Why Veterans Can't Get Jobs by Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.


 

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Contents

Introduction

Part One —HIre a veteran! Not!

Deceptive advertising

Giving veteran jobs to foreigners —H1B and other visas

Giving veteran jobs to foreigners — Follow up finds it worse than imagined

Part Two — And justice for none

War on Drugs

Domestic violence (DV)

Sexual assault and harassment

Weapons of war between the sexes

Overcriminalization and veteran courts

Part Three — Dying to get an appointment with the VA

Background

Physical wounds and musculoskeletal ailments

Mental health and psychiatric assistance

Symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions

Dealing with the Veteran Administration

Summary

Endnotes

About the author


 

Introduction

Veterans have always faced some difficulties reintegrating into society after their discharge. That is particularly true if the veteran has been injured or wounded, even invisibly, by combat, training accidents, sexual assault, or the many other hazards of military service.

However, society has compounded the problems for veterans of the perpetual wars of the new millennium in at least three major ways: (1) deceptive advertising, (2) mala prohibita laws like the War on Drugs, and (3) a malfunctioning Veterans Administration.

I have broken these into three sections. I don't have pat answers as to how balance might be restored but these problems don't exist (or are ignored) unless and until they are documented and publicized.

If nothing else perhaps these essays will chart some of the rocks and shoals veterans must avoid if they are to reach safe harbor.


 

Part One — Hire a veteran! Not!

The endless wars of the 21st Century have produced a multitude of veterans suffering from both visible and invisible wounds. They have not found a return to civilian life an easy transition and a major problem for them is employment, or rather the lack thereof.

Deceptive advertising

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Many companies trumpet their intent to hire veterans. Real patriotic! So why is it so difficult for so many veterans to find a job?

The fine print requires a drug test!

It is a rare individual who doesn't suffer some symptoms of stress following a traumatic event, and few events are more traumatic and disturbing than modern combat.

A universal symptom of this stress is sleeplessness and commonly veterans first choice is to self medicate, usually with enough alcohol that they can sleep.

For the lucky ones the symptoms subside but for many, possibly the majority, the symptoms continue and grow into what is now known as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD, see endnote). That outcome is particularly likely if they have done more than one combat tour or suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), the signature wound of the current conflicts. Of course other wounds, amputations, sexual assaults, training or other accidents can cause PTSD as well.

While alcohol is the usual first choice for self medication by a veteran, they are often also given a smorgasbord of pills by the military or the Veterans Administration (VA). But eventually most use marijuana either because a buddy talks to them, they get a DUI, or they have pain from wounds or injuries and hate the opioids and the zombie feeling.

In practice marijuana has proven to be the safest and most effective drug available to help veterans sleep, subdue their irrational anger, help with their pain, and other beneficial results with few side effects.

But many companies purporting to hire veterans will not employ them if they test positive for marijuana.

In 1933 the Twenty First Amendment to the United States Constitution repealing prohibition was, uniquely, ratified by state ratifying conventions. No Congress since has been so foolish as to propose any new Amendment allowing prohibition. And the Tenth Amendment unequivocally states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The federal government is thus denied the power of prohibition.

As it is clearly within the rights of a state to mandate or legislate, the citizens of Colorado have passed two amendments to their state Constitution regarding marijuana. Passed in 2000, Amendment 20 allows for the medical use of marijuana for a variety of conditions. Then in 2012 Colorado citizens passed Amendment 64 that made the personal use of marijuana legal for persons over 21 years of age. The State of Washington has passed similar legislation. As of 2015 medical marijuana is legal in 23 other states and two more states have made personal use legal. More states are being added to this list yearly.

Employers have a clear interest in employee behavior while on the job but what freemen do on their own time is, for the most part, their business alone. In many professions, e.g., airline pilots, employees may not partake of alcohol for a prescribed number of hours before reporting. Similar rules regarding marijuana would be reasonable and just. But to make a veteran unemployable because the wounds of war require a legal medication some bluenose disapproves of is unconscionable.

Since Colorado citizens clearly have an explicit constitutional right to the use of marijuana, any refusal by an employer to hire veterans using this drug is de facto, and likely de jure discrimination. That is particularly true where the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other mind-altering prescription drugs, e.g., Prozac, are permitted and tolerated when the employee is not working, and oft times when they are on the job.

Why is this blatant employment discrimination tolerated?

If there exists a bona fide need to insure a person is free of any drugs in order to perform their job duties, e.g., flying, surgeons, truck driving, crane and forklift operators, etc., then the employee should be tested for all possible drugs that are known to interfere with job performance, e.g., ethyl alcohol. Then there are prescription drugs such as opioids like Oxycodone, antipsychotics, antidepressants like Prozac, and a host of other prescription drugs that are known to interfere with mental and physical functions. There are also many over the counter drugs such as antihistamines that have the same negative effects on one's ability to operate machinery or perform complex functions. Many of these drugs have a more negative impact on job performance than marijuana.

Equal opportunity demands equal standards.

Giving veteran jobs to foreigners —H1B and other visas

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The military trains thousands of computer geeks (programmers, network, security, etc.), mechanics of all types, demolition, construction, contracting, personnel, hydraulics, etc., as well civil, structural, and a dozen other engineering specialties and hundreds of other trades. One would think companies would be lining up to hire these veterans when they are discharged.

So why aren't they?

In addition to the 140,000 permanent immigration visas issued annually for skilled workers Congress, those "friends of veterans," have created a host of other visa categories to flood the country with cheap labor, i.e., not veterans.

In large measure the problems with H1B and similar visas stem from deceptive advertising as well. Generally in order to bring in a foreign worker a company must first advertise the position and then demonstrate that no qualified American can be found to fill the position. That is generally done by briefly advertising the job in an obscure location or deeply buried on the company's web site. And those Americans who somehow manage to find the advertisement and apply either receive no answer, or are told their salary demands are too high, or that they are overqualified, etc. Having "failed" to find an American candidate they then move to bring in a foreign worker under an H1B or similar visa.

There are many variants on this game but the end result is no job for a veteran.

Once again Congress promises one thing to one group (veterans in this case) and delivers the rewards to another.

H1B and similar visas were initially authorized under the Immigration and Nationalization Act of 1965 that was enacted into law in 1968. During the dot.com boom in the 1990s businesses screamed to Congress that they couldn't find enough skilled workers, particularly computer programmers although doctors, nurses, engineers of all sorts, mathematicians, mechanics, various scientists, etc. are also admitted on these visas. Although the real problem was businesses were unwilling to pay market wages Congress expanded H1-B visas so that up to 115,000 foreign workers could enter the U.S. every year to take these generally high paying jobs. The cap has since been lowered to a nominal 65,000 per year but there are a number of exceptions, e.g., the masters exemption that admits an additional 20,000 per year for those who presumably hold advanced degrees. These visas are issued for limited time periods, three years initially with a virtually automatic renewal for another three years for good little servants.

