12
Aug
10

210. Secretary Shinseki’s Message to Gulf War Veterans.

August 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf War, launched with Operation Desert Shield and followed by Operation Desert Storm. VA honors this milestone with a renewed commitment to improving our responsiveness to the challenges facing Gulf War Veterans.

First and foremost, VA is an advocate for Veterans – we are committed to finding innovative solutions to long standing issues and to empowering Veterans and other stakeholders to be a part of the solution.

VA recognizes and values the selfless service and sacrifice of Gulf War Veterans and their families, and continues our efforts to address the unique health needs of Gulf War Veterans.

Today, more than 250,000 Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield Veterans receive disability benefits from VA. VA has treated nearly 150,000 Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield Veterans for illnesses associated with their military service. We vow to reach more of these Veterans and have taken steps to do so. Earlier this year, VA proposed a new rule to make it easier for Gulf War-era Veterans to obtain disability compensation and related health care. This rule, once it takes effect, will grant presumptive service-connection for nine infectious diseases associated with military service in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan.

In addition, VA’s ongoing Gulf War research and Task Force efforts continue to examine multisymptom illnesses, and other conditions associated with service in this conflict. VA continues to participate in Federal research efforts on Gulf War illnesses, contributing more than $158 million of the $406 million in total Federal commitment.

VA is taking bold steps forward in how we consider and address the challenges facing Gulf War Veterans as well as the challenges facing all Veterans. Our commitment to the Nation’s Veterans is unwavering.

As your Secretary and fellow Veteran, I pay tribute to all of you who so bravely served and thank all Gulf War Veterans for their heroic efforts. Our Nation owes you a debt of gratitude. We acknowledge and honor the contributions of your service. Thank you.
–Eric K. Shinseki

17
May
10

209. No Medications for Veterans

VA Healthcare Down The Tubes?

Lately the VA has had a hard time filling prescriptions due to increased oversight on amounts of medications being prescribed by its medical affiliates (The VA’s Excuse)

The funny thing about the VA’s medical affiliates is that almost all VA Medical Centers or VAMC’s are co-located adjacent to almost every states top medical colleges.

Recently due to a “mis-order” the VA pharmacy system is running short of medication for all IN PATIENT as well as out patient clients. It is now normal for a veteran to be handed a photocopied IOU for the medication that cannot be filled though they are coaxed to sign as they have received it. This disorder is now system wide, and rampant through out the system. First discovered in Birmingham, AL and reported to the Birmingham News of all places in over two months it has yet to correct itself.

Part of this shortage is due to the US Government not allowing all FDA approved drugs to be prescribed at VA Hospitals. Due to costs some vets are forced to use drugs that are “not as good” and that their Physician “would not normally prescribe”.

These shortages are often more than 20 days late now in being made to current. One of the drugs (Verapamil) is a blood pressure medication. It seems that the VA is trying to kill veterans by not dealing with this new issue. A few months ago the VA delayed a few thousand pensions by a few days due to a shortfall in the coffer / double checking of certain veterans that had long since over ten years plus never had a problem with their deposited pensions. According to the VA it was a arduous process and one VA service employee said “I am getting so sick of them doing this stuff.”

Wanderingvet

NOTE; The VA and Public Health Service (PHS) are the models of current administration health reform for the rest of us. The problems above are affecting all Veterans and Native Americans as well as those others relying on these services.

15
Oct
09

208. New Era of Responsibility?

A transformed VA will be a high-performing 21st century department, a different organization from the one that exists today. Beyond the next five years, we’re looking for new ways of thinking and acting. We are asking why, 40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, this Secretary had to adjudicate claims for service-connected disabilities that have now been determined presumptive. And why, 20 years after Desert Storm, we are still debating the debilitating effects of whatever causes Gulf War Illness. If we do not stay attuned to the health needs of our returning veterans, 20 or 40 years from now, some future Secretary could be adjudicating presumptive disabilities from our ongoing conflicts. We must do better, and we will.

General Eric Shimseki,

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Back in January Wanderingvets posted news of retired General Eric Shinseki taking the office as Secretary of Veterans Affairs .(Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?) With the confirmation of General Shinseki there was great hope that the VA would be revamped to better serve the needs of our growing veteran population. This week General Shinseki addressed Congress with a “State of the VA Message” that is the result of 9 months of assessments within the VA.

Out of my discussions with Veterans, three concerns keep coming through — access, the backlog, and homeless Veterans.

