As Lee Pitzer surmised in his recent letter there is undoubtedly some abuse in the VA disability process. From my personal experience I found the VA’s disability application process to be pretty robust and extremely detail oriented.
There were many squares to fill. There was an AF retirement physical, a VA physical (the most thorough I ever received), medical specialist appointments and testing appointments. My VA physical even include additional X-rays taken on the spot at the doctor’s direction.
Contrasting today’s VA disability system to what existed during the Vietnam era is like comparing cellphones to pay phones.
Significant maladies like PTSD and sleep apnea obviously existed back then, but had not been defined as official disabilities. We weren’t as medically astute then as we are now. One glaring example, the VA still grapples with effects of agent orange exposure on veterans and their dependents, decades later.
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Large numbers of Vietnam vets were young 2-year draftees. Many ground troops, having survived this unpopular war, were eager to separate and close the book on their short-lived military experience.
Today’s all-volunteer service men and women generally stay longer and thus establish detailed medical records necessary to support disability claims. You can’t fault a vet for wanting to identify and document symptoms, ailments and experiences before he/she leaves the service and goes out onto the civilian economy.
The military is just a microcosm of American society. Our public’s heightened sense of entitlement makes for a target rich environment for finger-pointers.
Bill Malec, O’Fallon