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There’s a good chance that you've heard about a new Veteran’s health care bill being signed into law. I’ll admit that it can be kind of confusing to read. If you turn to a 24 hour news channel for information regarding what this means for you, then you are likely just going to hear a lot political non-sense about how this favors one party over the other or some other commentary that doesn't really help to explain what is going on. Well, we really don’t pay too much attention to politics with this blog, so here is what we found out about what changes are going to occur, and how this will really benefit Veterans.
First, this is not a bill for Veterans Disability; it is only for Veterans Health Care. As we have explained before, the two programs are separate from each other, and thus the 16.3 billion dollars will be spent solely on VA Health care.
So, what does mean? The first thing you will likely notice is new faces around VA Medical Facilities. A lot of the funds have been set aside for emergency spending, and this includes hiring more medical professionals. So, there will likely be new doctors and nurses in your VA medical facility in the near future.
An interesting aspect to the bill is that it will make it easier to dismiss officials who aren't performing well. After the recent debacle in Arizona, this will be a welcome change.
Now, here is the big thing I am excited about. We interact with Veterans from all across the US. Some of them live in major metropolitan areas with access to VA facilities just minutes away. However, most of the Veterans I speak with live in rural areas with VA Hospitals and treatment centers miles away from their residence. In some cases a Veteran has to take an entire day, drive over 100 miles, and wait all day just to receive treatment. That will change now with this new bill. The changes will be take effect in two waves. First, there is a change that will occur in the near future for Veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a VA Medical Facility. They will be able to seek care now at private facilities instead of traveling far away. From my experience, a lot of Veterans refrain from seeking treatment because of the time it takes to get to the nearest facility. A lot of our clients work full time, and really can’t afford to miss a day of work because they have to travel to the VA hospital. A long term effort will be the 2nd wave of providing more health care options. The bill allocates funding for 27 new VA medical facilities to be built over the next few years.
There will also be a card issued for Veterans who have to wait more than 30 days for treatment. If you have to wait more than 30 days for treatment at a VA facility, you will be able to take the card they give you to a private facility for treatment just as you would at the VA.
Another great aspect of the bill is that it aims to increase health care for Veterans with Traumatic Brain injury or Military Sexual Trauma. Both of these issues are becoming more common in the Veteran community.
In all, this bill really looks as if it will do a lot of good for Veterans seeking health care through medical facilities. And though I mentioned earlier that we don’t talk about politics in this blog, it was somewhat overwhelming how much bipartisan support there was for the bill. It’s nice to see our political leaders put party lines aside and actually work for our Veterans.
I also stated that this bill is solely for VA health care. While that is true, this will help VA Disability claims. As I've said any times before, medical evidence is what wins cases. Making medical treatment more readily available for Veterans means that they will be able to get the evidence they need to help get service connected. I see so many claims get denied because Veterans can’t get treatment.
If you’d like to read the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 in full, click here.
If you’d like to know more about what we can do to help you get service connected for a claim, call us for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. Can’t call us right away? Fill out this form and one of our reps will call you at a more convenient time.
When I was just a young lad I remember having a conversation with someone who was told he couldn't join the military because he had flat feet. Years later I would realize that there were many other reasons for him not being qualified for military. As a tween, I remember that conversation, and for some reason it stuck with me. As an individual who now works with Veterans, imagine my surprise when I would hear Veterans talk about filing claims for flat feet. I immediately would wonder how they got into the military with their flat feet. Well, it’s something that has been in the back of my mind for a while, so I decided to do a little research. It turns out I had a lot to learn.
What are flat feet? According to WebMD, which is like chocolate for hypochondriacs, Flatfoot (pes planus) is a condition in which the longitudinal arch in the foot, which runs lengthwise along the sole of the foot, has not developed normally and is lowered or flattened out. One foot or both feet may be affected.
