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The Veterans Administration admitted today that the true cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan includes 103,000 patients rather than the planned 23,533. War injured toll soars, hits veterans health costs.  No doubt, corporate media will down play or ignore this cost while spinning President Bush's Iraq speech tonight.

Originally posted to Jim S on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 05:05 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow! (none)
    That earns a recommend.

    Phillybits "Censoring torture stories doesn't help the troops."

    by Stand Strong on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 05:08:21 PM PDT

    •  PATIENTS, not casualties (4.00)
      Big difference. Diarist got caught by an incorrect headline.

      This is NOT about casualties. It's about the number of soldiers (probably specifically Guard members and Reservists) that are seeing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if they come out unscathed.

      If you were active-duty military and you get an not-dishonorable discharge, you can go to the VA for health care. If you're a Guard or Reservist, you can go to the VA for two years after being in combat... and you probably will if you lost your job or if your employer doesn't provide adequate health care.

      Not too surprisingly, the number of people qualifying under the latter requirement is ballooning because of the back-door draft. Apparently it has quadrupled even the VA's expectations, which is saying something.

      •  The headline did catch my eye (4.00)
        The numbers of military being discharged into the general pool of veterans that the VA Medical System may treat has not increased in the years since 2001. With the WWII Vets dying off, the pool is likely decreasing especially with stop loss halting lots of discharges. What has changed is the increasing number of wounded veterans needing billions of dollars more in health care.
        •  nope (none)
          What has changed is that we're actively sending tens of thousands of Guards and Reservists over to Iraq and Afghanistan and they are seeing combat.

          When they get back, that makes them eligible for VA care when normally they wouldn't be. And clearly they are taking the VA up on it.

          •  btw (4.00)
            It's still a very important story... just for different reasons. :-)

            What this says is that the real costs of the back-door draft are coming due. (And as a corollary, that large numbers of Guards and Reservists coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan don't have adequate health care, just like the rest of America.) Meanwhile the VA is underfunded and is raiding other funds to stay afloat.

            But hey, at least we got those tax cuts for the rich.

        •  Jim: (4.00)
          Please change the title of this diary-- it's really misleading, which minimizes the importance of the article itself.

          The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.

      •  Just keep drinkin that kool-aid (1.00)
        drewthaler, you'll feel just fine.

        Why are so many in the "reality-based community" so scared of harsh reality?

        Am I allowed to shamelessly plug my little blog?

        by ChuckLin on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 07:06:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's pretty rich (4.00)
          he offers a more precise reading of the cited article and you accuse him of drinking kool-aid, and have the stones to consider yourself "reality-based."

          Reality consists in regarding the facts as they are, even when they don't satisfy your biases.

        •  Dude-- (4.00)
          He's not drinking kool aid-- you just aren't reading with enough attention to detail.  

          We have to pay attention that we don't get ourselves hot and bothered about the wrong things, here-- it makes us look hysterical.

          What we need to do is use this to hammer the administration for underfunding/cutting funding for the VA, having zero withdrawal plan, etc.

        •  Kool Aid Punch (none)
          1 packet cherry kool-aid
          1 packet strawberry kool-aid
          2 cups sugar
          6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
          6 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate
          3 qts water
          1 quart gingerale

          Don't add the gingerale until serving because it you won't want it to go flat!

          The Axis of Evil runs somewhere between K Street and Constitution Avenue.

          by DanielMN on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 08:54:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Only 2 years ?!? (none)
        The Guards and Reservists get only two years with the VA ?
        Even if you spent a year (or more in Iraq) ?!?

        That is a scandal in itself

        •  not intended for regular combat (4.00)
          I think it's a holdover from the days (you know, prior to 2000, when we got the Bush-Rumsfeld double whammy) when the economy was healthy and these branches were actually kept in reserve and not used as a full-time fighting force.

          It wouldn't be a scandal at all if they could get a job within those two years that gave them adequate health care. Ten years ago, that was actually the case.

          The problem is that after five years of President Bush and a Republican Congress running the country into the ground and completely ignoring the domestic needs of real Americans, they can't do that.