Other exemptions exist for Australians (E3 visas) and Canadians and Mexicans (TN1 visas). There are also H2B visas presumptively for "seasonal" work such for hospitality and tourist industries where the yearly quotas are nebulous to non-existent.

Foreign companies can and do bring in many more employees on L1 visas claiming they are senior employees needed for successful operations in the United States. Apparently more than 70,000 of these have been issued in the past decade and even Congress and the immigration service are becoming suspicious.

Then there are student visas without which the graduate science and engineering programs of many universities could not exist. There are also J1 short-term training and learning visas to further a foreigner's job skills in the USA and then, presumptively, to return to their home country to apply them, in the process exporting American know how and jobs.

Remember that all these are in addition to the 140,000 permanent immigration visas issued each year.

Critics note that the benefits to U.S. tech firms are numerous and campaign donations to Congress are generous. First, from personal observation, H1B workers are usually paid much lower wages than U.S. citizens. Typically they cannot ask for a raise during their tenure and are often asked to work unreimbursed overtime. If they are fired they lose their visa and they cannot leave to go to another employer. Most are not paid benefits and they cannot complain on pain of being fired. Note that such conditions meet the definition of indentured servitude, which was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Nonetheless, U.S. firms have, with the blessing($) of Congress discovered the ultimate employee.

ABC News estimates that there were a half million foreigners in the United States on H1B visas in 2010. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course some move to obtain a green card and become permanent residents and eventually citizens. But many simply stay on after their visas expire or they graduate from college. And virtually no effort is made to find and deport them, often even if they commit crimes. While the exact number of foreigners who have overstayed their visas is unknown, an article in the April 7, 2013, Wall Street Journal suggests that about 40% of 11 million undocumented workers arrived legally but simply stayed on. That would put a low estimate of 4.4 million. Since many estimates suggest there are currently ~22 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. a value closer to 9 million might be more accurate.

But even if the H-1B worker doesn't stay in the U.S. they learn the job and then rotate back to the home country and take the work with them along with American know how and jobs.

Veterans are left with whatever scraps of jobs remain.

A 2007 study by the Urban Institute concluded that America was producing plenty of students with majors in science, technology, engineering, and math (the STEM professions)—many more than necessary to fill entry-level jobs.

As quoted by Mother Jones, Norman Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California-Davis, sees this changing as H-1B workers cause Americans to major in more-lucrative fields such as law and business. "In terms of the number of people with graduate degrees in STEM," he says, "H-1B is the problem, not the solution."

Impact of these visas is particularly hard on older veterans or those who have made a career of the military. Older workers are virtually always more expensive than younger ones or students just out of college.

And if a company can get a foreign worker for even less than that...

Giving veteran jobs to foreigners — Follow up finds it worse than imagined

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In the original version of this article I noted that a major reason veterans couldn't get jobs was that they were being given to foreigners on H1B and other visas. Sadly, on review I found that I had grossly underestimated the magnitude and impact of that problem. Adding to the burden is the uncertain state of the economy. As I was writing this I learned that IBM is laying off some 100,000 people worldwide.

I did not previously discuss the impact on veterans of the widespread practice of offshoring American jobs. The problem is complex and quantitative estimates vary widely. Linda Levine (2012) provides a Congressional Research Service report on this issue for those who care to dig deeper. Whatever the magnitude of these job losses they are primarily impacting National Guard and Reserve veterans who are returning from deployments to find their jobs have disappeared overseas while they were in combat.

Discharged and retiring veterans who are entering the labor market for the first time are primarily impacted by the creation, or lack thereof of, new jobs. With regard to that issue the Center for Immigration Studies released a report in June 2014 that I was unaware of.

According to government data, the net number of jobs created between 2000 and 2014 all went to immigrants, not people born in the United States.

The CIS report found that over the last 14 years, people who were born in the United States held 114.8 million jobs in 2000 but just 114.7 million in 2014, a drop of 127,000. But it's an entirely different picture for immigrants — 5.7 million more jobs were held by aliens in the U.S. in 2014 compared to 2000.

Nor is that all. In February 2015 the CIS issued another report based on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that reveals some 5.5 million new work permits were issued to aliens between 2009 and 2014, above and beyond the number of new green card and temporary worker admissions in those years. This huge parallel alien work authorization system is far outside the limits set by Congress and destroys opportunities for veterans and citizens as well as inviting further illegal immigration.

Summarizing from that report, during the last five years ~1.8 million new work permits were issued to aliens with temporary visas or those who entered under the Visa Waiver Program. Of these some 1.2 million had a visa status for which employment is not authorized by law. For example, ~470,000 work permits were issued to aliens on tourist visas and 532,000 to foreign students. More than 156,000 were issued to dependents of students and guest workers, all in categories not authorized for employment by law.

About 982,000 new work permits were issued in this time period to illegal aliens or aliens unqualified for admission. Of these, 957,000 were aliens who crossed the border illegally. Inexplicably, 1,200 new work permits were issued to aliens who were denied asylum, were suspected of using fraudulent documents, were stowaways, or were refused at a port of entry.

A huge number of work permits, 1.7 million, were issued to aliens whose status was unknown, not recorded by the adjudicator, or not disclosed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that processes the applications. Work permits are gateway documents to driver's licenses and other benefits. If the government agency issuing them does not know or will not disclose how the bearer arrived in the country how can others rely on the authenticity of an individual's identity? It is equally disconcerting if the government does know and chooses not to disclose it.

Clearly it is not only veterans who are unable to find employment due to unchecked immigration, but all American citizens.

It cannot be overstated that a nation that cannot control its borders soon ceases to exist.

We have been invaded, not by force but by stealth. Our Department of Defense spends at least $600 billion a year and there are 1.4 active-duty military personnel fighting numerous imperial wars in other countries while the homeland is overrun with unopposed invaders who are draining our life blood.

There is no reason this invasion cannot be stopped and turned back. According to Wikipedia during the Great Depression more stringent enforcement of immigration laws led to the expulsion ~2 million Mexican nationals from the United States. In 1954 the government implemented Operation Wetback that led to the deportation of nearly 1.3 million Mexicans from the United States.

Of course not all invaders today are Mexicans but in the interests of protecting its citizens a functional government would immediately halt this invasion and quickly expel these foreign forces.


 

Part Two — And justice for none

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There are few greater deterrents to getting a decent job than a criminal conviction. Please note that a plea bargain is a conviction. Further, it is quite clear that so called "deferred sentences" do not disappear from a veteran's record despite the lies told by prosecutors in seeking a plea bargain. Thus, any veteran who is caught up in the justice system and convicted will find it virtually impossible to find any but the most menial jobs, if that, with homelessness and suicide an all too frequent consequence.

Military service in general, and combat in particular seem to predispose veterans to come athwart the justice system. Apparent factors in this are the self-selected aggressive and combative nature of veterans together with defense of their civil liberties when accosted by law enforcement, or what psychiatrists now term "oppositional defiant disorder" (ODD, DSM-5, p. 462-466).

