Fear of veterans may remove their legal right to claim information

badgeJordain Carney, a defense journalist from a Washington (D.C.) news service, National Journal, reported on a story (10/21/14) that veterans and their elected representatives need to be aware of.  Here is the headline:

VA Moves to Prevent Veteran Violence Over Disability Claims:  To curtail confusion, the department wants to change when veterans can view the results of their disability exam online.

Apparently some VA officials appeared before the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation during a scheduled meeting–I believe this one posted on the Federal Register–and as a result, a veterans ability to perfect his claim, will be severely hampered.  Carney writes:

Patricia Murray, the director of the VA’s clinical program and administrative operations, said that to try to prevent any misunderstandings, the VA is removing the compensation-and-pension medical exam from a veteran’s online health record until after a decision on his or her disability claim has been made.  “I think sometimes when they see [the medical records], they think the determination to grant [benefits] is solely based on the C-and-P file,” she said, adding that “our examiners feel like they’re sometimes at risk.”

Well, you can read the sentiments expressed by worrying-ones in the article.  I’ll try to get the minutes from the meeting.  I hope veterans’ service organizations and retired military organizations with staff in Washington, are going to fight this baloney.  I think we all agree that workplaces of all who labor, should have adequate security in place.  That’s easy to fix.  Get good locks, lighting, guards, video camera, whatever it takes to secure a building. However, it is not easy for a veteran to fully develop his claim once he’s been denied.  Many will die in the years following the denial.


This is where they want your C & P exams results to be kept–not in your online account.

 Editor’s note: Hopefully LawBob Squarepants or the Screaming Eagle from San Diego will weigh in here on the comments section and inform us of just how many laws this violates (i.e. due process, FOIA withholding, etc.) so we can call our elected reps. to complain uselessly (again). This smacks of fabricating a crisis to justify restricting information (already horribly abbreviated) that will confuse the appeals process even further and chip away at Veterans’ already woeful plight in winning their claims. This is why they already have jack-booted thugs calling themselves VA police frog marching Vets out of VAMCs across the fruited plain every day for nothing more than raising their voice.





About Laura

NW Vermont.
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11 Responses to Fear of veterans may remove their legal right to claim information

  1. Warren E Eckelberry says:

    I’m not just a Vietnam Vet with Hep C for over 50 years with a “Service Connected Disability at 0%; I am, and Always have been A TAXPAYING AMERICAN CITIZEN. I believe that someone is worried about how much it would cost, to actually care for American Veterans as it is promised by all of the Budget Makers. That is, while they are in front of a Camera.
    God Bless America and all who stepped forward when it was in need of Protection.

  2. Actually, many VAROs are in federal buildings that require passing through a metal detector or other security measures. I don’t think you ever have to go through a metal detector at a VAMC or CBOC (outpatient clinic), and the ratio of VA police officers to number of employees, patients (veterans), and vendors is lower than a lot of federal buildings from what I understand (if someone knows different, please correct me). And I know at least 20 C&P examiners who have been threatened by disgruntled vets–for real, it’s not in their imagination or cause they’re wusses.

    Of course, we’re talking about a small minority of veterans who make threats. And there are steps we can take as Mental Health (MH) C&P examiners to reduce the likelihood of threats, such as having enough time to conduct comprehensive, scientifically valid evaluations, including giving the veteran enough time to tell us what he or she thinks is important (not rushing them through the evaluation interview); interviewing a veteran’s spouse or other family member or friend if asked by the veteran to do so as part of the exam; *always* treating the veteran with the utmost respect, because he or she has earned it, even if we don’t think their claim has merit; being on time for appointments (I admit that I have had to work on this one, but have greatly improved, especially since a friend, who is also a C&P psychologist and a combat vet told me, after he noticed I was habitually 10-15 minutes behind schedule, “Being late is a sign of disrespect for most vets. In the military we’re taught that “on time is late, and early is on time.”)

