VA’s 2019 Legislative Proposals

VA’s 2019 Legislative Proposals

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Robert: Hi good afternoon. This is Robert Chisholm from
Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick with me today is Jenna Zellmer and Kerry Baker and
we’re going to be talking about a number of things that are included in the 2019 VA budget.
Is that the right way to say it Kerry? Kerry: That’s pretty close Robert: Okay so it’s not something Congress
wants this is actually what VA would like the budget to be and how it wants to allocate
its resources and more importantly we’re going to be talking about some legislative
proposals. That’s laws that they want to change that VA wants to change. So we’re going to
go through a number of these things. If you have any questions please type your question
in and we’ll try and answer it to the best of our ability and we’re going to jump right
in. There are two sets of things that we’re going to talk about. In general terms we’re
going to talk about benefits. First a couple of proposals that can impact veterans benefits
and then the second thing we’re going to talk about is a couple of health benefit proposals
as well but let’s start with the VBA proposals the Veterans Benefits Administration proposals
and those are things that could actually impact a veteran’s ability to receive compensation
right Kerry and Jenna? Jenna: Yes. Kerry: That’s correct. Robert: Alright so I’d like to start off
with– in general terms the VA has a proposal and I’m going to call it “What’s needed to
get an examination” okay. In its simplest terms we call that the duty to assist but
what’s the importance of an examination first before we talk about what– how one goes about
getting an exam? Why are they important? Jenna you want to hit it? Kerry: Yeah, go ahead Jenna. Jenna: Sure so VA puts a lot of stock in
their VA examinations. Generally when you’re trying to establish service connection the
VA is going to use send the case to an examiner to determine whether or not there’s
a nexus between the veterans disability and his service. So depending on the VA examiner’s
opinion that really makes or breaks the case. And then once the service connected disability–
is service connected then it’s all that matter about what the examiners says the level of
impairment is. Robert: So let’s talk about it let’s give
an example. Let’s suppose a veteran files a claim and presently they are alleging that
I had a back injury in service I have a back condition today but there’s no evidence in
the record yet that says that the back condition that the veterans current suffering from was
a result of what happened in service. Generally speaking as long as they complete an application
right now aren’t they going to get an exam? Jenna: They should yes yes. Robert: Okay that’s generally the law works.
I mean there’s some wrinkles to that but in general terms and that’s probably– the
examination is probably the most important part of a claim because that’s usually the
issue in these cases. Jenna: Agreed. Kerry: And I’d say VA’s historically struggled
with what it is that triggers their duty to get that examination. In your example I would
say I generally would agree that you got that incident service you got that current disability
they’re going to need to get that exam. Sometimes depending on how one might interpret the current
rules they might look for something that indicates one of those two events are related
to the other and so there’s always a question of – Robert: So let’s talk about that when you
use the word ‘indicate’. So if the veteran says “Look I’d have problems in service
with my back and it’s five years later and I’m still having problems” that’s going to be
enough isn’t it? Jenna: Yes. Kerry: That should be enough. Jenna: It’s a very low threshold. Robert: Very low threshold not much evidence
that needs to be in the record but now with the 2019 budget VA’s proposing a new law
to change the law to actually make it more difficult if I’m reading this correctly
for veterans and dependents to get examinations is that correct? Kerry: Absolutely correct. Jenna: That’s right. Robert: So do you want to hit why that–
what the changes as you understand it Jenna and let me start by saying we don’t know
why they want to change these things so we’re going to be giving our opinions on it and
we don’t know exactly how it would be interpreted by the courts. And again we’re just giving
our opinions on it but it’s not a good thing in my opinion. Jenna: Right. So under the Veterans Benefits
Administration’s proposed change a veteran would need to have objective evidence of disability
or an injury in service. That’s a higher burden than what currently happens now because a
lot of times a veterans don’t have that objective evidence. We don’t really know what VA’s going
to consider objective evidence but chances are it’s going to be a notation in a service
treatment record but there are lots of instances in which a veteran doesn’t have a service
treatment record. For instance if he was in combat in military sexual trauma cases
a veteran often won’t report the sexual trauma at the time that it’s occurred and
so there’s no objective notation that the veteran actually experienced an in service
event. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t occur but under the proposed change that could
really limit a veteran’s opportunity to get a VA examination. Robert: And Jenna ultimately if a veteran
isn’t able to get that kind of an examination it’s going to be very difficult to win the
claim. Jenna: Yes yes the veteran could theoretically
