Friday, May 19, 2006

Veterans Need Our Assistance

As a Navy Veteran, I understand the risk of serving in the military. The Iraq War has produced over 2,400 fatalities and more than 22,000 casualties. Casualties may be slight, a bump or a bruise too severe such as loss of limb(s) and/or paralysis. Suffice it to say those who are injured in the line of duty serving our country deserve medical care for those injuries.

When I enlisted in 1977, I was told that I would receive full health coverage for any service-related injury I might be unlucky to receive. At the time I was young, could swim mile after mile, ride over 200 miles on a bike in one day and run for great distances. I was very healthy. But all of this changed in an instant in 1979. The engine-room I was in suffered a catastrophic explosion just inches below my feet. I was cut up, burned and broken.

In 1981 after a couple of years of a recurring service connected problem, I sought treatment from the VA Hospital in Fort Wayne. They hospitalized me, did tests and released me. I returned with other complications and was misdiagnosed. I went to my family physician who correctly diagnosed the problem and after a couple of months recovered. Since that time I never sought treatment from the VA again.

I had read recently the VA hospitals were some of the best run healthcare centers in the U.S. and that they were being used as role models for others. Wow, things had changed. Now after 25 years I returned to the Fort Wayne VA center for treatment for my service related injuries. To my surprise, my VA service connected ID card was no longer any good. I was in the computer system, but at the same time not eligible for any care. I had to re-enroll. The application required I provide my income, my wife’s income and my children’s income for 2005 as well as total cash, savings, checking, stock, 401K, IRA, bonds and the value of any other property. If I did not provide this, the VA would not enroll me. On top of this, it might be a month before I could be seen. I did not have a month I needed treatment now. I left and as usual paid for my treatment.

I am not seeking coverage for non-service related injuries, so why does the VA need to invade a veteran’s privacy who was injured in the line of duty? Our representatives need to investigate why our service-related veterans are receiving such shoddy treatment and their privacy invaded.

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