VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE NEWS – Claims Processing – US Military Bases Federally Designated as Hazardous Waste Sites – Linda K. May of Pontiac, Illinois Update

veterans for change

NEWS UPDATE…Friday, October 9, 2009

VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE DEMANDS VETERANS PROCESSING TO STOP BEING SWEPT UNDER THE RUG AND IGNORED BY LEGISLATORS

By: Jim Davis
Edited by: Barbie Perkins-Cooper

Veterans-For-Change, a non-profit vocal group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, would like to bring to your attention the immeasurably serious problems affecting veterans and their families every day. Many of these problems escalate for veterans, and continue to be ignored, swept under the rug, or misrepresented by our legislators.

The membership of Veterans-for-Change continues to grow and as an advocate for Veterans and the benefits they deserve, we would like to address the following problems/issues:

Claims Processing in Order of Receipt

Countless veterans and widows of the almost one million claims dating back to WWII are being placed on hold so that Afghanistan and Iraq veteran’s claims can be processed more quickly. While Veterans-for-Change relates to the difficulties, physical complaints and difficulties endured by the War on Terror Veterans, we believe it is crucial that VA Benefits claims should be processed in order of receipt regardless of when the actual service occurred, but this is far from the case.

WWII Veteran’s claims are taking 28-60 months, Korean War Veteran’s claims are taking 26-52 months, Viet Nam Veteran’s claims are taking 24-48 months, Persian Gulf Veteran’s claims are taking 24-36 months, Iraq Veteran’s claims are taking 6-7 months and Afghanistan Veteran’s are taking 3-4 months.

With a fully computerized claim system that communicates with other computer systems in regard to military and medical records systems, the backlog would not exist and the processing of claims would be in order of receipt.

Veterans-For-Change is actively involved in requesting that members of Congress take a long, hard and serious look at the escalating flaws in the system, and draft and submit corrective legislation.

Claims Paperwork Reduction

Veterans-for-Change believes it is time for the VA to bring their documents, medical records and service records into the Twenty-first Century so processing of claims are completed in an expedient manner . Currently, Veterans are required to “prove” their claims, providing medical and service records when the VA could have easily implemented a computerized claim system which communicated with both the DoD and VA medical systems many years ago, thus bringing the claims processing system into the 21st century.

Because of the amount of paperwork and documentation needed to “prove” a claim, and the amount of human intervention involved, the chances are greatly increased for human error, loss of documentation, eventually ending in denials or remands of claims thus also increasing costs involved with handling and processing of claims.

Veterans-for-Change requests that members of Congress take a hard and serious look at this flaw in practice, draft and submit corrective legislation to mandate an integrated computer system for claims processing so as to prevent such flaws and errors in practice in the future.

Better Protection for VA Medical Records

In the past veterans have had loss of personal information via stolen computers, hard drives and using sub-contractors who didn’t take the needed precautions to protect highly confidential information.

In addition, when claims are filed with a Veteran Service Officer and/or the VA direct, files lay around for anyone to walk up and access confidential information. Couldn’t this be considered as ‘invasion of privacy?’ This is just another excellent reason why the VA Claims process, Military and Medical records should all be computerized with a line of communications between the VA Claims system, DoD Military Records, and VA Hospital Records.

We must do all we can to protect the privacy and confidentiality of veterans records, and if we cannot rely on the VA I-T department to program a fully functioning system, then maybe the private sector should be considered.

President Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.”

You, as Americans, and politicians of a free society, do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to provide benefits and care, regardless of the costs involved and in a reasonable timely manner! You do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to care for those who did the job the average American Citizen didn’t want to do.

Our veterans cannot escape the effects, physical ailments, illnesses, and emotional wounds of war, or the effects of working in an environment on base where chemicals and other ‘confidential’ and dangerous materials reside. Freedom is not free; it comes with a price tag. Veterans paid a gigantic price, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Only a veteran can comprehend how that price was paid for in full by our military and veterans, along with their spouses and children! The price they paid for their devotion to their freedom does not have a monetary amount and it could be considered priceless since the effects of war leave so many emotional and physical scars that cannot be repaired, or erased. The price our veterans paid was distributed in full with blood, sweat and many tears!

If our nation rescinds its promises and ignores its obligation to those who have fought to preserve freedom throughout the world, we compromise the right to ask our men and women to serve and defend our national principals.

