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Topic : 12/19 Beyond the Front Lines

Number of Replies: 399
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Created on : Thursday, December 11, 2008, 02:55:31 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1
Military men and women are true American heroes who spill their blood fighting for our freedoms. But are we doing all we can as a nation to honor our contract with these warriors? When a soldier survives war, oftentimes he/she comes home and to face a different battle. Dr. Phil's guests are vets who say they've returned from the front lines only to fight a medical system bureaucracy that is failing them. Randy was severely injured during an ambush while deployed in Iraq. His mother, Tammy, says the military lied to him, and used him, and that Randy was eventually lost in the system. She says getting any help from Veterans Affairs is a struggle with minimal results. Dr. Phil introduces this wounded warrior to two special people who want to make his life better. Next, Jerry says he got a "raw deal" when he returned from Iraq, and he's struggling with what he believes to be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His wife says Jerry is angry and violent, and she's afraid of him. You won't believe what they say Veterans Affairs advised Jerry to do to cope with his suicidal thoughts. Chairman of the House Committee on Veteran's Affairs, Congressman Bob Filner, and FOX News military analyst Colonel David Hunt passionately share their opinions about health care for veterans. Then, Kevin and Joyce say their son came home from Iraq a changed man. They say they tried to get him help for what they believed was severe PTSD, but it didn't come in time. And, Tammy Duckworth, Director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs and Paul Rieckhoff, Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, weigh in on the cases. If you're an American, this is your call to arms to step up and help turn things around for the men and women in uniform. Join the discussion.

Find out what happened on the show.

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December 26, 2008, 11:47 am CST

12/19 Beyond the Front Lines

The military sucks and will forever **** the soldiers and their families over. I know people want to think positive and say ohh it will get better but it will never be fixed. it cost to much money and time for the military to even care.
 
December 26, 2008, 4:11 pm CST

Veterans Affairs

My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer several years ago.  He is a veteran of the Korean War and served in a maintenance batallion which, though not stationed in one, was deployed to areas where Agent Orange was used.  He tried to apply for Veterans medical benefits but not until after the threshold was put in place that limits availability of medical benefits to vets that have less than $24,000 in annual income.  We can't qualify under that threshold even though we live on his pension as a retired teacher and his social security income and are precious little over the threshold.  Sooo, he has applied for a VA pension due to being in an area where Agent Orange was used and his diagnosis of prostate cancer.  That was over 4 years ago and we have put together any and all information they have asked of us only to be denied and subsequently filing yet another appeal.  Finally, he had a hearing a few years ago before a judge in the Veterans Affairs group who said as far as he could tell my husband qualified and immediately upon receiving confirmation that his unit was actually in one of those areas he would begin to receive this pension.  We did everything they asked of us to confirm his location but have yet to get that confirmation from VA.  A few times he has contacted appropriate congressmen, etc. to request any help and each time that happens we receive a letter from the VA saying (in so many words) that they are working as hard as they can and we need to leave them alone and let them do that.  I feel sure that as they mail that letter his file goes right back to the bottom of the stack as well.  My son-in-law asked me recently what I thought they were waiting on and I told him honestly I think they are waiting for him to die so they can send me a letter of regret saying they had, at last, been able to gather all the info they need and would be granting his pension except that, OOPS, it's only effective while he is living.
 
December 26, 2008, 8:08 pm CST

response towards beyond the front lines shows

 i was outraged and sick how our va system treat our soldiers when i watched this show.  The soldiers , who risk their lives to keep us safe, are not being taken care of.  Our injured soldiers are constantly challenge the system to have treatment due to combat.  this is ridiculous.   i believe we should make changes  and  make our point in Washington.
 
December 27, 2008, 12:00 am CST

Todays American Veterans

Dr Phil:  I watched your show on American Veterans who have been left to fall through the cracks of our American  political juggling show.  I am angry and ashamed that a country that wants its people to volunteer to serve in our armed forces would shuffle these same people around like a deck of cards.