submit his own private examination but historically from my experience the VA really doesn’t
put a lot of stock into those kinds of exams. Robert: Kerry do have any other thoughts on
the issue of what’s going to be necessary to get a medical examination if this new proposal
becomes law. Kerry: Well I think you kind of hit it we
don’t know how it will be interpreted. I think it’s important to plan that the proposals
in the VA’s budget submissions are summaries of their proposal. They don’t print their
detailed explanation of why they want that proposal in there so there’s information
that we don’t know. Robert: And frankly we don’t know whether
congress will even act on any of these proposals but we’re just bringing it to our audience’s
attention so that they can be aware of these things. Kerry: And there’s some things that– there
are signposts so to speak that’s in the budget submission. So at one point they state
that the courts have currently interpreted the current duty to assist veterans more limited
than VA or Congress intended I think that’s an interesting point. First it’s the court’s
job as each of you can explain to interpret Congress’ intent Robert: Yup. Kerry: Not VA’s. Robert: Yup. Kerry: And so this all boils down to how
much VA has a duty to assist a veteran in obtaining the evidence necessary to make a
fully informed decision on a claim. And in a lot of times as each of you have indicated
it comes down to whether there’s an examination with a potential nexus between A and B an
injury in service or – and – a current disability. Robert: A nexus is really just a fancy way
of saying some kind of connection. Kerry: Right. And another example– to piggyback
on what Jenna said I think another example is combat veterans. Robert: Yes. Kerry: There’s lots of rules and regulations
and court decisions out there that explain how combat veterans have a lower standard
to show an injury that occurred during a combat situation simply because during those situations they’re rarely documented because of the circumstances of combat. So VA could literally be restricting
or raising the bar on a combat veteran to show this disability occurred during that
combat when it’s not going to be part of his record they’re not going to get an examination. Robert: Knowing what we know about the how
the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has interpreted combat and injury in service
and if they throw this objective standard into the mix it’s going to change things
potentially and not for the better in my opinion. So if we were saying whether we
give two thumbs up I think it’s two thumbs down on this proposal right? Jenna: Definitely. Kerry: Absolutely. Robert: Okay. So we represent a lot of veterans from the Vietnam era who served in Vietnam who served in Thailand. Many of those veterans
who served in both Thailand and definitely in Vietnam boots on the ground were exposed
to Agent Orange. And there’s a proposal in the 2019 budget about how VA would like to
I’m not going to say redefo– I don’t want to guess it is ‘redefinding’ what an herbicide
agent is that is what is an herbicide agent for the purposes of presumption of exposure
to Agent Orange. So Kerry this is really your area of expertise you’ve done a lot
of work in this area so can you sort of walk us through what the law is today. And then
once we get that down let’s talk of then about what VA’s proposing to change. Kerry: So currently the law on most herbicides
is that if you were exposed to what VA defines as a herbicide agent while on active duty
and you develop one or more of a list of certain diseases VA will presume that that disease
process is related to that exposure. So you just have to be exposed either presumptively
or factually while on active duty to get service connection for the disease. So then it comes
down to well what is a herbicide agent? VA’s regulation currently defines a herbicide agent
as a few different things; 2 4 D, 2 4 5 T and its contaminant TCDD cacodylic acid and
picloram. Now– Robert: And what you’re talking about are
chemical agents that they’ve said if a veteran was exposed to these things then they’re
going to get service connection for a number of disabilities. Kerry: Right and to put that in perspective
for Vietnam vets and language that they’re going to be more familiar with Agent Orange
for example was a 50 50 mixture of 2 4 D and 2 4 5 T Agent Blue was cacodylic acid which
had 30 plus percent level of arsenic in it Agent White was a mixture of 2 4 D and picloram so all of – and that’s where you get all of those individual chemical agents. TCDD on the other hand was
a combustion byproduct a contaminant in the formulation of 2 4 5 T and remember what I
said 2 4 5 T was 50 percent of Agent Orange. So when people talk about the dioxin in Agent
Orange what they’re really talking about is the TCDD which if I can say it stands
for Tetrachlorodibenzo para dioxin. Robert: Much better than I could say it. Kerry: Trust me I had to practice. So that
is a dioxin component of 2 4 5 T. Now that is -there are multiple dioxins that is the
strongest of all dioxins that is the most potent one on the planet and that’s the chemical
that a lot of other toxic agents are measured against so to speak. And that’s not the
only dioxin in some of these herbicides but that’s one of them that qualifies as a herbicide
agent because it was in a portion of the herbicide that made up Agent Orange so Robert: So all of these chemicals you’re
talking about right now VA currently– if you’re a boots on the ground in Thailand