Problems with the justice system are enhanced when the veteran suffers from hidden wounds like PTSD, TBI, schizophrenia, panic attacks, or other service-related injuries. Without the assistance of an unbiased and competent ADA advocate the legal problems of these "trained killers" are frequently compounded.

War on Drugs

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Following the Vietnam War, and perhaps in large measure because of it, our nation has undergone profound changes in the last 40 years. Many of these have had a profound negative impact on veterans and their families.

Prominent among these issues is the failed War on Drugs launched by President Nixon sans any constitutional authority as his presidency was failing in 1972, and while he was surrendering in Vietnam.

Veterans, having used many drugs in Vietnam and later conflicts, and finding that marijuana was effective in treating what came to be known as PTSD and other wounds of war, have been massively affected by this descent into darkness.

Pressure on the courts made it impossible to handle criminal cases in the traditional and constitutionally mandated fashion of trial by jury. Instead it became necessary for prosecutors to settle charges by plea bargains.

With the onslaught of cases questions of guilt or innocence became irrelevant. If arrested, defendants are now presumed guilty unless, and until they can prove their innocence. The ancient principles of mens rea and actus reus were abandoned and prosecutors became ever more aggressive in attempting to obtain convictions through plea bargains. Coercion, inflated and stacked on charges, threats, and even torture are used to force veterans to accept plea bargains for crimes they didn't commit. Supplementary laws like RICO continued the degradation of civil rights and America now imprisons the largest number of its citizens of any nation on earth.

Harsh sentencing associated with drug laws has sent millions of citizens to prison.

A problem for men of conscience and allegiance to the Constitution is that the War on Drugs ignores the fact that the "criminals" involved in the drug trade are not actually violating anyone's rights and these laws are clearly mala prohibita rather than mala in se as there is no underlying evil in using drugs. When a drug dealer is hauled before a judge, there is no victim standing behind the prosecutor claiming damages. Everyone participating in the drug trade does so voluntarily and these are victimless crimes.

However, getting a job after a veteran has a drug conviction, or any conviction, on their record is difficult to impossible.

Domestic violence (DV)

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The feminist movement dating from the 1960s has also has proven disastrous for veterans for many reasons.

It was known and documented by Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz (1980) that women are as, or more violent than men in intimate relationships. That finding has been substantiated by all subsequent research. However, then Senator, now Vice President Joe Biden ignored the data and put forward the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that was first passed by Congress in 1994.

Framed by radical feminists on the false premise that only women are "victims" of abuse in intimate relationships and that men are driven by the patriarchy to batter and abuse their female partners (see Dutton and Nichols, 2005) , VAWA destroyed any remaining vestiges of freedom.

Feminists demanded that we "believe the victim," an anthem that echoes in their ideology to this day. Of course if we believe the victim we must presume the defendant is guilty. Men are then publicly censured for crimes they have not committed.

With the passage of VAWA, and similar state laws, warrantless arrests became mandatory upon the sketchiest of allegations, often nothing more than an anonymous third-party phone call. Forceful entry and searches of a man's home without a warrant became the norm.

Veterans are now driven from their homes and children with only the clothes on their back with no notice and without a hearing or trial. Their property and children are seized without redress.

Perjury and hearsay are now admissible as evidence against a man, mere allegations suffice as proof and due process is largely a thing of the past.

Citizens and veterans are denied the assistance of counsel and punishment and imprisonment occurs before a trial or without one. For a decade after 1994 men were denied the right to face their accusers. Fortunately, the ruling of the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Washington restored that Sixth Amendment right in 2004, although prosecutors still do their best to ignore that requirement.

Most couples fight at some point in their relationship. But rarely does it rise to the level of what used to be considered criminal assault. But feminist funding is dependent on the number of cases and the hype keeps building. The easiest way to increase the number of DV cases was to expand the definition, which has been done repeatedly since VAWA was first passed.

As the definition of what constituted "domestic violence" expanded so did the draconian penalties. The problem for veterans is that every manifestation of PTSD symptoms (see endnotes) is now considered "domestic violence" under current laws. For example, in evaluating combat veterans for PTSD Thomas and others (2010) asked how often in the past month they "got angry with someone and kicked or smashed something, slammed the door, punched the wall, etc.," "threatened someone with physical violence," or "got into a fight with someone and hit the person" based on research that demonstrated a strong association between combat exposure and these items as well as other risk-taking behaviors. Or consider the actions of veterans with TBI who commonly yell, swear, throw objects, pound on the wall with their fists, slam doors, or threaten or hurt family members or others as a result of their injury. These behaviors, of course, now constitute criminal domestic violence when committed within an intimate relationship after Johnny comes marching home.

Laws such as VAWA might be useful if women never lied, cheated, or stole.

Since that is false, and coupled with the spread of "no fault" divorce after 1970 (Parjeko, 2002), women quickly learned to use domestic violence laws as a weapon against men, particularly in custody battles. And wounded warriors with their manifold problems are prime targets in that game.

VAWA is particularly dangerous for veterans whose wife or girlfriend isn't a U.S. citizen.

It is estimated that of the 300,000+ immigrant visas issued on the basis of a marriage to a US citizen each year, nearly 30% of them are fraudulent (Sampson, 2009).

All these ladies of dubious origins need do is file domestic violence charges against a veteran. One 911 call and they are granted a green card within thirty days and citizenship within six months, guaranteed. It apparently doesn't matter whether the charges against the veteran are dismissed or not, she still wins. There are regular classes on how to do this at women's shelters and by feminist groups like TESSA, and a number of women do this repeatedly with different men (see Hendricks, 2009).

The problems are by no means trivial.

Of 12,139 veteran arrests in El Paso County, Colorado, between July 2010 and December 2014, 3,567 (29.4%) involve a charge of domestic violence. Aside from traffic offenses, domestic violence is the single largest category of criminal offenses that veterans are jailed for. Of these 3,567 arrests for "domestic violence" approximately 50% carried no charge of violence in the booking report.

While "domestic violence" might seem a mala in se offense, in practice it has been implemented to match feminist ideology in a mala prohibita fashion by making it an add-on, or sentence enhancer for any crime. For example, crimes such as dog at large, jaywalking, sending an email, and so on can, and often do include a charge of "domestic violence."

Nonetheless, a conviction (plea bargain) for misdemeanor domestic violence or any felony carries the following penalties today:

• Barred from holding many jobs;

• Denied a security clearance or they lose an existing one;

• Unable to rent an apartment;

• Forbidden from obtaining school loans;

• Unable to hold professional licenses;

• Unable to get or hold a teachers certificate;

• Denied credit or a financial bond;

• Unable to become police officers or firefighters;

• Denied a commercial drivers license;

• Unable to obtain medical insurance;

• May not be able to vote;

• May not hold a public office;

• May not serve as a juror;

• Denied work involving hazardous materials (hazmat) or explosives;

• Their children are taken from them, particularly if they suffer from TBI;

• Subjected to federal felony charges if they are even around a weapon or ammunition with a mandatory 5 to 10 year prison sentence;

• If they have a job they will probably be fired;

• If still in the military they will be discharged under less than honorable conditions, often losing all benefits, retirement, bonuses, medical care, and may even have to repay reenlistment bonuses; and

• If there is any question about the veteran's citizenship they will be deported.

