Wednesday, June 24, 2009

VA domiciliary offers aid to troubled vets

VA domiciliary offers aid to troubled vets

by Janice Gibbs | Medical Writer
Published: June 22, 2009
The struggles of wounded warriors are well documented. There are veterans who carry their injuries on the outside, while others’ injuries are not readily apparent, but equally traumatic.

Many of those who carry their wounds internally turn to drugs and alcohol to quiet their inner turmoil, a way of life hard to sustain.

When the veteran is ready for help there are VA programs in place to assist. The domiciliary at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center has several residential treatment programs to help the veteran who is trying to find his or her footing in a world turned upside down.

“There aren’t a lot of barriers that would exclude veterans from the programs, other than availability,” said Dr. Fred Willoughby, psychologist at the domiciliary. “Most of the programs have waiting lists. We can’t guarantee same-day access.”

Programs at the domiciliary include a Substance Treatment Employment Program that provides assessment and treatment services to veterans with substance abuse problems. The vocational aspect of the program works with the veteran to find employment, housing, transportation and reintegration into the community.

The Rehabilitation and Reintegration Treatment Program focuses on rehabilitation of medical and mental health problems, and reintegration into the community.

The Women’s Trauma Recovery Center provides residential treatment for the effects of military sexual trauma.

Domiciliary residents get into the treatment programs in a number of ways, including VA homeless social workers, the Waco VA psychiatric unit and VA hospitals. The residents come from across the country.

The domiciliary has 400 beds and is the second largest in the country.

The population of the domiciliary depends on the weather and the time of the year - winter being the busiest time, said Richard Tremaine, domiciliary administrator.

“We’ll prioritize those people who are waiting . . . do they have family they can stay with, versus someone who has nowhere to go,” Tremaine said.

Those who do participate in a program have to be mentally and medically stable and be able to take care of their living space, take showers and get to the cafeteria for meals.

The average age of the domiciliary resident is about 50, with the youngest probably 21 and the oldest 85.

The needs of the younger veterans are somewhat different from other residents, because they aren’t all that familiar with the VA, said Bobby Zimmerman, domiciliary administrative officer. Most assimilate well because the support system at the VA - the medical and professional staff and the older veterans - work to make the domiciliary the younger veteran’s home.

“Some, both men and women, are coming directly from a combat zone,” Zimmerman said. “They’re having problems adjusting and their world just spins out of control. They need all the support we can offer.”

Dr. Gerald Darnell, chief of psychology services, agrees younger veterans have different problems and issues.

“They’re at a different stage of life, wanting to return to family and understand what’s going on in their marriage and their relationships with their children,” Darnell said. “What’s great about the VA is that we have programming that meets that spectrum of needs.”

Even though the issues for post traumatic stress disorder are more out in the open, admitting one needs help is difficult, he said. However, since more information is out there, a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend can more readily identify signs of a problem.

When the veteran leaves the domiciliary, the VA will make arrangements for aftercare, Willoughby said. Those with mental illness can enter the Mental Health Intensive Case Management program and will be introduced to their case manager before leaving the domiciliary.

“The veteran stays at the domiciliary until goals established in the treatment plan are reached . . . it’s individualized to the needs of the veteran,” Darnell said.

There is no magic number for length of stay, Willoughby said.

“If they relapse along the way we don’t kick them out,” he said. “If they develop some other mental health problems along the way that changes the length of stay.”

There are studies indicating veterans who stay four to six months in residential treatment programs are the most successful, with the veteran better able to maintain housing and jobs, Willoughby said. Those who stay less than that timeframe don’t do as well and those who stay longer don’t do significantly better and in some cases do worse.

The domiciliary programs are based on a more integrated model now, he said, addressing problems simultaneously - employment and substance abuse.

The VA offers job training in housekeeping and laundry, nutrition and food. There are outside contracts with Temple’s parks and recreation department.

The Compensated Work Therapy program offers jobs to veterans who mow the yards and maintain the shrubs on VA grounds.

“It gives the veterans work experience to use when they apply for jobs and gives them an advantage if they apply for a job at the VA,” Zimmerman said.

The program benefits the domiciliary resident in a number of ways, including offering work experience and the opportunity to save and learn budgeting skills, Darnell said. It also provides a boost to the resident’s self-esteem.


I don't know when or if the VA has changed their policy towards drug abuse or alcoholism, but unless the veteran has been clean they are not usually allowed into the domicillary. I am given prescription pain killers by the VA and I was denied a bed in the domicillary for the inpatient PTSD program, this was in 2003, I realize things change, but I have never heard of this change until this article, so pretend I am from Missouri and "show me" I know what the VA has been doing when did they change their policy?

