Liver transplants: Could your Congressman be an ally when the VA fails?


My DH never received his Combat Action Ribbon (Marine/Vietnam) and the Navy archivists ignore us.   Recently we informed Congressman Kline about our problem; a staff person followed-up promptly.  After discussing our issue, I conveyed our appreciation for their role in helping a veteran with HCV get a liver transplant.  I knew about the case from AskNod’s June 27 post:  VHA: Why you might not be getting that liver.

She told me that they have staff who work on the VA transplant issues! 

Keeping up with the reading activities in this active blog can be a daunting task.  If you missed the story of the MN veteran in Liver Transplant Denial, it’s a nail-biter.   After all the dry government prose, you’ll learn how this transplant drama played out.   What an ordeal.

One MN veteran contacted one MN Congressman and found an ally.   He in turn helped other veterans in a similar situations because an internal investigation was launched.  The resulting public report raises important considerations.

VA’s Office of Inspector General was requested by Congressman John Kline to review why a veteran patient was “unable to receive a [liver] transplant through the VA system.”

The power of one.  Your influence counts.  Use it. 

Editor’s note:

I have observed that the military is woefully inept at awarding medals to its servicemen and women.  That’s why you read about WW2 Vets getting their Silver star 60 years later posthumously. With the short time many of us served in RVN and its environs, our medals were never associated with our files before we were discharged or they didn’t make any effort. I see I got the NDSM and nothing more on my DD 214 yet the history of my outfit speaks differently. Worse, my time over the fence in Laos was never documented or else was ascribed to Air America service. AirAm doesn’t hand out Purple Hearts or Air Medals. None of this is a problem until vA says you weren’t there and if you were, you never got hurt because you weren’t in combat.  Nod

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6 Responses to Liver transplants: Could your Congressman be an ally when the VA fails?

  1. Kiedove says:

    NOD: Is the Combat Action Medal a prerequisite for combat-related PSTD claims? Also, the archivists’ form letters ask US to provide the history. But that’s what they’re getting paid for–research. How the heck is he supposed to remember exactly where in the bush the firefights took place after all these years? More tricks and traps.
    And the command chronologies that do exist are very sketchy. My DH’s unit is so rarely mentioned in the chronologies, it might as well not have existed.

    • asknod says:

      vA uses the JSCRURR (SP?) for their research on PTSD stuff. It stands for Joint Service Center for the Uniform Research of Records . I may have that slightly wrong. Google it. That is their job. You must have some name to associate with unit. Like the Brigade, Expeditionary Force #, etc. VA can use that to reconstruct where his unit was and when. As for medals, you can use them to prove combat. Combat Action Ribbon, PH, BS, Vietnam Wound medal and even a Combat infantryman Badge are all proof of combat. Some were on bases that were attacked or mortared and have none of these but JSCRURR can find it. Proof of combat entitles you to the presumptions of 38 USC 1154B ( a relaxed requirement for testimony)

  2. Back to the VaOIG report on why this Vet did not get a liver, they indicated that some VAMC facilities consider the stent an “absolute contraindication” while others do not. Me thinks we should ask “WHY?” While Im no doc, just an “average Vet”, would it be too much to ask for a consistent application of medical standards among VAMC’s? It would seem like some VAMCs think its necessary to wash equipment, while others think that “its ok” if we dont wash surgical equipment for Veterans. Wasnt the purpose of a “federal agency” to have consistency, otherwise, maybe State governments should take over their “own” vA because it is clear the law of diminishing returns means that state governments would more efficiently run vAMC’s because they are smaller than bloated federal agencies, and thus more efficient.

    • SquidlyOne says:

      Not in my state, but that’s a horse of a different color. 🙂

      For the VHA system, the heirarchy starts with VISNs. I am in VISN 23. There doesn’t appear to be much in common (as far as health care directives even healthcare) between VAMCs within the same VISN. For instance Minneapolis is one (or was) of the Hepatitis Centers. My VAMC has one Gastrointerologist who I have been allowed to see once in the three years here since I was diagnosed. The only time he gets close to a liver is with onions. I have had no biopsy and no liver exam by a qualified specialist since my diagnosis. I did get an ultra-sound last year after I went into the emergency room coughing up blood and found to have liver enzymes both over 700 along with a transferritin level of over 2,200. According to the C+P examiner (A PA) why my prognosis is good! No one would ever know that I need a liver transplant including me. If I die they will just label it heart failure and roll me into the morgue. Then once again I will become a productive member of society producing worm food.

      • Kiedove says:

        The VA is supposed to refer patients out to private care when they can’t see them in a timely manner! This happened to my DH once here in MN for 4 weeks of physical therapy. The VA primary referred out, it went to the VA biz office for approval, and then he got the paper work.
        As it turned out, the problem resolved itself so he didn’t use it.
        Anyone else have experience with this process?

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