Sexual assault and harassment

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Building on their success with domestic violence laws, radical feminists next began expanding the definition of rape and demanding justice for every incident of sexual harassment. Compounding the problems, for the past few years, under intense feminist pressure, the Pentagon has downplayed the effects of open homosexuality, sexuality, and the addition of women on the front lines.

Inconveniently for feminist propaganda more men are raped than women both in the military and among civilians. But facts don't matter and rape used to require some evidence and proof beyond a woman's allegations.

Women lie about rape all the time -– for attention, for revenge, for an alibi, and for myriad other reasons. Studies done before the definition of "rape," or sexual assault was revised suggest that at least 40% of rape claims are false Kanin (1994). Since sexual assault can now be claimed months or years after the alleged event, long after there is any chance of collecting forensic evidence, it is unlikely that the truth can be reliably determined. And false memory syndrome is not uncommon.

After revisionist redefinitions, sexual assault (rape) is now any coitus without a pre-signed agreement she can't find and tear up later. Turn around and bump her in the chest and it is a sexual assault, mens rea and actus reus be damned, or at least swept under the carpet.

Ann Coulter takes a swing at all the rape hysteria in her column The College Rape Club and studies suggest that just 0.6% of college women are subject to a sexual assault rather than the 20% figure put forth by feminists.

Nor is it even necessary to be involved with a woman to be labeled a sex offender. Simply urinating in a public park behind a tree and in the dark may suffice. Never mind that they've locked the outhouse or the veteran is homeless.

Sexual harassment today is anything a crude and rude veteran might say or do that a woman can possibly misinterpret or phrase in politically correct terms as demeaning, threatening, or insulting.

With current definitions any action by a heterosexual male in the presence of, or in conjunction with, e.g., a nasty email, a female becomes a crime. Of course there is no penalty if a female perpetrates any of these acts against a male or falsely accuses him, although the life of the veteran may be destroyed.

A prominent casualty of revisionist sexual politics has been the loss of camaraderie and trust men and women used to share when working together in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations. No manager or military commander in his right mind would dare discipline a female without witnesses present. Nor is it safe for any veteran to be working alone with a female as an allegation of sexual harassment now suffices as proof and we must "believe the victim" according to feminist dogma.

With decades of experience, attorney RK Hendricks (p. 1) explicitly states: "Never bring a woman into your home until you do a full background check on her."

Many a veteran's career has now been ruined by unfounded charges of sexual assault or harassment while real cases go unreported and uninvestigated, often due to the negative impact of false allegations. False allegations have now gotten to the point the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a separate unit to deal with them. While both men and women commit these crimes women perpetrate the majority of them.

But any allegation of sexual assault or harassment, true or false, makes a veteran virtually unemployable. Who wants to have a sex offender working for them? And would the other employees, females in particular, stand for it?

Weapons of war between the sexes

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Military service, particularly combat, predisposes veterans to run afoul of current laws regarding domestic violence and abuse as well as sexual assault and harassment.

Wives and girlfriends of veterans quickly learned to use these laws as weapons of revenge and advantage, particularly in divorce and child custody cases. A veteran with PTSD is almost certain to end up in divorce court and family court will worsen their condition, e.g., see Legal Abuse Syndrome by Karin Huffer (2013). It is a sad reality that divorce also increases the probability that a veteran will commit suicide by an order of magnitude.

Since perjury is ignored there is rarely any penalty for a woman making false allegations. By 2015 it has become standard practice in many divorces for a wife to first file for a domestic abuse restraining order, then arrange or stalk her husband until he violates it, or simply bring charges of domestic violence against him as that gives her immediate, and in practice, permanent custody of the children.

Should those tactics fail the next step commonly is to claim he sexually assaulted her or the children, or abused the little ones. Details of cases like this can be found in Dean Tong's book Elusive Innocence. Note that children are now presumed to be property of the State and certainly not the father.

It is a sad fact that veterans with TBI often have balance problems and may trip or fall with their children. But accidents like that are now presumed to be criminal child abuse and seldom is a prosecutor required to establish both actus reus and mens rea in such cases.

We have a problem with the behavior, conduct, and choices of many women and we need to address it for what it is and stop pussyfooting around the problems for fear of whom we might offend.

Such misbehavior is having a massive negative impact on the ability of veterans to find employment.

Overcriminalization and veteran courts

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It is clear, as George Will points out in his column The Plague of Overcriminalization, that society has gone too far in attempting to solve social problems by making them crimes. Douglas Husak provides a scholarly review of the problem in his 2009 book Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law that should be a must read for legislators, jurists, and prosecutors if justice is to return to our courts and for our veterans.

Of particular concern are the plethora of mala prohibita laws. Legislatures have become "offense factories" that churn out new statutes virtually every week. Legislators are graded on the number of new laws they pass and real mala in se crimes were outlawed long ago. Since mala prohibita crimes are only offenses because Big Sister says so, there is no such practical limit on them. Nor have legislators found it necessary or desirable to limit such laws by scientific findings or data, e.g., see the example for VAWA above. Mala prohibita laws work reasonably well when they conform to societal customs, e.g., driving on the right side of the road. But they almost always fail when legislators attempt to apply them to personal habits and social behavior, e.g. drugs, abortion, religion, ideology, etc., and the almost inevitable result is tyranny.

As Husak (2008, p. 27) points out:

"...The real law — the law that distinguishes the conduct that leads to punishment from the conduct that does not — cannot be found in criminal codes. Even those police and prosecutors who pledge fidelity to the rule of law could not hope to honor their commitment because they receive almost no guidance from legislators about what they really are expected to do. The number and scope of criminal laws guarantees that neither police nor prosecutors will enforce statutes as written...We are already well past the point at which statutes are the dominant factor in explaining who will or will not incur criminal liability."

Husak (2008, p. 118) goes on to say that:

"In the real world of police and prosecutorial discretion, however — where the rule of law is virtually nonexistent —it is likely that a marginal increase in conformity to mala prohibita laws would only exacerbate unfairness."

Specialized courts for veterans, presumably set up to deal with issues like these almost always require a guilty plea in advance in order for the veteran to be admitted. Since domestic violence and sexual assault cases can commonly be won if contested, the veteran is often worse off in a veteran court. However, if the veteran has a previous conviction and has little to lose by taking another plea bargain, especially if it will keep him out of jail, then veteran courts are a good deal for those individuals.

The problem for society is that the veterans in veteran court are often gaming the system to stay out of jail despite often numerous arrests. The innocent veteran who really needs help and treatment is denied it and public safety, the basic objective of a justice system, is harmed.