    Although I enjoy reading this blog (that’s why I subscribe to it), and AskNod & colleagues offer many insightful, helpful, and well-informed posts, I would encourage you all to attempt to communicate with those you criticize to see if there might be ‘another side of the story’. The new VASEC (Bob McDonald) is urging VA at all levels to communicate more often and more effectively (e.g., listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time) with Veterans Service Organizations, individual veterans and their families, veterans service officers, and the public. See the new VHA Blueprint for Excellence for details regarding his push for greater transparency and honesty from VA. I think this guy is the real deal.

    In fact that’s one reason I’m posting a comment here. I’m not going to ask us all to circle up and sing Kumbaya, but if we just shout at each other from our respective corners, nothing will improve. Most VA employees, veteran or not (I’m not as you probably discerned), give a damn about vets and doing a good job. Yeah, it is hard to get rid of the slackers in government employment, but they’re trying to change that problem (I hope it works). But my main point is that if veterans, VSOs, front-line VA employees, politicians, and family members work hard to understand each other’s perspectives, and experience, and ideas, we’ll have a much better chance of improving the VA.

    So, let me practice what I’m preaching. What do I most need to know as a C&P psychologist that you bet I don’t know already, or I don’t know well enough?

    • Kiedove says:

      Firstly, thank you for taking the time to make suggestions, and ask your last two important questions. I, for one, am hopeful with regard to Bob McDonald’s ability to make important changes. And as he has said, it’s going to take time. You’ve raised many issues in your comments. I can try to respond to a few of your points in future posts and please jump in so the learning is not one way. You are welcome here.
      I don’t know anything about neuroscience and how brains function when damaged or injured. My daughter (40 years old) died of a brain tumor four years ago. She was first diagnosed at age 23 right after graduating from college and beginning her first teaching job (French). So I should have been learning about brains after she had surgery, radiation, and chemo, for the last almost 20 years. Why haven’t I? Wouldn’t any good mother apply herself to studying the emotional effects and physical effects on brains that have been injured. No, this mother had to protect herself from the awful reality.
      Veterans have trouble communicating for a many reasons. If they’ve had chemo, such as IFN/RIBA, individuals can become unglued, so to speak. In the case of my husband, the virus was cleared but his brain was left damaged. It’s too early in the study of HCV for there to be evidence about this problem.

      Before I sign off, I would urge you to start to study WWII in depth. The Holocaust. The ghettos. The camps. Expose yourself to historical accounts and memoirs but with the understanding that the authors are able to communicate their own experiences and they are probably well-educated. But they can speak for those who cannot, either because they are dead or too hurt mentally. Sample books using Google books preview with keywords like “Nazi, torture, gas chambers, starvation.” What was it like to suffer then? What was it like to rescue and see the suffering? Then I would study the Vietnam War. Not the Hollywood Vietnam. All the dead American youths. All the destruction we dealt. And keep going. The Russians in the Ukraine–man-created famine. Millions dead. Who hears about that? We have to face things we hate. Science. Math. Statistics. History. Law and logic. These are all things we can use to get a better and broader picture of things and make connections.

      • Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful reply. :o)

        And I appreciate your excellent suggestion for me. I have read and watched a fair amount about Vietnam, and some about the Holocaust, but I think you are right that by regularly exposing myself to personal accounts of trauma survivors, I will improve my understanding and be able to be more empathic and ask better questions. Thank you for that.

        All the Best,


        P.S. I just posted my thoughts about the recent Nohr v. McDonald CAVC decision that opens the door to veterans and their attorneys to ask the doctor who did a C&P exam some questions about their exam and the subsequent report. It’s not clear yet what changes might occur but, unlike many of my VA colleagues, I think it was a good decision because vets have a right to ask questions if an exam report does not provide a good, clear explanation for an examiner’s conclusions and opinions. My post is at:


        All the Best,


    • hepper74 says:

      Just a question for you Mark, were you aware that the VA doctors have been told, via hospital meetings, that they are NOT to provide any information which can be construed as a nexus? If we get a nexus opinion from a civilian doctor then the VA wants a “second opinion”, why you ask well as far as my experience for the last 8 years leads me to believe that they cannot refute their own C&P examiners. A claim will not be even moderately successful without the nexus.

