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Legion to Congress: Hold VA accountable for preventable deaths

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger told Congress at an April 9 hearing that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leadership must be held accountable for mistakes that result in preventable deaths at its medical facilities.

“Patient deaths are tragic – preventable deaths are unacceptable,” Dellinger testified to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “But failure to disclose safety information – or worse – to cover up mistakes, is unforgivable, and The American Legion will not sit quietly by while some VA employees cover up the truth – and the VA shouldn’t, either.”

During his testimony, Dellinger recalled the deaths of six patients from an outbreak of Legionella bacteria at the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center. When a team from the Legion’s System Worth Saving (SWS) Task Force visited the facility last November, administrators claimed the outbreak was caused by equipment failure.

A March 12 CBS news report, citing emails and internal memos from Pittsburgh VA administrators, proved they were aware that the deadly Legionella outbreak was caused by human error – a fact that had not been shared with the Legion’s visiting SWS team.

Last January, Dellinger told the committee that another American Legion SWS team visited the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., “where a veteran died when all of the blood was drained from his body because he wasn’t properly monitored during a medical procedure.”

The SWS team asked the facility’s director, Joe Battle, for a copy of the action plan being used to address such critical problems, but he refused to provide it.

At the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Dellinger testified, “two veterans died of an overdose, and one committed suicide, that was attributed to mismanagement and an inability to get the mental health care they needed in a timely manner. Veteran suicides continue to plague our nation at 22 per day, with no clear strategy from VA on addressing suicides proactively.”

Repeating the phrase, “While we wait,” Dellinger listed more persistent problems that reflect a lack of VA accountability and/or effectiveness:

  • Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are being overprescribed with medications, and VA is demonstrating “a reluctance toward looking at complementary and alternative medicine because giving out pills is faster than providing veterans the therapy sessions they need.”Servicemembers returning to civilian life “are falling through the cracks due to (Department of Defense) and VA’s inability to create a single, interoperable medical record.”

  • VA may have reduced its disability claims backlog by 44 percent in the past year, but “hundreds of thousands of veterans are waiting for their initial disability claim, or appeal, which prevents them from receiving their VA health care.”

  • Because of a lengthy review process for press releases issued by its medical centers, “officials in VA's Central Office (VACO) are preventing hospitals from being transparent” during crises that affect patients and enrollees.

“We all need to continue to ask the hard questions,” Dellinger told the committee. “What is VA doing to fix these problems, and are they concerned about keeping me informed? How is VA holding their leaders accountable for these errors?

“The American Legion will not stop asking the hard questions, and we hope you won’t, either.”

After his testimony, Dellinger fielded several questions from committee members. Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., asked about VA's culture and whether it was lacking when it came to the way in which patients were treated. Dellinger said as he travels across the country visiting VA facilities, "you can tell the ones who are caring. Others are there for a paycheck.... I see some great chiefs of staff and other ones that are just biding their time."

VA, Dellinger told Cook, needs to be held accountable from the top down. Military leaders who make serious mistakes can be court-martialed, while many VA senior executives, "are allowed to resign, and then there's nothing."

In The American Legion's written testimony, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., noted that VA's medical center in Jackson, Miss., has kept the Legion waiting five months for a report it had requested. He asked if such delays were common.

"We do see lengthy delays," Dellinger said. "They try to do everything out of Washington." Responses could be sped up if VACO allowed its regional offices and medical centers "to address things in a timely manner."

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., said that some observers think the VA system is broken, while others believe it can still be fixed. She asked Dellinger how he rates VA's system on a scale of 1 to 10. "Let me break it down into two aspects," he said. "For medical care and community-based outreach, I think that is an 8 to a 9." But VA's system of oversight is not as good, and he would "rate that at about 5."

