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Monday, June 16, 2014

Oklahoma Gulf War Veteran Waits 7 Years for VA Appointment


SOURCE:  NewsOK.com, Jaclyn Cosgrove reporting, 6/16/2014

http://newsok.com/oklahoma-veteran-waits-years-for-allergy-appointment/article/4913485



ARCHIVED ARTICLE:


Oklahoma veteran waits years for allergy appointment

Gulf War veteran Brad Harber had to wait years within the Oklahoma City VA health system before he got relief for chronic allergy problems.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: June 16, 2014


photo - 
Veteran Brad Harber, of Newalla, waits Thursday, June 12, 2014for his allergy shot at the Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic from registered nurse Dawn Hardy. Harber goes weekly for shots. Harber has struggled to get the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center to provide consistent allergy care. Photo by Jaclyn Cosgrove, The Oklahoman
 <strong>Jaclyn Cosgrove</strong>
Veteran Brad Harber, of Newalla, waits Thursday, June 12, 2014for his allergy shot at the Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic from registered nurse Dawn Hardy. Harber goes weekly for shots. Harber has struggled to get the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center to provide consistent allergy care. Photo by Jaclyn Cosgrove, The Oklahoman Jaclyn Cosgrove
Veteran Brad Harber’s problems with the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center began with a stuffy nose and watery eyes.
What followed was a five-year odyssey as he sought unsuccessfully to get treatment for his allergies.
Harber, a Gulf War veteran, chronicled his experience, keeping hundreds of pages of medical records and recording countless phone calls with medical center officials.
As the VA struggles with allegations of poor patient care and long wait times across the nation, Harber’s case offers a local example of the frustration some veterans feel when seeking help from the federal agency.
“I know for a fact that the problem is they are way understaffed,” Harber said.
“The second thing is, ... even if they had the amount of staff it took, they don’t have the facilities. There’s nowhere to put these people. And the worst part is, it’s very much a morale killer for those employees because many of them are veterans, too. They don’t want veterans to be mad about treatment. They don’t want people to have to wait so long, and I’m sure these people for the most part don’t approve of these (waiting) lists.”
A different story
In the past two months, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been placed in the national spotlight over its fractured system of care, with veterans across the country waiting too long for care.
A Veterans Affairs audit released Monday showed that wait times for new patients trying to see a primary care physician, specialist or mental health professional vary widely across the nation.
Overall, wait-time figures for the Oklahoma City and Muskogee’s Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center Home were generally better than dozens of VA facilities in other parts of the U.S. where there were longer wait times for new and established patients, but officials said they are still working to improve veterans’ access to care.
Harber’s experience tells a different story.
For years, Harber kept hundreds of pages of medical records and recorded phone conversations he had, attempting to obtain consistent care for his allergies.
During a phone conversation in April 2011, Harber talks with an OKC VA employee about the attempts he has made to schedule an appointment with an allergist.
Harber tells the woman he has been waiting, he thinks, three years for an appointment because the OKC VA didn’t have a contracted facility to provide allergy care, he said.
“Three years? My goodness, I was thinking a year was about the longest that we had right now,” the woman says.
The woman checks the system for Harber’s records, trying to understand why he has waited so long. She is patient and listens to his concerns, often agreeing with him during the conversation.
Harber tells the woman that he was told he was on the waiting list.
“I hate to say this, but they told a lot of people that, and there was no such waiting list,” she tells him.
“I understand your anger. I would be angry, and I would suggest that you contact somebody about it, because the only thing I can do is tell you you need to go to your primary care physician and have them turn in a consult.”
Harber tells her that his VA primary care doctor turned in a consult request for him to see a specialist for his allergies.
She tells Harber that, actually, they haven’t. She looks in the system and finds that his consult was scheduled for Sept. 14, 2006. It had been almost five years.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Veteran advocates remember Steve Robinson | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour

Veteran advocates remember Steve Robinson | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour

VA Access Scandal Focus Begins to Pivot to Gulf War Veterans

(Veterans for Common Sense & 91outcomes.com - June 13, 2014) - A Congressional hearing yesterday on the current VA healthcare access scandal shifted focus to Gulf War veterans' health and VA stonewalling there, too.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who chairs the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, probed VA's Acting Undersecretary of Health Dr. Robert Jesse with challenging questions during yesterday's intense Congressional hearing: "Is the VA hiding vital information about a quarter of a million Gulf War veterans who are waiting for care, just as the VA has been hiding information on veteran patient wait times?  Will you provide the committee with all of the Gulf War data within 30 days?", demanded Coffman.
Jesse's stonewalling response led to ever more probing questions by the Colorado Congressman, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who service includes the 1991 Gulf War.
Coffman's Gulf War health research reform bill passed the entire U.S. House of Representatives on May 28, and is currently awaiting action by the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
As a Gulf War veteran, I’ve been extremely disappointed at the actions of VA staff to misdirect Gulf War illnesses research by reviving the scientifically discredited concept that ‘the same thing happens after every war,’ and to eliminate oversight, just as science is finally making some progress,” said Coffman in a USA Today article about the bill.  
According to a Military.com article todayChairman Jim Binns of the federal Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Health -- the federal advisory panel with responsibility for Gulf War health research -- said, "that he is hoping the revelations about appointment schedule manipulation across the VA will put more pressure on the department to reveal what it has on Gulf War Illness."
"It is worse than [the wait list issue]. It affects more veterans," Binns told Military.com. "This is not just delaying care. This is denying care entirely."
In 2012, the Gulf panel chaired by Binns issued a scathing report of "no confidence" in the VA's ability to research or find treatments for Gulf War Illness, reported Veterans News Now, despite numerous scientific panels and experts saying treatments can likely be found.
A Congressional hearing in March 2013 that included testimony by VA whistleblower Dr. Stephen Coughlin was followed by VA retribution against the VA Gulf War panel.  
In June 2013, Gulf War veteran members of the Gulf War panel walked out to protest VA changes, "designed to neuter the panel," reported the Army Times.   The USA Today simultaneously reported that, VA was "gutting [the] Gulf War Illness panel". In a June 30, 2013 article, 91outcomes detailed the issues involved and VA's responses.
In January 2014, USA today reported, that a, "VA doctor says Gulf War vets not getting effective treatments," and that the "Miami [VA] clinic has treated Gulf War illness successfully, but methods have not been disseminated for use in other clinics in the VA system."
A June 9 article by VCS, "242,000 Veterans Waiting, Problems Documented but Unaddressed for 15 Years", documented the extent of the current VA access scandal.
And on June 4, a Reno Dispatch exclusive, "White House Honoree Slams VA, Says Administration’s Investigation Barely Scratches the Surface", covered a letter from Binns to White House, Congressional, and VA officials, and which said, "the investigation cannot be entrusted to VA staff or even the IG."  
"The Chief of Staff, the Acting Undersecretary for Health, and the Undersecretary for Benefits are themselves directly implicated,” wrote Binns in the letter, who chairs the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, which Congress established in 1998 to advise VA on research to improve Gulf War veterans’ health. “Like the Gulf War battlefield,” he wrote, “VA is a toxic environment.” 
On June 5, after Military Times reported a 4 out of 5 denial rate for Gulf War Illness Claims with only just over 11,000 Gulf War Illness claims approved, Veterans for Common Sense republished, "VA’s Unacceptable 80 Percent Denial Rate of Gulf War Illness Claims – What’s behind the numberswritten by a VCS Board member.   
Binns notes that data in quotes in today's Military.com article,  and emphasizes that this denial rate is out of more than 250,000 ill veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.
 "If lying about the wait list is bad, lying about science and falsifying reports is much more serious," Binns told Military.com. "And the lying goes up and down the organization, to the very top."
-Anthony Hardie
###




Military.com: Rep Wants VA Research Data on Gulf War Illness



SOURCE:  Military.com, Bryant Jordan reporting

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/06/13/rep-wants-va-research-data-on-gulf-war-illness.html


ARCHIVED TEXT:


Rep Wants VA Research Data on Gulf War Illness

gulf war shake 600x400
A congressman from Colorado asked the Department of Veteran Affairs Friday for data on the number of veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness in light of the discovery that the VA had hidden thousands of veterans on secret waiting lists who needed care.
"Is the VA hiding vital information about a quarter of a million Gulf War veterans who are waiting for care, just as the VA has been hiding information on veteran patient wait times?" Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., asked Acting Under Secretary for Veterans Health Dr. Robert Jesse.  "Will you provide the committee with all of the Gulf War data within 30 days?"
Jesse said he the VA is not hiding veterans suffering from Gulf War illness. Gulf War veterans say the VA ignored for years links between their service and chronic conditions that include unremitting pain, memory loss, intestinal disorders and exhaustion.
"We're not hiding data," Jesse told Coffman during a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He followed up saying he could provide access to as much data the VA owned that didn't interfere with privacy rights.
"We're not looking for individual names here," said Coffman, who served in the Gulf War as a Marine. "We're looking for the conclusions of the research ... I want Gulf War veterans to have access to this data, not just me."
Jesse testified before the House committee in response to revelations that officials and staff at VA hospital and clinics across the country have manipulated patient appointment wait times to make it appear they were meeting performance goals.
The VA has found more than 100,000 veterans waited months for an appointment rather than the two weeks expected or never got an appointment at all.
Coffman's changed the subject to focus on Gulf War Illness a week after the House passed his legislation to make the VA's Gulf War Illness research more transparent.
Coffman has been critical of the VA's efforts to get to the bottom of Gulf War illnesses, accusing the department of misdirecting research funding. Coffman also slammed the VA for dismissing Gulf War illnesses as "something that happens after every war," saying that attitude "dishonors the service and sacrifices of those who fought in that war."
James Binns, chairman of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, said Coffman's bill would restore to the committee its authority to review the effectiveness of VA's research program the research.
The VA leadership, including Jesse, stripped that authority from the committee a year ago after the advisory committee reported on some of the abuses to former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Binns delivered his report in a different forum on March in testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on March 25.
Coffman's bill would make the advisory committee an independent panel within the VA, with the majority of its members appointed by the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate veterans' affairs committees. Now, they are appointed by the VA.
Last year Dr. Steven Coughlin, who resigned his job as a senior epidemiologist in the VA's Office of Public Health, told lawmakers that OPH buries or obfuscates data the VA does not want in the public, including veterans' health problems from toxic exposures during the Gulf War and more recent exposures to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Coughlin also told Congress that OPH had manipulated information on veterans' health through the questions included in its surveys.
"On the rare occasions when embarrassing study results are released, data are manipulated to make them unintelligible," Coughlin told the House panel.
The information Coffman is demanding stems from a 2010 study of 60,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, of which between 20 to 30 percent also served in the 1991 Gulf War.
Coughlin's testimony revealed that the study produced data on veterans' exposures to pesticides, oil well fires, and pyridostigmine bromide pills that were taken by Gulf War vets as pretreatment for possible exposure to nerve gas.
Not only was the data not released, he told Congress, but VA never revealed that it had this information on Gulf War veterans. 
"Anything that supports the position that Gulf War illness is a neurological condition is unlikely to ever be published," he said.
Binns told Military.com that he is hoping the revelations about appointment schedule manipulation across the VA will put more pressure on the department to reveal what it has on Gulf War Illness.
"It is worse than [the wait list issue]. It affects more veterans," he said. "This is not just delaying care. This is denying care entirely."
The VA has found that more than 57,000 veterans had to wait about 90 days for an appointment after requesting one, while another 60,000 over the past 10 years never saw a doctor after seeking an appointment.
An estimated 250,000 Gulf War veterans reportedly are suffering from the effects of exposure to toxins during the conflict. The VA has to date awarded disability compensation to just over 11,000 Gulf War vets for what it calls Gulf War-related illnesses.
Another 20,000 have gotten VA disabilities for conditions it does not connect to the 1991 conflict, Binns said.
"If lying about the wait list is bad, lying about science and falsifying reports is much more serious," he said. "And the lying goes up and down the organization, to the very top."
-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@monster.com

RELATED TOPICS

VA Claims and Appeals Department of Veteran Affairs Veterans Bryant Jordan

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DENNIE WILLIAMS: Critical Complaints About Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Not Answered

SOURCE:  OpEd News, Dennie Wiliams reporting, 6/10/2014

http://www.opednews.com/populum/pagem.php?f=Critical-Complaints-About-by-Dennie-Williams-Congress_Health_Lies_STRESS-140610-88.html



ARCHIVED ARTICLE:

Critical Complaints About Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses Not Answered

By  (about the author)

June 10, 2014 at 09:25:37

A leader in trying to help frustrated, sick Gulf War veterans obtain long overdue and critical health care, is charging there is a serious, on-going cover up in that critical process by the "highest level" veterans' affairs officials.

