by Michael Leon
Just off the phone with a veteran who told me U.S. soldiers and Marines often take pictures in war zones [such as they are] of enemy dead in violation of various articles of the Geneva Conventions. Guys figure they'll have an easier time with the VA if they have pictures of the dead (if they make it out) that they can file with VA documents.
Veterans' fathers, their grandfathers (and women too) know the story about the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA), a predatory and dysfunctional agency that denied their family's health and lives.
We hope it's changing, but the VA ain't your friend, especially if you're a Vietnam-era veteran:
But the DVA does have it share of defenders: The kindest thing these defenders are called by veterans are "chickenhawks," "house cats," and "pukes."
One of the DVA's friends is AP national writer, Allen Breed.
Breed defends the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and the U.S. Dept of Justice (DOJ) who went after Wisconsin Navy veteran Keith Roberts in 2004 for blowing the whistle on the DVA's shredder-gate scandal in the most undiplomatic way possible: Repeated obscenities.
I broke the story on Roberts on few years' back; but Roberts is the tip of the iceberg of systemic mistreatment of our veterans.
Readers have seen saturation coverage of the deficiencies and hostilities of the DVA and embedded neocons in these pages.
Reviewing Allen Breed's national AP hit job on U. S. veterans and reformist elements at the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA), there is a danger in writing a follow-up piece asking for comment from veterans.
Namely, Breed's assertions that disability claims are being handled too "quickly, humanely, and mostly in the vets' favor" present a risk that veterans may just stroke out in righteous anger when asked their opinion of these statements. I don't want cause an activist veteran his or her life. Not kidding.
As axiomatic to veterans as the oath they swore to defend the U.S. Constitution is the reality that a veteran filing a disability benefit claim encounters the VA's 'deny-delay-and-hope-you-die' culture.
How bad is the disability claim process?
The long document that a claimant must fill out [over one-million claims were filed in 2009, predicted to grow by the 100,000s] will more than likely be denied or delayed by a some claims specialist at the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA), like Mark Rogers quoted by writer Breed.
Rogers makes the absurd statement, unchallenged by any source Breed presents, that all a veteran has to do is "lie" and they can easily obtain "100 percent disability compensation."
Breed's editor has a nice shot of the VBA bureaucrat, posing before the camera like he's actually proud of the mess he's makes veterans slog through.
As Mike Bailey writes over at Kos, "I have spent years advocating for veterans and their families. I am used to the major news agencies that report just facts and leave opinion pieces to others to write, Reuters, AP even Bloomberg News, but this [Breed's] is the most opinionated piece I have ever seen from the AP."
For a benefits process that hums along so "quickly [and] humanely," there sure seems like a lot of suicides; see the Unseen Enemy: Corps had military’s highest rate in 2009.
Speaking of unseen enemies, they're not just embedded bureaucrats at the VBA, or pencil-necks at the the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the enemy of the veteran is in the press as well.
Writes Breed, "No one knows the full extent of PTSD fraud. But there have been some hints."
Here's a hint for you, Breed: Our sworn veterans deserve the benefit of the doubt and one hell of a lot more than that.