Military Advantage

Strong Reaction to Editorial on Concerned Veterans for America

  tom-phipottPhilpott's Forum: Reader's React to Editorial on Concerned Veterans for America   Philpott’s Forum presents opinions and insights and questions from readers of Tom Philpott’s weekly Military Update column. Great article on the CVA! Shinseki needed more support and less rock throwing. This is especially true when the rock throwers have more money but also less knowledge of the facts and concern for the veterans' needs. Funding for additional medical staff might help because claims are complicated and varied and must be verified. Keep up your good work. ARTHUR KORFF WWII Veteran Air Force retiree activities officer Langley Air Force Base, Va. I am not a vet but am proud to have some in my family. I wanted to compliment you on your courage to write about the one-sided and unfair tactics of the far-right CVA. I know a large percentage of military just automatically backs the Republican Party and may not like that you tell the truth about CVA. But many of us appreciate it. The many tentacles of the Koch brothers extend so deeply into the USA that no one can track all their activities. I sure had missed this one! ED PRIOR Via email Funny, I don't remember you warning veterans and troops about IAVA [Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America] and VoteVets' partisan activity…partisan hack that you are. JONN LILYEA Sergeant First Class, USA-Ret. Via email Your column was right on target for sounding a cautionary note. I am a retired military physician. Part of my medical training was in the VA system in 1981. There was a “backlog” to see certain medical specialties in 1981. In the cry to complain about VA waiting times for medical care I do not hear if this is primary care or specialty care. I do not hear how these waits relate to civilian non-VA care. I do not hear if this is better than, the same or worse than waits four, five or six-plus years ago. In other words, reference points would be nice. I am 66 years old and get my medical care in the civilian sector using Medicare. I recently was diagnosed with sleep apnea. My primary care physician referred me to a pulmonologist and for a sleep study. The study took seven weeks to obtain; the pulmonologist appointment was four weeks later. So it was almost three months from my initial diagnosis until I received the treatment, a CPAP mask, for my diagnosis. Was this a delay in treatment or the medical standard given my diagnosis? Honestly, I don’t know the answer. My last point is about the claim that veterans died waiting for appointments from the VA health system. This is totally ludicrous. The first thing you hear from any health care office if you call for an appointment or for billing is, “If this is an emergency, call 911” or some variation of this message. In other words if you are sick and think you need to be seen, then go to the nearest Emergency Department. No one in America should die for lack of medical access if they can get to a telephone. Yes, I am painting this latter issue with a broad brush not accounting for transportation, diagnosis, previous treatment etc. The VA does need to improve its service model. I just think that current uproar is misguided and off target. HAROLD P. DUCLOUX Jr. MD, Colonel (Retired) Pensacola, Fla. Shinseki: a good Army man? Yes. A competent administrator of a civilian unionized organization? No. Men died needlessly under his watch. He should be ashamed and resign. Oh yes, he just did -- a year too late. God Bless the Koch brothers. MICHAEL SYVERTSEN USN-Ret. Via email Thank you for yet another well-written Military Update (“Vets Should Be Wary of CVA Pitchforks and Torches”). Of late, I too have been deeply troubled by the CVA rhetoric that has served to worry many of my fellow vets. I perceive a rising level of suspicion and anger as many, who never seemed to do so before, suddenly begin to wonder whether they are being 'shined on' by an incompetent VA bureaucracy when they must wait a few weeks for certain medical appointments or treatments. We are located quite far from Phoenix, yet the paranoia is spreading. The CVA group certainly appears to have a right-wing agenda. We veterans must be wary, as you say. We must not lose sight of the fact that tactics like those employed by these wolves-in-advocates'-clothing are carefully designed to rile people up to the point that the call for radical change in the existing VA system will come from vets themselves, which would be a big coup for the CVA and their conservative backers. This is a very real danger. I believe the majority of us are very grateful for the level of VA care we receive. We know that our