I have had some dealings with the Veterans Affairs through my father who died in Hines VA Hospital  Chicago, Illinois. After suffering a heart attack in our home town he was transferred there where he underwent heart surgery and a quadruple bypass. At the time of the heart attack he was more than 120 miles from the facility, and transported there by ambulance. Unsure if transport by helicopter which was denied by the VA would of changed the outcome I do know that the vigialance of my family ensured he recieve the best of care. When an incident did occur I wrote letters to my congressmen, senators, the VA and the president of the United States. What is happening today to our veterans is something that our goverment can now add to the things to be ashamed of. How dare this country bury our Veterans is paperwork and indifference. I will write those letters to those that need to here from those who do want our Veterans to be taken care of and with dignity and honor as they deserve. Thank you for you diligence in all matters discussed on your show and I do enjoy watching when I can. This is usually at 1am after working tiill 11pm monday thru friday.Cinda

 
December 27, 2008, 10:55 am CST

How can I help veterans?

I just saw the Veterans show last night, 12/26/08. Maybe it was a repeat? I'm so glad I saw it!
I am in the allied health field and want to help injured veterans in their homes, but I can't find a way to find where they are or how to let them know I'm out here!
I went to the local VA Hospital to post cards/flyers for my business, but I was told I couldn't. They said because they are a gov't run agency it would look like they were supporting my private business over others and they weren't allowed to do that! I have checked all over the internet and can't find local veteran's groups.

Any suggestions? Have I been looking in the wrong place?
 
December 27, 2008, 11:28 am CST

Veterans Administration fails

I'm a 100% service connected disabled Vietnam veteran.  I'm writing to you out of complete frustration, but also with the intent to make you aware of a simple change that needs to be made within the services of the Veterans Administration, so that our dedicated veterans may be better served.   Let me explain the events as they unfolded, so you may understand what has brought me to write to you.  I had traveled from my home in NJ to NC, to visit my grandchildren in Wilmington for the holiday.  Shortly after arrival, I realized that my blood pressure medication had been lost in transit.  Without this medication, I could find myself in a life-threatening situation, stroke or heart attack.  Not able to reach anyone on Thanksgiving.  On Friday morning I immediately contacted the Wilmington, NC, VA Clinic.  Making this call, I felt confident that they would be able to dispense enough of my medication for the remainder of my visit, since the VA program is computerized and a federal program designed to care for disabled veterans wherever we are in the US.  I was shocked and bewildered to find out that the local VA clinic with a pharmacy could not disperse my VA issued medication to me, despite having all my verifiable information.  I then contact the VA clinic that provides medical care for me in NJ.  After being bounced around from one recording to another, I was finally connected to someone who told me that they could not contact the pharmacy at the NJ or NC clinics.  I was advised to call the regional medical center in NJ, my home state.  I explained the situation and the threat that I was in by not having my medication.  Once again, I felt like I hit a brick wall when I was told that this was all VA policy and that I could not be cared for at the local VA clinic or the pharmacy and that nothing could be coordinated between my VA pharmacy and the one in Wilmington, NC.  I was then given 2 options to get my medication, both of which were not feasible.  I could drive 2 hours each way to Fayetteville, NC and be seen at their VA facility emergency center or the medicine could be shipped to me, but would not arrive until next week, when I would no longer be in North Carolina.  Driving to Fayetteville was not an option for me, since I did not have my own means of transportation.  To say that I am extremely disappointed in the services that I received today from the VA is an understatement.  As a veteran of this country and someone who has been classified as a 100% service connected permanent disabled veteran, I am appalled at the red tape and the failed customer services that I experienced, which kept a simple solution from being the answer to the problem that I faced.  My life was at risk and I was 2 miles from a VA pharmacy, but no one could or would help me.  My only solution was to go a civilian doctor and pay out of pocket to be seen and to have my medication filled by a civilian pharmacy. 

As I reflected about the events, and concerned about other disabled veterans who have been in similar situations and not been able to get help.  I wonder, how many young veterans’ lives have been in danger or lost due to this VA policy?  I am compelled to change this policy and am starting with this letter the solution is simple and will have a positive impact on many veterans.  Veteran’s prescriptions that are dispensed by VA Pharmacies should be refillable at any VA pharmacies across the country in a similar medical emergency.  It may be time to out source the VA and utilize local hospitals, pharmacies and doctors, making or VA Digital Identification our Health Card, similar to Blue Cross Blue Shield, or ChampVA.  This would be cost saving and a customer service solution to a poor performing highly expensive organization  No more infrastructure to maintain, or large employment requirements, costly retirement and employee health benefits programs.