Veterans-for-Change is Growing

But we still need your help!  We need members who can volunteer 30-60 minutes per month to help determine hot issues that need to be addressed by the members of Congress to provide better benefits, facilities, care and treatment to all veterans and to help get our monthly letters out to all these members.

If interested please check out the group at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE/

Veterans-For-Change is also becoming a full 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  We’ll continue with our current mission, and will be expanding to add more and more programs over the coming months.

A special award recognition program for veterans, spouses and their children, a small college scholarship program for children of veterans, a small emergency relief fund for veterans in need, and more.

If you’re able to make a small donation to help in the cause and fight please go to:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=7849171

Attention Veterans who served in Korea

The research questionnaire response so far has been good, but we still need more veterans who served in Korea to participate.

Veterans-For-Change is distributing a questionnaire to veterans pertaining to service in Korea to help us gather statistical information in our ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs and to assist in declassifying many missions in Korea so that veterans such as you will be able to gain the benefits and services needed from the VA System.

This questionnaire is anonymous, you do not need to provide personal contact information if you’re not comfortable with this.

However, if you do provide personal contact information it will be kept 100% confidential, will not be given to any member of Congress, the VA or the DoD, nor will it be sold to any company for any reason what-so-ever.

Statistical information will be used to compile a report to submit to various members of Congress in our efforts to declassify all missions 25 or more years ago so that all veterans can apply for and gain the much needed benefits and medical care/services needed and long over due.

If you’re interested in participating, please send an E-Mail to:   Jim.davis@veterans-for-change.com

We’ll respond with a short two page questionnaire you can return via US Mail or E-Mail.

LINDA K. MAY of PONTIAC, ILLINOIS UPDATE

As most of you know, Veterans-For-Change as well as OFFE and many others have been gathering evidence to prove beyond any doubt Ms. May is committing fraud towards parents of school age children, elderly, and veterans.

Complaints have already been filed with the Attorney General’s in Michigan, Illinois, and California as well as with the US DOJ in Washington DC with Connecticut to happen this week seeking charges be brought against her and for monies she’s collected to be returned to those she’s harmed.

Over the past week, additional hard copy evidence has been received to be included with the packet being sent out to the various AG’s and DOJ.

If anyone else has any correspondence, documentation, lab reports, receipts, etc. anything proving you or someone you know has had direct dealings with her, please contact me via E-Mail at Jim.davis@veterans-for-change.com we need all the evidence we can gather within the next two weeks.

If you’re thinking about using her “test” or any “results” please be advised do not take this action, it will not help anyone in any VA Claim or court case.

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Congressional Hearing on DoD/VA

Response to Potential Exposures

(Washington, DC) – The Defense Department is the biggest owner of EPA Superfund sites.  Over 130 military bases are on the National Priority List (EPA Superfund).

In his opening statement today, Senator Daniel Akaka, Chairman, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, noted the requirement for the VA to provide health care and compensation to veterans who were harmed by exposures while in the military.

According to Senator Akaka, DOD “must first determine who was exposed, what they were exposed to, and the health consequences of such exposure, and then share that information with VA.”

For any military base on the EPA Superfund list, EPA has identified hazardous agents or Chemicals of Concern (COC).  This information is available to anyone with access to the internet.   

The issue of disclosure is more difficult when a veteran was exposed to a hazardous agent while in the military and the base is not an EPA Superfund.  Unless DOD discloses this information to the VA, veterans have no way of “connecting the dots to military service.” 

Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro, California, is one of 130 military bases on EPA Superfund. No El Toro veteran was invited to participate in today’s hearing but a group of El Toro veterans and other interested parties on learning of the Committee’s hearing submitted written comments for their consideration. 

Any veteran or other interested party can submit information to the Committee on the topic of the hearing for a few more days.  Comments should be emailed to:  Matt_Lawrence@vetaff.senate.gov.

A video on the Committee’s hearing can be viewed at http://veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=8e6c9acc-ae05-41de-a5f6-484ea25a52bc

El Toro Marines and others submitted the following written comments relating to the critical need for disclosure to hazardous agents; medical monitoring and access to tests for veterans; and medical care and disability for those with current medical conditions:
   
October 8, 2009
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs
Chairman Senator Daniel Akaka and Ranking Republican Senator Richard Burr
United States Congress
Washington D.C.

Subject:  Hearing on the VA/DOD Response to Certain Military Exposures – Submission for the Record 

Dear Sirs;

We thank you for holding hearings regarding military exposures to hazardous agents.  We understand the hearings focus on a few locations your Committee has concerns about regarding potential health hazards.  We are providing very brief comments for your consideration and the record. We request that you pursue actions to mitigate health problems arising from hazardous exposures at US military bases.