          In fact they're now getting screwed on both ends... they have to see as much combat as a full-time soldier, and when they get back they're in the same boat with the rest of America -- they don't have or can't get a job that provides adequate health care.

      •  It's still... (none)
        a really big number discrepancy.

        Plus the article continues to point out the billion that went poof.

        "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

        by kredwyn on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 09:28:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What????!!!!!! (none)
    I thought that Iraq injuries totaled something like 12,000, many horribly maimed.  Afghanistan was presumably much less since we never had that many people "in theater."

    What is this 103,000?  Is this an estimate of what the total is likely to be in a few years?  Or is this now?

    It's not clear from the article!  If this is now, the deception is criminal!!

    •  Yeah (none)
      I'm confused as well.
    •  Projected (4.00)
      From the article, third or fourth pp:

      "The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel."

      So it sounds like estimate of total projected cases that will have to be handled by the VA at some point in the future...if you are a vet, the VA can be used for many non-injury-related reasons, right? One of my drivers, a AF vet, gets his class-A drivers license eye test at the local outpatient clinic. Wouldn't that hit the numbers of his era of service?

  •  GWOT??? (none)
    What's that stand for?

    Tom DeLay is so corrupt...<HOW CORRUPT IS HE?>...He's so corrupt that when he takes the Oath of Office, he holds his hand OUT instead of UP!

    by mlkisler on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 05:16:17 PM PDT

  •  That is so very sad. (4.00)
    All those soldiers.
    All those families.

    I hope there is a God, so that someday George and Dick have to face that God and explain themselves.

  •  If they are admitting (none)
    that many, you can be sure the number is actually quite a bit higher.

    Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. - Orwell

    by TracieLynn on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 05:36:01 PM PDT

    •  Budget jujitsu and VA realities. (4.00)
      Remember the budget is being fought over, and the VA is trying to recoup some budget cuts and major shortfalls.  I'd expect some more tactical leaks like this, as things get serious in Congress.

      That said, there will be a big increase in patients.  And the mental health services will be under the biggest strain.  They were barely adequate in most VA Health System regions before the Iraq war, and from what little I've heard they're not generally staffing up for the new demand.

      Wait times to get into the system are already very long, and this influx will only grow them.  The WW II vets are dying off, but are making their maximum demands on the system in the process.  The Korean war vets are entering high-utilization age, and many of the Vietnam vets are so damaged by the experience that they've aged prematurely.

      The VA is already at crunch time, and without some major increases in funding and staffing it is in danger of breaking down in many parts of the country.

      This ought to be one of the top 3 or 4 Democratic party issues for the next 4 years, at least.  It's smart politics, and it's the right thing to do.

      Lies are the new truth.

      by Dallasdoc on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:46:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Looks to me like (none)
    he meant what he said:

    The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.

    Nicholson told a House Appropriations subcommittee that his agency's estimate of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in need of health care services was now four times greater than thought.

    This is truly outrageous. Hit the recommend lines, boys, this story is HOT.

    I am the federal government.

    by mateosf on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 05:38:56 PM PDT

  •  I'll recommend this IF (4.00)
    you change the title to VA projects 103,000 GWOT casualties. I am fairly confident others will agree.

    As it stands, this is rather like saying "Scientists admit polar ice caps have vanished."

    •  not that you need my help ;) (none)
      but I predict an avalanche.
    •  Projected? (none)
      As a user of the VA Medical System, the statement:
      Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in need of health care services was now four times greater than thought
      means right now, today.
      •  Start your quote a couple words earlier (none)
        to include the key words "his agency's estimate of":

        Nicholson told a House Appropriations subcommittee that his agency's estimate of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in need of health care services was now four times greater than thought.

        It's not at all clear that he's talking about right now, today.

        The Guardian has a very different take on what the 23,000 and 103,000 numbers mean. According to them, it's the predicted and actual figures of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, not casualties.

        About one-quarter of this year's $1 billion shortfall results from the services needed by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, adding that the estimate of roughly 23,000 returning veterans proved far below the actual total of 103,000.

        I'm not sure which is accurate, but I still think it's premature to say that anyone is saying there have been 103,000 casualties.

        •  What part of (none)
          "actual total" do you not understand?