First of all, the whole notion of not being able to join the military because of flat feet may not even be true. While I could not find an official document stating this wasn’t the case, I did stumble across a forum in which several soldiers discussed the issue. One issue that came up on multiple forums is if there was any pain because of your flat feet. If you answer no, a lot of these soldiers said they would pass you on the physical exam. However, if you had extreme flat feet, and had pain because of that, then you would likely fail the exam. So, do flat feet disqualify you from military service? My answer is inconclusive. I would suggest speaking with a recruiter in more detail about this subject if you are concerned. I would have done that, but these men and women have more important things to do than answer questions for my blog.
I also learned that flatfoot can develop later on in life. This can explain why some individuals who may not have had issues during an entrance exam may have issues later on their military career. Sometimes foot injuries can cause flatfoot too. The big question here is: “Can I get service connected for pes planus? Absolutely you can! Let’s look into how a flatfoot condition gets service connected through the VA.
To determine if pes planus is a disability in which Veterans can service connect, I turned to the 38 CFR. For those of you who don’t know, the 38 CFR is like a gigantic book of ratings codes and regulations pertaining to the VA. It’s like Harry Potter if Harry Potter was boring and full of legal jargon. Actually, a better title of this might be “0 Shades of Gray,” because of how little it opens things up for interpretation. Most things in this book are black and white. Bad puns aside, it is actually interesting to see what the 38 CFR says about flatfoot. I did not realize the range to which a Veteran can get service connected for this condition. It starts at a rating of 0% and goes up to 50%. It is also important to note that pes planus can be service connected bilaterally. If you are new to VA disability, bilateral simply means that it affects both sides. In this case, both feet may be flat, or one foot being flat is affecting the other. The highest rating of 50% is assigned for the most severe cases, and it must be bilateral in order to get 50%. To summarize, if your feet are as flat as Katy Perry's singing, and just as painful, you may be able to get 50%. However, if you only have a mild issue with pes planus, you may only be rated at 0% or 10%.
How does one actually get this service connected though? That answer is actually a little simpler. Evidence in service is a must with this condition. I have spoken to several Veterans who have sought treatment in service because of their flatfoot condition. They may have asked for different boots to be issued, given insoles/inserts, or even received medical treatment while in service. These individuals are more likely to get service connection than those who don’t seek treatment while in service. If you have been discharged for a while, further medical treatment after service will also be beneficial for service connection. Just like any other claim in the VA, medical evidence makes a world of difference.
If you have issues with a flatfoot condition, and are seeking service connection, give us a call today for a free consultation: 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather be contacted by a member of our staff, fill out this form, and you will be called by someone at a time that works best for you.
I try not to get too personal on this blog. I also try to make it stand out by injecting some humor and my experiences dealing with the VA as a person who works for a law firm. Honestly though, I write this blog because I sincerely enjoy interacting with Veterans and active duty service members. While my Facebook page and Twitter feed may be filled with posts about Miley Cyrus or JJ Watt, I actually get more excited when I meet someone who has served. For the most part, I think they are pretty great. It’s not just because of the work that I do, or that I am trying to get more people to read this blog, it’s genuine.
For instance, this past weekend I went bowling with a group of coworkers, including Bill, who some of you know from this blog. Another coworker introduced me to a gentlemen she has been dating who is currently serving in the National Guard. I talked that poor guy’s ear off. I find it fascinating that so many are willing to give up so much and get so little in return. It’s also no secret that most of my friends have served at some point in their lives. So once again, this is a genuine interest of mine.
So, you might be wondering why I am telling you all of this. I’ll explain later.
Full disclosure: It’s not easy coming up with new topics for this blog. Today is Monday. I have not talked to any Veterans yet this week. Most of my inspiration comes from real interactions with those who have served. When I am struggling to find a subject to write about, I will see what the mainstream media is talking about. Today I ran across an LA Times article that I did not like. While it did not blatantly come out against Veterans who receive disability, it definitely was not complimentary. The author happens to cover a lot of Veterans topics for this publication. He has not served, but yet, like me, covers Veterans Disability. (I am not a journalist, I am a blogger. There is a difference. Just ask a journalist.) The article as a whole seemed to really look at Veterans who work and receive VA disability benefits concurrently in a negative light. He mentioned a Veteran who makes $70,000 per year who is also receiving VA disability. He’s implying that someone who makes that much money shouldn't receive VA Disability pay. Or maybe that is just what I am interrupting. Regardless if his intent is to shame Veterans who receive disability and work full time, or just to paint a better picture for his readers, there is nothing illegal about what that Veteran is doing. You can be a billionaire and still receive VA disability compensation. There is no income limit on VA Disability. There is a limit on VA pension, but that is a different program. Also, you can't get IU and work full time.
