Yes the VA system is broken, but some of the suggestions that Sec Shalala and Senator Dole made are not reasonable and create a two tier system where older vets get less benefits than newer disabled veterans and create re-evaluations that will create tremendous stress on mentally ill veterans suffering from PTSD by requiring them to be re-evaluated every three years, a check of the medical treatment records should indicate the necessity for a reevaluation not just an arbitrary date, if veterans quit going to doctors appointments or group therapy then yes call them in, but if they are going in and continuing treatment causing the angst of a formal C&P re-evaluation is not necessary and will end up causing many suicides, as did the proposed re-evalution three years ago by the VA and was cancelled after a few vets did committ suicide and 2100 files were reviewed and the errors were not the veterans fault nor fraud but mishandling of the file by the VA itself.
I to have been fighting with the VA claims system since October 2002, I am one of the 7120 enlisted men used in the chemical weapons and drug experiments that were conducted between 1955 thru 1975. The VA has just flat ignored any medical problem I contend is related to the 77 toxic substances found by the EPA in the drinking water and soil of Edgewood. The military has been dumping and burying barrels of chemicals there since it was created as the chemical weapons center in 1917. The EPA ordered the water wells capped due to the severity of the contamination. The VA claims I can't prove I was exposed to any of the chemicals, I drank the water and cralwed around in the training areas, and they can't prove I was not exposed to any of them. One can assume I was exposed to some or all of them during my 60 day TDY period there, and how much if any of it was safe? 33 of the chemicals cause cardiovascular problems, 43, cause pulmonary problems and 37 of them cause gastroinyestinal problems, I have been diagnosed with hypertension, high blood pressure, a failed triple by pass, 2 stents, a heart ejection fraction of 25%, PTSD, GERD, COPD, ED, emphysema, skin abnormalities, and 2 herniated disks in my back at L4/L5 and L5/S1, and have been issued a power chair by the VA. Despite all of this the only thing the VA says is service connected is my PTSD due to being assaulted and robbed by 7 fellow soldiers in February 1975 while in Alaska, and left for dead in a snow bank at 20 below zero, 4 of them ne went to Leavenworth Prison and the other 3 were given field grade punishment and then discharged from the Army on Bad Conduct discharges, and I have many other factors that also play a part in my PTSD symptoms, but as General Powell has stated "they broke it, they bought it". There are many studies that show the links between PTSD and hypertension, high blood pressure and heart disease as a secondary problem. After five years you would think the VA would realize I have no intention of dropping this claim until it is properly ajudicated either by the Board of Veteran Appeals or the Court of veteran Appeals. If I had of been allowed to hire an attorney 4 years ago after the inital denial, I am sure this nightmare of fighting my own government for benefits and medical care for my wife and son, like Social Security Disability claimants are allowed to do. It is absurd to me that veterans are denied the same rights any other American take for granted, the right to a lawyer to represent them against the country and beuracrats denying them the benefits they and their families deserve.
Indy Week • 302 E. Pettigrew St., Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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