AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

Are you an AmeriCAN or an AmeriCAN'T?

Vet Groups File Lawsuit against the VA Over Bogus Military Suicide Claims

Dadmanly has the details at Mudville Gazette’s Milblogs: A Suit with Agenda

As he notes, the Left has been drumming up outrage over false reports and misinformation put forth by the ignorant and incompetent mass media. This does absolutely nothing to actually help the situation with the Veterans’ Administration (VA), which actually does have issues which need to be resolved in order to help our military veterans. But, things like this from faux military supporters who are simply using the military as a political tool make things that much more difficult to get things fixed. Way to go leftist scumbags.

[ … ] Here’s the AP background on the lawsuit, and the positions of litigants:

The lawsuit, filed in July by two nonprofit groups representing military veterans, accuses the agency of inadequately addressing a “rising tide” of mental health problems, especially post-traumatic stress disorder.

But government lawyers say the VA has been devoting more resources to mental health and making suicide prevention a top priority. They also argue that the courts don’t have the authority to tell the department how it should operate.

The trial is set to begin Monday in a San Francisco federal court.

An average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day, and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide, according to a December e-mail between top VA officials that was filed as part of the federal lawsuit.

“That failure to provide care is manifesting itself in an epidemic of suicides,” the veterans groups wrote in court papers filed Thursday.

MILBLOGGERS have long recognized this line of criticism against our military, the VA, and the Bush Administration. Much of what’s been written and press-released for the public has been filled was misinformation and distortions, if not outright fabrications. There’s been no “epidemic of suicides” in the military, and the suicide rate for the military is actually lower than the rates for non-military when like data sets are compared.

[ … ] Many reputable media outlets just make honest (but ignorant and amateurish) mistakes, but partisans have been seeking to manipulate and misrepresent reporting in this area.

Now, these same have started some non-profit 501c organizations and launched a class action suit to hype their claims:

“We find that the VA has simply not devoted enough resources,” said Gordon Erspamer, the lawyer representing the veterans groups. “They don’t have enough psychiatrists.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the VA takes too long to pay disability claims and that its internal appellate process unconstitutionally denies veterans their right to take their complaints to court.

The groups are asking U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti, a World War II U.S. Army veteran, to order the VA to drastically overhaul its system. Conti is hearing the trial without a jury.

“What I would like to see from the VA is that they actually treat patients with respect,” said Bob Handy, head of the Veterans United for Truth, one of the groups suing the agency.

Handy, 76, who retired from the Navy in 1970, said he founded the veterans group in 2004 after hearing myriad complaints from veterans about their treatment at the VA when he was a member of the Veterans Caucus of the state Democratic Party. The department acknowledges in court papers that it takes on average about 180 days to decide whether to approve a disability claim.

“I would just like to see the VA do the honorable thing,” said Handy, who is expected to testify during the weeklong trial.

I would never in a million years claim that the VA is perfect, or deny that the VA is currently burdened pretty heavily with an influx of new Veterans seeking assistance.

But I’m a disabled Veteran, who served in Iraq in 2005, and the VA of my generation has dramatically improved and demonstrates greater responsiveness than at any time in its history. If VUFT Founder Handy ever experienced the VA first hand back then, he can’t possibly think it’s not light years better today. If he thinks so, he’s lying, and what’s more, he’d know it. The VA during the years since Vietnam until the Gulf War was a failing institution, overwhelmed, under-supported, and trying to counteract the shameful embarrassment of how the US – our Government and our citizenry – treated Vietnam Veterans.

We had several Vietnam Vets deploy with us to Iraq, and the services, care, and attention they received from the Army and the VA quite literally brought them to tears on more than one occasion. At all levels of command, we encouraged soldiers to take advantage of resources, Mental Health and other medical services, that were available pre-, during, and post-deployment.

As a First Sergeant, I can adamantly declare that no soldier was left alone, to his or her own devices, leaders at all levels monitored their soldiers, and the VA made no less than half a dozen visits to our unit for post-deployment health reassessments. Our NY State Veterans Representatives, at the State, County and local levels, made every effort to assist soldiers and point them (and even push them) towards any needed services.

