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Topic : 12/19 Beyond the Front Lines

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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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January 6, 2009, 1:55 pm CST

Dr. Phil Keep Pressuring the VA

This show  has been needed for a long time. Dr. Phil you have the voice that can make things happen, we have authors that are trying to make a change, Paul Rieckhoff, Eric Newhouse and many others. All that I can say is Dr. Phil, keep hounding the VA, somebody will listen... eventually.
 
January 9, 2009, 10:18 am CST

Do Not Forget the Vietnam Veterans

Please do not forget your promise Dr. Phil to have a follow up show to Beyond the Front Lines.  We have so many Vietnam Veterans, still being denied their rights to compensation and benefits for Agent Orange.

We need  more shows like this one to help not only our returning troops, but those who have been forgotten.  Our government should be made accountable to ALL veterans no matter how they have suffered, through roadside bombs, chemicals, Agent Orange, PTSD, or radiation.

Once again, please consider another show to address issues for ALL of our precious and deserving veterans.

 
January 11, 2009, 6:40 am CST

Disgrace

I have read about Randy's story and I am disgusted in the system!!  I am the wife of a soilder and the mom of a Marine.  My husband just returned from Iraq with PTSD and other injuries and the system is NOT what it should be.  As a matter of fact without the proper help our marriage is failing at a high rate of speed. I live in a town nearby Randy and Tammy and they couldn't be more accurate is stating that the satalite office here is hard to get help from without jumping through hoops.  We have made several trips to the VA in Syracuse (a three hour drive) and it seems like we are getting no where.  To Randy..... thank you for you service and the sacrifices you have had to go through!!  And to Tammy, i pray everyday my son does not get deployed.  I have said many times, it's one thing to send you husband, "the strong man you married", but it's a whole different story to send your "babies".  To Dr. Phil.... thank you for standing behind our troops, without people like you, heros like Randy would do just that...."fall through the cracks" and that to me is a disgrace!

 
January 12, 2009, 7:18 am CST

For Jerry on the Show

You made the comment that you've gone from a somebody to a nobody.  Sweetheart, you ARE somebody  in my eyes!  You are a true Hero!!!!!  You have gone and done the ultimate.  You've got the guts & courage that the rest of us do not have, you did what the rest of us are unwilling to do!  So thank you!  I am an Air Force wife, and I truly admire my husband for his dedication to this wonderful country!  I admire & respect each and every man and woman that has served, is serving and will serve in the US Military.  You all are very special people.  Once again, Jerry, thank you for what you've done for for me, You are a HERO in my eyes.  You and your wife will be in my thoughts & prayers.  God Bless You! 

 

Dustie

 
January 12, 2009, 2:55 pm CST

Dealing With The VA

First, I must apologize for being "late" on this, but, was up North when we watched this particular show.  Plan was to come home, then share what I know with everyone, as well as comment on items either not included due to time, or, were simply "missed".  Arriving home, we found our computer decided to not work.  Yes, I'm on a borrowed system until I get back up.

 

Some of what I will say is based on assumption as not enough details.  Other will be based on my personal experiences with the VA since 1970.  For space purposes the comments will be shortened.

 

My first experience wth the VA in 1970 was not a happy one.  I ended up getting so angry I walked away, only contacting them for my education.  I later found out (1993) about being reevaluated, which, now has me, after a total of 15 years rated at 100% Service Connected.  To add, I have been on appeal since 1997 on one specific item which will be discussed later.  Finally, after VA "baloney", I have my second "Traveling Board" with a Judge on January 29 in San Diego.  I'm giving a quick history so as to show that if I had known then what I know now, most of this would have been resolved years ago.  In 1997 I was told my best bet was to go see a represenative from one of the Veteran's Service Organizations, such as the DAV, AMVETS, VFW, and the MOPH.  I wish I had known of them sooner.

 

All the veteran has to do is go to their nearest Regional Office or Hospital.  On the ground floor, they will find offices for each of the organizations.  Just walk in, or, if posted, sign in and have a seat.  All you need is a copy of your DD214 and any medical records you may have.  If the veteran was medically discharged or retired out, they will have some of that info in their own files.  These papers I'm referring to are from the Physical Evaluation Board and include the findings used to determine if the veteran is or is not fit for duty.  In short, just take all that was given on date of release.  Other medical records will be sent to St. Louis, MO where they will be retained.  This does not happen overnight, so, it is best to file your claim ASAP, in hopes the records are caught prior to be shipped out from where the veteran was treated.  To include, if while you were recovering in the Hospital, and  represenatative from the VA had you fill out a claim, let the service officer know.  This service is free and there is no obligation to join the organization.  They will ask for the veteran to sign a Power of Attorney to act on your behalf.  They will file the claim for you.  You do nothing more, but wait.  Just as the veteran will receive occasional letters, the service officer will receive same.  Upon receipt of a decision, and it is felt to not be proper, contact the officer to file the appeal.  All paperwork is included in the letters.

