Veterans Disability Lawsuit Tossed, Again

<originally posted 2008-12-18 09:56:19 -0500. bumped by carol>

Yesterday another Class Action Lawsuit was presented this time at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the previous was presented a few months back in California federal court on complaints from Veterans of OIF and OEF, and others, as to disability payments delayed and or denied.

When we returned from Vietnam many of the Vietnam Vets, needing care at Veterans clinics and Veterans Hospitals as well as attempting to file and receive disability benefits of already diagnosed Occupation Theater physical and mental ailments went through much of the same treatment. Those coming back and developing very serious ailments from coming in contact with heavily sprayed area's of the Defoliants, mostly Agent Orange, were not only denied benefits and treatment the Government and Chemical Companies Denied they were hazardous to humans. We are going through the same All Over Again.

A hearing begins Wednesday, 12-17-08, in a lawsuit aimed at cutting the time that the Department of Veterans Affairs takes to process disability claims to no more than 90 days.

Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare filed the lawsuit against VA after learning the department took as long as a year to come up with disability benefits decisions, and as long as four years to rule on appeals of those decisions. The average time for an initial decision is about six months.

VA has a benefits claims backlog of more than 400,000 cases.

Read Rest Here

Vietnam Veterans of America

Veterans of Modern Warfare

And once again those of us Veterans Advocates find ourselves battling not only the Government but the People that are served by the Military, the Country.

 

Veterans Sue Federal Government Over Disability Benefits

A group of military veterans filed a class-action against the federal government today, alleging that they were illegally denied disability benefits despite being diagnosed with severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder that should have qualified them for free care.

This isn’t the first time the Army has come under fire for its handling of PTSD victims. In California last year, a group of former soldiers filed suit against the Veterans Administration in federal court demanding that the agency completely restructure the way it processes PTSD claims and clean up a bureaucratic mess that left many former soldiers without care for months.

PDF Copy of Complaint

NVLSP's Lawyers Serving Warriors project

As this Country Choose to wage War and Occupation in not one but Two Theaters of Opporations, sending Tens of Thousands of it's Soldiers into the Theaters, not once, not twice, but Multiple Times, many serving in Both Theaters. This all happened under the leadership of President George W. Bush, as Commander in Chief of the Military, and his Vice President Dick Cheney, and a Country Unwilling to Sacrifice and loosing interest in what was and still is happening in these Theaters after 7plus years!

So what happened yesterday, Wednesday 12-17-08:

 

Judge rejects bid to force quicker VA payments A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a bid by veterans groups to force the Veterans Affairs Department to speed up handling of its disability claims, saying it was not the court's role to impose quicker deadlines.

Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare, which represent roughly 60,000 military veterans, had filed the lawsuit asking the VA process initial disability claims within 90 days and resolve appeals within 180 days. If the VA failed to do so, the two groups were seeking interim payments of roughly $350 a month.

At a court hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he was sympathetic to the plight of disabled veterans, many of whom he acknowledged might face unemployment and homelessness in a tightening economy. But Walton said that setting a blanket rule of 90 days for processing claims was a role for Congress and the VA secretary to decide.

Earlier in the hearing, Robert Cattanach, an attorney representing veterans, called the VA's delays "egregious and unacceptable." Noting that the backlogs have persisted for nearly a decade, Cattanach argued that the VA has no incentive or requirement to improve its practices without a clear deadline.

We all, or at least many of us, have read the reports, watched the congressional testimony, read the investigative journalists findings, Finally in these last couple of years. All showing the Incompetence of not only the Administration but the Political Appointed Agency Heads and their Administrations and in the case of the Veterans and Military Care while those Two Occupation Theaters were started and continued to this day!

What will happen now? Will we see the changes needed in this area of our Government as well as the rest, that have been so damaged and ignored these last eight years? Will Veterans and Military Advocates have to continue the already long running battles, long ago started, well before these present two theaters of opporation and continuing through for the new generations of combat veterans?

Things may be looking much better, but we've been frustrated before when all that's come were words of "Support the Troops and the Veterans" than everyone reverts back to ignoring after they speak them. Hopefully with what has been said in the recent presidential campaigns, and now with the incoming next President, Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden, not only by the candidates but their wives as well, who traveled around the country meeting with military and veterans and their families.

Actions speak louder than words and a first action was naming a respected forced retired General Shinseki to head the Veterans Administration, another took place after the Lawsuit was tossed by a judge who really didn't seem to want to, and that is this:

 

Obama's transition team met with Veterans of Modern Warfare

After losing an attempt to sue the VA to speed up veterans disability claims, leaders of a party to the suit, who represent veterans from the 1991 Gulf War to present, were buoyed by a meeting with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.