 
December 27, 2008, 3:15 pm CST

Response to Beyond The Front Lines

I watched the show last night and as most Americans I became angry. I'm angry at the system but that includes the executive and legislative branches of our government. Every dime the Pentagon receives is less then half of what they need. There could be improvements in the way the military spends money, but they need to get the amount they need to do their job. Next we need to treat our returning military like heroes not criminals. We send them to fight an enemy that wears civilian clothing, uses women and children to strap bombs to themselves and blow up our military and then we place our military in jail for mistakenly killing civilians. A mistake will get them wounded, killed, or placed in prison; what a burden. It's no wonder that they are emotionally disturbed? How about giving every one of our military the same budget amount the congress members receive. also give them the same medical insurance plan the members of congress have. We could even include the same retirement package congress enjoys; after all isn't  the job our military is doing just as important as the job politicians are doing?
 
December 27, 2008, 8:39 pm CST

12/19 Beyond the Front Lines

Quote From: athas17

I just saw the Veterans show last night, 12/26/08. Maybe it was a repeat? I'm so glad I saw it!
I am in the allied health field and want to help injured veterans in their homes, but I can't find a way to find where they are or how to let them know I'm out here!
I went to the local VA Hospital to post cards/flyers for my business, but I was told I couldn't. They said because they are a gov't run agency it would look like they were supporting my private business over others and they weren't allowed to do that! I have checked all over the internet and can't find local veteran's groups.

Any suggestions? Have I been looking in the wrong place?
You may be able to talk to the Fee Basis Service of your local VA and request to contract with them to provide Home Based Primary Care depending on your specific specialty wthin the Allied health field. Otherwise, apply for a job at USA Jobs. The VA NEEDS a great number of providers and others, in return, the VA can provide you with a very satisfying career with a multitude of great benefits.
 
December 27, 2008, 8:51 pm CST

12/19 Beyond the Front Lines

Quote From: jerseykid56

I'm a 100% service connected disabled Vietnam veteran.  I'm writing to you out of complete frustration, but also with the intent to make you aware of a simple change that needs to be made within the services of the Veterans Administration, so that our dedicated veterans may be better served.   Let me explain the events as they unfolded, so you may understand what has brought me to write to you.  I had traveled from my home in NJ to NC, to visit my grandchildren in Wilmington for the holiday.  Shortly after arrival, I realized that my blood pressure medication had been lost in transit.  Without this medication, I could find myself in a life-threatening situation, stroke or heart attack.  Not able to reach anyone on Thanksgiving.  On Friday morning I immediately contacted the Wilmington, NC, VA Clinic.  Making this call, I felt confident that they would be able to dispense enough of my medication for the remainder of my visit, since the VA program is computerized and a federal program designed to care for disabled veterans wherever we are in the US.  I was shocked and bewildered to find out that the local VA clinic with a pharmacy could not disperse my VA issued medication to me, despite having all my verifiable information.  I then contact the VA clinic that provides medical care for me in NJ.  After being bounced around from one recording to another, I was finally connected to someone who told me that they could not contact the pharmacy at the NJ or NC clinics.  I was advised to call the regional medical center in NJ, my home state.  I explained the situation and the threat that I was in by not having my medication.  Once again, I felt like I hit a brick wall when I was told that this was all VA policy and that I could not be cared for at the local VA clinic or the pharmacy and that nothing could be coordinated between my VA pharmacy and the one in Wilmington, NC.  I was then given 2 options to get my medication, both of which were not feasible.  I could drive 2 hours each way to Fayetteville, NC and be seen at their VA facility emergency center or the medicine could be shipped to me, but would not arrive until next week, when I would no longer be in North Carolina.  Driving to Fayetteville was not an option for me, since I did not have my own means of transportation.  To say that I am extremely disappointed in the services that I received today from the VA is an understatement.  As a veteran of this country and someone who has been classified as a 100% service connected permanent disabled veteran, I am appalled at the red tape and the failed customer services that I experienced, which kept a simple solution from being the answer to the problem that I faced.  My life was at risk and I was 2 miles from a VA pharmacy, but no one could or would help me.  My only solution was to go a civilian doctor and pay out of pocket to be seen and to have my medication filled by a civilian pharmacy. 

