206. 8 to 12 Hugs a Day?


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.

The first thing she said to me after hello was, “This is a hearing for non-service related pension and compensation”. I said “I was injured on Active Duty”. She repeated herself and said again about the non-service related claim. I said again, I was injured on Active Duty. She then said “well we can stop this process now if you would like.”

I was thinking “is this for real?” I agreed to proceed as I had waited almost two years to get this far. I am not sure this was a good thing but what could I do at this point? She then told me through hand and eye gestures that the room I was in was also a recorded interview room and then said she thought I was misunderstanding and came right and said that the session was being recorded. OK Big Brother let it rip I thought.

So on the record I told them about the illness and injuries I sustained, from head trauma and how and where it happened. The first seizure event while serving in Germany and including the fact the pain is so bad at times I planned how to carry out a successful suicide. The latter I explained was so I did not end up a vegetable and become a drain on the VA system as well as damaging myself even further because of a botched attempt taking my own life. “How often have you thought about it” she asked? I said every day.

The suicidal part I had to bring up again because she was not allowed to delve into it after asking my pain level in which I replied “Suicidal” on a scale of 1 to 10. I was evaluated in Seattle at the VAMC there and was found to be “at risk” but could not follow up with their phone calls. PTSD is the subject they hate to get into and are encouraged not to bring up. Of course that is not in the current record now. I learned that I am now being managed through the Philadelphia Office of the VA though all correspondence is sent with VAMC Winston Salem or Durham, NC headers.

She asked if I was still homeless and what the address was I was using. I said that the address is just a mail drop. She did not want to pursue that issue any further. Hell, the address they had for me was Albuquerque, NM. Funny thing is that address they had for me was the VAMC there from when I had a prescription filled. They never updated that in Seattle I guess.

Funny thing is that my record was again purged. I said the VA has my whole medical record regarding the injuries and other neurological issues. And she replied well yes we do but that is separate from us and we cannot access them. I have been trying to get my medical records sent to me since 2004. First through Elizabeth Dole, Senator NC (who never followed through) then in 2006 Howard Coble, Representative NC, now I am at the mercy of David Price, Representative NC here in 2009. Also a funny thing is all of my service records prior to the accident are seemingly missing from 1983 to 1994 except for a DD form214 for 1987 to 1993.

I was basically discharged due to a breakdown and injury in 1994. My job was so stressful about preventing friendly fire injuries that I had asked for a transfer out and was denied. Eventually I broke like an egg as I was self medicating and so was my whole section. We had the most responsibility and no down time. My section previous to my arrival had already killed a few trainees with artillery fire and had firing point accidents. Luckily we never killed anyone under my watch nor caused shells to land where they should not.

The scary fact also is that they try to downplay the rank I held since obviously there is something about payment. I was commissioned in 1985 as a Second Lieutenant (had to tell the PA how to spell that and she said “why do we use a french word for a rank?” I explained to her why). For some reason they want me to be a Sergeant. Maybe that is cheaper for them. When I mentioned I was an officer she looked at me like I was a liar or delusional.

She asked me about current employment. I said I am currently a waiter working 25 hours a week. She asked if I could do more. I said yeah but unfortunately my expertise is in manufacturing and selling houses so I am like many others who are working as under employed. I earn $2.13 an hour plus tips at a cheap labor establishment. All you can eat means most people are cheap. I mentioned as a joke about working harder than Mary at the last supper and church people being cheap since they give 10% to God but give less to their servers. Of course these wages do not put a dent in my bank account. And actually on slow days have to claim more than I actually earn to keep the employer from having to cough up more hourly pay to make minimum wage.

So I learned today, that the VA does not want to hear anything they do not want to hear. They are not a compassionate agency in any form since they want to prove all Vets are liars and their method of unannounced recordings is technically illegal under all HIPPA statutes but of course you are not allowed to sue the United States.

In the midst of all of this, I was asked if I was lactating. Looking down at my T-shirt I guess she could not tell if I was producing breast milk at that moment. I said “Should I?” Then was told many men lactate.

Of course under Obamacare no one will ever be able to sue the new form of medical treatment. That is in the thousands of pages of health care reform. Of course the current President Mr.Obama did say once that he thought soldiers, sailors and airmen should cover themselves and their injuries in an “All Volunteer Force”.

At the end of my interview, I was told by the PA. “You know, you need to embrace more people. If you get 8 hugs a day it maintains your inner calm level and if you achieve 12 hugs you will grow inside and feel better. My first thought was “Oh shit, this is the chicca that sends out those PASS THIS ON EMAILS” .
Oh by the way, she did not offer me a hug.


4 Responses to “206. 8 to 12 Hugs a Day?”

  1. August 24, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    My Disabled Navy Buddy Who is 47 yrs old gets His FREE medical care at Fort Knox. He just found out His monthly payment has a $97.00 MEDICARE charge on it, thats $1164.00 a year! Why would the government charge Him for MEDICARE when He gets FREE care at a military base? His payments are direct deposit, and He DOES NOT get anything e-mail or in the mail listing His monthly payments/deductions. If any of You know/are a disabled Vet please make a phone call to see if this is happening. Thank You for Your service and sacrifice. OS2(E-5) U.S.N. 82-86

  2. 2 Joanne
    September 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    This is in response to the person who wrote about their Navy Buddy: If your friend receives disability through the Social Security Administration, he is automatically enrolled in Medicare at the 25th month. There is no charge for Medicare Part A, the hospital insurance. Medicare Part B, the medical insurance which helps pay doctor visits and other services, has a monthly premium. If your friend does not want that coverage, he should contact Social Security and tell them so. See the website http://www.ssa.gov/disability for more information.

  3. October 31, 2009 at 11:56 am

    My hope is that this informattion will make a difference in the quality of life for those who battle being homeless or barely getting by.

    If you are a veteran 65 or older you are entitled to the Basic level of the VA’s “Improved Pension.” This pension benefit is not disability compensation and is not dependent on service related injuries. The Basic level can mean up to almost $12,000 tax-free a year. For more information on all 3-levels of this pension, visit http://www.veteranaid.org.

    Thank you for your service and sacrifice to defend our Freedoms.

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