NO MORE WARS!!!!!.
SALUTING OUR VETERANS
WHY AREN'T WE TAKING CARE OF THEM BETTER?
BAN ALL WARS!!!! - THE ONLY ANSWER!
compiled by Dee Finney
Veteran's Day - November 11th
November 11, is the anniversary of the Armistice which was signed in the Forest of Compaigne by the Allies and the Germans in 1918, ending World War I, after four years of conflict.
At 5 A.M. on Monday, November 11, 1918 the Germans signed the Armistice, an order was issued for all firing to cease; so the hostilities of the First World War ended.
In 1938 Congress passed a bill that each November
After World War II, there were many new veterans who had little or no association with World War I. The word, "armistice," means simply a truce; therefore as years passed, the significance of the name of this holiday changed. Leaders of Veterans' groups decided to try to correct this and make November 11 the time to honor all who had fought in various American wars, not just in World War I.
In Emporia, Kansas, on November 11, 1953, instead of an Armistice Day program, there was a Veterans' Day observance. Ed Rees, of Emporia, was so impressed that he introduced a bill into the House to change the name to Veterans' Day. After this passed, Mr. Rees wrote to all state governors and asked for their approval and cooperation in observing the changed holiday. The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954. In October of that year, President Eisenhower called on all citizens to observe the day by remembering the sacrifices of all those who fought so gallantly, and through rededication to the task of promoting an enduring peace. The President referred to the change of name to Veterans' Day in honor of the servicemen of all America's wars.
BUT IS THIS ENOUGH?
|1-26-04 - DREAM - I was managing an apartment building, which was
built similar to my elementary school.
I was expecting to have a very busy day, so I asked my daughter-in-law Becky to please clean up one of the classrooms for a party that was going to be given for some Veterans later in the day.
Meanwhile, there were some problems I had to deal with. I spotted a broken dome from a stairway post that had been violently broken off and left to lay in front of the door across the hallway from me. I saw a young man acting as though he had just left it lay at the door, so I picked up the broken dome and ran after him with it. I confronted him with the broken dome and said, "I don't know where this is from, but it has to be fixed.
He agreed, it did need to be fixed, but he didn't know where it was from either, but he had called the police to have it investigated.
I knew that was the best we could do right at the moment. Let the government solve the government's problems.
I was standing by the large glass double door right then and we always had a problem of people holding the door open and letting strangers into the building who didn't belong there, so I decided to stand guard at the door myself, because there were people going in and out and I didn't know any of them as residents of the building.
I recognized Joe then, my maintenance man in Milwaukee, a veteran Navy Seal from the Vietnam war. He as standing outside alone.
I opened the door and asked him if he was coming in and he said he was waiting for his friends to arrive. Two other men came up then - around age 50-ish - similar in age to Joe. The three men stood together like real buddies.
I opened the door again and said, "Hi!" because I knew one of them also and asked him how he was doing. He said he had two broken ribs and might need surgery and also might need some neurological assistance, but otherwise he was okay.
I asked them if they wanted to come in, but they said that they would wait there for their friends and buddies and all come in together.
So I stood there by the door and watched the Veterans arrive. Each one was older and more derelict looking than the next. They were crippled, hunched over, wearing old, unmatched clothing, looking more like street bums than upstanding citizens.
As I looked at them, I couldn't help wonder if one of them was Jesus in disguise.
As they were gathering by the door, I decided to see if the party room was ready. There were 6 stairs to go up, then down a wide hall and then 6 more steps to the party room. As I ran up the stairs, the stairs themselves got higher and higher. I got out of breath and had to stop half way up. I couldn't help wondering how those old crippled Veterans were going to make it up the stairs.
When I got into the party room, I saw that Becky hadn't done a thing. The room was large, but dimly lit, the shades were all pulled down so the sun couldn't shine in, and there were boxes stacked along the walls. No banquet tables were set up, nor chairs to sit on.
I was dismayed. I gathered up a box of garbage quickly and got rid of it, then went back to the door.
The men were all gone. I didn't know where they had gone to, but several vans had pulled up to the door and elderly white haired women were bringing in huge, beautifully decorated cakes for the Veterans party.
