An open letter to the United States Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs
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11 August 2013
To All It Concerns:
This morning I was met with the news that President Obama has warned the disabled veterans in our country that if the Sequester continues, their benefits may be reduced or at the very least, in jeopardy. This is completely UNACCEPTABLE!
The courageous men and women, who put their lives on the line, presenting themselves selflessly for the good of the nation, are being forced to shoulder the burden of the financial stupidity that has deadlocked our lawmakers. Lawmakers who, by and large, have never served in our military are too stubborn and seemingly stupid to understand the incredible sacrifices our disabled veterans have to make every day in order to survive.
Using veterans as pawns is nothing new, but it is always shameful.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is also fighting an incredible backlog to process disability claims, and while they are making progress, there is much inconsistency and inefficiency in the organization. Again, because of these two issues, disabled veterans and their families are needlessly suffering.
When it takes more than 500 days to process a claim for disability and receive a disability rating from the VA, and another 200 days to appeal and get the correct rating, there is an enormous problem. Because there is no consistency in the rating process, two veterans with similarly severe injuries in two parts of the country, or VA regions, will often receive two different ratings. Does the severely brain damaged veteran in Florida deserve fewer resources than the severely brain damaged veteran in Idaho?
Furthermore, there are many policies in place at the VA that make sense on paper, but are flat out ridiculous and detrimental in execution. For example, when a veteran runs out of pain medication and their provider doesn’t respond to a refill request in a timely manner and the veteran is required a drug test. When the drug test reveals no measurable level of the pain medicine in the veteran’s system, the veteran is cutoff from the pain medication for breaking the pain management contract. I understand the reasoning behind the contract, but the unintended consequences are that a veteran writhes in pain due to someone else’s laziness or disorganization.
We have veterans killing themselves at the rate of 18-22 a day in this country. They are fighting unimaginable physical, emotional, financial, and psychological agony while they wait for disability claims to be processed and ratings to be issued. There comes a point where the constant anguish becomes too much to continue to carry.
The United States was once the greatest nation in the world. However based on the current treatment of those who have given so much, more than their fair share and would do it all again in without hesitation, The United States of America has lost its “#1 Nation” coffee mug.
So, Congress and Department of Veterans Affairs if it is clear your policies for supporting and caring for only real national treasure are ineffective and contributing to the loss of lives, don’t you think political differences and bureaucratic differences should be disregarded so that our wounded veterans are properly cared for and comfortable?
Act now before the loss of a generation heroes is your legacy and the gaping scar they leave becomes our national symbol.
Angered citizen and wife of a disabled veteran