Skip to main content

I had intended to write the second installment about my husband Jeffrey, and the issues he has had with the VA; however, after having received my second secure message about my request to be put back in for Special Mode Transport I decided to do this installment about this subject instead.  Are we the only ones with problems with Special Mode Transport?  Absolutely not!  There are severe problems that fall throughout the program.  Look at this story, which literally happened within days of our situation starting.

http://members.jacksonville.com/...  

It is from one side of the spectrum to the other, and none of them are good.

In my first diary, I briefly spoke about our issues with the Villages Transportation section and our ongoing problems trying to get Special Mode Transportation for both of us.  I find myself wondering just how many excuses this organization/individual is going to come up.  How many individuals will be placed in the middle of this situation so that the blame will not fall back on the real culprit.  The unfortunate person that currently holds that position is my primary care doctor’s nurse.  

The Villages Out Patient Clinic states on their web page “OUR MISSION: To fulfill President Lincoln's promise - "To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan" - by serving and honoring the men and women who are America's Veterans,” yet there seems to be a very distinct pattern emerging when it comes to Special Mode Transportation – to use any and every excuse possible to deny many veterans the benefit of this service.  

I retired from the military on 31 December 2001.  I filed for my disability March 2002 and received my rating on 16 December 2002.  My rated disabilities are as follows:

·    Removal of uterus and ovaries (Cancer) (50%)
·    Migraine Headaches (50%)
·    Limited motion in Lumbar Spine (40%)
·    Knee Condition (20%)
·    Knee Condition (20%)
·    Paralysis of Sciatic Nerve (10%)
·    Limited Motion of Ankle (10%)
·    Paralysis of the Sciatic Nerve (10%)
·    Embolism of the Brain (10%)

As you can see, my total rating was 220%.  I had suffered many medical problems while in the military, but the kicker that forced me to retire was the stroke, which had been caused by the migraine headaches.  I was incredibly fortunate in my recovery from the stroke. The primary residuals are memory problems.

I have been the primary driver since Jeffrey started having bits and pieces amputated – in 2011.  I had put off the last surgery I had until we knew Jeffrey would be in a position to help take care of me.  We knew that I’d literally be off my feet for months, we just didn’t realize how many months.  It turned out to be far more challenging than we anticipated.  

We started trying to get Jeffrey Special Mode Transportation before I even had the surgery because we knew it was going to be a problem getting him to and from his VA appointments both at the Villages and in Gainesville.  Another veteran had told us about Special Mode Transportation and that we should put Jeffrey in for it.  Up until that time, we had never even heard about it.  As I stated in my first diary, on 4 October 2013, I physically went to the Transportation department and inquired about it for Jeffrey.  I filled out the paperwork and a few minutes later I was told that he was not qualified “because he was only blind.”  I was stunned, and then I got mad.  I asked the question “So, do you want me to let Jeffrey drive to his appointments?”  So I asked what was meant by “he was only blind?” and I was told that he had to be in a wheelchair.  I stated that Jeffrey had a manual wheelchair (Gainesville will never approve an power wheelchair or scooter for Jeffrey – because he is BLIND!!).  It was beyond my comprehension, literally. In confidence, I was informed that Jeffrey was not the only blind veteran this affected, that in the Ocala area alone it was affecting hundreds.  There’s not much that surprises me, especially when it comes to VA, but this really set me back on my heels.  So, I asked the question “What else is going on?  How could so many blind veterans be continually denied?”  I was told that this person was supposed to ask, “How do you get to the store? How do you get to church? How do you get to other non-VA appointments?”  When the veteran replies, then they were told, “Then you can get here (VA Appointments) the same way.”  It was at this point that I knew that I had to take this bull by the horns.  Who do they think they are – denying veterans, especially blind veterans, this benefit?  What were they there for?  So, I started digging, and I started challenging.  

I went back, armed with the information that Jeffrey was legally blind AND he had a wheelchair.  The next excuse, and that is all it can be considered is an excuse, was Jeffrey had to meet the “Means Test.”  I informed them that Jeffrey no longer had to meet a “Means Test” because he was Catastrophically Disabled.  I was told that this didn’t apply to Special Mode Transportation; he still had to qualify under the Means Test.  I told them I wanted to see the regulation(s) that stated that and I wanted to see the regulation(s) that governed Special Mode Transportation.  I was told  “they would have to look them up and give them to me – later.”

