Friday, June 9, 2017

Problems With the VA, What Congress Knew--And Let Happen

There are a lot of stories in the news lately that make it all seem like new problems. None of them are new and here's just a sample of proof to let you know that none of this was taken care of when it needed to be, so it all got worse for our veterans.

2007 Veterans-Suicide and What Congress Knew
The hearing was prompted in part by a CBS news story in November on suicides in the veteran population that put last year’s number of veteran suicides at over 6,000. VA officials refuted that number, questioning its validity. But a VA Inspector General report released in May of 2007 found that as many as 5,000 veterans commit suicide a year—nearly 1,000 of whom are receiving VA care at the time.

2007 PTSD VA Claims and What Congress Knew
The senators also requested a detailed report on how the military monitors other psychological injuries. Recent media accounts indicate that the number of service members seeking care for PTSD from the Veterans Administration (VA) increased 70% over a 12-month period, or an increase of some 20,000 cases. In addition, reports of the total number of cases of PTSD treatment at the VA since 2001 – 50,000 cases – far exceed the number of wounded documented by the Pentagon.

2008 Backlog of Claims and What Congress Knew 
Bush had to sign the act by Jan. 18, or VA would have lost the promised extra funding, which will be used to hire and train people to process the backlog of more than 600,000 benefits claims, said Dave Autry, spokesman for Disabled American Veterans. Some of the money also will go toward medical research for conditions such as traumatic brain injuries.
And this which ties into the claim about the VA and DOD linking up data.
Peake wants to reduce wait times from roughly 180 days to 145 days by the start of next year. He cited aggressive efforts to hire staff, noting the VA will have 3,100 new staff by 2009. VA also is working to get greater online access to Pentagon medical information that he said will allow staff to process claims faster and move toward a system of electronic filing of claims.
Peake promised to “virtually eliminate” the current list of 69,000 veterans who have waited more than 30 days for an appointment to get VA medical care. Such long waits runs counter to department policy, and a group of Iraq war veterans have filed a lawsuit alleging undue delays. He said VA plans to open 64 new community-based outpatient clinics this year and 51 next year to improve access to health care in rural areas.
“We will take all measures necessary to provide them with timely benefits and services, to give them complete information about the benefits they have earned through their courageous service, and to implement streamlined processes free of bureaucratic red tape,” Peake said in testimony prepared for a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Thursday. 
2008 Deaths at VA Hospitals and What Congress Knew
The VA will help affected families file administrative claims under the VA's disability compensation program, he said. Families also could sue.
...........The VA investigation found that at least nine deaths between October 2006 and March last year were "directly attributable" to substandard care at the Marion hospital, which serves veterans from southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky.
Kussman declined to identify those cases by patient or doctor, though Rep. Jerry Costello, an Illinois Democrat, said those nine deaths were linked to two surgeons he did not name.
Of an additional 34 cases the VA investigated, 10 patients who died received questionable care that complicated their health, Kussman said. Investigators could not determine whether the care actually caused the deaths.

2008 Female Veterans and What Congress Knew
“Women who served this country in uniform -- whether veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the current Global War on Terror or peacetime service -- have earned our respect and thanks,” said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “They have also earned the full range of VA programs offered by a grateful nation.”
Secretary Peake also announced the Fourth National Summit on Women Veterans Issues to be held from June 20 – 22 in Washington D.C. The Summit will offer attendees an opportunity to enhance future progress on women veterans issues, with sessions specifically for the Reserve and National Guard, information on military sexual trauma and readjustment issues, after the military veteran resources and many more programs and exhibits.
By the way, if any member of Congress dares to suggest sending veterans away from the VA, remind them, if they cared, they would have done their jobs in the first place. Or actually, second place, considering veterans did their jobs first and ended up disabled risking their lives!