United States Marine Josef Lopez survived a coma, suffers from neurological damage, has mobility problems, and continues to live through other horrible conditions daily. It is the everyday, never ending, price of his military service. The Veterans Administration (VA) remains busy denying a significant portion of his health compensation claims. Why is the VA spending its limited resources on denying this Marine full care?
Is the Condition Service Connected?
If I submit a claim to the VA, they will want to know if my health situation is service-connected. That is, did I get it as a result of my military service? (In PTSD cases the VA spends a lot of man hours trying to prove your trauma is not military related) So the first question should be are Josef Lopez’s health problems service connected?
Josef did not get shot or blown apart from a road side bomb. Neither did his helicopter crash for lack of maintenance nor was he electrocuted from persistent faulty wiring that Haliburton foisted on the military.
Trauma Insurance: Just an Extra Dollar
Josef Lopez was crippled by the small pox vaccine he was injected with prior to overseas deployment. The VA refuses to cover him under TSGLI, Traumatic Servicemember Group Life Insurance. TSGLI provides additional coverage to military members who suffer traumatic injury. It costs the service member one dollar a month.
The VA basically says Josef Lopez has not suffered trauma, so no benefit. And, oh by the way, thanks for the extra dollar a month you sent in.
What about PTSD?
Josef Lopez has certainly suffered trauma and it appears that the VA does not feel him to be trauma worthy. This case was reported by McClatchy. Their article (http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090830/pl_mcclatchy/3301410) did not mention if Josef has PTSD (alas, that is one of my concerns). If he does not have PTSD, I would expect him to get it based on how the VA is treating him. For example, many people got PTSD from Hurricane Katrina. And then more people got PTSD from how the government neglected them after Katrina (“Heckuva Job!”). The VA contributes to suffering when it goes out of its way, spending its resources, to deny veterans all of their earned health care.
The VA Response: Heckuva Job!
The VA has offered up a limited response to why they deny Lopez his TSGLI. You can read the article for their quotes. It is notable that the Military Vaccine Agency, which handles our military vaccine programs, refuses to answer any questions about vaccines crippling our soldiers. Shame on them. They should grow a spine.
The VA is quick to surrender its obligation to fully care for Josef Lopez. It is discouraging that the VA is expending no resources on trying to figure out how to fully care for this crippled Marine.
He Volunteered for This: Is it His Problem?
One of the arguments made to deny Americans like Josef Lopez health care is because they volunteered to be in the military, and in this case he accepted an inoculation that was not mandatory.
Their view is: If Lopez was not ordered to be vaccinated, then the military owes him nothing for how it crippled him. (Since most Marines were not ordered to be shot by the enemy, I guess gunshot wounds would fall into this category as well).
There is intense pressure to “volunteer” for these inoculations. Commanders receive pressure to make sure everyone takes the needle. The claim that soldiers receive full explanations of the risks of the vaccines is simply not true. (For more on this see: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/greg_gordon/story/15261.html on Mandatory Anthrax Inoculations).
Senator Claire McCaskill is trying to get full compensation for all of Josef’s trauma. I am reminded of how then Senator Hilary Clinton had to get the Army to stop billing wounded soldiers for their medical evacuation flights. I am glad that Senator McCaskill is intervening and trying to help other traumatized service members. She is working for Josef (and his mother – see article) as an individual and also trying to protect all of us from getting steam rolled by the VA and the Military Vaccine Agency.
Josef’s trauma is service connected. He paid the monthly premium for TSGLI. The VA should be about creating soldier care solutions, not expending resources on reducing the quality of life for military trauma survivors.