This article today is derived from my personal experiences with the DAV. The DAV for those of you who don’t already know stands for Disabled American Veterans. This is an organization that its members (like me) have paid $230.00 to for a lifetime membership. Their job is to help service connected disabled veterans concerning issues with the VA (Veterans Administration). My personal experiences with them have gotten me nothing except having $230.00 less in my bank account. Each month members get a small magazine telling it’s members about things they are doing like having conventions and of course, asking for donations and offering things for sale like t-shirts. Where I live here in eastern Kentucky I have three neighbors whom the DAV ‘represents’. When I have spoken with them and or their wives they say the same thing, that yes the DAV is their representative but no, they haven’t seen anything from them yet. They like I have waited and waited for years now to have our issues with the VA addressed, but still nothing.
I have a case before the VA to have my service connected disability rating increased from its current 40% as I am totally disabled because of being hit by lightning while I was in the Army. I filed for the increase in February of 2013 and was turned down in March of 2014. I at that time filed an appeal but as of yet I still don’t have a date to get to see the Judges (next step in the appeals process). I was told in March of 2013 that the process was taking about 22-23 months before I could expect to have my case in front of this 3 Judge panel. Folks, that was 30 months ago and I still have no date set for this meeting with these Judges. So far what has the DAV done for me concerning this issue? As far as I can tell the answer to that question is, absolutely nothing!
I have two medical bills that are on my credit report that are labeled as ‘in collections’. These two bills are from September of 2011. I was in a suburb of Atlanta Georgia at that time and I blacked out and busted my forehead open about 3 to 4 inches on a large steel exterior door hinge . The reason I blacked out I was told later by the Doctors was because the VA had me on 4 times too much blood pressure medicine. I was taken while unconscious in an ambulance to the nearest hospital which happened to be a civilian hospital that was about 1/4 to 1/2 mile away. I was unconscious for three days once I got there. I was later told by the ER Doctors that when I arrived that both of my kidneys had 100% shut down and that my blood pressure was 50/20. They also told me that if I had not gotten there within another 5 to 10 minutes, I would have died. The VA via their guidelines are supposed to pay the medical bills if the bills derived from an emergency, they still have not paid the bills and now they are on my credit report. The VA has said that the reason is that in their opinion I could have made it to the Atlanta VA which would have been at least 30 minutes away, in good traffic. Also anyone who knows anything at all about Atlanta traffic at about 4-PM knows that the chance I could have made it to the VA before I died, knows that I would not be writing this letter to you now, I would be dead. I have written and called the local DAV rep here in my home town and all they do say is for me to contact the National office in Louisville Ky. Concerning writing letters to them, they just send you a letter back telling me/you to either visit or call the Louisville office. Well, I have done this and the people who you are able to get a hold of don’t know anything about what the VA policies are and all they try to do is push you off the phone telling me that I need to handle the issue and that it would be an up hill battle trying to get them to pay those bills because “I should have gone to a VA Hospital’. The DAV, even at the National Head Quarters, zero help, total laziness, total ignorance of the rules/policies.
I have an electric wheel-chair that I got from the VA back in 2007 that weighs 300 lbs, plus the weight of the lift that is hooked to the back of our 2006 Chevy Equinox. This vehicle is getting old and it has 150,000 miles on it so my wife and I are a bit concerned about how much longer it can last. Even this large SUV strains a bit with all of this weight hooked onto its rear end. I went to the VA in Lexington to see if I could get a smaller chair with a smaller lift so that hopefully we could trade the SUV in on a smaller vehicle. The Doctors did their evaluations and then told us that I am going to be getting a new chair but that this new one weighs 425 lbs. They also informed us that we needed to purchase a large van for the new chair as they didn’t want it hanging on the back of a vehicle exposed to the weather. The VA has a program where if you can jump through all their hoops that a service connected disabled veteran can get up to a once in a life time sum of money of up to $20,000 (paid directly to the seller of the vehicle) to help pay for things like this needed van. My local DAV lady did as she/he always does, they tell you to contact the National Office in Louisville. In other words the local office has been 100% useless to me since I started paying that $230.00 fee. So, when I called the Louisville National Office, all I got from the man on the other end of the phone was attitude, he knew nothing and he very obviously didn’t want to be bothered with talking to me about anything.
So, I ask you this question once again, is the DAV 100% worthless to America’s service connected disabled veterans?