As I reflected about the events, and concerned about other disabled veterans who have been in similar situations and not been able to get help.  I wonder, how many young veterans lives have been in danger or lost due to this VA policy?  I am compelled to change this policy and am starting with this letter the solution is simple and will have a positive impact on many veterans.  Veterans prescriptions that are dispensed by VA Pharmacies should be refillable at any VA pharmacies across the country in a similar medical emergency.  It may be time to out source the VA and utilize local hospitals, pharmacies and doctors, making or VA Digital Identification our Health Card, similar to Blue Cross Blue Shield, or ChampVA.  This would be cost saving and a customer service solution to a poor performing highly expensive organization  No more infrastructure to maintain, or large employment requirements, costly retirement and employee health benefits programs.

Whoever you spoke to was wrong! They should have instruced you to go to that clinic and present for Urgent Care. The UC physician would be able to review  your Patient Treatment record and review and order your meds. If this should ever happen again, request to speak to either the Patient Advocate, the Administrative Officer, or Chief Medical Officer. They will fix the problem by getting you in to see a Doc who will order your meds and you will help them identify the need to provide training to their staff to prevent this from happening in the future.
 
December 27, 2008, 9:59 pm CST

Throwing money at the problem is not the answer

The VA is NOT the only culprit here. They are only a part of a larger problem that begins with the Department of Defense (DOD) that has been in the business of dumping patients on the VA since the VA was created. I know, I almost became one of them. Were it not for a Veterans Service Officer, a good Lawyer, and a couple of second opinions that I paid for myself, I would have been left homeless and too disabled to find a job to support my family after 12 years of service.

In my opinion, the VA is working diligently to serve ALL who come to them for help. The problem is that the expansion of their workload has far outpaced the physical expansion of the facilities that provide the medical services and benefits they seek.

To be clear, the military has no interest in you once you can no longer perform your duties even if you are an award winning service member. I have personally experienced the Physical Evaluation Board process and I have assisted others who also have been processed out this way. The military, no matter which service, give soldiers, sailors and airmen the "bum's rush" once a doctor renders an opinion that you are not fit for continued service. Military personnel are discharged without having received the full benefit of medical care or benefits to support them through their recovery and rehabilitation. They literally add insult to injury.

IT IS THE LAW - (see Title 10 USC which outlines the process and Title 38 which contains the actual disability ratings used by both the VA and DOD) The military is required by law to render rating decisions for these soldiers who have been found unfit due to military related or aggravated conditions, and provide either severance pay or retirement benefits with health insurance to these individuals. Yet there are thousands of cases in which the law has been ignored. It is a shame that this practice continues today.

Insofar as PTSD is concerned, it is primarily the Military Services that are rendering this diagnosis of "Personality Disorder" (PD) instead of PTSD to active duty personnel. This is because they are well aware that this is not a ratable condition according to Title 38. This diagnosis negates any possibility of the DOD having to pay benefits to these individuals because they characterize it as a preexisting condition. In thousands of instances, these individuals have suffered an undesireble character of discharge because, instead of providing medical care when problems first present, the military ingnores the issue until it results in a conduct matter. These unfortunate souls receive bad conduct discharges which render them ineligible for any Veterans benefits. (this is certainly the case for far too many Viet nam Vet's)

As far as the VA is concerned, it would be better to have no diagnosis in service at all, than to try to overturn a diagnosis of personality disorder. This is because the VA uses the Military Medical record as their primary resource when rendering a VA rating decision; if PD is in there it's an uphill battle to receiving benefits. The DOD has been rendering this diagnosis to unsuspecting soldiers since WWII and once done, they swiftly discharge them.

The VA has its issues, and indeed they do make bad rating decisions from time to time. I assure you this is the exception and not the rule. Please keep in mind what I have said; many of the issues that fall upon the VA could be resolved with a lawful discharge process that includes providing departing service members with correct legal advise concerning their options and offering access to second opinions while on active duty.

 
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