Saturday, March 28, 2009

Time to update Veterans Benefits 1950 era benefits aren't enough

Time to update Veterans Benefits 1950 era benefits aren't enough

I know this will seem like a whine to many people, but the truth of the matter is that General Omar Bradley was in charge of the last committee that rewrote veterans benefits rules.

A few years ago the Ex President from Crawford Tx, near "WACO" had a heavily Republican leaning Committee created in the hopes that they would give him recommendations to fix the "veterans benefits" that he thought were to generous, instead he got this 'Vets Commission Report October 2007 needless to say this heavily recruited Republican committee did not give the President or anyone in his administration, anywhere near what they wanted. Honoring the Call to Duty: Veterans’ Disability Benefits in the 21st Century

Instead they got a document that actually did support veterans and quite well I may add. I am not usually this kind to Republican appointees, but these Republlican appointees all had one thing in common, they were retired military.

The 13 members of the Commission are:

Chairman: James Terry Scott, LTG, USA (Ret)

Nick D. Bacon, 1SG, USA (Ret)
Larry G. Brown, Col, USA (Ret)
Jennifer Sandra Carroll, LCDR, USN (Ret)
Donald M. Cassiday, Col, USAF (Ret)
John Holland Grady
Charles "Butch" Joeckel, USMC (Ret)
Ken Jordan, Col, USMC (Ret)
James Everett Livingston, MG, USMC (Ret)
William M. Matz, Jr. , MG, USA (Ret)
Dennis Vincent McGinn, VADM, USN (Ret)
Rick Surratt (Former USA)
Joe Wynn (Former USAF)

Twelve of the thirteen Commission members are veterans and nine are combat veterans. Combined they have over 260 years of military experience.

Among their awards are:

2 Congressional Medals of Honor

2 Distinguished Service Crosses
9 Silver Stars
6 Distinguished Flying Crosses
5 Bronze Stars for Valor
13 Purple Hearts, and
8 Combat Infantry Badges or Combat Action Ribbons

Not exactly a widely liberal committee by anyone's standards, yet here are some of the highlights they did recommend:

Recommendation 7.6 Chapter 7, Section III.2
Congress should increase the compensation rates up to 25 percentas an interim and baseline future benefit for loss of quality of life,
pending development and implementation of a quality-of-life
measure in the Rating Schedule. In particular, the measure should
take into account the quality of life and other non-work-related
effects of severe disabilities on veterans and family members.

Recommendation 7.8 Chapter 7, Section III.2

Congress should consider increasing special monthly
compensation, where appropriate, to address the more profound
impact on quality of life of the disabilities subject to special monthly
Congress should also review ancillary benefits to
determine where additional benefits could improve disabled
veterans’ quality of life.

Recommendation 7.12 Chapter 7, Section VI
VA and DoD should realign the disability evaluation process so that
the services determine fitness for duty, and service members who
are found unfit are referred to VA for disability rating. All conditions
that are identified as part of a single, comprehensive medical
examination should be rated and compensated.

Recommendation 7.13 Chapter 7, Section V.3
Congress should enact legislation that brings ancillary and specialpurpose
benefits to the levels originally intended, considering the
cost of living, and provides for automatic annual adjustments to
keep pace with the cost of living.

Recommendation 8.2 Chapter 8, Section III.1.B
Congress should eliminate the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency
and Indemnity Compensation offset for survivors of retirees and inservice

Recommendation 9.1 Chapter 9, Section II.5.A.b
Improve claims cycle time by

• establishing a simplified and expedited process for well-documented
claims, using best business practices and maximum feasible use of
information technology; and

• implementing an expedited process by which the claimant can state
the claim information is complete and waive the time period (60 days)
allowed for further development.

14 Honoring the Call to Duty: Veterans’ Disability Benefits in the 21st Century

Congress should mandate and provide appropriate resources to
reduce the VA claims backlog by 50 percent within 2 years.
Recommendation 10.11 Chapter 10, Section VII
VA and DoD should expedite development and implementation of
compatible information systems including a detailed project
management plan that includes specific milestones and lead
agency assignment.

