The Veterans’ Lament…

**Sorry, but I really need to get this out…**

By now, I’m sure that everyone in the United States has seen stories in the news and heard the politicians talking about Veteran’s Affairs and how they need to focus more on veterans’ mental health along with their physical health. Every time they go in to see a VA medical professional (Dr, PA, NP,etc), they are subjected to a questionnaire designed to evaluate their mental health status: questions such as “are you depressed?” “do you ever feel down?” and the like.

If anyone is interested, here is an anecdote about how the VA is actually hindering veterans’ mental health.

When a veteran is disabled, they file for disability compensation. If they prove, to the VA’s satisfaction, that the claimed condition is “service-connected” (meaning it was caused by or aggravated by military service), then a rating is given and a disability payment is authorized. If the veteran feels that the proper rating or finding of service-connection is not made, they are allowed to appeal that decision within one year.

MOST VETERANS HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THIS PROCESS.

It is designed to provide multiple levels of review and authorization, and the appeals process often provides a correction in the veteran’s favor after further consideration or clarification of the evidence or claimed condition

If, in the future, a veteran feels that a previously-rated condition worsens, they can file for a re-evaluation for an increase in the rating. VA will schedule an evaluation with a contracted medical professional (not a VA employee) to review the list of criteria for the complaint and then review that and any other evidence/material the veteran provides. They then evaluate and come to a decision as to whether or not the requested increase is justified.

Again, if the veteran feels that the decision is incorrect, they may appeal within one year.

AGAIN, THIS IS THE PROCESS AND MOST VETERANS HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH IT.

Do you know what depresses veterans? The fact that when they ask for copies of the evaluations that the VA at least partly based their decision on, it is almost impossible to get them. “Contact the release of information office,” they are told. When they do, and request records from a specific time period, and even specifying that they need the evaluation that was done during that period, they receive their records, but no copy of the evaluation. How is a veteran supposed to know how, or even if, to properly file their appeal when the evidence that they may or may not dispute is not provided to them?

No, now they have to drive to their nearest VA servicing facility, often hundreds of miles away, and track down who, exactly, has those records, because no one on the phone ever seems to know that. I mean, it’s not like the veteran is the person VA is supposed to be supporting, I guess.

That is what depresses veterans.

As a general rule, I am very satisfied with the medical care I receive from the VA, but the administrative stuff…..

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