James H. Binns Jr., leader of the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, wrote a four-page letter detailing that complaint to The White House, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and to an investigating Congressional committee. His letter alleged that top VA leaders had prevented his committee from eliminating VA barriers to effective military veteran's health care.

In addition, Binns said, other valid issues brought up in Congressional testimony last year by a former senior VA scientist turned whistleblower, Dr. Steven Coughlin, have been ignored by top VA officials. They include: "slanting research studies; failure to publish critical research results; disseminating false information to the medical community; manipulating even (scientific organization) reports; failing to conduct studies as ordered by Congress; and reporting false and misleading information to Congress."

A related scandal about the VA cover-up of delays in executing actions for large waiting lists of health needy veterans is already being looked into by the VA, White House and Congress. It resulted in the recent resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

In March, USA Today reported that the VA took actions in the past year to show its disapproval of Binns. "The agency has replaced all but one of the board members, weakened Binns' tenure as the board's chairman, removed the board's charge to review the effectiveness of the VA, and pushed research that looks at stress as a cause, rather than environmental factors," said USA Today. On March 25, Binns testified before the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee about the problems with effectively treating sick Gulf War veterans.

Binns, a veteran of the war in Vietnam, told this reporter in an interview that the VA has backed off portions of those demands against his committee. It's obvious, he said, that the VA emphasis on veterans' stress, rather than their real underlying war created illnesses has been more than overplayed.

In Binns' complaint letter obtained by this reporter last week, Binns identified by name three VA officials who have opposed or resisted efforts to properly identify veterans' health problems,
Binns said one of them had been convinced by staff to eliminate Binns' committee's review of the effectiveness of VA's research program and to announce that all committee members would be replaced. The other, said Binns, had argued for putting stress experts, rather than true professional health advocates, on that committee.

A third VA official, supervising benefits, said Binns, opposed even using the term 'Gulf War illness' because it "might imply a causal link between service in the Gulf and poor health which could necessitate ... disability compensation for veterans who served in the Gulf."

Since last week, the VA has not answered repeated telephoned and email requests for comment on Binns' allegations. As a result, the three officials named by Binns are not identified in this article.

Binns' letter said: "I have witnessed the same willingness to hide the truth and put bureaucratic agendas ahead of veterans' health that has occurred in Phoenix (the committee's location) and elsewhere. In this case, however, the duplicity reaches the highest levels of the department and obstructs hopes for better health of an entire generation of veterans.

"Congress created our committee to advise VA on research to improve the health of the quarter-million veterans who came home sick from the 1991 Gulf War, after expelling Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait in four days. They suffer from unremitting pain, memory loss, intestinal disorders, exhaustion, and ruined careers. Many have died, but we don't know how many because VA has not published that information since as of 2000," continued Binns.

"For the past two years," he wrote, "VA staff has been engaged in a backdoor campaign to rig scientific studies and reports in order to revive the discredited 1990's fiction that nothing special happened to their health, just what happens after every war, due to psychiatric stress. This campaign is designed to save costs by denying benefits, but it also has the insidious effect of misleading research to find treatments down blind alleys."

He gave this example of that so-called campaign: "An April 22, 2014, news report by MilitaryTimes disclosed that VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey opposed even using the term 'Gulf War illness' because it 'might imply a causal link between service in the Gulf and poor health which could necessitate ... disability compensation for veterans who served in the Gulf.'"
Binns' figures show that "compared to the 250,000 who are ill, current VA statistics show that only 11,216 veterans' claims for health care and compensation for Gulf War-related illness have been approved."