Dellinger told Brown that many of VA's problems reside at its central office in Washington. One such problem created by VACO is its insistence on reviewing press releases and other public communications drafted by staff at medical centers; these reviews take weeks if not months. For example, Dellinger said the Pittsburgh VA facility had prepared a public statement explaining the recent outbreak of Legionella virus and steps being taken to contain it. "Their statement was ready to go out and VACO held it up," he said. Review of the statement took so long that it was never released.

Ed Lilley, the Legion's senior field service representative, added that VA needs to address crises when they happen. When medical centers remain mum about a potentially life-threatening situation, "veterans are scared. They're nervous because they just don't know what steps VA is taking."

Testifying with Dellinger at the hearing was Army veteran Barry Coates, who was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. He told the committee that, due to inadequate VA care, "I stand here before you, terminally ill today." He described his long, painful journey in trying to get proper medical treatment. His colonoscopy had been delayed many months; when he was finally examined, his cancer was found to be terminal. "Something needs to be done," he said. "Someone needs to be held accountable for it."

Coates, who turns 45 next month, said he had never been advised by VA that he might qualify for fee-based treatment in the private sector. VA had never offered him any recourse for his long-delayed treatment. When asked whether VA had offered any kind of apology for his condition, his one-word reply was "none."

In an especially emotional comment, Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., apologized to Coates "on behalf of a bureaucratic system that is broken.... This is an American disaster. If I could change your circumstance, I would do it in a heartbeat." Crying, she predicted the VA officials at the hearing "will give us long, dramatic answers and nothing is going to change" unless Congress "stands up to the negligence."

Addressing Dellinger, Walorski said, "To The American Legion, sir, you guys come in here faithfully" and stand by veterans, "and I just want to commend you" for consistently trying to improve the VA system. "Together, let's change the system."

In his opening remarks, Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said that a briefing held April 7 by VA, and its testimony prepared for the hearing, provided "very few details about what, if any, specific actions have been taken to ensure accountability for 23 veterans who lost their lives, and the many more who were harmed because they did not get the care they needed in a timely fashion."

Calling testimony provided by VA for the hearing "ridiculous," Miller said, "It answers no questions, it provides no new information, and I'm tired of begging the Department of Veterans Affairs to answer this committee's questions."

Click here to read Dellinger's written testimony submitted for the HVAC hearing.

Reports issued by the Legion’s System Worth Saving Task Force on VA medical centers nationwide are available online here.

 

More in Veterans Health Center

 

David L. Klepper

April 29, 2014 - 9:11pm

Active Army service: Nov. 1954 - Oct. 1956. Off active duty with health intact, thank the Eternal. Worked in Architectural Acoustics 1957 - 1996 primaruly in USA, but also Canada, Israel, South Africa. Moved to Israel summer 1996 primarily as a student. Pay a monthly fee for medical care of approximately $70, and visits to doctors for out-patient treatment and/or examination often require additional on-site payment of about $7.00. But have had skin surgery resultng from fall without payment. It seems to me that I am getting beter medical care here in Israel, just as a student, than I could as a veteran in the USA!

