The VA is Killing Me

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything here. I just haven’t felt like writing. It’s also been a while since I’ve read any of the blogs I follow. It’s been a rough few weeks. I have been busy. My busy doesn’t equate to productive by any sense of the definition. But the thoughts in my mind keep me busy, yet also inhibit motivation and desire to do the things that I need to get done or even doing the things that I enjoy doing. I’m stuck in a cycle of doing the bare minimum to survive. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I can see it. It shines bright enough to lead me to the end of all this. I just don’t know how long before I get there. But I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

There are two main issues lately that have my mind in the darkness that I fight on a daily basis. One is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA). The other isn’t worth talking about and has no bearing on my future anyway. Some fights just aren’t worth fighting. The VA, however, is a fight that I have to keep fighting. And despite being set up for failure in that corrupt system, I must win. In reality though, who am I fooling? They would rather me die and save money for bonuses and art than to help me get well again. But I will go down fighting and swinging no matter what it takes. And before anyone reads anything idiotic into that, “going down swinging” is simply a figure of speech, not a threat. That disclaimer is for the one person that doesn’t know the difference, she knows who she is.

Concerning the VA. I had some appointments recently. Four out of five of them were with a medical group contracted by the VA to determine compensation and pension. My eyes were opened to how things really work, how things should work, and how veterans are just plain screwed in the system. First, every time I’ve seen my primary care physician at the VA, he tells me my breathing is fine. However, he’s the only one. I went to sick call at Ft. Jackson a couple months ago and the doctor that listened to my lungs wanted to order x-rays immediately because of how my lungs sounded. A follow up with a civilian doctor after returning home from that trip had similar results. The doctor I saw most recently for the compensation appointment asked me why the VA hadn’t already diagnosed me. She said there was already overwhelming evidence that the VA sent to her that I should have already have been diagnosed.

va_scandal_map

The breathing test is a scam. I didn’t realize the first couple times I took it that I was taking it multiple times each visit until I passed. That’s how the VA works. Make the patient test until they can say there’s nothing wrong. But the doctor is sent only the results of the passing test. They don’t realize that it took me four times testing to get the minimum score. All total that day I took two different breathing tests seven times and passed one time on each test. Basically, I can breathe well enough 29% of the time. That’s good to know. That must mean I don’t need any breathing treatments or meds to help. They can now spend that money on other things that don’t benefit the veterans.

I saw something a while back where a person made a statement that veterans shouldn’t complain about free health care. I wanted to reach through the internet and choke that guy out. (again, just a figure of speech that isn’t possible anyway). I paid for this so called care. I paid for it with my health and my sanity. I paid a dear price for it. In addition, it’s not free anyway. Everyone in the VA gets paid. And they get paid pretty well, some more than others. It’s not a charity. It’s not a non-profit clinic that treats the poor. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that has no accountability to the ones it is supposed to be serving. I don’t want free health care. I want the health care I already paid for. I want the health care that our taxes pay for with the VA.

In August of last year after my failed suicide attempt I went to the VA with the false hope of getting help. I spoke with the patient advocate at my local VA. I didn’t know where to start so I started with her. She assured me that I would get the help I needed and started making phone calls. When she finally got through to a live person the conversation switched from getting me help to her and the person on the other end of the phone bitching about not receiving their bonuses. And I quote the patient advocate, “Yeah, I haven’t got my bonus either. I’m about to drive over to Biloxi and ask her to her face where my money is.” I looked for her business card so I could call her out by name, but I don’t know where it is. Nice to see how much they really care, or what it is they really care about. She was going to drive 400 miles round trip to get in someone’s face about a bonus. Not sure why that needed to be discussed while I was sitting there.

My primary care doctor at my local VA has told me he didn’t want to diagnose me because it would have consequences on my career in the army reserves. Don’t treat me because I’m still in the reserves? In other words, “maybe you’ll die before the VA has to take full responsibility of you.” And at my most recent appointment he commented on my lungs, “We aren’t going to do anything yet. Let’s bring you back in in six months and see how they’re doing.” This is not what my body and mind paid for in Iraq and Afghanistan. I demand better service and better care. And I’m going to be as loud as I can to show everyone what veterans go through in dealing with the VA.