This is why so many Veterans aren’t pursuing the disability benefits they deserve through the VA. It’s because of reporters who have not served making judgments based off of ignorance. Granted, you could say that I am just drinking the Kool-Aid, and that I am selling out because it is my job. That is simply not true. I am lucky enough to work with Veterans every day. I was fascinated with those who serve before my employment with this firm, and when I depart, I won’t stop being involved with Veterans. Simply put, I find no enjoyment in shaming Veterans. I don’t care if a Veteran makes a lot more than I do, and still gets VA disability. That is not for me to judge.
Honestly, I work with Veterans from all across the United States, not just California. Most of the men and women I encounter are not making a ton of money to start with. A lot are either unemployed or even underemployed and what they receive from the VA is keeping them from a life of poverty or worse. (The article does mention the number of Veterans who are currently struggling financially.) Let’s not pretend like a bunch of rich Veterans are out there scamming the VA to make even more money. Let’s also not pretend that these Veterans don’t deserve to be compensated for their service to our country. I can’t imagine what it’s like to serve. I don’t know what it’s like to be in combat, and to be willing to die for my country. I am not that brave. This is one of the many things that separate civilians from soldiers.
This was going to be it for my blog post today. However, I looked at the other articles this writer has posted. Most of them shed VA Disability in a negative light. However, that is not all he covers. He recently ran two stories on the Sandra Bullock stalker situation. I am a huge Sandra bullock fan, so I thought I’d check it out. I noticed that both stories he ran showed a picture of Ms. Bullock with a young active duty service member, an Airman in his Class A uniform. The photo was from a recent awards show Bullock attended. The young soldier is not the stalker, but I am curious as to why this photo was chosen to be used with the stalker story twice. I don’t really have too much time to do research on stories involving celebrities, but I checked to see if the stalker was a Vet. I could not find any evidence stating that he had ever served in the military. Granted, I don’t know if this writer gets to choose the photos for his stories or not. It could just be a coincidence. Also, it could just be that it was the most recent photo they had of her. All I can say is that if I was writing a story about someone stalking a celebrity, I wouldn't use a photo which includes an individual who is not involved. Once again, I am not a journalist, I am a blogger.
When I was studying criminal justice in undergrad, or as it is more popularly known, wasting four years of my life, we learned about ranks within police departments. I really wish I would have paid more attention during that lesson because it likely would have helped me when doing intakes with Veterans. The reason is that I have to know what rank a Veteran was at when he or she was discharged from the military. One might think that it is a simple as asking them and then jotting down their reply, but like going to the DMV, things get complicated fast.
Most of my research came from the Department of Defense. They are quick to point out that many people make the same mistake I do. I confuse pay grade with rank. E-1, or “enlisted one,” is the most basic pay level. However, most Veterans I talk to will either give me their pay level when I ask for their rank, or they will tell me both. I am not supposed to play favorites in my line of work, but the Vets who give me pay grade and rank are my favorite. While the DOD is quick to point out that they pay grade and rank are different, I doubt you will ever see a Master Chief petty Officer listed as an E-2. Generally when your rank changes, so does your pay grade. This is why so many Veterans and civilians use them interchangeably. However, it is not always the case. Sometimes there are two ranks listed at the same pay grade. Even though one outranks the other, they make the same amount of money.
What is the issue? Did you know that all five branches of the Military have different titles at each level? (For the most part.) For instance, the very basic rank in the Army and Marines is a private. However, if you were an Airman you would be considered an Airman basic. In the Navy and Coast Guard you’d actually be considered a seaman recruit. All of these ranks I just listed are considered “E-1’s.”