FRANK J

April 13, 2014 - 10:25am

I thought I'd share this with you. This is an excerpt from a SF-95 (Claim for Damage, Injury or Death) I filed with VA's Regional Counsel last month. This claim involves a serious error in prescribing opiate pain medications to me by a VA Physician which could have caused a serious medical injury or my death. This medical malpractice was subsequently compounded by a VA Physician’s, Dr. Antoinette Costa’s, attempt to cover it up when made aware of it. I believe that Dr. Costa enlisted the aid and advice of a VA Pain Management Specialist, Nurse Practitioner Aaron Schneider, in an attempt to find some way to legitimize and thereby justify her error. However, the bare facts of the matter are sufficient in and of themselves to show malpractice. I have been being treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) East Orange VA Medical Center for chronic severe lower-back and other muscular-skeletal and nervous system-related pain conditions for a number of years. The pain medications prescribed were to relieve chronic pain caused by both service-connected and non-service-connected conditions. Back in mid-2009 I requested an appointment with a VA Pain Management Specialist because I felt my needs for pain medications were not being met adequately by my Primary Care Physician, Dr. Costa. I subsequently met with Nurse Schneider who prescribed a low dosage of sustained release morphine (15 mg. two times per day) for me. This was in addition to the Percoset (Oxycodone 5 mg. / Acetaminophen 325 mg.) tablets I had been being regularly prescribed by Dr. Costa. The introduction of the small dosage of sustained release morphine helped a great deal. Due to both an increase in my level of pain and my development of a tolerance for the morphine being prescribed, this was slowly increased to a level of four Percoset and two 60 mg. sustained release morphine tablets per day by the start of 2014. The last increase in morphine, from two 30 mg. sustained release tablets to two 60 mg. sustained release tablets, occurred during July 2013 and was done solely at Dr. Costa’s initiative. It had not been requested by or discussed with me prior to its dispensation, and had come at somewhat of a surprise. But, after some initial hesitation it worked out fine and I was appreciative of the added pain relief. However, I was soon to receive another surprise. After requesting refills via E-mail in January 2014 I received my regular monthly 120 Percoset and sixty 60 mg. sustained release morphine as well as sixty 10 mg. tablets of methadone. Just as with the increase during the prior year, nothing was explained other than the directions on the vials. The instructions on the Percoset and morphine were the same as usual, and I was additionally advised to take one 10 mg. methadone tablet twice per day. I was hesitant to follow these directions. I thought the addition of a third opiate medication, rather than just increasing one of the current meds, somewhat drastic. But, my pain levels had been increasing at the time and this ate away at and subsequently overcame my hesitation. I decided to add the methadone to my pain medication regimen, but much more slowly. It may well be my hesitation that saved my life. I began adding one half of one 10 mg. tablet of methadone to my other medications on an “as needed” basis once or twice per day. When it became time to refill all of my pain medications I thanked Dr. Costa for adding it and asked her to refill them all. That is when the proverbial “stuff hit the fan.” Apparently, after discussing the situation with Nurse Practitioner Schneider, Dr. Costa attempted to pass off the overmedication error as part of a trial for “opiate rotation.” But, if this was truly the case, established VA procedures mandate that it be discussed with me before starting this trial, and full monthly prescriptions for both medications would not have been sent to me. VA’s standard operating procedure for prescribing opiate pain medications is to “start low and go slow.” If I had taken all of the opiate medication sent to me on January 21, 2014 as prescribed, it is likely that I would have suffered from an overdose sometime during the next month as the methadone level in my blood built up. It is clear from Dr. Costa’s reply to my E-mail that she considers the two 10 mg. methadone tablets a replacement dosage for the two 60 mg. sustained release morphine, and not as a supplement as I originally thought. In response to my lengthy E-mails to try to explain and get her to rectify this situation Dr. Costa’s response was to “pass the buck” to Pain Management Specialist Schneider and to tell me to just do as told to do until I saw him. I did then make an appointment to see Nurse Schneider, but the earliest available appointment for him was on April 29, 2014, over two months away. I spoke with Nurse Schneider after he called me, and he explained briefly the purpose of opiate rotation. He advised me that he had been speaking with Dr. Costa, but he seemed genuinely unaware that she had never discussed this with me. He told me to make an appointment with Dr. Costa. I told him that I had tried to do so, but she had advised the Clerks that she did not want to see me. He told me that he had spoken with her after that, and she did now want to see me. I called again and was now given an appointment with Dr. Costa for March 18, 2014. Back and forth E-mails with Dr. Costa confirmed the appointment and she said we would discuss my pain medications at that time. When I had been speaking with Nurse Schneider, he noted that I did not have to take the methadone if I did not want to. However, this came as a response to my statement that it seemed to me VA was trying to shove this methadone down my throat. I took his response to mean I could take it or leave it. In retrospect, it is possible that what he meant was that I did not have to try opiate rotation if I did not desire to do so. I hope that is the situation and I will find out for sure on March 18, 2014. It is worth mentioning that when I was insisting on a referral to a Pain Management Specialist in 2009, Dr. Costa spoke derisively of the Pain Management Specialists. Her standard response was to ask me what I thought they could do for me that she could not do. My standard answer was that I did not know what they might be able to do for me that she had not done, and the reason I insisted on seeing them was to find out the answer to that question. My advice to all vets affected by VA malpractice is to "Sue the Bastards." A SF-95 is a Tort Claim against the U.S. and is easy to initiate.

