VA scandal subsided, but vets still can’t get medical help

For a brief, shining moment last year, the nation was consumed with the scandal at the Veterans Administration, where veterans were denied medical treatment or had to wait months to get it.

Then, politicians got their pound of flesh — the resignation of the head of the VA — and the scandal quickly faded for sight.

But many veterans still aren’t able to get timely help and KARE 11 says it has proof.

A program launched last November to help veterans who are stuck with long delays and are 40 miles from a VA clinic doesn’t work — or at least it doesn’t work like it’s supposed, the station says. The program allows veterans to see non-VA doctors.

It used one veteran with cancer as an example:

Walker wanted to show KARE 11 what happened when he tried using the Choice Card Veterans Affairs sent him, so he called the number on his card while Investigative Reporter A.J. Lagoe watched. “I want to see about getting preauthorization to get cancer treatment at a facility closer to me,” Walker told the operator. But he was told he was not eligible under the 40 mile rule because the Northwest Metro VA Clinic in Ramsey is only 20 miles from his home. The frustrated veteran told the woman handling his Choice Card call that the Ramsey clinic does not offer the cancer treatment he needs. “All they do is dental work there and eye work and some basic kinds of different minor things,” he told her. “But I have cancer stage 4.” Paul’s reasoning that the clinic near him doesn’t offer the treatment he needs got him nowhere. “I don’t get a choice. I get to die. So, to me that’s not a choice,” he said.

Another veteran in Crow Wing County who wanted to see a psychiatrist in St. Cloud couldn’t get an appointment under the program because there’s a clinic close to him in Brainerd. The clinic in Brainerd doesn’t have a psychiatrist, however.

“The supposed VA choice is nothing more than a bill of goods that they sold us,” attorney Benjamin Krause, a disabled vet and Twin Cities-based attorney focusing on veterans’ issues, told the station.

He says the VA is trying to cut the program and use the money elsewhere because few veterans are using it.

  • TAC US ARMY & US NAVY

    I also tried to use the NEW VA heath card. I was refused because there is a VAOC within 5-6 miles from me. Only problem is the Physicians only write ‘scrips’ (which are electrically sent 35-40 miles away to another VAOC to be filled. Then sent to the vet 6-10 days later! If your lucky!) ‘, take your pulse, NO ex rays, NO Dental, NO Vision, No Hearing Clinic, etc. etc. etc. The Orange City, Fl. VAOC does have, and pays for, an outside company to draw the vets blood. That’s really all that’s there. Oh, BTW, that is the same VAOC which ‘accidentally’ locked a ‘former Marine’ inside. It took the OCPD to get someone back there to let him out!!!!!

  • Jim in RF

    This issue carries a lot of talk about Federal incompetence and bureaucracy, and I’m sure that’s a big issue, but I have to believe the root cause is that the number of veterans increased sharply while the number of doctors only increases slightly. I can’t find any numbers about this though – very under reported.

    • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

      This particular issue doesn’t have anything much to do with the number of VA personnel, however, because the vets can’t get permission to see NON-VA specialists. This was SUPPOSED to be the cure for what the last scandal was.

  • Jack

    Bureaucracy at its best. Amazing how well the draft worked but they can’t help the vets after the fact. I realize that a large population of the vets were never drafted but still.

    A huge dose of humanity needs to get injected into the failed system. The program needs a group of strong patient advocates that won’t take NO for an answer.

    Not a vet but know plenty of them.

    Come on US – we can do much better than this.

  • AMERICAN SOLDIER

    My husband is a 68 year old Disabled American Veteran. I recently called VA
    Secretary Robert McDonald’s cell phone. After getting voice mail, I left my
    name and number. Two days later, a member of Secretary McDonald’s staff,
    Erin Gittens returned my call. She looked at my husband file. His appeal
    for compensation has been backlogged at the Cleveland Regional Office since
    2010 Erin Gittens promised to send an email to the Cleveland Regional Office
    inquiring about my husband’s claim.
    The very next day, we received a phone call from the Cleveland Regional Office.
    The gentleman’s name is Kevin Freedman.
    Mr. Freedman was very upset that I had called Secretary McDonald.
    He said he was TOTALLY IN CHARGE OF MY HUSBAND’S CLAIM, not anyone in
    Washington, especially Robert McDonald.
    Mr. Kevin Freedman stated that he intended to immediately DENY THE CLAIM!
    My husband and I were shocked that this gentleman, Kevin Freedman could DENY
    THE CLAIM that has lingered at the CLEVELAND REGIONAL OFFICE for OVER 4 years, in less than 4 minutes !
    It is boldly obvious that this VA WORKER, KEVIN FREEDMAN is angry because we phoned Secretary McDonald for help. In revenge, Kevin Freedman is denying
    the claim for compensation OUT OF SPITE!

