January 20, 2015

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
VA has taken care of all my claims but one that was denied. I had filed a claim for IU and they sent me for an exam, and didn’t even look at it. I do not understand why they didn’t look at my own doctors reports they had me send to them  and they didn’t even look at all my evidence that I gave to them. My doctor has told me not to work, and it’s not that I can’t work at all, I just have good days and not so good days, but I cannot work 8 hrs most of the time. I went to the VA office in Winston Salem, and they told me if I did not tell them dates and what to look for, they did not have the time to do all of that. I was thinking it was the law, they had to look at my doctors info, and the doctor they sent me to see. You might say do an appeal, well what for so they can send me back for an exam? I am at 80 percent now, and I’m not able to hold a full time job. On top of that depression has set in, what do I do now? This has put my family in bad way. I am almost ready to give up. I was dealing with one employee at the VA, and I called him and asked why they did not look at my information that was there for them to look at. I went for my exam for my shoulder and back on 9/4/2014, and the VA said they do not have a current VA examination providing any evidence of worsening or any evidence on the functional impairment made by my back on my ability to perform physical or sedentary work. That is why I went for an exam, and my own doctors finding were there too, but they did not look. Then they said rating decisions and all evidence contained therein, dated October 9 ,2014 and November 14,2014. So why didn’t the VA look at my exam, on 9/4 /2014? Is it because I didn’t tell them to? They sent me to have an exam, they just didn’t care to look. Thank you for helping me this far. I’m not sure what to do now.

Randall B.
Via the internet

Dear Randall
It is important that you do as the VA has instructed you. I suggest you submit your appeal along with all of the evidence in support of your claim.

Shaft Notes
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (Clay Hunt SAV) Act has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill was recently introduced by Chairman Jeff Miller and Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and named in honor of the late Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and veterans advocate Clay Hunt. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Following House passage of the bill, Chairman Miller and Reps. Walz and Duckworth were quoted as saying:

“Once again, the House took an important step to help stop the epidemic of veteran suicides. It’s time for comprehensive, new ideas to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health care available to our veterans, and that’s exactly what the Clay Hunt SAV Act would provide. The bill would ensure VA’s mental health and suicide prevention efforts receive crucial independent, third party oversight while creating a greater accounting of available services and fostering an enhanced community approach to delivering veterans suicide prevention and mental health care treatment, which is why I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in supporting it.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

“The Clay Hunt SAV Act represents a major step forward in the fight to end veteran suicide. I’m pleased the House took swift action in the 114th Congress to move this bill forward. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same. Let’s work together to send this bipartisan bill to the President for his signature,” Rep. Walz, the highest ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress, said. “The fight, however, does not end after this bill becomes law. There is still more that must be done to improve mental health care for our veterans. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress, veterans, and veterans’ advocates to ensure that improving care for our warriors remains a top priority.”

“Currently, there are over 2 million Post 9/11 Veterans across the country, and this number will only increase as our military force structure continues to draw down.  As the nature of war changes, the injuries our warriors sustain also change. Increasingly, theirs are invisible wounds, which do not have simple treatment and do not always manifest immediately,” Representative Duckworth said. “Just as these Veterans remained faithful to our country on the battlefield, it is our turn as their Representatives to remain faithful to them and it is our responsibility as a nation to, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.’ This responsibility includes ensuring that when our service men and women make the brave decision to seek help, they get the quality assistance and treatment they deserve in a timely manner. I am proud that this bipartisan legislation takes a crucial step in reducing Veteran suicide.”

A 2012 report (PDF) from the Department of Veterans Affairs noted that an average of 18-22 veterans have committed suicide each day for more than a decade.

The Clay Hunt SAV Act seeks to quell this epidemic by:

  • Increasing Access to Mental Health Care and Capacity at VA to Meet Demand
  • Improving the Quality of Care and Boosting Accountability at VA
  • Developing a Community Support System for Veterans

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