NEWS UPDATE…Friday, October 9, 2009
VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE DEMANDS VETERANS PROCESSING TO STOP BEING SWEPT UNDER THE RUG AND IGNORED BY LEGISLATORS
By: Jim Davis
Edited by: Barbie Perkins-Cooper
Veterans-For-Change, a non-profit vocal group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, would like to bring to your attention the immeasurably serious problems affecting veterans and their families every day. Many of these problems escalate for veterans, and continue to be ignored, swept under the rug, or misrepresented by our legislators.
The membership of Veterans-for-Change continues to grow and as an advocate for Veterans and the benefits they deserve, we would like to address the following problems/issues:
Claims Processing in Order of Receipt:
Countless veterans and widows of the almost one million claims dating back to WWII are being placed on hold so that Afghanistan and Iraq veteran’s claims can be processed more quickly. While Veterans-for-Change relates to the difficulties, physical complaints and difficulties endured by the War on Terror Veterans, we believe it is crucial that VA Benefits claims should be processed in order of receipt regardless of when the actual service occurred, but this is far from the case.
WWII Veteran’s claims are taking 28-60 months, Korean War Veteran’s claims are taking 26-52 months, Viet Nam Veteran’s claims are taking 24-48 months, Persian Gulf Veteran’s claims are taking 24-36 months, Iraq Veteran’s claims are taking 6-7 months and Afghanistan Veteran’s are taking 3-4 months.
With a fully computerized claim system that communicates with other computer systems in regard to military and medical records systems, the backlog would not exist and the processing of claims would be in order of receipt.
Veterans-For-Change is actively involved in requesting that members of Congress take a long, hard and serious look at the escalating flaws in the system, and draft and submit corrective legislation.
Claims Paperwork Reduction:
Veterans-for-Change believes it is time for the VA to bring their documents, medical records and service records into the Twenty-first Century so processing of claims are completed in an expedient manner . Currently, Veterans are required to “prove” their claims, providing medical and service records when the VA could have easily implemented a computerized claim system which communicated with both the DoD and VA medical systems many years ago, thus bringing the claims processing system into the 21st century.
Because of the amount of paperwork and documentation needed to “prove” a claim, and the amount of human intervention involved, the chances are greatly increased for human error, loss of documentation, eventually ending in denials or remands of claims thus also increasing costs involved with handling and processing of claims.
Veterans-for-Change requests that members of Congress take a hard and serious look at this flaw in practice, draft and submit corrective legislation to mandate an integrated computer system for claims processing so as to prevent such flaws and errors in practice in the future.
Better Protection for VA Medical Records:
In the past veterans have had loss of personal information via stolen computers, hard drives and using sub-contractors who didn’t take the needed precautions to protect highly confidential information.
In addition, when claims are filed with a Veteran Service Officer and/or the VA direct, files lay around for anyone to walk up and access confidential information. Couldn’t this be considered as ‘invasion of privacy?’ This is just another excellent reason why the VA Claims process, Military and Medical records should all be computerized with a line of communications between the VA Claims system, DoD Military Records, and VA Hospital Records.
We must do all we can to protect the privacy and confidentiality of veterans records, and if we cannot rely on the VA I-T department to program a fully functioning system, then maybe the private sector should be considered.
President Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.”
You, as Americans, and politicians of a free society, do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to provide benefits and care, regardless of the costs involved and in a reasonable timely manner! You do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to care for those who did the job the average American Citizen didn’t want to do.
Our veterans cannot escape the effects, physical ailments, illnesses, and emotional wounds of war, or the effects of working in an environment on base where chemicals and other ‘confidential’ and dangerous materials reside. Freedom is not free; it comes with a price tag. Veterans paid a gigantic price, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Only a veteran can comprehend how that price was paid for in full by our military and veterans, along with their spouses and children! The price they paid for their devotion to their freedom does not have a monetary amount and it could be considered priceless since the effects of war leave so many emotional and physical scars that cannot be repaired, or erased. The price our veterans paid was distributed in full with blood, sweat and many tears!
If our nation rescinds its promises and ignores its obligation to those who have fought to preserve freedom throughout the world, we compromise the right to ask our men and women to serve and defend our national principals.
