Veterans Administration Plan to Expedite Claims

With the mindset of the Tea Party folks we have created a schizoid situation that will resolve itself with some common sense.

You cannot spend every waking hour slamming the government, and then in the same breath blame them for not taking care of veterans.

The VA did not plan, nor budget  for 14 years of wars. Who did that? I believe Donald Rumsfeld told us it would be a “cake walk,” and over in a few months.

So, I would say the Veterans Administration is dancing as fast as they can. It takes two years to train a V.A Rating Officer. Many are just now coming on board.

Our beloved Main Stream Media are also masters at partial reporting. I suspect it is for lack of research staff and speed at which they need to get to market.

When it comes to the VA, they seem to leave out all back story and all delineations of the problems, and focus on what the fraternal veterans organizations tell them.

The VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, Marine Corps League, are all very fine advocates for the veteran, but they too  leave out the nature of the problem and focus on all that is bad. That is how they show advocacy and create agenda items for conventions. I am a member of all of them, and want them at my side.  I would encourage them to show more context and history of the problems with the disability claim process, so as to lend some perspective to readers and listeners of the news.

It has recently been reported that the wait for a claim to be processed is 262 days.  Given, that it may decide the balance of your life, is that all bad?

There was a time when it was five years!  And now we have an onslaught of Vietnam Veterans who are entering the system with Agent Orange illnesses that have been ignored for 40 years. Is that not a good thing?

If you had 9000 thousand people show up at your Church on Sunday, I guess you may have a backlog eh? Is that not a good thing?

Soldiers and Marines who have been severely injured and known to have permanent disabilities, can now begin their claim six months prior to their discharge. So hear this, they are not veterans yet. Some are still in Walter Reed Hospital, which is an Army Hospital, not a VA Hospital. They are still on Active Duty.

These folks are counted in the backlog, yet their discharges are delayed, which adds to the pile up of claims. No one in the  MSM reports this debacle.

So lets participate in the problem solving process, rather than incessantly ragging the VA. Our returning veterans of war will appreciate a more positive approach and outlook from the citizenry they defended.

VA to Expedite Claims Decisions for Veterans Who Have Waited a Year or More

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today it is implementing an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer. Effective today, VA claims raters will make provisional decisions on the oldest claims in inventory, which will allow Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits more quickly, if eligible. Veterans will be able to submit additional evidence for consideration a full year after the provisional rating, before the VA issues a final decision.

“Too many Veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “That is why we are implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog in 2015.  This initiative is the right thing to do now for Veterans who have waited the longest.” 

Provisional decisions will be based on all evidence provided to date by the Veteran or obtained on their behalf by VA.  If a VA medical examination is needed to decide the claim, it will be ordered and expedited.

“Issuing provisional decisions not only provides Veterans with applicable benefits much more quickly, but also gives them an additional one-year safety net to submit further evidence should it become available. Our door will remain open and if a Veteran has additional evidence, their case will be fast tracked,” said Allison Hickey, Undersecretary for Benefits.

If any increase is determined to be warranted based on the additional evidence received, benefits will be retroactive to the date the claim was initially filed.  The initiative protects the Veteran’s right to appeal the decision. If no further evidence is received within that year, VBA will inform the Veteran that their rating is final and provide information on the standard appeals process, which can be found at

Throughout this initiative, VA will continue to prioritize claims for homeless

Veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.  More information about filing Fully Developed Claims is available at: 

Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Department of Defense through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).  Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in an average of 61 days following their separation from service.

As a result of this initiative, metrics used to track benefits claims will experience significant fluctuations.  The focus on processing the oldest claims will cause the overall measure of the average length of time to complete a claim—currently 286 days— to skew, rising significantly in the near term because of the number of old claims that will be completed. Over time, as the backlog of oldest claims is cleared and more of the incoming claims are processed electronically through VA’s new paperless processing system, VA’s average time to complete claims will significantly improve.  In addition, the average days pending metric– or the average age of a claim in the inventory – will decrease, since the oldest claims will no longer be part of the inventory.

While compensation claims are pending, eligible Veterans are able to receive healthcare and other benefits from VA.  Veterans who have served in recent conflicts are eligible for 5 years of free healthcare from VA. Currently, over 55% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are using VA health care, a rate of utilization greater than previous generations of Veterans.

Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits at:

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C-123 Agent Orange Exposure

It is through the process of diligence and patience of one Veterans Benefits Counselor named Maude DeVictor, an employee of the Chicago VA in the 1980’s,that brought Agent Orange exposure and the consequent medical symptoms to the forground. Her saga was depicted in the 1986 movie titled, “Un-Natural Causes,” staring the late John Ritter. It is must viewing for the veterans who have been exposed, and the families of the now thousands who have died.