you’re presumed to have been exposed to all that is that a fair characterization? Kerry: That’s correct that’s correct. Robert: So the veteran doesn’t have to say
it was TCDD versus 2 4 T and et cetera you’re presumed exposed. Kerry: You’re presumed exposed to herbicide
agents. VA will normally say you’re presumed exposed to Agent Orange but in reality it
get down to the letter of the law is you’re presumed exposed to a herbicide agent. Robert: So what’s new in the 2019 budget?
What’s VA trying to do here? Kerry: Okay so what we know of their proposal
is they want to limit the definition of herbicide agent just to TCDD. Now that’s problematic
in numerous ways but what’s also problematic is again some of the signposts that they
put in their blurb in the budget submission. One of those signposts are that they believe
that the Institute of Medicine who publishes bi-annual reports on herbicides stated that
TCDD is the only one that’s toxic amongst all the herbicide agents that’s not true.
They also state that TCDD was only used in Vietnam. Again that’s not true. Now the
sort of evolution of some of this is as years have gone by records have come to surface
that show some of these agents were used elsewhere such as on Thailand perimeter
Thailand base perimeters during the Vietnam war. And so that means more claims for VA.
In my opinion my opinion only that this is way to roll back some of those but I said
their signposts were somewhat important. So for example VA says in this proposal that
TCDD is the only toxic one the only dangerous one That’s not true. Like I said earlier
Agent Blue which is cacodylic acid is more than 30 percent organic arsenic which is a lung carcinogen as well as it’s also carcinogenic in other areas. Agent White which is picloram was contaminated
with hexachlorobenzene and nitrosamines both carcinogenic. Hexachlorobenzenes have
been banned globally they were banned in the US in 1966. So for VA to say in a legislative
proposal that its own institute of medicine studies have found that only TCDD is toxic
and dangerous is simply not true. Robert: And so you raised a good point–
We at Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick and again this is Robert Chisholm from Chisholm
Chisholm and Kilpatrick Jenna Zellmer and Kerry Baker and we’re here talking about the 2019
budget. And Lester we’re going to get to your question in one minute but let me just
finish this thought. We have a report on our website it’s called the Thailand
Report and it goes through in great detail about how Agent Orange was actually used in
Thailand. And for them to now say that is for VA to try and limit it is in my opinion
frankly outrageous. Kerry: It’s absolutely outrageous. They’re
trying to reel in their own work and at the cost of veteran’s benefits. Jenna: I also think it puts a lot of burden
on the veteran to be able to distinguish among all these different herbicides. I think you
made a good point that a lot of times the short hand is just Agent Orange and so veterans
don’t really know what they were exposed to back then. And we could barely follow Kerry’s–
all of his different history of all the different agents. But no I think it really illustrates
the point that making these distinctions between all these really complicated herbicide exposures
is way beyond anybody’s real life capacity. Kerry: Going back to the original or the current–
the Congress passed the current statute you know they knew what they were doing. They
defined basically herbicide agents as those chemicals used in Vietnam without going really
any deeper. Another point I made earlier was that they indicated that TCDD was only used
in Vietnam. Again that is completely not true. As I stated TCDD was a contaminant in
2 4 5 T. 2 4 5 T was a herbicide used especially in the 60’s and 70’s all over the place by
military and civilians alike. Now Agent Orange itself was – you know the government stop using it in Vietnam by a direct order in the early 70’s. But 2 4 5 T was still used up until the late 70’s
by the government. And then in other areas up until the 80’s the EPA did not ban 2 4
5 T based herbicides completely until 1985. Now that’s important because the reason they banned
2 4 5 T based herbicides was because even by the middle of 80’s they could not get
all of the TCDD or dioxin out of the herbicide. So for VA to insinuate that TCDD was only
used in Vietnam I’d be curious to know where they’re getting their facts. Robert: Well you know – this is an important point because we really don’t know what the reason is for this proposal is you said it’s a summary
proposal. I did want to hit Lester’s question. Lester’s question was I’m on remand I think
for the third time if I understood and will that affect my ability to get an exam? It
will not affect your ability to get an exam and the reason is first it’s been ordered
by the board and second the proposal we’re talking about is just that it’s a proposal.
It’s not law yet and it should not impact your claim in one iota. So that’s good news
you should still get your exam. Again if you have any questions about anything we’re
talking about or anything else on your mind that’s veterans benefits related please feel
free to ask us. Jenna: We’ll post the report that Robert
mentioned before about the history of Agent Orange and herbicide exposure in Vietnam and
Thailand we’ll post that in the comments. Robert: Yup we’ll give you a direct link
to that that’s a really good point. Okay in order to get to the next topic I think
it would be helpful to bring out a little appeals chart is that okay– Jenna: Sure. Robert: –if I can bring out our little appeals