Veterans-for-Change is Growing
But we still need your help! We need members who can volunteer 30-60 minutes per month to help determine hot issues that need to be addressed by the members of Congress to provide better benefits, facilities, care and treatment to all veterans and to help get our monthly letters out to all these members.
If interested please check out the group at:
Veterans-For-Change is also becoming a full 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We’ll continue with our current mission, and will be expanding to add more and more programs over the coming months.
A special award recognition program for veterans, spouses and their children, a small college scholarship program for children of veterans, a small emergency relief fund for veterans in need, and more.
If you’re able to make a small donation to help in the cause and fight please go to:
Attention Veterans who served in Korea
The research questionnaire response so far has been good, but we still need more veterans who served in Korea to participate.
Veterans-For-Change is distributing a questionnaire to veterans pertaining to service in Korea to help us gather statistical information in our ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs and to assist in declassifying many missions in Korea so that veterans such as you will be able to gain the benefits and services needed from the VA System.
This questionnaire is anonymous, you do not need to provide personal contact information if you’re not comfortable with this.
However, if you do provide personal contact information it will be kept 100% confidential, will not be given to any member of Congress, the VA or the DoD, nor will it be sold to any company for any reason what-so-ever.
Statistical information will be used to compile a report to submit to various members of Congress in our efforts to declassify all missions 25 or more years ago so that all veterans can apply for and gain the much needed benefits and medical care/services needed and long over due.
If you’re interested in participating, please send an E-Mail to: Jim.email@example.com
We’ll respond with a short two page questionnaire you can return via US Mail or E-Mail.
LINDA K. MAY of PONTIAC, ILLINOIS UPDATE
As most of you know, Veterans-For-Change as well as OFFE and many others have been gathering evidence to prove beyond any doubt Ms. May is committing fraud towards parents of school age children, elderly, and veterans.
Complaints have already been filed with the Attorney General’s in Michigan, Illinois, and California as well as with the US DOJ in Washington DC with Connecticut to happen this week seeking charges be brought against her and for monies she’s collected to be returned to those she’s harmed.
Over the past week, additional hard copy evidence has been received to be included with the packet being sent out to the various AG’s and DOJ.
If anyone else has any correspondence, documentation, lab reports, receipts, etc. anything proving you or someone you know has had direct dealings with her, please contact me via E-Mail at Jim.firstname.lastname@example.org we need all the evidence we can gather within the next two weeks.
If you’re thinking about using her “test” or any “results” please be advised do not take this action, it will not help anyone in any VA Claim or court case.
VFVC ON THE AIR LIVE!
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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Congressional Hearing on DoD/VA
Response to Potential Exposures
(Washington, DC) – The Defense Department is the biggest owner of EPA Superfund sites. Over 130 military bases are on the National Priority List (EPA Superfund).
In his opening statement today, Senator Daniel Akaka, Chairman, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, noted the requirement for the VA to provide health care and compensation to veterans who were harmed by exposures while in the military.
According to Senator Akaka, DOD “must first determine who was exposed, what they were exposed to, and the health consequences of such exposure, and then share that information with VA.”
For any military base on the EPA Superfund list, EPA has identified hazardous agents or Chemicals of Concern (COC). This information is available to anyone with access to the internet.
The issue of disclosure is more difficult when a veteran was exposed to a hazardous agent while in the military and the base is not an EPA Superfund. Unless DOD discloses this information to the VA, veterans have no way of “connecting the dots to military service.”
Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro, California, is one of 130 military bases on EPA Superfund. No El Toro veteran was invited to participate in today’s hearing but a group of El Toro veterans and other interested parties on learning of the Committee’s hearing submitted written comments for their consideration.
Any veteran or other interested party can submit information to the Committee on the topic of the hearing for a few more days. Comments should be emailed to: Matt_Lawrence@vetaff.senate.gov.