Marines and others who serve anticipate hazardous conditions will occur.  While efforts should be made to minimize hazards, some activities are inherently dangerous and even lethal.  We realize that knowledge of chemical hazards was neither as extensive nor widespread in past decades.  But the degree of hazard is clearly indicated by the 130 current and former military bases that are federally-designated Superfund sites (Attachment 1).  This designation requires extensive proof of hazardous chemical contamination.  Carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and mutagenic chemicals were used during military duties (e.g., jet fuels and other fuels, degreasing solvents) without personal protective gear.  Burn pits and other operations created additional toxic airborne chemicals, and often the soil, dust, and water on bases were contaminated.  The burden of exposure and disease is only now being fully realized.

El Toro is one of many bases operated to serve US defense needs, manned by people who put their lives on the line to protect and defend our citizens. The prevalence of hazards on bases is illustrated by the example shown in Attachment 2. Many veterans have difficulty locating information on chemicals that they were exposed to, if they know that the information exits.  Medical evaluations of their exposures and illnesses that may result in a Nexus statement are very expensive.  Yet this is required to receive essential medical care and disability support. This process is indefensible given the substantial medical science available to the VA on chemical hazards.

While we welcome an opportunity to provide additional information, for the sake of brevity we request that your Committee carefully consider and prompt the VA to take the following actions essential to preserving the health of Veterans:

  • Disclosure hazardous agents used on military bases, with information on potential health effects of the agents
  • For those highly exposed to hazardous agents, provision of medical monitoring and access to tests for early diagnosis of diseases related to hazardous agents
  • Medical care and disability for those with medical conditions related to their military service

Valuing the service provided by Veterans requires the VA and DOD’s participation in basic public health outreach and services.  This will provide the Veterans the best opportunity for good health, improve the economic viability of their families, and it is fundamentally the right and just thing to do.  We are submitting these comments as Marines, family members of Marines, and health professionals working with Marines who served at the El Toro Marine Base in Irvine California. 

Submitted via e-mail on October 8, 2009
 
Respectfully submitted by the following individuals,

Robert O’Dowd*
Marine Veteran
Former Financial Manager, Defense Logistics Agency

James Davis
Founder and President of Veterans for Change
Son of Marine

Mary Davis
Former Judge Advocate General (JAG) employee
Wife of Marine

Tim King
Marine Veteran
Journalist

Bonnie King
Wife of Marine Veteran
Journalist

Johnny P. Barron
Marine Veteran
Sr. Systems Programmer

Dr. Kathleen Burns
Director, Sciencecorps

Dr. Philip Leveque
Forensic Toxicologist

Dr. Michael Harbut
Chief, Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Chair, Science Committee, Michigan Agent Orange Commission, 1987 – 1988″

Dr. Daniel Teitelbaum
Adjunct Professor
Colorado School of Public Health & University of Colorado at Denver

Attachment 1.  US Military Bases Federally Designated as Hazardous Waste Sites**

US Air ForceAir Force Plant #4 (General Dynamics)   Fort Worth TXAir Force Plant 85 Columbus OHAir Force Plant PJKS Littleton COAmerican Lake Gardens/McChord AFB Tacoma WAAndersen Air Force Base Yigo GUAndrews Air Force Base Andrews AFB MDArnold Engineering Development Center  Tullahoma/ Manchester TNBrandywine DRMO Brandywine MDCastle Air Force Base  Merced CAChanute Air Force Base Rantoul ILDover Air Force Base Dover DEEdwards Air Force Base Edwards AFB CAEielson Air Force Base Fairbanks AKEllsworth Air Force Base Ellsworth  SDElmendorf Air Force Base Anchorage AKF.E. Warren Air Force Base Cheyenne WYFairchild Air Force Base  Spokane WAGeorge Air Force Base Victorville CAGriffiss Air Force Base  Rome NYHanscom Air Force Base Bedford MAHill Air Force Base Hill AFB UT 
Attachment 2 (continued):   US Military Base Hazardous Waste SitesUS Air ForceHomestead Air Force Base Homestead Air Force Base FL

