Update: Army Surgeon General Lied!

Back on the 29th I put up a post about an NPR Morning Edition report Army Blocks Disability Paperwork Aid at Fort Drum, the link is to my sites post which I put up on a few others with some added content..

Here is the link to that NPR report.

A soldier described his first briefing with the VA office on base:

According to the soldier, the VA official told a classroom full of injured troops, “We cannot help you review the narrative summaries of your medical problems.” The official said the VA used to help soldiers with the paperwork, but Army officials saw soldiers from Fort Drum getting higher disability ratings with the VA’s help than soldiers from other bases. The Army told the VA to stop helping Fort Drum soldiers describe their army injuries, and the VA did as it was told.

You can listen to the report here – NPR media player

A spokesperson for the Army Surgeon General had this to say:

Cynthia Vaughan, spokeswoman for the Army surgeon general, says the VA was not doing anything wrong by helping soldiers at Fort Drum.

“There is no Army policy on outside help in reviewing and/or assisting soldiers in rewriting their narratives during the 10-day period which they have to review them,” Vaughan says.

They layed the blame on a:

“Tiger Team”- an ad-hoc group assigned to investigate, in this case, medical disability benefits.

Well Ari Shapiro, who gave us the first report, followed it up this morning with this: Document Shows Army Blocked Help for Soldiers, and starts it out with the following:

A document from the Department of Veterans Affairs contradicts an assertion made by the Army surgeon general that his office did not tell VA officials to stop helping injured soldiers with their military disability paperwork at a New York Army post.

The paperwork can help determine health care and disability benefits for wounded soldiers.

You can listen to this report here – NPR media player, I suggest you listen to the first report than this one, especially if you didn’t catch that first one. Than this one if you didn’t hear the show this morning.

Here is the PDF of the memo being reported on in this morning followup report.

Now, NPR has obtained a four-page VA document that contradicts the surgeon general’s statement to McHugh. It was written by one of the VA officials at Fort Drum on March 31, the day after the meeting. The document says Col. Becky Baker of the Army Surgeon General’s office told the VA to discontinue counseling soldiers on the appropriateness of Defense Department ratings because “there exists a conflict of interest.”

In this report they speak with one of the “Tiger Team” personal, Dr. Alan Janusziewicz, who retired as deputy assistant surgeon general for the Army in October.

They also talk to Rosie Taylor, who recently retired as Fort Drum’s Disability Program manager.

Who had this to say:

The document says one soldier was bedridden for three days without a change of clothes or meal. Taylor says nobody listened to her complaints until the Walter Reed scandal.

“Every time I walked into a meeting before, it was like ‘Oh my God, there goes $70,000.’ And after Walter Reed hit the fan, it was like I was getting phone calls, ‘Rosie we’re doing over a building and we need your advice on access,'”

I went way over ‘Outrage’ long ago as these reports started coming out Finally, “Where was the Funding and Enhanced Budgets, for Military and VA Care, as the Drums Of War were being beat Louder and Louder, by the Republican Controlled Congress and Administration, meaning also the Department Heads and Cabinet appointed and under Republican Control, as we went to War and well after”!

These reports should not even be, everything should have been at the Top of the List in their lust for War! Instead we get, after the Walter Reed story broke, “Well it’s going to close in a couple of years.”. Which means, hey it’s closing so don’t dump any money into that facility as we send the Maimed Troops, returning from Afganistan and Iraq, into it for the Care They Need, we need the money for the War and the Private Contractors, oh and our pockets!

Why ‘Outraged’, because many of us knew Exactly what was going to happen if this Country followed the Inept Leadership, and their spin meisters, into the invasion of Iraq, A War Of Choice!, an invasion on Innocent People, and we were Speaking Out!

And not one of the above were Listening nor Speaking, nor were their talking heads, nor their supporters, nor the media………………………………………………..!

They were all to busy calling us ‘Focus Groups’, ‘Unpatriotic’, ‘Unamerican’, ‘Giving aid and comfort’, you name it we were called it, and many of us are Veterans of our last Fiasco and have way over 30yrs. of Experiance of what happens to those who serve This Country, in Wars of Choice, than return to it’s Apathedic Society!

I want to make one thing Perfectly Clear, and Rosie Taylor states very well in the above report:

But she will say this about Fort Drum’s VA workers: “They stand on their heads for soldiers. They put their jobs on the line for soldiers. They don’t care if they’re not supposed to do something; if a soldier needs something done, they do it anyway.”

Whenever you read or hear one of these reports, They Are Not Focused On The Workers,  they are about what this Country calls ‘Leadership’, those we hire and the ones Hired by them, to Work for Us, being Paid by Us, for the benefit of the Societies true Needs, Not Their Own!

The workers are just like you and me, good days and bad, and in the case of the VA Hospitals and Clinics they tend to go well beyond their required job billets. And in almost every Facility the many who Volunteer, young to old, disabled and veteran, are what keeps the workers sane in an almost insane system, underfunded and overworked!

Following the report, from today, there was this one:

Alabama Community in Shock After Tornadoes

What does this have to do with the above, well this:

Members of the Alabama state defense force pick through the remnants of a brick home that was flattened and spread a hundred yards across a front yard. Part of its wooden roof is perched high in a tree across the street.

“This is a national guardsmen’s home,” says First Lt. Will Wright, who is coordinating the cleanup. His team finds a good conduct medal.

“He served in Iraq, and we’re trying to find his box of ribbons,” he says. “Trying to help the family find as much as we possibly can. He was in the Alabama Department of the military, just like we are, and we’re going to do what we can for him.”

The former guardsman, Ray Coleman, his wife Rebecca, and their 19-year old son, Garrett , were all killed.

Rebecca’s father, James Devaney, says Ray Coleman was a humvee driver who had survived an attack in Iraq and came home suffering from post traumatic stress. Ray and Garrett had been working as plumbers. Rebecca was a cashier at the local grocery store.

“it’s a shock, big shock,” Devaney says. “Appreciate your family till they not with ya anymore. That’s the way I look at it.

You can listen here – NPR media player, but if you visit the title link above you’ll find a Photo Gallery of the damaged area!

3 comments

  1. great essay.

    • Tigana on February 8, 2008 at 3:01 am

    I think the military has proceedures to deal with that – and should.  

    • jimstaro on February 8, 2008 at 11:05 am
      Author

    Army Blames ‘Miscommunication’ in Fort Drum Flap

    The Army Surgeon General says he was mistaken when he denied that the Army had told the Veterans Affairs Department not to help injured soldiers challenge their disability ratings.

    You can listen here – NPR media player

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