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Articles Posted in Veteran Health Care

Josiah_Webster_Civil_War_Discharge_Certificate_February,_1863_-_NARA_-_192986When you are released from your obligation to serve, you are “discharged.”  If you received an “Honorable” discharge, it’s unlikely there’s any need to request a subsequent upgrade.  However, other types of discharge categories can have a serious, permanent affect on qualifying for Veterans benefits, including those issued by Texas as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans benefits are important, not only to you but to your family.  If you currently do not qualify for Veterans benefits because of the nature of your military discharge, now is the time to consider pursuing a request to upgrade.  But, be careful.  You generally have one opportunity for a successful request – so make sure you do everything possible to get it right. Continue reading

17068-a-woman-and-older-man-sitting-at-a-table-pvThis may sound like the start of a bad joke because it is so difficult to receive any type of benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  However, Veterans and family members do receive collection letters from VA.  This VA debt-collection correspondence is issued by VA’s Debt Management Center, or DMC.

The DMC has recently become quite aggressive about identifying and collecting on debt – even if it’s not really debt.  DMC’s new “activism” is primarily a result of unfair atmospheric concerns that Veterans and their families are gaming VA’s benefits system to obtain an undeserved free ride.

I just received a letter which appears to be from VA’s Debt Management Center (DMC)?  What do I do? Continue reading

gasmasks-twoThe 2010 Census offers unique insight to U.S. Veterans.  Over 835,000 Americans are Veterans who served during both Gulf War eras.  Almost 50,000 more American Veterans served in Vietnam era and both Gulf War eras.  This means the United States has almost 1 million Veterans potentially suffering from serious service-connected injuries.

If you are a Gulf War-era Veteran, how can you recognize a service-connected medical condition?  Among the most common types of service-connected health problems now suffered by Gulf War-era Veterans are: Continue reading

17330-a-doctor-and-couple-viewing-an-x-ray-pvWhat Are Lay or Buddy Statements?

“Lay” or “buddy” statements are:

  1. Oral statements made by the Veteran, family members, friends, neighbors, or service buddies during a hearing; OR
  2. Any written declaration or written statement made by the same (Veteran, family members, etc.), regarding the Veteran’s disability.

Why Are Lay or Buddy Statements So Important?

As the names suggest, “lay” or “buddy” statements are statements made by people who know the Veteran but who aren’t qualified to make a medical diagnosis or prove medical facts. Continue reading

Cuckoos are geniuses in the bird world.  They trick unsuspecting birds into feeding their chicks, usually with the result that the poor duped birds loose their own babies while the cuckoo chick thrives.  But don’t think this happens only in the bird world.  Others have learned from the cuckoo, and are taking your resources!  For example, according to a recent independent study, here is how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compares with a few other large U.S. health-care providers:

Provider            # of Employees       # of Physicians     # of Patients     # of Facilities       States

 VA                              288,000                    20,208                 5,814,463              1,600                  50

Kaiser Permanente     174,400                    17,400                 9,100,000                646                   10

HCA                             225,000                   37,000                 1,795,300                 280                   21

Ascension                   155,000                    40,000                 1,515,500                161                    23

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Clinicians_in_Intensive_Care_UnitMany people assume new illnesses, aches, and pains are “normal.”   Just part of aging.  Simply bad luck.  Or even genetics.  Veterans should not be lulled into passive acceptance of this so-called common wisdom.  Diet and exercise can only get you so far with the many health problems – some tremendously serious – which may be the result of your military service.  In addition, some health issues, such as birth defects, may be results of military service that affect not only you but your entire family. Continue reading

SmartIf the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denies your request for benefits, don’t be shocked.  If VA gives you a lower disability rating than you merit, don’t be shocked. Since 2014, in an effort to reduce its backlog of disability benefits claims, word is that VA is simply shoveling responses out the door.  Many are complete denials.  Some are just sloppy, giving you “something” (a low disability rating) in the hope you will be happy and go away.

When VA denies your request or offers a deceptively low rating, don’t be shocked: be smart!  Seek legal advice and promptly file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). Continue reading

Bob Goss, founder of the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.

Bob Goss, founder of the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.

Back in September, we posted a blog about VA’s handling of the “Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014,” P.L. 113-146 (“Choice Act”).   The “Choice Act” was intended to improve Veterans’ access to medical services – especially private-physician-services – provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

We informed you that Congress passed the Choice Act to allow Veterans access to private physicians when VA is unable to schedule an appointment at a VA medical facility within specified wait-time limits, or when the Veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or meets other eligibility criteria for using a private physician.  We also alerted you to the fact that, more than a year after Congress passed the Choice Act, VA’s handling of referrals to private physicians created more confusion and difficulties for Veterans without providing better care.

Well – on October 29, 2015 – VA published a notice titled “Expanded Access to Non-VA Care Through the Veterans Choice Program.”  What does this mean?  It means we’ve been heard!  VA’s “expanded access” isn’t a huge victory, but some of the improvements are those we called for and discussed in our September blog.

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Medical ExamMission focus is why we justly admire our active-duty and Veteran military personnel.  Unfortunately for our service members and Veterans, “Playing with pain” can quickly evolve from a mantra to a way of life.  This means that injuries and ailments are pushed aside, even if non-prescription painkillers are required.  To protect yourself and your loved ones, before leaving service, all active-duty military personnel should make it their mission to take this one crucial step, preferably in the year before they separate.  Here’s the step: a pre-discharge physical. Continue reading

Clinicians_in_Intensive_Care_UnitYou are not a medical professional.  But, you’re a smart person with at least average ability to understand instructions and information.  Guess what?  If you blindly sign all those forms they give you at the doctor’s office, your intelligence will be used to pin all the risks from any medical procedure on you.  This article explain how patients are duped with administrative forms and what you can do to avoid being a victim. Continue reading

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