It was inevitable. Disabled Veteran and veteran activist Lauren Price knew they would push back. Caught on audio recording, the Department of Veterans Affairs retaliation came yesterday. It can no longer be denied or ignored. If a Veteran criticizes the Shinseki US Department of Veterans Affairs, your benefits claims will be denied.
From Lauren Price:
"As many now know, I am a 100% disabled combat vet. You probably also know that I have taken on the "David vs. Goliath" mission of overhauling the VA, stem to stern. Thus far, it has not been without exciting times. Meeting Congressional leaders, media personalities, veterans across the nation and pursuing my vision of VA overhaul is heady stuff. But at the end of the day, when it's just my husband and I alone, I am terrified. I fear not living long enough to see this through. I fear I will let those desperate for help, our deserving heroes, down. Most of all I fear that the VA is so powerful nothing I can conceive of--in my longest of nights---will work, and this disaster, this abomination, will go on forever."
"I am a physically damaged veteran. I crushed the joints in my wrists driving convoy missions all over Iraq. I have had major surgery on both hands that have left me unable to do a lot of very basic things…like opening my living room windows or my driveway gate. I also contracted a nasty lung ailment that is terminal. They say I have two years to live. Facing and living with these issues has been challenging. Planning forward is more so."
"Last August, I had applied for two (2) VA grants to make adaptations to my home and vehicle to accommodate my service connected disabilities. After I mailed these applications and confirmed the VA logged them into "eBenefits," convinced that the VA would take months, if not years, to respond, I left the claims alone and waited."
On December 4,2013, upon invitation, Lauren Price and the veterans rights group "Veteran Warriors" met with Congressional Representatives to discuss VA complex claims failures, waste, fraud and willful incompetence. Video of this hearing can be found here.
"On December 10, 2013, after I testified in front of a Congressional subcommittee on VA handling of complex claims, I received written notification of the denial of one of the claims I submitted in August. I then called to check on the pending claim and was informed it had also been denied on December 5, 2013. I was informed that written notification of the second claims denial would be sent to me by mail shortly."
VA policy prohibits veterans from filing for claims reconsideration until written denials are received.
Two days ago, on January 15, 2014---in response to newly announced illegal VA claims filing policies---Price was invited to appear on FOXNEWS "Fox and Friends," to speak about ongoing VA claims problems. Lauren's televised FOXNEWS interview (see below) was critical of VA claims processing.
I have PTSD. Mine was brought about by the constant threat of death I experienced from day 5 in theater, during the worst of the war in Iraq, and a particularly terrifying incident 4 days before we left. I have tried several of the VA's self-proclaimed "cures" without success or remission. In fact, they actually exacerbated my symptoms. Most days my caregiver can help keep the demons at bay. Most days if I stay in my safe hiding spot, I am okay. Yesterday was not one of those days.
Yesterday, on January 17, 2014, two days after Lauren's FOXNEWS "Fox and Friends" appearance, Price received a call (identified by caller I.D. as originating from the St. Petersburg Regional VA Office) from a VA representative who would only identify herself as I.D. #1793. Here is the recording of that call:
To summarize the call, Operator ID #1793 bungled through a convoluted explanation of Price's grants application denial, dated yesterday January 17, 2014, two days after Price's "Fox and Friends" appearance. The VA representative also explained it would take two (2) MONTHS for the VA to send Price the proper documentation needed for Price to pursue reconsideration of these denied claims. When pressed her for the reason for denial, Operator ID #1793 stated that the claims were closed, because "I [Price] never submitted an application." The very applications that were logged in by the VA and confirmed by "eBenefits" on August 8, 2013, and according to VA documentation (mailed to Price) were denied on December 5, 2013---two days after Lauren's 2013 testimony at the Congressional subcommittee hearing mentioned above.
Operator ID #1793 is both a Department of Veteran Affairs employee and a member of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). The AFGE is the largest and most powerful of US government employee unions. The AFGE has a long and sordid history of influence peddling in Washington. That record can be found here. These very same people, the AFGE, are responsible for the care of our veterans at every Department of Veterans Affairs facility all over the United States. They also oppose VA overhaul.
As veteran suicide rates climb and disability claims backlogs marinate in VA incompetence, somehow, Veterans Administration employees foolishly find time to torment and harass an outspoken critic of VA official's lies and subterfuge. I have to wonder if the VA is complicit in many of these veteran suicides. From the malicious tone of Operator #1793, in the recorded call above, it is clear that some at the VA thinks this is all a game.
Where is the Office of Inspector general? Where is the US Congress? This is clearly an act of official oppression. I would like to know who authorized this call. Most Americans are not aware that this obscene and illegal practice---used to intimidate veterans from speaking out about VA failures---is not an isolated incident, it is endemic at the VA. I wrote about such an incident at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital last month. It can be found here.
I would like to remind those who terrorize our veterans to remember they are trained in counter terrorism. I would also like to remind them that disabled veteran Lauren Price is a meticulous record keeper, and you are about to be pursued. Moreover, if you think this allegation dies with Price you are mistaken. Unlike Lauren Price, my days are not numbered. Hey Operator #1793, get ready for a good dose of traumatic stress. Bye, Bye.
Feel free to contact Lauren if you need assistance or support her work on behalf of our veterans. Here is her contact information:
YN1 Lauren Price USN, (Ret.)
Founder and Public Affairs Representative
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