A video on the Committee’s hearing can be viewed at http://veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=8e6c9acc-ae05-41de-a5f6-484ea25a52bc
El Toro Marines and others submitted the following written comments relating to the critical need for disclosure to hazardous agents; medical monitoring and access to tests for veterans; and medical care and disability for those with current medical conditions:
October 8, 2009
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs
Chairman Senator Daniel Akaka and Ranking Republican Senator Richard Burr
United States Congress
Subject: Hearing on the VA/DOD Response to Certain Military Exposures – Submission for the Record
We thank you for holding hearings regarding military exposures to hazardous agents. We understand the hearings focus on a few locations your Committee has concerns about regarding potential health hazards. We are providing very brief comments for your consideration and the record. We request that you pursue actions to mitigate health problems arising from hazardous exposures at US military bases.
Marines and others who serve anticipate hazardous conditions will occur. While efforts should be made to minimize hazards, some activities are inherently dangerous and even lethal. We realize that knowledge of chemical hazards was neither as extensive nor widespread in past decades. But the degree of hazard is clearly indicated by the 130 current and former military bases that are federally-designated Superfund sites (Attachment 1). This designation requires extensive proof of hazardous chemical contamination. Carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and mutagenic chemicals were used during military duties (e.g., jet fuels and other fuels, degreasing solvents) without personal protective gear. Burn pits and other operations created additional toxic airborne chemicals, and often the soil, dust, and water on bases were contaminated. The burden of exposure and disease is only now being fully realized.
El Toro is one of many bases operated to serve US defense needs, manned by people who put their lives on the line to protect and defend our citizens. The prevalence of hazards on bases is illustrated by the example shown in Attachment 2. Many veterans have difficulty locating information on chemicals that they were exposed to, if they know that the information exits. Medical evaluations of their exposures and illnesses that may result in a Nexus statement are very expensive. Yet this is required to receive essential medical care and disability support. This process is indefensible given the substantial medical science available to the VA on chemical hazards.
While we welcome an opportunity to provide additional information, for the sake of brevity we request that your Committee carefully consider and prompt the VA to take the following actions essential to preserving the health of Veterans:
- Disclosure hazardous agents used on military bases, with information on potential health effects of the agents
- For those highly exposed to hazardous agents, provision of medical monitoring and access to tests for early diagnosis of diseases related to hazardous agents
- Medical care and disability for those with medical conditions related to their military service
Valuing the service provided by Veterans requires the VA and DOD’s participation in basic public health outreach and services. This will provide the Veterans the best opportunity for good health, improve the economic viability of their families, and it is fundamentally the right and just thing to do. We are submitting these comments as Marines, family members of Marines, and health professionals working with Marines who served at the El Toro Marine Base in Irvine California.
Submitted via e-mail on October 8, 2009
Respectfully submitted by the following individuals,
Former Financial Manager, Defense Logistics Agency
Founder and President of Veterans for Change
Son of Marine
Former Judge Advocate General (JAG) employee
Wife of Marine
Wife of Marine Veteran
Johnny P. Barron
Sr. Systems Programmer
Dr. Kathleen Burns
Dr. Philip Leveque
Dr. Michael Harbut
Chief, Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Chair, Science Committee, Michigan Agent Orange Commission, 1987 – 1988″
Dr. Daniel Teitelbaum
Colorado School of Public Health & University of Colorado at Denver
Attachment 1. US Military Bases Federally Designated as Hazardous Waste Sites**
** Federally designated hazardous waste sites that come under US EPA’s Superfund Program (also listed as National Priority List or “NPL” sites) are listed. Some base cleanup has been completed, and work continues at other bases. These facilities include active and decommissioned bases. Some locations house (d) operations for multiple branches of the Service. When multiple locations with the same name were listed, they were combined under one entry above. Many hazardous waste sites are not designated under Superfund for a variety of reasons, and so this is very unlikely to be a complete list of bases where chemical contamination indicates past exposure to chemical hazards.
The underlined text links to the US EPA’s webpage for each base with some investigative documents, cleanup status, and lists of the toxic chemicals that were identified. The documents often contain inconsistencies, making it difficult to evaluate the nature and levels of exposure to hazardous agents at worksites, in base housing and in the elementary school on this base.