The most common rank we encounter in this firm is E-4. Here is where things get a little convoluted. In the Army an E-4 can be a corporal or a Specialist. In the Navy and Coast Guard an E-4 is a Petty Office Third Class, while in the Marines an E-4 is a corporal. Lastly the Air Force considers an E-4 a Senior Airman. Technically these are all the same rank. If a Veteran tells me his was rank was specialist, I often have to ask him to clarify simply because there are so many ranks to keep track of in the military. Three out of the five branches consider an E-5 to be a sergeant but the Navy and Coast Guard consider an E-5 to be a Petty Officer 2nd Class.
Here are some interesting facts about ranks that I observed from my research:
*There are 20 different ranks that fall under the category of E-9 across the 5 branches.
*Stars indicate importance. The more stars you see, the higher the rank.
*Officers are listed either as W or O. For instance, a "W-1."
*E-4 is the most common rank in the military.
So, why am I going on and on about ranks? First of all I do find them fascinating. But they do play a small part in a VA disability claim too. For instance, when I am talking to someone who served for a long period of time with a low rank, it’s a red flag. Recently I talked to a Veteran who served for a decade that was discharged as an E-1. For the most part, an individual who served for 10 years would not be ranked that low. I immediately asked if had faced any disciplinary charges before he was discharged, and he said he had. He was actually ranked as an E-5 prior to his demotion. This does not mean that we can’t help; it simply paints a better picture of his military career. We like to be very thorough in our reviews. This could actually be beneficial for a psych claim like PTSD. It could possibly be used as evidence to help prove a change in behavior. We have found this to be the case in a number of PTSD and MST claims over the past several years. This shows us that a Veteran was on one course, then something happened to change that course. It could be a PTSD stressor or a sexual assault that changed the course.
It is important to note that rank does not increase your chances of getting service connected; it does not speed up your case.
If you would like to learn more about what we can do to get you service connected, give us a call today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. You can also fill out this form and one of our staff members will give you a call.
When I am asked by a Veteran if the department of Veterans Affairs makes mistakes, I automatically feel as if I am in “The Hunger Games,“ and I think to myself “VA today, VA tomorrow, VA forever!” However, like in "The Hunger Games," I should not be afraid to criticize the VA. Besides, they have a lot more to worry about right now than a snarky blogger. I then realize that they are a government agency, and they are subject to occasional audits. Recently a report surfaced from one of those audits showing how severe those mistakes actually are now.
As you may already know, every state has at least one VA Regional Office. Some states have more than one, and they, for the most part, operate differently depending upon the state in which you reside. For instance, Vermont operates very quickly whereas Cleveland operates slowly. Recently the New Orleans VA Regional Office was audited, and the findings were somewhat shocking.
The report, which was issued by the VA Inspector General, found that out of 90 claims sampled, 42 had mistakes. For those of you who are better at math than I am, that means 47% of the claims were flawed. For the optimist out there, it is a 53% accuracy rating. With that many mistakes sent out it’s almost as if General Motors is running the New Orleans VARO.
If you are a Veteran reading this you are probably not shocked that the VA is producing that many mistakes. Is it really that bad though? Well, it’s not great. Looking more in depth, the report shows that 23 of those claims with mistakes actually affected the amount the Veterans were supposed to receive each month. Here is the number that made gasp me out loud, resulting in several annoyed coworkers near me. The mistakes meant that there 238 mistakes made in monthly benefits to 17 Veterans totaling $132,878. The report goes in to a lot more depth than I have shared today, and I encourage everyone to take a look at it soon. The bottom line here is that the VA is capable of mistakes.
So, what are you to do? Honestly, if you receive a decision from the VA, there is a good chance you would not know a mistake was made. For instance, how would you really know if you were rated too low on a back injury? Unless you are well versed with the law, you would not know what a proper rating is for your claim. That is where an attorney, like the ones at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, is so valuable for a VA Disability case. Whenever any of our clients receive a decision, we review it in house to see if any mistakes were made. A mistake could be that the VA rated you on PTSD at 30% instead of 50%. If something like that occurs, we can spot it, and quickly file an appeal. We even review all of the past decisions a Veteran received before they became a client of ours to see if they should be rated higher.