His letter appeared after Congress began its own efforts to handle the situation. No one within the government has yet answered that letter, sent June 3, he said Monday.

As a reaction to the overall scandal, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, who is chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican, are proposing a solution said to have support for passing in the Senate and the House, perhaps as early as this week.

That proposal would speed up the health considerations for veterans by leasing 26 major medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico. It would make available $500 million in federal funding to strengthen the VA's ability to recruit and retain doctors.

And, the deal includes a measure to improve the delivery of care to veterans who were victims of sexual assault while in the military. Initially, veterans to seek care from private doctors paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also would offer veterans in-state tuition at any public university, and it would extend those benefits to spouses of service members who died during their time in the military.

The never-ending scandals about the VA's and the U.S. Department of Defense's inability to consistently help sick, wounded and deformed Gulf War veterans has been ongoing since the first part of the Gulf War started in 1991.

As Binns said in his letter, the illnesses' likely causes are: "an onslaught of neurotoxic exposures, including anti-nerve-gas pills, pesticides, oil-well fires, and low-level chemical weapons released by the destruction of Iraqi facilities."

Binns added: "These sick veterans have no effective treatments, but remedies can likely be discovered with the right research, according to the Institute of Medicine."

What is more, top officials of the White House, their administrations, Congress, including presidents in Democratic and Republican parties, have never proved effective in resolving these tragic and ongoing military veterans' health issues. That includes the administrations of George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Despite repeated public controversies over the inability of thousands of Gulf War veterans to get even consultations or examinations by the VA soon after the first part of the wars began 23 years ago, little progress was made, causing the large VA backlogs today.

Some congressional officials, like former Connecticut U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, have indeed worked constantly to help these unhealthy veterans, but their efforts never succeeded in creating an effective overall military-health system for seriously harmed war veterans.

"Chairman Binns' letter is an important effort to try to highlight yet one more area where VA is badly broken," said Anthony Hardie, a member of the board of directors for Veterans for Common Sense.

He continued: "The VA has failed veterans of the 1991 Gulf War in so many ways, including the lies and manipulation Binns writes about in his letter. As a (Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses) member from 2006 to 2013, I experienced much of what he writes about firsthand - VA staff members' lies and obfuscation. While it hurt the committee and its efforts, who it really hurts is ill Gulf War veterans counting on this committee and VA to make a difference in their health and lives."

In part because of their own busyness with the VA scandal, spokespersons for the President, VA leaders, and Congress said they did not yet have the time to respond to Binns' allegations. Last week, they were all supplied via emails from this reporter with Binns' critical letter, dated June 3. Those contacts were reawakened Monday without results.


(Article changed on June 10, 2014 at 10:19)

http://www.birdscrittersbutterflies.webs.com/
Thomas D. Williams, a freelance writer, worked at The Hartford Courant for almost 40 years before retiring in November 2005 to become an investigative freelancer on Internet news sites. He has written a unique nature book, The Spirits of Birds, (more...)
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

VA's Unacceptable 80 Percent Denial Rate of Gulf War Illness Claims - What's behind the numbers

(91outcomes.com - June 5, 2014) - A Military Times article today cites VA data showing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has denied nearly 80 percent, or four out of five Gulf War Illness disability claims denied. [1]


Today's breaking news article also shows more than half of veterans denied for Gulf War Illness claims have been approved by VA for other conditions, demonstrating a VA bias against approving Gulf War Illness claims long alleged by ill Gulf War veterans.  


A full 38 percent (38%) of veterans filing Gulf War Illness claims had their claims denied entirely, both for Gulf War Illness and other conditions.
The explosive new report comes on the heels of another Military Times article in April that revealed VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey meddling in Gulf War Illness research -- far outside of her benefits lane -- by attempting to quash an Institute of Medicine recommendation to call the condition "Gulf War Illness".  
According to the leaked email revealed in the April Military Times article:
"Hickey 'was concerned that changing the name from CMI to GWI might imply a causal link between service in the Gulf and poor health which could necessitate legislation for disability compensation for veterans who served in the Gulf'." [2]
While the average combined disability rating among all newly approved VA disability claims is estimated to be between 30 and 40 percent, the average combine rating for the approved Gulf War Illness claims was 67 percent, suggesting a high level of overall disability among veterans claiming Gulf War Illness.   

