U.S. Veterans Administration Information On Benefits For Veterans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION)

 

Veterans Benefits Administration <[email protected]> Unsubscribe

2:51 PM (2 hours ago)

 

matrix 

Dear VA Beneficiary, 

Do you know all of the VA benefits that you may eligible for based on your service connected disability rating, receipt of a non-service connected benefit, or special circumstance? To help you find them, we created charts to show you what benefits you may be eligible for based on your current situation.

Have a service connected disability rating from 0-100%? Use the Service Connected Matrix to find more benefits that you may be eligible to receive.   

Not service connected? Are you getting VA pension or Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits? Use the Non Service Connected Matrix to discover benefits that you may be eligible to receive.

Also, check out the Circumstance Matrix to see if any of the listed circumstances apply to you.  

We want to make sure everyone is aware of all of their benefits! 

Thank you for your service!

 

Sincerely,

Veterans Benefits Administration

VA Director Says That Marijuana Would Help Veterans If They Were Allowed To Us It

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE HILL’ NEWS PAPER)

VA chief: Medical marijuana could help vets
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday he’s open to expanding the use of medical marijuana to help service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but noted it’s strictly limited by federal law.
“There may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful and we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that,” Shulkin told reporters, pointing to states where medical pot is legal.
The VA has come under pressure from some influential veterans groups, including the American Legion, to reclassify marijuana to allow federal research into its effect on troops with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries.
Under current policy, VA doctors are barred from prescribing medical marijuana to patients, but Congress passed a measure last year allowing them to discuss it in states where it is legal.
“Right now, federal law does not prevent us at VA to look at that as an option for veterans,” said Shulkin, who is a trained physician. “I believe that everything that could help veterans should be debated by Congress and by medical experts and we will implement that law.”
Relaxing enforcement of marijuana laws, however, would conflict with several top administration officials who take a hard-line approach on drugs, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Shulkin, who spoke at the White House about President Trump’s proposed reforms at the scandal-plagued agency, is a holdover from the Obama administration. The Senate confirmed him unanimously in February to lead the VA.

My Own Personal VA Horror Story Of Their Fraud, Incompetence, Apathy And Lies

THIS IS PART ONE OF A TWO PART ARTICLE. BECAUSE OF IT’S LENGTH I WILL FINISH THE SHORTER OF THE TWO PARTS TOMORROW AND POST IT THEN. PLEASE, I BEG YOU, IF YOU GIVE A DAMN ABOUT AMERICAS SERVICE CONNECTED DISABLED VETERANS PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION. I PROMISE YOU, THIS IS A 100% TRUE ARTICLE!

 

Along with that title I should include massive malpractice and attempted murder. I know that what I just said is a bit harsh as is the title yet when something you speak is the truth it is not slander or harsh, it’s just the truth. I know that this may well be my longest article ever but if you wish to hear some truth about how bad I have been treated by the VA system, please lend me your ear. I do not think for one moment that I have been singled out for their persecution, I am just one of millions that they are guilty of trying to kill off whether that be through the above listed actions, or even possibly intent. I know that is a tough statement but after talking with at least 200 different disabled Veterans and their wives from all over the country and hearing their own horror stories it makes one wonder a little bit if the VA is trying to kill off as many of the older Vets as possible to help save the system money so that they can afford all the new disabled younger folks coming into the system everyday.

 

My story would have to begin when I went into the Army on 7-18-1983. I was sent to Boot Camp at Ft. Dix NJ. While on a training mission there on the post on 8-11-83 I was struck by lightning. Right from the start the company C/O started trying to cover things up and trying to blame others for the event. To me that is really stupid being this isn’t the Boy Scouts. They did know that a huge weather system was coming up the east coast because they had been telling us about it all day, yet still I don’t believe anyone is ‘responsible’, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, 6 PM. When I was totally cleared on medical I was discharged on 2-3-84 from Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland where I had been transferred for the purpose of learning a trade called Small Arms Repair. Ft. Dix just pushed the problem off to another group for them to deal with plus I learned that almost all of my medical records vanished. Within the first five years after I was discharged (because I couldn’t do the work) all record of me ever being in the Army somehow disappeared three different times. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I had several paper documents proving otherwise. I lived in the Dallas Ft. Worth Texas area so I started going to the Dallas VA Hospital starting in September of 84 and moved away from there on 7-1-97. Just recently (about six months ago) I was informed by the VA  here in Lexington Ky that the VA has no record of me visiting the Dallas VA until September of 1995. How convenient for them to lose all those records, just like the records from the Ft. Dix hospital have almost all disappeared. One of the interesting little facts that I haven’t told any of them yet is that in their new computer system (about 3 yrs old) they call “My Healthevet” they have record of several of my lab reports dating from January of 1991, from Dallas.

 

As I said earlier I was discharged in February of 84, by about July of 84 I was starting to have pain in the left side of my chest and real bad pain in my left shoulder. By September of 84 the shoulder pain had gotten so intense that I could not put my left hand up on the lawn mower handle to hold the lever to make the mower function. I did not have any medical insurance at my job so I went to the Dallas VA at least seven times starting with September of 84 up through the spring of 97 when I moved to Ocala Florida and started going to the VA in Gainsville Florida. All of these times that I went to the hospitals for help it was all I could do to walk in from the parking lot because of having so much pain in my chest, shoulder and neck where I was sweating very badly and very short of breath. Each time I had to stop two or three times because of these reasons. When I would finally get seen I used to have the ‘problem’ where my blood pressure tended to always stay at about 110/70. The medical people would see that and say “well we know it’s not your heart” because by blood pressure was so good. Even though I had all the signs of having a heart attack I could never get them to “waste their time” to ever get an EKG. I always got told there was nothing wrong except maybe heartburn and they would dismiss me.

 

Being struck by lightning is not something I believe I had ever thought much about, until it happened. It is not something that I recommend for anyone to go through, to say the least, it hurts. I did not really know anything about the effects of being struck by it but if you will read this article you will learn things from my experience. Lightning to me is still a surprising thing in that it produces such energy that can kill a whole herd of cattle in a field or split a huge oak in half or set a house on fire, or hit a person in the head and they might still live. I have learned that lightning does not kill most of the people it hits but it does tend to mess most folks up for life. I also learned that most people (like with me) do not have exit wounds.