chart here and talk about how appeals what are now referred to as legacy appeals work
Jenna – Jenna: Okay. Robert: And so a veteran files a claim for
VA benefits right here they receive a rating decision if they disagree with that rating
decision in a little bit over a little bit they file a notice of disagreement. If they
don’t get a favorable decision after that they get a statement of the case. If the veteran
files a VA Form 9 their case will eventually make its way to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
And the Board of Veterans’ Appeals has very specific obligations when it comes to what
they need to write in their decision especially if it’s a denial. And they have an obligation
of giving reasons and basis and in general terms– and so this is at this level right
here if their reasons and basis are not adequate or not sufficient to inform the veteran of
the reason for the decision the veteran can appeal to the court. And many cases are corrected
by the court because of an insufficient explanation that’s sort of my vernacular for this. But
can you tell us a little bit– now I’ll put this down of why this reasons and basis
requirement is so essential to the veterans benefits system. Jenna: Right Robert. So I think the first
thing to note is that that whole claim stream from that time that it gets to the claim to
the time that it gets to the board can take seven years. And so by the time it gets to
the board the veteran has been really invested in demonstrating why he deserves these benefits.
And so it’s really important for the board to take that into account and to look at the
evidence in the record which can be thousands of pages long and to make a decision that
considers all of the favorable evidence considers the veteran’s lay statements the medical
evidence and his service treatment records and it makes a decision that the veteran is
able to understand. It’s really only fair for the veteran who has spent so much time
fighting for his claim to have a decision at the end of the day that even if the board
denies it even if we disagree with it at least he can understand the reasons why the
board denied the claim. And so the proposal that VA is trying to make is to really cut
down the board’s reasons and basis requirement. Basically what this would do is it would
result in shorter board decisions that are harder for the veteran to understand. Robert: And the other thing is quite frankly
it would be harder for veteran to know whether they have a claim and should be appealed to
the court as well. Jenna: Right. Robert: And you only have a limited window
120 days to appeal. So while this might make the board’s job easier in a sense that it
doesn’t have to give the full explanation that it currently does it’s going to be more
challenging for either the veteran’s representative or the veteran themselves to determine whether
this is the kind of case that should be appealed and could be corrected by the court. Jenna: Right. Kerry: Now I have a question for either one
of you. Do you think this would be used by VA as a shield against judicial review? Robert: Well it could be. I think is the
short answer we don’t know and it depends how it’s implemented. Again these are only
summaries of what these legislative proposals are simply summaries and we’d be speculating
but my thought process is that it’s a distinct possibility. Jenna: Right. The shorter board decisions–
we really won’t be able to know why the board denied a veteran’s claim. So they could
be relying on a misunderstanding of a law they could be relying on a misunderstanding
of the record but if the board doesn’t tell us what they think the record is or what they
think the law is there’s no way for us to know if we can appeal it to the court. Robert: Right. The next big issue that I want
to talk about is who’s going to be able to represent veterans going forward? So presently
a veteran can represent themselves and that’s not going to change. A veteran can hire a
veteran service organization to represent them. A veteran could hire an attorney and
a veteran could hire an accredited claims agent. So Kerry you’re an accredited claims
agent can you tell us what that means? Kerry: That basically means that I’m accredited
by VA to represent veterans at any level before the VA. I had to pass a test then go through
all of VA’s accreditation process to do that. So I had to show some bit of proficiency
in this process and I can – from the beginning of a claim up through an appeal to the Board
of Veterans’ Appeals I can represent a veteran in my own capacity as a claims agent
just like an attorney would. Absolutely no different whatsoever. Robert: Okay. And so VA wants to get– I’m
going to use these words it’s not exactly how they wrote it but wants to get out of
the business of accrediting claims agents they don’t want to be doing that anymore.
Is that essentially the proposal? Kerry: That is the proposal in a nutshell
and that is pretty much all it says. There’s no explanation in it at all as to why they
put this proposal forth. Robert: So let’s take a guess as to why we
think it might be. My thought processes it’s time consuming for them and they don’t want
to keep doing it. I mean I can’t think of any other reason why they want to get out
of the business of accreditation. And frankly it’s offensive because veterans should have
the right to hire a veterans service organization a claims agent an attorney they should not
be limited in my opinion. I feel very strongly about that. Kerry: Obviously I do since I’m a claims agent.
And now I’ve spoke to a few people in VA who are somewhat familiar with this process,