As the women went up the stairs and saw the party room, I heard one of them remark, "Oh! This is the best place we've ever had to salute the Veteran's"
But I knew it could have been better if I hadn't depended on someone else to do it. It was far from good enough.
THIS DESERVES TO BE AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.
SEE HOW OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN DECEIVING USSeptember 22, 2007
Department of Veterans Affairs Reports 73 Thousand U.S. Gulf War Deaths
THE PROBLEMS VETERANS HAVE IN THE UNITED STATES
Approximately 40% of homeless men are veterans,
although veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male
population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that
on any given night, 271,000 veterans are homeless (National Coalition
for Homeless Veterans, 1994).
NEW REVELATIONS ABOUT GULF WAR II "MYSTERY ILLNESS"
Joyce Riley and Dave vonKleist
The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA), an independent Gulf War Veterans’ support organization, has long searched for answers to explain why nearly half of the 697,000 Gulf War I Veterans are now ill and why over 200,000 of those servicemen/women have requested disability, but have received no adequate diagnosis or treatment, from either the Department of Defense (DOD), or Veteran’s Affairs. Though there have been over 125 studies done by the government at the cost of over $300,000,000 to the taxpayer, we still have no answers as to what caused so many of our soldiers to become ill. Meanwhile, the suffering veterans are receiving little, if any, medical treatment for this illness. It seems that whenever veterans become ill, the term “mystery illness” seems to be the first and often the only diagnosis that is ever made. Veterans are then left to fend for themselves, sick and unable to work, with little hope of a normal life again.
The AGWVA is now again asking questions, this time, about the newest “mystery illness” to hit the military. After being pressured by a few independent news reporters who have not permitted this “mystery” to continue unabated, The DOD recently has been forced to announce the “mystery” deaths of Gulf War II soldiers and that at least 100 other men and women have become ill. Again, however, there were no adequate answers, but, only that the “mystery illness” diagnosis had reared its ugly head again. According to a family member of one of the military victims, the DOD recently, has changed its label of the illness and is now calling it “pneumonia” in sharp contrast to what a physician on the scene reported. Due to continuing pressure for sound answers, the DOD was again forced to send an investigative team to Iraq, however the convenient, repeated lack of diagnosis, unfortunately translates into lack of treatment, and lack of compensation for the veteran. The jury is still out, however, if the DOD will be forthcoming with the truth this time.
Contrary to the “pneumonia” and “mystery illness” labels, enlightening information surfaced today on “THE POWER HOUR” radio show (www.thepowerhour.com) in an interview with Mark Neusche, father of Josh Neusche, one of the GW II troops to lose his life from the “mystery illness” while serving in Iraq. The father stated that his 20-year-old healthy son, a former track star and non-smoker, had written home on June 26th explaining that he would be going on a 30-hour “hauling” mission, but that he could not disclose what they would be hauling. The son had stated that he had been to the Palace of Sadaam Hussein, and it was later learned that he was “hauling” at the Baghdad Airport.
Marsha Paxson also appeared on the show, as she is the journalist who broke the U.S. story for the Lake Sun Leader (www.lakesunleader.com). Although the “facts” behind this story are continually changing, Ms. Paxson is one of the few journalists who is remaining true to the facts of the original story. Ms. Paxson revealed in her articles that the father reported that his son was not the only ill soldier. Neusche stated that while his son was in a coma at Landstuhl Hospital, the father overheard the nurses say that they were expecting numerous sick troops to be brought in all at one time. In fact, the father actually witnessed approximately 55 other troops being received by the hospital after they were transported by a military ambulance (bus). According to the father, the transported troops were exhibiting varying degrees of the illness. Some walked, some were in wheelchairs and others were on respirators. In the commotion, a doctor reported to the father that his son was suffering from a “toxin.” No mention of pneumonia was made, nor was it ever reported in the medical record.
Paxton and the AGWVA now question the diagnosis, the actual number of troops that were reported ill, and the date when the DOD first became aware of this incident.