I know experiences vary. I know of a couple friends that got great service and care from their VA where they live. But they are few and far between. From what I can tell, most of us go through the same thing I’m going through with the VA. I can’t fix it. But I can make some noise. Maybe it won’t do any good, but I will be heard. The system will continue to remain broken. There’s nothing I can do about it. But I will keep moving towards my light at the end of the tunnel. And I will survive.

Thanks for reading this week. Sorry it was somewhat scatterbrained and all over the place. I only wrote it as it came to me. There’s no real flow in my writing lately, too much going on in my head. But I will make it to where I’m supposed to be. I am confident in that. Good day, God bless.

Dave

Other posts from me related to this:

https://davidegeorge.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/breathe-in-breath-out-if-you-can/

https://davidegeorge.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/crossroads/

 

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24 thoughts on “The VA is Killing Me

  1. I had been concerned about you not being around much, although I am really only a lurker on your site. My mom’s new husband is a vet who receives services at the VA, my stepmom is a psychiatric nurse who has worked at the VA for the last several years, my brother-in-law was in the Army and saw several deployments to Afghanistan and has now re-joined the Air National Guard, and during my working years, I had several vets rotate on and off my caseload (mental health case manager). It has always astounded me how poorly vets are treated in cases of real health (physical and mental) problems that would “normally” be treated very rapidly and easily in the private sector. I won’t go into detail, because I’m sure you know, but the hoops a vet has to jump through to receive care of any sort are just plain laughable. Except this shit isn’t funny. It isn’t funny at all. The VA is screwing with the lives of men and women who laid their lives (and/or their sanity and health) on the line so that *we the free* can live the blessed lives we do. Sorry for the rant, Dave, but this stuff makes me so mad. If I could ever get back to working again, I would choose to work with vets again because I really believe they are one of the more important but least helped groups in our society. I hope something breaks through for you and I genuinely thank you for your service.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh honey I feel so flipping bad for you. I thought of you on Sept. 26 when the Associated Press put out this tweet:Official: More than 1/3 of calls to suicide hotline for troubled vets not being answered by front-line staffers http://ow.ly/uHMa304Zib1
    I literally went on a Twitter rampage and it bothered me so much that it’s one of the few non-animal abuse issues I actively “work” on Twitter. I think the VA’s treatment of our heroes is egregious and abhorrent. When I arrived home (yes I was driving when I had the rampage so parked in a lot and tweeted away) I began to research and was appalled yet thankful that it’s over organizations that often step up to the plate to help a hero in need. FWIW, I still Tweet abut the VA’s failure but after reading for hours that night, apparently this has been a long time issue. I don’t usually delve into politics on social media but can distinctly remember Pres Obama saying in 2008 that he was going to get the VA straightened out. You hang in there…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Do not ever believe VA medical treatment of any kind is free. I have the so paperwork to prove that. My late husband, a VA medical recipient, has left behind a whole lot of bills that the VA failed to take care of. These occurred AFTER the VA put him in an ambulance, sent him to a civilian hospital ICU unit because the VA lacked the care and specialized physicians to help him. When I questioned the bills I started receiving after his passing, I was told that MEDICARE has the final say in what percent of the bills gets paid. So, don’t tell me it is free. If the medical system was NOT run by the so called governmental overpaid, uneducated officials maybe the true heroes of our country could benefit. I contend that the ones making the decisions for our Veterans Health Care should have to use the medical care for themselves for one full year. This would include everything from taking 3-4 months in getting an appointment scheduled, subscribed medication prescribed by more than one doctor (i.e, same RX from Primary Care, Cardiologist, Pulmonary, etc .) and yes, less than standard diagnosis. Are VA physicians exempt from the Oath that all take? I pray that things will change for you, Dave. LYVM

