Woof dog

Surveys, companion dogs, and more

By Bob Gutsche, VietNow National VA Chairman

Words of wisdom

“We are dealing with [veterans], not procedures; with their problems, not ours.”

Perhaps if those words were meaningful to all VA employees we would not experience so many difficulties. These words by the first administrator of the VA, General Omar Bradley, speak volumes about what the VA is really all about.

The latest Agent Orange study

The VA will be conducting a survey specific to Vietnam veterans. This survey will focus on In-Country veterans, Blue Water Navy veterans, and other veterans who served during the Vietnam era.

It is extremely important that Blue Water Navy veterans who receive this survey take the time to complete the questionnaire and return their answers.

This response will help the VA get a clearer picture of the number of Blue Water Navy veterans who have been afflicted with Agent Orange-related illnesses. This survey is fairly comprehensive – about eight pages long – so if you receive one, please take the time to complete it.

This critical study is forty years late, which makes it even more critical that those veterans who receive the questionnaires be sure to complete and return it. The few minutes it will take is extremely important to fellow veterans.

Do you know a veteran who needs a companion?

WOOF for VETS is a non-profit group that will provide a free, purebred dog to veterans in need of companionship. These dogs are not from a shelter, but are from breeders of purebred animals. There is no cost involved for the veteran other than that the veteran has a place to live and is able to care for the animal. These are not service dogs, but are companion dogs. All the animals will be veterinarian-examined, neutered, and will be current on shots.

The person who has created this program is Richard Beavers, a veterans service officer who has seen veterans’ need for companionship, and has witnessed the positive results from providing a veteran with a companion dog.

For more information contact WOOF for VETS at miapow1999@yahoo.com.

Unexplained pain

Fibromyalgia is a condition causing unexplained widespread pain throughout the body, persisting longer than three months.

Gulf War veterans who have developed this illness do not have to prove a connection between their illness and service to be eligible to receive VA disability compensation.

The fibromyalgia must have emerged during active duty in the Southwest Asian theater of operations or by December 31, 2016, and it must be at least 10 percent disabling.

The main symptoms are chronic pain in the muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue – accompanied by “trigger points” that hurt when pressure is applied. Other symptoms may include fatigue, sleep disturbances, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic headaches, impairment of memory and concentration, and morning muscle stiffness.

Gulf War veterans experiencing this condition should contact their local service officer and file for VA compensation and care.

It’s becoming more important that service members keep a record of treatment for any illnesses they are treated for while on active duty. This will help to assure that they are able to file a complex claim should the need arise after discharge.

Be very, very careful what you wish for

Recently seven out of fifteen outside health advisers, appointed to recommend ways to improve care provided by the VA, proposed that the VA medical centers be shut down, and outpatient clinics also be shuttered.

This insane (my opinion) thinking would toss the nine million veterans currently receiving care from the VA into the private sector. The advisors recommended that the private providers of health care be reimbursed at a rate of five to ten percent higher than Medicare presently reimburses for care.

The private sector for health care is short-staffed at many locations, and there is no conceivable way that the system could absorb nine million new patients. There is also no conceivable way that the private sector could absorb into its system the approximately 288,000 employees who would be left unemployed by this folly. A rational person would have a difficult time comprehending the thoughts that have gone into such a proposal.

The American Legion recently polled its members regarding the issue of privatizing the VA health care system, and found that its members overwhelmingly wanted the option of choosing private rather than VA doctors. The American Legion’s Washington headquarters then told politicians just the opposite.

The top brass in the American Legion told the Daily Caller News Foundation that it threw out the survey results because surveys aren’t comprehensive, and veterans weren’t savvy enough to know that private-sector doctors don’t always provide perfect care either. This raises the question. Why did they do the survey in the first place?

Final words

President Harry S. Truman summed things up quite eloquently by stating, “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”


Bob Gutsche, VietNow National VA ChairmanAfter over 20 years in the U.S. Navy, VietNow National VA Chairman, Bob Gutsche worked as a counselor in the VA system for many years.