Gabby V

May 5, 2014 - 10:12am

Frank, I am in a similar situation except my disability was directly caused by the VA Roseburg Oregon! Hit by a 2 by 4 at 217mph kenitic energy hit next my spine , breaking 7 ribs , shattering 2 and one left hanging open to make shredded cheese out of my muscles which hold my spine in place. The VA intentionally, after looking at the xrays showing this , misdiagnosis it as a muscle spasm. denied my xrays for 4 months while then destroyed them, and began cover up, altering my records. denying me any treatment for 2 years, denying me and still refuse to do mri(which would show the danage) as they wait for me to die, letting me walk around with sharp ribs poking my lung , damaging my scapula, distorting my spine. I can barely walk , sit or stand due to this. it took them over a year to give me pain meds, let me walk around with this false diagnosis, waiting for me to drop dead. When i finally found a doctor that issued morphine for the excruciating pain, during this whole thing while in pain and barely functional, i documented every visit , phone call, and have all the evidence, filed 1151, FTC, all denied as they continue to cover up their intentional error, so far even in the face of fact and proof, the government will deny it. Point is I hope you have a lawyer , but more importantly , we must continue to file FTC's to bring attention to this horrific treatment of VETERANS. The more i seek help from the VA for what they did , the more records they alter to fit their narrative of" it wasnt us" " prove we lied and try to kill you". I have filling cabinets of evidence and it doesnt matter. I agree with 100 percent, keep filing FTC's , it is simple and urge all your fellow veterans to bring the" VA accountability bill" to light. Keep telling the stories of how our country thanks us.

Ricky of Phoenix AZ

April 12, 2014 - 1:51pm

Azvets for vets I believe a lot of veterans would love to hear your stories such as these. Please go to the new page (Facebook/AzVets for Vets) to voice your opinion so other veterans can see your frustration with the VA system Medical and Vocational Rehab. ETC.... This information will also be available for the Senator John McCain Office to view as well.. We need to make a difference. I have been working with them and hopefully they make a different. I am literally scared to death to go back to the VA for care as their attention to detail is failing all veterans.. My case is in Washington as we speak. Pass this on to other veterans who need to have their story heard.. Facebook/AZVets for Vets

Ronald Waltman

April 11, 2014 - 2:30pm

I was put on a med called VICODIN (strong pain med)for 5 years.And in 1 day a nurse on her own without a Doctor permission took me off of it.I went through 55 days of pure Hell ---with draws I'm 66 years old and have a bad heart,I was going to end it all by taking my own life that's how Bad it got but a veteran friend stopped me.Then I found out that 24 veterans have died from VA over dose's...I then found out that I was put on a med for my PTSD (CLONAZEPAM), I was only to be on it for 4 months I have been on it for 15 years, now the VA tells me they don't know what to do they said if I keep on taking it I will have a heart attack and if I stop taking it I will have a heart attack.I'm a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran ,,I went to Vietnam for 2 combat tours and when I return home only to find out that the VA have almost killed me 2 times. It's like they really don't care they just want to put there 8 Hr in and go home.As far as my case is concern they are doing every thing they can to sweep it under the table.I have written my Congress MAN But they lie even to him. MY VA has to be one of the worst in the USA It's in Lima OHIO ,,I don't have the funds to go any where else ,,But I'm telling you I would not send my dog there for treament