Without justice many veterans will never be able to return to our communities as productive citizens.

 

Part Three — Dying to get an appointment with the VA

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It is self evident that in order to hold a job a veteran must be physically and mentally fit. In order to provide for that insofar as possible with the human debris of our endless wars our benevolent government has established a huge bureaucracy.

Background

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What is today the cabinet level Department of Veteran Affairs has its roots in the Continental Congress of 1776. They provided pensions for soldiers who were disabled in the Revolution but, initially, medical care, if any, was provided by individual states and communities.

Federal medical facilities and housing for veterans were authorized in 1811 but none were opened until 1834. Assistance was later expanded to include benefits and pensions for veterans and also their widows and dependents.

It became the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) on July 21, 1930, and was elevated to cabinet status on March 15, 1989. As with most government programs these worthy and essential services have grown to gargantuan proportions with a current budget of ~$153 billion with over 313,000 employees.

Under President Obama, the VA's budget has grown by more than 60% over the past six years, although congressional overseers and veterans' organizations complain that the department continues to be hobbled by what they consider a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy.

The Department currently has three subdivisions each headed by an Undersecretary:

Veterans Health Administration (VHA): responsible for providing health care in all its forms as well as for biomedical research.

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA): responsible for initial veteran registration, eligibility determination, and benefits and entitlements.

National Cemetery Administration: responsible for providing burial and memorial benefits, as well as for the maintenance of VA cemeteries

During the Vietnam conflict 2.59 million veterans served in country, 58,209 were killed, 153,303 were wounded, and 1,643 are still MIA. But these casualty figures grossly underestimate the burden on the VA and as of September 2011 some 7.4 million Vietnam-era veterans were enrolled with the VA. And 5.9 million Gulf War I as well as 5.7 million peacetime-only veterans have sought VA assistance. Throw in WW II and Korean veterans and the VA clientele amounts to over 23 million and the need for a gargantuan bureaucracy becomes obvious.

Of the ~2.6 million veterans who served in-theater during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) in Iraq since 2001 only 6,843 (includes 17 DoD civilians) were killed and 52,281 were wounded in action as of October 30, 2014 (Table 1) thanks to advancements in body armor, transportation, and battlefield medicine. That tally excludes hundreds of thousands of others because the Pentagon counts only those injured as a "direct result of hostile action." If a wound or injury did not occur on a combat operation, or it was the result of an accident, or it was caused by simply wearing body armor every day for a year, it does not make the list.

Despite these relatively low casualty figures 1.76 million veterans are currently eligible for VA benefits and 1.03 million of have already sought treatment at a VHA medical facility at least once since 2002, usually (93%) for outpatient care. About 45% of them have sought compensation for service-related disabilities. By comparison, about 21% of those who fought in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War (Gulf I) filed similar claims.

However, 1.76 million new cases is only a 7% increase in the total number of veterans the VA has to deal with. Why then the multiple problems so evident today?

First, the history of the VA is one scandal after another since the Revolutionary War so the current problems are nothing new.

Second, the endless wars of the 21st Century, with their advances in body armor and armored vehicles, together with the multiple combat tours required of OEF/OIF/OND veterans, has produced a much higher percentage of wounded and disabled veterans than previous conflicts. In Iraq and Afghanistan, where there were no front lines; where improvised explosive devices were the enemy's weapon of choice; where troops wore bulky protective gear most of the time; wounds such as traumatic brain injury, persistent ringing in the ears, elevated blood pressure, post traumatic stress, etc. that do not fit the military's classic definition became the norm.

Once troops returned home and the adrenaline ebbed they began to confront the cost of all they wore to protect themselves, of the bone-jarring trips in mine-resistant trucks, of inhaling desert sand pulverized into jagged particles by armored vehicles, back pain, blown-out knees, headaches, chronic coughs, etc.

As noted above, for more than 1 million vets, serving in these wars has left them in worse physical health according to a poll run by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Eighteen percent — about 470,000 current and former service members — reported being seriously injured while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or in support of the wars. Some of those wounds have been profoundly life altering — lost limbs, widespread burns, massive brain damage. Others are more prosaic, often the results of accidents or wear and tear on the body, but nonetheless they have saddled veterans with enduring pain.

More than 600,000 veterans who have become partially or totally disabled from physical or psychological wounds resulting from military service in the new millennium are already receiving lifelong financial support from the government. That figure is certain to grow substantially as the VA slowly processes a large claims backlog. Additionally, the types of injuries and disabilities have changed with advances in war, medicine, and mental health adding to the burden and delays in receiving disability determinations and compensation.

The difference between the ~1 million veterans seeking compensation and the 600,000 who have received it may help to explain why almost six in 10 vets believe the VA is doing an "only fair" or "poor" job in meeting the needs of their comrades.

One in three veterans surveyed by The Post and Kaiser said the VA or the Defense Department has determined they have a service-connected disability, a ratio that is almost identical to the VA's overall tally.

What problems are OEF/OIF/OND veterans reporting? The three most frequent medical diagnoses of disabled veterans today are:

• Musculoskeletal ailments (principally joint and back disorders),

• Mental disorders, and

"Symptoms, Signs and Ill-Defined Conditions," that most veterans would say translates as "If it isn't simple and obvious we don't know what it is, and it certainly doesn't qualify for disability benefits."

Each of these areas is addressed sequentially below.

Physical wounds and musculoskeletal ailments

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Waits of months to sometimes a year or more to even see a doctor have been frequently reported. But once admitted the VHA, to all appearances, deals well, if not always timely, with physical wounds.

Advances in prosthetics for lost limbs has been remarkable and the VHA is a leader in such medical research. But the problems don't stop there.

Obviously major limb amputations fall under this category and for the period 2003-2014 some 1,577 (Table 4) have been reported for OIF/OEF/OND veterans. However, a veteran may lose the use of a limb, hand, or foot without it being amputated and such accidents may happen outside of a combat theater. Veterans are commonly subject to crippling injuries during training and in other accidents and there is little doubt that the total number of such injuries, both from combat and other accidents far exceeds this number.

The signature wound of the current conflicts is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These wounds result from impacts to the skull from an external force, e.g., projectiles, blasts, acceleration or deceleration, contact with a fixed object, etc. The impact may or may not penetrate the skull or result in fracture. The result is permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions, with an associated diminished or altered state of consciousness. Repeated blows to the head increase the likelihood of permanent impairment and such injuries may occur in combat, in training, and on or off base in an auto accident or fall, for example.

For the period 2000-2014 the VA reports 307,282 (Table 3) cases of TBI for all military, including OIF/OEF/OND veterans. That number is certain to increase. TBI is also known to be associated with early onset of dementia and increased numbers and severity of the disability of veterans with TBI can be expected in the years ahead.