 

When this event happened I had just laid down on my mat to eat my supper. When I lay down I tend to lay on one side or the other, when I do this I also tend to put (in this case) my left foot/ankle upon the right one. The impact hit me right on my ankle bones then ran up the bone system which the Doctors at the hospital told me was rather normal for it to have done being I was laying down that way. I felt the electricity moving up my legs into my low back and it left red jagged burn marks along its path which is also normal for it to do. I quit feeling that sensation once it reached my low spine where it turned my coccyx (bottom of your spine) and flipped it around backwards. I learned later that this happened because the electricity hit it knocking it out-of-the-way and the electricity ran up my spine. While on the examining table in the emergency room I could not feel my legs except for the intense pain in both of my ankles. There was an area on both ankles about the size of a silver dollar where it felt like there was a vice being cranked down on the ankle bones. There was one Doctor who I remember was a Major whom the ER called in because he had had experience with lightning strike victims. There was also another Doctor there who was working with him whom had no such experience. The second Doctor touched my knees and made comment that my knees were hot, which I did not know because I could not feel them. So, I put my hands on my knees and found out that he was correct, they were quite hot. This Doctor also by accident touched the bottom of my right foot with all the fingers on one of his hands, when he did this my whole right leg flew up and my knee almost hit me in the face and then went straight back down. This happened even though I could not feel either of my feet, this was one of my early warning signs about nerve damage. Another big sign of the nerve damage was when the now three Doctors helped me up onto the side of the table so that I could step down onto the floor, they wanted to see if my legs would be able to hold me up. The result was that as soon as my feet hit the floor an intense pain as if it were a bullet went up through the bottoms of my feet, through my whole body and out the top of my head in no more than one second. I actually yelled out in pain as I hit the floor within that one second. Actually the yelp was after the pain had already gone through me as I now laid crumpled on the floor. I remember hearing the term C-6 for the first time at that moment. I didn’t know what this lady Doctor meant by that so she explained that the sensation was because there was nerve damage to the C-6 vertebrae which is in people’s neck. Ever since the lightning strike I have never been able to take the pain of doing something stupid like hopping out of the back of a trailer or off of a loading dock with out it hurting me a lot with the same result as at the hospital.

 

When I was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland I spent most of my time there as a Colonel’s Orderly while I was doing rehab at clinics and occasionally going to their Post hospital to see this one idiotic lady Captain Doctor who she seemed to think that because she out ranked me that she could give me the order about the lightning of “it never happened”, as I said, idiotic. While I was at Aberdeen they tried to send me through a school called Small Arms Repair which is really no more than being a parts changer on small arms, rifles, shotguns, pistols and the like. When I took the entrance exams to get into the Army my scores were all up in the mid ninety’s which I was informed by the school CO was higher than any of the instructors, yet I could not pick it up, I could not remember things from one day to the next. The people in charge tended to think that I was failing on purpose but I wasn’t, I just couldn’t remember the material. I did fail out of that school and once my medical clearance came through I was handed my Honorable Discharge papers the next day. Up until last summer, about August of 2015, I could never figure out why I now had such a hard time learning new things to where I now have to write about anything new onto note pads to where I can go over and over it until I can pick it up. Last summer I was on-line just flipping through different web sites and I came across one that was from Neurology Today Magazine and I noticed a headline about a study on lightning strike survivors and spine damage. In this article I learned that a lightning strike generates apx one million volts of electricity. They said that when a large electrical shock goes up the spine that among the things it does is to zap a nerve that is at the tip-top of everyone’s spine. When this happens to a person the result is that the nerve sends something like a little beam to the left front part of the brain where short-term memory is located, and zaps it, thus screwing up a persons short-term memory abilities. I have come across several VA Doctors throughout the years who are adamant that among other things, that there is no such thing as back injuries and that there is no such thing as nerve damage. It has become my belief that many Doctors enter the military and or the VA for employment because they cannot be sued for malpractice so they also do not need to pay for that coverage. I still come across some VA Doctors to this day that believe that if a person’s blood pressure is okay that the person’s heart is okay, total ignorance!

 

If a person wants to find out about problems people who have been hit with lightning tend to have concerning their long term health they would find that my problems are not any different from what would be considered as normal. The first two things on the list are heart problems and spinal nerve problems. I am no one special in this regard yet I receive 40% Service Connected disability rating from the VA because of traumatic arthritic conditions to my knees at 20% and the other 20% because of hearing loss in both ears. Nothing for the ankles which was the point on impact, nor any of the other joints, nothing for nerve damage, nothing for the heart being destroyed. I did have one test done that I had been asking for years to be done called a Nerve Conductivity Test, when they did it they “on my legs” they said that they found no problems and this “test” results are what is in my records. The “test” was conducted by one guy (I say ‘guy’ because I have learned that many people who do these test aren’t actually Doctors and often aren’t even VA employees), this guy had me take off my pants, shoes and socks and to sit upon a table. He told me to turn my head to the right and not to look toward him as he did ‘the test’. When he told me he was done I was allowed to look back at him, what he had done was to take a stick pin like you use to put a calendar onto a wall and stuck each of my legs about 20 times all over both legs. What I saw was all of these little blood drops/spots and him holding that pin. I would bet almost anything that this is not a real Nerve Conductivity Test, it was just a guy acting like an a-hole. Also now concerning lack of morals, ethics or professionalism when it comes to heart issues. When I have spoken with civilian Doctors including heart Doctors and about my problems they have all said things along the lines of “well of course” lightning did this to your heart and spine. A few used the term “well duh”. I remember this term because three different times when I met Doctors at the VA who were new to me and they asked me about my problems I was having I told them about the lightning and they said “well duh” of course the lightning caused it. But, now the kicker, and my wife was present two of these times, then I told those Doctors that the lightning happened when I was on active duty and they at once changed their opinions and said that well ‘that’ the ‘lightning’ couldn’t have had anything to do with it. We all know that poop flows down hill so that the employees catch all the hell from above if they don’t tow the company mark but when even Doctors who take a ‘solemn oath’ to do no hurt act like this, their lack of morals and ethics are well on display.

 

Three previous times I have applied to the VA for an increase on my disability rating trying to get it on my heart, spine, and on my other joints like my hips and shoulders. All three times a guy would come into a room to do this ‘inspection” and as I an all of America has found out in this past two years of so, these people whom portray themselves as ‘Doctors’ weren’t. These people who have been doing these ‘inspections’ aren’t even VA employees, or Doctors, or even have medical training. These people are outside contractors hired by the VA to do these fraud evaluations. All three of these times when the person came into the room they had orders to only and I do mean only, to look at my knees, not the issues that the appointment was supposed to cover. When you tried to get them to look at some of the other issues every time they would get mad and made it plain that the only thing they were allowed to look at was my knees. One gentleman even went as far as to threaten me that if I didn’t quit complaining that they could just take my rating down to zero and make it where I couldn’t go to the VA anymore. You know what is even worse than this fraud, it’s when you find out that someone in the VA system then puts in your records that during the physical that nothing besides the knees were found to be wrong. The BS continues in this scam against the Service Connected Disabled Vets, now that they put this BS in your records all of the evidence that you had given to them to support your claims can no longer ever be looked at again.