Overall the state of the VA as whole right now isn't great. We hate to beat a dead horse, but having proper representation when dealing with the VA can make a world of difference. Give us a call today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather be contacted by a member of our staff, fill this form out now.
With the Walk4Vets fewer than two months away, our fundraising efforts are in full force. This weekend presents two great opportunities to support this great cause.
This Friday night in Ripley West Virginia, members of the Jan Dils staff will be selling 50/50 tickets at the I-77 Raceway Park. Come join us for a night of family fun as the Ohio Valley Sprint Car Association hits the track for some great racing action. Starting at 5:00 pm Friday the Jan Dils crew will be selling the tickets for $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00. We appreciate the fine folks at I-77 Raceway Park for allowing us to raise money for our Veterans.
Friday night is not the only opportunity you will have this weekend to help us raise money for Veterans. The fundraising will continue on Saturday at the Park Shopping Center Sno Biz in Parkersburg, WV. From 11:30 am until 10:00 pm, this local franchise has generously agreed to donate half of their earnings from the day to the Walk4Vets. So, if you are out an about on Saturday, stop by this location for some refreshing snow cones.
Both events will also provide opportunities for interested individuals to sign up for the Walk4Vets. We will have registration forms on hand, as well as other literature regarding the walk, and the all new 5K.
As a reminder, the Walk4Vets supports local Veterans charities. Jan Dils established the Walk4Vets foundation in 2011 to give back to local Veterans. Now, for our third event, we are supporting the Veterans Corps at WVU-P. This group of Student-Veterans is dedicated to helping Veterans graduate college as well as engaging in community based charity work.
For more information about the Walk4Vets, or to register early, check out our website. To keep up to date with all of the latest announcements regarding the Walk4Vets, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
Recently I posted a blog about a practice I referred to as “Double Dipping.” It’s what happens when you try to get the VA to service connect you for something that you have filed for on Workers Compensation. In other words if you filed a workers compensation claim on your back, and then try to file a VA Disability Claim on your back, one will negate the other. The reason is that you are trying to get the government to pay you for an injury that occurred at both places. In the VA’s eyes, it has to be one or the other. The reason for this is that one is for injured workers; the other is for injured Veterans. Why am I repeating myself? Well, one of my wonderful readers brought up a great question: “Does double dipping apply to VA Disability and Social Security?” The answer is no, but with a maybe.
How is it no? Well, that is actually quite simple. VA disability is trying to prove if your disability is a result from your time in service. Social Security wants to know if you are disabled. They are not necessarily concerned with where your disability occurred. So, if you get injured in in the military, and this disability also keeps you from working, you may be entitled to both programs. Even if you are 100% in the VA, you can still get social security disability.
Need help navigating the VA Disability process? Click here for a free guide!
Let’s say that you injured your back in service, but were still able to work a regular job once you are discharged. You then go on to have an injury to your arm that keeps you from working. If you were only getting 40% service connected for your back through the VA, it will likely continue. You may however be considered fully disabled through the Social Security Administration. In fact if your arm injury occurred while on the job, you may be eligible for Social Security and Workers Compensation while still receiving your VA Disability. How? It’s simple. Your VA Disability had nothing to do with the injury that occurred while you working, that stays the same. If you were injured on the job with an injury that has left you disabled, then you would be entitled to both Social Security and Workers Compensation.
How is there a “maybe?” This is where things get a little convoluted. As you may already know, both Social Security and VA offer income based programs. SSI is for Social Security, and Pension is the program for the VA. Since these programs are both income based, any new income may affect the programs. For instance, if you were receiving pension, and then were later granted social security disability, your pension would be adjusted, possibly negated completely. The same could apply to SSI if you are granted VA Disability. While this is not actually considered a “double dip,” they do affect each other.
Are you confused yet? I know I became confused a couple of times and even had to consult one of my coworkers who handles social security claims a few times for information. I work with VA every day, and even I struggled with the guidelines. Imagine if you were doing this with no knowledge of any of the programs. It would be tough. A little guidance goes a long way. If you need help with either VA, or Social Security, give us a call for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t make it to a phone at the time, fill out this form so that we can call you at a more convenient time.
