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Limboland – Day 470: Decision

Dear Mr. Capps,

We made a decision on your claim for service connected compensation received on July 22, 2010. 

The letter came in today’s mail. Day 470; for me, Decision Day. Things have moved really quickly in the past week. On October 20th, I posted a note here that I had been waiting 15 months—463 days—for a decision on my claim for disability compensation from the VA. Just the next day I received a call from the Baltimore VA Regional Office.

The caller said he was responding to my inquiry about the claim I had submitted on July 21, 2010. He went on to tell me the VA had put together all of my files and sent them to the determination (my word, I can’t remember the precise phrase he used) team to make a final decision on my claim. He explained how long the process should take from that point on: about 60 days for the adjudication and then about five days to process the payment. He was really a nice guy. He was patient and repeated the details my brain struggled to assimilate. Read more…

Limboland – Day 463

Well, it’s been three months since my last examination at the VA hospital. Three months since the VA doctors completed my Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. Three months beyond the twelve months it took to get me to that point.

That’s four-hundred-sixty-three days of waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to adjudicate my case. It’s not only me who is waiting. Some 750,000 other veterans’ pension cases are backed up in the system. None of us receive our pensions. None of us can enroll in vocational rehabilitation training. None of us can claim to be disabled veterans on job applications. This despite the fact that half of the VA (the Veterans Health Administration) provides us with treatment for our medical problems.

The system is badly broken. Over five months ago, a court determined that these system failures violated the civil rights of the Americans the administration is supposed to serve. On Veterans Day it will be six months since the court ruled against the VA and in favor of veterans. When will the VA secretary and the president fix the problems?

A Terrorist By Any Other Name

Normally I would have let this go. But, wow, sometimes the level of stupidity demands a comment.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh took President Obama to task for sending troops to central Africa in an effort to take out Joseph Kony and the Lords Resistance Army. This in itself isn’t newsworthy. Limbaugh would take the President to task for anything short of resigning. But Limbaugh apparently supports the LRA. He believes the LRA should be protected because they are Christians and they are fighting Muslims in Sudan. This is stupidity on a monumental scale. Read more…

Why Not Pot?

There have been a raft of articles here recently about PTSD and veterans including one on the difficulty of diagnosing PTSD, the staggering number of new veterans seeking mental health care at the VA, and the both surprising and somewhat sobering news that younger veterans are more willing to ask for mental health care—this is sobering in that the number of Vietnam era veterans seeking mental health care might increase if they see a reduction in the stigma of asking for help.

Then, I saw this op-ed piece that accused the VA and the U.S. government of slow-rolling acceptance of medical marijuana into treatment regimens for veterans with PTSD. I’ll leave comments on the medical stuff to my colleague Cam Ritchie, a psychiatrist who served a career on active duty in the Army. But as a patient and someone still trying to work the VA system to get treatment for my PTSD (see my series on that here on Battleland under the sub-head Limboland.), I think there are some points I would like to comment on. Read more…

U.S. Special Operators Go After Kony – Happy Hunting, Boys!

In a short statement on Friday, the State Department announced that the U.S. is sending 132 advisors to Uganda to help capture elusive rebel leader Joseph Kony and end the terrorism of his Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony has led the LRA for nearly 25 years. He and his lieutenants have been under an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court since 2005.

It’s not the first time we or other nations have gone after Kony. Ugandan forces chased Kony around Acholiland for a generation. In 2009, the U.S. supported a joint Ugandan-Congolese military operation against Kony with cash and technology. That action, code-named Operation Lightning Thunder, improbably included Guatemalan Special Forces troops, and failed to capture Kony or destroy the LRA. World-class operators, Britain’s Special Air Service reportedly closed in on Kony a few months later, but also failed to kill the man. There are reports that the Ugandan intelligence services were frustrated enough that they were ready to farm the job out to mercenaries. Read more…

Back to School

Today seems to be military and veterans’ education commentary day. ROTC is back at Harvard, and both Bloomberg News and Holly Petraeus are railing on the for-profit colleges.

First the good news story: after a 40 years hiatus, ROTC is back at Harvard. The death of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has re-opened doors long closed to the military because of the discriminatory policy. This is good news. During the ban, Harvard students could still enroll in ROTC but they had to attend their military science classes across town at MIT. Letting the Navy ROTC program back on board the campus isn’t just eye-wash or a feel good measure. It’s a sign that that two cultures might actually be inching closer together. Interesting tidbit in the article: only the service academies have more Medal of Honor recipients among their alumni than Harvard. Read more…

Draft Threat Absurd

Recently, House Armed Service Chairman Buck McKeon has made news.  For example, Mr. McKeon’s absurd interesting comment that defense reductions might bring back the draft a few days ago.

Last week, Congressman McKeon failed one of the most basic military personnel comprehension tests, uttering this gem at an AEI event: “What is tooth-to-tail?” This post summarizes the Congressman’s latest suggestion, that defense reductions would shrink pay and benefits sufficiently to cause potential recruits to think again, and calls it a double bank shot. It’s actually more like Vizzini’s logic. The point is that the services are enjoying a boon in recruitment due to: the execrable economic conditions; the generally high regard of our population towards the services; the long list of benefits now offered to recruits and for veterans; and finally patriotism in a time of war. In fact, there is actually a waiting list to get into the Marines right now. And that situation seems unlikely to perform a volte-face in the next couple of years. Read more…