Clean Honest Government


Clean Honest, Well-Informed People

For more details on the following content -- contactGeoffrey Nimmich gnimmich@yahoo.com
Below: Photos of Geoff and signs at White House, Washington, DC. 
When it comes to supporting our Veterans, it should not matter whether you are a liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, Independent or completely nonpolitical. We should all unite in providing for our freedom protectors. Maybe you can join this peaceful demonstration for 5, 10 or 30 minutes; show your support. Our show of support for Veterans addresses three issues: 1) in some cases, retired veterans must fund, from their retirement, the amount authorized for a service related disability; 2) the discouraging manner that VA Benefits processes, handles and pays disability; 3) numbers reflecting the factual cost of fully supporting our Veterans. Many questions, some answers and a growing need to do the right thing.

In 2004 Congress passed a bill (CRDP) changing the laws concerning concurrent payment of retirement pay and service related disability pay. Prior to this law an eligible retiree had to choose their retirement pay OR authorized disability pay; although both were “earned” they could not receive both. This law changed policy in a positive direction. It did not go far enough. It provided relief to retired veterans that possessed a VA disability rating of 50% or more but left those with a disability rating of less than 50% forced to continue funding their own disability. Any person who serves for over 20 years in the military absolutely deserves their earned pension. (A member of Congress must only serve 4 years to get a life-long pension.) If during the time of that service, the member is injured and disabled in a service related manner, they should receive appropriate compensation too. Current law allows the retiree to receive their earned retirement and disability if the disability reaches a certain level. But retirees with lower disability ratings effectively lose their well-deserved benefits since it is deducted from their well-earned retirement. Those funds are tax free, a benefit worth maybe $200 a year, but that is almost insulting. The erosion of benefits has been severe. An individual joining the service in 1970, after serving 20 years honorably, was promised FREE life-long financial support for him/herself and a surviving spouse. The same for medical, dental and eye care. Those benefits were taken away, the retiree now pays for those promised benefits. And, certain retirees must fund their own disability. Some members of Congress want to repeal the 2004 law and return to telling our Veterans they must choose which of their fully earned benefits they wish to receive. These represent broken promises to our freedom protectors

While the numbers fluctuate regularly, about 90,000 benefit claims are being processed, every day. The average time to process a claim is over 125 days. That average tends to cover the truth. Once a claim is submitted, an initial review is conducted and in many cases the veteran is asked to submit additional proof to support the claim. It is very important to point out that the computer systems for VA benefits and VA health care are NOT linked. The veteran is forced to access medical records on a very non-user-friendly health care system. They must search to find the appropriate health care record, print it and then submit it to the VA. This causes further delay. Once benefits has all the demanded information they often have to schedule independent evaluations. It is not unusual for it to take 4 to 5 months for benefits just to process and schedule those evaluation requests. A contracted company makes the appointments and contracted providers conduct the evaluations. This might help create independent evaluations but adds additional costs. The lack of common sense and cost control is evident. After benefits receives those independent evaluations further review is conducted often resulting in further evaluations some of which are redundant. Benefits is only interested in the answers they want not necessary the truth. Finally, it is reviewed, and a decision is mailed to the veteran. Yes, it is MAILED. VA Benefits refuses to use phone calls or secured email; VA Health Care uses all modern communication tools constantly. Mailing allows Benefits to further cause unnecessary delay. It is important to emphasize the delays at every point. Facts support that by delaying decisions, VA Benefits hopes that the veteran might just give up or die before they pay a benefit. The average 125 days stated herein is proffered by VA Benefits. History reports thousands of cases where the projected claim resolution is constantly pushed out to first 180 days then 270 days and can creep beyond 365 days. After that maybe never. Many veterans state the moto of Benefits is delay, delay, deny and deny. Is this how we should treat our freedom protectors? These men and women, and their families sacrificed greatly. They deserve better from all their fellow citizens.

Relevant numbers fluctuate greatly and result in much discussion, below are the available:
There are 22 million living veterans, 6.7 % of our 327 million population ever wore a uniform
There are 2.2 million serving today, only 0.67% of our current population and we need more
There are 2.2 military retirees living today, thousands are over 65 years of age
3.4 million veterans receive service connected disability, 15% over 70% disabled
1 million retirees have disability ratings of which approximately 150,000 are rated over70%
The 2004 CRDP law, deciding which retirees can receive both retirement and disability pay impacts primarily those with disability ratings under 50%; approximately 400,000. While pay for each level of disability varies, the annual expense of those not included in CRDP is about 2.4 billion dollars annually. That is 0.06% of our 4.17 trillion dollars 2017 budget. There is a movement in Congress to repeal CRDP and again force veteran to choose retirement or disability pay. They claim eliminating all CRDP would save 10 billion dollars a year, 2.4% of annual our annual budget. Congress seems willing to take more away from our deserving veterans while including 7.8 billion dollars of earmarks in that same 2017 budget. One earmark alone was “8 million dollars for an aquatic plant control program.” Does that really deserve the same priority as our disabled veterans? Last year our country spent more money taking care of illegal immigrants than on all aspects of veteran benefits. How many of you think our veterans deserve to be the #1 priority?

Considering these facts maybe you can join this peaceful demonstration. Just 5, 10 or 30 minutes would show your support for the protectors of our freedom. This is not a political issue. This is just living up to promises made to those citizens who honored us by protecting our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.