Senator Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin has had to follow-up on an inquiry she initiated last spring (2014). She was surprised and frustrated when there was no action and she learned that in inquiry had been iniated in 2011 because of complaints and nothing had been done. We regret to inform Senator Baldwin that the denial of disability claims for in-service injuries started back in 1975.
Senator Baldwin Responds to Tomah VA Investigation
Senator Baldwin said she received an inquiry about the issues at the [Tomah] VA Center last spring. She said she immediately reached out to the facility and brought the issue up to The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General of the VA.
"What was outrageous and very, very frustrating for all of us is that the Inspector General had been actually looking at this issue since I think it was 2011, based on some complaints that had come up long before my time as a U.S. senator," Senator Baldwin said.
For the sake of conscientious Congresspersons, such as Senator Baldwin, we have compiled some documents that will shed some light on the history of the denial of benefits to U.S. Veterans, including ones with service injuries.
The articles below start with the beginning of denial of Veterans' benefits and moves to present times.
Historical events in the denying of disability and other benefits to U.S. Veterans:
In the spring of 1932, 15,000 World War I Veterans marched on Washington, D.C. to redeem their "Bonus" Coupons for the wages ($1. to $1.25 per day) for their war service. They were demand was immediate cash payments of their certificates. " Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArtur commanded the infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. The Bonus Army marchers with their wives and children were driven out, and their shelters and belongings burned.
Eisenhower later wrote, "the whole scene was pitiful. The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added to the pity."
A FACELESS MAN'S PLEA [Real life case history]
I can't even begin to comprehend what they can be talking about. Until he was hit by a rocket, he had teeth. Now he has none. He had eyes. Now he has none. He had a nose. Now he has none. People could look at him. Now most of them turn away. . . So how can this surgery be for anything else but his "service-connected disability?"
Michael Wallerstein, 1976: Policy Sciences, pp. 173-182
Excerpts: FDR reasoned that, by offering himself as the scapegoat for the cuts, Congress would jump at the chance to achieve economies which it was politically constrained from enacting on its own. Thus, as one of his first actions after assuming office, Roosevelt convened a surprise meeting of bi-partisan Senate leaders to convince them to support a radical proposal to slash $350 million from the Veterans' entitlement and to reduce federal employee wages up to a limit of 15%-thereby saving an additional $150 million-for a total reduction of $500 million....
Richard P. Fox, Attorney, 1983: The Los Angeles Daily Journal
Excerpt: Space does not permit me to describe even some of the travesties of which I am aware, perpetrated on Veterans by the V.A. in denying disability claims. This is especially true since about 1975 when there seemed to begin an effort to deny benefits whenever possible. Suffice it to say that V.A. rating boards, secure in knowing no court can review their decisions, sometimes reach conclusions that are totally insupportable logically or even on a common-sense basis. . .
1992: The Washington Post
Marcia Coyle, 2010: The National Law Journal
Excerpt: [Justice] ROBERTS: Counsel, do you — do you dispute your friend's statement that 42 percent of the time in Social Security cases the government's position is unjustified, and 70 percent of the time in veterans' cases?
American Bar association analyses and concludes:
Michael Allen, 8-8-2012 University of Cincinnati Law Review , Volume 80 Issue 2
Excerpt: This Article concerns a recent and important development in the area of veterans‘ benefits determinations, one that has significant implications for both the practical workings of the process as well as for how we consider that system at a fundamental level. The CAVC‘s decisions may be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In 2009, the Federal Circuit held in Cushman v. Shinseki that applicants for veterans‘ benefits have a constitutionally protected property interest in their application for benefits. Accordingly, such applicants are entitled to constitutionally prescribed procedures in connection with their claims for benefits under the terms of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Veterans say legitimate claims routinely denied or ignored
Excerpt: Mahoney, who served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea in 1950, suffered wounds and mental problems from a mortar blast that heaved him 15 feet into the air. After a hospital stint in Japan, he was taken to Fort Hood, Texas, where he underwent a series of electroshock treatments in 1951 that “blotted out my memory for nine months.”
Two Army evaluation boards determined he was 100 percent disabled, but a third said he was only 10 percent disabled. The Army then told him he was cured and discharged him in 1952.
The VA immediately opened a claim but never processed it or issued a decision and never told him about it.