I know I can often sound like a corrupt MP3 file-that’s a broken record for my older readers-but I can’t stress how important medical evidence is for any Veterans Disability claim. While a lack of treatment as a whole is bad for your case, a gap in treatment can be just as bad. Granted, this isn’t as much of an issue for Veterans who are returning home from recent conflicts. We see this problem mostly in Veterans who served in Vietnam, the 80’s or even the early 90’s during Desert Storm.
A classic scenario I hear all of the time from Veterans is that they were hurt while serving, chose not to report the injury, and want to get the injury service connected 20-30 years later. That simply isn’t going to happen. (Different rules apply for presumptive conditions or certain mental disabilities like PTSD.) Recently I was speaking with a Veteran who served during the Vietnam Era who wanted to file a claim for his back. I asked a few follow up questions. First I asked if he had any specific incidents while serving. He replied that he did not have an injury, but just believed it was from carrying a heavy backpack while training. I asked if he had any treatment while serving on his back, and he replied no. I then asked that in the 40 plus years since he was discharged if had sought treatment. He said not until 2005. The final question I asked was what type of work he did in the civilian world. His response was that he hung drywall for 26 years.
One thing that Heather, our lead VA attorney, constantly preaches about is chronic disabilities. In other words your disability has to be an issue for you consistently over time. (Once again different rules apply for presumptive conditions and mental disabilities.) This Veteran stated that he did not have a specific injury while serving and didn’t seek treatment until decades after he was discharged. Also, and this is a “biggie” in the eyes of the VA, is type of work in the civilian world is a major cause of back issues. The VA will look at the fact that he did not apply for benefits or seek treatment until after he worked in the drywall industry for years as a negative. We can be led to believe that his injuries came from his line of work, and not his time in the military.
We encourage all of our Veterans to seek treatment for their disabilities. We know that it may be difficult with all of the uncertainty with the VA, but it’s important. If you can’t receive treatment at the VA, and can’t afford treatment from a civilian doctor, try to make use of free clinics, or even keep a journal of your issues.
If you would like to know more about what we can do for a VA Disability Claim, or if you would like a free consultation, give me a call today. 1-877-526-3457. You can also fill out this form so that we may contact you.
The third annual Walk4Vets is only a few months away…actually 139 days as of today. To say we are excited for this annual event is an understatement. We have been planning this celebration of Veterans since the last Walk in 2012.We took a year off to make it even better. While you may know that the Walk4Vets is September 13th, 2014, and that it will take place at the Parkersburg City Park, you may not know much about our benefactors. Well, that will all change now as you get to know the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Veterans Corps.
Who are they? According to their Facebook Page, the WVU-P Veterans Corps are committed to the success of Veterans and their families. They are made up of students from every branch of the military. The Veterans Corps are students, both traditional and non-traditional.
What is their mission? Once again, according to their Facebook page, "The Parkersburg Veterans Corps mission is to engage Veterans and dependents of veterans to develop camaraderie and to create opportunities for veterans within the school and outside in the community. We want to convey information, encourage, support, guide, and lead the veterans and their dependents on the path to higher education with intention to elevate knowledge and programs at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. We want to provide a military friendly organization as a means to bridge and unite the student veterans, active duty, National Guard, reservists, and dependents of those who have served."
How did our relationship with the Veterans Corps start? It actually started simply enough. Late last year we launched the second book written by Jan Dils, “Getting the Veterans Benefits You Deserve.” It’s a great guide for any Veteran going through the VA process. I actually studied undergrad at WVU-P and recalled that the school has a Veterans Advocate. A quick phone call to the school to see if they would like some free copies of our book became much more.
What made us choose this group? Honestly, I don’t like the term benefactor because this group is more like a partner. Since meeting with this group a few short months ago, we have really joined forces to do the most good for local Veterans. To say we were impressed is an understatement. This group of male and female Veterans is truly dedicated to assisting other Veterans, not just the ones who happen to attend school
there. Within recent months the Veterans have started a charity to grant wishes to the children of local Veterans who happen to be disabled, they have organized a supply drive for local homeless Veterans, opened a new resource facility, participated in fundraisers, and attended local parades. Keep in mind that many of these individuals are participating in full time classes, jobs, and even serving in the National Guard, or Reserve units of their respective military branches.