One of the most surprising statements to come from The Power Hour interview conducted on “The Genesis Network” was that while the son, Josh Neusche, was a healthy young soldier on June 26, 2003, when he reported that he was going to serve on the secret hauling mission, by July 1, 2003, he was in a coma, and that day was suddenly classified by the military, as medically retired from the Army without Josh or his family’s consent. Josh did not die until July 12, 2003. Among other problems that this new classification created was that the DOD was no longer obligated to assist the family in getting to Germany to be with their son as he lay in a coma. Because the DOD would not provide even so much as plane or taxi fare for the Neusche family, all 650 members of the 203rd Engineer Battalion each contributed $10.00 to make the family’s final visit possible.
The AGWVA is demanding answers in a timely fashion and according to spokesperson Joyce Riley, “We cannot tolerate another whitewashing of a tragedy against our veterans. It has happened too many times before with our failure to safeguard our troops, adequately diagnose and effectively treat the victims of Agent Orange spraying, Project Shad shipboard-experimentation, and Gulf War Illness I. This time someone has to be held accountable.” Ms. Riley closed by saying, “Speaking out for our past and present sick veterans is the best way for Americans to support our troops!”
The interview with Mark Neusche and Marsha Paxson can be heard at: www.thepowerhour.com click on the “GWII mystery illness interview.”
For more information on Gulf War illnesses, go to www.gulfwarvets.com
For more information on Project Shad, go to www.projectshad.org
© 2003 Joyce Riley - All Rights Reserved
and Opinions of Vietnam Era Veterans.
War veterans suffered brain damage after chemical exposure
Problems in PGW Veterans
|Release Date: November 1, 1999
Contact: Cheryl Hankin, PhD
Women Assaulted in Military Suffer Depression, Alcohol Problems
One in four female outpatients of Veterans Affairs medical facilities may have been sexually assaulted during her tour of duty, according to a national survey. Depression and alcohol problems plague these veterans.
"The presence and magnitude of military-related sexual assault may be an issue not only of military and social concern, but also of importance to health care institutions and providers," said Cheryl Hankin, PhD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development, Centers of Excellence at Bedford, Massachusetts and Palo Alto, California.
Outpatients from many of the nation's 172 VA hospitals took part in the study. Mailed questionnaires were completed by 3,632 women, who comprised 56 percent of a randomly identified sample of female VA patients. Twenty-three percent answered ‘yes' to the question: "Did you ever have an experience where someone used force or the threat of force to have sexual relations with you against your will while you were in the military?"
Those responding affirmatively were significantly younger (42.6 versus 48.8 years), served longer on active duty (6.5 versus 5.2 years), and were likelier to be enlisted than those who responded in the negative.
Veterans who reported having been assaulted were three times likelier to experience symptoms of depression and twice as likely to have problems with alcohol. Sixty percent had significant symptoms of depression, and 7 percent reported current problems with alcohol. Of veterans who reported having been assaulted and who suffered symptoms of depression, half had received recent mental health treatment, as had 40 percent of assault victims who had problems with alcohol. The results of the study appear in the October issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
Hankin cautioned that this study's findings do not reflect sexual assault incidence within the active military as a whole.
"Given recent notoriety regarding cases of sexual assault of women in the U.S. Armed Forces, the extent and impact demand further investigation," said Hankin.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service.
The Journal of Traumatic Stress is the peer-reviewed journal of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies. For information about the journal, contact Dean Kilpatrick, PhD, (843) 792-2945.
Center for the Advancement of Health
|WWII - U.S. NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY WHO TREATS THEIR VETERANS
Many veterans experienced physical and/or psychological injuries as a result of their experiences during the test program. These problems are reflected also in the findings of survivors at the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb sites. In the cohort of British Nuclear Test Veterans studied, 68% of the men sampled died of cancer. 80% died before the age of 65.
Several cancer types have been implicated in survivors from the British tests including colorectal cancers, multiple myeloma, melanoma, brain cancers, lung cancer, oesophogeal cancer, leukemia variations, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and prostate cancer. The United States Government has accepted that the majority of cancers could be potentially caused by the exposure of their nuclear veterans to ionising radiation at their weapons test program.
