View Full Version : Veterans complain of skimpy funding in Bush's budget plan

Phantom Blooper
02-28-05, 05:33 AM
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

By Ann McFeatters, Post-Gazette National Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Alfred J. Casey, 82, of White Oak, is a news junkie. Every day he reads newspapers, watches TV and devours magazines. And ever since he read about the president's proposed budget earlier this month, he's been stewing.

"I think this administration is cutting money from the veterans, and that will hurt a lot of people in Pittsburgh," said Casey, who served in the Ardennes in France in World War II. "A lot of veterans are in bad shape healthwise. A lot of people in this country forget that besides those who don't come back, many come back needing help for the rest of their lives."

Jim Nicholson, President Bush's new Veterans Affairs secretary, rejects the idea that the Bush administration has forgotten the nation's 25 million veterans.

"This budget proposal guarantees that the department will be able to care for those veterans who count on VA the most," Nicholson said. He said that in an austerity budget Bush is proposing a 2.7 percent increase in spending on discretionary programs for veterans.

But what Nicholson omitted was that Bush's budget also proposes that veterans pay more for their health care and that he's seeking less for veterans' health care than every major veterans' advocacy group says is essential.

The Bush budget would impose a new $250 health care user fee on what it calls well-to-do veterans who use services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it also would double prescription drug co-payments to $15. But in many cases, those criteria could include veterans with annual incomes of only $26,000.

The administration's proposal would boost spending on veterans' health care by $111 million.

But veterans' groups say that is only one-fourth of 1 percent more than the fiscal year 2005 budget and that government experts have said the VA needs a 14 percent increase to keep up with its needs.

Advocacy groups (including the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and AMVETS) say a realistic budget next year for veterans' health care should be $31.2 billion -- not $28.1 billion, as the president's budget proposes.

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Richard Fuller, legislative director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said the administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2006 will not improve health care for the nation's veterans.

"It relies on optimistic third-party collections, accounting gimmicks and punitive and totally unrealistic management efficiencies," he said.

With the government also proposing cuts in Medicaid, if Bush's budget passes, "many veterans would have nowhere else to turn," Fuller said.

Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., a Vietnam veteran and the senior Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, helped beat back user fees on veterans in the past. He is concerned that the fight against imposing fees on them is growing more difficult. He argues that not only are current veterans not getting sufficient help, but the department also is unready for a wave of new problems faced by those now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. .

Anthony Principi, Veterans Affairs secretary during Bush's first term, told reporters recently that the nation was simply not spending enough on its veterans. Principi noted that nearly one in five soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan is suffering from mental health problems because of urban warfare's stresses.

He said the nation has not dealt with that or the fact that, because of better battlefield medical care, many soldiers who once would have died are returning home maimed -- having lost limbs, sight or hearing -- or are having difficulty readapting to civilian life.

Another problem that concerns many is the increase in battlefield chemicals that may be contributing to an apparent increase in non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Lou Gehrig's disease.

Principi is not popular with many veterans, however, because he acted while secretary to rule that many of them are no longer eligible for health care from the VA. Because thousands of veterans were waiting an average of 38 days (and a quarter of them waited two months) for appointments at the department's hospitals and 856 out-patient clinics, Principi rationed care in favor of the less well-off and disabled. That meant thousands were shut out of the system. Even Principi's deputy, Gordon Mansfield, injured in Vietnam, was turned away from six overbooked VA centers.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who has served on the House Veterans Affairs Committee for much of her more than two decades in Congress and who sponsored a bill that led to erecting the World War II Memorial in Washington, said her reading of the president's budget shows that it would fall $15 billion below what is needed for veterans over the next five years.

"So how are we going to care for all those new veterans with serious injuries coming home?" she asked. "For nursing homes, they cut $351 million. They [the administration] would eliminate state grants and would serve 24,000 fewer patients. Only those who are highly disabled will be served.

"The construction budget would provide only half the funds that are needed," she said. "We should care for our veterans as a condition of service. They earned it. But we're not keeping our promise, not under this budget."

The administration has asserted that annual spending for veterans' services has gone up more than 300 percent since 1980, to $65 billion this year, and that in an age of mounting deficits such growth is unsustainable.

But some Republicans as well as Democrats were dismayed by the president's budget request. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said the amount requested would not even keep pace with the current level of services, let alone improve them, keep up with inflation or help returning soldiers from the Middle East.

White Oak's Casey, who knows a lot of veterans, says most of them think they have lost benefits in recent years. He said he is convinced that America as a nation is showing less and less gratitude toward its veterans and is less determined to keep its promise to make certain that veterans get good care.

"It's par for the course," Casey lamented. "After the war is over, our government forgets about the veterans."

(Ann McFeatters can be reached at 202-662-7071 or amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.)

Sgt Sostand
02-28-05, 07:12 AM
I know here in Houston Texas the VA Suck i dont even go their no more. i did my Part For the US Gov and now they want keep their part they change the rules at the end.

