Veteran Outreach: Getting Out the Word and Listening to the Feedback
VA is dedicated to improving the lives of Veterans of all eras and their eligible family members and survivors by providing them with the benefits and services they have earned. As research shows there is a lack of awareness when it comes to specific services, and Gulf War Veterans continue to require and rightfully expect timely and accurate information about VA's efforts to support them, VA has worked to develop a proactive and systematic effort for providing this important information and assistance on VA's services and benefits. As a clearinghouse of Gulf War Veterans Illnesses (GWVI) information, VA maintained the Gulf War Veterans Illnesses website www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/ as a source of information for Veterans, Healthcare Providers, and other Stakeholders. VA conducted a number of GWVI specific outreach events and published news releases for key events during the past year. Moving forward, VA's outreach efforts for GWVI will increasingly leverage evolving technology and social media and work to significantly improve transparency regarding VA's work for this important Veteran population.
Please provide your comments, questions, and suggestion on how we may improve the Veteran Outreach section of the report
Angel Warrior 07 commented
I like getting the Gulf War Review on paper copy. I don't like being on the computer because it makes me very much more tired than I already am. The electromagnetic force is not healthy for us. I've had bad effects from it and tv's and phones since returning from the Gulf War. It would be nice to have all forums and meetings and conferences listed in one area under Gulf War Illness or send us emails. The presumptive period needs to be extended for Gulf War Illness. Is anyone at the VA HQ's pushing this. The deadline is near. The best way to find out the latest about GWI and research is by attending the RAC meetings. Sad but true! Most Veterans don't know where to look on the computer to find out about GWI issues, research and meetings. In reaching out to Veterans, for the last year I have heard a lot of talk about reaching out to women and MST Veterans but have seen or heard nothing. Then one day I am reading via email I beleive that there was a women's conference in Washington, DC this last summer. I was never informed and I would have liked to have gone to it. How do you get included in something like this? I want to be included!! I see no way on the web site. How did women find out about it? Is there going to be another one?
Jim Bunker commented
there are many veterans that do not go to the website. Why do you not use the Gulf War review and mail things to the veterans. Do you really understand how many of the very sick ones do not have the net, and how many do not truest the VA website so they will not go there?
The VACO needs to come down to the real world where I work and use some of the old world tools to get with the veterans.
Just like emails to doctors and rater do not work,posting only to your website where it is hard to find will not work.
Jim Bunker commented
Yes your Irritable Bowel Syndrome has a presumptive of service connection due to your service in the Gulf War under section 3.317 of CFR 38 as long as it has been diagnosed by a Doctor your claim for it should not have been denied.
One of the common errors I have seen made by the regional offices, due to their poor training on these presumptive connections, is that they asked the examiner to state if a presumptive of service connection is related to your service in the war. As a presumptive of service connection this cannot be asked, as by the definition the presumptive of service connection means that are already is presumed to be related to your service in the war.
The regulation on a presumptive of service connection is very clear as to when service connection would not be granted. It does not allow for a physician to state whether or not it is least likely are not that the connection is related to your service as most rating specialists are asking the examiner to do with the undiagnosed illness claims. The presumptive of service connection already states that it is presumed to be related to your service. And for the rating specialist to ask otherwise violates this part of the regulation and the only way for you not to receive the presumptive of service connection would be if one did not meet the presumption through the means as outlined in the regulation. None of them are for the examiner to state if your illness is related to your service.
The regulation is very clear that all of the connections listed for undiagnosed illnesses are presumed to have been caused by your service in the war unless due to diagnosed connections not listed within section 3.317of the CFR that governs undiagnosed illnesses or if due to willful misconduct. The adjudicator is wrong in requiring Doctor to make a determination that would overrule the regulation on the presumptiveness for service connection for your irritable bowel syndrome. I have seen this in other claims for veterans chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia along with veterans who have filed claims for the symptoms for undiagnosed illnesses.
Your comment show exactly how poorly trained rating specialists are and that the training letters the VA sent out to the regional offices did work. The rating specialists, adjudicators and the examiners are so overworked due to the backlog they do not have time to read these letters so they are ignored. Only appropriate mandatory training will solve the problems like yours and those of the thousands of other claims that have been denied like yours.
I had a call from veterans whose claims for their skin rashes are denied due to the fact that the skin rashes have not been diagnosed. This is not the only claim. This is just one example for I get hundred of calls and e-mails, along with working the social networks and different websites helping veterans. I could have just as easily inserted joint pains, muscle pains, fatigue or chronic diarrhea in the place of the rashes. I also see the same thing with claims being denied stating that the illness did not start when the veteran was still in the service. The rating specialist not understanding just what presumptive of service connection due to your service in the Gulf War under section 3.317 is about.
I have seen some claims where the raters stated the that the veteran’s chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia is a diagnosed connection and thus cannot be claimed under section 3.317. Once again showing just how poorly the trained these rating specialists are when it comes to these claims.
The worst regional offices are in the states of Arizona followed by Florida and then Michigan.
Shaun Orris commented
I would like to say thank you to VA for the latest treatment. Night and day to the last time. I'd be a liar and a hypocrite to not state this. But I need more. Ears still ringing, body aches suck, GI only ok eating the yogurt miss a meal and its not good stomach losing ability to tell me I'm hungry. Someone please check my brain! The pills are better this time around. What other choices do I have if alternative medicine costs money I don't have and not covered by insurance? I'm not seeing 20 different private doctors confusing the VA. That failed in the 1990's. Surely someone else relates to this?