In addition to direct injuries, the weight of man-packed combat gear in Iraq and Afghanistan was far beyond recommended loads. A basic load out for personal armor, water, helmet, weapon, ammunition, and other ancillary equipment was typically 60 kg (135 pounds) and often ranged to 90 kg (200 pounds) or more. As a result there will be tens of thousands of veterans with back, hip, and knee problems as they age and many have these problems now.

Qualifying for disability payments for any of these conditions, however, is typically dependent on such injuries being documented in a veteran's medical records before discharge and getting an honorable or general discharge. Otherwise the veteran usually faces a years-long battle with the VA before they can hope to obtain benefits, if any.

All of these conditions are going to make it difficult or impossible for OEF/OIF/OND veterans to get or hold jobs that require them to stand for long periods, carry heavy loads, or walk any distance on pavement or over uneven surfaces. Many are also limited in the types of tools or machines they can operate particularly if they have TBI.

Obviously these conditions are not caused by the VA but the failure to provide prompt and effective treatment exacerbates the veteran's problems. That is particularly true when payments for these disabilities are also delayed or denied.

Mental health and psychiatric assistance

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Veterans suffering from mental health issues are particularly problematic. The problems are compounded by a shortage of mental health professionals in the VA and a crisis in the way psychiatry is practiced.

Wars have always produced more psychiatric casualties than physical wounds. Prior to 1980 little seems to have been done for mentally-impaired veterans other than to put the most severe cases in care facilities. Otherwise veterans were largely left to self medicate while telling war stories around the bar in the VFW or American Legion halls. If the laws hadn't changed, as noted above, that would still be a good therapeutic approach for many veterans.

In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) added PTSD to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme. The PTSD diagnosis has filled an important gap in psychiatric theory and practice. The significant change ushered in by the PTSD concept was the stipulation that the causative agent was outside the individual, i.e., a traumatic event, rather than an inherent individual weakness. Bremner (2006) reviews known changes to the brain associated with PTSD.

The types of trauma that can lead to PTSD varies widely between individuals but certainly includes witnessing or being a victim of violent crime including sexual assault, being a victim of or witnessing an accident or natural disaster, death of a loved one, and certainly combat particularly if severe, protracted, or repeated and especially if the veteran is wounded. Other causes are, of course, known. Training and genetics also play a role with, apparently, Asians being less susceptible.

To understand why PTSD has such a drastic impact on employment for veterans it is necessary to review the characteristic symptoms and behaviors (see Endnote) presents the symptoms of post traumatic stress as commonly seen in veterans. Most individuals initially experience only a few of these symptoms, with sleeplessness and nightmares being the most common. Dissociation is diagnostic, particularly in flashbacks. Symptoms such as irritability, irrational anger, anxiety, hypervigilance, etc. may develop later. Or initial symptoms may disappear only to be reignited years or decades later by some new traumatic event. Rarely if ever does an individual exhibit all these symptoms. Commonly some symptoms come and go while others are persistent. Veterans with PTSD may be high functioning for some period and then regress for no externally apparent reason, usually to the detriment of their employment and those around them.

Onset of post traumatic stress may occur within weeks or a few months of the trauma or delayed for years and decades. Symptoms must persist for at least a month to be considered a disorder. If PTSD is going to clear up it usually does so within one or two years, otherwise it often becomes chronic. Even if initial PTSD symptoms disappear a later traumatic event may trigger a renewed onset.

I know of no universal treatment for PTSD. The DoD and VA favor cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and continuous exposure therapy but not all veterans respond favorably to either of these treatments. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is also used with some success.

Gore (2014) points out that many different drugs have been used to treat specific PTSD symptoms such as benzodiazepines for anxiety, anticonvulsants for impulsivity and emotional stability, and clonidine for nightmares. However, the principal agents of treatment have been the various antidepressants and beta-blockers. Atypical antipsychotics have been used for patients who do not respond to antidepressants. Some studies suggest that fluoxetine demonstrates some efficacy for all three symptom clusters. Various sleep medications have also been used. But what appears to work best for most veterans who have tried these drugs is marijuana either because they no longer have prescriptions, expense, or superior benefits.

DSM-5 notes that individuals with PTSD are 80% more likely to have symptoms that meet diagnostic criteria for at least one other mental disorder, e.g., depressive, bipolar, anxiety, or substance abuse as well. There is also increased risk of suicide and suicidal ideation. DSM-5 also notes that co-occurrence of PTSD and mild TBI is 48% in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. I would suggest that for more severe TBI the co-occurrence of PTSD approaches unity and that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish one from the other in many veterans.

Studies of Civil War veterans recognized that veterans suffering from mental trauma were at increased risk of disease and early mortality (Pizarro and others, 2006) so recognition of the problem is not new but effective treatment is still uncertain.

There is considerable debate over the percentage of Vietnam veterans who suffered from PTSD, e.g., see review by Richardson and others (2010). For in-country veterans who actually engaged in combat studies suggest around 30% lifetime occurrence although some estimates suggest that 50% is more accurate.

A RAND study (Tanielian and Jaycox, 2008) estimated 300,000 (19%) of the 1.62 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who had been deployed at the time or their study suffered from PTSD or major depression based on a telephone survey of 1,925 veterans. They also estimated 320,000 suffered some level of TBI. The authors note that "...respondents were concerned that treatment would not be kept confidential and would constrain future job assignments and military-career advancement." These concerns suggest the veteran's problems were underreported, a recurring problem.

Fischer (2014) reports that the Army Office of the Surgeon General has only identified 164,817 new cases of PTSD among deployed and not deployed troops between 2000 and 2014 (Table 2). Since veterans with all but the mildest cases of TBI are likely to have PTSD as well, and she reports 307,282 cases of TBI, the number of OEF/OIF/OND veterans who have or will develop PTSD is grossly underestimated.

These rather low estimates for PTSD lend credence to anecdotal evidence from veterans that the Army and VA grossly underdiagnose the problem.

Of course a failure to correctly diagnose disabilities, whether deliberately or through incompetence translates into denied benefits and often great hardship for tens of thousands of veterans.

Thomas and others (2010) studied both Active duty Army and National Guard troops at three and twelve months post deployment. They observed PTSD rates across active duty and National Guard study groups after a single deployment. Using the least stringent definition, the mildest cases, ranging from 20.7% to 30.5%, and depression rates ranging from 11.5% to 16.0%. Using the strictest definitions with high symptom rates and serious functional impairment, PTSD prevalence ranged from 5.6% to 11.3% and depression prevalence from 5.0% to 8.5%. Between 8.5% and 14.0% of all soldiers reported serious functional impairment due to either PTSD or depression symptoms. They also noted that the incidence of PTSD is 2 to 3 times higher among those exposed to combat compared with those who did not report significant combat exposure and that PTSD is more frequent among National Guard and Reserve troops. My experience suggests the highest rates of PTSD occur in medics, corpsmen, and truck drivers in daily convoys.

