Meds for disabled vets
November 13, 2012
Disabled vet shouldn’t have to pay for medicines
Dear Sgt. Shaft:
I have a question for you: Why is it that the VA does not negotiate
with pharmaceutical companies on a nationwide basis as opposed to
regional negotiations? I am unable to get some meds for my service-connected disability because
the VA won't come into the 21st century or negotiate on the national
level. I am fortunate that my disability compensation currently covers the
expense of buying the needed meds. It just seems wrong that I should
have to pay for a service-connected disability to some degree.
There is no reason why you should have to pay for your meds. The top
doc at the VA tells me that "The VA has national contracts for almost
all medications. The issue for this veteran probably is that the
medicine he wants is not on our formulary. We have a well-controlled
formulary that uses generic medications when possible."
* Rep. John Carter, who represents the Fort Hood area in the House,
has noted that three years after an attack on Fort Hood, Texas, left 13 adults and one
unborn child dead and 32 wounded, the casualties and their families are
still being denied proper benefits.
Mr. Carter introduced legislation to grant combat casualty status in
the 111th Congress shortly after the 2009 attack when it became clear
the administration was reluctant to admit a terror attack had succeeded
on a major military installation on U.S. soil. Mr. Carter reintroduced
the bill in the 112th Congress as H.R.625, the Fort Hood Victims and
Families Benefits Protection Act.
* Congratulations to the four Department of Veterans Affairs
researchers who were among the 96 recipients of the 2011 Presidential
Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) honored at a
ceremony held last month. The PECASE is the highest honor conferred by
the U.S. government on federal researchers in the early stages of their
"Research is the lifeblood of our program to provide cutting-edge,
world-class medical care to veterans," said Secretary of Veterans
Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. "The achievements of these four
individuals show that VA research is a leader in the health care
Joining fellow award recipients from 11 other federal agencies were
VA investigators Jeffrey R. Capadona, Ph.D., Louis Stokes Cleveland VA
Medical Center; Charlesnika T. Evans, Ph.D., Hines VA Hospital; Amy M.
Kilbourne, Ph.D., VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System; and K. Luan Phan,
M.D., Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. The ceremony took place
at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Mr. Capadona was recognized for key discoveries in the area of
biomaterials, including research aimed at enabling the use of long-term
implantable electrodes in the brain or possibly elsewhere in the nervous
system. Electrodes developed by Mr. Capadona's team may eventually be
integrated into devices that can restore sight, hearing, movement and
speech to injured veterans.
Ms. Evans pioneered work to reduce infectious disease among patients
with spinal cord injury (SCI) and disorders. She was project manager and
co-investigator for research that more than doubled the vaccination rate
of those with SCI and is leading the first large-scale study on
treatment and outcomes for SCI patients infected by Clostridium
difficile, a germ that can lead to severe gastrointestinal
Ms. Kilbourne was honored for putting her advanced knowledge of
complex datasets to work improving mental health care for veterans. Her
research was instrumental in implementing an outreach program to
identify and re-engage veterans with serious mental illness who were
lost to follow-up. She also developed and led one of VA's largest
educational and research initiatives to help veterans with bipolar
Mr. Phan was nominated for his cutting-edge research on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury in veterans returning
from Iraq and Afghanistan. By focusing on how medication and
psychotherapy treatments work in the brain and also looking at
predictive biomarkers, Mr. Phan's work is aimed at helping guide
clinicians and patients toward those treatments with the highest chance
"The outstanding work of these investigators is a microcosm of how VA
research itself helps improve the lives of veterans," said Dr. Robert
Petzel, VA under secretary for Health. "We look forward to working with
these young scientists as their careers progress."
Established in 1996, the awards are given each year for "innovative
research at the frontiers of science and technology" and a commitment to
VA, which has the largest integrated health care system in the
country, also has one of the largest medical research programs. This
year, approximately 3,400 researchers will work on more than 2,300
projects with nearly $1.9 billion in funding.
* On Nov. 16, the Washington DC VA Medical Center (DCVAMC) will
welcome women veterans from all eras to a gala "Ladies' Night" event.
This is the third year DCVAMC has hosted this well-received outreach
event created especially for women veterans.
Women are the fastest-growing group among veterans, and the DCVAMC
currently has more than 15,000 women enrolled for care. This figure will
continue to rise as women now make up over 13 percent of veterans who
served in Iraq and Afghanistan era.
The veterans will have the opportunity to learn about the many
services provided at the medical center and its five community-based
outpatient clinics located throughout the Washington, D.C., metro
The evening's festivities will include musical entertainment, a
gourmet reception complete with cooking demonstrations and craft
classes. There will also be a variety of health information stations
including: nutrition and weight loss, trauma services and combat veteran
services as well as preventative health, skin cancer, HIV and mental
VA health and benefits information will be
provided along with flu shots, massage, acupuncture, and stress-reducing
Women veterans who would like to participate are encouraged to RSVP
to the Patient-Centered Care Office via email: Woman.email@example.com.
* 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