SPECIAL TO CITYWATCH-In recent times, several stories have made the news about the terrible operating environments that lurk inside the Dept. of Veterans Affairs agency. For now, much of the focus is on the VA Hospital system and the related treatment centers. For the tens of thousands of veterans who make up the disability claims backlog, the help and solutions for them just cannot come fast enough.
The VA disability claims system is known by its formal title as the “VA Compensation and Pension Benefits” for veterans. It is found in Title 38 federal law in two companion parts: one is the Title 38 section of the United States Code Annotated (USCA) and the other is in the Title 38 section of the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically in Parts 3 and 4 of the (CFR).
The VA Comp and Pen system is literally a patchwork of small hate crimes and patient abuse bungles which are implemented in small stages across the entire scope of the procedure. It starts from the very first filing by the veteran all the way into the final stages of appeal into the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawyers will never reveal the true inner workings of the VA claims process because to do so, would open up the entire process to public outcry from the medical industry to shame the VA into a mandate for decisive and certain change. It is the VA fraud schemes where lawyers make their predatory money on the veterans.
Only a few dark facts can be covered within the borders of a small press article about the VA claims system. Veterans are told to file a VA Form 21-526 to start their claims process. This seems harmless enough, and you might be asking yourself “What could possibly go wrong?”. Veterans are never told whether this single form also activates their VA hospital care. So veterans end up writing this form in a way that is actually a request for access to VA hospital care, not realizing they are filing the wrong form.
In my own case, VA employees actually filed my Form 21-526 without my knowledge. I was a hospital inpatient surgery patient at the time and the clocking stamps on the papers clearly shows the papers were not filed by me.
This provided me with the end result of not getting my VA disability rating because the VA employees had filed the papers on my behalf incorrectly.
Veterans are also never warned that filing the VA Form 21-526 is actually the start of a hostile court litigation proceeding at the VA agency level. The form actually bears no outward markings or warnings that the veteran is about to embark upon a hostile “legal defense” process whereby the VA not only controls the process in their capacity as a litigation Defendant, but also, the VA is permitted to use the case citations of all other veterans who have filed before them as a legal defense against the veterans own filing.
The VA filing form is also crafted in such a way as to specifically mention only those specific environmental hazard toxic exposures from their military service days, who are already legislated by an act of Congress. No other filing information is provided to toxic exposure veterans who are not yet legislated by an act of Congress. I can say with absolute certainty that this part of omitting such crucial information from the filing form is done to bring harm to the veterans. The VA has been confronted on this very point many times over by activist veterans, including me personally, with demands for them to fix this fatal flaw in Comp and Pen filing forms for the veterans. To this minute, there is no fix to be found on the form.
VA disability claims are first received at the agency level at established VA Regional Offices and are called by their letters (VARO). These facilities are peppered throughout each state wherever the veterans live. At the VARO level, the claims are received and processed, not by one single person, but is instead, divided up across several different people sitting in different offices. What comes out of this situation is a deliberately falsified document version of the claim, and that document version is handed back to the veteran as a “judicial ruling” in the case. It is almost always wrong beyond words and it is published for all the world to see in the veteran’s name.
In order to fully appreciate just what a horror chamber this VARO operation is, one can use the example of the fable called the The Wizard Of Oz where Dorothy musters the courage to walk up to the great Oz (photo) and pull back the curtain to see who is back there. VA Claims Raters perceive themselves, in a rather delusional fashion, as sitting court judges. They are actually overly glorified clerks with no academic background at all either in medical practice or in the practice of law. They are hired into these jobs as disability Raters through their time in service at the VA agency and through regular upward promotions.
The authority that is offered up to this unqualified pool of quacks is so incredibly bizarre, they are actually allowed to argue with the findings of hospital surgery papers submitted by the veterans to support their cases. It is right here that the veterans begin to figure out they are getting played and toyed with by a hate-filled dark force sitting on the other end of the VA agency.
To compensate for the woefully lacking academic standing of Claims Raters, the VA puts them through a workshop level type of training program. They are handed an official training book called the VA Adjudication Manual, or more commonly referred to as the M-21, and then they are seated behind a chain of website computer forms to arrive at the phony “judicial” conclusions they are reaching and mailing out to the sick veterans. It is, in all ways, a disabilities in a box system. And there are no provisions at all for those disability cases who fall outside of the VA box.
A close examination of what is in the M-21 Instruction Manual for the inappropriately hired Raters is a lesson in language and word frauds that comes directly from the VA’s Office of General Counsel. For the purpose of this article I have managed to pull out a simple 2-page comparison to expose what the VA Claims Raters are told to do when they are writing a judicial decision in a veterans disability claim. One does not have to be a Rhodes Scholar to figure out where the sham is.
One instruction list for the VA Raters, tells them to “apply” certain features of the case while on the very next page, another instruction tells them to “consider” different features of the case. It all boils down to the ridiculous contradictions between the TWO of words “apply” and “consider”, and how both of these instructions are told out to the VA Claims Raters as glorified clerks.
The VA Raters are told to “apply” the absolute tonnage of case citations of every other veteran court case who has ever applied in the system since World War II. This sets up the appeals chain so the veteran spends all of their time talking down every other veterans case except their very own. I have personally spent years doing this. On the flip side, the Raters are told to only “consider” the veterans hospital and surgery papers. Any activist can see plainly here that the obvious solution would be to reverse both lists to apply the medical papers and to consider the case citations only when appropriate and not in each and every case. There is a short list of this very kind of a word fraud that is littered all through the VA M-21 Adjudication Manual for Claims Raters. Just by fixing this one wording bungle would rescue hundreds of veterans cases from unnecessary appeals.
After a fake and phony ruling paper is issued by the non-medical and non-legal glorified clerks at the VARO level, the only way out for the veterans to unravel all the damage is to start a chain of upward appeals that can last several years. Veterans do die during this time, either from the ordeal and strain of the appeal process itself or from the time delay exceeding their medical life span. From the very next level after leaving VARO, it is only then that licensed lawyers enter the picture as VA Claims Judges. But there is no relief from the torture mill here either.
The lawyers at the BVA level, then back up whatever was said at the VARO level as a “legal defense” maneuver. What is never told to the veterans is that the Board Of Veterans Appeals is owned and operated by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The word “impartial” virtually never comes into play between VARO and the BVA. By the time the case is appealed by the veteran into the U.S. Court of Claims for Veterans Appeals, there are a total of TWO deliberately falsified fake rulings in place which the sick veteran has to overcome.
Pulling back the veil of secrecy, corruption, and patient abuse that grips the inner workings of the VA disability claims system is easy. But getting the entire national news media to confront the Dept. of Veterans Affairs about what exactly they are doing to sick and injured medical cases who are validly filing their disability claims for benefits, is a much larger obstacle.
(Susan R. Frasier is a National Veterans Activist in Albany, New York and a U.S. Army veteran. Frasier serves veterans across the country, advocates for legislation and change to the VA system and for toxic exposure service veterans. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vol 12 Issue 97
Pub: Dec 2, 2014