Sunday, May 02, 2010

Now They Worry About PTSD Fraud? Where Is Patty Murray?

I guess it was inevitable with the dire situation of the economy and realization that Obamacare would end costing considerable more than expected, that fraudulent PTSD claims would cross someone’s mind. And as always, Veterans Healthcare falls under the microscope.

MSNBC posted a story by the Associated Press, Tide of new PTSD cases raises fears of fraud that contains the sudden realization, “Some veterans have learned to game the system to get disability payments,”

After years of pandering to Veterans and Veterans Groups who were outraged during the Bush administration at efforts to review PTSD claims for fraud, Democrats, now that they have control and have ruined the economy for generations to come, suddenly realize such fraud is a real possibility? Or, do they think such fraud could only happen once they have all responsibility in their soiled hands?

Either way you look at it, such fraud is not new. Veterans, like any group of people, have a small number that seek ways to game the system. Many have been found to have never even served in the Military, much less a combat zone, as was outlined in several pages of the 1998 book, “Stolen Valor” by B.G. Burkett & Glenna Whitley.

During the Bush years, the Veterans Administration announced it would be conducting a review of some 72,000 PTSD claims after a random sampling of 2,100 claims found about 25% “lacked adequate proof of a service-related stressor.”

Two questions were raised by Veterans advocate Larry Scott at the time. “How can a claim be awarded if the veteran doesn’t meet the standards set for that claim?” And, “If the VA didn’t note the documents, how could the PTSD claim have been awarded?”

Larry, who was an enlisted man serving as a “Broadcast Journalist at AFKN HQ, Seoul, Korea and AFN Lajes Field, The Azores, Portugal and a stateside tour as a Broadcast Journalism Instructor at the Defense Information School” and who claims “VA compensation for a service-connected disability” receives VA Healthcare from the same facility as I do, located in very left-leaning Portland, Oregon. In my visits there I have been treated with everything from pity to disdain for having served in Viet Nam.

My first visit, for a vesting physical a few years ago, I was asked a few questions such as, did I ever see blood? Did I ever see wounded soldiers of either side? Was I ever subjected to rocket or mortar attack? Was I ever sexually harassed? Do I suddenly become angry? Do I jump at sudden unexpected noises?

From those questions and a few others, I was told that I too displayed symptoms of PTSD, although I have yet to pursue any compensation. But, that was what it took. No documentation, no dates, no specifics, just answer yes to those few questions and bingo, you got it.

No one even asked for me to sign an SF 180 to review my Military records to see if I was even in Viet Nam, it was just accepted by my say so.

That, Larry, is how a claim could be made without the Veteran actually meeting such standards.

As I have said many times before, PTSD is a very real condition and can be very debilitating, leading too many to suicide if not treated. It is not a laughing matter nor is it something to be taken lightly or marginalized.

But neither is fraud. Fraudulent claims divert much needed resources and funds away from those truly in need to someone seeking easy money. That is wrong. And, as far as I am concerned, such fraud is criminal.

In 2005, thanks to the efforts of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and then excessively junior Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), those filing fraudulent claims gained a reprieve as an amendment was inserted into the Fiscal Year 2006 VA budget which would stop this review.

Murray crowed about the effort stating, “Veterans should not be punished for mistakes the VA has made, and that's what my amendment ensures.”

I fail to grasp how someone filing a fraudulent claim with the Veterans Administration is somehow the VA’s mistake.

Now, here we are, 5 years later, still engaged in a war that must be fought and was long over due when we entered it, Trillions of dollars deeper in National debt, an economy in shambles with raging unemployment and still we hear, “Some claims are built on a foundation of fake documents; in other cases, the right medals — plus a gift for storytelling — secure unearned benefits.”

Ms. Murray, Barack, I await your magic wand approach to just make this one go away as you did before. I wait your boasting of how you protected fraudulent filers of PTSD claims in 2010 as you did in 2005.

Just remember, now that you control all the purse strings, every case of fraud is not only wasted tax dollars going to someone undeserving of such care, it denies a truly deserving Veteran in real need of much needed care.


Glenn Mark Cassel said...

Absolute confirmation that patty murray has no clue, about anything. Well maybe the sun coming up in the morning. But beyond that, nothing.

Hot Sam said...

I'm a disabled veteran and regularly visit the VA hospital in San Francisco. It is usually filled with people who are loud, drunk, reeking of pot, violent, unkempt, and disruptive. I can't stand going there, but I need to continue documenting my service-connected disabilities.

While I believe in "you break it, you bought it," the VA provides services to ANYONE who served for any period of time, in any capacity, who received at least a General Discharge.

Never forget the VA is a GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION and their budget, their pay, and their authority depends on how many people they serve and how many services they perform. They are not a profit-maximizing, cost-minimizing firm.

When a doctor identified a particular problem, she had me run a large battery of tests. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have a thorough review of my condition. But as an economist I understand that all those services must be PAID FOR, and I'm not paying for it - at least not any more than any other taxpayer in my bracket.

The VA is going out of their way to find patients with PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury. I know and understand that many people with these problems ignore the symptoms, the VA is opening the floodgates for thousands of fraudulent claims worth BILLIONS of dollars.

The VA has no incentive whatsoever to minimize costs. The doctors and nurses are wonderful and highly skilled and caring. The hospital is well-equipped. I'm grateful George W. Bush spent the money to rehabilitate places which used to be hell-holes. The administrative staff, on the other hand, are your typical GS-0 petty bureaucrats who are overweight, ignorant, lazy, rude and incompetent.

A friend of mine was a New York City cop and dozens of his fellow officers who had only minimal exposure to Ground Zero put in claims for respiratory distress. It's obvious that many of those claims were fraudulent, but popular sentiment and sympathy made challenges to those false claims impossible. Like many other ailments, it's a condition that can neither be confirmed or denied by objective examination.

I was injured on active duty and I deserve to receive treatment for the permanent injuries I sustained. But I don't think that service in the military begets a lifelong entitlement program. My God, the Army didn't teach me to become a child! They taught me to be a survivor, a fighter, and self-sufficient.

While I generally agree with your quote, "A veteran... is someone who...wrote a blank check", I know plenty of "veterans" whose sense of duty was severely lacking; they put themselves above their mission and their fellow soldiers. They didn't write a blank check - they wrote a check that bounced, but they got the goods anyway.

I was initially a Legal Specialist who, in two years, processed over 200 soldiers out of the Army for various malfunctions of character. Almost all of them received at least a General Discharge. Any of them could be sitting next to me in that VA hospital.

The laws of Economics don't go away for veterans benefits.

Angie Lee said...

The laws of economics don't go away for anyone's benefits, and I would bet my last dollar that there are a hell of a lot more civilians fraudulently claiming PTDS or some other mental illness to get a government check.

Is Barack gonna crack down on them, too? Probably not, since most of them are probably Democratic voters.