          Am I allowed to shamelessly plug my little blog?

          by ChuckLin on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 07:09:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The AP story in the Guardian (none)
          led with Senate GOP efforts to fill a more than $1 billion FY 2005 VA funding shortfall. VA officials acknowledged the shortfall last week, causing Republican Senators, who had in the past opposed VA funding increases, to scramble to put a lid on their embarrassing political (not to mention moral) blunder.

          Meanwhile, the story reported that he GOP-controlled House "defeated a Democratic effort to provide an extra $1 billion for veterans health care. The 217-189 vote was along party lines." You just can't embarrass Tom DeLay and his GOP minions.

          Now that the Senate is addressing the VA funding hole, it's time to fire Nicholson, the VA administrator and former RNC chair who probably knew of the budget crisis even as he urged Congress last April not to allocate needed funds.  

      •  health care services (none)
        This is probably about the number of reservists who now qualify for VA health care that otherwise wouldn't have. See my comment at the top. So it is about right now, today, but it's total eligibility and has nothing to do with whether the vet was wounded in combat, just whether they've seen combat (or worked in a combat zone, probably).

        The VA provides general health care for veterans. An eligible vet can walk into the VA with a toothache and get a doctor to look at it.

        I think the story here is about the hidden costs of the back-door draft, and the ugly state of health care in America. (If our reservists had adequate health care to begin with, they might not go to the VA for general care. But guess what -- most of them don't.)

    •  agree (none)
      why would the va need to take care of the dead???

      title is misleading, good post except for that.

      Don't confuse the Fristians with the Christians...

      by dukeraoul on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 06:25:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  PTSD (none)
    I would imagine it's because of the PTSD that Iraq war veterans are suffering from.  Are they assuming that THAT many vets will be coming home and having the same problems?  I'm so sad, if that's true.  
  •  One aside... (4.00)
    Not to in any way excuse our miserable, shit-for-brains government, but I would like to point out that one of the reasons we are seeing so many casualties with this war is because modern emergency medical care is able to save so many more soldiers' lives.  If not for that, we'd see fewer injuries and a significantly higher death toll.

    check it out: www.madeyouthink.org

    by diamondpen on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 06:17:48 PM PDT

  •  Patty Murray today in the Senate (4.00)
    was livid, almost pounding her fist on the lectern, while demanding emergency funds to cover the billion dollar shortfall that the VA belatedly reported. This, after months of introducing bills that the Republicans shot down and warning that there was a crisis brewing.

    It appears that some of the assholes are starting to worry about this, but only from a PR perspective. I just can't understand their public reluctance to support the vets - it's like they're holding up a  huge pulsing neon sign - Hey, look! We really ARE shitheads!

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 06:22:22 PM PDT

    •  Vets (none)
      are working class. They only count at election time and then only to stand up against gay abortions.

      Pithecanthropus "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 06:32:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Man... (none)
      my senator is awesome.
      •  Sen Patty Murray (none)
        Yep, Senator Patty is an avid Veterans supporter.
        So that's at least one person in government who cares about doing the right thing by the people who have risked their lives for their country.

        "The lunatics have overtaken the asylum." And the asylum is burning.

        by Skylor on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:36:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  On CSPAN the other day (none)
      I heard a senator say something about Tricare health insurance, and who is eligible and who should be eligible. He was not happy with the suggestion that Nat'l Guard troops not in the war at present should have it available to them. That would cost too much. (This is to the best of my recollection, mind you.)

      I thought, Why you son of a bitch, why shouldn't they be eligible for it? Maybe they could actually find a job if the employer knew that at least, they were covered by Tricare (I think that was the name). Employers may not be very pleased to hire people who are due to be called up in the first place, isn't this the least we can do?
      And if they are not healthy then they can't serve if called, right? Doesn't it help us if we help them?  

      War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

      by Margot on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 12:14:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OKAY (none)
    So Bushies are telling us 23,000 hospital cases; instead there are 103,000.

    So Bushies are telling Us 1900 war dead; instead there are--   ???

    •  no-- (none)
      Projected number of future patients, not current wounded.

      This means that the number of projected dead would likely increase as well, but that's not what this article is saying.  This talks about the number of patients they were originally expecting and the number they are now expecting to have cared for by the end.