 

There is the issue of the Disability checks that the Service Connected Vets get, as I said I am rated at 40%. For the purpose of saving the VA money where in times past any ratings check would go to the spouse of the Vet once they had died as long as the surviving spouse didn’t remarry. Then it was changed to where the rating had to be at least 30%. Now it is at 60%, so the check we get each month once I die, they cut my wife off unless I get it increased. Yet reality is that they may well in the future raise the requirement rating again after I’m dead. The last day I was able to physically work at all was June 21st, 2013. I applied for social security disability and got my first check in five months and seven days, first try. These other three times I tried to get my rating increased I got turned down after about a year or so but because I was still able to do some work I did not contest them but this last time (4th) I filed in mid February of 2013 because I knew that I was not going to be able to continue working much longer. I had also seen a VA Neurosurgeon at the hospital in Johnson City Tn in October of 2012 who actually in writing agreed with the results of an MRI on my neck that I should be given an increase in ratings because it was obvious that the lightning had messed up my spine. This was turned in with a bunch of other documents that the people on the ratings board in Nashville Tn totally ignored and turned me down flat on all claims. I got this turn down notice in mid March of 2014. At that time because I was no longer able to do any work of any kind I went ahead and filed an appeal which I was told would take about two years at which time I would go in front of a Board of three Judges whom were not getting their checks from the VA like the others had been. In very late June of this year I got a phone call from a man who said he was with this fore mentioned Board who told me that on April 26th of this year that my case was basically put onto someones desk there and that I should be given a date ‘soon’ to where I could go in front of this three Judge panel, I still haven’t heard anything since. February of 2013, it is now August of 2016, that is three and a half years and still waiting. In March of 1999 in Ocala Florida at a civilian hospital I had a four-way by-pass operation, seven days later one of those arteries closed and I had yet another heart attack (I have had many) these civilian Doctors told me that if I really behaved myself and didn’t pull, push or lift anything that if I was lucky I might live another three or four years. Every day is borrowed time, only through God’s grace and some very good civilian Doctors in Georgia am I still breathing. How many Service Connected Disabled Veterans die each day on this waiting list trying to get an honest rating so that their wife and children won’t have to lose their homes or have the ability to stay off of food stamps? To me their actions (VA) are a moral sin that I have my doubts that God will forgive them for! How much blood are on these people hands?

 

VA Denied Stay On Paying Emergency Care Claims: Good Luck On Actually Getting Them To Pay Their Bills Though!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL)

VA denied stay on paying emergency care claims

LINKEDIN 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has rejected with stunning speed a motion from the Department of Veterans Affairs that it be allowed to stop taking steps toward reimbursing hundreds of thousands of veterans, for the non-VA emergency care costs they have paid, until higher courts rule on VA’s appeal.

Warning of possible “accounting chaos” if payments must begin before appeals are exhausted, VA lawyers Friday filed a motion with the Veterans Claims court to stay the “precedential effect” of the court’s decision last year in Staab v. McDonald, now renamed Staab v Shulkin with a new VA Secretary in office.

VA should not have to continue to take complex and costly steps toward reimbursing these veterans or survivors for non-VA emergency health care claims, VA lawyers argued, because the Veterans Claims court decision is likely to be overturned, which would mean VA isn’t liable to pay a rising mountain of claims.

By Monday, however, the Veterans Claims court applied a rubber stamp of red ink to VA’s stay request, ruling “Motion Denied.” Judge Alan G. Lance Sr. signed the stamp on behalf of a three-judge panel.

“It’s the quickest judicial ruling I’ve ever seen,” chuckled Barton F. Stichman, one of three attorneys for the appellant, Richard W. Staab. Staab is an 84-year-old Air Force veteran who had to pay roughly $48,000 in unreimbursed medical expenses following emergency health surgery in the private sector in 2010.

VA claim experts told Staab that because he was eligible for Medicare Part A, any additional out-of-pockets costs he incurred tied to non-VA emergency care were his responsibility. Under a 1999 law, VA only has covered outside emergency care if a veteran has no other health care coverage, which would include Medicare.

Staab sued, arguing that Congress changed that law in 2009 but that VA chose to ignore the change and continued to deny emergency care reimbursements to any veteran with alternative health care coverage.

Last April a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims agreed with Staab, finding that VA, in rewriting regulations, ignored the “plain language” of the 2009 statute which Congress passed to protect VA-enrolled veterans from out-of-pocket costs when forced to use non-VA emergency care.

VA’s plea for reconsideration by a full panel of judges on the Veterans Claims court also was denied last summer. This month attorneys for VA and the Justice Department filed a fresh appeal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, urging its judges to overturn the Veterans Claims decision.

They argue that Congress in 2009 did change language of one relevant provision of law, but it left another provision untouched, which VA appropriately used to continue to deny claims for reimbursement of non-VA emergency care.

In their motion to stay the effect of Staab until the decision is overturned or appeals are exhausted, VA attorneys told the lower court that the volume of claims affected is “indeed significant.” Since April 8, the date of the Staab decision, VA has suspended consideration of 373,000 emergency care claims it previously would have denied. VA estimates reimbursements for such claims, filed in 2017 alone, would fall between $75 million and $273 million. Over five years, the added costs would fall between $394 million and $1.45 billion, and over 10 years the total could exceed $6.5 billion. Meanwhile, VA work toward paying the claims is proceeding.

“Policy program officials, revenue officials, rulemaking professionals, legal and other subject matter experts across the Department have already been directly involved in this undertaking and will continue until its completion,” wrote VA in its stay request. “Preliminary steps have been completed to craft the regulations and identify computer needs, and absent the grant of the stay, VA will need to proceed with costly software upgrades and continued investment in resources.”

Despite the “strong possibility” Staab will be reserved, VA argued, without a stay it will continue a “heavy and irreversible investment in rulemaking and implementing” the decision, using up resources that VA should be applying “to health care programs that would undisputedly benefit veterans now.”

VA has been fighting the Staab decision in Congress too. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) revealed during the Feb. 1 confirmation hearing of Dr. David Shulkin to be the VA Secretary, that some senators schemed twice last year with VA to try to offer quietly, and to pass by unanimous consent, bills that would reverse the effect of Staab and modify the 2009 law on VA emergency care reimbursements.

Rounds referred to them as “hotline bills,” which he and other senators blocked. Rounds asked Shulkin his opinion of such back-door efforts.

“My opinion doesn’t matter because this is law,” Shulkin said. “The judges have ruled … I have instructed VA to start putting together (the) regulation that it’s going to take to be able to start paying these emergency room bills. Every day we delay, veterans are going to be put in the middle and that’s really unfair to them.”

But Rounds reminded Shulkin that the VA is appealing Staab and so its lawyers “continue to do battle on this.”

Shulkin agreed he should “clarify our position.” He said, “While VA is moving forward to start paying these bills” it also “does not believe that the court interpreted the statute correctly … and so we will see what happens. But in the meantime, I am not going to allow veterans to be put in the middle like we have been continuing to (do). We are going to move forward and we will do it with speed to make sure we start paying these bills as soon as we possibly can.”