they don’t know for sure but they believe grape vine here that exactly like you said
Robert OGC the Office of the General Council simply doesn’t want to put anymore personnel
to accrediting claims agent. Again they want to get out of work. Jenna: I think that this is going to affects
veterans too because at that moment no attorneys can charge fees for helping a veteran file
a claim. So veterans are really dependent on VSOs and accredited agents to help them
with those initial processes to get the claims started and it’s a really great lower cost
way to get representation and it’s really going to affect the veterans. Robert: I think you’re right it could definitely
adversely effect veterans and we’re not for it. So before we switch to the veterans health
proposals and some of these are quite frankly positive and we’ll hit those in a second.
I just want to sort of summarize the four things we talked about here if I could. The
first one is VA’s proposal to limit veteran’s access to examinations. The second one is
to restrict a veteran’s ability to show that they were exposed to Agent Orange. The third
one is we’re going to make it easier for the board to deny claims quite frankly by simplifying
their explanation. And the last one is we’re not going to accredit claims agents. So if
we look at these these four proposals are really self-serving to the VA they help the
VA and in my opinion do not help veterans in any way shape or form that I can figure
out. Kerry: In fact I would add that they hurt
veterans. Robert: Yeah. So we’re thumbs down on all
four of those. Alright let’s talk about some good things. There’s some veterans health
proposals that I think are really important here and Kerry let’s hit the first one.
What is a medical foster home and how might VA under new proposal pay for those for
veterans? Kerry: Okay let me preface this by saying I’m not
an expert on veterans health administration. Robert: And none of us are we’re really–
benefits is our specialty but we saw these things and we thought we would share them
with you because I think these are positive developments. Kerry: So medical foster homes are similar
to– they essentially provide the same services as a nursing home but maybe in a little bit
more veteran-friendly manner. Some veterans would prefer– and so this particular change
as we understand it will allow VA to actually pay for veterans to be in a medical foster
home whereas right now they are not allowed to pay for that care. Robert: They are allowed to pay for nursing
home but this would expand the group of homes that they could actually compensate for if
I understand it correctly. Kerry: That’s correct and as VA explains
it and I will just assume that they are correct here that it cost them a lot more to house
somebody in a nursing home than a medical foster home. If that’s the case and if veterans
as a whole would prefer medical foster homes then I think that’s a good proposal. Robert: I agree. I think that’s a net positive
potentially for veterans. The other thing I want to talk about is amending military
sexual trauma treatment authority to improve access and to ensure continuity of care. Can
you talk a little bit about this? Kerry: I can try. Robert: Okay I know. Kerry: So VA has special treatment programs
for victims of military sexual trauma that is currently limited to quote psychological
trauma end quote. This proposal would change that to include also physical disabilities
because obviously depending on the type of trauma the disability the results may not
be limited to a psychological trauma. But right now as the law reads whatever those
special treatments that MST victims can receive are only towards the psychological trauma.
So this would open that up to physical problems as well and I think that’s a good thing. Robert: There’s two other proposal in here
and I’m not sure exactly how to talk about them except just sort of an example here.
Let’s suppose a veteran is in an automobile accident after service and gets treatment
for say a broken leg at a VA hospital. But that veteran also has third party insurance
say through Blue Cross Aetna insurance. There’s a couple of provisions in the bill
that would make it easier for VA to get reimbursement for the care provided through that third party
insurer. And I think ultimately that’s a good thing because the VA would then not be spending
all of its own dollars in that particular instance but will be able to recapture or
capture some of that benefit and then focus on using its mandatory spending on veterans
disability related issues. Kerry: I think that’s a good thing because
VA normally includes a certain amount of what it anticipates to get reimbursed from third
party providers as part of its budget. But if so if it doesn’t actually receive those
funds then that’s a shortfall in its budget. So if this was able to help VA keep that
budget where they anticipate it then they wouldn’t have to sort of rob Peter to pay
Paul so to speak because they don’t meet their budget. Robert: Okay. Tell us a little bit about this Telehealth proposal. So the idea – as I understand about Telehealth is that a veteran could use
it– a doctor could use Telemedicine to help treat veterans is that correct? Kerry: That is and again I’m no expert on
Telehealth. Right now as I understand it there are numerous restrictions on both the
VA doctor and the veteran on using Telehealth. This proposal looks to– basically lift those
restrictions so that more veterans in more parts of the country and more doctors in more