A weakness of the above surveys is that they were done with troops who had completed a single combat tour, as was also true of most Vietnam veterans. Conversely, many OEF/OIF/OND veterans served multiple combat tours lasting from nine to fifteen months, many enduring three, four, five or more with only nine to twelve months back home as the operational tempo increased.

The March 29, 2014, Washington Post and Kaiser Foundation survey is more inclusive. They found that of those deployed to Iraq, 47% were sent on two or more combat tours, and 29% — more than a half-million veterans — spent two years or more in-country. Of veterans who deployed to Afghanistan, 29% had two or more tours, and 16% spent at least two years there. And many veterans served combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan but I haven't found data on veterans who served in both countries or three or more combat tours.

The Washington Post and Kaiser Foundation poll found that the wars have caused mental and emotional health problems in at least 31% of OEF/OIF/OND veterans — more than 800,000 of them. When more specific questions were asked, the rates increased: 41% — more than 1 million — report having outbursts of anger, and 45% have relationship problems with their spouse or partner. Both are symptoms of post-traumatic stress (see Endnote) and data on other mental health problems, e.g., suicidal ideation, schizophrenia, depression, etc. are not reviewed. More than half of veterans polled say the government is not doing a good job addressing the requirements of this generation of veterans. But when asked to rate their own treatment, almost 60% said the government's response is "excellent" or "good." Greater than 50% finding VA not doing a good job versus less than 60% pleased with their own treatment is probably within the margin of error for the survey. When asked about their own health care more than 80% stated their physical, mental and emotional needs are being well met by the VA. So once in the system veterans generally seem pleased with the care they receive.

As reviewed by Grossman (1995, rev. 2009, p. 43-45), WW II studies found that after 60 days of continuous combat 98% of surviving soldiers became psychiatric casualties. The 2% who were able to endure sustained combat showed a predisposition toward "aggressive psychopathic personalities." I have not found any comparable studies that quantify the effects of multiple combat tours on veterans although a qualitative difference seems well established. When troops who have completed multiple combat missions are polled the rates of PTSD are much higher. Everyone has a breaking point past which they cannot continue to function. While that point cannot be individually measured I do know that far too many veterans of the current conflicts have been pushed too far.

Available data suggest the Army and the VA are badly underdiagnosing the prevalence of PTSD and other mental health problems.

Part of that issue might be a sampling problem as it is becoming more apparent that these problems first occur or become worse later in life as suggested by the veteran arrest study of Corry and Stockburger (2013). If valid, many mental health problems for OEF/OIF/OND veterans won't become apparent until they reach age 40 or so.

Not only is the VA understaffed in the mental health arena, and apparently underdiagnosing the prevalence of PTSD, but the field of psychiatry itself is in a state of crisis. Daniel Carlat, M.D., in his 2010 book Unhinge d details how psychiatry has largely forsaken the practice of talk therapy for the seductive —and more lucrative —practice of simply prescribing drugs. Thus, when troubled veterans do manage to get an appointment with a shrink the likely outcome is the psychiatrist will spend the session typing notes into his computer and send the veteran off with a shopping bag full of drugs. Veterans on 12 and 14 different medications are reported and, because of their condition, they have little idea of what each drug is for and often report feeling like a zombie on them and this "treatment" may be fatal.

These policies are dangerous. There are many cases of premature deaths in veterans that are linked to the multitude of prescription drugs they are often prescribed. Of particular note are the fatalities associated with both legal and illegal drugs, notably opioids, veterans take for pain and relief from the multiple symptoms of PTSD.

The death of young veterans by heart attack was reviewed by Rappaport (2012) based on the research of neurologist Fred Baughman, Jr. M.D., Fellow, American Academy of Neurology, and Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Baughman refers to these cases as Soldiers Dead In Bed and as of September 2014 he has tabulated over 400 such cases. As he notes, this is far from a complete list and the problem continues unabated. Seroquel (an antipsychotic) is the drug most frequently linked to these deaths but other antipsychotic and antidepressants have also been identified in such cases particularly when Paxil (antidepressant) and Klonopin (benzodiazepine) are prescribed and taken together. And the negative effects of these drugs are magnified when dosage is suddenly interrupted, as for example; the veteran is thrown in jail.

Accidents, often deliberate, and alcoholism also account for numerous, but usually uncounted veteran deaths as reviewed by Alan Zarembo in a December 2013 article in the LA Times.

The cumulative impact is horrific. Between 2,709,918 to 3,173,845 American veterans served in country and in interior waters of Vietnam between 1954 and 1975 (American War Library, 2007). Yet less than one third of the veterans who survived ground combat in Vietnam are alive today although most would only be in their 60s or early 70s. For example, see the discussion by Duff (2009).

Suicide is the factor most talked about but Katz (2013) points out that homelessness is as large a factor. And homelessness results directly from a veteran's inability to get a job.

It is estimated that at least 22 veterans a day commit suicide. These statistics only count cases where suicide is the stated cause of death and the individual is known to be a veteran. In the military bastion of El Paso County, Colorado, the coroner has no way to know whether or not a suicide case is a veteran or not and that is likely true of many other coroners.

Veteran suicides are much more common than published values.

The prognosis for current veterans is no more favorable. Already it is estimated that more OEF/OIF veterans have died from suicide than in combat in both wars.

The total number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have died since returning from those theaters isn't known but certainly far exceeds any published figures.

Without effective and accurate diagnoses and treatment veterans with PTSD and TBI are poor candidates to get and keep a job.

While an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment are critical for mental health problems suffered by veterans, lets face it, any veteran who admits they are under psychiatric care by the VA isn't likely to get much of a job, if any.

One is left with the impression that in many cases the veteran would be better served sitting around the bar at the VFW or American Legion and swapping war stories. For sleeping and keeping calm marijuana is clearly a better drug choice although that almost certainly hurts the veteran's job options whereas the alcohol doesn't.

Symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions

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For chronic conditions the VHA record is not stellar. For example, they strongly resisted recognition of such conditions as exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam veterans. Veterans began to file claims in 1977 with the VA for disability payments for health care for conditions they believed were associated with exposure to Agent Orange, or more specifically, dioxin. However, their claims were denied unless they could prove the condition began when they were in the service or within one year of their discharge. It wasn't until 1991 when Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act that gave the VA authority to declare certain conditions "presumptive" to exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin, making these veterans who served in Vietnam eligible to receive treatment and compensation for these conditions. Of course many of them were dead by then!

But by April 1993, the Department of Veterans Affairs had only compensated 486 victims, although it had received disability claims from 39,419 soldiers who had been exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.

The effects of Agent Orange on veterans and their children is draining, debilitating, and sometimes disfiguring. Such conditions make it very difficult, if not impossible, for them to get or hold many jobs. And that says nothing about the time, energy, and money they have had to spend in getting the VA to recognize, let alone compensate them for these conditions.

A similar scenario has played out for veterans suffering from what is known as Gulf War Syndrome. Approximately 250,000 of the 697,000 veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War are afflicted with a wide range of acute and chronic symptoms including fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems, rashes and diarrhea. There are also reports that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of the current conflicts suffer from this syndrome. Clearly veterans with these conditions are going to have difficulty finding and holding a job.

