Two Support Campaigns for America's Veterans
November 12, 2013
Veteran's Day was yesterday. What can you do for veterans today? Here are a few campaigns. And, in the days ahead, also look for ways to support the victims and survivors of US military violence in the Middle East, Latin America and around the world.
Give ALL OID/OEF Veterans EQUAL Medical Benefits
A Petition to Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D) NY, Rep Joe Wilson (R) SC, Hon Thomas R. Lamont and SGM Michael Byrd
"When we are losing more Soldiers (Reserve Component) to suicide than the Afghanistan war, it is an epidemic."
-- Suicide and the Military
(c) by Amy Menna, Ph.D., LMHC, CAP & Gift From Within
In July 2012, the Veterans Administration (VA) reported that 18 veterans a day will commit suicide and 950 per month will attempt suicide. "Suicide is the number two cause of death (for those still serving) in the US Military."
-- USA Today
WASHINGTON, (February 1, 2013) -- The most extensive study yet by the U.S. government on suicide among military veterans shows more veterans are killing themselves than previously thought, with 22 deaths a day -- or one every 65 minutes, on average.
National Guardsmen and Reservists are systematically denied access to the Health Care Benefits that they earn. Despite the fact that the DOD created Medical Treatment Programs to ensure equal access and standardization of treatment. National Guardsmen and Reservists are routinely Released From Active Duty (REFRAD) without any of these criteria being met. www.armyg1.army.mil/wtu/docs/WTUConsolidatedGuidanceAdministrative.pdf
Medical diagnoses, access to care, and treatment at these Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) is often based on the Service Member's Service Component Affiliation (Active/Guard/Reserve) and not the current DOD policy for assessing and treating the injury/illness. http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2012-08-09/army-suicides/57096238/1
Physicians in these Soldier Centered Programs often begin an appointment with, "Are you (Active/Guard/Reserve)?". Thus, disparities between treatment are difficult to ignore and easy to explain. National Guardsmen and Reservists remain misdiagnosed and untreated/under-treated for what may potentially be life altering/threatening illnesses.
Given the current argument by DOD for keeping the "Feres Doctrine", when obligatory moral and professional Medical responsibility fails there is little regulatory incentive to bolster those shortcomings. http://www.stripes.com/news/the-argument-for-keeping-the-feres-doctrine-1.173370
A Service Member that knows the regulations and has a supportive Senator or Representative may wait several months or even years before their Medical records are corrected and they still may not gain access to the Health Care and Benefits that they earned.
It took more than 1 year, 5 months, 13 days from the date of my redeployment from Afghanistan to correct parts of my Medical records; I am one of the "success stories". Most Service Members WILL NOT gain access to their benefits.
Army National Guardsmen and United States Army Reservists wear the SAME uniforms, support the SAME missions, EARN the SAME Health Care."Demand EQUAL Access to Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) and TRICARE in accordance with current DOD Policy.
22 veterans commit suicide everyday -- that's one American life EVERY 65 minutes EVERYDAY since last Veterans' Day 2012, the day that we as a Nation pledged unilateral, unconditional support for American Heroes no matter which branch or component of the Armed Services. We pledged our support for ALL Service Members.
The Soldier that inspired this petition -- a decorated Veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a father, husband, son and civilian Police Officer -- was diagnosed with combat related Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) in 2008, but has waited more than 2,000 days for access to the Military Medical Treatment that he earned.
This Soldier's medical treatment records were "altered" to support the initial denial of access to care. After the Soldier's records were corrected and Mental Health Care Practitioners (civilian and military) discovered that the Soldier has been under-treated since 2008, the Soldier requested treatment under the auspices of the Warrior Transition Program. Six months later, the Soldier was denied access to care again.
National Guardsmen and Reservists are systematically denied access the Health Care and Benefits that they earned. During the redeployment and demobilization processes, little-to-no consideration is given to the type or severity of the illness/injury that was incurred during the Service Member's Active-Duty Service, including Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Even in the wake of record high mortality rates among Reserve Component Soldiers, access to Health Care, Benefits and Standardized Treatment Plans through Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) and Warrior Transition Units is often based on Reserve Component affiliation and rarely the injury.
Despite current regulatory policy for the standardized management of the health, and readiness of all Service Members, Reserve Component Soldiers are systematically Released From Active-Duty (REFRAD) before their injury/illness is treated and documented in accordance with current DOD Policy.
We are calling on Sen Gillibrand, Rep Wilson, Asst Secy Lamont, and SGM Byrd to do the following:
* Stop the epidemic of systematic non-treatment and under-treatment of Guardsmen and Reservists.
* Give equal access to Health Care for National Guardsmen and Reservists In Accordance With (IAW) the current Warrior Transition Consolidated Guidance (Administrative) and AR 600-8-4. e
* Enforce a Medical Assessment Process that ensures equal access to Health Care and standardized treatment in accordance with Warrior Transition Policy and AR 600-8-4 for all Service Members.
* Support a Bill that ensures TRICARE Benefits for ALL drilling Guardsmen and Reservists with Military Service Obligations that continue beyond periods of Active-Duty deployments.
Guardsmen and Reservists are a vital to the Nations Emergency Management Plan and National Security. 22 veterans die by suicide every day -- that's one every 65 minutes. These aren't statistics, these are Americans. Please Save Our Service Members before Veterans Day 2013.
Get Returning Vets the Care they Deserve and #EndTheVABacklog
Sign the Petition
It's time to demand action to #EndTheVABacklog. We must keep the promise we made to veterans who have served and sacrificed to defend our nation. As a country, we must support them with the care and compensation they deserve -- not a backlogged process that takes hundreds of days to get critical support.
Disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are designed to fill the gaps in loss of earnings potential and quality of life caused by injuries sustained during military service -- but hundreds of thousands of vets are waiting unacceptably long for their claims to be processed. We're calling on President Obama to appoint a Presidential Commission to #EndTheVABacklog.
A recent report from the Center for Investigative Reporting cites documents authenticated by VA that state:
* On average, returning vets are waiting between 316 & 327 days for decisions after filing their claim.
* Despite spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars developing a digital claims process, 97% of claims are still on paper.
* The wait in New Orleans is 490 days. 619 in Los Angeles. 612 in Indianapolis. 586 in Houston. 642 in New York. 681 in Reno. And the list goes on.
It’s time to start taking care of our own. As a country, we must keep the promise we made to the millions of disabled veterans who have served and sacrificed to defend our nation. We must support them with the care and compensation they deserve.
Stand with IAVA, the 2.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the 21 million veterans of all generations, and demand that President Obama commits to finding a solution to this problem by creating a Presidential Commission to end the VA backlog.