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good Morning Congressman Filner, While I appreciate your efforts…Congress is not doing enough.

18 June 2009

02:57 EST

(Deny until they are all dead!)

Good Morning Congressman Filner,

While I appreciate your efforts…Congress is not doing enough.

Congress is not only not doing enough but Veterans and their families would say they are doing and have done nothing to stop the Veterans Affairs Abuse of Veterans/Widows/Offspring. It cannot be considered anything less.

I posted a recent article on what is a daily familiar and repetitive event that takes place at Veterans Affairs Benefits with the obvious mandate to deny…deny…deny until the Veteran dies. This seems to be particularly common to Agent Orange Dioxin Issues as well as Gulf War Issues. What makes it even more sinister in one context is the enemy these men fought was not the causation of death/disability but our own United States Government.

Not addressing those issues/causations that should be addressed but those issues that are already presumptive to the Veterans Service to this Nation.

Yes, we watch the hearings which are a joke in the context of presumptive disorders of how many days it takes for Veterans Affairs to do the claims. Most of it is nothing but lies by Veterans Affairs but it seems Congress swallows these lies of how they are trying to reduce the number of days. Then give you examples of how they are doing in performance which is also put into some context of claims being settled rather than just requesting more information which in fact it is in reality. By reports we know that at least 50% of these claims they say they are completing are denied but then in a few years are either approved by BVA or remanded by VA but this also is a separate issue of just intentional horrible performance. Regardless of what the union leader says time after time in the hearings of how more training is required one should consider that integrity has to be part of the process. No different than you cannot test in quality in products; you cannot assume integrity within the Department of Veterans Affairs processes as well as the studies done which is a waste of taxpayer money and violate federal laws in many cases.

How can anyone in Congress to include the Secretary of Veterans Affairs justify a presumptive disorder ‘government created’ looming Veteran’s death which requires the verification of four simple data points taking more than just a few weeks? To not only approve the claim but to get the financial resources to the family. I would also add that one piece of paper (DD-214) verifies at least two of those data points required for approval.

One of the other data points is: Is the disorder on the presumptive list? This is also a no brainer as far as meeting the requirements for immediate approval. I would also add the stalling of all these presumptions which is clearly documented over the last four decades by our own government has denied tens of thousands of Veterans their benefits they earned in fighting for this nation. Can you or any member of Congress ask more of a citizen?

So we have three of the data points required documented and as you can see these are almost a given…no complex decision to be made.

The fourth data point of course must be: does the Veteran have a diagnosis of the presumptive disorder? But still this is not a complex medical decision or is it a complex medical decision as to has all the criteria been met.

I can relate to the link I have posted because within my own Battalion Members and my Marines I have watched the same thing go on as they died with their presumptive disorder claims not being approved. My guys actually being diagnosed by VA doctors in a VA hospital so the fourth part of this seemingly insurmountable Veterans Affairs task should have also been a given data verifiable point. Of courses this stalling practice results in their widows having to get back to the rear of the longest line and in order to get the family the financial resources and benefits that are also by law in perpetuity entitled to in a timely manner. This constitutes a direct conflict of interest between the dying Veteran/the soon to be widow…and our Veterans Affairs.

In addition; just in case you or any Congressperson even bothers to ask why or how this can be; even the rating guide lines for these cancers do not require a compensation and pension (C & P) exam. With these cancers it is an automatic six months at 100% with either a C & P at the end of that time period for residuals or if the Veteran and family are still fighting the cancer an automatic extension.

It does not take a Mensa member to figure up how much money Veterans Affairs is saving the United States Government by this intentional lack of performance and abuse each year. Nor does it take a mental giant to look at the process and conclude a definite conflict of interest between Veterans Affairs and its power and our Veterans exists. Veterans Affairs processes that reward stalling until the death of the Veteran because that money is not recoverable by the Veterans Family. Earned money that should have been paid within no longer than a month of submittal. A direct conflict of interest in Veterans Affairs practices and definition does exist and has existed and Congress does nothing to investigate or to stop this abuse.

For Heaven’s sakes and the sake of National Security stop the abuse beginning at least in this one area and mandate that the Veterans Claim remains alive from the time it is submitted regardless if he or she dies during the process. This would give our wonderful Veterans Affairs no excuse for stalling since the money now would be to the date of submittal to the family should the Veteran perish in the indefensible time it takes for Veterans Affairs to do anything other than stall. This would also stop this abuse of the now Widow having to get back in at the longest line since that benefit is also a benefit in perpetuity.