Rounds noted the costs involved, as much as $10 billion over 10 years, which will fall on veterans “if the VA doesn’t pay it. You don’t have the money in your budget. Are you prepared to ask Congress for appropriate funds,” he asked.

Shulkin expressed concern that Staab and the 2009 law change is “a new interpretation of a benefit for veterans who have other health insurance” and need emergency care, in many cases for conditions that are not service connected.

“If we do not get additional funds authorized, that money will come from the services we provide today to veterans, and they will have less health care,” Shulkin warned. “So, yes, we will … ask (Congress) to help support with additional funding this new benefit — if it is not overturned on appeal from the Department of Justice.”

Staab’s attorney Stichman, who is joint executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, said the court was right to reject VA’s stay request because its chances of winning on appeal actually are low. Also, more delay in paying claims would cause “irreparable harm” to elderly veterans.

“If they happen to die while the claim is on appeal then they’ll never see the money and the debt would pass on to the estate,” Stichman said.

Send comments to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120, or email [email protected], or twitter: Tom Philpott @Military_Update

‘Where Evil Resides’: Veterans ‘Deploy’ To Standing Rock To Engage The Enemy — The US Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM ‘TASK AND PURPOSE’ WEBSITE)‘Where Evil Resides’: Veterans ‘Deploy’ To Standing Rock To Engage The Enemy — The US Government

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On Dec. 4, if everything goes according to plan, hundreds of veterans will muster at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The mission: To stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“Most civilians who’ve never served in a uniform are gutless worms who’ve never been in a fight in their life,” Wes Clark Jr. declares. “So if we don’t stop it, who will?”

Clark Jr. is one of the most vociferous opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a controversial 1,170-mile project that, if and when it is completed, will shuttle an estimated 470,000 barrels of crude oil every day from North Dakota to Illinois. “It’s immoral, and wrong, and dangerous to us all,” Clark Jr. adds.

He doesn’t fit the traditional tree-hugger mold. He’s not a hippie. Nor is he a member of the Lakota or Dakota tribes, the two Native American group known collectively as the Sioux. He’s a former Army officer and the organizer of an upcoming three-day deployment of U.S. military veterans to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in southern North Dakota, the site of an escalating months-long standoff between law enforcement-backed security contractors and activists that has so far resulted in multiple injuries, more than 500 arrests, and a United Nations investigation of potential human rights abuses.

According to an “operations order” for the planned engagement, posted to social media in mid-November, “First Americans have served in the Unites States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans. There is no other people more deserving of veteran support.”

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters stand waist deep in the Cantapeta Creek, northeast of the Oceti Sakowin Camp, near Cannon Ball, N.D., Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Officers in riot gear clashed again Wednesday with protesters near the Dakota Access pipeline, hitting dozens with pepper spray as they waded through waist-deep water in an attempt to reach property owned by the pipeline's developer.

Clark Jr. is a 47-year-old writer, political commentator, and activist based in California. Joining him in the fight is Michael A. Wood Jr., a Marine Corps veteran and former Baltimore police officer who retired his badge in 2014 to become an advocate for national police reform. Earlier this month, the duo formed Veterans Stand For Standing Rock with the hope of drawing scores of veterans, as well as fire fighters, ex-law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel and others to the battleground for a three-day “deployment” in early December to “prevent progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline and draw national attention to the human rights warriors of the Sioux tribes.” Both men say they’re prepared to take a bullet, rubber or otherwise, for a cause they believe should be of critical importance to any patriotic American.

“… if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do…”

“This country is repressing our people,” Wood Jr. says. “If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was originally established as part of the Great Sioux Reservation under Article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of April 29, 1868. In 1877, the U.S. government initiated the still ongoing process of chipping away and dividing the land it had granted to the people of the Lakota and Dakota nations, with significant reductions taking place in 1889 and then again during the 1950s and 1960s, when the Army Corps of Engineers built five large dams along the Missouri River, uprooting villages and sinking 200,000 acres of land below water.

When the Corps of Engineers returned to Standing Rock in 2015, it was to assess whether or not it should approve a path for the Dakota Access Pipeline across the Missouri River, a project that would involve construction on some of the land that had been stripped from the Sioux, who still regard it as sacred — although, that fact seems to have been ignored, maybe even intentionally, in the assessment.

Because the Corps neglected to consult the Standing Rock Sioux, as it was required to do under the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106), the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the American Council on Historic Preservation all criticized the assessment, but the project was eventually approved. The decision was a major victory for Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based parent company of Dakota Access LLC, which estimates the pipeline will bring $156 million in sales and income taxes to state and local governments and create thousands of temporary jobs.

For the Standing Rock Sioux, the Dakota Access project poses two immediate threats. First, the pipeline would run beneath Lake Oahe, the reservoir that provides drinking water to the people of Standing Rock. (An earlier route that avoided native lands was ruled out in part because it posed a danger to drinking water.) Second, according to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the building of the pipeline would destroy the sacred spots and burial grounds that were overlooked in the Corps’ assessment. But as the protests have intensified, and more outsiders, including members of more than 200 Native American tribes from across North America, have become involved, Standing Rock has, for some, come to represent something much bigger than a struggle between a disenfranchised people and a government-backed, billion-dollar corporation. It’s a battle to save humanity from itself.

“Mother Earth’s axis is off and it’s never going back,” says Phyllis Young, a Sioux tribal elder. “And we have to help keep it in balance for as long as we can. I am a mother and a grandmother. Those are my credentials to ensure a future with clean drinking water — a future of human dignity, human rights, and human survival.”

A Dakota Access pipeline protester defies law enforcement officers who are trying to force them from a camp on private land in the path of pipeline construction, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 near Cannon Ball, ND. Soldiers and law enforcement officers dressed in riot gear began arresting protesters who had set up a camp on private land to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Young grew up on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. She has been present at many of the protests and says she’s seen people brutalized at the hands of the security contractors and law enforcement officials guarding the land where the drilling is set to take place. It was Young who got Clark Jr involved. In late summer, she was in Washington, D.C., lobbying for the military to promote an alternative (and scientifically dubious) clean energy source called low-energy nuclear reaction, when she heard of a military veteran who was a forceful advocate for environmental conservation. Clark Jr. was eager to help. He spent weeks trying to assemble a legal team for the Standing Rock Sioux, and even contacted Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit organization that helps governments navigate complex diplomatic processes. “I pulled all of the levers, and none of them worked,” Clark Jr. recalls. Then, in early November, the plan dawned on him: He’d bring his fellow veterans. Lots of them. And they’d come prepared to put their lives on the line.

“We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone,” Clark Jr. says. “They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence.”

