Showing posts with label Barack Obama presidency and veterans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barack Obama presidency and veterans. Show all posts

Jan 16, 2014

Rumbles from Veterans About New VA Rule for Disabilities

Help for veterans or vile insurance company
The question needs to be asked: Is the Obama administration all-in on helping veterans, or is it veering into the neocon territory of its predecessor?

Jamie Reno has the story in an exclusive at: Is VA deliberately blocking disabled from benefits? And it sure ain't good.

The VA (DVA) is pushing a change in disability applications that could stiff veterans in a manner the rightwing American Enterprise Institute could only dream.

"The scope of this proposal is enormous. If adopted, every year, hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans’ claims and appeals will get shot down by VA before the agency even reviews them," notes Michael Zacchea, a board member at Veterans for Common Sense.

If anyone sees an interest in helping veterans, check out Reno's piece.

The VA and its Veterans Benefit Administration are starting to look again like a particularly hostile health insurance company.

Dec 16, 2013

VA to Expand Benefits for Traumatic Brain Injury

The VA has decided to push again for expanded disability benefits for veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI), the signature wound from the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and occupations, outside of missing limbs.

Those Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; they never tire of being 'takers' and 'moochers,' as Paul Ryan, Charlie Sykes and every other Republican tells us over and over.

From the VA:

WASHINGTON (Dec. 16, 2013) – Some Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who are diagnosed with any of five other ailments will have an easier path to receive additional disability pay under new regulations developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The new regulation, which takes effect 30 days from today, impacts some Veterans living with TBI who also have Parkinson’s disease, certain types of dementia, depression, unprovoked seizures or certain diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.

“We decide Veterans’ disability claims based on the best science available,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “As scientific knowledge advances, VA will expand its programs to ensure Veterans receive the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

This regulation stems from a report of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM) regarding the association between TBI and the five diagnosable illnesses.  The IOM report, Gulf War and Health, Volume 7:  Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury, found “sufficient evidence” to link moderate or severe levels of TBI with the five ailments.

The new regulations, printed in the Federal Register, say that if certain Veterans with service-connected TBI also have one of the five illnesses, then the second illness will also be considered as service connected for the calculation of VA disability compensation.

Eligibility for expanded benefits will depend upon the severity of the TBI and the time between the injury causing the TBI and the onset of the second illness.  However, Veterans can still file a claim to establish direct service-connection for these ailments even if they do not meet the time and severity standards in the new regulation.

Veterans who have questions or who wish to file new disability claims may use the eBenefits website, available at

Servicemembers who are within 180 days of discharge may also file a pre-discharge claim for TBI online through the VA-DoD eBenefits portal at

The published final rule will be available Dec. 17 at

Apr 6, 2013

Obama takes hits on veterans from hypocritical GOP

It was not that long ago (Feb. 8, 2004) that George W. Bush declared on Meet the Press, "I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign-policy matters with war on my mind."

Bush got his wars, the media delivered his lies, and as predicted by veterans' advocates 100,000s of veterans came home disabled.

But the war president was not the veterans' president.

And President Obama is still cleaning up the mess made of troops and Marines when we make wars.

The Obama administration has—in direct opposition to the administration of George W. Bush and its allies in rightwing thinktanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—called off Bush's war on veterans.

But now, Republicans and even liberal groups are savaging, unfairly in my view, President Obama for VA backlogs, even as the GOP blocks administration calls for increases in the budget of the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla; 2001-present) chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, says no more money increases for veterans, but he is all-so-concerned now about the claims backlog.

Miller said exactly nothing about the wars Bush had others wage, and the lack of policy preparation for the troops and Marines coming home. So, Republicans are now appalled at the backlog of benefit claims, though this new-found concern never surfaced during the Bush-Cheney administration. This is just GOP crap.

It didn't get much coverage, but during the Bush administration the GOP chickenhawks did declare war on veterans, at least those who file disability claims.

Massive disability benefits claims backlogs were ignored and the hostile VA went after veterans politically, especially Vietnam veterans, calling them what is the equivalent of Romney's 47 percent.

Veterans with PTSD were specifically targeted.

In an infamous comment made in 2005 at the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) meeting, recounted by a former VBA analyst, Paul Sullivan, VA bureaucrats in the Bush administration blamed a lack of belief in God as the cause for PTSD. Typical.