Loring Air Force Base Limestone ME

Luke Air Force Base Glendale AZ

March Air Force Base Riverside CA

Mather Air Force Base Mather CA

McChord Air Force Base  Tacoma WA

McClellan Air Force Base McClellan CA

McGuire Air Force Base Wrightstown NJ

Mountain Home Air Force Base Mountain Home ID

Norton Air Force Base  San Bernardino CA

Pease Air Force Base Portsmouth/ Newington NH

Plattsburgh Air Force Base Plattsburgh NY

Rickenbacker Air National Guard  Lockbourne OH

Robins Air Force Base  Houston Co. GA

Tinker Air Force Base  Oklahoma City OK

Travis Air Force Base Travis AFB CA

Twin Cities Air Force Reserve Base  Minneapolis MN

Tyndall Air Force Base Panama City FL

 
 

Attachment 2 (continued): US Military Base Hazardous Waste Sites

US Air Force

Williams Air Force Base Chandler AZ

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Dayton OH

Wurtsmith Air Force Base Oscoda MI

 
US Coast Guard

Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard  Baltimore MD

 

US Army

Aberdeen Proving Ground  Edgewood MD and Aberdeen MDAlabama Army Ammunition Plant Childersburg ALAnniston Army Depot  Anniston ALCornhusker Army Ammunition Plant Hall County NEFort Devens Fort Devens & Sudbury MAFort Dix  Pemberton Township NJFort Eustis Newport News VAFort George G. Meade Odenton MDFort Lewis Tacoma and Tillicum WAFort Ord Marina CAFort Richardson Anchorage AKFort Riley Junction City KSFort Wainwright Fort Wainwright AKIowa Army Ammunition Plant Middletown IAJoliet Army Ammunition Plant  Joliet ILLake City Army Ammunition Plant  Independence MOLetterkenny Army Depot Franklin Co. and Chambersburg PALone Star Army Ammunition Plant Texarkana TXLonghorn Army Ammunition Plant Karnack TXLouisiana Army Ammunition Plant Doyline LA 
US ArmyMaterials Technology Lab Watertown MAMilan Army Ammunition Plant Milan TNNatick Lab Army Research, Development, and Engineering Center Natick MANew Brighton/Arden Hills  New Brighton MN

Picatinny Arsenal Rockaway Township NJ

Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant Riverbank CA

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Adams County CO

Sacramento Army Depot Sacramento CA

Savanna Army Depot Activity Savanna IL

Schofield Barracks  Schofield HI

Seneca Army Depot Romulus NY

Sharpe Army Depot Lathrop CA

Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant Desoto KS

Tobyhanna Army Depot Tobyhanna PA

Tooele Army Depot  Tooele UT

Tracy Defense Depot  Tracy CA

Umatilla Army Depot   Hermiston OR

US Army/NASA Redstone Arsenal Huntsville AL

 
US Army

Weldon Spring Former Army Ordnance Works St. Charles County MO

West Virginia Ordnance  Point Pleasant WV

 
 

US Navy and MarinesAdak Naval Air Station Adak AKAlameda Naval Air Sta. Alameda CAAllegany Ballistics Laboratory, Mineral Co. WVBangor Naval Submarine Base Silverdale WABangor Ordnance Disposal  Bremerton WABarstow Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow CABrunswick Naval Air Station Brunswick MECamp Lejeune Onslow County NCCamp Pendleton Marine Base Camp Pendleton CACherry Point Marine Corps Station Havelock NCConcord Naval Weapons Station Concord CADavisville Naval Construction Battalion Center    N. Kingstown RIEl Toro Marine Corps Air Station El Toro CAIndian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head MDJackson Park Housing Complex  Kitsap Co. WAJacksonville Naval Air Station Jacksonville FLMarine Corps Combat Development Quantico VAMarine Corps Logistics Base Albany GAMoffett Naval Air Station Moffett Field CANaval Air Development  Warminster Township PANaval Air Engr CTR Lakehurst NJNaval Air Station, Whidbey Isl Whidbey Isl. WA 
 
 
US Navy and MarineNaval Amphib. Base Little Creek Virginia Beach VA

Naval Computer & Telecommunications  Master Station Eastern Pacific Wahiawa HI

Naval Indust. Reserve Ordnance Plant Fridley MN

Naval Security Group Activity Sabana Seca PR

Naval Surface Warfare Center  Dahlgren VA

Naval Undersea Warfare Engr Station  Keyport WA

Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Bedford MA

Naval Weapons Station Yorktown VA

Naval Weapons Station Earle Colts Neck NJ

Navy Ships Parts Control Ctr Mechanicsburg PA

New London Submarine Base New London CT

Newport Naval Edu & Training Ctr Newport RI

Norfolk Naval Base Norfolk & Portsmouth VA

NWS Yorktown – Cheatham Annex Yorktown VA

Parris Isl. Marine Corps Depot Parris Island SC

Patuxent River Naval Air Station Patuxent River MD

Pearl Harbor Naval Complex Pearl Harbor HI

Pensacola Naval Air Station Pensacola FL

Port Hadlock Detachment Indian Island WA

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Kittery ME

US Navy and Marines
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard  Bremerton WA

