Veterans who claim Gulf War Illness are three times less likely than other veterans to have their disability claims approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Government Accountability Office said some of the reasons for the denials include VA staff who don’t understand the disease well and veterans who file for benefits without the proper medical records to support their claims. Veterans who served in the Gulf War are at increased risk for gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, joint pain, and neurological disorders. The VA said that its compensation and pension examiners will be required to take a 90 minute course on Gulf War Illness and make necessary changes to the notification process when veteran claims are denied by August.
The committees responsible for drafting veterans’ issues legislation have largely experienced bipartisan success. For example, Dr. David Shulkin, head of Veterans Affairs, was approved unanimously. Congress passed a temporary funding extension for the Veterans Choice Program along with a law that makes it easier to hire and fire VA employees. And next on the agenda is a bill that will expedite disability benefits appeals. Ideological differences still exist, especially over the Veterans Choice Program, since some worry expansion of the program will lead to privatization of VA health care.
Yesterday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing concerning the expansion of veterans’ education benefits and hopes to vote on the bill tomorrow. 18 different bills with approximately 30 provisions were condensed into the legislation, and it has the support of 40 military, higher education, and veterans’ advocacy groups. The bill would extend the GI Bill to all Purple Heart recipients, it would boost tuition and housing aid for National Guard and Reservists, and fix a Pentagon deployment rule that kept about 5,000 guardsmen and reservists from receiving education benefits. For veterans whose school close mid-semester, like ITT Technical Institute did last year, the bill will restore tuition costs and boost living stipends for veterans.
Approximately 22 veterans commit suicide each day. The majority of those veterans received less than honorable discharges from the military. Secretary of the VA, David Shulkin, said in a news release recently: “Suicide prevention is my top clinical priority. We want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency—whether it means urgent care at a VA emergency department, a Vet Center or through the Veterans Crisis Line.” The best thing for a veteran facing crisis to do is to call the Veterans Crisis hotline at 1.800.273.8255 and then press 1. Or you can text 838255.
The Center for American Progress recently released findings that wage discrimination is a problem faced by a multitude of groups including women, men, workers with disabilities, and older Americans. A review of unpublished Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data from the last four fiscal years shows that men filed 15 percent of gender-based wage discrimination charges on average. Most wage discrimination charges are filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including claims of wage discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, and religion. Other claims are filed under the Equal Pay Act. Approximately one-fifth of wage discrimination charges allege wage discrimination on the basis of age and a slightly smaller amount on the basis of disability. As the Center states: “Pay disparities persist across many different groups. Stereotypes about workers because of their race, age, disability status, or other factors can result in discrimination that devalues their work and results in lower pay.”
“Joint pain. My knees and ankles. My back. The worst hit area seems to be my shoulders. Sometimes driving is difficult for me, just steering the wheel due to pain in my shoulders,” John, a Veteran of the Gulf War, wrote in an email to Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “Sleep apnea. Quite severe. I have a C-PAP device through a doctor for my sleep issues. Without the device, I could literally die in my sleep.” Daily, one or two Veterans call Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys with health concerns they believe are related to their service. Often, they feel they are alone with their problems, until they talk to other Veterans who are also suffering. “John was stationed in Saudi Arabia in August, 1990 for Operation Desert Shield,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney. “Prior to being deployed, he received several vaccinations, and was told one of them would prevent damage in the event of nerve agents. In recent years, however, in addition to his joint pain and sleep apnea, he has suffered from depression and restless leg syndrome.” Since there was no history of depression in his family, John — who served in the Marines from 1987 to 1991, was awarded a… Continue Reading Veterans often feel alone with their health issues
Recently, a seven-year-old boy suffered serious dog bites while his aunt was babysitting him at her home in Niagara Falls. It was unclear whether just one or two of the aunt’s dogs (both Rottweilers) were involved in the attack. Police said the boy had “jagged lacerations to the back of his head, his right ear was partially torn off, and large jagged lacerations to the right eye and cheek area of his face.” “In this case, as in many others, the boy knew the dogs. The problem is that dogs are not human, they are unpredictable. We don’t know if the child provoked the dog or if the dog just turned on him,” said Brian D. Knauth, lead attorney in the personal injury department at Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “It is most likely the aunt is liable for the incident. Where children are involved, dogs — particularly those known to be aggressive breeds — must be monitored constantly.” The parents of this child can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the aunt, however the trauma of the event and the physical damage the child endured will never go away. Typically, family relationships in this type of case are also permanently… Continue Reading An ounce of prevention can save a child from dog attacks
Steve and his wife, Peggy, have been struggling to keep up with their $40,000 in unsecured debt. They have wiped out their savings, but they have been able to keep current on their house and car payments. Every day the couple deals with calls from collectors, but they are hesitant to file bankruptcy, because they fear they will lose their cars and their home. Without vehicles, they question how they would get to their jobs. “It’s not so much a question of losing assets such as houses and cars, as it is how much equity you have in them,” said Christopher J. Grover, an attorney with Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, who handles bankruptcy cases for the firm. “If you don’t have a lot of equity in them, you may be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, discharge the unsecured debts, and continue to make payments on your house and your cars.” If Steve and Peggy do have a lot of equity in their home or cars, then they may want to consider filing Chapter 13, which would allow them to keep their home and cars, but requires them to pay back some of their unsecured debt over a specified… Continue Reading How do you keep your house and cars, and get relief from overburdening debt?