is time to draft, sign, and present legislation to correct wrongs from centuries ago. It is time to practice what was created and promised to motivate, service and care for our veterans – ‘nothing less than a 21st-century VA.’

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.”

If our nation rescinds its promises and ignores its obligation to those who have fought to preserve freedom throughout the world, we compromise the right to ask our men and women to serve and defend our national principals. Veterans-For-Change understands you probably know a Veteran. Isn’t it time for all of us to stand up to voice our concerns to President Obama and to let our government know we must take a stand to help our Veterans, regardless of when and how they served our country. With the election of 2010 in mind, please take action to defend and service our country and our proud and deserving veterans today! President Barack Obama said, “Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned.” The choice is yours as a citizen. Let America hear your voice today.

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