Major Carter, may well be caring that baton for the veterans who have yet to be included in the claim process.

I declared from the outset,when posting the first narrative that Major Carter wrote, that the extensive nature of blogging and its broad reach, may well be part of the vetting process. Advocacy for veterans has an exploratory aspect in the search for the truth. Chemical exposure experienced by Desert Storm troops is evidence of that process.. If the advocacy stumbles upon truth that negates the assertions of Major Carter, then Veteran Veritas will report those negations. For the present, discovery continues.

Our C-123 Veterans’ YouTube video posted this evening (purpose of the video is to explain away VA’s new term of “bioavailability” aiming message to our members, supporters and the VA itself)

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The 1991 Agent Orange Law took away VA’s ability to deny Agent Orange-exposed veterans claims by requiring medical nexus, a nearly-impossible threshold Oof proof for any veteran to achieve, and instead gave the VA’s authority over medical nexus to the Institute of Medicine, of the National Academies of Science. The IOM determines which diseases seem to have a medical nexus with dioxin exposure, and recommends inclusion by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the VA’s list of presumptive illnesses.

But with the C-123 Agent Orange exposed veterans, VA has tried to recapture their control over determination of medical nexus by insisting upon bioavailability as necessary element of exposure. No bioavailability equals no exposure, in the VA’s twisted thought process. In fact, however, bioavailability flows from exposure and is not an element of it. We’re protesting this double-think on the VA’s part, which unfairly bars us from protections of the Agent Orange Act by pretending we were not exposed because we cannot establish, at least on an individual veteran’s basis, bioavailability.

I have run this thesis past toxicologists and it seems to hold up… the VA is trying to snooker us and, with the help we’re blessed with from Congress, the media and other veterans organizations it will not succeed.

We’re not paranoid about the VA. They have reasons for obstructing our claims which perhaps seem valid to them, and which might include:

  1.  budget restrictions
  2. genuine disagreement with the technical aspects of our claims
  3. confusing us with “Blue Water Navy” – both groups claim exposure but with wholly different scientific basis
  4. Agent Orange “fatigue” – general effort to “draw the line somewhere with Agent Orange claims…it has to stop somewhere.”
  5. inappropriate disagreement with the legal basis for our exposure claims (Agent Orange Act, etc)
  6. don’t like airplanes or airplane people?? Or other reasons important to them but unknown to us

May I remind everyone of how helpful each veteran can be? We have contacted so very few New England senators and congressional representatives to join forces with Senator Richard Burr…please urge your own delegation to join forces and help. Perhaps you have seen the long list of supporting documents on the right side of our blog…I got most of those by writing or calling names off the internet and finding nice folks who want to help. Looking into our situation, many universities and individual experts have weighed in to help by providing expert findings…you can get the same from physicians and scientists at your own state universities. Please give an hour or so if you can.
Wes Carter

Retired Army Colonel Joey Strickland vs. Retired Radiology Tech Governor Brewer

Retired Army Colonel and former Vietnam Veteran platoon leader with 1st Air Cavalry, Joe Abodeley, asked if I would post this letter verbatim.  I know Joey Strickland, and know what he has done for the Veterans of Arizona. Class act, and highly respected by his fellow veterans. This saga will surely continue into the summer and provide piles of material for the media.  Ain’t Arizona great? Main street in Tombstone is alive and well.  Place your bets now. The Colonel or the Governor? I say the Colonel in round 3! writes:

As you know, Joey Strickland was unceremoniously forced to resign as Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services for non-meritorious reasons.  As I predicted, the issue would become OBE (overcome by events).  Attempts to reason with the governor and her chief of staff were futile and the “Joey’s a good guy” messages simply did not cut it.  Neither the veterans’ community nor the media emphasized the outrageousness of the coerced  resignation.  The veterans’ community was exposed as being ineffectual—they did not persuade the governor to reinstate Joey.  We all know the good that Joey did for the veterans’ community.  Most recently, he was a “partner” nationally and locally in honoring the largest segment of the veterans’ community—Vietnam veterans.  Vietnam veterans are used to being cheated, dishonored, maligned, and betrayed—and Joey participated in honoring all veterans, but in particular the Vietnam veterans.  Joey Strickland is out; he is history as the Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services.  He will move on and continue to serve and do well because he is a good man.  The governor’s chief of staff, Scott Smith, called a meeting for next Wednesday for selected members of the veterans’ community.  What can be the purpose of this meeting?  We’ll see.  But Joey is gone, and in my view very few really fought for Joey.  Not the veterans.  Not the politicians who profess to love veterans.  Not all the organizations who took money for their projects or events.  Life goes on, and we’ll all move forward, and so will Joey.  But the state of Arizona veterans’ community (such as it is) is far worse off.