Julie Mock, from the Seattle area and president of Veterans of Modern Warfare Inc., and VMW executive director David Overton met privately Wednesday in Washington, D.C. with a retired military member from Obama's transition team.

Though Obama won't take office for just over a month, Mock, a 1991 Gulf War veteran with service-connected multiple scleroris, said Obama is the first chief executive to reach out to meet with them, she said.

While the incoming President, as well as the new congress, have now placed on their laps Eight Years of not only Total Mismanagement of our Government, but also Two Occupations still raging, a Collapsing Economy that has hit bottom yet, wait till after the holidays and watch as retail companies and more collapse, and a Huge Loss of Leadership on the World Stage as our Countries Morality has been Destroyed and the creation of more who now hate us not only our governments policies but us!

The following came to my attention this morning, though unrelated to the lawsuit, I had caught a few reports about this but have seen nothing nationally. it shows another suspected incident of failed incompetent leadership under the present administration as to our present military and veteran personal.

 

VA may cut Austin brain-injury research

Decision on program housed at UT expected in January.

An Austin-based, multimillion-dollar program studying brain injuries among veterans might be canceled next month.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison , R-Texas, and Department of Veterans Affairs officials confirmed this week that there is talk of shutting down the Brain Imaging and Recovery Laboratory. Diana Struski, a VA spokeswoman in Fort Worth, said a VA deputy secretary in Washington will make the final decision.

Shortly after taking over the program in June 2007, Van Boven said his bosses had authorized the misuse of program dollars before he arrived and then ignored his complaints and began engaging in petty retribution. He has asked for several investigations.

Two veterans advocacy groups called for Congress to intervene and ensure that the program's money is not used for other types of research.

"Closure of the {lab} would amount to a terrible injustice for our veterans," according to a letter to congressional offices from Rick Weidman, director of government relations for Vietnam Veterans of America, and Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.

"Conventional brain imaging is not sufficient to detect subtle injuries," the letter says.

There has been another Huge Problem which has not only been ignored but like us Vietnam Veterans and the Defoliants of 'Nam has been stonewalled and denied by the Government as well as Chemical Companies that might have been involved adding to what else may have happened In-Theater during the 1st Gulf War. Below you find some of what I had previously posted as another Report Serviced. It's been ignored and denied for far too long!

Gulf War Syndrom/Illness Is Real

New Federal Report Says

 

An extensive federal report released Monday concludes that roughly one in four of the 697,000 U.S. veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War suffer from Gulf War illness.

CNN Video Report

The Gulf War Syndrom Report

RAC Report This link takes you to the site page with the two below.

RAC-GWVI media release, Nov. 17, 2008 DOC

Full report of RAC-GWVI -- Nov. 17, 2008 PDF {The PDF is abit over 6MB download}

The PBS News Hour, on tuesday the 18th of November 08, held a discussion on the recently released report.

PBS News Hour: Gulf War Syndrome

Report Concludes Gulf War Syndrome Is Legitimate Illness - Transcript

Download MP3 to just Listen

 

A report released Monday revealed that the mysterious illness affecting veterans exposed to toxins during the 1991 Gulf War is real, making it easier for military personnel to seek federal aid. Research advisory committee chairman James Binns details the findings.

It has been 17 years since the first Gulf War ended. A new report now finds that at least one in four veterans of that conflict have been suffering ever since.

Congress started paying attention some 10 to 11 years after the conflict.

 

In 2002, a congressionally mandated panel set out to get to the bottom of conflicting reports about the veterans' health complaints. Its 450-page report concludes that Gulf War illness, memory loss, digestive and neurological problems, fatigue and pain is a real disease.

More than 175,000 veterans of the war were affected, but not effectively treated.

The two most likely causes: drugs administered to guard against nerve agents and pesticides used in the battlefield.

For a closer look at what these findings mean, we turn to James Binns, the chairman of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses.

 

JAMES BINNS: Well, the Gulf War had its own set of unique exposures. As Vietnam veterans were exposed to Agent Orange, so Gulf War veterans were exposed to a number of toxic exposures that were unique to that war.

 

JAMES BINNS: Now, that's what's -- I heard one of the veterans yesterday call this a bittersweet moment for them, because in large measure all of this work simply confirms what they know, that they are ill and have been for 17 years.

And it's true what you say that actually very little of the research that has been done up to date has been oriented toward treatments, and none of it has found effective treatments.

Here are a few opinion pieces that followed the release of the report.

