In honor of Memorial Day, I thought it fitting to expose the broken Veterans Administration (VA) system to those who are not aware. This is not a sob story or victim card lecture. It is simply sharing the reality of the current VA system and the consequences of such on real lives. Most veterans will have no problem accepting the premise of this paper. However, some still believe that the VA is the ultimate savior, when it comes to their failing health. Oh, and the VA money, well, that money seems to come with strings attached, doesn’t it? “Nothing is free,” as the old-fashioned saying goes. Bottom line, a veteran is faced with two choices; do what the VA says and your monthly disability check will be left unscathed, or disobey the VA and risk losing your benefits. In other words, follow our rules and live or disobey and die.
Don’t Need More Money
Veterans don’t need any more money! You could throw a million dollars at a dying Ft. McClellan veteran, and it wouldn’t change a thing for him. The government has already made its conclusions about Ft. McClellan veterans and others exposed to toxic substances elsewhere. Passing a bill in Congress will not save one single veteran’s life. On a side note, Monsanto has absolutely no interest in helping the veterans who served at Ft. McClellan. In fact, the organization has been working fervently to do the exact opposite. So, for those of you waiting for your government/Monsanto lottery ticket to pay out, take a seat and a number; it’s going to be a while.
More Life, Not More Death
Let’s be clear. Veterans want more life, not more death! They want their health back, and what a sick veteran truly needs is evidence-based healing (without long-term side effects) and a good dose of hope.
Truths Wrought with Howevers
It is true that there are many good and honest employees in the VA system. However, I have yet to meet one. It is true that the VA system is going through a major overhaul, and there is a new emphasis on accountability. However, this renovation is likely years in the making. It is true that some veterans have other options, like the “Veteran’s Choice Program” and “VA Foster Care.” However, the bureaucracy is alive and well, and most veterans I know have given up calling, filling out paperwork, and waiting for things to change.
It is true that the VA can help you in times of emergency medical need. However, there is a widely known rumor that one does not go to the VA to get well but instead to die. These are harsh words, yes. But for those who have experienced these “truths” first-hand, I suspect there will be a lot of affirming nods here when reading the accompanying “howevers”. It seems the truths are wrought with “howevers”.
The VA Knows Not Love
This is a broad generalization, but the VA system seems to know not love. How about this for a run-on sentence:
A system that requires the nurse to put on a glove to hold a severely dehydrated cancer patient’s hand or a system that repeatedly ask a patient who is not suicidal if he is suicidal (out of an obsession to avoid any liability); a system that (for years) fails to recognize the suffering and deaths of Ft. McClellan veterans struggling with complex, confusing illnesses and diseases; a system that inevitably forces veterans to pay for and seek outside care due to inept and overwhelmed VA providers (often too busy with bureaucratic paperwork and disinterested in the facts to really help) is a system that knows not love!
Share Your VA Nightmares Publicly (Don’t Fear Reprisal)
Have you had a VA nightmare experience? Feel free to share in the comments, as it is a powerful way for veterans and their families to actively expose the reality of such a broken system. First, it is a way to warn other veterans who may still believe that the VA really cares about them and is a safe, holistic place to get care. Second, it might be the only way to put down, for the record, the reality of a system void of compassion, void of excellence in medical care, and void of logic.
Are you afraid to speak out against the VA? For instance, have you been threatened that your disability pay will be cut off if you do not comply with specific orders? Have you been defamed, harassed, humiliated, sexually assaulted, or verbally abused (especially Ft. McClellan veterans who are chronically ill)? Has your character been slandered or worse, have you been falsely diagnosed with a mental disorder or anxiety and unable to set the record straight in your medical file? Has the VA resorted to assaulting you with surprise phone interviews from patient representatives who cannot identify themselves or sicced paid VA psychos (psychiatrist/psychologist) to interrogate you, whose sole purpose is to cover their own liability or pump you full of lies, SSRIs, et cetera to distract you from real chronic pain or debilitating illness?