So. Weymouth Naval Air Station Weymouth MA

St. Juliens Creek Annex  Chesapeake VA

Treasure Isl. Naval Station  San Francisco CA

USN Air Station Cecil Field Jacksonville FL

Washington Navy Yard Washington DC

Whiting Field Naval Air Station Milton FL

Willow Grove Naval Air & Air Reserve Station Horsham PA

Yuma Marine Corps Air Station Yuma AZ

** Federally designated hazardous waste sites that come under US EPA’s Superfund Program (also listed as National Priority List or “NPL” sites) are listed.  Some base cleanup has been completed, and work continues at other bases.  These facilities include active and decommissioned bases.  Some locations house (d) operations for multiple branches of the Service.  When multiple locations with the same name were listed, they were combined under one entry above.   Many hazardous waste sites are not designated under Superfund for a variety of reasons, and so this is very unlikely to be a complete list of bases where chemical contamination indicates past exposure to chemical hazards.

The underlined text links to the US EPA’s webpage for each base with some investigative documents, cleanup status, and lists of the toxic chemicals that were identified. The documents often contain inconsistencies, making it difficult to evaluate the nature and levels of exposure to hazardous agents at worksites, in base housing and in the elementary school on this base.

US EPA’s individual site websites link to chemical contaminant lists that in turn link to health hazard information from ATSDR.  ATSDR’s chemical documents are often out of date, incomplete, and misleading.  (See transcript of Congressional Hearings in 2008 regarding the quality of ATSDR’s information.)  Attachment 2 contains a link to the US EPA website for El Toro, as an example.

Attachment 2.  Webpage with basic information on the former El Toro Marine base***

Marine Corps Air Station El Toro: EPA Superfund

Former Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California is one of 130 military bases on the National Priority List (a federal Superfund site).  The chemical contamination of soil and groundwater at El Toro is shared by many military bases. Millions of dollars were spent in remediation by the Navy. However, like other Veterans, no El Toro veteran was notified of the health effects of exposure to organic solvents, toxic metals, and other hazardous agents.
 
Mission Statement
 
The purpose of this website is to provide information to Marines and their dependents that lived and worked at MCAS El Toro about the contaminants in the soil and groundwater and the potential health effects of exposure to these contaminants.

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The Navy identified 25 sites on the El Toro base with chemical contamination of soil and water that included arsenic, benzene,  dioxin, TCE, chloroform, vinyl chloride, and other carcinogens, mutagens, neurotoxins, and developmental toxins (source: US EPA, 2009 at http://cfpub.epa.gov/supercpad/SiteProfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=second.Contams&id=0902770.  Many toxic chemicals were used in daily operations by Marines or were created through the use of burn pits and other processes. 

Site 1- Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Range: Site is located in the northeast portion of the base in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains.

Site 2 – Magazine Road Landfill: During the 1970s, all solid waste from El Toro and some waste from MCAS Tustin were disposed in this landfill.

Site 3 -Original Landfill: Original Landfill, active from 1943 to 1955, encompasses approximately 11 acres and is located in the eastern portion of El Toro.   (This list of sites continues on the webpage.)

***See http://www.mwsg37.com  containing additional information on base contamination, health hazards, communications from Marines who served at the base, and related information. The webpage was developed by and relies on information assembled by a Marine Veteran who served at El Toro, Robert O’Dowd.

Watch for Veterans-For-Change new website coming soon:

www.veterans-for-change.com

VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE MISSION STATEMENT

A Veterans Advocacy and Assistance Organization

The purpose of Veterans-For-Change is to make major changes in the treatment and rights for all veterans. In benefits claims, appeals, medical care and treatment, VA Facilities, PTSD, Agent Orange, POW & MIA recoveries, diabetes, TBI and dioxins.

Members combine their talents, information, ideas and suggestion and contribute to a monthly letter that’s sent to all 535 members of Congress expressing the concerns over various issues and offers possible solutions.

