Friday, July 31, 2015

Update on FRA BWN Efforts

Our good friends at the Fleet Reserve Association have taken on the role of the tenacious bulldog regarding Blue Water Navy HErbicide Exposure benefits.  Here is the latest from their weekly newsletter:
FRA NED Meets with White House Staff on Agent Orange/Blue Water Navy Issue
FRA National Executive Director (NED) Thomas Snee met with White House staff Ryan Robinson this week to discuss FRA’s legislative agenda. The discussion focused on the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act” (S. 681/ H.R. 969), which would clarify a presumption for filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for ailments associated with exposure to Agent Orange herbicide during the Vietnam War. FRA has long sought Congressional action recognizing that the so-called “Blue Water” veterans, who served off the coast of Vietnam, were exposed to Agent Orange herbicide. The bill authorizes presumptive status for VA disability claims associated with this exposure for this group of veterans.

Snee thanked the Administration for its support of these two bills, but warned there is much to be done to save faith with veterans of past conflicts. Passage of the bills would demonstrate our nation’s commitment to our service members from beginning to end, not just on the battlefield.
On another note, the house bill, HR 969, now has 264 cosponsors.

As we have repeatedly posted here, if you are not a member of FRA, you should be.   Visit this link to join: 

join Fleet Reserve Association.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.

Friday, July 24, 2015

VA: Too Big to Succeed

The Weekly Watchdog newsletter from the National Association for Uniformed Services [NAUS], led off this wee'ks letter with the following story: 
Dire Warning by VA Secretary
The Department of Veterans Affairs may have to shut down some hospitals starting August 1 if Congress does not address a $2.6 billion shortfall for the current budget year.  The agency is also considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other steps to close a funding gap for the budget year that ends Sept. 30.  VA said it wants authority to use up to $3 billion from the new Veterans Choice program to close the budget gap, with as much as $500 million going to treat hepatitis C.  The new Choice program makes it easier for veterans to receive federally paid medical care from local doctors.
In a contentious hearing before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said that no new funds were needed only the authority to be able to shift available money from one account to another in order to cover the costs needed for veterans health care.
Secretary McDonald has testified more than 4 times over the past year about VA’s budget without mentioning a shortfall of this magnitude.  In fact, the same “crisis-management” message was delivered only a short time ago regarding the mismanaged construction failure in the Denver VA hospital project, when VA admitted to another $2.6 billion shortfall in construction money.  NAUS understands the difficulty in bringing VA back on track to ensure veterans receive the care they have earned, however, the continuing discovery of mismanaged programs is terribly frustrating and, frankly, becoming all too familiar at the Department.
Recent scandals have demonstrated billions of VA resources have been misspent.  In March, for instance, Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, detailed to House lawmakers that at least $5 billion and as much as $10 billion each year in employee credit card purchases were made without contracts and in violation of federal procurement rules.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said they expect to have legislation drafted by early next week to correct the problem to make certain that McDonald’s message about closing the doors of care does not happen.
 As VNVets has been saying for a while, it is obvious that the VA is too big  to succeed.  They need to get out of the business of outpatient treatment.  They need to close the VA hospitals, and simply run whatever Veterans Homes are needed, and process the claims for benefits.  Let the Vets seek treatment from the best doctors and health professionals in the world: US!  Any Veterans who required treatment for service connected injuries, wounds, or diseases should go to Department of Defense hospitals around the country for treatment, therapy and prosthetics.

Really, the only way to rid the VA of its malignantly anti-veteran mentality is to decapitate it.  Remove everyone from the top down.  Then hire ONLY Veterans to replace them.  And don't replace most of them.  The VA needs to be smaller.  Indeed, we would be happy to see it revert back to a subsidiary of the Department of Defense, run by an undersecretary.

That way there is none of the stovepiping which has hindered cooperation between the two departments for decades.  They cannot agree on cooperative computer systems...really a simple task, but apparently not for Uncle Sugar.  Once the VA returns under the umbrella of the DoD, they can no longer use that as an excuse.  The VA will gain access to military operational and medical records.  That will shorten wait times for claims processing.

Geezle Petes, Congress!  Get a grip and get it done.  Stop wasting the taxpayer's time and money on these fixes that are guaranteed to fail.  And the VA, as it stands today, no matter how much money Congress throws at it, will gobble it up, waste it, and fail...because...they are...TOO BIG TO SUCCEED!

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.

Friday, July 10, 2015

FRA Helping Gillibrand push BWN Bill

As usual, our good friends at the Fleet Reserve Association [FRA] are right on top of things and out front as well.  Here is the latest from their weekly email newletter: 

FRA Stands With Senator Gillibrand to Help “Blue Water” Vietnam Vets Harmed by Agent Orange, but Ignored by VA
At a press conference in Albany, New York, FRA National Executive Director (NED) Tom Snee stood beside U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) as she announced a new push to pass bipartisan legislation to ensure thousands of Navy Vietnam veterans are eligible to receive the disability and health care benefits they have earned. These so-called “Blue Water” vets were exposed to the powerful toxin Agent Orange (AO) while serving off the coast of Vietnam and are currently ineligible for VA benefits for medical conditions related to AO exposure. Gillibrand is rallying support for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (S. 681) legislation, which would clarify existing law so that blue water veterans would be fully covered by the VA if they served within 12 miles of the Vietnam shoreline. FRA was one of only two Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) in attendance at the conference. Several local TV stations and local print media covered the event. RPNE/NENG Floyd Hunt was also in attendance.
A Vietnam veteran himself, Snee is passionate about this issue. He’s testified before Congress on this issue multiple times and is a strong advocate for blue water veterans of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. “Most of these veterans are now senior citizens and the time to help them is now! Vietnam was not the most popular war or conflict in this nation’s history. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty that ended the American involvement in the war. It divided us as a nation, socially, psychologically, politically and even within families. It’s not about the POLITICS. It’s about the VETERANS,” said Snee.
Currently, veterans must prove they had “boots on the ground” in Vietnam or served on the “brown water” rivers of the country before the VA will presume they were exposed to the herbicide and provide disability benefits for diseases related to that exposure. Gillibrand’s bill, introduced with Senator Steve Daines (Mont.) in March, would presume exposure for blue water vets, allowing the VA to process their claims for service-connected conditions and alleviate a portion of the VA’s backlog.
FRA supports both the House and Senate versions of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 969/S. 681) and believes that the status quo regarding disability claims of these veterans is unacceptable. FRA consistently cites the 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that validates a 2002 Royal Australian Navy study confirming the desalinization process used on Australian and U.S. Navy ships actually magnified the dioxin exposure in the ships’ water supplies. Recent presumption rulings that now include Air Force personnel who carried and distributed AO also strengthen FRA’s call for legislative change. Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to ask their legislators to support these proposals.
Please use the link to the action center to contact your Congressional Senators and Representative today.  And while you are at it, remember to join the FRA.

If you aren't a member of the FRA now, you should be!

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2015: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Eleventh Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved. Reprinting or copying of the contents of this blog without the express permission of the author is unlawful.