Ricky

April 12, 2014 - 1:44pm

I believe a lot of veterans would love to hear your story as I have. Please go to the new page (Facebook/AzVets for Vets) to voice your opinion so other veterans can see your frustration with the system. This information will also be available for the Senator John McCain Office to view as well.. I have been working with them and hopefully they make a different. Pass this on to other veterans who need to have their story heard.. Facebook/AZVets for Vets

joe abott

April 12, 2014 - 12:34pm

Sorry to hear that. I was discharged in '85. sleepwalking, night terrors, memory loss and many other symptoms. Was told i was Bipolar / schizophrenic with paranoia . Was on Many meds. At one time i was taking 45 pills a day. Was on as many as 8 medications til 2012. I was sick due to the side effects. I was at the place where i wanted to die, because 30 more years of meds scared me more than death. Then a DR at a VA out west looked over my chart from my treatment in the service in 1984 to 2011. Told me i was Miss diagnosed. I have PTSD and Anxiety. I was not weaned off my meds but cut off. went through 8 weeks of withdrawal,Pain etc.. was actually considering retaking them because the stopping was worse. was looking at alternate treatment such as meditation and massage therapy etc.. worked well but became too costly. Now trying therapy.

Ricky

April 12, 2014 - 1:45pm

I believe a lot of veterans would love to hear your story as I have. Please go to the new page (Facebook/AzVets for Vets) to voice your opinion so other veterans can see your frustration with the system. This information will also be available for the Senator John McCain Office to view as well.. I have been working with them and hopefully they make a different. Pass this on to other veterans who need to have their story heard.. Facebook/AZVets for Vets

j jenkins

April 11, 2014 - 12:03pm

CAUTION: Your VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) may not even be part of the VA medical system. If you receive injurious treatment VA washes their hands of it and declares that they bear NO RESPONSIBILITY for treatment provided by contracted VA Clinics. They don't tell you this when you you get assigned to one of these CBOC's.

MARCUS SCARBROUGH

April 11, 2014 - 5:18am

I'm a wounded WW11 Veteran and fought from the beaches in France, "D-Day," all the way into Germany including the "Battle Of The Bulge." I was wounded in a battle near the Elbe River in Germany and flown to a hospital in France. I filed a medical claim with the VA in 2005 asking for help with my application because all my medical records had been destroyed in the National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records storage warehouse fire in ST Louis, MO. in July 1973.Over one million records were lost. I've written to Congressmen, President Obama and several other Government entities requesting the policy, rules and regulations be changed to accept the Veterans accountability of their war wounds. I was treated in three VA hospitals and those records were burned in the fire. President Obama is Commander and Chief of our Military, so he could issue one of his famous Executive orders and solve the problem. His staff sent my request to the Department Of The Army for resolution and they informed me I could get my medical records from ST Louis. I let them know I had previously sent them the letter I had received from ST Louis. As Gen. MacArthur said, "We old Soldiers never die, we just fade away." Our government is to big to resolve Veteran's problems!!

Ken Stump

April 11, 2014 - 2:42am

I would be one of the VA dead except I was able to medical treatment from outside private doctors. I went to Gainesville, FL three times for "urgent care". I received little in the way of medical assistance. The 4th time I went to Emergency. That was even worse. When I got back home (a two hour trip) I went to a doctor here in private practice. He told me I had two choices. I could go across the street and check into the hospital now, or go home and call an ambulance. I was in the hospital for a week getting stabilized. A month later I was in for another week. My condition has been under control now for two years without further need to hospitalization, no thanks to the VA. It's a conflict of interest. You die and they don't have to pay to pay benefits. If they treat you properly and you live, then they have the medical expense and have to continue paying benefits. The VA is the only place where being an endangered species doesn't help.

SGT. C. J. MOERICKE USMC MED. RET.