      •  So why are the Bushies low-balling projections (none)
        by a factor of four?

        And if they are lying about VA hospital care projections, what else are they low-balling?

        •  because they thought they could take Iraq (none)
          with far fewer troops, in a much shorter time frame. Less time means fewer troops cycling through Iraq, thus fewer veterans. Fewer veterans means fewer VA patients.

          I think old-fashioned arrogance and stupidity explains this one, without even bringing lying into it.

          •  The reuters article says: (4.00)
            "House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis complained during a hearing that the Veterans Administration was silent as his panel wrote a fiscal 2006 veterans spending bill. The measure, he said, could have responded to the funding shortage."

            Presumably this 2006 budget was being written in late 2004 (ie within the last 6 months). Presumably the VA cabinet chief  remained silent about the gross underestimate because the Bushies told him to remain silent to Congress.

            Stupidity and arrogance had nothing to do with it IMO. It had more to do with lying and deception.

             

        •  I don't know that that's the case-- (none)
          I don't know that it's definite that the administration was low-balling (I do think they underestimated out of hubris), but the article is saying that the VA underestimated.
      •  Projected number?> (none)
        Where in the article does it say "projected"?  I read "actual".

        Am I allowed to shamelessly plug my little blog?

        by ChuckLin on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 07:10:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  here-- (none)
          The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.
  •  Not to harp (none)
    but it appears there needs to be a distinction between:

    1. Casualties
    2. Veterans who need health care
    3. Total veterans returning from Iraq/Afghanistan

    Your link is to the Reuters version of the story, and mine was to the AP version, through the Guardian.

    Reuters:

    The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.

    AP:

    About one-quarter of this year's $1 billion shortfall results from the services needed by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, adding that the estimate of roughly 23,000 returning veterans proved far below the actual total of 103,000.

    In the first they are called patients, in the second they are called veterans. In any case it seems to me that the Reuters article is a bit sloppier, and neither makes the distinctions I laid out above. Neither article mentions casualties, and neither is clear about who needs treatment now, and who is expected to need it.

  •  This is very (4.00)
    very, very, very, very, very misleading.  And disappointing, since there is a real story here, with no need to distort.
  •  Misleading headling but (none)
    a telling comment on the state of American health care.  The Reservists are taking advantage of America's only real socialized medical service for ordinary people (neither desperately poor nor old).  This is a good post.  It is just aimed at the wrong target.
  •  Problems a figment of Dem's imaginations (none)
    According to this story on Yahoo, the VA Secretary, Jim Nicholson, told the Senate he had all the resources he needed.  He wrote a letter to Kay Bailey Hutchison which said:

    I can assure you that VA does not need emergency supplemental funds in FY2005 to continue to provide the timely, quality service that is always our goal. The understaffed hospitals, lengthy waits, red tape and frequent complains seemed to be a figment of the Democratic imagination.

    Apparently all the wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are just a figment of our imagination. Must be nice to be a Republican so you can, in good conscience, must ignore them.

    •  Nicholson is a scam artist (none)
      "They are a danger to society," said Javier Sainz Moreno, a finance and tax law professor at Madrid's Autonomous University. He claims the organization has enriched itself in a string of murky financial deals. Opus Dei's reputation for elitism started during the 1939-75 dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. Many of the technocrats in Franco's later governments belonged to the movement, and are widely credited with helping bring about Spain's economic boom of the 1960s.

      James Nicholson, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See: "I found it very moving and inspiring to see a humble priest proclaimed a saint in the presence of hundreds of thousands of people. I think the message is clear: when people are living their lives in a manner where they are fulfilling their responsibilities, being good husbands, sons or daughters, they are doing something very important in God's eyes. You don't have to be a rock star or an athlete to live your life right." Statement made at the canonization of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, on October 6, 2002.

  •  Recommended! (none)
    That's even better than what I thought you should say. Since when did it take Talmudic scholars to divine the true meanings behind the fuzzy grammar of wire service reports?
  •  Is corporate media (none)
    what my Uncle Gail used to call "prostitute media?"  He meant those who sold their presses to the highest bidder.
  •  OMG! (none)
    I'm speechless!