 

The two biggest problems with the VA are one,  that the "book" they use to determine extent of disability is so far outdated, a reasonable person cannot for the life of them even begin to understand how they arrive at their decisions.  The second is that it takes time and money to train a person to do this work.  As an example, there is no section for the Pelvic Area.  It is included in the Back section as it is connected to the back.  An example is my Pelvis was broken very bad in that it did not heal properly and does cause me problems today.  For years, the VA kept denying me a rating, though the damage was recognized.  Finally, just a few years ago, a man who was retiring from the VA that very day, found a way to compensate me.  That closed part of my appeals.  I do have to say that they are limited in how they do this, but, it goes right back to what I said before in that the book is outdated.

 

Here, I want to commend Dr. Phil for bringing those Doctors in who are going to repair the damage to the eye.  I am assuming by what I remember being said that the VA said they would not help on this.  I do not understand why.  Usually, if the injuries were of the face. there is no question and the proper repair is performed.  For this, I can only wonder if the facility where he went was not properly staffed and the intent was to find a facility who could.  I don't know.  I would like to hear the whole reasons so as to try ad understand this.  Most always, the VA Hospitals have proper staff to cover most everything, and, if lacking, they outsource to the nearest facility, whether VA, military, or civilian.  I use the Loma Linda VA and received treatment at another local Surgery Clinic.  LLVAMC did not have a surgeon at the time for this procedure.  I was not alone as there were several.   Many VA Hospitals have some Doctor's or even PA's on staff, with other Doctor's on contract, who come in once a week.  This is found at the Reno, NV VAMC.  All Specialist Doctor's (Ortho, Cardio, Neuro) have their own offices in town, but, once a week, they hold a clinic.  LLVAMC is part of the "circle" for Interns.  Here, in the Special Clinics, an Intern handles the visit, leaves, comes back with the Staff Doctor to complete visit.  Also, each facility has a "Patient's Advocate" who will assist you if you have a problem.  Again, I would have to know the whole story.  Yes, I had problems, but, was able to get them resolved.

 

The same applies  to the comment by the mother as to the military lying.  I don't know the whole story.  Who said what?  Did they go higher up the chain to get answers, or, did they just walk away?

 

As to the "satelite" facilites, I do not use them personally as it  takes forever to get in, but, most important, it is only for your primary care, no special care, such as Ortho.  So I just keep all my records in one place.  I am not alone in this as there are several others who do the same.

 

Regarding mental problems.  I find it hard to believe that a VA facility turned away a veteran who claimed to be suicidal.  In every facility I've visited, if a veteran shows signs, or claims to be, is automatically placed in a seperate room of the ER until a bed is found in the Mental Ward.  The veteran is kept until they consider them "safe".  Most times they will have one of the VA Police stand guard at the door to protect both the veteran and anyone nearby.

 

Regarding PTSD, I have this to say.  In other eras, it was called, "Shell Shock" and "Battle Fatigue", as well as other names.  No matter what you call it, it is a form of Menatal Stress.  Mental Stress is known to contribute or be secondary to many problems, includng artery and heart disease.  This is where the VA has their biggest problem.  The "book" I mentioned earlier does not have this in it's content.  Even though they know (they're conducting their own tests also) that many different "Facilities" have been researching and finding the relationships as I mention, the VA still refuses to award any disability ratings for the sole reason that is is not listed in the book, so, they do not have to do anything.  For this reason, the only way for a veteran to get a rating for a secondary or contributing cause, they must have a letter from their Cardiologist clearly stating "likely as likely not" to be either.  Until the veteran can show this, they must remain appealing their claims, or walk away.  I say this as this is exactly what my appeal being heard the end of this month is all about.  My Cardiologist (Dept Head of LLVAMC) wrote a letter that gives me the benefit of th doubt.  Remember, I filed the original claim in December, 1997, after my heart attack the previous month.

