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Veterans’ health care, claim determinations suspect

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been criticized for many flaws. The Washington Times reported military veterans, denied access to government health care due to a backlog in appointments, are suffering needlessly. Almost one-third of the 847,000 veterans died while waiting for medical help.

To make matters worse, the VA's electronic record system is so antiquated the agency cannot clear the dead veterans from the appointment schedules. This isn't the first Veterans Affairs story to shock military families in Minnesota and around the country.

VA subject matter experts have been accused of giving uninformed medical opinions about the effects of poisonous water found at Camp Lejeune. Soldiers at the Marine base were exposed to toxins between 1953 and 1987. Disability benefits for the victims depend upon medical opinions showing the connection between the contaminated water supply and the veterans' diseases.

The deciding opinion is supplied by subject matter experts, who some veterans feel are unqualified. Two veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period were denied disability benefits by the VA.

A veteran with mycosis fungoid, a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was examined by a VA doctor and denied veterans disability benefits. The patient said the physician's medical report appeared to be sourced and even copied, word for word, from Wikipedia. The report also claimed mycosis fungoid was largely hereditary – the exact opposite is true.

A veteran diagnosed with bladder cancer obtained the opinion of an independent doctor before his VA exam. The outside physician agreed there was no doubt the cancer was tied to the poisonous water supply. Yet, the VA denied the claim on the word of a subject matter expert with no medical board certifications.

Veterans and Social Security disability benefits can be vital to former members of the military and their families. Attorneys can represent veterans' interests by gathering evidence to support and defend disability claims.

Source:, "Veterans: Are VA experts qualified?," Tara Evans, July 13, 2015

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