Monday, July 23, 2007

Injured/Recovering Vets Sue VA Over Care Deficits

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer, 7/23/07
WASHINGTON - Frustrated by delays in health care, a coalition of injured Iraq war veterans is accusing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson of breaking the law by denying them disability pay and mental health treatment (snip)...

...In the lawsuit, (plaintiffs) note that government investigators warned as early as 2002 that the VA needed to fix its backlogged claims system and make other changes.

Yet, the lawsuit says, (ex-VA Chief) Nicholson(--who recently resigned his post--) and other officials still insisted on a budget in 2005 that fell $1 billion short, and they made "a mockery of the rule of law" by awarding senior officials $3.8 million in bonuses despite their role in the budget foul-up.

Today, the VA's backlog of disability payments is now between 400,000 and 600,000, with delays of up to 177 days to process an initial claim and an average of 657 days to process an appeal. Several congressional committees and a presidential commission are now studying ways to improve care.
The delays are unconscionable, although utterly predictable; as are the bureaucratic stratagems designed to disqualify--or at least to discourage--the injured from care and continuing benefits to which they are entitled. This has been a pattern in VA "veterans' care" at LEAST since the mid '60s', when veterans of VietNam started going crazy from PTSD which the VA insisted was not the fault or consequence of their service.

According to a recent NewsHour report, for every person who's actually been killed in this war, there are 16 wounded and injured, and this is an unprecedented number. In Vietnam, for example, there were 2.6 injuries for every fatality, and in Korea there were 2.8.

And fancy this: "...(A) presidential commission (is) studying ways to improve care?" Why, you betcha, it makes the heart swell with pride.

And probably, inside five or 10 years they'll come up with a (cheap) answer, which does nothing to help the injured troops, but makes money for somebody in private health care, and ignores the real needs of the veterans.

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