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    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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Letter To Aclu


Question

This is the cover letter I plan on sending to the ACLU. I would appreciate any comments or corrections before I send it.

To: American Civil Liberties Union

From: Robert L. Anchors

Wichita Kansas

Dear Sir/Madam;

I am writing in hopes that you may be able to help United States military veterans that are facing what has now become institutionalized fraud against disabled veterans.

As you may be aware disabled veterans may file for disability payments based on injuries that occurred while on active duty at their nearest Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO). This process is similar to applying for Social Security Disability benefits in that documentation of events is gathered and medical examinations are both required and performed by or for the requesting agency (Social Security Administration or The Department of Veteran Affairs). However that is where the similarity ends.

Unlike applying for Social Security benefits a veteran is forbidden by law to initially hire an attorney to handle his/her case before the VA. Even though there is currently a law pending to allow veterans this right to legal representation it will do little to stem the fraud perpetuated against veterans applying for benefits. Chief Judge Frank Nebeker, Court of Veterans Appeals, states the problem quite clearly in his State of the Court address before Congress (1994):

“ Neither the Court, through the Board, the Board, nor the General Counsel has direct and meaningful control over the Agencies of Original Jurisdiction… Many ROs appear to do what they think they must when they get around to it…. The attitude in at least some of the ROs seems to be "I don't care what the Court says the law is. I care only what my boss says it is."

Although this was over a decade ago I submit evidence that veterans are still being denied due process of law. According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) in a letter to House Representative Lane Evans (2005):

“It has been an often repeated inventory reduction tactic by VA managers and supervisors articulated to VBA employee’s as ‘just get the claim done and let the veteran appeal’, knowing full well that the decision is flawed under law, regulation and internal policy. It is an often repeated statement that less than 10% of veterans appeal their decision therefore just getting the claim done by hook or crook has little negative impact on the agency in reporting its annual performance. Instead, VA policy makers boast about the number of claims completed, regardless of due process errors.

A year later the AFGE stated (The effect of Dingess/Hartman v. Nicholson on day to day VBA operations, 2006):

“In short, the Secretary’s decision fails to provide the veteran/citizen minimal procedural due process at every stage…. VA leadership fails to understand the basic nature of due process guaranteed to every citizen or is purposefully circumventing due process requirements in the name of administrative expediency… A fundamental practical problem was that VA was summarily denying meritorious cases as “Not well grounded” in order to meet unrealistic production numbers.”

Even when a veteran can get his claim to the Court of Veterans Appeals the case is most frequently remanded to the VARO that initially violated the veterans’ rights to due process. These are the same VA Regional Offices that the Court admitted to not having any control or influence over. And, the same VA Regional Offices that the AFGE claims are currently purposely denying veterans due process.

What is the end result for the veteran?

1. Veterans currently have to wait an average minimum of 3 years before they can have legal representation and as reported by the Knight Ridder News Service some cases have been drawn out as long as 55 years.

2. During this process a veteran may lose his/her home, possessions and even life. The veteran (or family thereof ) may not hold the VA liable for damages.

3. According to Knight Ridder News Service over 13,000 veterans have died over the last decade while awaiting resolution of their claims.

4. When the veteran dies his/her claim dies with them and the claim can not be pursued by the spouse or family of the veteran.

Veterans must be allowed the same constitutional rights of due process afforded every other citizen of the United States. Veterans must have the right to hold the Department of Veteran Affairs legally responsible for damages when the VA has denied or otherwise violated the veterans’ due process.

Earlier I compared this process to applying for Social Security Disability benefits. I should point out that the main difference is that if 13,000 people died while awaiting a claims decision; were locked into a system that denies them due process; or denied the right to legal representation the public outcry would be deafening.

Veterans deserve to know that the country they promised their lives too will treat them and their claims with the same constitutional rights afforded every citizen and not to be relegated to the whims of the politically or financially expedient.

Sincerely,

Robert L Anchors

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  • HadIt.com Elder

That is a good letter but I would not hold my breath waiting for the ACLU to take up the cause. They don't seem to want to do anything unless it is come constitutional issue like free speech. I have written them before about the way vets are treated and I never got a response.

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Well, I look at it this way. I can sit around and wait for the VA to do the right thing or I can take what little action I can. I got all this info shame to let it sit on my desk.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Wow!!!

A powerful letter be interesting to see what they will do? A Class Action Lawsuit would be wonderful.

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I thought this to be a very good and well written letter. As they say, better to do something than nothing. Unless you try, nothing will happen. Hope you at least get a response back.

mssoup1

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