Monday, April 6, 2009

VA website and Gulf War news and OIF/OEF

Well, whaddaya know? It DOES seem like they've fixed a few things noted here. Thanks for checking things out, Vicki. I don't know if I, personally, had anything to do with it, because I'm sure I wouldn't have been the only one complaining.

It would be great if you (and everyone else) would just browse through the VA website for various GW issues and make a note of what isn't available, current or working. It seems to me like they should be publishing and updating these GW Reviews, Reports, and other publications at least annually (if not sooner), instead of waiting until someone complains.

I've tried to list and keep current many of the VA links in the Index of VA Resources, and that's how I frequently find out that the VA has changed something:;f=14;t=000001

So, if you see something in the Index of VA Resources that isn't working, please feel free to note it there or to send me a message about it and I'll bring it up-to-date. I really think the VA should be keeping a comparable index, instead of the one they have here:
You have to know what the name of the issue or office is to look anything up there. Most noteably, is that you have to know where that VA index link is within the VA website to begin with! There's no link to it from the main VA homepage or Gulf War page.

Then, the next thing I do when I get a list of discrepancies together is to challenge their information, noting what ISN'T mentioned in the reports, as well as what is. One example is finding that the old VA M-10 policy manuals (approx 150 pages) had been replaced with the VA Handbook 1303.2 (38 pages). Then, finding that the OEF soldiers had been eliminated from the GW Registry exams in that handbook:
(excerpt from VHA HANDBOOK 1303.2 - )

"NOTE: Veterans who served in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) are not eligible for
GWR examinations. Information on Afghanistan or other combat areas can be accessed on
website .
(2) Eligible GW and/or OIF veterans applying for treatment in a VA medical center and/or
outpatient clinic need to be encouraged to undergo an initial (i.e., “first-time”) GWR
March 7, 2005 VHA HANDBOOK 1303.2"

Also, the link (above) they've provided for the OEF veterans is broken (at least as of this date) Both, OIF and OEF veterans were at one time included in the GW Registry evaluations, and although the VA acknowledges that the OEF and OIF troops have similar health problems, the poor OEF veterans have been lost in the consideration for environmental health issues:
"VA Health Care Use by Enduring Freedom Veterans.

In a report issued in 2004, VA analysts found that among 43,600 OEF veterans who have separated from active duty nearly 10 percent (about 4,300) have sought health care from VA. OEF veterans have a wide range of both medical and psychological conditions. Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom veterans have experienced about the same kinds of health problems since returning to the U.S. even though they served in separate theaters of operations. Those OEF veterans examined by VA are not necessarily typical of all OEF veterans."

So, it's things like that we have to be on the lookout for because as these policies are quietly and arbitrarily changed and/or deleted, we find ourselves losing more and more benefits.

At this point, I can only ask that we make note of these things here so we can refer back to the problem(s) as they occur. You don't need to know how to interpret laws to see what's been changed or eliminated. Then, when it comes time to address these and other issues in congress, we'll have it here to look back to. It's like reviewing your medical records... You don't have to know medical terminology so much to know what's been omitted, or misrepresented by your doctor(s) when documenting your records.

Gulf War Vets Bulletin Board

If you have ever served in the Middle East this is a board you should at least look at and read if not join there are some very knowledgeable people there on VA claims and the process and already posted data and research projects I have been a member for years I am number 6 on the board and joined this new board after the old one crashed I am not part of the administrators but I post a lot there

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