He doesn’t talk about it much, but Chuck is a Vietnam War vet. He spent a year (1970-71) stationed in a place called Vung Tau. He was in the Navy, but was land-based for his entire tour (long story that involves among other things volunteering – which common wisdom says you never do in the military, but he did – and rugby).
Fast forward to last week. Chuck was reading a recent issue of AARP Magazine in which there was an article about veteran benefits. Once section of the article talked about health care benefits in particular. When Chuck was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in Nov 2008, we wondered at the time where it came from. One cause of NHL is exposure to certain chemicals, but Chuck didn’t fall into that category. then he read the article, and learned that exposure to Agent Orange is an acknowledged cause of NHL. The VA counts as exposure being in Vietnam for as short as 24 hours from 1964-1975. He was there a whole year. We were pretty surprised to learn this, needless to say.
But then the fun really began. We went to the VA website, dug around a while and found this page which took us to this list of diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange. Holy crap! Now since Chuck is not disabled, I headed over to the health care eligibility page and learned that if he were to qualify he’d have to go to a VA hospital for care. Uh, I don’t think so. We’re sticking with City of Hope. So then I followed the rabbit hole to the Agent Orange – Herbicide Exposure New Presumptive Conditions/Treated in a private (non-governmental facility or hospital and read this:
At a private (non-government) treatment facility or hospital. HIPAA privacy rules require we obtain a signed consent form to obtain treatment records from a private medical facility. Please complete a VA Form 21-4142, Authorization and Consent to Release Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, your claim may be decided faster if you send in the appropriate medical evidence to support your claim. The medical reports must include certain information, such as the diagnosis, that relates to the claimed condition. Depending on the nature of the reports, VA may be able to establish service connection and assign a disability evaluation without further development of evidence or scheduling of additional medical examinations.
Hmm. Next I found this page. And this page, which purportedly allowed me to submit a benefit request online. A process which completely failed on my iMac. Grrrr. After all of this what I learned is that CHuck doesn’t qualify for anything because: a) he’s not disabled, b) he still works and has income (and so do I), and c) he has health care and likes City of Hope.
What did Lincoln say in his second inaugural address? Oh yeah:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Uh-huh. I’d say that’s a big FAIL, VA.