Of non-fatal injuries, muskulo-skeletal, skin and gastrointestinal conditions accounted for 45% of all non-cancer conditions reported by BTNVA. Severe dental problems, early hair loss, hearing loss and tinnitis, musculo-skeletal conditions, burns and blistering of the skin, serious skin conditions (96% of men reported dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis), respiratory problems, heart condition and gastrointestinal conditions were reported by veterans.
Significant psychological problems were also reported by survivors of the test programs. These may have occurred in conjunction with physical injuries, and included anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares, and significant anger. This has led to a label called the "nuclear veterans' syndrome", which reflects severe fear and negative belief patterns that have consistently developed in veterans due to the psychological stresses imposed on the indoctrination forces
|Excerpt from the statement of Vietnam Veterans of America submitted
by Marsha Tansey Four, RN, Chair, Women Veterans Committee before the
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Committee on Veterans
"Approximately 3 to 4% of the 275,00 homeless veterans across this county are women. Homeless women veterans present different needs with reference to privacy, gender related care, treatment for physical and sexual trauma, and care for dependent children. Due to these compounding issues very few programs are available to serve and appropriately meet the needs of this particular homeless population.
This deficiency in available programs was recognized by Congress, when in FY2000, approximately $2.3 million dollars of the additional $50 million of those funds allocated to VA Homeless Programs were designated and fenced for homeless women veteran projects. Ten Homeless Women Veteran Projects have been selected.
|Female Vets More Likely to Be Homeless
But researchers and experts say the causes aren't clear
By Randy Dotinga
(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)
WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDayNews) -- New research suggests women who are veterans face an even greater risk of homelessness than their male counterparts.
But the challenges of military life may not be the sole cause of homelessness among these women. Instead, they may be harboring personal problems from years earlier, says study co-author Dr. Robert Rosenheck, the director of the VA Northeast Program Evaluation Center.
"Women join the military exclusively on a voluntary basis, and they often don't have strong civilian prospects or are looking for a way out of difficult family relationships," he says. "We don't have evidence for (this theory), but we think it's a reasonable interpretation."
Female veterans are a fairly small group -- they made up just 5 percent of all American vets in 2000 -- but their numbers will grow over the next several years because more women are in the armed forces. The percentage of women in the military has grown from 4 percent in 1983 to 12 percent in 2000.
Rosenheck and his colleagues examined the results of two surveys of homeless people for their findings, which appear in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health .
One survey, taken over five years in nine states, targeted mentally ill homeless people who didn't receive services. The researchers looked at the results from 2,658 women surveyed from 1994-1998 and found that 4.4 percent were veterans.
In the other survey, from 1996, federal researchers talked to 832 homeless women from more than 100 communities. Of those women, 3.1 percent were veterans.
In contrast, about 1.2 percent of non-homeless women are veterans.
The numbers suggest that homeless women are three to four times more likely to be veterans than those who have homes, Rosenheck says. By contrast, homeless men are only 1.3 times more likely to be vets.
While there's a common perception that the ranks of the homeless are filled with male veterans, that's not actually the case, Rosenheck adds. And, in another swipe at common wisdom, veterans who served after the Vietnam War actually suffer from more homelessness than Vietnam vets.
"In spite of the criticism of the (Vietnam War) draft, it actually was a great leveler," Rosenheck says. "The military services actually were quite representative of the population, although they didn't have the very well off or the severely disabled or people with mental retardation."
After the Vietnam War, the armed forces returned to volunteer status and began getting more applicants who "don't have very good prospects," he says. "We have some evidence that in the immediate post-Vietnam period, 1970s to 1980s, people going into the military had more several mental health and addiction problems. They have more problems when they get out."
Dr. Margot Kushel, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and an expert on homelessness, agrees that women vets may enter the military with personal problems that could lead to homelessness after their service is completed.
"People who have less stable home environments may seek out military experience in order to gain stability. We know that a major risk for homelessness in general is fewer social supports like family and community," she says.
It could also be that women are more vulnerable to the traumas of serving in the military and may develop post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychiatric conditions more often.
"It is possible that women experience not only traumatic events in combat but also are exposed to sexual assault in the military. Prior sexual assault may be a risk factor," Kushel adds.
Another theory is the job skills women pick up in the military may not transfer as well into careers in civilian life, she says. "It is also possible that the systems in place to support veterans (benefits, health care, etc.) are less accessible to women than men," she adds.