This is in an effort to make change within the VA system, to streamline, expedite and insure claims are honored to the best possible rating, to insure all medical facilities are using the best equipment in the most modernized facilities with a properly trained and fully licensed and compassionate medical staff.

Additionally we circulate petitions for various pieces of legislation to promote their being presented on the floor and voted on.

We conduct research, develop ideas, solutions, and programs and do our best to make sure they’re put into action.

We also provide guidance and assistance to veterans, spouses, their children and widows with their claims and appeals and the support of all veterans who seek assistance.

We must guarantee the rights of every single veteran and gain the rights and benefits promised!

Jim Davis
Garden Grove, CA 92840
jdavis92840@sbcglobal.net   Don’t be afraid, just be yourself!
“Be who you are and say what you feel .. Because those that matter .. don’t mind ..
And those that mind … don’t matter.”
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MEMORIAL PAGE & BLOG:
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Are you or a fellow Vet diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)?   We’d like to help you, and your family cope with, understand, and be able to find the assistance you need.   Group Name:           Vets_ALS
Group Home Page:      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Vets_ALS
 
For more Veterans Information: http://veteransinfo.org
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VETERANS-FOR CHANGE   VETERANS WILLING TO GET INVOLVED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE VA   ALL Veterans complain about one thing or another when it comes to the VA, benefits, etc. and for the most part they’re right, however, NOT many will stand up to the VA nor our goverment.   DO YOU HAVE THE GUTS TO STEP FORWARD AND SAY YOU WON’T TAKE IT ANY MORE AND HELP IN THE FIGHT?   Then join us today because tomorrow NEVER comes!   Group Name:                   Veterans-For-Change
Group Home Page:              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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5 Responses to VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE NEWS – Claims Processing – US Military Bases Federally Designated as Hazardous Waste Sites – Linda K. May of Pontiac, Illinois Update

  1. Anyone interested in assistance or support with the VA and issues, please E-Mail me: jim.davis@veterans-for-change.com

  2. Carolyn Wilkins says:

    October 4, 2009

    Subject: “The Forgotten Warriors”

    Attention: House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

    335 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Sir/Madame:

    I write this letter, as the wife of a disabled Vietnam veteran, as a disabled veteran myself and as an advocate for all veterans. As I write this letter, I have recently been made to feel humiliation, hurt, confusion and disbelief because I took my husband to the Water Reed Medical Center on Monday, September 28, 2009 because he was experiencing chest pains, headache, he told me he was hurting all over, and his body was shaking and he was having tremors. To my surprise, I was asked by the doctor, why did I bring him there? My answer can he not come here? Then to add insult to the humiliation and hurt, I was asked by the same doctor, was it because I did not want to care for him any longer? Well, contrary to popular belief, I take my husband to the emergency room to get him medical care for what he feels is going on with him. Not for any selfish reasons of my own. You see, my husband has dementia and until the visit to the emergency room at Water Reed, he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

    We now know that my husband has Lewy Body Dementia according to the neurologist and other doctors at Walter Reed. In addition to being asked the above questions, that were so humiliating, the neurologist in that same emergency room, told me to take my husband back to North Carolina and find him a good neurologist. So my question was, why can’t you help him? Why do I have to take him back to a place where I have continuously taken him to doctors, to include a neurologist and he was misdiagnosed, so again why can’t you help him? The process continued from about 6:30 PM Sunday evening until about 4:30 AM. At that time the admitting physician came into the examining room his question to me was what do you want me to do admit him or you take him home? So again, the disbelief and hurt because I reminded this doctor, that in 2007 I took my husband to a VA Medical facility and he was rejected twice. Then when he was seen, the doctor fail to assist him and told me what I had taken him to the emergency department for was not an emergency and then after sending him to X-Ray, told me that we could go home. Needless to say, in less then three days my husband was experiencing complete kidney failure. Ok…to those of you who may have heard this before…on the day he was scheduled to leave the hospital, he collapsed on me in the rest room and I was told he had a heart attack and on the same day, he was bleeding rectally (we do not know how long he had been bleeding but he was in a hospital, shouldn’t they have known?) and he continued bleeding for almost a month and had to have twenty units of blood. The bleeding was found because I noticed him bleeding and insisted on

    Page 2 of 5
    House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

    someone checking him out. I had already asked the nurse to check him the day before to see if he was having rectal bleeding. IT WAS NOT DONE!