Attention TASK FORCE This message is for you. Veterans seek treatment for conditions told nothing is wrong with us even if we are sick. Often told idiopathic or may be viral. Let me set the record straight I was in excellent physical condition before my military service in Gulf. Yes I could do it all run, push up, setups anything... overall well rounded solider.
And for those who wonder yes I had High Pt scores consistently 295 above that is when the test were structured differently . An example someone in their 20'sr had to run less than 12 min in run to get 100 points in that area .
I have 9 siblings who have minor health problems and out of everyone I was always the healthiest as a child and adult until my military service. By the way I also one of few whom took active interest in staying healthy. Now fast forward today i have chronic health issues with no comorbidities except those after my military service. Stark contrast from then to know. Let me list a few conditions cardiac, gastrointestinal, neurological, and musculoskeletal. All this begin at a young age with no history of smoking,drinking or drug use. So let me tell you people first hand after I became ill enough to be hospitalized several times nearly dieing would VHA even believe I had a problem. Then for them to only tell me they don't know why. Do you think this is good enough evidence for VBA acknowledge GWI exist with me? No it was not even if had many years of chroncity some even presumptive conditions.
I think not since I am only service connected for one condition so far.And must wait until someone follows the law and regulations properly and get fair claim adjudication. But let me tell you how my life has been since this GW illness hit me. My quality of life suffers significantly not only did I lose my home because I could not work but everything I owned. Do you think anybody cares? What is the purpose of these 30 day periods are you actually going to do something to help veterans? Why don't you go to the VBA regional offices and get them to follow the presumptive rules for GWI the training letters and the fast letters. Instead delay delay delay and make veteran appeal right. Yes you can appeal what about all those years your living in poverty waiting for someone to put the pieces of the puzzle together while your children go without. Yes VA pays back pay how in the hell does that help when your child has birthday or Christmas time is here. The back pay will not make us better, compensation years latter will not get our homes back. The list goes on and on. That is why I call all this smoke and mirrors. Do something for us please. I have always been patriotic but this foolishness with claims process is ridiculous. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you like specifics and some additional suggestions.
Robert Burks commented
Mr. Kent you're sadly mistaken for i've been fighting tooth and nail with six different vamc/ro's across the nation twenty years for ailments and symptoms of GWI. During my last registry exam I was told that I'd multiple symptoms to include seizures and to this very day all the va does is provide meds for the disorders and deny the claim so please don't insult my or my fellow peers intelligence.What ever happen to being in the combat zone and what's the purpose of the 12/31/2011 deadline if your just going to deny us?
The only outreach I have seen that is specific to DS Vets, is when I visit the VA's website. and then most of it is so outdated that it is a waste of time.
The deadline for DS presumptives needs to be extended. There is still many DS vets that have been dealing with their problems alone, and will likely realize where their problems originated, and apply to the VA at a later time.
There is still Vietnam vets falling ill from the affects of agent orange today, why would being exposed to an unknown agent be different for the DS vets?
Robert Hobaugh commented
I was not aware of all the “efforts” the VA has gone threw to notify (GWV) of any help or research that is dedicated to us. I was rated by the VA for a injury, I informed them I had questions related to the (GF) illness, but never received any information. Even to this day I would like to find some information about it. I hope that some good will come of this “report”, if anyone knows where I can get information please let me know. (face book Roberthobaugh)
Robert Giles commented
I have been going to the Orlando VA for about 7 years at no point has anyone told me of any studies or additional care I can receive. Actually it's the opposite, I go in with a problem get the run around. If I dare ask if it is related to my service in the Gulf I am cut short and dismissed. This seems to be policy, it has happened in all clinics. Exept Mental Health at that point they ask if Ibeleive in GOD. WTF
Apply to Yale and Harvard for your post military education. Get your money's worth from them.
JP Maier commented
• I developed a phrase "inreach" a few years back that has caught on in the corporate world. It would help here to make a MORE concerted effort to connect with the internal resources the VA has such as the Nurses, Clinicians, Doctors who actually do the daily care of GW vets. As a GW vet and VA employee I know that is not happening in any substantive way. The local caregivers can provide a wealth of date that is verifiable and well documented. The feedback from said "inreach" can save time and millions of taxpayer dollars as it helps to refine the nature of the health issues and solutions for the intractable administrivia that GW vets are being tortured with. Contact me if you need assistance in making this a reality. The cost savings alone should get you ALL promoted.
I think there is a number of very important issues which are often overlooked when comes to this population of veterans. To begin with I think it would be a good Idea to have all VHA direct clinical practitioners have annual training.(LMS) This would include but not limited to Doctors, PA,NP,Respiratory Therapist, Nurses, and any other direct clinical provider. As a former VHA direct clinical provider and Gulf Veteran it is imperative that VHA and veterans alike are educated on GWI. First and foremost we must ensure those treating our veterans are up to speed with latest information concerning this population.
The information provided is very marginal at best. Should have a list of open research for affected veterans, also information that is more detailed for the health provder. As far a key events you have to search the large VA data base to find the info. Why not just post this info on the Gulf War page.
Jeremiah C Gritton commented
Dear Sec. Shineski, one major investment for the VA to increase and maintain awareness and to get out the word is to make me an offer of employment. I'm a 60%SCD VA HUDVASH and Ch.31 VA VOCREHAB student close to graduating with a Commercial Art Technolgy/ AAS Degree majoring in Digital Video Production and minoring in Commercial Photography. Also, a Gulf War Era vet with diagnosed GWI. Nothing in this world would give me more job satisfaction. Besides, the VA has already invested so much in me; it just seems right to pay it forward. I'm ready when you are! Jeremiah Gritton