    During our phone conversation, I asked that he meet with my husband in person.
    Mr. Freedman’s reply was, “There is really no point, I am going to DENY
    the CLAIM! But, if you insist, Come on up to Cleveland!”
    We are senior citizens. My husband is a veteran.
    We do not deserve to be treated with such TOTAL DISRESPECT!
    Please Bob McDonald help us, like you promised!

  • AMERICAN SOLDIER

    How the VA cheats the veterans out of their disability

    Here is how the VA cheats the veterans out of their disability. When a veteran
    files a claim with the VA the claims are automatically denied. The veteran then
    appeals to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington D.C.

    What the veteran doesn’t know is that about 80% of the claims that go to Washington are never decide by the BVA. They are returned back to
    the regional offices to be adjudicated correctly. This process could take
    anywhere from a year to three years. Once the claim is returned back to
    regional offices it then is reopened as if were a new claim and the process
    starts all over again. Thus,cheating the veteran out of one to three years back
    pay. The veteran service organizations ( DAV, VFW, American Legion,
    etc.) know this and refuse to defend the veterans rights. The reason for this
    is because these veteran service organization get all their office space and
    materials from the VA. Also in many VA claims the veteran is allowed 60 days to
    appeal his claim. What the VFW did to me was appeal my claim after
    90 days and when my claim went to the BVA it was automatically denied because I
    hadn’t appealed in time.

  • AMERICAN SOLDIER

    The problem is our veterans are SUFFERING & DYING while BEGGING the VA FOR HELP. Veterans are losing all hope of getting HELP. More and more injured, sick and wounded veterans are hurting so badly, they see no way out except to take drastic action.
    The VA employees are still stealing all the BILLIONS of DOLLARS OF OUR
    TAXPAYERS’ MONEY that should be used to provide medical care and compensation
    for our disabled veterans!
    As of today, March 10 , 2015, these VA Executives, VA Claims Processors
    and VA Lawyers are still mocking and mistreating our WOUNDED WARRIORS with
    their VA Anthem ” DENY, DENY, UNTIL THEY DIE !”

  • AMERICAN SOLDIER

    The VA will go to great links to make a veteran look
    like a liar! They force our veterans to fill our hundreds and hundreds of pages
    of paperwork. Most veterans have difficulty understanding the complex forms.
    You must be a lawyer to shovel your way through these pages.

    If a veterans forgets every single detail of their military service because
    years have passed, or the veteran has injures such as PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury,
    etc., the VA, led by SECRETARY ROBERT McDONALD, DENIES MEDICAL & COMPENSATION!

    When Secretary McDonald lies, saying he was in Special Forces, when he never
    even saw action, the VA claims he simply MISSPOKE!

    Who is the LIAR! Ironic, Isn’t It

  • http://vato21stcentury.blogspot.com/ Jim S.

    DeJa-Vu & for Decades now: Rising Costs {mostly borrowed} of Caring for Veterans

    **VA Chief Warns of Rising Cost of Caring for Younger Veterans**

    The people served actually think that when legislation is passed, poser patriotic enhancing political points for their reps and themselves, it’s actually paid for! As to our wars and the long term results after, policy blowback, for the Veterans of, well not since WWII have the people served actually Sacrificed, mostly willingly and across the Nation including veterans depending on political ideologies, thus not building and maintaining, and thus saving in many ways because of, the Responsibility they hold to those very few that served them! Why in these modern times they don’t even pay for their flag waving, poser, patriotic wars and think nothing of it, while speaking full support, and who’s more patriotic to country, of the few that served, blame the next elected Executive branch leader especially if of opposite political party or if same just ignore!

    ** … two instigated wars whose costs were so inhibitive they were kept off the books, … The Obama Administration brought this into the open …**

    **”as well as two ongoing foreign wars, which his predecessor never even tried to pay for. Of course the president is running large deficits; trying to eliminate them now would make an economic catastrophe even worse.”**

    Neither OEF/OIF and the continuing blowback from the policies implemented and supported are yet to be paid for!!