Congressman Filner these automatic presumptive disorders could be handled on a 3x5 index card with the few data points that are required and probably done better by high school sophomores. No offense to the high school students.

When I listened to the committee and the head fellow of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) and how he concluded they did claims triage I had to laugh it was so ridiculous and misleading. Yet, no one asks us only those that are empowered to do these nefarious acts against us. Yes, even protected against prosecution it seems even when lying under oath. I wonder if Congress would so forgiving if a Veteran knowingly lied under oath to a congressional committee. I doubt it!

I hope you will continue your efforts.

Once again, until I see on the House and Senate floor the same enthusiasms for Veterans/Widows Rights as they do defending Terrorists Rights; my hope is I live long enough to see the day when no one will serve in our military no matter how many sign-up bonuses or retention bonuses (bribes) are given out.

This subject and the posted link is just one of the many issues if perspective military members and wives were told the truth this nation would have no military and would indeed become a National Security Issue.

Give me one good reason why anyone should serve knowing they will be told half the truth of how they will be treated and how their citizen rights guaranteed by our constitution are set aside by our own Congress because of that honorable and in many cases “valorous service”.

Would you serve knowing how you would be rewarded by a runaway federal agency given sole power over an entire segment of society? A sole power that incorporates congressional, executive branch and judicial power all in one federal agency; which one should consider would be unconstitutional. But we have been shredding up the constitution for decades now at least in my opinion no different from documented Veterans Affairs shredding files and evidence or changing time stamps to deny or stall the Veteran’s/Widow’s claim. Veterans Affairs and the power given to a single federal agency was only the beginning decades ago. As I have stated in the past if the government will do this for our Veterans segment of society which segment is next. I will give examples later of how Senator Arlen Specter tried to do this with the asbestos issues and those victims.

Until that time when I see some semblance of action against Veterans Affairs; I will not vote for any incumbent and I urge all Veterans/Spouses/Widows/Offspring of Veterans to do the same. RE-ELECT NO ONE! Eventually we may get some congressional officials that match their words with deeds.

It seems when our government creates the Veteran; indeed his citizen rights are then set aside and then open to government sponsored fraudulent activities against them at many levels of government.

Just as a passing comment it was probably not a real good idea to contract with QTC to do C & P exams to the tune of millions of dollars a year since two of the more recent Secretaries of Veterans’ Affairs both held high level executive positions within QTC. With the lack of integrity within Veterans Affairs itself this looks like just more corruption. I had a C & P from QTC and it was a joke as far as my disability rating versus what the C & P doctor told me in person was affected.

Thank you for listening.

Charles Kelley

Snellville, GA


It is time for the Congressional snow job to end, and veterans and their surviving families actually get the assisstance of the "PROMISE" all politicians call a "sacred trust" the only thing "sacred" about it, is the fact that most veterans get no access to it, so it is not a "sacred trust" as much as it is a "scarce trust".

If this Veterans Committe in the House and senate can't fix it, maybe we need to target these members for primary contenders and fund and promote the replacements until we get a "fair and balanced" committee that will keep the "PROMISE" all of the veterans and their surviving families deserve, DIC and CHAMPVA.

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

In the speech’s final paragraph, the president delivered his prescription for the nation’s recovery:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

With the words, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” President Lincoln affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who perished on the battlefield.

Today, a pair of metal plaques bearing those words flank the entrance to the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA is the federal agency responsible for serving the needs of veterans by providing health care, disability compensation and rehabilitation, education assistance, home loans, burial in a national cemetery, and other benefits and services.

Lincoln’s immortal words became the VA motto in 1959, when the plaques were installed, and can be traced to Sumner G. Whittier, administrator of what was then called the Veterans Administration. A document on VA medical history prepared for the congressional Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and titled, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle,” details how the words became VA’s motto. “He (Whittier) worked no employee longer or harder than himself to make his personal credo the mission of the agency. What was that credo? Simply the words of Abraham Lincoln, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan. To indicate the mission of his agency’s employees, Mr. Whittier had plaques installed on either side of the main entrance.”

President Lincoln’s words have stood the test of time, and stand today as a solemn reminder of VA’s commitment to care for those injured in our nation’s defense and the families of those killed in its service.

With the words, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” President Lincoln affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who perished on the battlefield.

Congress and the VA have failed to care for ALL of the widows and children and the ones who have borne the battle and were harmed by it, why?

Sphere: Related Content