The findings suggest the veterans system must pay more attention to women vets, especially when they're discharged because of psychological problems, Rosenheck says. "We did another recent study that showed only about 40 percent of people discharged because they had a mental illness made it to the VA system."
Did the veterans left behind become homeless? Nobody knows, Rosenheck says.
SOURCES: Robert Rosenheck, M.D., director, VA Northeast Program Evaluation Center, and professor, psychiatry, Yale University, West Haven, Conn.; Margot Kushel, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, University of California at San Francisco; July 2003 American Journal of Public Health
Copyright © 2003 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
|How many people are homeless in
According to national data, close to 16,700 different people in CT used emergency shelters last year with 78% being adult males. This is a 4.6% increase over the previous year. Over 9,953 people were turned away due to lack of bed space. An additional 900 homeless veterans resided in VA supported beds.
There are 250,000 homeless veterans identified nationally, but it is estimated that there may be actually three times this number. Most experts estimate that for every veteran identified at a shelter or treatment facility, there are two to three homeless veterans residing under bridges, in abandoned buildings or in other unsuitable situations.
CT includes three of the poorest cities in the US (Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven). At the same time CT as a state has the second highest income per capita in the US. CT truly is a state of have and have-nots. The 1998 statistics from the CT Coalition to End Homelessness show that the number of homeless individuals and families in our state has increased over the past year.
Who are homeless veterans?
The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says homeless veterans are mostly male (2 % are women). The vast majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45% suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. 92% have mental health and/or substance abuse problems. America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf or the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. 47% of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam Era. More than 67% served our country for at least three years and 33% were stationed in a war zone.
How many homeless veterans are there?
Although accurate numbers are impossible to come by (no one keeps national records on homeless veterans) the VA estimates that more than 275,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And, more than half-a million experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every four homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served our country – now they need America to remember them.
Why are veterans homeless?
In addition to the complex set of factors affecting all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
Veterans comprise 11-13% of America’s work force and approximately 26% of displaced and unemployed workers nationally, according to the Department of Labor. In 1995, the Disabled American Veterans, Inc. estimated that 50% of unemployed adults in CT were veterans.
A significant number of manufacturing jobs have moved to less expensive areas outside the state and many jobs have higher standards for employment requiring more technical expertise. This trend has adversely affected veterans, many of whom migrated to jobs in the defense and manufacturing industries after military service. As jobs move elsewhere, more and more veterans are becoming unemployed and at risk of homelessness
A top priority is secure, safe, clean housing that is free of drugs and alcohol, and has a supportive environment.
While “most homeless people are single, unaffiliated men, most housing money in existing federal homelessness programs, in contrast, is devoted to helping homeless families or homeless women with dependant children,” according to “Is Homelessness a Housing Problem?” in Understanding Homelessness: New Policy and Research Perspectives published by Fannie Mae Foundation, 1997.
Doesn’t the Department of Veterans Affairs take care of homeless veterans?
To a certain degree, yes. According to the VA’s 1997 report, in the years since it “began responding to the special needs of homeless veterans, its homeless treatment and assistance network has developed into the Nation’s largest provider of homeless services. Serving more than 40,000 veterans annually.”
With an estimated 500,000 veterans homeless, at some time during a year, the VA reaches less than 10% of those in need ... leaving 460,000 veterans still without services.
|WE NEED TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OUR VETERANS
Some VA Hospitals In Shocking Shape
ABCNEWS.com - April 9, 2004
Fourteen years ago, an ABCNEWS hidden-camera investigation ignited a firestorm about conditions and competence inside Veterans Administration hospitals.
Recently, there have been new stories of misdiagnosis, disastrous management and deficient care at some of the nation's 162 facilities.
At a hospital near Cleveland, an ABCNEWS hidden-camera investigation found bathrooms filthy with what appeared to be human excrement. Supply cabinets were in disarray, with dirty linens from some patients mixed in with clean supplies, or left in hallways on gurneys.
At a neighboring facility, examining tables had dried blood and medications still on them. In several areas, open bio-hazardous waste cans were spilling over. Primetime obtained internal memos documenting that the equipment used to sterilize surgical instruments had broken down - causing surgical delays and possible infection risks.
