U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs / Health Care shortcomings
It is after 3:00 AM and I am sitting here writing this letter. I should be asleep but am in simply unbearable pain with no relief in sight. I don't know where to turn so I am reaching out to you in the hope that there is something you can do to help me.
I suffered with symptoms for decades until they became unbearable which prompted me to see my doctor. After approximately 4 years and many specialists later I was diagnosed with the conditions listed below. I am now on VA disability (30%) and Social Security Disability (after a 4 year battle) for total and permanent disability. I suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy secondary to Vasculitis secondary to HCV. I also have severe PTSD and Ischemic Heart Disease. Some of these are presumed to be service connected, all of them, I believe, are directly related to my Vietnam combat service with the 101st Airborne Division.
On December 19, 2009 my wife lost her job of nearly 15 years. Eight months after losing her job her severance package, which included health care, ended. We got her set up on private insurance that costs us $285.00 per month. We have no choice but to pay for this for her. She must have health care. I, on the other hand, am on Medicare Part A and am eligible for Medicare Part B and D. This year during the Medicare annual enrollment period just as I was preparing to sign up for Part B and D, which I should have done even though it would cost me several hundred dollars a month, I remembered my VA benefits which include health care at very low or no cost. This was, I thought, the best solution for me because my wife has no income and I am on a fixed income. So, I decided to forego signing up for Medicare Part B and D in favor of the VA health care option available to me. I have been eligible for VA health care for 40 years but always carried my own private insurance and let other veterans more in need than I to take advantage of this free care.
After talking to several people at the VA, including the patient advocate at the Colmery-O'Neill VA Hospital in Topeka Kansas and personnel at the Ft. Scott CBOC, I was told that the VA would supply ALL my meds. I decided to begin going to the VA for my health care. Then began an endless round of appointments. In January and February of 2011 alone I have or had 17 appointments spread out over 7 different days. This is an issue because I live 100 miles from Topeka and would have to drive 1, 400 miles and 28 hours of driving. This would not be an issue except for the fact that it is exceedingly difficult and painful for me to spend this amount of time on the road. More importantly I discovered that the VA would NOT supply all my meds. There are 4 meds that they will not provide until I go thru more extensive tests which I have already been thru a decade ago. I provided the VA with a copy of my medical records for the past 13 years which prove my conditions are real. That was apparently not good enough for the VA and they want me to go through the 4 years of testing all over again. They wont give me Crestor for my cholesterol which is causing additional damage to my health. They wont give me Cymbalta for the massive depression I feel because of my pain so the depression is once again getting difficult to deal with. They wont give me Oxycontin or Duragesic for nerve pain, meds I have been on for more than a decade. So I sit here in the middle of the night after 2 months without pain meds and potentially for years before I get them again. There is always the cowards way out but I am not yet at that point. I am at my wits end though! What am I to do?
I cannot believe the heartlessness and coldblooded cruelty of the VA. This is NOT serving the American Veteran! It is however reminiscent of the torture endured by our POWS at the hands of our enemies! I joined the military at a time when my peers were running off to foreign countries to escape the draft. I volunteered to go to Vietnam because I thought it was my duty. I went, I served, I suffered for 40 years. Now it is my countries turn to step up and it is nowhere in sight.
I have never begged anyone for anything in my life and it makes me feel like much less than a full grown man. However, I have no choice, I cannot go on like this any longer, I am begging you to HELP ME, soon, very soon, I don't know how much longer I can go on like this!
Carl Edward Harmon
21 Spruce Lane, Linn Valley KS. [protected]
Service Number: RA [protected]
DOB: July 8, 1950
CC: Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins
Director of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Kansas Commission on Veterans' Affairs
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts
The President of the United States