parts of the country can deliver that Telehealth for example they don’t have to be at a VA
facility when doing the Telehealth. And so if that’s the case if it does open up Telehealth
to people that aren’t currently able to get that I can see that as a good thing. Robert: As I heard one doctor explain it
it allows say someone in a rural area to go to a VA hospital and then consult with
an expert in a big city and they will have a conference video conference talk and call
and that will really make it easier to treat that veteran then and there in that clinic
in a remote area. So I think that’s a good thing. Jenna: I agree. Kerry: If you weren’t restricted to VA facilities
then obviously you could invoke that kind of Telehealth anywhere. Robert: Okay. Then the other area that we
want to talk about are readjustment benefits. When we’re talking about readjustment benefits
we’re talking about educational benefits and we’re talking about veterans with disabilities
who might need vocational training to get new work obtain new jobs and there’s some
provisions here some good some questionable. One of the issues here is will VA continue
to pay payments for flight training at public schools and the proposal here is to potentially
take that away if I understand that correctly Kerry? Kerry: As I understand it not necessarily
to take it away but to limit it. Robert: Okay. Kerry: The proposal implies at least that
that’s not a limited part of training now. I don’t know that I agree with that I think
there are limits to all VA’s education programs. But if flight training qualifies and it does
under certain education programs and it otherwise doesn’t break the current caps then there
should be no additional cap on flight training if the VA has otherwise approved that type
of training for that veteran given that set of circumstances like a disability whatever
the case may be. So VA should not be in the business of limiting someone’s ability to
achieve a certain career goal. Robert: And then there’s also a change under
Chapter 31. Can you talk a little bit about what Chapter 31 benefits are? As I understand
that those are for veterans who are disabled and trying to get retrained is that correct? Kerry: Correct. Those are for veterans who
are receiving basically what’s called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits Voc
Rehab for short. They have to be service connected at a certain rate and or found to have a service-connected disability that presents an employment handicap. There’s lots of different things that program
can do for veterans. Obviously the goal is employment but that requires training school
whatever the case may be for that particular employment goal VA will usually provide.
And then they have essentially employment services once that training is somewhat over
and that may be limited I think it’s a year or 18 months don’t hold me to that
but this provision allows for VA to extend that in two to three-month increments up to 24 months so – Robert: So give the veteran who has this
kind of disability the ability to really get settled in the new job and prove that
they can do it. Kerry: That’s correct. Robert: So that – we believe that’s like a net positive
there as well. And then the last thing which you think is really important is special – specially adapted housing grants. These are things that we see for people with severe disabilities
these housing grants. As I understand it they’re going to expand the group of veterans who
might be eligible for that program and we think that’s a good thing obviously because
folks with severe disabilities and unfortunate dismemberments need that kind of special help
correct? Kerry: Correct and this is one where I wish VA would have been a little bit more specific on this. The way the proposal reads is that they’re going
to include certain injuries and dismemberment disabilities that effect ambulation and loss
or loss of use of an upper extremity to be eligible. Now that could mean a lot of things– Robert: Ambulation obviously means walking
but the question is what does that technically mean and how will VA use this? Kerry: Normally for these benefits these
housing benefits the criteria are very definite whether it’s loss of use of one extremity
together with loss of use of two additional extremities of the upper and lower body parts
or one extremity together with a certain disease process it’s spelled out. So this is good
I just wish we could tell our listeners more details about it but unfortunately we just
don’t know. But any expansion of this program is good. Robert: Do we have any more questions at this
point? Alright so let me just sort of summarize by saying first of all these are just legislative
proposals none of these have been acted enacted into law and it’s February 22nd 2018
just to know where we are if you see this video later on. Some of these proposal are
really good and some of them we think could be really bad and it’s our job to sort of
let you know what we think could be in that positive or something to be concerned about.
If you’re concern about any of these things you can reach out to your US Congress person
or your US Senator and let them know exactly how you feel about them you can also check
up on our website If any of you have any specific topics you would like
us talk about in the future please just reach out to us on Facebook. And it’s been a pleasure talking to you this afternoon I’m Robert Chisholm from Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick. Jenna Zelmer
from CCK and Kerry Baker as well thank you all for being here today and talking about
these 2019 budget proposals.