You may have heard of Clark Jr.’s father. Wesley Clark Sr. retired from the Army in 2000 as a four-star general. His career began in the jungles of Vietnam, where he was shot four times during an enemy ambush near Saigon, and culminated in a posting as Supreme Allied Commander Europe during the Kosovo War. In 2004, he ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination on platform that criticized the Iraq War and called for measures to combat climate change. Clark Jr., who was born in Florida while Clark Sr. was in Vietnam and grew up on military bases throughout the United States and Europe, seems to have inherited both his father’s commanding spirit and his progressive ideals.

Wes Clark Jr. on The Young Turks.

Clark Jr. had just graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service when he joined the Army as a cavalry officer. He served on active duty from 1992–1996 —  “nothing dangerous,” he says. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was living in New York City, and after seeing the towers fall, he decided to re-enlist. “I was like, ‘I’m going back in. I’m going to go in there and fuck people up,’” he recalls. It was Clark Sr., the decorated war hero, who convinced him not to. As Clark Jr. recalls, his father foresaw U.S. military intervention in Iraq and warned that as a soldier he would be fighting a war that had nothing to do with defeating al Qaeda. “He was right, but I’ll tell you, I’ve never felt worse about a decision in my life,” Clark Jr. says.

Clark Jr. may never have served in combat, but when he talks about Standing Rock, he sounds like a battle-hardened general. This isn’t his first foray into boots-on-the-ground environmental activism. He’s currently working with an organization called Climate Mobilization, which is focused on “building and supporting a social movement that causes the US federal government to commence WWII-scale climate mobilization.” But he’s perhaps best known as a co-host of the political web series The Young Turks. On the The Young Turks website, Clark Jr. is described as an Army veteran “currently trying to save human civilization from climate change.” The impending confrontation at Standing Rock, he says, will be “the most important event up to this time in human history.”

“We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone. They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence.”

Vets Standing For Standing Rock was announced via an official sounding letter formatted like a five-paragraph military operation order, breaking down the “opposing forces” — “Morton County Sheriff’s office combined with multiple state police agencies and private security contractors” — “Mission,” “Execution” and “Logistics,” among other things. A packing list virtually mirrors the ones issued to soldiers preparing to deploy to the field (minus the weapons). But there are also parts of the document that read like a revolutionary manifesto. Under the section titled “Friendly Forces,” for example, the op order states, “we are there to put our bodies on the line, no matter the physical cost, in complete nonviolence to provide a clear representation to all Americans of where evil resides.”

The document was accompanied by a link to a GoFundMe campaign that has raised nearly $20,000 of its $100,000 goal since it was created on Nov. 11. The money, Clark Jr. says, will only be used for helping volunteers with transportation costs and then bailing those who are arrested out of jail.

Wood Jr. says the op-order was Clark Jr.’s idea, but the two men agree that organizing like a military unit is the smartest approach, especially because most of the people expected to join them on the ground have served.

“It’s simple and we have clearly defined goals, so people don’t get caught up in the confusion,” says Wood Jr., who served with the Baltimore Police Department for more than a decade. “One of the issues the police are going to face is that our level of planning and coordination is vastly superior to theirs, so they may end up with a problem when it comes to that.”

“We’ll have those people who will recognize that they’re not willing to take a bullet, and those who recognize that they are.”

Here then is the plan: On Dec. 4, Clark Jr. and Wood Jr., along with a group of veterans and other folks in the “bravery business,” as Wood Jr. puts it — 500 total is the goal, but they’re hoping for more — will muster at Standing Rock. The following morning they will join members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, including Young, for a traditional healing ceremony. With an eye toward the media, old military uniforms will be donned so that if the veterans are brutalized by the police, they are brutalized not as ordinary citizens, but as people who once served the government they are protesting against. Then body armor, ear plugs, and gas masks will be issued to those who didn’t bring their own. Bagpipes will play, and traditional Sioux war songs will be sung. The music will continue as everyone marches together to the banks of the Missouri, on the other side of which a line of guards in riot gear will be standing ready with rifles, mace, batons, and dogs. Then, the veterans and their allies — or at least the ones who are brave enough — will lock arms and cross the river in a “massive line” for their “first encounter” with the “opposing forces.” The goal is to make it to the drilling pad and surround it, arm in arm. That will require making it through the line of guards, who have repelled other such attempts with a level of physical force Sioux tribal members and protesters have described as “excessive” — claims that recently prompted a United Nations investigation. Of course, that’s what the body armor and gas masks are for.

“We’ll have those people who will recognize that they’re not willing to take a bullet, and those who recognize that they are,” says Wood Jr. “It’s okay if some of them step back, but Wes and I have no intention of doing so.”

Michael A. Wood Jr.

Of course, as most veterans know full well, even the best plans go out the window the moment the shit hits the fan. It seems probable that the group will be met by fierce resistance from those charged with keeping people out of the construction site. Despite a recent decision by the Corps of Engineers to delay further work on the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners is still hoping to complete the project by January. The segment that will cross beneath the Missouri at Standing Rock is the last major piece of the puzzle. Strengthening the resolve of the company’s executives is the fact that Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren donated more than $100,000 to elect Donald Trump, and Trump himself owns stock in the company. “I’m 100% sure that the pipeline will be approved by a Trump administration,” Warren told NBC News on Nov. 12.

Nonetheless, Clark Jr. and Wood Jr. remain undeterred. If anything, the likelihood of approval only makes them more determined. After all, this is war.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff labeled the climate emergency as the number one security threat to the country, and they’ve been labeling it that for years,” Clark Jr. says. “All you need to do is put an overlay on any map in the world where there’s a water and crisis and you’re going to see massive political violence in that location. And unless we act, we’re going to be dealing with that exact same situation right here in the United States.”

Not Just The VA That Is A Fraud Against Combat Veterans: Its The DOD, Army Also?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS AND THE LOS ANGELES TIMES)

AMERICA

U.S. Soldiers Told To Repay Thousands In Signing Bonuses From Height Of War Effort

The Pentagon is seeking millions of dollars from nearly 10,000 current or former soldiers in the California National Guard, saying they didn’t deserve re-enlistment bonuses. Here, soldiers from the state’s Guard force are seen in 2010, resting during transport in northeastern Afghanistan.

Brennan Linsley/AP

In most cases, when an employer pays a signing bonus to attract new workers, that payment is understood to be essentially unrecoverable. But the Pentagon has a different understanding — and it’s ordering the California National Guard to claw back thousands of dollars paid to soldiers who reenlist to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And in many cases, an employer would also have a tough time arguing that decade-old lapses in its own oversight should trigger wage garnishment’s and tax liens against its workers. But again, this is the U.S. military, and its officials say the law requires them to reclaim the over payments.

That’s the gist of a report by The Los Angeles Times, which says nearly 10,000 soldiers are now scrambling to pay back signing bonuses that helped the Pentagon cope with the task of using an all-volunteer service to fight two prolonged international conflicts.

