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Articles Posted in Veteran Health Care

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

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.

Robert B. Goss is a Veteran, attorney, and the founder of the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C.  Bob, as he prefers to be called, started his law firm in response to the need he saw for a level playing field between Veterans and the government system intended to provide benefits to Veterans.  Recently, I had an opportunity to discuss with Bob some of his thoughts on how Veterans can be better served.  The following is Part II of a two-part conversation.

Eleanor Meltzer:  Bob, I know Veterans can contact you directly.  What recommendations do you have for Veterans who are struggling to obtain benefits?

Robert Goss:  “Don’t wait to contact me.”  I hope everyone reading this interview tells their active-duty friends the following: if you are just leaving the service, make the service give you a physical.  Once you leave service (and are now a Veteran), claim ALL your disabilities.  For instance, a paratrooper most likely is going to have orthopedic issues, tinnitus, hearing loss.  Depending on the individual, there may be other service-connected traumas such as PTSD and burn-pit related injuries.  FILE WITHIN THE 1ST YEAR after leaving the service.  Why?  Because then your benefits go back to the day after separation.  If a Veteran has been out longer than a year, they still need to file.  The sooner the better. 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.  Clearly, there is a large population of Veterans who likely have service-connected injuries which manifest themselves more painfully as time goes on.

If you are a Gulf War-era Veteran, would 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

homeless-1254833Fortunately, today our understanding of combat and war-induced trauma, together with a healthy societal openness about diagnosis and treatment, means now is as good a time as any to obtain assistance for your Veteran.  When it comes to applying for and obtaining service-connected mental disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the key is having a knowledgeable advocate on your side.

VA largely relies on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders when evaluating mental disabilities.  The manual was most recently updated in 2013 and is referred to as “DSM-5,” meaning the fifth edition of the manual.  You don’t need to know all the details of DSM-5.  That’s why you have a VA-accredited representative.  What is important is that you (the Veteran) or you (the loved one of a Veteran) recognize signs of possible service-connected mental disorder.  Continue reading

493px-Pop_Haydn_the_Shell_Game_by_Billy_BaqueAlmost without exception, if you are still alive when the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) responds to you initial claim for benefits, VA’s response will be a rejection.  This means you must – if you want the benefits you’ve earned – file a “Notice of Disagreement.”

Prior to March 24, 2015, it was a lot easier to file a “Notice of Disagreement” or NOD.  Now, VA requires use of a specific, fairly prejudicial form, the VA Form 21-0958.  The form is being challenged as illegal, but here are some tips for you in the meantime. Continue reading

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