I had my surgery and within three weeks time Jeffrey and I realized that we had really bitten off more than we could chew.  There was just too much he couldn’t do because of the blindness and his prosthetic.  We knew that we needed help, so I contacted my doctor via secure messaging and explained the problems we were having.  The doctor contacted the social worker in my VA “Team” and they contacted me.  I explained our situation to them.  Now, it is very difficult to explain what the Taylor Spatial Frame is.  The social worker was having a very difficult time understanding what this thing was, so I asked if they had an email account, which they did, and I sent them a picture.

http://images.dailykos.com/...

On the other end of the phone I hear “Oh my God, you just made my job a whole lot easier” among other things.  The first thing I was put in for was Special Mode Transportation, and it was approved on 22 November 2013.  I was also put in for an appointment to see Occupational Therapy to see what else we were going to need.  

I was seen by Occupational Therapy at the Villages on 6 December 2013.  We discussed what are issues were and they brought up things we hadn’t even thought about.  Jeffrey and I knew at the onset that I was going to be in the Taylor Spatial Frame a minimum of four months, and then the prospect of having to go through physical therapy and learning how to walk again afterwards.  One of the things I needed was a motorized wheelchair or scooter.  We had been given one that Jeffrey uses on a daily basis because he can only tolerate his prosthesis for a certain amount of time.  Occupational Therapy and my VA doctor both agreed with this.  I will go into greater detail about this in another installment, but by the end of day 11 December 2013, Gainesville had not only denied this request, but also dismissed it, without ever seeing or talking to me or anyone else. We ended up having to go through our private insurance and pay out over $2000 from our pockets to get one.  During our time in the building, I was approached and asked if my phone number could be given to someone that wanted to talk to me about the issue we were having with Jeffrey getting Special Mode Transportation.  We said absolutely, we would talk to anyone that wanted to discuss it.  That ‘someone’ ended up being Vetwife; however, we did not get to speak until several months later.

While we were at the Villages, we went by the Transportation office to get a copy of the regulation(s) governing Special Mode Transportation.  I am handed a paper by Robert Davis said here it is.  I looked at it and stated “This is only a policy letter, where is the regulation(s)?”  He told me that this (policy letter) is what we go by.  Again, we get into a heated discussion regarding the “Means Test.”  Then Robert stated that Jeffrey was not qualified for Special Mode Transportation “Because he could transfer from a wheelchair into the seat of a vehicle.”  I was so angry I couldn’t see straight.  There was no doubt in my military mind that this sorry sack of Siberian dung was going to continue to come up with excuse after excuse to not qualify Jeffrey for Special Mode Transportation.  I had to leave.  I needed to regroup and figure out how fight this.  

In the meantime, we have primarily depended on my 76-year-old father to transport us nearly everywhere. The doctor that has operated on my foot/leg is in Port Charlotte, FL.  She also happens to work full-time for the VA in Cape Coral and has a private practice.  I see her in her private practice.  Each trip we make down there – every two to four weeks – is three hours one-way.  Plug in the time at the appointment and then the return trip is an all day affair.  It is a painful and tiring trip for me; I can only imagine how my father feels.

I have since been in contact with Vetwife.  Our stories are so similar in some aspects that it’s scary.  We’ve been fighting the exact same fight, just in different boats.  We have connected now and will present a united front for all to see.  This crap has got to STOP.  Our veterans deserve better than to be treated like this, period.  I am especially livid about the fact that Robert Davis is receiving bonuses – as far as I am concerned – on the backs of blind veterans in particular.

Since Vetwife and I have started speaking about our situations, I have had to put back in for Special Mode Transportation since the original request was only for six months.  This is what I received, it reads from the bottom to the top in date sequence.  Does any of this sound familiar?  