In addition to doling out cash for re-enlistment, the Pentagon offered student loan repayments. The incentives were seen as crucial to the military’s effort to keep its ranks flush, but auditors say that the rules should have limited the largest payments to certain skill areas — and that in the rush to staff the war effort, the bonuses were given out too liberally, the L.A. Times reports.

Responding to the newspaper’s story Sunday, the California National Guard points out that the repayments are part of a federal program run by the National Guard Bureau and the Department of the Army.

The state military service says:

“The California National Guard does not have the authority to unilaterally waive these debts. However, the California National Guard welcomes any law passed by Congress to waive these debts.

“Until that time, our priority is to advocate for our Soldiers through this difficult process.”

In its statement, the service adds that its adjutant-general, Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, created an assistance center that has helped some of its soldiers “retain $37 million dollars of original bonus payments.”

The problem of improper use of military troop-level incentives isn’t limited to California — but the state has emerged as a focal point because of two factors: the large size of its Guard force, and a history of over payments.

A scandal over the California Guard’s use of bonus money was first unearthed in 2010, when the Sacramento Bee reported that its incentive program had misspent as much as $100 million. The program’s one-time leader, former master sergeant Toni Jaffe, was later sentenced to 30 months in prison, after pleading guilty to making $15 million in false claims.

When it was first discovered, that scandal was deemed “war profiteering” and was said to have benefited Guard members who hadn’t logged any combat duty; high-ranking officers were mentioned. But in the years since, lower-ranking service members have complained about garnished checks and a prolonged review process, saying they’ve done nothing wrong.

With the work of 42 auditors who reviewed the California cases now complete, the repayments are back in the spotlight — and service members and veterans, as well as members of the public, have been venting their anger.

On the California Guard’s Facebook page, several people hijacked a post about training to comment on the bonus repayments, with one man writing, “The officials who screwed over our service members need to do the right thing and pay back the money. DISGUSTING.”

And after the Guard responded to the Times story today, a commentor criticized its stance, writing, “Meanwhile vets are suffering while one bureaucracy waits to ‘welcome’ another bureaucracy to take responsibility and force it to do the right thing. Pathetic.”

Revelations about fraud and mismanagement in the Pentagon’s retention program emerged after the program’s budget swelled between 2000 and 2008 — when the Defense Department went from spending $891 million for selective re-enlistment bonuses to spending $1.4 billion on them, according to a 2010 research paper by the RAND defense institute. By the end of that period, the military was also spending $625 million yearly to pay enlistment bonuses.

It’s not unusual for signing bonuses to have strings attached. But in the civilian world, conditions for repayment are often limited to cases where an employee spends less than a year in their new job. In the case of the California National Guard, soldiers who say they held up their end of the contract — serving the required three or six-year re-enlistment period — are being told to repay a key incentive.

One of them is Robert Richmond, who has begun an online petition that calls for the Army to “stop stealing back signing bonuses 10 years later.”

Richmond says he signed the contract in good faith, and in his petition, he describes a scenario that’s reminiscent of the recent Wells Fargo cross-selling scandal, saying that a lower-ranking figure has been punished for committing fraud that was motivated at least in part by a need to meet targets set by her superiors.

Richmond also appears in the L.A. Times story; here’s a sample from his petition:

“Like many other soldiers, I honorably completed my contract in 2012 and two years later they sent me a letter stating I had to pay the money back. Each contract has a different excuse. They stated the reason I was not eligible for the contract was because I had over 20 years of service at the time. I had originally signed up more than 20 years prior, but had breaks in service and only had 15 credible years of service, not 20. Although at the time, they informed me I was eligible for a bonus, now they are saying I was not.”

Like other veterans who are refusing to pay up, Richmond is now incurring interest on the repayment amount.

In its General Rules about the recovery of pay and bonuses, the Department of Defense states, “As a general rule, repayment will not be sought if the member’s inability to fulfill the eligibility requirements is due to circumstances determined reasonably beyond the member’s control.”

But after dozens of auditors reviewed its system that had paid soldiers bonuses without determining their eligibility, the California National Guard’s veterans started getting repayment notices.

“People like me just got screwed,” a 42-year-old veteran tells the Times.

That veteran, former Army captain Christopher Van Meter, fought in Iraq. He tells the newspaper he refinanced his mortgage to repay $25,000 in re-enlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments.

Another veteran — former Army master sergeant Susan Haley, who served in Afghanistan and spent more than 25 years in the service — tells the newspaper that she’s now sending the Pentagon $650 each month to repay $20,500 in bonuses.

“I feel totally betrayed,” Haley says.

To put those dollar figures in perspective, we can look at the Army’s payment and retention policy — specifically, a summary of its Selective re-enlistment Bonus program that was laid out early in 2006:

“The objective of the SRB program is to increase the number of re-enlistment in critical MOS’s [Military Occupational Specialty] that do not have adequate retention levels to man the career force. Although Department of Defense policy permits SRB payments of up to $45,000.00, soldiers may be paid bonuses up to six times their monthly basic pay at discharge, times the number of years of additional obligated service, or $20,000.00, whichever is less.”

While some veterans are working to repay the money, others are filing appeals, engaging in what’s likely to be a prolonged fight against the service to which they once belonged. California Guard officials tell the Times that they’ve been helping veterans through the appeals process.

“We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard, tells the Times. “We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

One of the earliest reviews of the Army’s post-Iraq invasion bonus system came in 2007, when the Defense Department’s Inspector General examined the program called the re-enlistment, Reclassification, and Assignment System (RETAIN) . But at the time, the central issue wasn’t whether too much money was being paid, but rather whether the service was paying out bonuses quickly enough.

Cherokee Nation Trying to Help Veterans Receive Their Earned Benefits

(This article is courtesy of the Native News Online)

CHEROKEE NATION HOSTS RESOURCE & BENEFIT ENROLLMENT FAIR FOR VETERANS

 Cherokee Nation Veterans Center located near the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex at 17675 S. Muskogee Ave.

Cherokee Nation Veterans Center located near the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex at 17675 S. Muskogee Ave.

Published September 25, 2016

TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation is hosting a resource and benefit enrollment fair for all veterans on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center in Tahlequah.

“Cherokee Nation is committed to the mental and physical health of our military veterans. Hosting this special educational fair will better connect all veterans, both Cherokee and non-Cherokee, with the essential services, resources and benefits available to them from the state, federal and our tribal government,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and feature informational booths and resources from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Cherokee Nation and other community agencies. It is open to all veterans, their family members and widows of those who served. Lunch will also be provided.

Attendees need to bring a copy of the veteran’s DD Form 214.

For more information or transportation assistance, call the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center at 918-772-4166.