    “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

    Facts: Matthew Hoh {former Marine and foreign service officer in Afghanistan}: “We spend a trillion dollars a year on national security in this country.”
    “And when you add up to the Department of Defense, Department of State, CIA, Veterans Affairs, interest on debt, the number that strikes me the most about how much we’re committed financially to these wars and to our current policies is we have spent $250 billion already just on interest payments on the debt we’ve incurred for the Iraq and Afghan wars.” 26 September 2014

    Bob Herbert “Losing Our Way” : “And then the staggering costs of these wars, which are borne by the taxpayers. I mean, one of the things that was insane was that, as we’re at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration cut taxes. This has never been done in American history. The idea of cutting taxes while you’re going to war is just crazy. I mean, it’s madness.” Bill ‘Moyers and Company': Restoring an America That Has Lost its Way 10 Oct. 2014

    $14 Million An Hour: War Costs Top $1.6 Trillion Since 9/11, Say Congressional Researchers

    “With no shared sacrifices being asked of civilians after Sept. 11″

    And what else do those served get away with, through the representatives they hire, to avoid their Responsibility? Why they choose the easy ways out, just like they do in arguing their, poser, patriotism,, they either just totally ignore the Veterans during and after on an ever growing list of issues or they follow the written and spoken so called experts, usually politically motivated while getting comfortable return in wealth from the ‘denial these issues even exist’ [google Sally satel] and those links are just one conservative ‘expert’ and just about PTS. The homefront battles continue for Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, OEF/OIF Burn Pits and oh so many more reaching back to surviving WWII Veterans right up to today. Many were Finally being addressed when Gen Shinseki came onboard, with the still extremely limited budget funding, and with extended help by the Executive administration and it’s Cabinet where their charges could be integrated on long standing Veterans issues, that continues under Sec. McDonald but so does the Congressional obstructions and attacks, even from those served, as it continues causing costly problems that create other costly problems. Those problems are extremely helpful for political enhancing points of the people served representatives and given eager media backing as new{?} ‘scandals’ that have been seen before over and over and not corrected after, attack, hearings on!

    Speaking of the politics and those served support of same but ignoring so they don’t have to Sacrifice:

    ProPublica and The Seattle Times Nov. 9, 2012 – * Lost to History: Missing War Records Complicate Benefit Claims by Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans *
    While under both bushes:
    “DeLara’s case is part of a much larger problem that has plagued the U.S. military since the 1990 Gulf War: a failure to create and maintain the types of field records that have documented American conflicts since the Revolutionary War.”

    Part Two: * A Son Lost in Iraq, but Where Is the Casualty Report? *

    * Army Says War Records Gap Is Real, Launches Recovery Effort *

    Chris Hayes: “If you can run a deficit to go to war, you can run a deficit to take care of the people who fought it” In response to Republican, long ago lost as the party of Lincoln and not just as to us Veterans, opposition to expanding Veterans’ benefits on fiscal grounds

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  • AMERICAN SOLDIER

    The problem is our veterans are
    SUFFERING & DYING while BEGGING the VA FOR HELP. Veterans are losing
    all hope of getting HELP. More and more injured, sick and wounded
    veterans are hurting so badly, they see no way out except to take drastic action.

    The VA employees are still stealing all the BILLIONS of DOLLARS OF OUR
    TAXPAYERS’ MONEY that should be used to provide medical care and compensation
    for our disabled veterans!

    As of today, Monday, March 16, 2015, these VA Executives, VA Claims Processors
    and VA Lawyers are still mocking and mistreating our WOUNDED WARRIORS with
    their VA Anthem
    ” DENY, DENY, UNTIL THEY DIE!”

  • AMERICAN SOLDIER

    How the VA cheats
    the veterans out of their disability

    Here is how the VA
    cheats the veterans out of their disability. When a veteran files a claim with
    the VA the claims are automatically denied. The veteran then appeals to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington D.C. What the
    veteran doesn’t know is that about 80% of the claims that go to Washington are
    never decide by the BVA. They are returned back to the regional offices to be adjudicated
    correctly. This process could take anywhere from a year to three years. Once
    the claim is returned back to regional offices it then is reopened as if were a
    new claim and the process starts all over again. Thus,cheating the veteran out
    of one to three years back pay. The veteran service organizations ( DAV, VFW,
    American Legion, etc.) know this and refuse to defend the veterans rights.
    The reason for this is because these veteran service organization get all their
    office space and materials from the VA. Also in many VA claims the veteran is
    allowed 60 days to appeal his claim. What the VFW
    did to me was appeal my claim after 90 days and when my claim went to the BVA
    it was automatically denied because I hadn’t appealed in time.

  • AMERICAN SOLDIER

    The VA will go to great links to make a veteran look
    like a liar! They force our veterans to fill our hundreds and hundreds of pages
    of paperwork. Most veterans have difficulty understanding the complex forms.
    You must be a lawyer to shovel your way through these pages.

    If a veterans forgets every single detail of their military service because
    years have passed, or the veteran has injures such as PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury,
    etc., the VA, led by SECRETARY ROBERT McDONALD, DENIES MEDICAL & COMPENSATION!

    When Secretary McDonald lies, saying he was in Special Forces, when he never
    even saw action, the VA claims he simply MISSPOKE!

    Who is the LIAR! Ironic, Isn’t It