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Injured Iraq war vets to sue VA

July 23rd, 2007 . by TexasFred

WASHINGTON (AP) — Frustrated by delays in health care, a coalition of injured Iraq war veterans is accusing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson of breaking the law by denying them disability pay and mental health treatment.

The class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, set to be filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco, seeks broad change in the agency as it struggles to meet growing demands from veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Suing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans, it charges that the VA has failed warriors on several fronts — from providing prompt disability benefits, to adding staff to reduce wait times for medical care to boosting services for post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s a sad statement of affairs in this nation when the men and women have to sue the federal government to get the health care and disability benefits they need, deserve and have more than earned…

The V.A. has long been lacking in nearly every area, it’s almost like they think the Vets of this nation are even less than 2nd class citizens, the care that Vets receive, the facilities that they have to use, the quality of care provided by many less than top shelf doctors, nurses and various technicians is beneath contempt…

Diagnosis of various stress related disorders are simply dismissed with a new prescription for some mind numbing drug, the troop, or former troop needing the most treatment for PTSD seem to receive the least and that hit or miss treatment only exacerbates the mental condition of a stressed out combat Vet and does, in MY opinion, present at least the possibility of a serious danger to the general public if a stressed out individual, in severe need of help does snap because of lack of treatment or misdiagnosis…

The lawsuit also accuses the VA of deliberately cheating some veterans by allegedly working with the Pentagon to misclassify PTSD claims as pre-existing personality disorders to avoid paying out benefits. The VA and Pentagon have generally denied such charges.

VA spokesman Matt Smith said Monday he could not comment on a pending lawsuit. But he said the agency is committed to meeting the special needs of Iraq war veterans.

Lets be realistic on this one, in other words, lets tell the truth for a change, the V.A., for as long as I am aware, has neglected the basic needs of Vets from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, several other little dust-ups in between and now the large numbers of Afghanistan and Iraq Vets…

There have been accusations that the V.A. has deliberately misclassified PTSD claims as pre-existing personality disorders and if that can be fully documented, the V.A. and DoD will have more litigation opened against them than they are prepared to handle…

If the maladies that our troops supposedly suffered BEFORE becoming soldiers are in fact true, why didn’t the recruiting and training process ferret out those weaknesses in these particular troops before they were sent into combat??

We have an all volunteer military, we’re not involved in a world wide war effort that forces us to draft and accept anything that comes along, we’re not needing cannon fodder, we supposedly have a professional military, the most well trained and well equipped military in the world, do we need to tighten the training for those that train the troops?? Do they need to be better educated in ways of spotting the troop that may ’snap’ in combat??

That training may never happen, it may not even be a possibility, not to any more severe degree than is already in place, simply because no one can predict who will and won’t snap in a combat situation, the biggest and meanest guy in Boot Camp can become the biggest blubbering baby, and literally lose his mind when the shooting starts, and on the other hand, the guy you might consider to be the ‘lightweight’ of the outfit may turn out to be the most courageous and heroic combat fighter you’ve ever seen, and he may well take everything thrown at him in stride and suffer no ill effects, that is the mental makeup of troops and no one can predict anything in this area…

The only thing that the V.A., the DoD and their minions can do is evaluate each and every individual on a case by case basis, after the fact, and then give those Vets the proper care, treatments and medications they NEED and deserve…

The diagnosis of mental problems is, at best, a slippery slope, and one that can be easily faked, either way, in favor OF sanity as well as against, but IF the V.A. is allowed to use properly trained doctors and counselors, our Vets can possibly get the correct treatment they need and we can save millions of dollars in litigation, litigation that would be totally unnecessary if the V.A. had done it’s job properly from the start…

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Injured Iraq war vets to sue VA

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12 Responses to “Injured Iraq war vets to sue VA”

  1. comment number 1 by: GM Roper

    Many years ago, I applied to the VA as a psychotherapist. I took another job that paid better, so when the VA called for an interview, I declined. I’m delighted that I am not a part of that system, and though many vets have gotten some supurb treatment at the VA, by and large it is ill run and grossly mismanaged and that is NOT a partisan thingy, but runs across administrations.

    Oh, and for those that think Michael Moore’s prescription for health care in the US… a massive and even more poorly run program like the VA is what you would end up with.

  2. comment number 2 by: GUNZ

    Well Fred, I’ve hammered and hammered on this issue and I’ve came to the conclusion that if you go sign up and go serve your country you’re doing it at your own risk.

    Once this really catches on the military hasn’t seen a quota shortage yet, I wouldn’t let my kid join right now for nothing if she was old enough, and she’s close. If she got injured or sick in there she’d play Hell getting the benefits or the proper care.

    Eventually more parents than not will not want them serving simply because of the shitty health care afterwards if needed.

    But by God we sure are providing the best F-king health care to those sand niggers over there, the best they have ever known for every damn ailment from the pink eye to a sucking chest wound.

    Public relations you know, that “we will help you” bull shit the brass is currently being schooled in by Madison Ave…

    Hell, the enemy gets patched up by us.