providers work hard and that sometimes it takes a while to get what we need. Thank you again for your insights. Please keep on doing what you're doing! KAREN T. MORGAN Montgomery, Ala. Thanks very much for your article on “CVA Pitchforks.” It’s a sad time in America when billionaires get all sorts of Americans to fight for their desired cuts in services and taxes for purely selfish reasons. I look forward to your column every week. JOHN SHULER Chief Petty Officer, USN-Ret. Picayune, Miss. Thank you very much for alerting Veterans of the Backstabbers. GLENN R. NEGLEY Chief Master Sergeant, USAF-Ret. Thank you for your well-written, informative article. I am the widow of a 100-percent disabled Air Force veteran who had served in Vietnam and later volunteered with Disabled American Veterans. How sad that yet another propaganda tool funded by the notorious Koch Brothers is now being used to discredit the VA and threaten a decrease in funding. Keep up your good work. MARIE FREEMAN Via email My husband and I read your article in our paper, Northwest Florida Daily News and want to thank you for taking on this issue and stating the facts about the CVA. He is a retired Air Force E-9 and does not currently use the VA near us so does not have experience with the controversy. But he has an interest in what is being said. Thanks for stating the facts as they are. HELEN WEAVER Via email I guess everyone should be wary of what any group says about our society, partisan or otherwise. I can’t say I know anything about Concerned Veterans for America or its positions on matters concerning our veterans. There has been an awful lot of noise about the VA scandal the past few weeks but what’s been overlooked is this: If the conditions at VA are chronic, that is they transcend the current administration and go back to well before 9/11, Desert Storm, and even Desert Shield, where has the American Legion’s voice been? I don’t recall the Legion raising an alarm in the massive mailings I get from them every month, as they try to get me to join. I’ve never felt that the Legion really has our veterans’ “6”. It seems to be much more interested in selling insurance policies. MARK PFEIFFER Via email Thanks, Tom, for today's article. I'm sure glad our paper carries your commentary. I have been concerned about news of lack of timely care for vets, including in Phoenix, and also what appeared to be too-quick-to-judge calls for Eric Shinseki to resign, apparently because he was too stoic when he testified before a congressional committee. Tears don't bring change. Brains might. So thanks for informing me, Tom, and thanks to my newspaper for printing your articles. JACQUELINE O’CONNOR Sierra Vista, Ariz. Your article was a very good representation of what's going on with CVA. Keep up the good reporting. HENRY DITTMAN Major, USAF-Ret. Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Your editorial today about the CVA and VA and the confusion caused by the CVA using wait times to process a claim and get an appointment to see a doctor in the same breath. There is a definite difference, at least in this part of the country. Some folks have waited over a year to get a hearing and then they require lawyers to explain to the VA the same set of circumstances already explained by the vet before they can get compensation. And then it usually takes about six months to get a medical appointment. That's better than the time it takes to process a claim. But six months is ridiculous. I appreciate your time, effort and dedication to veterans and active duty servicemen and women over the years. LARS RUNAR Master Sergeant, USAF-Ret. Via email

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Tom Philpott has been breaking news for and about military people since 1977. After service in the Coast Guard, and 17 years as a reporter and senior editor with Army Times Publishing Company, Tom launched "Military Update," his syndicated weekly news column, in 1994. "Military Update" features timely news and analysis on issues affecting active duty members, reservists, retirees and their families. Visit Tom Philpott's Military Update Archive to view his past articles. Tom also edits a reader reaction column, "Military Forum." The online "home" for both features is Military.com. denied-105-158Tom's freelance articles have appeared in numerous magazines including The New Yorker, Reader's Digest and Washingtonian. His critically-acclaimed book, Glory Denied, on the extraordinary ordeal and heroism of Col. Floyd "Jim" Thompson, the longest-held prisoner of war in American history, is available in hardcover and paperback. Buy Glory Denied from Amazon Show Full Article

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