    When morality is only about sex, no aspect of war - even the killing of entire families - can arouse criticism, much less condemnation.

    by lawnorder on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 08:07:00 PM PDT

  •  I hate to say it, but... (4.00)
    This diary should not be on the recommeded list. It's a poorly written and misleading diary based on a poorly written and misleading wire story. There's a real scandal that's being lost here among all the confusion and hopefully someone will write a new (and more complete) diary on this using a better source story. Here's one:

    Funds for Health Care of Veterans $1 Billion Short

    Oh, but get this: most of the stories on this have headlines such as:

    Senate GOP Plans Spending Boost for Vets

    Senate GOP plans to increase veterans spending

    Republicans Pledge to Add to Spending for Veterans

    Gee, the casual skimmer will think the GOP actually gives a damn about vets and not realize that they fucking voted against VA spending increases that were pushed by the Dems. Sheesh!

    •  I just listened to the House VA heariing on CSPAN (none)
      where they called Jim Nicholson, VA secretary, OMB, another executive office involved crunching/cooking numbers, had been asked to appear but did not show)  on the carpet to explain why neither his office nor OMB did inform  the House Appropriations committee in the April 2005 Budget write-up that they were short $2-2.5 billion on veteran hospital care for FY2006 (they were also short $0.6-1 Billion in FY2005, but raided funds devoted to the VA capital equipment purchases (mri/CT scanners etc)  and maintanence/construction budgets to coverthe FY 2005 hospital care shortfall)

      Nicholson claimed the reason for the "Underestimate" that just came to VA's realization in May 2005,  was because they use a *private contractor "actuarial" firm  (brought in by the Bushies) for load projections, and they were making the 2006 budget projections based on prewar 2002 VA figures.

      Also came out in hearing that  part of the reason for the increased load on VA hospital services was that Defense dumped/transferred  many  Marines and other active duty service people from Bethesda and other DoD Medical care hospitals into the VA system beginning recently.

      •  Dumping active duty patients on the VA system (none)
        I can vouch for this.  My brother was at Bethesda for his initial treatment coming out of the meatgrinder.  When he was ready to move onto the physical rehab stage he was presented with the (attractive) option of doing it at a VA hospital closer to home.  He wisely decided to go with a better funded and equipped DoD facility in Texas.  

        "...part of the reason for the increased load on VA hospital services was that Defense dumped/transferred  many  Marines and other active duty service people from Bethesda and other DoD Medical care hospitals into the VA system beginning recently."

  •  Recommended Reading in Harper's July 2005 (4.00)
    Article by Ronald J Glasser (page 59+)

    Major points:

    1. Nearly 25% of all the wounded suffer from traumatic head injuries.
    1. Saving more soldiers also means higher numbers of amputees and of those blinded and brain injured.
    2. There has been an unprecedented incidence of facial and head injuries among survivors. ..Kevlar helmets may protect against projectiles but in a blast their weight can add to injuries. "When you take a hit, it rings your bell." (Results: short term memory loss, short attention span, muddled reasoning, headaches, confusion, anxiety, depression, and irritability.)
    3. "Army neurologists fear that severe brain injuries are being underdiagnosed,...(those who have been) exposed to the types of concussive injuries in today's form of urban warfare."

    The VA now serves 7 million of the 25 million veterans. The average wait for a VA decision on an initial claim for disability benefits is 165 days. An appeal can take about three years.

    "In Minneapolis the waiting period for an orthopedic appointment at a VA hospital can be more than six months."

    "Hundreds of billions of dollars have been given to the Pentagon to pay for this war; to pay for the war's aftermath, VA discretionary funding for 2006 is to be increased by only one third of one percent. (emphasis added)

    Is this how Republicans support the troops?

    •  And Chicago is the worst area (none)
      to file a claim.

      St Paul is the best.

      From Knight Ridder-the best MSM we've got.

      Errors often trigger appeals, sending thousands of veterans into a cycle of mistakes, appeals, rehearings, mistakes, appeals, rehearings. �

      In some regional offices, the error rate last year was far worse â€" as high as 23 percent in Wilmington, Del. The low was 3 percent, in Des Moines, Iowa. The error rate for the Wichita office was 16 percent; St. Louis was 10 percent.