Research reports from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC) have reported on research studies that have consistently shown high rates of Gulf War Illness symptoms among veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.

Comparison to Other VA Claims Approval Rates

In comparison with VA's nearly eighty percent (80%) denial rate of Gulf War Illness claims, VA denies Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) veterans' claims at a rate of less than two percent (2%).  

According to VBA data obtained from Veterans for Common Sense through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), VA's approval rate of GWOT veterans' claims is 98.3% (842,939 approved out of 940,503 total GWOT claims decided).  Less than two percent (14,990, or 1.7%) were denied by VA.   [162,066 GWOT claims remained pending, many part of the VA claims backlog].  [3]

This less than two percent (2%) denial rate of Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) claims stands in sharp contract to VA’s nearly eighty percent (80%) denial rate of Gulf War Illness claims publicly reported today.


VA Hiding Gulf War Data that was Formerly Released Quarterly


Formerly, VA publicly released the data on Gulf War veterans' claims on a quarterly basis.  

The data cited in today's Military Times Article was obtained by the media from an unnamed Congressional office.  The GWOT data provided above was received from Veterans for Common Sense through a Freedom of Information Act request.   

For years, VA formerly published the "Gulf War Veterans Information Service" (GWVIS) reports quarterly.  

Inexplicably, VA replaced these effective reports with the "Pre-9/11" report. The VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC) authored comprehensive recommendations on the report. VA failed to respond, and then simply stopped making the reports public: http://www1.va.gov/RAC-GWVI/recs_for_GWpre911_report2.doc

Testimony before a House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee hearing on Gulf War issues on March 13, 2013 revealed that VA had stopped releasing its Gulf War data reports entirely:

"Claims. After a complete overhaul, VA has now apparently ceased publishing its data report on Gulf War veterans. The report was formerly published quarterly; VA has failed to published any further reports since February 2011. These reports are important for identifying approval rates of VA claims, among other issues. 

It remains unclear if VA is still creating these reports for internal use, or has replaced them with something new.  


Next Steps

In order to restore transparency, and the public's faith in the agency, VA must return to regularly publishing clear and comprehensive data reports on all its operations. 



***


Key findings

  • Nearly 80% Gulf War Illness Claims Denial Rate.  Of 54,193 Gulf War-related Illness claims filed with VA, four out of five – nearly 80 percent (80%) – were denied.
  • 52% of the denied for something else.  A full 52 percent of the denied Gulf War Illness claims were approved by VA for something else, implying a VA bias against approving Gulf War Illness claims. 
  • 38% denied for everything.  A full 38 percent (38%) of veterans’ claims for Gulf War Illness were had their claims denied entirely, both for Gulf War Illness and other conditions, which stands in stark contrast to the 2% denial rate of GWOT veterans' claims.


By the Numbers:
  • 696,842 Gulf War Veterans:  The total number of veterans deployed to the Persian Gulf theatre of operations during the 1991 Gulf War.
  • 54,193 GWI Claims:  The number of Gulf War-related Illness (“Gulf War Illness”) claims veterans have filed with VA, to March 2014.  [VA notes this figure represents original claims for service-connection; it does not include reopened claims or claims for an increased disability rating.]
  • 11,216 Approved:  The number of Gulf War Illness claims that VA granted.  [VA notes that due to data limitations, this figure does not include some Veterans who have been granted service connection on a direct basis (meaning that the disability became manifest during active service) rather than under the provisions of 38 C.F.R. § 3.317.]
  • 42,977 Denied: The total number of Gulf War Illness claims VA has denied.
  • Just over 20% Approved:  The percentage of Gulf War Illness claims that VA granted (11,216 approved out of 54,193 filed = 20.7%). 
  • Nearly 80% Denied:  The percentage of Gulf War Illness claims VA has denied (42,977 denied out of 54,193 filed = 79.3% denial rate). 
  • 22,470 Approved for Something Else:  The number of veterans filing GWI claims whose GWI claims were denied but VA approved their claims for some other condition.
  • 42% Denied for GWI but Approved for Something Else: The percent of veterans filing GWI claims whose GWI claims were denied but VA approved their claims for some other condition (22,470 approved for something else out of 54,193 total GWI claims filed = 41.5%).
  • 52% of the Denied were Approved for Something Else:  The percent of denied GWI claims approved for some other condition.    (22,470 approved for something else out of 42,977 denied GWI claims = 52.3%)
  • 20,507 Denied for all Conditions.  The number of veterans filing GWI claims who were both denied for GWI and not receiving compensation for other conditions.  (54,193 GWI claims filed minus 22,470 claims approved for something else = 20,507)
  • 38% Denied for all conditions:  The percent of all GWI claims filed that were denied for GWI and also not receiving compensation for other conditions (20,507 denied out of 54,193 = 37.8%)
  • 67% Average Disability Rating:  The average disability rating granted by VA for Gulf War Illness claims filed.    



-Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com 

***
SOURCES:
[1] Kime, Patricia, VA denies 4 in 5 Gulf War illness claims, new data showMilitary Times, June 5, 2014:  http://www.militarytimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014306050064
[2] Kime, Patricia, Top VA official questions use of term 'Gulf War illness': Undersecretary for benefits said name change would be 'limiting', Military Times, April 22, 2014:   http://www.militarytimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014304220036
[3] U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration, VA BENEFITS ACTIVITY: VETERANS DEPLOYED TO THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR: VBA Data Through Dec 2013, DMDC Data Through Oct 2013, http://www.scribd.com/doc/228350749/GWOT-Report-Dec-2013-Final
***
Additional notes:
1) Conservative estimates by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, are that more than 250,000 of the roughly 697,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War are suffering from chronic multi-symptom illness issues that we (and now the IOM) calls Gulf War Illness.  Countless reputable peer-reviewed medical studies have determined rates of Gulf War Illness in 1991 Gulf War veterans to be between 25-34% in excess.  Based on those facts alone, GWI claims should be far, far higher.

Of note for those who aren't as familiar and have mistaken beliefs about this very real medical condition that affects more than one in three veterans of the 1991 Gulf War according to the IOM and the federal government, Gulf War Illness has been fully recognized for years by science and government, as has multiple sclerosis (MS, once thought to be witchcraft or female mental weakness), ALS (once thought to be demonic possession), stomach ulcers caused by H. Pylori bacterial inception (once thought to be caused by "stress"), etc.  Again, claims approval rates should be far higher.

2)  The point of posting OIF/OEF claims approval rates is to demonstrate clear comparisons:  1) VA does not deny "most" veterans' claims at all.  2) VA denies Gulf War Illness claims at astronomical rates.  3)  Statistically speaking, any kind of issues that are across the board for all veterans and are not specific to any particular war, era, or cohort -- such as fraudulent claims, poorly developed claims, etc., should be at relatively similar rates across all veteran cohorts. In this case, there is such a radical difference in approval rates, which is why this is making national news.

3)  It is worth noting that VA refused to respond to this reporter's request for additional information.  Here's more from the House Veterans' Affairs Committee on VA's stonewalling of the media and the public:  http://veterans.house.gov/VAHonestyProject

4)  The claims rates in this article are not all claims filed by all 1991 Gulf War veterans – they are solely Gulf War Illness claims.  

5)  PTSD claims are not included in the statistics in this article.  For GWOT veterans, as of Dec. 2013 VBA data, 1 in 4 of the total number of awarded GWOT claims included granting a claim for PTSD  (212,485 PTSD granted out of 842,939 total granted). 

6)  The Military Times article doesn't include that the average approval rate for these Gulf War Illness claims is **67%**.  As the IOM and other federal and scientific research and reports have consistently shown for nearly two decades, Gulf War veterans with Gulf War Illness are pretty frequently very bad off.  This average is also far higher than the typical VA claim approval rate of between 30 and 40 percent. 

7)  It is troubling to note, as does the article, that 52% of those denied for Gulf War Illness were approved for other things.  From the original VA memo to the Congressman, from which this story was drawn, "Of the 42,977 Veterans denied service connection for GWI, 22,470 (52%) are receiving compensation for other service-connected conditions."