Veteran seeks help with VA claim for heart disease

April 16, 2013

Sgt. Shaft

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I need your assistance with my VA claim for heart disease, which was denied by VA for reasons that are not at all clear to me. Thanks for whatever you can do.

Dennis K.
Via Internet

Dear Dennis:

By now you should have received the following reply from VA:

“The rating decision dated 2/1/11, denied ischemic heart disease because it was not diagnosed in the exam or medical evidence.

“You, the veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement on 2/16/11, and we subsequently received a letter from veteran with a medical statement and military hospital record on 4/23/12.

“The folder is presently under review by the DAV (Disabled American Veterans), and we have asked for the folder’s return.

“Once the folder is returned, it will be provided to a DRO (district regional office) for a decision. The anticipated date of completion is April 3, 2013.”

Staff notes

• Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, recently introduced the Veterans’ Privacy Act, which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain the personal consent of patients before installing cameras in VA medical center treatment rooms.

The bill comes in response to findings last year that officials at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, Fla., installed a concealed camera in a patient’s room without his or his family’s consent.

“This type of behavior is as bizarre as it is outrageous. To think that some VA employees actually thought it a good idea to covertly record a patient with a video camera disguised as a smoke detector really just boggles the mind,” Mr. Miller said. “What’s worse is that when we questioned VA regarding the legality of these actions, department officials contended they had done nothing wrong. The Veterans Privacy Act will keep covert, Big Brother tactics out of VA medical centers and protect the sacred trust that should exist between VA and veteran patients and their families.”

A VA Office of Inspector General review of the Haley incident found that use of the camera was “reasonable.”

• The National Veteran Small Business Coalition wanted to find a way to honor and remember Gordon Mansfield, former Deputy Secretary of VA, WIA Vietnam Veteran, as a true American hero as well as a dedicated supporter of the veteran small business community.

The National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) has established a special award that will be presented to a deserving veteran small business owner who truly gives back to the veteran community as Mr. Mansfield did his entire life.

He was a true American hero, and he served two tours of duty in Vietnam. While serving as a company commander with the 101st Airborne Division, he was wounded during the Tet Offensive on Feb. 4, 1968, spending the next 45 years in a wheelchair as a result of spinal injuries.

For his actions while his unit was under fire, he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross. His other combat decorations include the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Mr. Mansfield passed away on Jan. 29, 2013.

His service to his country and fellow veterans didn’t stop there. In one way, it had just begun. While serving as the president of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, he was recruited to assist at the VA with some major initiatives that were underway.

Mr. Mansfield was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Nov. 3, 2003. From Oct. 1, 2007, until Dec. 20, 2007, he served as the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

While as Deputy Secretary, Mr. Mansfield was frustrated by the government’s lack of progress in achieving the 3 percent goal of prime and subcontract awards to service disabled-veteran-owned small businesses as mandated by Public Law 106-50.

Mr. Mansfield was instrumental in the drafting and signing by President Bush of Executive Order 13360, which among other things required agencies to develop plans to achieve the 3 percent goal, established the GSA “VETS GWAC,” and institutionalized VA’s Center for Veterans Enterprise.

Under VA’s plan, Mr. Mansfield demanded accountability by requiring the 3 percent goal to be part of the performance plan of all VA senior managers who influenced the acquisition process.

The National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) wishes to memorialize this great American and passionate veteran and small-business advocate with the establishment of an award to recognize one veteran small-business owner a year who successfully owns and operates a successful small business, provides employment opportunities to veterans and who, like Gordon Mansfield in his most selfless manner, gives back to the veteran community in a substantial and continuous way.

The award winner must demonstrate that he or she has paid the price, produced, perhaps against the odds, sustained achievement that has required courage, vision and the ability to make tough choices or determined application and hard work.

In addition, the award winner must demonstrate sustained employment opportunities for veterans and have devoted himself or herself to sustained and selfless voluntary service to help other veterans.

All applications will be reviewed and a winner chosen by the Board of Directors of the NVSBC and awarded annually at the Veterans Training Symposium (VETS). The recognized award winner must be present at the presentation ceremony to be eligible for the award.

• The Sarge joins the American Legion in its strong opposition to any increases in the premiums paid by military retirees for their TRICARE for Life medical insurance coverage. TRICARE for Life is the Department of Defense-administered medical insurance plan for retired career service members over the age of 65.

The DoD’s just released budget plan for fiscal year 2014 includes marginal raises in TRICARE for Life co-pays and an overall fee increase to 2 percent of gross retired pay within five years.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.