April 11, 2014 - 1:51pm

I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING, THE TROUBLE WE HAVE IS THAT MOST OF OUR GOVERNMENT HAS NEVER SERVED THIS COUNTRY IN TIME OF WAR!!! THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT MEANS FOR US "MENTALY" TO BE WHO WE ARE WHEN WE COME BACK!!! I FINNALY, AFTER MY FEB.,2008 IRAQ INJURY, AM ABILE TO WALK WITH BRACES ON L.ANKLE,L.KNEE,R.KNEE AND A CANE,THIS OF COURSE AFTER SURG. ON BOTH FEET AND BEING TOLD BY THE EVAL. BOARD IN MILWAUKEE,WI THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE THEY COULD DO!!! WENT TO CIVI. DOC. AND HE LAUGHTED AT WHAT WAS DONE AND FIXED IT NO PROBLEM!!! GOD BLEES THE VETERANS................ S/F

Jan Miller

April 11, 2014 - 1:03am

I am First Vice Commander Post 9 Utah.This message is for all people who were stationed at Ft McClellan Alabama. Check out HR-411 and see what our government has done and is doing to us. The citizens of Anniston Alabama got a multi-million dollar settlement. The Government said the VA would take care of the military.

Musgrove, Ted G

April 11, 2014 - 12:55am

Do you have a local VFW or American Legion Post in your city? There is Service Officers that should be able to help you. It's their job to help you.

Robert Bradshaw

April 10, 2014 - 9:07pm

I am service connected 50%. In 2002 and 2005 a VA radiologist told them to look at a specific spot in my spine. That was ignored. I received more meds. and 2 "doctors" both told me to wear loser clothing. That will relieve the pain in my back and legs. This went on until the spring of 2013. I could hardly walk and in too much pain. My family Doctor sent me to a neurosurgeon. After some testes, mylograms and cat scans. I was told I have 3 disintegrated vertebra and should not be walking at all. Strangely it is the exactly the same location the VA "doctors" were told about years before. I have have had the vertebra replaced and a fusion done. Had I waited for the V.A. I would have been in a wheelchair. This does not mention the side effects of the meds. have caused for the past 10 years. I am 100% unemployable. Thank you V.A. I AM taking the V.A. to task for all this . With the help of the American Legion.

Musgrove, Ted G

April 11, 2014 - 12:23am

If you live anywhere near Mason City, IA. Check with a Doctor David Beck. I've degenerated disc disease, and I'm fighting a claim against the military for the last 10+ years. I do use a wheelchair in larger stores. And, don't walk as much as we did in the Army. I've found that Hydrochordone is a depressant to me. It can make you suicidal at time. It's not very good at pain killer. I strive to not use any at all. I've not worked since Aug 2003, and I retired in Mar 2002, because of my disability issues, and not able to keep up with my soldiers. Later, TGM,

Robert Foster RN,CRNA

April 10, 2014 - 8:52pm

I am a veteran of Viet Nam and a 45 year member of the American Legion. I want to help my fellow service members! I am willing to help in any reasonable way I can. My heart is in the right place. Take advantage of me! Thanks.

Ernest Gamez

April 11, 2014 - 11:25am

I too am a Viet nam Vet.I had in the past tried to file a claim for a back injury while in Germany in 1962. My back goes out about every few years apart to where I am unable to walk with out holding to the walls to stabalize my self.When I'm taken to a local hospital I get a shot of steroids and that does help me, but then I never know when it,s going to hit me again. While in Germany I had this happen and I was sent to Med center,went through xrays and hot tubs and the found nothing. I prematurley retired due to this medical issue.Need some advice as how I could get my medical records for that period. When I got rejected due to no record found I was told to get witness to verify.I had no way of finding anyone.I am a member of Post 336 Audey Murphy San Antonio,Tx