In Wisconsin, one Vietnam-era veteran was even criminally convicted and imprisoned for filing a disability claim after being diagnosed with PTSD, a warning shot against veterans.

The war on veterans' new front on PTSD was predicated upon the GOP's philosophical abhorrence of veterans' receiving benefits, displayed well in the last presidential campaign, as the Ayn Rand nonsense of Romney-Ryan and the Republicans actually came out in the open after being taped surreptitiously.

Romney-Ryan was just a continuation of the past administration's war against veterans.

"[I]t’s also very likely that some of the veteran baby boomers who have filed claims in recent years did so not out of medical need but out of a desire for financial security … [T]he rush of applications for long-term disability entitlements reflects the extent to which the culture of the DVA since Vietnam has become fixated on PTSD," piped Dr. Sally Satel, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute on March 1, 2006 in a piece typical of actual disdain for veterans.

President Obama expanded the VA's disability programs, and in 2010 changed the PTSD rules for obtaining benefits, a move that drew criticism from the chickenhawk neocons and their allies for making it easier for PTSD victims to obtain benefits. And Obama also expanded rules for Agent Orange claims, again in 2010. Both of these moves were made when the Democrats controlled both Congress and the Presidency. The GOP-controlled House of Representatives' message to veterans now is loud and clear: Go to hell, folks, you're just part of the 47 percent.

That's not the message we get from Obama.

Obama is bringing home troops and Marines; expanding veterans' benefits and taking responsibility for the treatment of our veterans. And Obama's DoJ does not prosecute veterans like Bush-Cheney's DoJ.

George W. Bush and the Republicans did the opposite:  Made war; and ignored and attacked our veterans.

Nov 11, 2012

Happy Veterans Day

Keith Roberts - Jailed and convicted
thorough prosecution
Wisconsin U.S. Atty, Steven Biskupic
for tenaciously pursuing
his disability benefits claims

"I had this conversation with a guy in the [George W. Bush] White House, the liaison to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This was during the Bush Administration. He said, if we were to keep every promise that we made to the veterans, it would bankrupt us as a nation."
- Veterans' advocate, Steve Robinson (U.S. Army combat veteran, Rangers and Special Operations) [Quote is from a piece in the Executive Intelligence Review (subscription required)]

This is Veterans Day. Not Austerity day.

It's absurd to contend we cannot afford as a society to make good on the promises we make to our service members.

Lest we lose our soul as a nation, we can cannot afford not to keep our promises.

So, please consider this when the Third Way, Alan Simpson and company push President Obama to trash Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans' benefits and education.

Committing this travesty has been the policy objective of the American Enterprise Institute, the Bush administration and neocons for decades, and has been rejected thoroughly in our elections last week, with Republicans hanging onto to the House only through gerrymandered congressional districts.

This Veterans Day, I salute my father, Tony Leon (U.S.Army), Keith Roberts (U.S. Navy), Robert Walsh (U.S. Army), the UW-Madison Veterans Law Center and Gordon Duff (U.S. Marines).

Thank you for your service.

Dec 21, 2010

Battle Over Science, Money Blocks Widely Recommended TBI Therapy

Pentagon blocks cognitive rehabilitation therapy promoted by health experts in show of foolishness unusual even by DoD standards

From the VA:

Running a very similar version of a story that first appeared on the NPR website, Stars And Stripes (12/21) says that "despite pressure from Congress and the recommendations of military and civilian experts, the Pentagon's health plan for troops and many veterans does not to cover" cognitive rehabilitation therapy -- a "limitation that could affect...tens of thousands of service members who have suffered brain damage while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan."

