To My Union Brothers And Sisters and All Postal Veterans,
In regards to Americans sudden outrage with the scandalous management of Veterans Healthcare, I personally as a Veteran and over 40 year patient at VA healthcare facilities, think that everyone is barking up the wrong trees. I have watched the news media publicly blaming President Obama for taking to long firing General Shinseki, when it is perfectly obvious to me that the President nor General Shinseki knew absolutely nothing about this scandalous depriving of quality healthcare to our Veterans.
Maybe it’s time for someone to interview me, because the VA healthcare system has systematically been reducing, eliminating, and changing the way our Veterans receive healthcare for the entire 21st century. If you want to know who’s responsible, why don’t you ask the private sector management contractor who created this “Management Bonus Incentive System” of cutting cost while depriving Veterans like myself the quality healthcare they deserve. It is “CARF” and the middle managers trained to follow the CARF healthcare standards, that are the one’s who have their managers in positions of authority at every VA healthcare facility. I could probably write a book about the total decline of Veterans Healthcare in the 21st Century, but I’d rather first share what I know via news media and my Union.
I know there are probably millions of 20th Century Veterans who can relate to my story, considering the current scandalous state of Veterans Healthcare.
I am a Drafted at 19 years of age Vietnam War Veteran (9- 9-1966 Thru 9-6-1968) who still suffers from the chronic mental illness “Military Service Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” As I look back at my two year military connected traumatic experience, at lease 6 separate incidents occurred that periodically haunt my mind today. When I got out (ETS) the Army with a honorable discharge I was told that I qualified for all of the benefits granted Veterans under the “Vietnam Era Veterans GI Bill”. One of those benefits was free healthcare for life. It was my Father (World War 2 Veteran) in 1971 who convinced me to seek help at a VA Medical Center for extreme anger and drug issues. With that said, if it was not for the 20th century Veterans mental health programs, I would not be hear today telling my story.
I have been either an inpatient or an outpatient at VA healthcare facilities for over 40 years, and even though I was not diagnosed with a service connected illness (PTSD) until 1998 (That’s 30 years after I got out), I never ever received a bill stating that I owe the Veterans Administration co payment money, for all hospital visits, groups, meetings, and medication????
Enter The “CARF” private sector Management team that on January 1st, 1997, was awarded a contract to manage the Veterans mental healthcare system, and change it to the same system used by private sector hospitals. It is CARF that has been in charge of managing. It is CARF that changed, reduced, or eliminated the Veterans programs and healthcare systems for the entire 21st Century. Therefore it is CARF that is responsible for the current scandalous mis-management state of the Veterans Healthcare System.
I will now use my VA medical history to describe a few Veterans healthcare rules and regulations that never should have been included in the numerous changes that CARF has made to Veterans healthcare the past 14 years.
1.) The GI Bill benefits of all 20th Century Veterans should never have been tampered with, altered, or changed. As I stated earlier I never received a bill or was required to pay any money for healthcare services for the first 30 years. Free Healthcare For life right? Wrong. Starting in 2002 like all other Veterans I began getting letters in the mail saying I had to take a “Means Test”????
Basically, the “Means Test” was reporting your income to the VA just like the IRS every year. It was my 2002 income tax refund That was the first time I was ever made to pay anything for the same Veterans mental healthcare the I had been getting for free for over 30 years????
This still faulty computerized Veterans billing system has caused Millions of Veterans to stop coming to the VA for healthcare if they have other insurance options. Since I am a Veterans Affairs Representative (APWU Local-7140) for the American Postal Workers Union, I decided to investigate all of these sudden 21st Century financial rule changes, that now have all 20th Century Veterans paying for the same healthcare they were receiving for free, 30, 40, 50, and even 60 years???
What I discovered during my investigation was that CARF had actually changed the Federal healthcare benefits that 20th Century Veterans were receiving to the same new system created for the 21st Century Terrorist War Veterans. Now all Veterans regardless of when they served or what they did during their military career, had to have a 50% or above “Service Connected” disability or illness????
Imagine how I felt, when I was told that I never filed a pension claim for my service connected PTSD, therefore I can not be categorized in the new system as “Service Connected”????
2.) CARF’s mistake #2 was classifying all Veterans who served in categories of priority to get healthcare. A “Service Connected” veteran with a 50% or more rating get 100% medical healthcare, and top priority for all VA services????
Their are millions of Veterans like me that have service connected illnesses yet never filed a claim for that service connected illness. For me, I preferred to work for the Postal Service than file a claim for a service connected illness that prior to 1998 I did not know I had. In fact no Veteran from the 20th century could possibly have known they had service connected PTSD prior to the mid 1990’s. Yet today Millions of over 60 World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm Veterans are being deprived of the free healthcare that they were promised and deserve because they never filed a claim for service connected PTSD????
Take me for instance, I was drafted into the Army on September 9, 1966. From the moment I opened the greetings letter I started shaking in fear, and thus my first traumatic military service connected experience. The CARF created Veterans healthcare system is not helping all Veterans. Instead, they have turned Veterans healthcare centers into private sector healthcare for profit. Millions of Veterans such as myself are billed co-payments for all inpatient and outpatient visits, medications, groups therapy, treatment, and meetings.
Thanks to CARF, checking Veterans income and collecting Veterans co-payments are now the VA’s top priority. Providing quality healthcare for a veterans who served has been replaced by only “Service Connected” veterans getting quality healthcare. How is it possible for a Veteran to have a military documented 47 year old “Service Connected” mental illness, but have to pay co-payments for all doctors, group therapy, meetings, hospital stays, and medications, related to the service connected illness????
All Americans should know that the entire Veterans Mental healthcare system is Management incentive favorable and flawed regarding Veterans healthcare. I will ask one question that I have not heard regarding the current Veterans healthcare investigations. What happens to all of the money that the VA gets every year from Veterans co-payments, the garnishment of Veteran tax refunds, government pensions, and Social Security income????? It sure as hell ain’t going toward improving Veterans healthcare, so who actually is getting these yearly muti-millions that VA is stealing from the vary Veterans that they are suppose to be providing quality healthcare ?????
Bob La Foe
Retired Veterans Affairs Representative
Northwest Illinois Area Local-7140
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