13 August 2014

Senate Staffer Support!

They're still working hard for us! Senators and their staffs, from both parties, have given countless hours to the C-123 problems. We're not forgotten. There seem to be weekly meetings and conferences between the senators and VA, their staffs and VA, anybody and everybody who is involved. Before his confirmation, now-Secretary McDonald had the C-123 issued briefed by Senator Merkley's staff.

So they know we're here, and they know full well we're not getting younger and we're not getting better. This is the plain situation, and the years VA is taking seem to be a tactical approach on their part....wait us out, given our life expectancies, and the fact that the only thing potentially lost is the catch-up disability check.

In the interim, for every day VA delays a claim and for every year a denied claim sits awaiting BVA attention, both VBA and VHA save millions by ordering our vets out of their hospitals, telling us seek care elsewhere as best we can. Waiting lists for appointments are gamed this way, too, by keeping our eligibility delayed as long as possible.

VA pays no penalty, regardless of how illegal or outrageous their claims decisions
. VA raters face no criticism or correction...the claims sit on desks for years, get denied for improper reasons following orders from C&P or VHA that they be denied, and then years pass before the widows get a big brown envelope long down the road.

But we have highly motivated staffers working for our senators (particularly Senators Merkley, Bennet, Burr, Udall, and Chambliss.) In the House, it seems to be only Congresswoman Bonamici, although others have signed her joint letter to the Secretary, and Congressman Neal wrote a letter himself just this year, although we've been detailing the problem to his office for three years without response.

As for VA employees, including SES, there have been changes and start-up orientations, but while smiles are friendly and they are mostly our fellow veterans, their oft-stated mission seems unchanged: they want to "draw a line somewhere," "VA cannot permit any C-123 claims," etc.

Anything that they can do to prevent C-123 exposure claims, including wording the charge to the Institute of Medicine to avoid asking the relevant question, "were they exposed," and instead asking IOM to decide "how much harmful exposure was there" to which they've responded in several studies that individual assessments just cannot be made, especially with such a small population.

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