With 130,000 young American men and women putting their lives at risk in Iraq today, these conditions are particularly relevant. While current soldiers are treated in military hospitals, when they leave the service and need treatment, many will seek care at Veterans Affairs (as the Veterans Administration is now known) hospitals.
"Once you come back to be a veteran, it's like a black hole, you know - nothing," former Army Sgt. Vannessa Turner told ABCNEWS.
Turner was stricken with a mysterious illness while on duty in Iraq this past year. She retired from the military on medical grounds, and when she reported to a VA hospital for treatment, doctors scheduled her for an appointment six months later.
Not a Point of Pride
Veterans who responded to a survey by the American Legion in 2003 said it took an average of seven months to get a first appointment at a VA hospital. In some hospitals, patients have waited as long as two years.
In 1999, Jack Christensen, a former army sergeant who served in the Korean War, was admitted to the VA hospital in Temple, Texas, with pneumonia, and ended up staying three years.
Pat Christensen said her husband's condition worsened over several months - so badly that at one point he developed horrific bedsores and dangerous infections, and she says his doctors said they would have to amputate his legs.
Pat moved her husband to a private facility, where his infection healed and he underwent extensive physical therapy. She sued the VA, and then used the money to pay for private care for her husband. The VA denied liability but paid a settlement.
Dr. Jonathan Perlin, the deputy undersecretary for health, said the VA system has sophisticated quality control. But when he was shown ABCNEWS' hidden-camera video of hallways and supply closets in disarray, he said, "This is something we're not proud of."
Critics have long charged that the VA system puts patients on a kind of assembly line, passing them from doctor to doctor.
There's also criticism of how the VA uses residents - doctors still training and not certified in their specialties.
Terry Soles served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. His wife, Denise, says he was one casualty of this practice. In 1998, he went to the VA hospital in Cleveland complaining of pain and diarrhea, and doctors removed small cancerous growths from his stomach and esophagus.
But as his symptoms persisted over the next two years, his wife says the VA gave him painful tests and repeatedly lost the results. His wife says Soles was seen by a parade of constantly rotating resident doctors, and there was little consistency in his care.
Once, Soles was prepped for surgery but before the operation the doctors who were present couldn't agree on what they were going to do, she said.
Before he got sick, the 6-foot Soles weighed more than 200 pounds. By the time his family finally decided to take him to a private hospital, he weighed 80 pounds. Some VA doctors thought his problem was psychosomatic.
When he could no longer recognize his own son, Soles was rushed to a private hospital. There, Soles learned he was "a total mass of cancer from his trachea to his renal bowel. And that there was nothing that could be done," his wife says. Terry Soles died three days later.
The VA's Perlin said the Soles story was tragic, but added: "However, that is not the experience of most of the veterans who come to us for care. ... We take care of 7 million veterans. While the majority of care is good, in a big system, bad things happen."
Critics charge that one of the big problems facing the VA is that too much money goes toward administration, at the cost of nursing and patient care.
Dean Billik, the former director of the VA in Charleston, S.C., is brought up as an example.
In 1996, he was denounced for allegedly spending about $200,000 in taxpayer money to redecorate his office; $1.5 million to renovate a nursing home unit that stayed empty for two years; and tens of thousands of dollars for a fish tank in the lobby - while there were budget shortfalls and staff cutbacks were contemplated.
Congress heard testimony claiming Billik was "blatant in his mismanagement," and an inspector general's report confirmed several of the numerous allegations against him.
But after everything was brought to light, Billik still got a bigger job: He was put in charge of the third-largest hospital system in the VA, encompassing eight cities, 295 acres of land and 83 buildings. And his salary immediately jumped about $15,000.
Primetime obtained budget information on the central Texas VA system for Billik's six-year tenure at the top. It confirms that Billik cut spending $2 million for the people in direct patient care - nurses aides and practical nurses.
Other documents obtained by Primetime show that $129 million was spent on construction at three of six facilities in Temple, Texas.
One source says Billik spent $1.8 million renovating a building at Temple for his own offices - after it had been renovated for patient care.