    Therefore, at Walter Reed Emergency Department, I told the good doctor that I wanted him to make the call as to him going home or being admitted. The doctor seemed to get annoyed and told me he had read the notes, and he said, “I will admit him, I will admit him.” So you may say, he got treated but I say to you did the treatment include treating him for all that ails him and I say no they did not. I provided them with information they did not have about a program that is offered at several VA Medical facilities. They did not know. If the health professionals do not know the programs available that means the veterans are not getting what they deserve.

    Again, I come to you because I feel my husband is a part of the forgotten warriors. However, he did not forget when he was called to serve in two wars over thirty years ago. He said yes and he remembered when he was handling agent orange, he did not ask why did you bring me here, when he was sent to Korea and Vietnam and then to Vietnam again for a second time. He served for twenty two years. He then served for another twenty years as a federal employee. He never asked anyone why did you bring me to fight your wars. He served with pride and dignity. However, his dignity has been taken away, when each and every time he needs medical attention, he is treated like he don’t belong.

    My husband was sent to a state VA nursing home after being hospitalize for almost thirty days. In the first week he fell three times and two days before I pulled him out of that place, because he was able to pass the nurse’s station (just two doors down) go all the way down to the end of the hallway and open the window, take the screen off the window, put a chair out the window and able to roam around in the parking lot.

    So I ask the question, what am I to do, not fight, allow my husband to be ill and not attempt to get him well? Am I to allow him to be placed into an environment that is detrimental to his well being? I also ask what would you do if this was your family member? How would you feel?

    This letter serves to enlighten you as to what has happened with my husband; however, I stand firm and will be an advocate for any and all veterans. I stand on principals and what is right for people who have proved they were worthy and gave this country their time. They made sacrifices and spent long days and many nights away from their families and loved ones. They served.

    As I took my husband on rides in the wheelchair around the Walter Reed Medical Center, I could not help but notice the many signs and banners that are hanging and placed on the beams outside the main entrance. Signs such as “I Will Never Accept Defeat.” Should we accept defeat when we take our veterans to Veteran Medical Centers and Military
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    House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

    Medical Centers such as Walter Reed and the doctors ask the question why did you bring them here? Should we accept defeat when we attempt to care for our husbands, wives, sons and daughters, and we are discouraged on every attempt?

    On that same entrance we see “Korea and Vietnam Through GWOT: You Shall Not Be Forgotten.” Can we believe they are not forgotten when we take them to VA Medical Centers and Walter Reed and we are asked why did you bring him here or he is refused treatment? Or the treatment is limited and the consequences of those actions leave them in worst health then when they entered those doors? Are you not forgetting, what they have done and where they have been? Are you not forgetting that because of their very “selfless service” they are experiencing the illnesses they have, because of that very same selfless service? Chemicals, such as agent orange, diseases such as Type Two Diabetes and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the very causes of what and why they should never be forgotten. However, you stand ready to again place them in harms way by not treating them for “all” that ails them. You take away the “honor” of their service because you find less ‘integrity” in just assuming that their caregiver is tired of taking care of them and the caregivers are burdened by that care. You forget about “respect, duty, loyalty, and most of all personal courage.” You forget “I Will Never Quit!” You lack in the “excellence” in what you do and you have failed to “Never Leave a Fallen Comrade” because they are no longer on the battlefield of war. You have left your fallen comrade at the worst time by not attempting to heal, their sickness because they come to you after they have had the respect of country, the honor of serving, the duty to peace in a time of war, the loyalty to a country, the integrity to stand up and give their life for something greater than self which made it selfless service and most of all the personal courage it took for each man and woman to fight and not falter when so much was riding on their service to this country.

    There is no respect in asking a spouse why did they bring a veteran in to be treated at any of these facilities, or are you tired of caring for them? There is no honor, loyalty, integrity or duty when you make people feel they are wrong in attempting to have the veterans of this country get the healthcare, shelter or benefits, they need, regardless of the conditions.

    Why does the VA contract with nursing homes that offer substandard care to the very people who have served this country? How can these facilities be allowed to provide service to the very people who have given their lives and when it is time for the Armed Services to give back to my husband and others like him you are told that there is no guarantee on how they will be treated in one of those facilities. One of the social workers at the Walter Reed Medical Center told me that you cannot guarantee how you love one will be treated when you have to place them in those types of facilities. In my opinion there should be a 100 % guarantee that when we place our loved ones in government contracted facilities they get that guaranteed in writing they will not be left alone to fall,
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    House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

    or do harm to themselves. If we cannot give them that guarantee, then we have again left our fallen comrades.