It would seem that General Shimseki has a very accurate pulse on the shortcomings that have been demonstrated with the current VA system.
From medical negligence to a long backlog of disability claims for veterans,the layers of improvements needed for treating our veterans with the services they deserve seems to have been identified.

It’s very encouraging to see the needs of our homeless veterans being acknowledged and addressed by the VA. With 25% of all homeless Americans being veterans this is an area that has been put on the back burner for too long. The current VA system does little to reduce the burden of homelessness for veterans and historically has let community organization bear the burden of providing for homeless veterans. Sadly, in this current economic climate community resources aren’t able to meet the growing needs of all homeless citizens and many of our veterans remain on the streets without shelter.A survey by the National Coalition for The Homeless shows that shelters for the homeless only provide shelter for less than 40% of people in need of basic services.  A previous statistic by the VA estimated 154,000 veterans (male and female) are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experince homelessness at some point during the course of a year. The VA claims this number is being reduced despite the overall rise in the homeless population in the US and the need for expanded VA services due to returning military from Iraq.

Veterans lead the Nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicides. We now estimate that 131,000 Veterans live on the streets of this wealthiest and most powerful Nation in the world, down from 195,000 six years ago. Some of those homeless are here in Washington, D.C. — men and women, young and old, fully functioning and disabled, from every war generation, even the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will invest $3.2 billion next year to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans — $2.7 billion on medical services and $500 million on specific homeless housing programs. With 85 percent of homelessness funding going to health care, it means that homelessness is a significant health care issue, heavily burdened with depression and substance abuse. We think we have the right partners, the right plans, and the right programs in place on safe housing. We’ll monitor and adjust the balance as required to continue increasing our gains in eliminating Veteran homelessness. We are moving in the right direction to remove this blot on our consciences, but we have more work to do.

The men and women of the armed forces have been made a promise that if they defend our country in military service, we will provide them with the benefits they have earned. Sadly, the VA has fallen short on this promise to our Veterans on many accounts. Does this recent report to Congress mark a new era of responsibility  to our Veterans or will we continue to have the “blot” of  unkept promises on our consciences? Only time will tell.

14
Sep
09

207. Mobile VA Clinics for Tampa Veterans

mobile-outreach-clinic
Wanderingvets recently received this notification of mobile health services within the Tampa area:

James A. Haley Veterans hospital in Tampa Florida is pleased to announce the release of our new Mobile Outreach Clinic, It will be in our community delivering flu shots, homeless assistance, and so much more.

More information about services of this mobile clinic for the Tampa area can be found at The Department of Veterans’s Affairs/

18
Aug
09

206. 8 to 12 Hugs a Day?

hug

Dear Friends:

Today August 18th 2009 was a most dysfunctional reality check at the V.A.

One of my close ,old friends who is a long time Wanderingvets supporter and who is also aiding me while I am in North Carolina dealing with my health issues, picked me up this morning and drove me to the VA for a scheduled Compensation and Pension Examination.

Arriving promptly at 9AM for my scheduled appointment, I was surprisingly ushered right in to have my vitals checked, all good there (111/71 BP, 97.9 Temp). I was then whisked right across the hall to where I met a very nice PA-C (Certified Physician Assistant). It was all a roller coaster ride after that. Continue reading ‘206. 8 to 12 Hugs a Day?’

29
Jun
09

205.Health Care Reform & The VA System:Here We Go Again?

reformAmerica is on the brink of making some very important decisions as relates to healthcare in this country. Currently, our politicians are bouncing around various proposals for the future of healthcare in America. Most recently Congress reported “trimming” this healthcare bill to $1 trillion .The facts about our current healthcare system support the need for some serious realignment in order to cover the healthcare needs of more Americans.

FACT: One-third of adults (31 percent) and more than half of all children (54 percent) do not have a primary care doctor (National Medical Expenditure Panel Survey) Continue reading ‘205.Health Care Reform & The VA System:Here We Go Again?’

08
Jun
09

204. The Ghost of The Mind

thinking

 

When one finds themselves with too much time on their hands, old memories seep into ones consiciousness more and more. I understand these things first hand and I fear others will soon experience these same memories of better times with the  increase in unemployment and the number of foreclosed homes and displaced families.

 

It is not uncommon for me to reflect back upon my life, the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s of life in the past. Continue reading ‘204. The Ghost of The Mind’




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