Placido Salazar psalazar9@satx.rr.

Everybody is pointing the finger at VA for the Veterans’ disability claims backlog….. and part of that might be justified, but the Department of Defense is very much to blame for shirking their responsibility, for intentionally and wrongfully misdiagnosing, then separating war-returnees who should actually be medically retired, with continued psychological and medical treatment – and disability compensation. If our country cannot afford this – then we should not send our troops into the combat zone. The enemy is not shooting with water pistols at our troops…. they are using live ammo and Improvised Explosive Devices, which greatly destroys the human body and those who survive, will need medical/psychological care for the remainder of their lives. Some of them live far from VA hospitals. WHY is this happening? An investigation of the military should be immediately launched – interviewing all those warriors who have been labeled as “social readjustment problems,” instead of correctly and truthfully diagnosing them as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” patients. In this manner, the military establishment washes its hands of this military-created combat-related situation affecting hundreds of thousands of our troops returning from the battlefield, many of them with PTSD, even after their first combat tour. Instead of properly screening and diagnosing them, these PTSD-affected troopers are sent back to the battlefield time and again. That is probably why so many suicides, illegal killings, rapes, etc., are happening in the host-counties, but our military and political leaders just “keep sweeping the problem” under the proverbial rug.

Upon separation, these thousands of disabled warriors who should have received medical retirement, are instead pawned-off on the already overwhelmed Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims system. For the military, this means less paperwork and more-impressive statistics. For the affected warrior in desperate need of proper psychological and medical care, if labeled as a “social behavior readjustment problem,” this means that s/he will in all probability be drummed out the gate with a “Less than Honorable” discharge, without much-needed continued psychological/medical/retirement benefits, unable to reenlist, pretty much looking forward to being broke and homeless. In the case of “undocumented immigrant warriors” who enlisted and risked their lives in OUR WAR/combat, with hopes of earning the enticing “citizenship,” this means that s/he will be “Less than Honorable” separated – and DEPORTED to country of origin, before s/he can walk out the base gate, unable to re-enter our country and with no way of establishing a claim for earned entitlements. I personally challenged Dr. Ira Katz (top VA mental health official), face-to-face in San Antonio TX, to “tell the truth to these hundreds of Army troops before you, about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),which you have intentionally been avoiding during this three day conference, hiding instead behind the label of “social readjustment problem.” After the audience was gone, he came and sat in front of me and said, “Thanks to coming to Washington DC, to light a fire under our ass to do our job….. what do you think I should do?” Again, I told him, “How about TELLING THE TRUTH TO OUR TROOPS, THAT WILL WORK.” What a way for The U.S. to reward our warriors, American or foreign, for sacrificing their lives and their health, “for our country.” THIS – is a gross, inhumane travesty which screams for an immediate investigation – and corrective action. Placido Salazar, USAF Retired Vietnam Veteran (210) 422-0378

Veterans’ Legislation Liaison - Dr. Hector P. Garcia American GI Forum Org. America’s Last Patrol Disabled American Veterans
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Vermont Services Newsroom Legislation About Bernie Contact

Senators Call for Greater Pentagon, VA Cooperation on Claims Backlog
March 25, 2013

WASHINGTON, March 25 – The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs today urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to help the Department of Veterans Affairs curb a growing backlog of claims for disability benefits. The letter from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate panel, spoke of “the absolute need for continued collaboration, cooperation and commitment between these two agencies.” All of the other members of the committee also signed the letter, including Sens. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (DOhio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (DConn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (RNeb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Veterans receive disability compensation for injuries or illness incurred during their active military service. As of this month, more than 600,000 claims have been pending for more than 125 days and are considered backlogged.

The senators said the Pentagon has an “increasingly vital” role to play in VA’s effort to transform the compensation claims process. They called the backlog “one of the largest challenges confronting the Department of Veterans Affairs.” They praised a recent agreement to speed the delivery of Department of Defense documents to the VA on the treatment of service-related injuries. They also encouraged a planned switch from paper to digital records by the end of this year. “We look forward to working together to ensure that the brave men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our country receive the benefits that they undoubtedly earned and deserve,” the letter said.
To read the letter, click here.

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