Recommendation 11.1 Chapter 11
Congress should establish an executive oversight group to ensure
timely and effective implementation of the Commission’s
recommendations. This group should be cochaired by VA and DoD
and consist of senior representatives from appropriate departments
and agencies. It is further recommended that the Veterans’ Affairs
Committees hold hearings and require annual reports to measure
and assess progress.

There are a few more issues I have that I think should also be changed but then I am a "progressive thinker" and not as conservative as the Republican committee members were.

Totally disabled veterans like myself can NOT buy life insurance, nor mortgage insurance, many of us are uninsurable. PTSD is a red flag and will get all life policies cancelled, and the VA has a rule that only veterans who qualify for the 50,000 dollar home allowances are allowed to buy 90,000 dollars worth of mortgage insurance. The rest of us are just up the proverbial "creek without any paddles"

The policy needs to be changed that if a veteran had any service connected medical issues that prevent them from being able to obtain life insurance or mortgage insurance then the VA should be required by law to sell it to them at a reasonable rate that a healthy person would pay for the same type of policy. (In other words make us whole) As it stands now if I dropped dead my wife and son would receive the free 10,000 life insurance the VA gave me because I am 100% disabled by my service connected PTSD, and I did purchase the maximum allowable policy they have for disabled veterans, another 20,000 dollars policy.

My wife will recieve 3/4 of my SSD when she turns 60 and if I have been service connected for at least 10 years by the time I pass then the VA will pay her Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) (see I am a great husband, I am making sure my wife gets DIC from the government for the rest of her life. (Now I just have to live until Dec 2012 to make her eligible for her permanent DIC)

I think Congress and the Veterans Service Organizations should be working to correct these deficincies rather than playing "cheer leaders" for militarizing the Mexican Border, or as they did in the past root for the Long Wars of Bush/Cheney and Rumsfeld.

I feel they should be working to get the VDBC recommendations made into law, these men spent almost 2 years holding hearings, finding out the changes that have occurred since 1950 and how the Veterans Benefits have not adjusted with time. The problem that ahppened to this report is that is was delivered at the time the Walter Reed mess hit the front pages of the Washington Post and President Bush appointed Bob Dole and Donna Shalala as a Bi-Partisian team to "fix" the problems.

Senator Dole recommended a 2 tier veterans system "old vets" versus "new vets" in other words veterans from Vietnam, Korea, WW2 etc would stay stuck on the old system and they would create a new system for the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans or "GWOT" veterans as they are also called.

Excuse me a veteran is a veteran, I don't care if your are Frank Buckles the last living WW1 veteran (who went in the Army the year after my Dad got out, Buckles went in 1917, my dad gout out in 1916 after the Mexican Punitive March (they chased Pancho Villa for weeks) with General Blackjack Pershing) or is you are serving in the middle east now, when we go to the grocery stores, or pay our power bills, or any other of life's necessities, like a roof, a car etc they cost the same. When I went in the Army I was paid 198.00 a month now a Private E1 is paid a lot more than that, times change and pay changes, it's a fact of life.

It's bad enough that disabled veterans are disabled because of their military service, but then to deny them the proper amount of funds to live a "normal life" is dispicable. Mortgage Insurance 90,000 why is that the maximum a median home price is what 150,000 now, and we are not talking LA, Chicago or New York, we are talking boonie ville South Carolina (for those that don't know where it is,
it's past Bum Fluck Egypt)

I advocate they pull out that expensive 2 year report they spent millions of dollars creating and let the NEW Democratic controlled Congress and let them vote on it. I am very pleased with President Obama's handling of the VA so far, the increase is the largest in more than 30 years, his wife our First Lady has made military families one of her signature issues, I think this falls into that category, all military families WILL become veterans families.

PS when are we going to see the confirmation hearings for Tammy Duckworth, us disabled veterans want to see her at 810 Vermont Street maybe a job for Max Cleland there to, he already knows where the bodies are buried there.

Is it time for a new 21st Century VA

Hell yes 90% 29 votes
can't we do it without the pay raise? Maybe a 10% raise instead 0% 0 votes
waste that expensive study since it didn't come out the way Bush wanted 0% 0 votes
all of the above 6% 2 votes
3.14 squared 3% 1 votes

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