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hi Dave. I’m thoroughly mortified after reading this. As you know, my experience with PTS(D) stems from sexual assault. It’s not a veterans perspective. So I can only comment from my experience. … that said … In our country they lump all PTS(D) ‘cases’ into one category – which I don’t believe they should because while the ‘traumas’ are present in both ‘types’, and are similar, they are also inherently different. The most obvious being that as a veteran / soldier, they are signing up to serve / work for their government / their country. That is a choice … an admirable CHOICE. And i believe as a government / country that requests that their citizens do such an admirable thing, they should be honouring / acknowledging / taking care of those people. Sexual assault holds no such choice. For me that is the inherent difference.
    As far as the ‘after care’ … I don’t know a lot about the VA. I believe we have a similar system here, and I believe they treat their veterans in much the same way. We also have a culture here, of being innately ‘staunch’. As such, there are few cases of PTS(D) in veterans here. Not because they don’t exist, but because no-one wants to admit they need help or are struggling.
    For sexual assault victims, the only ‘compensation’ or recourse for assistance comes from ‘Accident Compensation Corporation’. In the 90s in was a reasonably straight forward process, to get assistance that is. Over the last decade or so, ACC has changed their processes and criteria. Now a sexual assault victim not only has to prove they were sexually assaulted (as they always have had too), but they have to ‘prove’ that the crime perpetrated against them has negatively affected them resulting in some type of mental / physical disability. This requires them to seek out a psychologist / psychiatrist (ACC choice) who can diagnose them with PTS(D) or any other mental impairment resulting from sexual assault. This adds another ‘stigma’ to the already piling up stigmas and impairments one has to deal with, after the fact. Only then are they considered for treatment … in the form of counselling, possible reduced medical costs, psychologist (limited), psychiatrist (limited). If you were in full-time employment before the assault you may possibly receive 70% of your income at the time of the assault, but only after you can prove that you are unable / unfit to work.
    I don’t recieve any ‘compensation’ from ACC. I do receive a menial Allowance related to ‘Independence’ … pfft. I am still waiting for them to reassess this 3 years after requesting it. I am only seeing slight results now because I laid a big ass complaint with everybody and anybody that would listen.
    As with the VA .. this is not ‘free health’. In our country, its citizens pay ACC levies within their taxes, so that if they become the victim of an ‘accident’ etc, they are able to tap into the ACC resources to assist in their rehabilitation. And those resources and the rehabilitation they provide is dodgy, to say the least!
    There needs to be a systemic overhaul in how those in power treat their citizens! Why ask someone to sign up and fight for their country, knowing full well they are not going to treat the ‘outcomes’, whatever they may be. As far as I’m concerned, tis is false advertising.
    For us here, as sexual assault victims, why are we paying ACC levies if we are not going to be covered thoroughly??
    My thoughts are with you … Keep voicing what you have to say Loudly until you are heard!
    I’ll be re-blogging this on my site.
    Light and Love to You.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Ahhh, so it is a thing !… I thought it was just our country … theres a horrible culture here related to looking weak if you admit your not ok and then ask for ‘help’. Its not a good thing at all!