The VA is Ruled by Fear
Do Not Fear! The worst thing you can do is to buckle under the pressure and give in to their demands. You must stand up for yourself! This is especially true, if you know that the VA employees are manipulating or harassing you out of their own sense of fear.
You heard that right! The VA is rules by fear. Thus, the system is operating illogically and without a sense of compassion. Like the so-called shortage in saline around the country2, there seems a serious shortage in expert, direct primary care for those who have served their country honorably and are hurting. How backwards is that?
The VA is terrified and paralyzed by the “L word”– liability. In fact, liability is likely to take precedence over compassionate care, and it motivates many in leadership these days. Imagine the fear that providers succumb to when harassing a veteran repeatedly simply in order to alleviate their own doubts or document for their own protection that the patient has absolutely no suicidal thoughts before sending them home. If a patient adamantly confirms their positive zest for life and genuine love and respect for their own body, professing repeatedly that they only want to live and continue living in health, isn’t that enough? Imagine the fear that a provider succumbs to when they commit the most egregious assault on a veteran by falsely diagnosing someone who is legitimately ill with a mental disorder?
Resort To the Mental Card Out of Cowardice
I think it is possible that doctors who find themselves unable to fix or cure a veteran will resort to the mental card out of cowardice, not care. For instance, a soldier who has been diagnosed with cancer, outside the VA, and shares this information with a VA provider is then labeled as incompetent, most likely out of an unethical effort to cover the VA’s liability. What kind of system does this? A system that knows not love!
I’m Not a Veteran, Why Should I Care?
Many may say, “So what? I’m not a veteran. Why should I care?”
Did you enjoy your Memorial Day celebrations? Do you know a veteran or have a friend or relative who is suffering from exposures, injuries, or illnesses as a result of their honorable service? Do you care about them? If you care about one veteran, you might want to consider caring about others. Most former service members are average, hard-working, moral, America-loving citizens who don’t ask for much, obey the laws, and love their families and neighbors. The anomalies are not worth mentioning. Certainly, not all veterans are war “heroes”. Some never went to war, and there is nothing shameful about that. Still, some were terrible soldiers to begin with (malingerers and inept at their jobs), and others selfishly turn into terrible veterans (abusing the VA system and manipulating VA providers with their greedy motives). However, as previously stated, the bad apples are not the focus here.
VA Known To Discredit and Dehumanize Veterans
Unfortunately, the VA has been known to discredit and dehumanize particular veterans (whistleblowers, Ft. McClellan veterans et cetera) with its overbearing claims process and unethical use of psychological methods. It might surprise the readers here that most veterans, unlike the pervading myth pushed by the media, do not suffer from PTSD, depression, or mental disorders. On the contrary, every veteran I know personally handles their normal daily stresses of life or chronic illness/pain with unusual resilience and composure.
In fact, most veterans are simply content to be left alone, able to work, and enjoy their weekends off without being called back in at 4am. We are of a certain caliber, after all. We possess an unusual, innate, intestinal fortitude that is rare in today’s civilian world. It is why we chose to volunteer and why we continue to keep our mouth shut rather than complain. Nonetheless, just for the record again, not all veterans suffer PTSD, and not all veterans need psychological services.
Some Refuse to Register with VA Out of Sense of Honor and Pride
In fact, there are some veterans that I know, personally, who refuse to register with the VA out of a deep sense of honor and pride. They don’t want to take from the veterans who truly need help, and they have a deep sense of dignity and selflessness. Some veterans have even refused benefits that they truly deserve. I admire that grit and knew such a man. He spent three years in Africa during World War II and never set foot in the VA. Even when suffering through prostate cancer and various illnesses and injuries, he never used the VA services. Also, if my memory serves right, his wife never received any benefits after his death. Perhaps he was too proud or perhaps he was wise enough to avoid a system that he knew could not love or respect him as a true war hero.
Many of our greatest veterans continue to avoid the VA like the plague for this very reason. This is a phenomenon widely known among veterans but dismissed by the VA system. Again, the rumor goes “You go to the VA to die.”
Tomorrow, we’ll continue with more information and links to resources as well as alternatives to the VA system.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.