      • Hi heper74,

        If you are referring to mental health clinicians, you’re right, VA discourages them from completing DBQs for PTSD and other mental disorder claims. There are good reasons for that though, which I don’t have time to go into now but I can later if you would like.

        This does not apply to other VA doctors. They can complete DBQs, although a lot of them are so busy seeing patients that I don’t know if VA will give them the extra time to complete DBQs. Plus, they are not trained to answer the questions on DBQs so they may not provide the information you need. Also, remember that when a doctor submits a completed DBQ, he or she has just become an expert witness in a federal legal proceeding. For some conditions, e.g., diabetes, it’s usually not a big deal because it’s not a difficult diagnosis and its a presumptive disorder for Vietnam veterans so a nexus is not required. But some of the questions are not easy to answer and the doc will need to read the veteran’s entire claims file and medical records from all sources to answer the questions adequately. As you can imagine reading all that info takes at least a couple of hours if not much more.

        VBA, and especially the Board of Veterans Appeals has no problem giving more weight to a private doctors conclusions and opinion if that doctor provides a well-written report with clear explanations and appropriate references to the scientific literature. Usually though the private docs do not understand veterans law and how to write a report that addresses the important issues, whereas the C&P examiner does (or should). It’s best to get an IME (Independent Medical Examination) from a doctor that specializes in doing them. They are called ‘disability medicine specialists’, or in my bailiwick, ‘forensic psychologists’ or ‘forensic psychiatrists’. But, of course, you have to pay those guys usually a few thousand dollars for their services, because they really are experts in this area and they will write a report that will persuade the adjudicators.

        Please let me know if I addressed your question or if you have any follow-up questions or feedback for me.

        All the Best,


        • hepper74 says:

          Mark: I will address the issues you referred and relate them to my personal firsthand account.

          1. Medical practitioners working at the VA WERE corralled in the auditorium and informed that they are NOT to write any form of a nexus letter. Three of my drs. confirmed that it did happen.
          2. You do need a nexus letter for diabetes unless you care to fight the VA for it as I did. I n it on CUE 6 months after it was denied. Another of those, “oh hold on a minute” mysteries coming from the RO.
          3. It is apparent that you feel quite strongly aka pro VA and that is fine but when you say that the VA has no problem accepting a civilian doctors opinion that is wrong. Just because the civilian doctor may not use VA speak, ie nexus speak, there is something wrong with the system. A persons medical condition must meet specific guidelines to meet eligibility for compensation and we are all well aware how the game is played.

          In conclusion I must address the fact that you said Primary Care Physicians may not know how to fill out the DBQ’s. How does having our lives reduced to a questionnaire which may or may not be understood help us in any fashion? If they cannot understand the system does that teaching curve become our responsibility?
          Thank you for your time.

  3. Kiedove says:

    Thanks for your comments. I was thinking about the safety of banking workplaces versus VA clinics. Which is more dangerous? It’s more likely that employees should fear robbers seeking money in the first case, and drugs in the former. The FBI says there were over 5,000 bank robberies in 2011.
    I doubt if there were 5,000 violent crimes committed by veterans at VA clinics. In 2010, there were under 700 drug store robberies. Regardless, the government should make all VA clinics secure for healthcare workers and their patients because anything can happen.

    There is no justification for hiding C & P exams until after a claim is decided; there is no justification for not securing VA clinics either.

  4. Frank says:

    From essentially the same folks who portrayed veterans as Oscar the Grouch.

  5. mark says:

    What a Cowardly move, Right out of the Protocols of The Learned Elders

  6. hepper74 says:

    If only half of the VA personnel involved with rating claims had to go through the crap forced down our throats I doubt that they would then be so quick to cause said aggravation.

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