Furthermore, Nancy Kelsey, who was a nurse at one of the Temple facilities under Billik's supervision, says the way some of the staff treated patients was alarming. She says IVs ran out, patients were neglected and dressings weren't changed.
Melba Bell, whose husband, Ed, served in Korea, said the staff was often idle and it would often take hours to get help. Other families said that if patients or their families persisted in asking for help, some of the staff retaliated.
At one point, Bell's infection got so bad that the hospital used maggots to try to eat away the decay. That's not unusual treatment, but what happened afterward was.
"The dressing that they had on there was real poorly done," said Bell's granddaughter, Chesney Shirmer. "Some of the maggots got out and they were in the bed with him, you know? He could feel them in the bed."
Ed Bell died of gangrene in the VA hospital in 2002.
One More Problem
When confronted with these details, Perlin said he shared the outrage and promised to look into fixing these things.
But there is one more problem. Many whistle-blowers and critics say if you try to expose the truth, VA managers don't want to hear it.
Charles Steinert, who worked for Billik in Charleston, says he felt pressure to leave after he complained about some of the building projects and how he was being treated by supervisors.
Nurse Melissa Craven, who also worked at the Charleston VA, says she suffered retribution for two years after spoke out about some of her supervisors.
Perlin said it is easy for patients and their loved ones to lodge complaints about VA care. "That's important to us, because if there are concerns, we want to address them," he said.
But many patients and their loved ones told ABCNEWS that wasn't their experience - and even worse, many of the families are afraid to speak out.
"They're afraid to say what really goes on, because they're afraid any little benefits that they have are going to be taken away from them," said Denise Soles.
The day after Primetime presented its findings to the VA's Perlin, he ordered inspections of the facilities Primetime investigated.
They found a number of problems at the Temple, Texas, VA, including poor hygiene, insufficient staffing and low satisfaction among patients and their families.
The VA announced it would bring in new supervisors, reassign some personnel, train others, and begin recruiting additional staff.
Inspectors who went to the VA in Cleveland said it was in good condition. However, after their visit, Primetime received phone calls from several sources saying that the hospital had advance warning of the so-called surprise inspection.
And to those patients who accuse the VA of assembly-line care - that patients go through a succession of doctors - a public relations officer for the VA said it tries to ensure continuity of care, but that may not always be possible.
As for Dean Billik, he has now retired. In a phone conversation on Wednesday, he said he disagreed with the VA inspectors, saying their report was "an opinion."
Billik said he relied on his staff to supervise nursing and recommend budgets, and if he had renovated some buildings that then were closed it was because he didn't possess 20/20 hindsight and made the best decisions at the time.
Rep. Ted Strickland, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, called for the White House and Congress to approve enough money to ensure that veterans get the care they deserve.
It's a "situation that's crying out for change," the Ohio Democrat said after viewing Primetime's tapes.
Veterans and their families agree they deserve better. "They were good enough to go fight for their country," said Melba Bell. "They deserve to have the best treatment that they could get."
Denise Soles says that before her husband died he asked just one thing of her: to speak out.
She said Terry Soles told her, "If we can help one other veteran from going through the hell ... That's what we have to do."
Researcher, Pastor-Assistant, Translator
Veterans Administration Hospitals: Do They Measure Up to
an Appropriate Standard of Care?
groups and others are raising concerns about conditions in
Veteran Administration (VA) hospitals. Official
VA inspections have revealed unhealthy conditions like
reused objects that can spread infection, inadequate cleaning,
and vermin infestations.
Inspectors have also found that staff members are not
adequately supervised and there is a high rate of adverse
effects from medication. In the Durham, North Carolina facility,
the staff falsified
reports to show that defibrillators—
The inspections have found even more serious violations in the way resident physicians are supervised. Inspectors had difficulty locating supervising physicians in four VA facilities who were supposed to be present to oversee residents and found many other irregularities. In Lexington, Kentucky, inspectors found that supervising physicians gave their computer passwords to resident physicians, so that the residents could cosign their own reports without supervision. Unsupervised resident physicians create a serious risk of malpractice, and the VA’s peer review identified 63 malpractice cases between 1997 and 2002 that were caused by a failure to supervise residents. There may have been many more.
