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Presidential Candidates Using Veterans

 

Politicians always have an agenda, that’s not news.

Using American veterans to get press coverage for their own Presidential bid, or to trash their opponents, is just despicable.  May is Military Appreciation Month, so this kind of tactic seems even worse as we move close to Memorial Day.

Back in January Donald Trump held a televised fundraiser for American Veterans and at the end of the night claimed they had reached a total of more than $6 million.  Apparently the actual amount was close to $4.5 million. The Trump campaign’s admission to the Washington Post that is was less than the $6 million initially reported came after months of silence to reporter questions on where the money had gone, since millions seemed to be unaccounted for.

The issue here is not that he raised funds for vets – that’s quite laudable.  It’s that his campaign said it was $6 million when it wasn’t, used that to garner support and then dodged media questions about the lie for months.

It should come as no surprise then that a group is disgruntled vets protested outside Trump Towers. But what looked like a grassroots Veterans against Trump protest by over a dozen former service members was actually a coordinated effort, led in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign, to embarrass her Republican rival over the fundraiser numbers.   So she too is stepping on our vets to further her own ends.

Instead of using our veterans as props in their race to the Oval Office they should be doing everything they can to support American veterans and show appreciation for their service and their sacrifice.

#MilitaryAppreciationMonth

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The VA is Not Disneyland

Disneyland’s tag line is The Happiest Place on Earth.  That’s certainly not the way American veterans describe the VA.  And they are irate about The VA Secretary’s comments that because people who go to Disneyland don’t mind the wait because the experience is worth it,  vets should feel the same way about their healthcare.

Disneyland VA 1

Disneyland VA 2

Disneyland VA 3

It’s the encounter with the VA that should be the yardstick, say the Secretary.  So let’s examine what is and isn’t an”encounter.”

Many years ago Jan Carlsson, then CEO of Scandinavian Airlines, wrote a book titled Moments of Truth. In the book he points out that every interaction with a brand is an encounter and will affect how that person feels about your organization.  Every single interaction is a Moment of Truth.

Mr. McDonald is missing the point here.  He thinks that the wait is not an experience with the VA.  Every call, every frustration, every day that goes by without an appointment, every vet that gets sicker while they wait – it’s all part of the “encounter.”  And our veterans don’t have the luxury of choosing a different brand or provider.  They are stuck with the VA.  And they cant get a Speed Pass like you can at Disneyland.

To compare the wait lines of veterans who have served  our country and are in dire need of assistance and aid with people on vacation at Disneyland is just wrong.  It trivializes what these vets have to go through and  why they are in need of aid in the first place.

No wonder our American Veterans have complaints about their aid and assistance and the poor service they get from the VA.

 

 

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Veterans Aid & Attendance Eligibility

Many American veterans over the age of 65 who served in time of war are not aware of the Aid & Attendance benefit that they may qualify for. There are quite a few points of eligibility for this benefit, but we’ve helped thousands of families who either did not know it existed, ot had not been successful in applying for the aid.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must have served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one day during a period of war.
  • Must have anything other than a Dishonorable discharge.
  • A surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran at the time of his passing.
  • Must require the assistance of another person to perform some of the daily activities of living.
  • Must meet income and countable asset criteria established by the VA.
  • Must be 65 years and older or totally disabled.

Eligible Periods of War

World War II: December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946, inclusive. If the veteran was in service on December 31, 1946, continuous service before July 26, 1947, is considered World War II service.

Korean conflict: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955, inclusive.

Vietnam era: The period beginning on February 28, 1961, and ending on May 7, 1975, inclusive, in the case of a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. The period beginning on August 5, 1964, and ending on May 7, 1975, inclusive, in all other cases.

Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law.

American Veterans Aid has been helping veterans and their families deal with the VA for this benefit for years and has brought relief to thousands of families.

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American Veterans Share Complaints about Healthcare

 

 

When executives from the Phoenix VA came to Show Low last week they told veterans the system is getting better.  However, vets at this event told a very different story: American veterans aid complaints run high.  They’re fed up with long waits for appointments and the long drives to the Valley to get care when there are qualified local physicians who could see them.

One veteran of the Korean War has been trying to get help for the pain in his arm without success. He waited for more than a month for an appointment and when he did get seen the healthcare professional did nothing more than poke his arm and say he needed surgery.

He saw another person at the Show Low VA who told him he needed an MRI before he could recommend anything, including surgery. Later he was told he needed physical therapy.  To this day he has pain in his arm.  He is now fed up with the VA and says he wants nothing from them anymore.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident.  American Veterans complaints about benefits, aid and healthcare are rampant. Released Monday, the Government Accountability Office’s review of appointment wait times for patients new to VA health care found that veterans wait three to eight weeks for medical appointments. Others could not see a primary care doctor at all because VA staff did not handle the appointments correctly, the report GAO report says.

All VHA employees now have a set of foundational principles called “MyVA Access Declaration,” to guide them to providing timely care to former service members..

“A year from now we will not be having this discussion on wait times,”  said VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin.

Not everyone agrees – “You paint too rosy a picture,” Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., told Shulkin. “The system is broken. The people in my district are frustrated and angry.”

There is no doubt that American Veterans aid complaints need to be addressed and access to healthcare needs to be improved.

 

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American Veterans Healthcare Complaints Not Over

 

 

Two years ago the VA and Congress came up with a plan to fix the  long waits for veterans to get healthcare.  Called  Veterans Choice, this $10 billion program was supposed to fix all the problems and veterans complaints about not being able to see a doctor when they needed to.  This program was supposed to end American veterans complaints about access to healthcare.

Sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately it’s not working. There are 70,000 more vets waiting at least a month for an appointment than there were at this time last year. So clearly this new plan has not fixed the problem.  In fact, it has added more complexity to the system.  Vets don’t understand it, doctors don’t understand it and even VA administrators admit they can’t always figure it out.

One of the provisions of this act is that a veteran in need of care who cannot get an appointment at the VA for more than 30 days can see a private doctor or health care provider.  In reality, doctors are waiting far too long for authorizations for procedures and they’re not getting paid on time. 

So now we have veterans complaining about long waits and doctors complaining about not getting paid when they do see the veterans. Legislation aiming to fix the problems with the Veterans Choice healthcare program has been introduced in the Senate.

“All I want to do is make sure the VA has the ability to provide the healthcare that their veterans need. We’ve talked to the VA extensively, we think this is a solution, I think the VA thinks this is a solution.”  Montana Senator Bill Tester.

Hopefully this time they’ll get it right and actually end the American veterans complaints about the lack of medical care when they need it most.  

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