06/18/2014 07:51 AM
From:    XXXXXXXXXX
To:    BYARD, LINDA
Message ID#:    XXXXXXXXXX
Subject:    General Inquiry

Hi Ms Byard: Special mode transportation is a service provided to severely physically permanently impaired non-wt bearing patients primarily. Situations such as yours are considered,though,temporarily, provided there is justification for it. We are requesting to please contact your physician so he can fax to us the status of your fracture, your limitations and the time frame involved so we can proceed to enter the consult ASAP. Our primary goal is to meet your needs, however, there are polices that we also must follow. Please let us have these documents ASAP  so we can proceed. I hope you do not feel that we are not trying to help you, it just takes a little longer to get the information needed to place the consult.My apologies if that was the case.

Our fax # is 352-XXX-XXXX.

XXXX XXXXX RN

Previous Messages in Thread
------Original Message------------------------
Sent: 06/16/2014 XX:XX PM
From: BYARD, LINDA
To: ** XXXXXVillages_XXXXXXX Subject: General Inquiry

Ms. XXXX,Who, exactly, is "they?"  I know you mean Transportation, but who in transportation?It is none of their business how I get to my outside doctor's appointments, the store, etc.  

I believe I am entitled to Special Mode Transportation for my VA appointments and should not have to depend on others to get me there.

------Original Message------------------------

Sent: 06/13/2014 XX:XX PM
From: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
To: BYARD, LINDA Subject: General Inquiry

Hi Linda: I was placing your special travel request and they need to know:

-in your home life, how do you get to your outside dr's appts?
- how do you get to the store, etc...?
-if you have a transportation system set up for those types of things, why can't you use them to get here?

Please reply..

XXXX XXXXX RN

I had the Taylor Spatial Frame removed 14 May 2014 because I was in danger of developing osteomylitus – and infection in the bone – which could easily have led to my having to have a below the knee amputation.  My leg (tibia) and fifth metatarsal are both still broken.  I am in a boot 24/7 unless bathing (which I am finally able to do, with the help of the Home Health person that comes in three days a week).  I am not permitted to place an ounce of weight on my right leg until the tibia heals for fear of a compound fracture.  Initially it was thought that I would be like this and in the wheelchair for approximately 3 months.  As of my last visit, it’s looking more towards 4-6 months total non-weight bearing and wheelchair bound.

Once again, the excuses have begun.  First with Jeffrey and now the games have begun with me.  We are both 100% disabled, mine is 100% service connected.  If Robert has the “power” to deny all these vets service, they why do we even need to have the position for him?  He needs to be held responsible for the DISSERVICE he has done to us, especially since he has been getting BONUSES twice a year for doing so.  It is a bunch of crap and I don’t particularly care for the smell.  Give us what we were promised and put our lives on the line for.  It’s time to take a stand, period.  Get rid of the baggage that is depriving us of what we have EARNED.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ~ Aristotle

    by byardl on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 09:21:44 AM PDT

  •  Have you contacted your rep(s) & senators? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, FloridaSNMOM, WakeUpNeo

    This is awful. Disgraceful. I'm so sorry to read about all the hoops you've had to jump through and the obstacles still in your path. You sound like a fighter and a strong advocate. Have you considered getting this to the local newspaper(s) and your state and congressional reps? Make more noise? Is there an ombudsman at the VA hospital?

    Barn's burnt down -- now I can see the moon. (Mizuta Masahide)

    by Southcoast Luna on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 09:59:14 AM PDT

    •  I am absolutely a fighter. (6+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately Southcoast Luna, this is just the tip of the ice burg.  You will be hearing me screaming loudly and for very long periods of time - until we get this fixed.  Going through the Patient Advocate Office at Gainesville, whom we are supposed to complain to, is like talking to a wall.  It is going to be brought to the media's attention, but it will be on a national level, not a local one.  Our state and congressional reps are having their pockets greased and all they will provide is lip service with nothing being done to correct the situation.  

      I am definitely a fighter and this needs correcting, not just for us, but for a whole lot of veterans.  Particularly the blind veterans.  How they can deny blind veterans transportation is beyond my scope of comprehension.

      “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ~ Aristotle

      by byardl on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 10:49:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Made a video and post it on youtube (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, FloridaSNMOM

    Explain as much as you legally can in the video as you demonstrate your situation.
    Cover your face if you need to.

    Send a link to your reps and senators and to the white house.