02-28-05, 07:30 AM
What is the budget status for National Guardsmen? Does the Fed or State Govermnents pay for wounded NG Veterans returning from the Sandbox?

02-28-05, 11:27 AM
The Departmernt of Veterans Affairs handles all disability claims. If a Guard is active duty and gets injured...its on the VA.

03-13-05, 06:05 PM
You have no idea of the hen house at Houston VA! I am totally disabeled and unemployable due to injuries incurred. Recently died of a heart attack at 44, had open heart sergury at 48. Couldn't get to Houston in time so went to St. Mary's. Now, I take a proscription to the VA for a motorized wheel chair from the heart surgeon, the Neurosurgeon and the Heart surgeon who just put my pace Maker-Defib in.
Now, before you say 'poor baby', the VA has already posted me a wheel chair lift for my vehicle and very nice ramps into and out of my house. I can't even walk up the (explicative) things, much less wheel a mechanical chair up them.
My mobility, my legs, are the service connection. Having my chest cut in half preventing me from utilizing my arms has nothing to do with the situation according to the VA.
I wish I could lift a good leg, I'd give them a swift kick in their care package!

03-17-05, 02:18 PM
I have used many VA's across the country in the last 10 years. If I were to renk the Houston VA, it would rate about 3rd or 4th below the level of sh*t.
The main problem with the Houston VA is the wall of uneducated, non-caring, can't loose my job because of the union, affirmative blacktion, dumbas*es that are not the medical providers. For the most part, if you can get those turds to give you an appointment, and if you can get past the "primary care" fiasco on the clinics, you will get the care you NEED, maybe just not the care you want.
I will give just one example of the lazy, holier than thou, waste of air that they have working there.
A few years ago, I had an appointment at one of the clinics on the first floor. My appointment was scheduled for 0730, as stated on the appointment letter. When I got there at 0715, the doors to the dlinic, and susequently the doors to the waiting area were locked. There were no less than two fat as*ed donut eaters inside the clinic trying their best to ignore me and the rather old gentlemen on crutches that was waiting for his scheduled time, which upon talking to him, was also 0730.
This old man, who obviously had a very serious problem standing with the crutches, had been wounded in WWII.
Anyway, 0730 came and went with no action from the two disgusting fatbodies inside. I knocked on the door and motioned at the clock on the wall with no more than a dismissive glance from the two. So, I knocked again, and one of them got up, came to the door, unlocked it and proceded to let me know in no uncertain terms that the clinic does not open until 0800, and if I continued to get loud, they would call the VA police and have me removed. I asked them to tell me why the VA would send out letters with appointments made before opening, and she told me that was not her problem.
To make a long story short, we did not get into the clinic until WELL AFTER 0800, they did not open the doors until the no-english speaking, going to med school on our tax dollars, ragheads got there at around 0820.

If you have a problem with Houston, I would recommend uou ask to see a man named Rufus Randal. Mr. Randal is the patient advocate, and he will at least make it look like heads will roll, and give you a small ration of satisfaction.

Now, if you want to go to a great VA, I would say VA in Ann Arbor, MI or the one in Huntingtom,WV.


06-04-05, 02:13 PM

Ed Palmer
06-04-05, 03:06 PM
click on the url and this is what the va told me but if you read the letter below you can see the diepairty in the V.A. procerures,
I just filed a different claim to appeal their decision I should hear something next week.I wiil try to post the results.



VA TINNITUS COMPENSATION UPDATE 01: On 5 APR 05, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims handed down its decision in Smith v. Nicholson. The DAV had argued on behalf of Mr. Smith that he was entitled to two separate 10% disability ratings for service-connected tinnitus, i.e., ringing, in his right and left ears. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) argued in Smith's case, as well as a large number of other cases, that the schedule for rating disabilities provided for only one 10% rating, regardless of whether the tinnitus was present in only one ear or both ears. The Court held that: "Based on the plain language of the regulations, the Court holds that the pre-1999 and pre-June 13, 2003 versions of [diagnostic code] 6260 required the assignment of dual ratings for bilateral tinnitus." Veterans who filed a claim for service connection for tinnitus in both ears, or who claimed an increased rating for that condition, prior to 13 JUN 03, may be entitled to receive combined disability compensation based on two 10% ratings for tinnitus. Additionally, the law does not permit any such ratings to be reduced in the future, unless the severity of the tinnitus is shown to have actually improved. Veterans who believe that they may be entitled to benefits based on the Smith precedent should contact their DAV National Service Officer. [Source: www.dav.org/news/documents/Tinnitus_Website_%20Summary.pdf APR 05]

Ed Palmer
07-01-05, 07:20 AM
Here is a realy bright deduction gives you something to think about.

The Senate voted 96-0 on Wednesday to give the VA an extra $1.5 billion this year to cover its health care shortfall and more, letting the VA carry any unused money into next year.

"Think about this for a second," said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. "The administration sends hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops abroad to fight in Iraq and elsewhere but says it didn't expect they would return home and need health care services."