      And such varied performances affect nearly every aspect of a veteran's experience. The percentage of all types of claims that are approved ranges from 89 percent in St. Paul to fewer than 70 percent in Jackson, Miss., and Cheyenne, Wyo., according to an annual VA survey of veterans. The Wichita and St. Louis rates were 83 percent and 84 percent.

      VA regulatory files, obtained after Knight Ridder's lawsuit, show that the agency has done little in decades to determine the adequacy of the training provided by veterans groups or to check the quality of the claims prepared by their officers. Rarely does the VA suspend or revoke a service officer's accreditation. When it does happen, it's generally the result of criminal charges rather than incompetence.

      •  Sourcing the Chicago info (none)
        Illinois' wounded vets paid less
        Illinois vets each receive thousands of dollars a year less in disabilty pay, on average, than vets from other states and U.S. territories.

        The top three:

        1. Puerto Rico: $11,607
        2. New Mexico: $10,851
        3. Maine: $10,842

        The bottom three:
        1. Illinois: $6,802
        2. Michigan: $6,733
        3. Ohio: $6,710

        SOURCE: 2003 VA annual benefits report
      •  you're misquoting Knight Ridder (none)
        They also note that much of the problem isn't a direct issue with VA but rather VSO's.  A VSO is a veteran service officer.

        VSO's are employed by the state to help submit claims.  Yes, VA is to train these employees, but it has no ability to ensure that the information they provide is either accurate or what was originally needed.

        High turnover among VSOs is also an issue and many VSOs or similar are not paid, but rather volunteer in the capacity.

        So, think about this...you have a vet applying for benefits.  Let's say she doesn't have her DD214 with her.  So, the VSO orders the discharge paperwork.  In the meantime, nothing's being done.  The vet could apply on-line for benefits at http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp but may not know that they can do it.

        And so the waiting begins.  The further the vet gets from the time they have been discharged the longer and harder the process and the more hands touching the file the greater the chance that something will go wrong.

        So, althought he Knight Ridder report was for the most part factual, you're view of it is far too simplistic and doesn't take into consideration all the hand offs and potential problems along the way.

        •  oh, I understand gov't (none)
          and the legal system.

          I do not doubt that my comp would be among the highest in the nation.

          But that's not the point.  The point is that this info is hidden.  How about a gov't channel putting this info out?  Why the nationwide discrepancy?  Rewards for low pay out of claims maybe?  Footdragging til the patient dies?

          The VA's rep for fraud in
          US history is second only to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  

          So, althought he Knight Ridder report was for the most part factual, you're view of it is far
          to simplistic.  You're full of BS.  This is nothing more than a cheap shot over my bow.

          I'm dealing with 911, Iraq, PeakOil, and DC/the top .01 richest doing everything it can think of to dismantle our Constitution.

          But I'll take all the time you want to talk about how the VA is having to eat the underreported
          WIA's from overseas.

          So not 23,553 patients, but 103,000 patients

          so...not 1,700 dead US servicemen, but 6,800 dead US servicemen (not to mention all the dead spooks and mercenaries).

          The ball's in your court Bendygirl.

          James

        •  & starting with a quick question (none)
          Would I have to get a military discharge before getting started with the VA?

          Can I visit a V A office for help?

          Yes. After you find out its location, you can visit your nearest V A Regional Office during business hours. You should call the office at 1-800-827-1000 to confirm its hours and location. If you visit a regional office, you should gather the necessary materials and complete as much of the form as you can before you visit.

          And right now, it looks like I would need some kind of Computing Services degree to install
          VONAPP.  I can't see the Avg trooper with head trauma (20% of WIA) doing this.

          James

  •  VA (none)
    stands for Veterans Affairs.  It IS NOT the VETERANS ADMINISTRATION!  Hasn't been since October of 1988.  

    And yes, this is important.  VA was raised to a cabinet level due to the important work that it does for this nations veterans.

    •  Correct (none)
      Except, I have been dealing with the V.A. since 1971 and it has been burned into my mind as the Veterans Administration.

      I never noticed any difference before or after elevation to a Cabinet Department. The hassles remain the same. I do admit to being impressed by the recent computer based medical information system.