While officials with Tricare "say the scientific evidence does not justify providing comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation," an investigation conducted by NPR and ProPublica "found that Tricare officials have privately worried about the high cost of cognitive rehabilitation, which can cost $15,000 to $50,000 per soldier. With tens of thousands of troops and veterans suffering long-term symptoms from head injuries, treatment costs could quickly soar into the hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars - a crippling additional burden on the military's overtaxed medical system."
The NPR(12/21, Miller, Zwerdling) website profiles cognitive rehabilitation therapy provided by "Project Share, a charity to help brain-damaged soldiers." NPR says "providing the kind of care available at Project Share to even the small percentage of brain-damaged soldiers who need it would require a tremendous commitment of time and money from military and veteran medical systems." ProPublica (12/21) runs the same story.
Intrepid Center "Making Difference" In Lives Of Wounded. The American Forces Press Service(12/21, Miles) reports, "When it officially opened its doors in June, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at the National Naval Medical Center" in Bethesda, Maryland, "set out to provide a new level of care for warfighters suffering traumatic brain injuries and psychological disorders. Six months later," the $65 million center, a "gift from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund," is "making a difference in the lives of servicemembers struggling to deal with the unseen, signature wounds of war with hopes they can continue their military service."
Researchers Develop Shock Wave Exposure Patch. According to the current edition of the Army Times (12/27, 104K), researchers with the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have "created a patch that, when attached to a service member's helmet, can signal exposure to shock waves from a bomb." The researchers "plan to calibrate the color change of the badge to indicate the intensity of the blast so medics will immediately know the potential harm to the brain."
Researcher Suggests "Surge Against Brain Disease" May Be Needed. In an op-ed for the "Congress Blog" of The Hill(12/21, 21K), Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, who founded a "nonprofit conducting research on brain-related diseases," says an "epidemic" facing the US is the "disabling legacy" that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and post-traumatic stress disorder have on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. According to Xenakis, blast "concussions from IEDs contribute to homelessness, suicide, unemployment, fractured families, and weaken the fighting force." Xenakis concludes, "It may be time for the White House to engage in the Surge Against Brain Disease."

Jul 10, 2010

President Obama: Fixing VA and Providing More Help for Veterans with PTSD

- President Obama: "But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need." -

In his weekly radio and Internet address on July 20, 1010, President Obama says the government will make it easier for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to receive federal benefits

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 10, 2010 Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need
WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Barack Obama announced that on Monday the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Shinseki, will begin to make it easier for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to receive the benefits they need. For many years, veterans with PTSD have been stymied in receiving benefits by requirements they produce evidence proving a specific event caused the PTSD. Streamlining this process will help not just the veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of veterans who have served and sacrificed for the country.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address
July 10, 2010

Last weekend, on the Fourth of July, Michelle and I welcomed some of our extraordinary military men and women and their families to the White House.

They were just like the thousands of active duty personnel and veterans I’ve met across this country and around the globe. Proud. Strong. Determined. Men and women with the courage to answer their country’s call, and the character to serve the United States of America.

Because of that service; because of the honor and heroism of our troops around the world; our people are safer, our nation is more secure, and we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq by the end of August, completing a drawdown of more than 90,000 troops since last January.

Still, we are a nation at war. For the better part of a decade, our men and women in uniform have endured tour after tour in distant and dangerous places. Many have risked their lives. Many have given their lives. And as a grateful nation, humbled by their service, we can never honor these American heroes or their families enough.

Just as we have a solemn responsibility to train and equip our troops before we send them into harm’s way, we have a solemn responsibility to provide our veterans and wounded warriors with the care and benefits they’ve earned when they come home.

That is our sacred trust with all who serve – and it doesn’t end when their tour of duty does.

To keep that trust, we’re building a 21st century VA, increasing its budget, and ensuring the steady stream of funding it needs to support medical care for our veterans.

To help our veterans and their families pursue a college education, we’re funding and implementing the post-9/11 GI Bill.

To deliver better care in more places, we’re expanding and increasing VA health care, building new wounded warrior facilities, and adapting care to better meet the needs of female veterans.

To stand with those who sacrifice, we’ve dedicated new support for wounded warriors and the caregivers who put their lives on hold for a loved one’s long recovery.

And to do right by our vets, we’re working to prevent and end veteran homelessness – because in the United States of America, no one who served in our uniform should sleep on our streets.

We also know that for many of today’s troops and their families, the war doesn’t end when they come home.

Too many suffer from the signature injuries of today’s wars: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. And too few receive the screening and treatment they need.

Now, in past wars, this wasn’t something America always talked about. And as a result, our troops and their families often felt stigmatized or embarrassed when it came to seeking help.

Today, we’ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we’ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.

But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.

Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.

So we’re changing the way things are done.

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Ric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.

This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.

It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. Thank you.