    How about a “we will help you veterans” philosophy for once.

    I’m a big damn fan of the sucking chest wounds right now.

    Fuck, this VA crap continues to piss me off.

  3. comment number 3 by: Basti

    Here’s a little history lesson. When the Revolutionary War was over the Fed’s owed veterans a whole lot of money in back wages and now that the war was won who wanted to be bothered with veterans? The Fed’s said they didn’t have any money, but that they could pay the vets in land. The Fed’s said the land was ‘out west’ in what is now Ohio and other areas. There was just one small catch in that the Fed’s didn’t own the land they were giving away because the Indians were still living on it and the US had no title to the land. (Just kill the Indians and its yours)

    Then there were the vet pensions that came due years later for the Revolution Vets. The Fed’s tried their damnedest not to pay those pensions. And so its gone right from the get go, until now. Lie, cheat, or what ever it takes so you don’t have to give the vets anything. I mean who wants to spend money on people who served their nation and now have medical and other problems? After all the ‘illegals’ need that money! (End biting sarcasm)

  4. comment number 4 by: ARRA Editor

    I can understand the returning Iraq war veterans’ frustration. I spent 22 yrs, 2 mo & 20 days both as an enlisted and as an officer in the military. I was one of those drafted during the Vietnam War who proudly served. It has been frustrating as a retiree veteran to experience the erosion of benefits including access to medical at military bases and to VA facilities.

    Much of the problem for military retirees and combat veterans can be laid at the feet of the social programs of the Clinton Administration. His administration in a “feel good” jester expanded socialized medicine and opened the VA to all veterans regardless of their length of service, type of service, military related medical needs, etc. If were a veteran regardless of what you did or where you served or how you served, you were now eligible to apply to the VA.

    IN many years past, if there is was an opening and you got their first before the next major combat war — you were in the system. The VA was flooded during the Clinton years. Now all veterans applications are in the same Queue for benefits as those who have service connected medical issues and those who served in the military for full careers and forfeited access to careers that would have provided them the resources to provide for their own medical care. The result has been long waiting periods when care is needed right away.

    For those who do not know it, even military retirees DO NOT have full medical benefits as most people believe. Most cannot be seen at military bases. They have to pay for a significant portion of medical services at civilian hospitals and doctors and have to pay all dental, eye care, etc. And some doctors refuse military retiree because they do not wish to be limited by the amount allowed for medical services by the government for retirees.

    The VA provides dental care to Veterans who have 100 percent disability rating but not to others with service connected dental situations — or at least you will not get the dental need in time to avoid major complications and will be forced to pay 100% for the corrective actions — including military retirees.

    Comparison example: I have a brother-in-law who was physically injured in a private car accident that had nothing to do with the military. He was discharged and granted a VA disability after serving less than a year. He has been on 100% VA disability for 30 plus years and has full access to benefits including dental at the VA.

    I served over 22 years in the military. I have a documented service connected dental situation that is documented in my military records but the VA would not take me for an emergency dental situation which was applicable only to the service connected problem. The VA dental doctors were willing and wanted to do so. They had my military records in their hands. BUT, first all veterans must go to the back of long queue of the application and review process which many months. For me the situation if not address was life threatening so I paid for the work to be done — I could not wait for the final VA decision which has not after several months been issued. No appeal process — no supervisor of the application process to talk to unless I hire a lawyer and sue the VA.

    And here is the clincher — I am already in the VA system and receive limited VA services because of other service connected injuries. But it didn’t matter — even though they have the records, I had to join the back of the application line while other veterans who yes served time in the military but did not have any service connected injuries are ahead in the bureaucratic paperwork processing line.

    Brother-in-law serves less than 1 year stateside gets injured in a private auto accident — gets 100% treatment. I serve honorably around the globe for over 22 years — was proud to do so — have documented service connected injuries — do not get treatment or even my VA paperwork prioritized for a service connected medical problem..

    Now that you have the general picture. This is but a very small window into the big problem faced today by our returning combat veterans. It is worse for them because many needed assistance “yesterday” not tomorrow. The veterans who unfortunately arrive by Air-Vac or ambulance at a VA hospital via military medical discharge order, may and should be getting excellent care. But those who are discharged, return home and then try to seek help from the VA hey must file the paperwork and go to the back of the line — even though their situations may be combat related and need immediate attention.

    VA doctors, nurses, orderlies, counselors want to help our veterans. They must cry themselves to sleep over their desire to give the best to our veterans. But the bureaucratic long application and review process is keeping Veterans who really deserve VA services from getting the medical treatment they need. Interesting that one day you are serving your country and documentation is not an issue, but the day you either retire or are discharged, not only are no longer respected by the very government you served but you are just another burden to the them and the VA process.

    And American’s think the Iraq peace process is taking too long – try fixing the VA and other Federal government programs.

