Support Veterans with PTSD sign now

On behalf of Angelo Vitalones, Sr., I am organizing this petition so that he may hand carry signatures on December 4, 2005. It is URGENT that you circulate to your friends so that the needed amount of signatures will be complete in this short period of time.

Per Angelo: Please, I ask on behalf of all Veterans,friends,relatives,to sign your name to this petition. We need too let our voices be heard. Signatures will be hand carried to Secretary Jim Nicholson and signatures needed by December 4, 2005. PLEASE SIGN AND FORWARD!

Here are the specifics:
Over the past year, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA), led by
Secretary Jim Nicholson, has turned a deaf ear to veterans and quietly made
numerous decisions designed to strip veterans of benefits and compensation.

But, with Secretary Nicholson at the VA helm, veterans have come to feel
isolated from the agency's decision-making processes.

Earlier this year, veterans were surprised by the VA's "second signature
required" (SSR) policy. SSR applied to approved claims for many
"high-dollar" disabilities and stipulated that the claim be re-approved by
another VA staffer. However, if the claim was denied by the first staffer,
there was no second review.

Veterans' groups claimed that a SSR policy should apply to all claims for
any condition whether they were approved or denied. The fact that the VA
chose to apply SSR to disabilities with "high-dollar" compensation was proof
to many veterans that the agency was just trying to save money by denying
benefits.

The SSR policy was NOT announced by the VA. Only some very good
investigative work by Cheryl Reed of the Chicago Sun-Times brought the story
to light. This is just one of many instances where the VA has instituted
policies detrimental to veterans without making the actions public.

The latest "unannounced" move by the VA is a new review of PTSD diagnosis,
treatment and compensation. The VA's plans came to light on November 16,
just six days after they had canceled a review of 72,000 PTSD claims awarded
at 100 percent disability. Pressure from veterans' groups and Democrat
members of Congress forced the cancellation.

The VA's new PTSD review was not announced by the VA. There was no VA press
release. There was no VA press conference. The information was not posted on
the VA web site.

Information about the new PTSD review was made public in a press release by
Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans'
Affairs. The release, in part, said, "The Department of Veterans Affairs
announced today that it has contracted with the Institute of Medicine (IOM)
on a two-pronged approach to the examination
of PTSD."

Except, the VA hadn't announced anything. They were using Senator Craig as
their conduit to hand out the bad news. Since Craig's press releases don't
have a high readership, this information has gone virtually unnoticed.

Upon reading Senator Craig's press release I called the Public Affairs
Office at the VA. They had no knowledge of the review. I then called the
Institute of Medicine. They had no knowledge of the review.

Senator Craig's office was more helpful. They forwarded the two documents
the VA had sent to them. One document is a Fact Sheet detailing the contract
between the VA and the IOM. The other is a Question and Answer sheet. (NOTE:
The VA documents are available at the following URL -

http://www.vawatchdog.org/newsflash/newsflash11-23-2005-3.htm )

I encourage all veterans to read the VA documents. They detail a plan to
redefine PTSD by altering diagnostic and treatment techniques that will then
lead to a complete restructuring of VA compensation. Following are a few
excerpts from the VA Fact Sheet.

The IOM "...will review the utility and objectiveness of the criteria in the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM- IV), and will
comment on the validity of current screening instruments and their
predictive capacity for accurate diagnoses."

This will allow the VA to write an alternate definition of PTSD exclusive of
the DSM-IV and institute new methods of treatment outside of normally
accepted guidelines. I wonder what the American Psychiatric Association will
say about this?

Also, the IOM "...will review the literature on compensation practices for
PTSD...and how changes in the frequency and intensity of symptoms affect
compensation practices for PTSD; assessing how compensation practices and
reevaluation requirements for PTSD compare with other chronic conditions
which have periods of remission and return of
symptoms; and reviewing strategies used to support recovery and return to
function in patients with PTSD."

And, this will allow the VA to lower PTSD compensation based on "frequency
and intensity of symptoms" and "remission and return of symptoms." The VA
will also be looking to deny PTSD benefits based on the concept of "recovery
and return to function." VA Secretary Nicholson has often used the word
"recover" (terribly close to the word "cure")
when speaking of veterans with PTSD. The IOM reviews will be completed in a
year.

Also, there were two big surprises found in the Question and Answer
document.

"QUESTION: Why is this study being conducted now?

ANSWER: Over the next two years, the [VA] Secretary and the Veterans'
Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) is (sic) closely examining
compensation for all health conditions, including PTSD."

Surprise number one is that the VA has not announced that Secretary
Nicholson is examining compensation "for ALL health conditions." Veterans
can only look forward to fewer benefits and lower compensation with
Nicholson directing this endeavor.

The second surprise is Secretary Nicholson's mention of the VDBC. The VDBC,
by law, is "independent of the Department of Veterans' Affairs." However, to
discover that they are coordinating their efforts should not be a surprise.
The VDBC is made up of 13 members who are currently studying all areas of VA
compensation. Nine VDBC members were appointed by Republicans. Secretary
Nicholson was appointed by President Bush.

Then there is the matter of timing. The VDBC's charter stipulates that their
reports must be done by October of 2006. But, the VDBC has also contracted
with the IOM for studies that will not be complete for at least a year. They
will be asking for an extension. This means that the VDBC reports from IOM
and the VA reports from IOM will be released at the same time, well AFTER
the 2006 elections. I don't believe in coincidence.

Sometime in early 2007, after the elections, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson will
be armed with reports from the VDBC and the VA's IOM studies. Expect a
two-fisted attack on veterans' benefits and compensation from an
administration that is the first to shout "Support Our Troops"...until they
become veterans. (written by Larry Scott)

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