Veterans Left Behind as VA Continues Drastic Cut Backs: VVA
WASHINGTON, May 27 -- The Budget Resolution passed by both houses of Congress will result in staff reductions in every VA Medical Center at a most inauspicious time—as veterans return from the war in Iraq and as increasing numbers of veterans need care from the system, said Thomas H. Corey, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).
The impact will be significant among those returning troops who suffer from mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), those who have sustained loss of limbs, and other serious injuries.
In addition to devastating decreases in the availability of care for veterans that will result from such budget cuts, the VA seems determined to contest even long-standing disability compensation for PTSD from veterans currently receiving VA benefits and health care. A recent VA Inspector General’s (IG) report concluded that following a brief review of certain grants of service-connected benefits for PTSD, the “subjectivity” involved in such determinations has resulted in over-granting of benefits.
As a result, the VA will be reviewing PTSD grants between 1999 and 2004, with an eye toward revoking benefits if the claim was adjusted incorrectly. “VVA believes that the ”subjectivity" offered to the IG report is a euphemism for poor training and quality control of VA adjudication staff.
“We must make it crystal clear to Congress that the budget appropriation for fiscal year 2006 year is at least $3.5 billion less than what is needed to fund the VA medical programs adequately,” Corey said. "This is a critical time. Without these resources, veterans will have longer waits to see specialists, much-needed maintenance will be deferred, and medical equipment will not be purchased.
“Together, through the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform veterans service organizations will demonstrate against these drastic cutbacks. Veterans’ health care is not a welfare program. It is a benefit earned by rendering honorable service to our country. If we don’t act forcefully now, we will continue to witness the erosion of what was one of the finest health care programs in the nation.”
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
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