  5. comment number 5 by: GUYK

    I shouldn’t bitch about VA care…I probably would be dead now if not for VA. A few years after I retired from the USAF my blood pressure got out of control. The only treatment the Base doctors would prescribe was diuretic pills and weight loss. The gotdam pee pills caused me to cramp so bad I flushed them and gave up figuring I might as well be dead as to have cramps so bad I could never dare go to sleep.

    Then my wife got me an appointment at the VA hospital..I was in the system because of a service connected disability and managed to get seen. The doc saw the problem and saw me daily for over a month until she found the right meds to get my bloood pressure under control.

    I left VA because of the attitude of the feather merchants running the place and because of the piss poor attitudes of the clerks on the desks..typical low paid career civil servants..the ones they named the missiles after..you know..the ones that wouldn’t work and they couldn’t fire?

    Military retirees who elect to take the TRICARE HMO option can receive excellent if not outstanding care. It was a fight sometimes to get TRICARE to pay for the tests my wife needed but once we got them done there was no problem getting the approvals for the surgery needed..at a minimal cost.

    TRICARE FOR LIFE is hard to beat as a supplement to medicare..in short it pays what medicare don’t…and keeps the drugs costs down where we can afford to get our prescriptions witout having to hock the south forty.

    But, VA does have it problems and I blame congress and the VA administrators for most of them. However, in VA’s defense, they are doing what the military has been doing for years..ever more with ever less to do it with.

  6. comment number 6 by: Gunz

    As you say you can’t predict who’s going to come away with PTSD and who won’t…

    But in most cases it’s years later, they may perform admirably on the battlefield and come away thinking they were mentally unscathed, but at some point what you thought was so embedded in the back of your mind, so far in fact you didn’t know it was there, works it way to the front and believe me it’ll fuck you up. It has me severely…

    So setting up an early precedence of denying claims of these guys from this war isn’t the half of it.

    There’s so many with PTSD already and don’t have a clue, it hits hard when it finally happens too.

    So this war is cranking out some very sick people that’s going to be denied benefits say 6-8 years after being out.

    This bull shit needs challenged in a big way.

    There’s the governments nightmare right there; cut off the benefits and their lively hoods altogether, add former military training, alot of former spec-ops folks, add ptsd, add pissed off in general, schooled in warfare and the government will have a legit challenge on their hands.

    There’s a lot brewing in this nation. That’s just one scenario of a few.

  7. comment number 7 by: Kate

    The shameful way the veterans have been treated wants me to slap the crap out of any and all in charge, starting at the very top, and working my way down the food chain!

  8. comment number 8 by: Patrick Sperry

    Hey Basti! Doesn’t this sound like a recording? I mean, what the hell is new here?
    I really shouldn’t bitch all that much about the VA, at least here in Denver. The hospital is linked with both University Hospital and Denver General.

    As for PTSD taking a while to show up? Not always, an Iraq Vet just popped his wife while she was singing with a band at a bar up the road a few clicks in Cheyenne. Then he offed himself.

    As for the Veterans Administration attempting to avoid claims? Well, Fred and Basti remember what I went through with hepatitis “C” post transfusion to treat injuries received in a far away and beautiful place in south east Asia. In other words, it was on file. They tried to duck it after Denver Health figured out what was going on with me.

    That didn’t fly, and they got to pay for eleven months of Interferon and Rebitol. Thank God that Legion Post 1 had an Attorney available.

  9. comment number 9 by: Longstreet

    Sorry to be so late commenting. Unfortunately, my daughter was involved in an auto accident yesterday so I was otherwise occuppied for much of the day.

    I don’t think there is any question that the VA is in a mess. It has been for as long as I remember… even before the 2nd WW.

    Unless the courts step in nothing will change… at least for the better. Frankly, I’m not sure anything will change even AFTER the courts step in!

    I also agree with a number of the others commenting here. The VA is the precursor for what we will have as a National Healthcare System, in America, if the Libs have their way.

    Pray God we can stiffle their next attempt!

    Best regards to all!


  10. comment number 10 by: Ol'Broad'sBrat

    Ya know.. i’ll never be the political mogul my mother is.. but this is one thing that caught my eye… I honestly believe the whole thing should be disbanned, and the goverment forced to pay full price for all military persons, past, present, and future… i’m angry right now.. June 21st, i lost a friend.. He came back from Iraq in September, He turned 23 in April, he killed himself in June.. and it’s just luck that another friend of mine who got out of the Marines in October of ‘05 is alive, because someone found him in time..He made it to 24.. This is ridiculous! These KIDS are surviving hell over there, just to come back here and enter their own personal hell.. I truly believe that every soldier should automatically receive counseling… These guys/girls are coming out of highschool and shipping into hell for their 4 years just to be dumped out on the street when their time is up.. It’s disgraceful to say the least..

  11. comment number 11 by: dinosaur

    There’s the old Canadian adage nothings too good for our boys.

    And by god that’s just what they’ll get.

    This is a shame.

    “before they were sent into combat??”
    indeed, If they didn’t before it should be inadmissible

  12. comment number 12 by: magz/jo

    Double ditto on what Kate in post above said.

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