Monday, May 16, 2011

Tales of the VA: America's War on Vets

The Air Force Overseas Ribbon

 "Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam recognizes veterans on the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on Hickam Field"

On May 11, 2011 a sweeping landmark decision was made in favor of Veterans who have been languishing in the disastrous Veterans Administration Claims processing system. This landmark decision has generated all of three pages of Google Results and little more than a thousand news articles. 

The media just does not want anyone to get it, so we will:

Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote an opinion that held nothing back as it blasted the US Veterans Administration (VA) for everything from long-term incompetence to cover ups. 

The decision was immediately reversed, then it was reversed again. Has anything been done? No. Conditions are just as bad as they were at the beginning. Americans do not have the money to pay for well over a decade of war at everyone's expense but their own. Hence, faking, changing the subject and ignoring the issue are the only (and cowardly) way out.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Short Story: In 2011, I Fell for a Man

 By Xenonlit

In 2011, I fell for a man who caused my ridiculous heart to skip a few beats before it settled down into a low sizzle. He was wealthy, well educated and traveled extensively in his position as the owner of a major import-export firm. I tell everyone to this day that, from the first time that I set eyes on him, I was determined to have that man for my very own.

During that spring and summer of 1984, that incredible prey of mine had frequently crossed my paths of travel. Each time that he crossed my path of travel, my heart would go into gymnastics and I would start looking around for an ambulance. I would make up fantasies of hip grinding sex and domestic tranquility. Every romantic movie made me replace the actors with that man and me in artistic poses that are nothing like real life, love or lovemaking.

I researched him in the magazines. I surfed for him on the web, learning from his photos that, while he was of a certain age, he still sported an athletic physique and was decorated with skin the color of a creamy Latte with hints of caramel.

He had Clark Gable eyebrows, high cheekbones, cruel lips, and a high brow. His hair rode his beautifully shaped skull in waves of fine and shiny ebony. He was clearly of high intelligence, but it was his bedroom, slightly shifty eyes that made me swoon with supernatural desire.

After the internet failed to satisfy my burning curiosity, I asked detailed questions of the shopkeepers and clients who lay in his wake. I discovered that he had not only loaded up with  financial goodies, he also had an air of mystery and danger about him. Anyone who talked about him seemed to edit their words with care, as if they feared the man.

He had a distant cousin who would who refused to talk until he was "convinced" to answer some questions. I still did not get much more from the estranged cousin than a hint that the man had been sent to an orphanage after his abusive parents died in a suspicious fire. My quarry had served with distinction in Iraq after he was given the choice of the Army or jail. None of his comrades would tell me if they had any contact with him. I suspected that they had contact, but that those were uncomfortable times.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tales of the VA

Spring is springing and it is close to payday, meaning that most of my money is not spent. Today has been an upsetting kind of day because I got the "big envelope" from the VA yesterday!
But instead of the desired letter,  it was a notice that they are ADDING to my claim.
What the heck?

I am hoping that the last of the Bush era has been flushed out of the VA, but President Obama has those  pesky pandering and personal distance problems.  On the other hand, he had a stellar record as a Senatorial advocate for veterans issues, so I just don't know. It is all about the big unknown these days.
I don't know if the VA neglected to consider an existing component of the claim and is now adding it. This could mean delays that could go on for several more months. If the VA had the goodiness of heart to see that the matter should have been added and took the extra measures on their own, then I still have to wait.

I had hoped that the giant envelope from the VA would contain a final resolution. I was promised a resolution in one month...that was two months ago.
This terrible/great news is just more  terrible/great news.

I am ultimately ticked off for the injured soldiers who are still outside of the system. Some of them have been waiting for years while these delays happen and happen.  It must be remembered that Bush and his greedy, corrupted cronies started this war without a VA budget for the injured soldiers. In fact, there was not even a PLAN for the VA to accommodate the injured soldiers.

I could slap the next silly right winger, republican, democrat or fool who "thanks me for my service". They don't care about our service, they only care about serving themselves a big, greasy dish of how happy they are that they didn't go into the all volunteer military.

When I started out as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, I was lower than NASA's bogus new life form.  A call for a doctor's appointment led to the announcement that I would have to wait because the "active duty soldiers" came first.  That was usually followed by a snarling announcement that dependent wives had to wait, sometimes for as long as months.

One genius kept suggesting that "You should really find a doctor in town!"

After making it clear that I was one of those so-called "soldiers",  an appointment would be grudgingly and reluctantly made. Later, we women discovered that we were all being treated that way and raised hell about it. It took several years before the brain dead receptionists among the Medical Corp either got the point or hit the road.

Now, the only mortifying VA experience  happens a couple of times a year when some poor doctor steps into the waiting area,  calls my name and puts a "Mister" in front of it.

The VA's focus on Women's health care is concentrated on improving the care of our OB and our GYN, but we are still under variable quality when it comes to the rest of our bodies.  In the overall patchwork of good and bad, there have been vast improvements across the board in the way in which we are addressed and treated. As a result, there is no one set of easy to digest,  definitivee statements, good or bad, that can be made about the VA.

Last year's satisfaction survey was the controversial survey that found us to be incredibly satisfied with our luxurious VA medical care. Well we are incredibly satisfied and that survey needs to be thrown out. And so do the crooked republicans and tea partiers who see the results as an opportunity to enrich the private sector.

If you read that link,  the main focus of the article is Ken Buck, who wants to privatize the VA. His military experience was earned on Princeton's football diamond.

He was a punter.

Why should that survey be thrown out? Any time that a quasi experiment is done  (and surveys are like Trader Joe's Salmon Crepes: they are the worst of the quasi-experiments),  it is a thousand times more important to test the null hypothesis, which is any possible alternative explanation for the outcome of the experiment.

Here's the null hypothesis for that veteran's health care satisfaction survey: We are soldiers who have been BUILT to be satisfied with crap. We do the Snoopy Dance when we get anything that is even slightly better than crap. We are exceptionally grateful to have our care from the largest HMO in history. We have tolerated and will tolerate much less and will still be grateful and satisfied.

In other words, our intellectual construct of the word  "satisfaction" is very skewed.

When we were surveyed about our satisfaction with the VA, it was  shortly after the most comprehensive decade of improvements in VA medical care history. Hell yes we were going to be over the moon with joy! I was ready to declare a national holiday.

Civilians who pay thousands of dollars a year for their medical care will demand either the best or the impossible. They would have been a whole lot less satisfied with the VA system, I guarantee you that!
I rest assured that my claim will eventually be completed and that it will all go well. We are being taken care of by VA employees who are working hard, working well,  and working for a lot less pay than their non government counterparts.

So, it is infuriating to hear of plots to privatize the VA, which would redistribute even more of  our Veterans trust fund into the pockets of those who are already rich.
Meanwhile, I will just finish this writing and  go to Trader Joe's today. But I am going to leave those salmon crepes alone!