30 thoughts on “VA’s 2019 Legislative Proposals

  • Cecil Hickman Post author

    Well Reasoned. Scary proposals especially for Agent Orange Vets like me. Shortening the Appeals back Load…seems a noble idea….but as you point out….the devil is in the details. Why not allow Vets to pay for legal representation of the original claim. There is no incentive for the average vet to get adequate legal representation to avoid appeals.

  • Cecil Hickman Post author

    I believe the legacy vso's are behind the effort to eliminate VA Accredited Claims Agents.

  • Franklin McGee Post author

    if a veteran have a disability and sustain a injury in the Army and he have a doctor that more likely it was aggravated by the military and you are disabled

  • nuster dom Post author

    Republican they are the problem we had great unions they destroyed them now we vets need help get out of here Gorbachev told Reagan dont let the people control you bingo now we are just like Russia soon

  • nuster dom Post author


  • Duane Yazie Post author


  • Alicia Catney Post author

    Where can a Veteran find the 2019 Proposals? Also, can you explain how the formula for disability claims are determined? Example if I have three disabilities that could potentially be more than a 100% would my total disability be totaled as such? In other words I would be paid at 100%

  • Alicia Catney Post author

    You mentioned in your video vocational rehab, if I am determined to be 100% P&T will I still be eligible to qualify for vocational rehab?

  • L Manning Post author

    Good info – quality of you audio is still … my hearing is great. ( Navy Radioman 1975-1997 – constructive criticism)

  • Edgar Lagmay Post author

    What legal action if the C&P exam doctor who’s a family practice doctor and he took a couple of x-ray and made a decision regarding my lower back and he decided that my injuries are more likely not service connected. I happen to get a copy of his diagnosis on the VA DBQ and he perjured himself on several occasions to the point of I puked a few times. Seriously I just had a quadruple bypass surgery 5 weeks prior to my C&P exam and he said that I passed my range of motion or ROM when I could barely lift my arms. He said that he examined my lower back for palpitation and tenderness and swelling. What can I do about this?

  • COINTELPRO101 Post author

    For those confused about the behavior of the VA and the lack of proper oversight by Congress, let me help clarify the situation. A fitting comparison would be the relationship between politicians and law enforcement. Politicians bloviate endlessly about how much they care for the people, yet these same politicians do nothing to stop police officers from raping, pillaging, and murdering like an army of invading Bolsheviks. In practical terms, we have the stated intent and the implied intent. Politicians offer the people lip service, but in reality use police departments as a cudgel to deal with a problem, in this case the populace. Likewise, Congress heaps praise on veterans, then uses the VA as a death camp gulag to liquidate veterans by the hundreds of thousands. So when we hear proposals by the VA to make things even more difficult for veterans, we may rest assured that Congress approves of these Byzantine new regulations. Because just as with the police departments and local politicians, Congress has ultimate oversight on the VA. Also, Congress can never say they are unaware of the profound suffering veterans go through. In all that happens with veterans, Congress knows…and Congress *approves*. I hope this clarifies the issue.

  • Joe Spires Post author

    I suspect the change request for herbicide exposure determinations is based on the upcoming release of the Guam study for Agent Orange use on Guam. It's quite possible the study will positively identify herbicide exposure but inconclusively identify Agent Orange exposure. The VA loves inconclusive reports. If I'm right the VA will place the potential for Guam claims in limbo for several years while legislators request studies to determine the effects of each herbicide identified. The Guam claims could be extremely expensive because the Island is so small that the entire population not just the military and dependent population(s) could become eligible to sue the federal government. Once the report is published I would suggest someone open a civil action by non military persons to set some type of start date and legal precedent. This is one of the few cases where civilians and military were damaged relatively equally.