My Own Personal VA Horror Story Of Their Fraud, Incompetence, Apathy And Lies

THIS IS PART ONE OF A TWO PART ARTICLE. BECAUSE OF IT’S LENGTH I WILL FINISH THE SHORTER OF THE TWO PARTS TOMORROW AND POST IT THEN. PLEASE, I BEG YOU, IF YOU GIVE A DAMN ABOUT AMERICAS SERVICE CONNECTED DISABLED VETERANS PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION. I PROMISE YOU, THIS IS A 100% TRUE ARTICLE!

 

Along with that title I should include massive malpractice and attempted murder. I know that what I just said is a bit harsh as is the title yet when something you speak is the truth it is not slander or harsh, it’s just the truth. I know that this may well be my longest article ever but if you wish to hear some truth about how bad I have been treated by the VA system, please lend me your ear. I do not think for one moment that I have been singled out for their persecution, I am just one of millions that they are guilty of trying to kill off whether that be through the above listed actions, or even possibly intent. I know that is a tough statement but after talking with at least 200 different disabled Veterans and their wives from all over the country and hearing their own horror stories it makes one wonder a little bit if the VA is trying to kill off as many of the older Vets as possible to help save the system money so that they can afford all the new disabled younger folks coming into the system everyday.

 

My story would have to begin when I went into the Army on 7-18-1983. I was sent to Boot Camp at Ft. Dix NJ. While on a training mission there on the post on 8-11-83 I was struck by lightning. Right from the start the company C/O started trying to cover things up and trying to blame others for the event. To me that is really stupid being this isn’t the Boy Scouts. They did know that a huge weather system was coming up the east coast because they had been telling us about it all day, yet still I don’t believe anyone is ‘responsible’, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, 6 PM. When I was totally cleared on medical I was discharged on 2-3-84 from Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland where I had been transferred for the purpose of learning a trade called Small Arms Repair. Ft. Dix just pushed the problem off to another group for them to deal with plus I learned that almost all of my medical records vanished. Within the first five years after I was discharged (because I couldn’t do the work) all record of me ever being in the Army somehow disappeared three different times. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I had several paper documents proving otherwise. I lived in the Dallas Ft. Worth Texas area so I started going to the Dallas VA Hospital starting in September of 84 and moved away from there on 7-1-97. Just recently (about six months ago) I was informed by the VA  here in Lexington Ky that the VA has no record of me visiting the Dallas VA until September of 1995. How convenient for them to lose all those records, just like the records from the Ft. Dix hospital have almost all disappeared. One of the interesting little facts that I haven’t told any of them yet is that in their new computer system (about 3 yrs old) they call “My Healthevet” they have record of several of my lab reports dating from January of 1991, from Dallas.

 

As I said earlier I was discharged in February of 84, by about July of 84 I was starting to have pain in the left side of my chest and real bad pain in my left shoulder. By September of 84 the shoulder pain had gotten so intense that I could not put my left hand up on the lawn mower handle to hold the lever to make the mower function. I did not have any medical insurance at my job so I went to the Dallas VA at least seven times starting with September of 84 up through the spring of 97 when I moved to Ocala Florida and started going to the VA in Gainsville Florida. All of these times that I went to the hospitals for help it was all I could do to walk in from the parking lot because of having so much pain in my chest, shoulder and neck where I was sweating very badly and very short of breath. Each time I had to stop two or three times because of these reasons. When I would finally get seen I used to have the ‘problem’ where my blood pressure tended to always stay at about 110/70. The medical people would see that and say “well we know it’s not your heart” because by blood pressure was so good. Even though I had all the signs of having a heart attack I could never get them to “waste their time” to ever get an EKG. I always got told there was nothing wrong except maybe heartburn and they would dismiss me.

 

Being struck by lightning is not something I believe I had ever thought much about, until it happened. It is not something that I recommend for anyone to go through, to say the least, it hurts. I did not really know anything about the effects of being struck by it but if you will read this article you will learn things from my experience. Lightning to me is still a surprising thing in that it produces such energy that can kill a whole herd of cattle in a field or split a huge oak in half or set a house on fire, or hit a person in the head and they might still live. I have learned that lightning does not kill most of the people it hits but it does tend to mess most folks up for life. I also learned that most people (like with me) do not have exit wounds.

 

When this event happened I had just laid down on my mat to eat my supper. When I lay down I tend to lay on one side or the other, when I do this I also tend to put (in this case) my left foot/ankle upon the right one. The impact hit me right on my ankle bones then ran up the bone system which the Doctors at the hospital told me was rather normal for it to have done being I was laying down that way. I felt the electricity moving up my legs into my low back and it left red jagged burn marks along its path which is also normal for it to do. I quit feeling that sensation once it reached my low spine where it turned my coccyx (bottom of your spine) and flipped it around backwards. I learned later that this happened because the electricity hit it knocking it out-of-the-way and the electricity ran up my spine. While on the examining table in the emergency room I could not feel my legs except for the intense pain in both of my ankles. There was an area on both ankles about the size of a silver dollar where it felt like there was a vice being cranked down on the ankle bones. There was one Doctor who I remember was a Major whom the ER called in because he had had experience with lightning strike victims. There was also another Doctor there who was working with him whom had no such experience. The second Doctor touched my knees and made comment that my knees were hot, which I did not know because I could not feel them. So, I put my hands on my knees and found out that he was correct, they were quite hot. This Doctor also by accident touched the bottom of my right foot with all the fingers on one of his hands, when he did this my whole right leg flew up and my knee almost hit me in the face and then went straight back down. This happened even though I could not feel either of my feet, this was one of my early warning signs about nerve damage. Another big sign of the nerve damage was when the now three Doctors helped me up onto the side of the table so that I could step down onto the floor, they wanted to see if my legs would be able to hold me up. The result was that as soon as my feet hit the floor an intense pain as if it were a bullet went up through the bottoms of my feet, through my whole body and out the top of my head in no more than one second. I actually yelled out in pain as I hit the floor within that one second. Actually the yelp was after the pain had already gone through me as I now laid crumpled on the floor. I remember hearing the term C-6 for the first time at that moment. I didn’t know what this lady Doctor meant by that so she explained that the sensation was because there was nerve damage to the C-6 vertebrae which is in people’s neck. Ever since the lightning strike I have never been able to take the pain of doing something stupid like hopping out of the back of a trailer or off of a loading dock with out it hurting me a lot with the same result as at the hospital.