 

I did not tell them I had PTSD, they told me.  Too long a story to place here.  In my own opinion, and, no, I am not a doctor, I strongly feel that this diagnosis is given way too easy.  Don't misunderstand me, if you have stepped on a battlefield, you more than likely suffered a traumatic experience.  Where my problem lies is all that is needed to support the claim is to show proof of being awarded the Combat Infantry Badge (Army) or Combat Action ribbon (USMC/USN).  And, if awarded the Purple Heart, it is assured you will be awarded.  You simply sit down with an Analyst or Doctor, tell your story, shed a few tears, and all is good.  To me, there should be a stricter requirement in that what if the problem is something deeper or very minor.  Is the PTSD diagnosis given incorrectly going to help the veteran get better or overcome their problem?  This is my fear.

 

We all know that the VA submits a budget each year to operate.  Yes, the numbers are padded and all know how the game is played.  Either way, they still have only so much money to work on.  And, when they lack funds, the veteran lacks services.  For example, at LLVAMC, the only way to get "transitional"glasses is if the Doctor orders them with a specific prescription and good cause for dong so.  The same aplies to medicines.  Expensive are not available, or, only with a specific prescription.   To supplement their income, the VA will ask the veteran if they have health insurance through their employer.  They will bill and ask the amount remitted as payment in full, with no other charges to the veteran.  True, other charges that are normally paid by the veteran do remain.  BUT, here we have a problem that really bothers me.  Some HMO's and PPO's will not pay the VA a dime.  Written in their booklets will be verbiage along the line of "we will not pay for services that would otherwise be free".  If the veteran does not have any insurance, treatment will not be denied.  Here it should be understood that when a veteran first goes to a VA Hospital they need to take their DD214 with them as well as award letters to show their service connected disabilities.  Based on this, veteran will know right then what their status is.  For example, if they have co pays or not,

 

Lastly, everyone needs to know that away from the VA Offices and Hopitals are what are called Vet Centers.  They are manned by analysts and counselors.  The are also free and a DD214 is all that is necessary.  They have PTSD groups as well as one on one available.  While with the Reno Center, I was lucky to go on a trip across country with 20 other Vietnam Vets, and counselors, to the Vietnam Memorial in DC.  We used AmTrak and was gone for 9 days.  We even did a Documentary on this trip.

 

My intent of all I say here is that I want as many as can be possible to know what is out there.   Much of this was not mentioned on the show.  I can only assume it was due to time as Dr. Phil would never have a show "withhold" information.  Right, Dr. Phil?  At the same time, I do understand that there is not always sufficient time to gather all information and assistance that may be present.

 

I must add that one guest did raise my "dander".  His constant negative was beyond ridiculous.  Was not constructive in any way, and, only added  more fuel to the fire and keep this country seperated.  I did appreciate the Congressman coming there to listen.  I only hope that he can read some of this.  In fact, if Dr. Phil wants, just ask.  I'll be glad to write a letter outlining what I know and can prove in writing.  I have all of my papers from Day 1 to support what I say in how I was treated over the years.

 

If what I've said here can help a veteran and his family, I will be quite happy.  Since I found out what I had missed and cost myself, I make it a priority when i meet other veterans to ask if they are getting all they deserve.

 

Again, my system is down for a while so I cannot be here every day to read.  Do not hesitate to ask me a question as I will answer it to the best of my ability.  I will add items I may have missed as I find them.

 
February 6, 2009, 5:08 pm CST

The VA turning their backs on our Vets

I'm writing this in respone to your show "Beyond The Front Lines". I live in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California and for about 38 years across the street from the Sepulveda Veterans Hospital.

At this time our Council and residence are fighting to keep all of this property for our Veterans. There are several empty buildings on the about 160 acreas. There are 2 companies, New Directions, Inc and A

Community Of Friends trying to use 2 of these buildings for sober living by getting a Zoning Variance.

These would NOT be for Veterans only! Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we get as much support from anyone who is willing to help us stop this zoning variance go through. We need every inch of Government land that is designated for medical services to take care of those who are taking care of us.

 

 

 
March 13, 2009, 11:53 am CDT

PTSD victim booted for ‘misconduct’

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/01/military_ptsd_discharge_010709w/

 

From the law office of Jason Perry; public statement on Sgt Adam Boyle's case against command at Fort Bragg: http://www.peblawyer.com/attorney_profile.html

 

ISSUES IN ADMINISTRATIVE DISHARGE CASE OF SGT ADAM BOYLE

SGT Boyle’s administrative separation violated his Constitutional Due Process rights, Army Regulations, and was patently illegal.