  • Donal D Post author

    anyway to fuck the vets

  • Gimie Itnow Post author

    Check your volume

  • Patrick Jewell Post author

    Has anything come out on the use of agent white in cagetown training area, new brunswick canada?

  • Lance Roark Post author

    I like how these people begin from a premise that the VA exists to help veterans. If reality were to set in, they would realize that the VA’s disability system is set up to deny Veterans benefits unless they absolutely have to admit culpability.

  • Mr. clean One Post author

    She’s so pretty. Nothing creepy just a compliment.

  • Brian Blackwell Post author

    Why does the va not cover cause and effect?

    Example: when i retired i had teeth, i was placed on oxycodone for my back and knees for pain management for approximately 7 years. (Still currently taking this medicine), about year 5-6 i lost all my teeth. The teeth were not perfect, i had fillings but i took care of them now i have none. The va gave me a brochure and on the back page it stated the it hastened tooth decay.

  • Richard Contreras Post author

    With the new House (116th Congress) . Will this possibly change or stay the same? Or even possibly improve for veterans?

  • Jamal Yusuf Ali Bey Post author

    We should be all awake by now, and understand that their are two distinct jurisdictions operating on this subject matter with regards to that individual's legal status. Privatized foreign come has no constitutional jurisdiction to even deal with American veterans military service history. It's a little like the United States of America Treasury v. Federal Reserve Bank issue???

  • Maykyla Garcia Post author

    Are Doctors @ The VA Supposed To Share Information On Instagram? I’m Concerned About My Psychiatrist Posting & Trolling Private Personal Information. I Was Medically Disharged For Major Depression. This Past Few Years Or So I became More Isolative & Withdrawn But My Psychiatrist Insist & Diagnosed Me As Having A Sociopathic & Psychopathic Behavior? Is That How A Psychiatrist Supposed To Behave? My Psychiatrist Has Been Harassing Me & Been Tapping Into My Cellphones? I laughed By Myself To Cure My Anxiety & Acquired The WORST INSOMIA Up Until Now. I’m Very Hyper-Vigilant & Been On Meds For Years. This Is a Very Serious Question. I’m Not An Introvert Cause I Used To Go Out A lot. Are Doctors @ The VA Allowed To Share Information & Talk To People On Instagram? I Don’t Find This Very Professional At ALL. Thank You To ALL Veterans Who Served This Beautiful Country.

  • Maykyla Garcia Post author

    VA Should Prioritized Vets & Hire Veterans

  • Maykyla Garcia Post author

    VA Doctors Provoke Veterans & Then Call The Police When You Reason Out Because They Feel Like Their Life Are Threaten. Seriously?

  • Maykyla Garcia Post author

    All VA Doctors Should & Must Have Military Backgrounds.

  • Maykyla Garcia Post author

    I Remember One Fucking Idiot Attacking Me & That Pisses Me Off

  • Theresa D. Washington Post author

    Va design to help but many vetran do not feel they are being supportted

  • Maykyla Garcia Post author

    A Psychiatrist Should NOT Get Involved On An Argument Between 2 or 3 People On Instagram. It Is Against The Law! Period. I Was At One Point Working In The Medical Field & Therefore Should KEEP Patient Medical Information CONFIDENTIAL. How In The HELL A Licensed Psychiatrist End Up Having Instagram @ Fait Acompli. Use YOUR Common Sense If You Have One. Until Then Only Reply To My Comments If YOU Are Qualified To Do So. Peace!

  • Maykyla Garcia Post author

    #VA Should Prioritize HIRING #VETS.

  • Jay DKB Post author

    Shorten appeals ie RAMP in my opinion is a scam. Under RAMP the same office that denied you is now looking at the claim. Having done claims jobs theres nothing keeping that examiner from prejudices based on knowing the original claims examiner. Example their good friends name is on the original denial, their coworker who's known to be thorough was the examiner. I think appeals under RAMP needs to go to an outside agency with a board looking at RAMP based appeals. VA personnel need to be out that loop because I've seen people do workmen comp appeals go straight to the person originally denied the claim and discuss why they denied it or just take their known reputation and deny the case for same reason.

  • Duane Yazie Post author


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