 

When I was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland I spent most of my time there as a Colonel’s Orderly while I was doing rehab at clinics and occasionally going to their Post hospital to see this one idiotic lady Captain Doctor who she seemed to think that because she out ranked me that she could give me the order about the lightning of “it never happened”, as I said, idiotic. While I was at Aberdeen they tried to send me through a school called Small Arms Repair which is really no more than being a parts changer on small arms, rifles, shotguns, pistols and the like. When I took the entrance exams to get into the Army my scores were all up in the mid ninety’s which I was informed by the school CO was higher than any of the instructors, yet I could not pick it up, I could not remember things from one day to the next. The people in charge tended to think that I was failing on purpose but I wasn’t, I just couldn’t remember the material. I did fail out of that school and once my medical clearance came through I was handed my Honorable Discharge papers the next day. Up until last summer, about August of 2015, I could never figure out why I now had such a hard time learning new things to where I now have to write about anything new onto note pads to where I can go over and over it until I can pick it up. Last summer I was on-line just flipping through different web sites and I came across one that was from Neurology Today Magazine and I noticed a headline about a study on lightning strike survivors and spine damage. In this article I learned that a lightning strike generates apx one million volts of electricity. They said that when a large electrical shock goes up the spine that among the things it does is to zap a nerve that is at the tip-top of everyone’s spine. When this happens to a person the result is that the nerve sends something like a little beam to the left front part of the brain where short-term memory is located, and zaps it, thus screwing up a persons short-term memory abilities. I have come across several VA Doctors throughout the years who are adamant that among other things, that there is no such thing as back injuries and that there is no such thing as nerve damage. It has become my belief that many Doctors enter the military and or the VA for employment because they cannot be sued for malpractice so they also do not need to pay for that coverage. I still come across some VA Doctors to this day that believe that if a person’s blood pressure is okay that the person’s heart is okay, total ignorance!

 

If a person wants to find out about problems people who have been hit with lightning tend to have concerning their long term health they would find that my problems are not any different from what would be considered as normal. The first two things on the list are heart problems and spinal nerve problems. I am no one special in this regard yet I receive 40% Service Connected disability rating from the VA because of traumatic arthritic conditions to my knees at 20% and the other 20% because of hearing loss in both ears. Nothing for the ankles which was the point on impact, nor any of the other joints, nothing for nerve damage, nothing for the heart being destroyed. I did have one test done that I had been asking for years to be done called a Nerve Conductivity Test, when they did it they “on my legs” they said that they found no problems and this “test” results are what is in my records. The “test” was conducted by one guy (I say ‘guy’ because I have learned that many people who do these test aren’t actually Doctors and often aren’t even VA employees), this guy had me take off my pants, shoes and socks and to sit upon a table. He told me to turn my head to the right and not to look toward him as he did ‘the test’. When he told me he was done I was allowed to look back at him, what he had done was to take a stick pin like you use to put a calendar onto a wall and stuck each of my legs about 20 times all over both legs. What I saw was all of these little blood drops/spots and him holding that pin. I would bet almost anything that this is not a real Nerve Conductivity Test, it was just a guy acting like an a-hole. Also now concerning lack of morals, ethics or professionalism when it comes to heart issues. When I have spoken with civilian Doctors including heart Doctors and about my problems they have all said things along the lines of “well of course” lightning did this to your heart and spine. A few used the term “well duh”. I remember this term because three different times when I met Doctors at the VA who were new to me and they asked me about my problems I was having I told them about the lightning and they said “well duh” of course the lightning caused it. But, now the kicker, and my wife was present two of these times, then I told those Doctors that the lightning happened when I was on active duty and they at once changed their opinions and said that well ‘that’ the ‘lightning’ couldn’t have had anything to do with it. We all know that poop flows down hill so that the employees catch all the hell from above if they don’t tow the company mark but when even Doctors who take a ‘solemn oath’ to do no hurt act like this, their lack of morals and ethics are well on display.

 

Three previous times I have applied to the VA for an increase on my disability rating trying to get it on my heart, spine, and on my other joints like my hips and shoulders. All three times a guy would come into a room to do this ‘inspection” and as I an all of America has found out in this past two years of so, these people whom portray themselves as ‘Doctors’ weren’t. These people who have been doing these ‘inspections’ aren’t even VA employees, or Doctors, or even have medical training. These people are outside contractors hired by the VA to do these fraud evaluations. All three of these times when the person came into the room they had orders to only and I do mean only, to look at my knees, not the issues that the appointment was supposed to cover. When you tried to get them to look at some of the other issues every time they would get mad and made it plain that the only thing they were allowed to look at was my knees. One gentleman even went as far as to threaten me that if I didn’t quit complaining that they could just take my rating down to zero and make it where I couldn’t go to the VA anymore. You know what is even worse than this fraud, it’s when you find out that someone in the VA system then puts in your records that during the physical that nothing besides the knees were found to be wrong. The BS continues in this scam against the Service Connected Disabled Vets, now that they put this BS in your records all of the evidence that you had given to them to support your claims can no longer ever be looked at again.

 

There is the issue of the Disability checks that the Service Connected Vets get, as I said I am rated at 40%. For the purpose of saving the VA money where in times past any ratings check would go to the spouse of the Vet once they had died as long as the surviving spouse didn’t remarry. Then it was changed to where the rating had to be at least 30%. Now it is at 60%, so the check we get each month once I die, they cut my wife off unless I get it increased. Yet reality is that they may well in the future raise the requirement rating again after I’m dead. The last day I was able to physically work at all was June 21st, 2013. I applied for social security disability and got my first check in five months and seven days, first try. These other three times I tried to get my rating increased I got turned down after about a year or so but because I was still able to do some work I did not contest them but this last time (4th) I filed in mid February of 2013 because I knew that I was not going to be able to continue working much longer. I had also seen a VA Neurosurgeon at the hospital in Johnson City Tn in October of 2012 who actually in writing agreed with the results of an MRI on my neck that I should be given an increase in ratings because it was obvious that the lightning had messed up my spine. This was turned in with a bunch of other documents that the people on the ratings board in Nashville Tn totally ignored and turned me down flat on all claims. I got this turn down notice in mid March of 2014. At that time because I was no longer able to do any work of any kind I went ahead and filed an appeal which I was told would take about two years at which time I would go in front of a Board of three Judges whom were not getting their checks from the VA like the others had been. In very late June of this year I got a phone call from a man who said he was with this fore mentioned Board who told me that on April 26th of this year that my case was basically put onto someones desk there and that I should be given a date ‘soon’ to where I could go in front of this three Judge panel, I still haven’t heard anything since. February of 2013, it is now August of 2016, that is three and a half years and still waiting. In March of 1999 in Ocala Florida at a civilian hospital I had a four-way by-pass operation, seven days later one of those arteries closed and I had yet another heart attack (I have had many) these civilian Doctors told me that if I really behaved myself and didn’t pull, push or lift anything that if I was lucky I might live another three or four years. Every day is borrowed time, only through God’s grace and some very good civilian Doctors in Georgia am I still breathing. How many Service Connected Disabled Veterans die each day on this waiting list trying to get an honest rating so that their wife and children won’t have to lose their homes or have the ability to stay off of food stamps? To me their actions (VA) are a moral sin that I have my doubts that God will forgive them for! How much blood are on these people hands?

 

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