Some resisted, especially those who served in the National Guard as Active Guard Reserve (AGR) or State Technicians, fearful that a VA filing or claim or any treatment could jeopardize their employment. (I don’t think their fears were founded, everybody seems like they are looking out for our Vets, but I don’t blame them for being suspicious.)

Others soldiers just took the “tough it out” approach or minimized any problems they had. People who serve in the military tend to be stoic by nature, and place great value on self-sufficiency, sacrifice, and dedication to their mission. Sometimes that means they ignore symptoms, but if any did, it was in spite of a massive effort to identify soldiers for treatment.

I attended a couple of counseling sessions at the VA Vet Center, and I know guys that are being treated for PTSD. Things aren’t always great, they get frustrated, I personally think there’s a too frequent tendency to medicate rather than commit to counseling therapies, but I know that many need what the medications provide, at least in the beginning. Locally, many of the guys with real difficulties had big time difficulties before they came in to service, or have real personal difficulties. Several came to the VA now, with problems that originated in the Gulf War. I think we have some Vietnam Vets that likewise have aftereffects from Vietnam that are being stirred up with new combat experiences.

My initial VA claim took 8 months to process, and a second, additional claim took about 6 months. From what I’ve heard over the years, that seems like a pretty fast response, given the data gathering, medical evaluations, boards, and so forth.

Can the VA improve, or hire more psychiatrists, or better, psychologists and counselors? Certainly. But the idea that the VA has been somehow negligent, or that a class action lawsuit will help anything, is insane.

Be sure to go to Dadmanly’s site to get all the details on these so-called Veterans groups leading the charge on this nonsense.

The VA has many better things to focus on than some bogus waste-of-time – and money – lawsuit.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, this does not help the situation of real problems at the VA. When partisans with an agenda keep crying wolf and making up crises that do not exist, instead of getting people interested in wanting to help, it simply creates more apathy among people after they find out their claims were bogus.

There are many of us out here who look to help – and do help – the military in any and every way that we possibly can. People do not need to make shit up to get people engaged. This is the most giving society in the world when it comes to charity and humanitarian and volunteer work. When we find out there is someone in need, the majority of us jump at the opportunity to help our fellow man. But when people keep making shit up like this, it tends to cultivate cynicism and apathy, as we can’t figure out which issue is real and which is just some partisan bullshit. I am glad there are military veterans out there such as Dadmanly who are cutting through the bullshit to help us know which issues are credible.

April 21, 2008 , 3:37PM Posted by | Military, PTSD, Veterans Administration | Comments Off on Vet Groups File Lawsuit against the VA Over Bogus Military Suicide Claims

A Frank Discussion on PTSD by Military Spouses and Dr. Roca of the Veterans’ Administration

As Laughing Wolf notes at Blackfive, Matt Burden and the Blackfive crew have done an outstanding job of addressing the issues of PTS, PTSD and related issues. Laughing Wolf links to GRIM’s outstanding piece (“On PTSD, or more properly, on Coming Home“) where these issues were discussed at length both on the post and in the comments section.

Now, the military spouses at SpouseBUZZ are addressing the issue further in a 2-part, 2-day series.

Defining PTSD tonight on SpouseBuzz Talk Radio 9pm EST

We at SpouseBuzz have been wanting to do a program on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for some time now. PTSD is real, and does affect some families. We have decided that the topic is so important, we will be doing a two part series on PTSD.

I do think the issue has been so politicized, that it has become increasingly hard to discuss in a rational way. There is a lot of shame associated with PTSD.

Please join us tonight for a frank discussion, where we define PTSD.

There should be no shame in discussing PTSD, and helping those families who are affected by the syndrome to seek treatment.

Join us tonight on SpouseBuzz Talk Radio at 9pm EST, as we will be defining PTSD in a frank discussion with Dr. Roca a representative from the VA who specializes in PTSD. Feel free to call in, and participate in the discussion, and the chat room will be open for those of you who are interested.

Be sure to tune in to check it out if possible.

February 14, 2008 , 8:52PM Posted by | Military, Military Blogs, PTSD, Veterans Administration | Comments Off on A Frank Discussion on PTSD by Military Spouses and Dr. Roca of the Veterans’ Administration