    We have homeless veterans living in the woods, in Woodbridge, Virginia. What do we do about it? They have been there for years. We cannot house them, but we can pay contractors to get drunk and drink vodka off each other’s behinds and continue to pay them for their service. We can allow contractors to electrocute our military personnel, but we do not refuse to renew their contracts. However, again, we can deny the veterans services when going to medical facilities and treat them as if they don’t belong but we continue to allow these people who are abusing the system and getting away with it to continue. Where is the honor, duty, integrity, personal courage, and respect in that?

    To end this letter, maybe we have lost the vision: “A culture of excellence in healthcare, medical education, readiness, and research in an integrated health care system based on the legacy of Walter Reed.” Maybe we have forgotten to first do no harm, be it mental, emotional, of physical. Maybe we have forgotten that doctors and healthcare professionals must always know that their bedside manner, is what they should display with honor, duty, integrity, personal courage, and respect to the patience in which they serve. Each facility should know what the other has to offer our veterans. We fail as a community, a state, a nation if we offer to our veterans less than they are deserving and we all fail. We need to know that each facility has the tools to refer and to know where our veterans can get the help needed if and only if that particular facility can’t provide what is needed. I, nor another person trying to obtain assistance should have to feel the need to research information to help when you were almost refused treatment.

    When we take our loved ones to a federal medical facility and you ask for consideration to be given to symptons that are affecting your loved one, you should not be told if we check that then what do you do if you find something else going on? Well, again you treat them for what ails them. If there are options available and open for discussion you seek the best course of treatment. You do not tell anyone what if and then what. You treat for what ails a person especially our veterans. That happened to my husband at Walter Reed, when I told the doctors he seems to be having problems swallowing, he has lost over twenty pounds in the past couple of months. So you do not check those things out? Why not? Because he is old or because he is old and black????

    This letter serves to enlighten each of you who never know what humility and disrespect feels like when you loved ones are hurting. It also serves to tell each of you that when you take a job in the capacity in which you serve, you are there to serve the people. We are your employers. Each of you owe it to the people of this country to serve each of us equally regardless of our political affiliation or statue in life, you take an oath to serve and in so doing you are responsible to the people, all the people, not a select few.
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    House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

    We need better medical facilities, nursing and rehabilitation facilities, for our veterans, we need assistance with providing homes for the homeless veterans and others alike. We need both the Congress and the Senate to work for the people not against the people of this country. We also need to know that when we call the Congressional Representatives or the Senators they do not fail to serve the people because they don’t have the time. We did not get here to be a divided nation, we want our veterans cared for and cared for in a manner in which they served their country. There should not be a place where a Four Star General can be treated with dignity and respect where an enlisted member wouldn’t get the same treatment, because each of us have given just as much as the other in order to fight for this great country. There are retirement communities that will only service the elite among us. I know this because I have called several and to find out that if you cannot pay $10,000 per month or more you do not get in the best facilities. They are very specific about whom they admit. For the poor they want you to have nothing and apply for Medicaid.

    I ask that the Korean and Vietnam Veterans are not forgotten as I feel my husband is forgotten at this very moment! Forgotten and disrespected because he is ill.

    Thank you.

    Carolyn F. Wilkins

    155 Calcasieu Drive
    Parkton, NC 28371
    910-858-3541

  3. Wayne,

    VFC covers well over 1,000 issues with the VA but we can only cover so many issues on a monthly basis with the members of Congress before we lose their attention.

    Letters can only be a maximum of 2 pages before they toss it aside and forget it which leaves very little room to cover many topics/issues.

    The Veteran Service Organizations don’t do much if anything and have a 40 year plus history of not doing much for veterans, and this is why so many advocacy groups are popping up left and right.

    And with veterans, spouses, widows all joining in the fight we do have a much better chance of seeing real change in the VA system and the lists of places and contaminents as well as illnesses being covered.

    I encourage all veterans to join an advocacy group, any one of them, and help be a part of the solution to the problems.

    Join and put your ideas, issues, problems on the table and request they be addressed properly.

    If you or anyone has questions, my E-Mail address is above, send me an E-Mail I will be happy to discuss it with you.

    Jim

  4. wayne harper says:

    nothing about panama canal zone and agent orange ect. ? only usa bases.
    thank you

  5. Aletta says:

    Thanks for posting…You are great

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