      •  and (none)
        advances in the home loan benefit, access to MGIB and don't foregt the new on-line application for Comp and Pen.

        Lots has been done, and more must be done.  However, it is a disservice to employees of the department to be referred to as that of the administration.  Department level status elevates the work completed by these employees on behalf of this nation's veterans even if you are unhappy with the specific services you have received.

        And yes, I am sorry you haven't received the kind of services you feel you should have.  Letting the offices know your concerns by addressing concerns to the Directors or Assistant directors (for regional offices) or the VISN chiefs, directors and adminstrators (depending on which department)  is the best way to improve your experience and the veterans who come after you.

    •  Didn't you get the memo? (none)
      As long as we want to keep fashionable with the latest monikers, the VA hospital system now like to call themselves:

       Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

      And Nicholson kept referring to the department  as "VHA" in House Budget committee testimony yesterday.

      See CSPAN recent programs

      House Hearing on Veterans Administration FY '06 Budget Shortfalls
      Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson explains budget shortfalls in a V.A. subcommittee level hearing. The V.A. recently reported a $1 billion deficit in the FY '06 budget. Sec. Nicholson talks about demands placed on V.A. programs by soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, among other issues.
      6/28/2005: WASHINGTON, DC: 2 hr. 10 min.
      •  Each section (none)
        of VA is an administration on it's own:

        Veterans Benefits Administration
        Veterans Health Administration
        Veterans Cemetary Administration

        however, the overall organizer is VA, the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  •  To add insult to injury (none)
    the government is supposedly billing wounded soldiers for the meals they had while being treated at Walter Reed Hospital. Found this at The Huffington Post in an entry by Paul Rieckhoff.  The whole entry is worth reading.
    •  Not entirely fair statement (none)
      Soldiers who live off base can opt-out of military provided food and get more pay.  

      Once they're wounded, this distinction should be dropped.  

      Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. --Will Rogers

      by groggy on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 11:48:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Questions (none)
    Unfortunately, there has been no follow up on this announcement.  What is the break down of the visits: how many are mental health, how many are long term recovery, routine check ups, etc?  Some simple questions and straight answers could easily clear up any confusion and the number may not really be out of the ordinary.

    Some more questions: If this was known to be 2002 numbers for the projection why so late to admit the problem to Congress?  Why is this not more of a story?

    •  you're right, Harry S (none)
      And look how fast congress can act:

      US Senate approves emergency vets health care funds

      "We were in error. Sen. Murray was right," Santorum said.

      He said he was "dismayed at what is apparently bad management, bad forecasting at the Department of Veterans Affairs."

      Cover up and bury the numbers.

    •  Cover-Up (none)
      I'm still as upset as when I read the first headline.  The Washington Post has a more reasoned article. VA Faces $2.6 Billion Shortfall in Medical Care. As best as I can tell, the Democrats blackmailed the GOP in adding the billions of additional money so the numbers of injured can be kept quiet.

      The GOP since they came into power have passed bills that require Medical Insurance to pay VA bills, $7 dollar a month per prescription co-payment, and limit treatment to disabled or jobless veterans.  The 103,000 patients isn't additional Vets who can walk into medical centers but Vets who can document that they are disabled, out of work or are in need of medical care.   All these costs are in addition to the WWII Vets who are dying by the thousands per week and the high costs of trying to prolong their lives in the very last months.

      •  SHORTCHANGING THE VA.... (none)
        Incompetence, self-delusion, or political cowardice?

        Why not all three?  It's not like they're mutually exclusive.

        To emphasize just how bad things are, Vietnam is the best case scenario. The worst case scenario, and one that is far more likely, is World War III in the Middle East.  

        BTW-does anyone know if Gulf War Vet medical records were stored in the Murrah Building in OKC?

      •  And per your WaPo article, Jim S (none)
        By all accounts, there have been dramatic improvements in VA health care, and its accessibility, over the past 15 years. In addition, the current co-payment on prescription drugs is $7-

        One of the first things I learned in high school,
        when a T/F statement included words like "all" or "never",  circle "F" everytime.

        And-BTW- in the latest bill, the copay is going up.

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