US EPA’s individual site websites link to chemical contaminant lists that in turn link to health hazard information from ATSDR. ATSDR’s chemical documents are often out of date, incomplete, and misleading. (See transcript of Congressional Hearings in 2008 regarding the quality of ATSDR’s information.) Attachment 2 contains a link to the US EPA website for El Toro, as an example.
Attachment 2. Webpage with basic information on the former El Toro Marine base***
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro: EPA Superfund
Former Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California is one of 130 military bases on the National Priority List (a federal Superfund site). The chemical contamination of soil and groundwater at El Toro is shared by many military bases. Millions of dollars were spent in remediation by the Navy. However, like other Veterans, no El Toro veteran was notified of the health effects of exposure to organic solvents, toxic metals, and other hazardous agents.
The purpose of this website is to provide information to Marines and their dependents that lived and worked at MCAS El Toro about the contaminants in the soil and groundwater and the potential health effects of exposure to these contaminants.
The Navy identified 25 sites on the El Toro base with chemical contamination of soil and water that included arsenic, benzene, dioxin, TCE, chloroform, vinyl chloride, and other carcinogens, mutagens, neurotoxins, and developmental toxins (source: US EPA, 2009 at http://cfpub.epa.gov/supercpad/SiteProfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=second.Contams&id=0902770. Many toxic chemicals were used in daily operations by Marines or were created through the use of burn pits and other processes.
Site 1- Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Range: Site is located in the northeast portion of the base in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains.
Site 2 – Magazine Road Landfill: During the 1970s, all solid waste from El Toro and some waste from MCAS Tustin were disposed in this landfill.
Site 3 -Original Landfill: Original Landfill, active from 1943 to 1955, encompasses approximately 11 acres and is located in the eastern portion of El Toro. (This list of sites continues on the webpage.)
***See http://www.mwsg37.com containing additional information on base contamination, health hazards, communications from Marines who served at the base, and related information. The webpage was developed by and relies on information assembled by a Marine Veteran who served at El Toro, Robert O’Dowd.
Watch for Veterans-For-Change new website coming soon:
VETERANS-FOR-CHANGE MISSION STATEMENT
A Veterans Advocacy and Assistance Organization
The purpose of Veterans-For-Change is to make major changes in the treatment and rights for all veterans. In benefits claims, appeals, medical care and treatment, VA Facilities, PTSD, Agent Orange, POW & MIA recoveries, diabetes, TBI and dioxins.
Members combine their talents, information, ideas and suggestion and contribute to a monthly letter that’s sent to all 535 members of Congress expressing the concerns over various issues and offers possible solutions.
This is in an effort to make change within the VA system, to streamline, expedite and insure claims are honored to the best possible rating, to insure all medical facilities are using the best equipment in the most modernized facilities with a properly trained and fully licensed and compassionate medical staff.
Additionally we circulate petitions for various pieces of legislation to promote their being presented on the floor and voted on.
We conduct research, develop ideas, solutions, and programs and do our best to make sure they’re put into action.
We also provide guidance and assistance to veterans, spouses, their children and widows with their claims and appeals and the support of all veterans who seek assistance.
We must guarantee the rights of every single veteran and gain the rights and benefits promised!
Garden Grove, CA 92840
email@example.com Don’t be afraid, just be yourself!
“Be who you are and say what you feel .. Because those that matter .. don’t mind ..
And those that mind … don’t matter.”
MEMORIAL PAGE & BLOG:
Are you or a fellow Vet diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)? We’d like to help you, and your family cope with, understand, and be able to find the assistance you need. Group Name: Vets_ALS
Group Home Page: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Vets_ALS
For more Veterans Information: http://veteransinfo.org
VETERANS-FOR CHANGE VETERANS WILLING TO GET INVOLVED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE VA ALL Veterans complain about one thing or another when it comes to the VA, benefits, etc. and for the most part they’re right, however, NOT many will stand up to the VA nor our goverment. DO YOU HAVE THE GUTS TO STEP FORWARD AND SAY YOU WON’T TAKE IT ANY MORE AND HELP IN THE FIGHT? Then join us today because tomorrow NEVER comes! Group Name: Veterans-For-Change
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