Our view: Gulf War illness

 

Government finally admits vets suffer from a real condition

The official U.S. government response to claims of Gulf War illness has run from skepticism to outright denial.

With one in four of the 697,000 Gulf War vets reporting some level of the same symptoms, the lights should have gone on a long time ago in the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

So now veterans have rigorous support for what they have contended all along -- it's not just in our heads, we're not making it up. We're sick.

 

Thousands of our Gulf War vets are sick. Let's help them.

BOTTOM LINE: Gulf War illness is real, and few vets who suffer the disease are getting better. It's past time for serious work on a cure.

VCS Urges Research into Gulf War Exposures and Gulf War Illness Treatments

November 17, 2008, Washington, DC

Veterans for Common Sense released the following statement:

 

Veterans for Common Sense is pleased with the thorough report prepared by the RAC. We commend the veterans and scientists who have worked for the last six years reviewing the work on Gulf War illnesses conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD). The RAC report repudiates years of delays and denials caused by a group of VA and DoD staff who ignored the eyewitness accounts of veterans and scientific research.

VCS believes action is needed today to make sure the RAC’s recommendations are implemented soon.

VCS urges Congress to fund new research recommended by the RAC into why up to 210,000 Gulf War veterans are ill as well as fund research into desperately needed medical treatments for our veterans.

VCS also urges top VA officials to review the conduct of VA Central Office staff who blocked scientific research into toxic exposures, especially VA's contracts with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that improperly excluded animal studies from scientific review. The VA Central Office staff who needlessly delayed research, treatment, and disability benefits for hundreds of thousands of Gulf War veterans should be held accountable for their actions.

The facts presented by the RAC reveal how a handful of key VA and DoD officials failed to assist Gulf War veterans by clinging to the discredited myth that Gulf War illnesses were only related to stress for nearly 17 years. The DoD neglected to consider the many toxic exposures as potential causes of Gulf War illnesses, even after Gulf War veterans and scientists raised these as serious possibilities.

We look forward to working with Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) as they conduct oversight into VA’s failure to enter into proper contracts with IOM that may have blocked access to healthcare and disability benefits for hundreds of thousands of ill and disabled Gulf War veterans.

VCS thanks Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Representative Chris Shays (R-CT), and former Representative Lane Evans (D-IL) for their diligent leadership in passing the landmark “Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998” that created the RAC.

Panel: Gulf War vet health research lacking

 

Even as possibly hundreds of thousands of veterans suffer from a collection of symptoms commonly called Gulf War illness, the government has done too little to find treatments for their health problems nearly two decades after the war ended, a panel commissioned by Congress said.

The advisory panel of medical experts and veterans wants at least $60 million spent annually for research, calling it a “national obligation,” according to its report, obtained by The Associated Press.

Gulf War troops poisoned, neglected

 

A new government study backs up veterans of the 1991 Gulf War who said they were literally, and physically, sickened during their service there. The American people have an obligation to help them.

One of the most dangerous threats to the health of American troops in combat might be the United States government. That conclusion can reasonably be drawn after a government panel reported that one in four U.S. veterans of the 1991 Gulf War — about 172,000 troops — is ill from exposure to toxic chemicals, most of them administered by the U.S. government.

 

The two bibliographies below were compiled by FRONTLINE to aid those who want to dig deeper into Gulf War Syndrome. The first shows many of the most informative and compelling websites on the subject. The second contains citations to books, journal articles and other printed materials.

Visit the above link, there's a host of links leading to further information, study, and research!

What will the government do to make veterans with Gulf War syndrome whole?

 

The question has new urgency in the aftermath of a report, released Monday, concluding that nearly 200,000 soldiers suffer from the syndrome.

The 452-page report is the first to affirm that Gulf War illness is valid and widespread, affecting as many as one-quarter of veterans from the 1990-1991 conflict.

"The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real...and that few veterans have recovered of substantially improved with time," says the comprehensive overview, prepared by the government's Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses.

Now we have once again sent our military into occupation, not one but two, halfway around the world. And with the reports finally coming out these last couple of years, with over site and investigation once again being done by our congress, information coming extensively from, once again, great Investigative Journalism, we are seeing, especially us Vietnam Vets, a repeat of what was experienced years ago. Many of these recent reports read like that from 30 to 40 years back, a not to distant past.

This next link starts on the Gulf War Syndrome in the Press Release and moves into the present conflicts.

