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February 27th, 2010
04:06 PM ET
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Richard A. "Red" Lawhern, Ph.D.

    Not mentioned in your otherwise excellent spot, Tracy, is a problem of attitude and expectation that is endemic to both the Veterans Affairs disability system, and to Social Security Disability. Both systems are set up to reject claims rather than act on them in a timely manner. Both systems employ incompetent medical hacks to "assess" and reject claims, in order to control costs to. The average SSD applicant must go through at least two levels of application and appeal - and often three - being told at each iteration of this emotional meat grinder that they are malingering, over-reacting, or in need of psychiatric care rather than medical care. The chances of getting through this gauntlet without the services of a lawyer - who will take up to 40% of the administrative court's award, if he or she wins the case - are just about zilch.

    I know whereof I speak on this issue: Though I am not a licensed physician, I am technically trained and I've read some sectors of the medical literature extensively for several years. I've been an advocate and on-line research specialist for chronic neurological pain patients for over 14 years. I also published or contributed to four different websites that provide patients with information resources on chronic pain. I've corresponded with almost 3,000 chronic pain patients all over the world - many of whom were dealing with the damaging attitudes of disability insurance systems.

    There are times when I intuitively feel that thousands of VA and SSD doctors need their rear ends kicked into next week, just to get their attention! Until the attitude of automatic exclusion and negative labeling exercised by these people is addressed and changed, I suspect any other improvements in service to veterans and the otherwise disabled are likely to be marginalized.

    Keep at it, Tracy. Some revolutions must be worked out one painful step at a time...

    February 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  2. Walt Zinn

    The sad truth is when a veteran returns from a combat zone he or she
    has just begun to fight....but the enemy now is the VA. If the VA worked as hard to say yes to the needs of the veterans as the veterans worked to serve this country our veterans would not be in such need!

    February 27, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    The biggest obstacle to fair and equal Health Care for American Veterans has been the Republican lawmakers that have repeatedly obstructed and torpedoed expanding and improving health care for new and existing American veterans. Perhaps NOW with the Democratic majority's and Democratic President Obama in the White House, American Veterans can now receive their fair share of adequate health care treatment and care.

    February 28, 2010 at 12:37 am |
  4. Michelle

    Both of my only sons are in the military! I expect the best they have to offer for them both, since they serve! Loving and Caring military mom!


    February 28, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  5. Mikey

    This is the result of 3,4,5 tours of duty.The cowards that sent these soldiers on that many tours in the previous administration are responsible.
    The congress that did not have the guts to start a draft . 5 tours in hell for our soldiers was a better idea.
    Don Rumsfield more afraid of the polictical implications, remember, he wanted to do this war on the cheap.
    Remember the Bush/Cheny crew. The terrorist are on the last throughs, mission accomplished,Many years later we are still throwing our tax dollars away NO money for our vets or citizens.
    Just shows more of the poor leaderhip and planning in regards to these soldiers homecoming and the wars.
    These wars have bankrupt our country, what do you think happens to soldier exposed to this many tours.
    God Bless them and their familys,God Bless your mission to fix the health care system for our vets I am sure it is all about money.
    Do not forget there are 40 million Americans with out health insurance and 45000 of those a year die because of a lack of it.
    We need to bring our troops home and that money we used to fight these wars needs to go to heal the American people.I do not see any of the fiscally reponsible patriots willing to fund any of these progams , just the wars.

    February 28, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  6. david burkart

    I was watching the segment on VA healthcare. The one guest said that one in four vets wait 1 month or more to see a doctor. While this is not ideal, i often wait a month or more to see some of my doctors in the private sector. I have worked as a psychologist in the VA for 18 years. In recent years there have been significant improvements in funding and staffing in MH at my facility. We still need more staff. My nonemergency patients must wait about 5-6 weeks to see me. However, a system is in place so that those that an urgent MH or medical need can be seen the same day. i have seen many vets over lunch time and other times as needed. Vets can also be seen by an on call psychiatrist. I feel that the VA staff has pt care as the first priority. This is often lost in the media and all that is heard are the stories of bad care.

    February 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  7. marie


    You might like some fresh ideas regarding how we pay for unemployment and I thought I would offer some tips for Republicans; try Entitlements!!!!! Most of our money goes toward Entitlments and until we wake up and decide that entitlement need to go or be cut we are going down with the Titanic.

    March 1, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  8. Ed

    Kyra's sensitivity and humanizing the news is so refreshing. She goes a step beyond other anchors by expressing herself personally but yet in a way which is acceptable to all. As for vet care, something would be done if we were to place all of Congress on the same health care and benefit programs as the vets. However, since they introduce bills it would take a true patriot to push this idea in our government.

    March 1, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  9. TK

    I was charged $128 for 2cc of childrens tylenol, for that price you can buy a case of tylenol. I was also charded $72 for a guaze pad, they called it a surgical pac.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  10. Mai

    No one deserves it more than our vets but the GOP will find ways to brand it as more entitlements and say "NO" to that too. Good Luck!

    March 1, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  11. Anita Callander

    Direct billing from a hospital? Insist on itemized bill, keep flawless records of payment. I knew a several thousand dollar statement had been paid. After an hours' "busyness" activity from a clerk who was certain the bill had not been paid, she wanted a check, instructing me to send . . "the bill to the insurance company".!!! Funny business if you ask me. Anita

    March 1, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  12. Azalea Annie

    In defense of the Veterans Administration disability staff, let me tell you about some employees taking early retirement at a large manufacturing plant. A number of these employees were veterans. They had been working in the plant for over 30 years. All had good attendance records; many played golf regularly; many went fishing regularly; several rode bicycles in a group on bicycle trails; and all were in good health. They looked forward to early retirement....but had one concern: medical care until they reached age 65 and qualified for Medicare.

    But one of them had learned from a friend that if you could get into the VA system, and especially if you could find a connection to something in your service record that could help you become designated as "disabled", even if it was hearing loss from 30+ years of working in a mfg plant and not consistently wearing hearing protection (as required), then you could benefit from being "disabled". So their early retirement was to be subsidized because of 30-40 years ago service in the military.

    So early retirement by people paid a good deal more than the average wage.........and made possible because of 2 years of military service 30-40 years ago.

    This could be one of the reasons why the VA disability determination group is overloaded, thus making it harder on those veterans who do have service-connected disabilities.

    March 1, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  13. Chuck Boudreaux

    Great. I wish more members of Congress were as brave as Jim. They need to stand up and make sure that all SPENDING is FUNDED FIRST. So easy for them to fund this out of the excess unspent, so called, stimulus funds. Why don't they get off their butts and ACT?

    March 2, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  14. Bullfrog

    I have news for some of you people. loose a limb and get 10 percent if you think the veterans are getting big money, you are full of bad fruit. being a disabled veteran myself the health benefits aren't that great. what a joke

    March 6, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  15. Vern Cull

    I think that Angie from Tampa gave it all away regarding her motives when she said that she is writing a book. What she does with regatd to her own pregnancy is her business and should be kept private but she is obviously using her situation for commercial gain.

    March 8, 2010 at 10:15 am |