Musgrove, Ted G

April 11, 2014 - 12:30am

You have RN after your name, does this stand for Head type of Nurse, that knows more than doctors, usually? I'm seeking the truth about what high fevers can do to a human body, and if they aren't brought down, after 5 days? I had what the military calls "lesions" I was in the field, and became ill. We had no medic with us, because of our SFC didn't want him tattling on what they did in the field. I requested sick call, and went up the chain of command, and got told NO, he's staying in the field with the rest of us. He just wants to go home to his new wife. I really wanted to go to the emergency of the hospital, first. But, that didn't happen until we all came back in. We had no orders, because it was just another excuse to be out where no one could watch what our superiors were doing. As in ?, Thanks for the ear, TGM

Yolonda Oswalt

April 10, 2014 - 8:31pm

My husband is a 100% service connected Vietnam Marine. Ours is a sad situation with Michael DeBakey Medical Center in Houston. We had a horrible experience with over medication, nurses making bad judgment calls, and most recently, negligence caused my husband to have aspiration pneumonia, and septis. He spent approximately 3 weeks in their MICU. I had reported an aide for feeding him in a prone position to the nurse manager. He was assigned to feed my husband a d this time Mike choked, turned blue and rapid response was called. When DeBakey first got Mike he was having memory issues but was walking and talking. Today he is in a private sector hospital. Now DeBakey does not want him back. I am trying to find funding to get the care he requires. They ruined him. He is bedfast on a trachea a n d feeding tube.

Musgrove, Ted G

April 11, 2014 - 12:42am

Do you have any American Legion unit near you? And, sometimes there is an office with the DHS, and you could sign him up with the Social Security Office for disability. Don't take the SSI, go for only the SSDI. Some people don't want to lower themselves to this level is how I felt, when I had to. But, it's an insurance every pays into while they are working. And, this is the insurance being paid back to us, is the only way my mind can understand it. I'm sorry, they had done this to a good man. And, you can use the free lawyer from the DHS. I believe this is in most areas. Make sure, it's pro-bono and in writing. Anytime you sign anything, get a copy. For sure with the military, but even with civilians. I've learned much dealing with my claim and my wife's issues with medicines. My wife has CP, from birth. But, we have lasted for almost 29 years. Thanks for being a great wife, to you husband. You both deserve better, and will put you on our prayer list, if you don't mind. I'm retired Army. Take care, and take on day at a time. Days have good and bad times. Keep the Faith. TGM

ALEX SALTER

April 10, 2014 - 8:30pm

Do the American Legion know about bill H.R 1742 and its status. Thanks Alex

Beverly Morris

April 10, 2014 - 5:17pm

I have heard of MANY veterans who don't want to have to go to VA hospitals and medical centers because the care available at VA facilities falls short of other hospitals and centers. The only ones that typically have up to par care are the ones who share physicians with large hospitals (like Vanderbilt in Nashville). This is not the right way to take care of our Vets!! If we can spend so much on the military for war, why can't we spend more on taking care of the men and women who served in the military?

Alfonso E. Caballero

April 10, 2014 - 5:05pm

I have fought tooth and nail with the VA Medical and Compensation system. An Administrative Judge from DC held a hearing on my case. The Judge even gave them the medical code to use but the Houston Regional Center went against the Judge and issued their own, but used the same wording the Judge had asked them the to use. The Houston Office gave me 10% instead of 30% the Judge had given me. Does the VA read our medical files or just find rationale to give you a lower rating. Shades of the VA in Houston filing our claims in the trash can. All the way up to the Secretary is full of heavy high priced managers and directors that provide the minimum of help in any way. Get rid of them and hire doctors but lessen the cost. The Veterans deserve the cost savings. eBenefits is a big JOKE. Never updated as should be done. The system needs data and updates. Congress and the VA point fingers but very little gets done.

SgtRW

April 10, 2014 - 5:03pm

I wouldn't take a dying dog to a VA hospital. I am a Vietnam Combat Veteran and I grew up without a father. My father was a WW2 Combat Veteran and ended up in a VA hospital due to the war. I lost my father in a VA hospital and he died due to their failures. I will never forgive the VA for this.