VA facilities and practitioners have been found liable for malpractice for errors ranging from misdiagnosis to surgical and medication errors and inadequate care. It is more difficult to bring a lawsuit against a VA hospital under federal law than against an independent hospital, and the cases are tried before federal judges without a jury. (See Veterans Medical Malpractice: What You Should Know for more information.) In spite of this, several judgments for over $1 million have been entered in military malpractice cases in recent years. This indicates that federal judges found the VA malpractice had been very serious.
Does all of this mean that VA hospitals are giving a lower standard of care than other hospitals? The answer seems to be yes. A study of the VA program for cardiac care completed by an independent group in 2003 showed that heart patients treated in VA hospitals are more likely to die from heart attacks or in the 3 years following an attack than patients of the same age and physical condition treated in non-VA facilities. VA hospitals were also found to perform angioplasty or bypass surgery 50% as often as other hospitals. Those procedures can often extend a life for several years.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a doctor or other medical personnel at a VA hospital, you should seek the advice of an attorney. To find an experienced VA medical malpractice attorney, post your case to the free Case Evaluation Form.
To learn more about VA medical malpractice claims, see Veterans Medical Malpractice Claims: What You Should Know.
Been injured at VA Hospital due to medical negligence? You may have a lawsuit. Click here, for a top rated law firm to evaluate your legal rights. [Sponsored Link]Source:
Researcher, Pastor-Assistant, Translator
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq
and Afghanistan are ending up homeless. How could this happen?
Charles Ommanney / Getty Images for Newsweek
A homeless veteran lies on a bed at New Directions, a private nonprofit residential and substance-abuse program for homeless veterans in Los Angeles
By By Sarah Childress
Feb. 24, 2007 - Kevin Felty came back from Iraq in 2003 with nowhere to stay, and not enough money to rent an apartment. He and his wife of four years moved in with his sister in Florida, but the couple quickly overstayed their welcome. Jobless and wrestling with what he later learned was posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Felty suddenly found himself scrambling to find a place for himself and his wife, who was six-months pregnant. They found their way to a shelter for homeless veterans, which supported his wife during her pregnancy and helped Felty get counseling and find a job.
A year later, he's finally thinking his future. "I don't
want to say this is exactly where I want to be-it's really not,"
he says. "But it's what I can get at the moment."
"Rather than wait for the tsunami, we should be
doing something now," says Cheryl Beversdorf, president of the
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
LINKS TO PLACES WHO CAN HELP
The home page for the Department of Veterans Affairs provides links to
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US, vfw nonprofit service org, usa military
Message from DAV National Leaders. ...
Veterans for Peace, Inc. (VFP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational and
Paralyzed Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, ... - more.
... Taps: Tributes To Vietnam Veterans by their families and friends.
... Useful Department of Veterans Affairs Sites and Telephone numbers:
Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ... Library Associates of VVA Vietnam Veterans
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Page is dedicated to honoring
... Stand Down. Help for Homeless Veterans.
Help for Community-based Organizations. ...
England Shelter for Homeless Veterans
- veterans - vietnam to now - veterans helping veterans
Veterans Information Resource Guide
Base Camp - Homeless Veterans Online
- Benefits - Help for the Homeless
Homeless Veterans Shelter Reopening
Department of Veterans Affairs - Homeless Veterans ...
Are America's Homeless Veterans?
Memorial® sponsored Homeless Veterans Burial Program
Aid Foundation of Los Angeles: Bill Smith Homeless Veterans ...
MILITARY DRAFT VS ALL VOLUNTEERS
updated - 7-21-07 -
ANOTHER PEARL HARBOR POSSIBLE
1-16-07- THE WAR OF GOG-MAGOG
WEAPONS OF THE
UPDATED - 9-23-2003 - IRAQ - BAGHDAD - EPISODE 2
WAR ILLNESSES - THE NEXT
10-27-2002 - ANTI WAR PROTESTS
NOBODY WANTS ANY - WHO CAN DECLARE WAR?
INDIA AND PAKISTAN CLOSE
THE BLOODY WAR OF JOEL FOR
WE WERE WARNED