As a 1990’s or previous veteran, we were taught to suck up the pain, do not go to sick call (doctor), which meant to your sergeant or superior if you did, “you were incapable of doing your job, or you weren’t mission capable ready, because of medical reasons (injury or illness). We were taught “a soldier work or walk-through pain to accomplish a mission or task”. These were the unwritten rules of a 40 year or older veteran in the United States Armed Forces. I know this principle did not apply to all veterans at that time, but to the majority it did.
When it was time for departure (ETS, End Term of Service) from the military, the medical paperwork or guidance to pursue what we deserved, military pensions or disability for our injuries was not an important part of the departure briefing. The ETS briefings were short, if you received one and the Clearance Sheet given, only required you to get signatures from the appropriate departments circled, underlined, or highlighted on the forms, so out-processing would not take too long. Other departments held information about our health and welfare that we most desperately needed as well, but we were not guided in the direction to pursue, needed justification, or account for the injuries or illnesses we sustained while serving in our duty assignments. We were not instructed to get copies of our records nor were we provided copies of these records to show documented justification for sustained illnesses and injuries. These records are important in our pursuance of benefits through the Veterans Administration’s System now. Most of all, we were not educated on the procedures of becoming a veteran and why medical records and statements were so important to the civilian side of the Armed Forces to pursue help through the Veterans Administration.
Now that we (veterans) have gone through life after the military for twenty (20 years) or more years (30+ years), it has become an uphill battle in the pursue of benefits. Every compensation appointment turns into a question-and-answer session about our time served in the military. The biggest problem is talking to an unqualified civilian that does not have our best interest at heart, clue about serving, or the military rules and regulation of the old military, in which they need extensive training in.
I have been told by an examiner, “the military did not ask you to join the service” during a C&P Examination. It took every ounce of my military bearing and strength to keep from using the military training that was provided to me from retaliating against this particular examiner.
The Veterans Administration wonders why older veterans are so disgruntling or angry about our road to pursue our benefits. Which war was or is more important to the Veterans Administration personnel? Is defending our country from enemies foreign or domestic while serving not enough or helping a veteran when their only means of help is the system. Are these situations not enough for the examiners to say I need to support this veteran other than being a IED in the road to their benefits.
When soldiers returned from Vietnam, they were called baby killers, murders, and so on. These ungrateful individuals (civilian personnel) have infiltrated the Veterans Administration System and now they use the system to destroy veterans without having to call them ungodly names or any other unjust description they decide to use. The biggest oversight missing in the Veterans Administration System is something the military used years ago, called check the checker.
The Veterans Administration forgot to hold their people accountable for their actions. They use the new tactics of denied, not related, proof of service, wrong form, etc. to destroy the veteran. The veteran needs records that are already in the military system and the system has not taken the time to research their own files pertaining to the veteran who is submitting paperwork for help.
Every injury is not visible to the naked eye, so why are we judged on our appearance or what we look like. Yes, it helps in some cases, but it should not be the deciding factor in awarding a veterans his or her benefits. Just because the veteran does not walk around looking like a bum or homeless, does not give evaluators the right to say the veteran does not have a problem. Veterans’ problems go beyond the clothes they or their spouse/mate put on them to wear for their appointment or scheduled evaluation for that day. Mental and medical issues do not care if you wear sweatpants or a three-piece suit. These issues are dangerous to the people around the veteran as well as the veteran themselves.
Veterans biggest disorder is being able to accept what they have been through as a problem and being able to ask for help when they know they are reaching the end of their rope. But help is a two-way street. The veteran is sending a signal and the receiver (evaluator, examinator) is misunderstanding what or how to deal with the signal that is being sent. Just because a person reads books about dealing and understanding disorders does not always make them a qualified doctor, specialist, or a true counselor who can relate to veteran and their problems. Veterans relate to other veterans mostly and adjust to others when they feel comfortable around them. The military trained veterans to be cautious of people, so how can a one-time visit give a veteran the ability to trust the evaluator that is questioning or doubting the answers that are given.
I write this through experience, because I was sent to see a VA Psychiatrist. The counselor ask question that were ignorant to PTSD or the way I dealt with my disorder. Her only concern was asking me was I taking drugs or drinking. Yes, as a young veteran I did deal with my mental disorder with drugs and drinking. The older you become your responsibilities change, so you learn to channel your disorders differently. The counselor was not married asking questions about marriage and relationships in which she did not have a clue about. She did not have children, so her book learned questions about children did not pass the test of being a parent. The beginning of the evaluation justified the end of the evaluation, in which being defensive was the only option.
Why are the evaluators with very limited knowledge of what a combat veteran has been through or is going through allowed to pass judgement on a veteran’s state of mind or situation? Why do help have to be so complicated?
Another question that needs serious attention is, why does it take going through other organization to receive benefits from the organization that supposed to be supporting you. Majority of the veterans needing help need the money they are giving to lawyers or organization that is helping them, to survive. What is wrong with having an internal organization that is part of the VA system to help veterans. The complication of the system is that the system was not designed this way when the veteran or veterans started using it. Older or mature soldiers did not have a degree or needed one to enlist into the military. Why do veterans need a degree to maneuver through the VA system now. They hired veterans without a degree, sent them to war without a degree, so why is a degree needed to get help through the VA system.
DD214’s does not come with an Associate, Bachelor, or Master’s degree and trying to pay for one with limited income, jobs, and disorders does not qualify the veteran to sit down and write or answer professional letters the VA requires you to do to receive help. Where do the VA expect a veteran to get the money from. Veterans are already struggling to make it in a world where people could care less that they were in a conflict that supported this country. When is it time for the military to care about getting every veteran on the same page when it comes to being helped. We know it takes time, but to send the older veterans through this technological war just to survive is inhumane, cruel, and someone should care enough to say we created this mess how do we fix it.
Another major complaint is the condescending remarks or the complicated answers the Evaluators give on the letters that supposed to make since to a veteran trying to get help. The reason veterans send VA information is for their help not their deniability or to say you are not smart enough to use our system. The reason veterans send VA information is that they do not know the right form, they do not have the right records, they do not know where the individual that he or she went to combat with live, they do not know where the military put our records when we were in, they do not know or understand the information that you are asking for, 9 times out of 10, they do not know the questions you are asking, what gives.
Trying to gather information that is no longer available to a veteran is stressful itself. How can we be our brother’s keeper if the road that we are taking is always changing and the ability to respond to the people that are changing the direction of the road can no longer be traveled. What does the Veteran Administration expect a veteran to do. I pray the people that are paving the road finally start listening to the veteran that have to travel it. The road to help should be what it is called a road, not a path that requires you wear the same uniform that you wore while in combat. We really need to stop fighting; our peace of mind demands it.
The mind, road traveled, and thoughts of a veteran.