Legal Errors

1. The Army failed to refer SGT Boyle’s case to the Physical Evaluation Board

SGT Boyle’s administrative separation is prohibited by AR 635-200, Paragraph 14–17, g., which states that in cases where a separation for misconduct is recommended by an administrative board, disposition through medical channels is required if the “Soldier has an incapacitating physical or mental illness that was the direct or substantial contributing cause of the conduct, and action under the UCMJ is not initiated. A copy of the signed decision by the GCMCA will be included with the records.” (Emphasis added). The Administrative Separation Board did not address this issue and the General Court-Martial Convening Authority (GCMCA) failed to make findings about the impact of SGT Boyle’s condition on his conduct. No signed decision by the GCMCA was included with the records.

2. The findings of the Administrative Separation Board were based on an incomplete record

The Administrative Separation Board denied SGT Boyle’s assigned military counsel’s request for a delay until records from his Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) could be submitted. The separation board convened on October 29, 2008, and the MEB was approved on the same day. The Narrative Summary, which contains the detailed findings of the MEB physician, was completed on October 23, 2008, well before the hearing. The Narrative Summary stated that SGT Boyle has Chronic PTSD, “a severe psychiatric condition,” and that his condition fails retention standards under AR 40-501. The MEB further recommended that the “Service member should be referred to the Physical Evaluation Board for further adjudication and requires the duty limitations specified on the attached DA Form 3349.” This information should have been considered by the Administrative Separation Board. It was required to have been considered by the GCMCA.

In addition, SGT Boyle’s Enlisted Record Brief (ERB) considered by the board was more than 6 months old and was incomplete. Specifically, his latest Army Achievement Medal was not listed on his brief. An updated ERB was requested by military defense counsel. This was not provided, even though this record is readily available to the command via a Department of the Army web based computer application. This failure meant that the Administrative Separation Board and the GCMCA did not have an accurate basis to make findings regarding the proper discharge characterization.

3. The Army failed to give SGT Boyle the required rehabilitative transfer

Army Regulation 635-200, Paragraph 1-16,c. requires that prior to initiating an administrative separation for a pattern of misconduct, the Soldier must be transferred to a new unit for at least 3 months to provide him an opportunity to rehabilitate. The GCMCA may waive the rehabilitation requirements “where common sense and sound judgment indicate that such transfer will serve no useful purpose or produce a quality soldier.” Id. However, in SGT Boyle’s case, no such rehabilitation or waiver was made. Furthermore, Dr. George Krolick, Ph.D.,Clinical Psychologist, stated in his May 8, 2008 evaluation that “it is likely that efforts to rehabilitate or develop this individual into a satisfactory member of the military will be successful.” Note that SGT Boyle was not alleged to have engaged in misconduct after this date and in the 9 months preceding his discharge. This shows that not only was rehabilitation likely to succeed, but that even in the absence of a rehabilitative transfer, he was actually rehabilitated.

Compounding the failure to transfer SGT Boyle prior to initiating a separation, the Administrative Separation Board found that his chain of command failed to properly address the pattern of misconduct (“what helped mitigate this was the testimony from your chain of command. We felt they could have done a better job of putting a plan of action into effect that might have prevented a pattern.” (Page 28).

4. The Administrative Separation was illegal punishment

SGT Boyle’s Commander, who initiated the separation action, testified at the separation hearing that, “The Chapter was paperwork was started because of an incident in Georgia…The Chapter is his punishment for the incident.” (Page 11, Administrative Separation Board).  Since the separation action was administrative in nature and non-judicial, the procedures used to punish SGT Boyle violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Article 15 (Non-Judicial Punishment). Furthermore, the punishment imposed, separation, exceeded the authorized punishment under UCMJ, Article 15.

5.  The Army failed to consider military defense counsel's appeal

AR 635-200, Paragraph 2-6., requires that any legal errors identified by the respondent must be  reviewed by an officer of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps prior to approval of the case by the GCMCA. The Administrative Separation Board hearing occurred on October 29, 2008. On November 6, 2008, SGT Boyle’s military defense counsel submitted an appeal requesting retention and referral to a Physical Evaluation Board. The appeal raised the legal error in not referring SGT Boyle to a Physical Evaluation Board. It detailed his honorable service, combat service, the findings of the Medical Evaluation Board, and pointed out that all of the alleged misconduct found by the Separation Board occurred after his return from Iraq. It also detailed the proactive treatment and intervention that SGT Boyle sought to address his conditions. The defense counsel states that she was told that the case had already been approved by the GCMCA and that the appeal could not be considered. This is in spite of the fact that the GCMCA did not approve the case until December 16, approximately 5 weeks later.