American Gulf War Veterans Association

 

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 8, 2003

The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA), an independent Gulf War Veterans’ support organization, has long searched for answers to explain why nearly half of the 697,000 Gulf War I Veterans are now ill and why over 200,000 of those servicemen/women have requested disability, but have received no adequate diagnosis or treatment, from either the Department of Defense (DOD), or Veteran’s Affairs. Though there have been over 125 studies done by the government at the cost of over $300,000,000 to the taxpayer, we still have no answers as to what caused so many of our soldiers to become ill. Meanwhile, the suffering veterans are receiving little, if any, medical treatment for this illness. It seems that whenever veterans become ill, the term “mystery illness” seems to be the first and often the only diagnosis that is ever made. Veterans are then left to fend for themselves, sick and unable to work, with little hope of a normal life again.

The AGWVA is now again asking questions, this time, about the newest “mystery illness” to hit the military. After being pressured by a few independent news reporters who have not permitted this “mystery” to continue unabated, The DOD recently has been forced to announce the “mystery” deaths of Gulf War II soldiers and that at least 100 other men and women have become ill. Again, however, there were no adequate answers, but, only that the “mystery illness” diagnosis had reared its ugly head again. According to a family member of one of the military victims, the DOD recently, has changed its label of the illness and is now calling it “pneumonia” in sharp contrast to what a physician on the scene reported. Due to continuing pressure for sound answers, the DOD was again forced to send an investigative team to Iraq, however the convenient, repeated lack of diagnosis, unfortunately translates into lack of treatment, and lack of compensation for the veteran. The jury is still out, however, if the DOD will be forthcoming with the truth this time.

SNIP Please Read The Rest

The following doesn't look like the 'mystery illness' described in the press release above, but apparently this is another growing problem for the present OIF and OEF soldiers in Theater:

Senior Airman Frances Gavalis tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base, Iraq.

The Army Times Site Video

 

Burn pit at Balad raises health concerns

Tue, Oct 28, 2008

An open-air at the largest U.S. base in Iraq may have exposed tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis to cancer-causing dioxins, poisons such as arsenic

 

Senator wants answers on dangers of burn pits

Sun, Nov 9, 2008

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has written to Gen. David Petraeus, the new chief of U.S. Central Command, demanding to be informed about any pending investigations into health problems for troops exp.

 

Burn pit fallout

Sat, Nov 15, 2008

Disabled American Veterans has issued a call to all service members and veterans who think they may have illnesses related to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq: Contact DAV so they can collect data

 

Army report shows chemicals at burn pit site

Thursday Nov 20, 2008

A soldier concerned about his tour at Forward Operating Base Hammer near Balad, Iraq, this year sent Military Times a report showing high levels of particulate matter and low levels of manganese, possibly due to materials destroyed in a burn pit.

“The high risk estimate is due to the average (particulate matter) level being at a concentration the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers ‘hazardous,’ and is likely to affect the health of all troops,” wrote Jeffrey Kirkpatrick, director of health risk assessment for the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. “Manganese was also detected above its one-year military exposure guidelines.”

It was sent to the command surgeon general’s office for U.S. Central Command.

And just like what 'Agent Orange' not only did to our soldiers in 'Nam it did to the Citizens of Vietnam, continuing to today, it is and Will Continue to do to the Citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan near where these contaminated garbage pits not only were burned but that contaminated garbage is buried!

We Veterans, who still serve this Country according to our Military Oath and Real Patriotism, and fight against sending our Military into Wars Of Choice by the civilian and military leadership, lost the Battle against the Propaganda of Fixed Intelligence, especially as to invading Iraq, an innocent country and people, but We Won't Lose The Battle As To Care For Our Returning Soldiers, though it's a long battle that shouldn't be!

You may want to visit Mikes webblog {known online as 'testvet'} Military & Veterans: Politics for the deserving, a disabled Veteran, and his personal experiences as to being a 'testvet' and his fighting for not only himself but his brothers and sisters.

And one site to visit often is Larry Scott's VA Watchdog he to has a recent post about the Gulf War I Syndrome Report

For desperate vets, victory, anger over Gulf War Syndrome. Army veteran Randy Saubert takes grandsons Kalev, right, and Ethin to a Colorado Springs park Tuesday. Saubert logged 38,000 miles hauling supplies across the Iraq desert in 1991. Today, he isn't sure what he came into contact with that caused him to develop Lou Gehrig's disease. (photo: Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)

 

"Why did it take so long to listen to the vets and their families? Why have they denied benefits and hurt people and let families fall apart and have soldiers go bankrupt seeking help?"

Once again the Report:

The Gulf War Syndrom Report

RAC Report This link takes you to the site page with the two below.

RAC-GWVI media release, Nov. 17, 2008 DOC

Full report of RAC-GWVI -- Nov. 17, 2008 PDF {The PDF is abit over 6MB download}

 

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