The Fox

April 10, 2014 - 4:44pm

How about one of Obama's famous "executive directives" to fix the problem? Seems he can use his clout to bail out his buddies (AG Holder/"Fast and Furious" gun-runner), appointments/cabinet members (IRS boss), and contributors (Solyndra, et al), but not servicemembers.

Richard Reysack

April 10, 2014 - 4:15pm

I am a retired Army veteran of 24 years. I applied for my service connected disabilities in 2003 and was granted 50%. 10% of that was for my knee which was injured while on active duty. I have had 3 surgeries to fix torm Meniscus. Over the course of 2 years I have had Physical Therapy, given a knee brace, and last year a new injection of Rooster Comb. While it helped with some of the pain and joint grinding, that last 4 months. I asked my Primary care to put another consult in and had X-Rays of the knee taken. From last year to this year the knee impression given by the radiologist was Severe Joint Deterioration from the last X-Rays taken. What is the VA going to do? More Rooster Comb injections. The VA is supposed to see patients within a 30 day period or they are supposed to be FEE Based out. I have an appointment in June of this year. I have been told I am to young to get a knee replacement. So what do I do? I have to tough the pain out everyday because the VA won't FEE Me out to get the treatment I need. Many other veterans are getting treated the same way.

Frank W. Dazey

April 10, 2014 - 4:15pm

Hay you guys are CONGRESS, you control the money. You can mandate the changes that need to be made. I think we are getting lip from both sides.

Richard Duley

April 10, 2014 - 4:02pm

The VA process in a total mess in Florida with all the veterans. Can't call anyone, E-Benefit's is joke. Nothing posted on system. Need to call someone "Call back later we are vary busy now". Never call you back anyway. Don't ask your Senator or Congressman for help, because VA will send form letter saying they are working on it. Senator or Congressman never follow up. Thank you American Legion. Keep the issue in the spotlight!!

William L Sabin

April 10, 2014 - 3:54pm

I am 100% unemployable with a 80% service connected. I stopped using the VA Medical system about 5 years ago because They caused me to have a heart attack. It was during a cardio stress test. That is not what they told me tough. I found out when I was in the hospital with Pheumonia. I had a high heart rate and they wanted me to see a Cardiologist. He wanted to give me a stress test and I told him NO. When he asked why I told him what had happened at the VA and that it took me over a week to even be able to walk 10 feet. I have sever Emphysema and he said that the chemical they used on me should not have been used because of the Emphysema and that it most likely caused me to have a heart attack. That is why I couldn't walk for ove a week. Then when I was released from the Hospital I was told to se my primary within 10 days. VA made an appointment for me 60 days out. Thats when I fired them and started using TriCare because I am Military Retired. At least I had an Option

RJ FLYNN

April 10, 2014 - 3:34pm

The VA Management needs to be held accountable and responsible for their failures! Stop rewarding failure! VA Managers and employees who are not doing what they are paid to do need to be fired! Too many delays in processing claims. Too many claims denied just to reduce backlog. Too many excuses!

gerald kacak

April 10, 2014 - 3:27pm

file # 307406608 indianapolis va. would you please tell me why i had a corporation from 1997 to 2009 and the va debt center in minnesota is making me pay all my va back in the amount of 268,000 dollars. my corporation with 3 officers never made any money. try to explain that. sad me/ 219-803-2301

Beverly Whisenhunt

April 10, 2014 - 2:40pm

My husband is a Korean Vet with 70% disability and has applied for 100.He is PDSD. On several meds for this.He is 84 and still having to work due to a case of have to.I have Lupus and he is legally blind.He went for a hearing in FtWorth to talk to a dr,and has heard nothing! He waits everyday to hear if he is getting it or not.He needs to quit work! He cant drive now and I take him where he needs to go.He cant take his meds due to having to go to work.Is there any way that we can find out from just anybody about this?Please help us.Thanks.

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