The same game of delay, denial, and obfuscation appears to be playing out for OEF/OIF/OND veterans.

While these games are played employment prospects for these wounded warriors are dismal. And they frequently must wait months and often years to receive the disability compensation their service entitles them to. In the meantime they are often dependent on family and friends, if any, for food and shelter. And many simply become homeless.

Dealing with the Veteran Administration

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Unless and/or until they can find a job and become self sufficient, timely support from the VA is critical. But it is difficult to find a veteran who hasn't had problems dealing with the Veterans Administration. The first problem a veteran or their relatives face is finding the right branch among the three that they should be dealing with. Then, like in any good bureaucracy, there are forms to be completed. And fill out the wrong form or in the wrong sequence and it is usually back to square one.

One would hope that the Internet and a functional web site would alleviate many of these problems. So I tried it and when I went to download the veteran pension form I was led to I got this error message:

To view the full contents of this document, you need a later version of the PDF viewer. You can upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Reader from http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

For further support, go to

http://www.adobe.com/support/products/acrreader.html

The reader will never guess that I tried to download the latest version of Adobe Reader only to find that is what was already on my machine (Mac with OS 10.10, Adobe Reader 11.0.10, January 3, 2015). It is these types of problems that drive technically-challenged users up the wall, and don't make me too happy either. And this presumes the veteran has access to a computer and knows how and is physically able to use one.

Numerous other examples of this and many other problems might be given but to little purpose. The problems exist, they are common, and they are unworthy of a government agency of such importance.

Without the assistance of groups like the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Paralyzed Veterans of America, independent non-profit organizations, many veterans find it impossible to navigate through the VA bureaucratic maze and determine what forms need to be filed for what condition in what office or branch of the VA, with what documentation, when, and in what order.

A sad commentary on one of our government's largest bureaucracies inability carry out even its simplest mission.

But the games don't end there. Once the proper form is filed with the proper VA office the wait begins. One hears of routine delays of 2 to 5 years for disability determinations. Assuming the VA reviewer cannot find a reason to deny the application, and the disability is determined to be service related, a standard practice seems to be to award it with 0% monetary award. The veteran then has to file another claim for monetary award with current date, wait another couple of years for decision, with back pay only to date of second filing.

Should the initial claim be denied, as is reportedly routine, the veteran must then file an appeal and wait more years. It is not unusual to find Vietnam veterans still trying to get their disabilities recognized and just compensation from the VA.

Clearly the civil servants within VA offices are now in fear of their lives from such mad beasts as we. Veterans entering a VA facility are now scanned and searched. Even pocket knives are banned in case a "trained killer" goes insane and attacks an incompetent, pettifogging bureaucrat. Of course that approach ignores our bare hands, if they haven't been blown off. Soon we may need to be handcuffed or placed in a straightjacket in order to enter what is presumably a public building dedicated to serving veterans. But the recent event at the VA Hospital in El Paso, Texas, suggests a more immediate problem may be their own employees "going postal."

As noted above, a few arrests and veterans are homeless, but the VA hotline for homeless vets isn't reliable. It takes time to get appointments, run through the rain dances, and frequently the veteran has no means of transportation to the VA clinic or hospital. Often a veteran's only means of communication is through a free email account at a public library. It is little wonder then that vets often get pissed off and say the hell with it. Suicide is too often the final option for them.

We can and must do better!

 

Summary

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It is tragic the way many veterans are treated both by their government and by many businesses. After WW II veterans largely built the most advanced and prosperous nation the world has ever seen. But overcriminalization by mindless legislators, who have passed an incomprehensible multitude of punitive mala prohibita laws, has now filled America's prisons with more of our citizens and veterans than any other nation on earth.

Where the War on Drugs left off poisonous dogma by feminist ideologues stepped in to destroy the children, families, marriages, and lives of millions of veterans, e.g., see the Last Statement of Retired Army Sergeant Ball. Thus even those veterans who managed to find employment and reintegrate often found their lives destroyed.

With actions like the H1-B and similar visa programs it seems the Congress is actively attempting to prevent veterans and other Americans from finding lucrative positions.

Most disabled veterans seem to spend a lifetime fighting with the VA. Without the assistance of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and similar non-profit organizations many veterans find it impossible to navigate through the VA bureaucratic maze and determine what forms need to be filed for what condition in what office or branch of the VA, when, and with what documentation. A sad commentary on one of our government's largest bureaucracies inability carry out even its simplest mission.

It is a lucky veteran who navigates the rocks and shoals enumerated here without going aground. And the anchor supposedly provided by the Veterans Administration is dragging.

 

Endnotes

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Summary of symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) observed in local veterans:

• Sleeplessness (probably the most common and the first thing one notices);

• Dissociation from actual events and no memory of them is diagnostic;

• Nightmares often accompanied by kicking, fighting, or choking a partner in one's sleep and are much more persistent and disturbing than what Grossman and Christensen (2007, 2ndEd., p. 156-157) call the Universal Warrior Nightmare;

• Impotence in males;

• Irrational anger or irritability accompanied by emotional or violent outbursts;

• Anxiety and a need for unconditional control of almost every situation in order to feel safe;

• Panic attacks and hyperventilating (veterans are known to put on their body armor in such cases);

• Social withdrawal and fear of crowded places (often will not leave house or go shopping until early morning hours);

• Difficulty concentrating, focusing, or remembering (short-term memory loss);

• Hypervigilance often expressed as a fear of crowds and a need to do a reconnaissance before entering an area or building, e.g. Wal-Mart;

• Flashbacks to the event(s); and

• An exaggerated and often violent startle response.

For a comprehensive diagnostic description of post traumatic stress disorder see the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5 pages 271-280. To officially fall within the diagnostic guidelines the symptoms must last for at least a month.


 

About the author

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Dr. Corry is a Senior Fellow of the Geological Society of America and an internationally-known earth scientist whose biography has appeared in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, among others, for sixteen consecutive years.

He has been doing research on domestic violence, particularly abused men, since 1997.

In 2008 he and former EJF Director Robert Alvarez began pushing for a veteran court in Colorado Springs. That court is now up and research continues on veteran arrests.

After service with First Marines Dr. Corry became involved with the early space program in 1960, doing preflight testing and failure analysis on Atlas and Centaur missiles, including all the Project Mercury birds. In 1965 he switched to oceanography and did research at both Scripps Institution in San Diego and Woods Hole Oceanographic on Cape Cod. He has also taught geology and geophysics at two universities and worked as a research manager for a Fortune 500 company.

Among other pursuits he has climbed high mountains, been shipwrecked and marooned on an unexplored desert island, ridden horseback through Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, and enjoyed many other adventures during his long career.

Presently Dr. Corry is president and founding director of the Equal Justice Foundation.

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Added January 22, 2015

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