Great leadership leads to great results. We were introduced to the Veterans Corps through their leader, Shawn Healy, who happens to be the Veterans Advocate for WVU-P. Shawn is a full time student; works for the school full time, and is currently serving in the West Virginia Amy National Guard. His passion and enthusiasm is only matched by his dedication to helping Veterans. The other students are quick to follow his lead. It is rare to find others who share our dedication to helping Veterans, and we are pleased that Shawn is leading this group of Veterans to help so many others.
Obviously the Veterans Corps at WVU-P is wonderful group to support. If you want to help us support them, then bring your friends to the 3rd Annual Walk4Vets. Like I mentioned before, we are only a few short months away. Registration only 10 bucks, and that includes an exclusive event t-shirt. The Walk will include a 5K, live music, children’s activities, and much more. To register, click here. To see photos from previous Walks, check out our Facebook page.
You may be aware of some recent news regarding a VA Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. If you are not aware of what is happening, we will cover that later on. Though we are based in West Virginia, we actually have a lot of clients in Arizona. Our thoughts are with all of the Veterans who are affected by this story, and those who are now concerned about receiving quality healthcare. While our firm mainly corresponds with VA Regional Offices, we do have to request medical records from VA Medical Facilities, including the one in Phoenix Arizona. We want to shed as much light on this as possible for our Veterans in Arizona, and will try to keep you up to date as these moves forward.
So, what’s going on? Last week the folks over at CNN reported that the Phoenix VA Medical Center had a “Secret Wait List” for those seeking treatment. On this list Veterans would have to wait for months to receive treatment, and at least 40 Veterans who were on this list died while awaiting treatment. CNN also reports as many as 1600 Veterans were actually on the list. Why a secret list you ask? According to Dr. Sam Foote, a former VA doctor, "The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA's own internal rules." He went on to tell CNN that the VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days. According to Foote, the Phoenix VA was involved in shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care.
How did CNN find out about the list? According to the article, CNN obtained emails from individuals in the facility, including management, who were aware of the list, and who were even defending the practice.
What happens now? Well, there will be a lot of investigations going on to find out the validity of the accusations. President Obama was quoted on Monday as saying that he takes these allegations “very seriously.” Further, he stated: “I believe that if somebody has served our nation then they have to get the benefits and services that they have earned, and my budgets have consistently reflected that,” Obama said. “That’s why we've resourced the Veterans Affairs office more in terms of increases than any other department or agency in my government.”
Politics aside, this is a very serious issue for the VA. I work with Veterans every day, and I know their view of the VA as a whole is not great anyway. Regardless of what happens, the VA may very well lose the trust of more Veterans.
What is the VA saying? Well, they are addressing the issue the best they can. The following is excerpt from their press release: “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cares deeply for every Veteran we are privileged to serve, and we are committed to delivering the highest quality care. We take any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously, which is why the Department invited the independent VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to complete a comprehensive review at the Phoenix VA Health Care System as quickly as possible. VA also sent a team of clinical experts to Phoenix to review appointment scheduling procedures at that facility and the existence of any delays in care.” You can read the full release here.
What should you do? No matter what, you need to continue to seek treatment. Regardless if you attempting to get service connected, or if you are just in need of medical care, seeking treatment is beneficial. Keep up to date with this story by following reputable news sources. CNN will obviously be covering this story a lot as they are the ones who broke the news, but the Washington Post, Associated Press, and other traditional news outlets will have up to date information. If you go to the Phoenix VA for treatment, continue to go there. The VA has sent a team to review scheduling, and as their press release states above, they are reviewing the scheduling process.
If you would like to know more about what we can do to help you get service connected for a VA Disability Claim, give us a call for a free consultation: 1-877-526-3457. If you'd rather I call you, fill out this form now.