    This seems extreme but you will get many eyes on your problem.
    This is outrageous.
    This country is in a shameful state.

    Make them embarrassed.

    Squeaky wheel.

    'How like fish we are: ready, nay, eager, to seize upon whatever new thing.......And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook". ALDO LEOPOLD - A Sand County Almanac

    by flowerfarmer on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:13:08 PM PDT

    •  Those people don't get embarrased.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      byardl, WakeUpNeo

      They are making money and even though I have not met her, I got a feeling she would be right in the camera looking eyeball  at the lens.. We work in sunshine.  No covering.  Since there is no oversight I learned recently one of the vendors that owns a transport service and since there is no contract...no background checks,  is a sexual predator.. Great news for lady vets.. Sure enough pulled him up and he is listed as a sexual predator.  Top people know this.

      Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:49:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Top people in the Gainesville VA I mean. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        byardl

        Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:50:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There needs to be oversight, period. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vetwife

        Vetwife, we have 33 Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC), 8 Outpatient Clinics (OC), 8 VA Medical Centers (VAMC) (including Bay Pines which is listed Veteran's Integrated Systems Network (VISN) 8, here in Florida.  Do we have any idea how many of these agencies report to Gainesville?

        Departments within Civil Service are only as good as their next higher headquarters who should have oversight of them.  If an agency is permitted to run rampant and make up their own rules as they see fit, or interpret rules as they please, where do we actually pin the responsibility?  We both know within reason that you can get rid of the man at the bottom, per se, but they will be replaced with another body that will again be a puppet to the agency.  

        Within the government, stuff rolls downhill and it will stick to the lowest possible player, even though that player was doing what they were instructed to do.  I will be bold enough to say "Follow the money," then you will find who the real players are.  I know Vetwife has said the same thing on many occasions.

        As much as I hate to say it, the system is so corrupt that it is difficult to trust anyone, and there are some really good people that try their best to help veterans, but one bad apple spoils the entire cart.

        “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ~ Aristotle

        by byardl on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 01:50:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure we do (0+ / 0-)

          http://www.northflorida.va.gov/

          Listed right there on the left side of front page.  

          Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

          by Vetwife on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 02:13:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A news alert on that site. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            byardl

            The E-Donate option allows donors to select from a number of funds at the medical center they wish to donate to which include General Purpose and Nursing Home. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administrative costs are appropriated, so donors can be sure 100 percent of their donations go to the funds they select and the Veteran patients they are choosing to support.

            “Donated money at our medical center goes to social work emergencies, transportation, nursing home patients, last wish and general purpose to name a few, said Julie Baker, Chief, Voluntary Service, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System. “People would be amazed if they could see how far their dollar goes toward making a difference in the lives of the people who dedicated themselves to us first.”

            Donors can find the E-Donate button at http://www.northflorida.va.gov/.  The actual donation is made through a secure site at the Department of Treasury’s www.pay.gov.
            ..........................................................................

            Well that is news to me !

            Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

            by Vetwife on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 02:21:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent Idea! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife

      What an excellent idea flowerfarm!  I have no experience with video's or YouTube, but I am not too old to learn!  These people have no shame and don't have it it them to be embarrassed, but I have no qualms showing my face and speaking the truth!  Thank you for the idea!

      “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ~ Aristotle

      by byardl on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 01:19:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One point I meant to quote... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife

    Veterans Transportation Service - Health Benefits, it specifically states:

    "VA especially recognizes the problems Veterans who are visually impaired, elderly, or immobilized due to disease or disability, particularly those living in remote and rural areas, face in traveling to access VA health care."

    See http://www.va.gov/...  

    The disparity between, for instance, the Villages and the Blind Rehabilitation Center in West Palm Beach, both in Florida, are worlds apart.  One hand says this and the other does that.  It just isn't right.

    “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ~ Aristotle

    by byardl on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 02:27:53 PM PDT

  •  It will be curious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife

    to see if Robert continues to deny this.  The only thing that has changed is that the frame is now off.  I am in a boot 24/7. If I get denied, I am going to raise Cain and lower Abel because I was approved for six months previously.  

    “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ~ Aristotle

    by byardl on Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 11:08:19 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site