        Like

  5. Reblogged this on meptsdandallthefuckedupshitinbetween and commented:
    I’m thoroughly mortified after reading this. As you know, my experience with PTS(D) stems from sexual assault. It’s not a veterans perspective. So I can only comment from my experience. … that said … In our country they lump all PTS(D) ‘cases’ into one category – which I don’t believe they should because while the ‘traumas’ are present in both ‘types’, and are similar, they are also inherently different. The most obvious being that as a veteran / soldier, they are signing up to serve / work for their government / their country. That is a choice … an admirable CHOICE. And i believe as a government / country that requests that their citizens do such an admirable thing, they should be honouring / acknowledging / taking care of those people. Sexual assault holds no such choice. For me that is the inherent difference.
    As far as the ‘after care’ … I don’t know a lot about the VA. I believe we have a similar system here, and I believe they treat their veterans in much the same way. We also have a culture here, of being innately ‘staunch’. As such, there are few cases of PTS(D) in veterans here. Not because they don’t exist, but because no-one wants to admit they need help or are struggling.
    For sexual assault victims, the only ‘compensation’ or recourse for assistance comes from ‘Accident Compensation Corporation’. In the 90s in was a reasonably straight forward process, to get assistance that is. Over the last decade or so, ACC has changed their processes and criteria. Now a sexual assault victim not only has to prove they were sexually assaulted (as they always have had too), but they have to ‘prove’ that the crime perpetrated against them has negatively affected them resulting in some type of mental / physical disability. This requires them to seek out a psychologist / psychiatrist (ACC choice) who can diagnose them with PTS(D) or any other mental impairment resulting from sexual assault. This adds another ‘stigma’ to the already piling up stigmas and impairments one has to deal with, after the fact. Only then are they considered for treatment … in the form of counselling, possible reduced medical costs, psychologist (limited), psychiatrist (limited). If you were in full-time employment before the assault you may possibly receive 70% of your income at the time of the assault, but only after you can prove that you are unable / unfit to work.
    I don’t recieve any ‘compensation’ from ACC. I do receive a menial Allowance related to ‘Independence’ … pfft. I am still waiting for them to reassess this 3 years after requesting it. I am only seeing slight results now because I laid a big ass complaint with everybody and anybody that would listen.
    As with the VA .. this is not ‘free health’. In our country, its citizens pay ACC levies within their taxes, so that if they become the victim of an ‘accident’ etc, they are able to tap into the ACC resources to assist in their rehabilitation. And those resources and the rehabilitation they provide is dodgy, to say the least!
    There needs to be a systemic overhaul in how those in power treat their citizens! Why ask someone to sign up and fight for their country, knowing full well they are not going to treat the ‘outcomes’, whatever they may be. As far as I’m concerned, tis is false advertising.
    For us here, as sexual assault victims, why are we paying ACC levies if we are not going to be covered thoroughly??
    My thoughts are with you Dave … Keep voicing what you have to say Loudly until you are heard!

    Like

  6. Wow. The treatment you have been given is shameful. Is it possible for you to contact your local political representative and ask for help with this, or am I being naive and overly optimistic?

    This makes me very angry. The federal government spends billions of dollars giving subsidies and bailouts to special interests, but we can’t take care of our veterans? It’s abhorrent.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on Alisha's Angle and commented:
    I’m sharing this because I think it’s indicative of the experiences of many. It’s incredibly sad that people who have fought for our country aren’t able to receive the care they need because of a system that is corrupt. I remember reading an article about the Veterans crisis line and how a very small percentage of calls were actually answered by licensed professionals. While I can’t imagine the emotional impact of working 8 hours a day answering suicide calls back to back (which is why I turned down the job when it was offered to me), the fact is that it is absolutely a needed and necessary resource. We have to do better across the board for our veterans. Why can’t people be all up in arms about stuff like this instead of arguing about the proper posture for the National Anthem?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with Candy, start writing letters to every level of government you can think of and the local press and national press, go to the local TV….ect….Don’t give up! The squeaky wheel gets the grease! and ps…anyone you speak to, get and keep their names and what you spoke to them about in case you need to use them! Maybe public shaming would work! Good Luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know how you feel. The VA and the military system can be problematic.

    I think I understand you to be getting civilian and va care.

    If your getting VA care is it a specific S&P appointment or routine appt? It sounds like it’s just a regular medical appointment.

    Your military unit will not know about your VA appointment unless you tell them. It is recommended that you keep your worst medical evaluation and hold on to it until you get to your med board.

    I read your getting civilian medical care. If you are on orders then that care is directed by the military not the va. The military will get a copy and that will more than the VA facilitate your retirement process.

    It could be that the civilian medical appointments are set up by the VA. Do you use your va card when you go see them, or is it free since your on orders?

    When you get to your medical boards that’s when you bring your entire va medical record with you. You might have to sign a release in order for then to gain the records.

    Hope this helps. If you need something email me jeremysherwin@yahoo.com.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: And Then There is Paul | Story of My Life

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