6. The Administrative Separation Board and the General Court-Martial Convening Authority failed to consider SGT Boyle’s complete service record in determining his discharge characterization

AR 635-200, Paragraph 3-5 e., requires that the characterization of service “must accurately reflect the nature of service performed…The Soldier’s performance of duty and conduct must be accurately evaluated.” Paragraph 3-7 a.(2)(d), states, “Unless otherwise ineligible, a soldier may receive an honorable discharge if he/she has, during his/her current enlistment, period of obligated service, or any extensions thereof, received a personal decoration.” The ERB that was considered by the Administrative Separation Board was more than 6 months old and did not list his third award of the Army Achievement Medal, earned for his meritorious service in Iraq and during his current enlistment. To have an accurate picture of his military service, SGT Boyle earned two Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, and two Army Good Conduct Medals.

The dated and inaccurate ERB deprived the Administrative Separation Board and the GCMCA of the whole picture of SGT Boyle’s honorable military service. This error was a violation of his Constitutional Due Process rights and Army Regulations.

The Illegal Separation Violated SGT Boyle’s Constitutional Due Process Rights and Army Regulations

The illegal discharge was stigmatizing and therefore requires the Army to respect SGT Boyle’s Constitutional Due Process rights. Federal case law states that these rights include notice of the action and an opportunity for a hearing. Casey v. United States, 8 Cl. Ct. 234 (1985). Without going into the details, the notice given SGT Boyle was defective because the findings by the Administrative Separation Board and the GCMCA included allegations of misconduct that he was not notified of prior to his hearing. This issue aside, the hearing was defective because it did not consider the available findings of the Medical Evaluation Board, violated Army Regulations, was based on incomplete information, and failed to offer SGT Boyle an opportunity to submit matters in his defense after the findings were announced.

As discussed previously, the hearing also, separately, violated Army Regulations.

Consequences of the Illegal Discharge

As a result of his illegal discharge with a General Discharge certificate, SGT Boyle was required to repay his re-enlistment bonus of $18,500. Because he outprocessed with a debt to the Army, SGT Boyle’s last paycheck was withheld. He was stripped of his accrued leave, which he could have otherwise taken or sold back to the Army. Without an honorable discharge characterization, he is ineligible for remission of indebtedness (which would cancel his debt), and is disqualified from the federal Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers program. His rights to healthcare, compensation, and educational benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs are now in doubt.  He was denied his rights to a Physical Evaluation Board, which could have resulted in military retirement, health care benefits, and other retiree benefits due to his PTSD and migraine-like headaches.

SGT Boyle is a decorated twice deployed veteran of the Iraq war. As a result of his combat service he was injured and developed PTSD. Instead of giving him the benefits due to him under the law, the Army illegally separated him with a stigmatizing misconduct discharge. Instead of focusing on recovering from his injuries, he now must figure out where he is going to live, what he is going to do for work, and where he is going to get the treatment he deserves. The United States Army should have helped him. It should have given him the rights due under the Constitution and Army Regulations. Unfortunately, the Army has instead pushed him out without resources and he is left to fend for himself. This is not how we are supposed to treat our Wounded Warriors.

 

 
March 17, 2009, 10:56 pm CDT

What about the other victims of violence

I like the fact that you all are trying to look after those that have been wounded by war. What about those that suffer the same tragedies by the hands of others? I saw him and I felt his pain, I live his pain! I hope something is done about this backwards system. I hope we can all find help and true happiness! Nothing feels better than doing right and telling the truth,nothing beats it. I too have been disfigured from head to toe by several other abusers. To live with pain like that everyday is no fun at all, especially when it wasn't your choice or deserved it. We all need what we need now,not later, all ages, we are all human and we are all still here! One of my sisters was in that war, but she came home, she should me how her skin broke out, she had the nicest skin, eventhough skin irritation runs in the family. She don't talk much but I wonder how it effects her. She never shot anyone, to kill another breathing soul good or bad is wrong. To not help your own people in their time of need is worse.
 
July 21, 2009, 11:25 am CDT

A swedish opinion

First of all I want to apologize for any spelling mistakes I make.

 

Scond of all I just saw the show (since I live in another contry they are shown some time after the US) and it really fightens me how bad the treatment for veterans are. The US is a big contry and most of the world takes after them. Sweden is onley 3 years behind! And besides, I have a lot of friends in the US witch some of them are if the army. What will happen to them if they were hurt in some war? What would their famelys do? And what would I do if one of my friend would be hurt?

 

I pray that the system gets better soon and i thank Dr. Phil for bringing this to my attention!

 
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