Saturday, October 8, 2016

The VA's Hidden Agenda

The VA's Hidden Agendaby Teri Saya

I am the wife of a Vietnam veteran who protested the war during the 1971 to 1974 demonstrations. He has been diagnosed with PTSD and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which links directly to stress under fire and the Agent Orange he was exposed to while on the front lines in the war. He has filed for compensation and pension at least nine times over the years and continued to be denied up until this year. Files have been lost, he has been directed from department to department, He has 10 to 12 letters claiming his case is being reviewed. He finally received a written letter acknowledging and accepting his claim this July 2016. The VA has yet to finalize and begin payments. Below is an article I have written pertaining to this problem.


There were hundreds of protests against the Vietnam War since America jumped into the fray in 1964. Below are only the protests that were recorded between 1971 and 1973. In Washington, D.C. as many protesters as possible, it seems, were cataloged and put on a Blacklist which has been denied exists. Many were Vietnam veterans.
  •         On April 23, 1971, Vietnam veterans threw away over 700 medals and dog tags on the West Steps of the Capitol building. FBI agents photographed and videotaped the whole event, and collected the tossed medals. The next day, antiwar organizers claimed that 500,000 marched, making this the largest demonstration since the November, 1969 march.
  •        Two weeks later, on May 5, 1971, 1146 people were arrested on the Capitol grounds trying to shut down Congress. This brought the total arrested during the 1971 May Day Protests to over 12,000. 
  •         In August, 1971, the Camden 28 conducted a raid on the Camden, New Jersey draft board offices. The 28 included five or more members of the clergy, as well as a number of local blue-collar workers.
  • Beginning December 26, 1971, 15 anti-war veterans occupied the Statue of Liberty, flying a US flag upside down from her crown. They left on December 28, following issuance of a Federal Court order.  Also on December 28, 80 young veterans clashed with police and were arrested while trying to occupy the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  •        On March 29, 1972, 166 people, many of them seminarians, were arrested in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for encircling the Federal Courthouse with a chain, to protest the trial of the Harrisburg Seven.
  •       On April 19, 1972, in response to renewed escalation of bombing, students at many colleges and universities around the country broke into campus buildings and threatened strikes.  The following weekend, protests were held in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and elsewhere.
  •        On May 13, 1972, protests again spread across the country in response to President Nixon's decision to mine harbors in North Vietnam and renewed bombing of North Vietnam (Operation Linebacker).
  •        On July 6, 1973, four Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur on a White House Tour stopped and began praying to protest the war. In the next six weeks, such kneel-ins became a popular form of protest and led to over 158 protesters arrests.  (Wikipedia)

The following link goes to a CNN report published on January 31, 2014 describing only a small part of the Veterans Affair’s hidden agenda of using red tape to further confound the desperately needed health care and compensation for the now senior Vietnam Veterans.

From the website about Agent Orange victims:

Disability compensation for Veterans

  • Veterans may be eligible for disability compensation if they have a disability related to Agent Orange exposure during service and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
  • VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during service.
  • Veterans with qualifying service in Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. Other Veterans may be eligible if they show on a factual basis that they were exposed.

Eligibility - Service in Vietnam or Korea

VA presumes that Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides if they served:
  • ·        In Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, including brief visits ashore or service aboard a ship that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam
  • ·        In or near the Korean demilitarized zone anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971
If you fall into either category listed above, you do not have to show that you were exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for disability compensation for diseases VA presumes are associated with it.

The above information was taken directly from the Veterans Affair’s website. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just fill out their forms and prove you were actually there.  However, in reality here is what happens:
Recruiters are told to make becoming a soldier look glamorous, telling impressionable young people that they will be heroes if they sign up with the military. Promise them all sorts of benefits, train them, then use them in war zones. If they conform to all the military requirements, blindly follow orders, and don’t die in battle, they are the lucky ones that most likely will receive benefits and health care after their tour of duty. The ones who survived, publicly protested the war, but still did their jobs, were the ones on the blacklist. They are the ones swept under the rug, the ones that are flagged for the never ending red tape of filling out compensation or health care forms only to be ‘lost’ by the VA, shuffled to the wrong department, left on the back burner, or inexplicably denied.

Here’s the red flag. Two veterans are honorably discharged and sent home. Vet #1 files an Agent Orange claim at the same time as Vet #2. They both file all the paper evidence proving they have cancer and PTSD even though the VA states on their website it is not necessary. Both veterans were the same rank and both were in the same location where Agent Orange was used. The difference between the two is; Vet #2 attended protest rallies, marching with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War on his time off, while Vet #1 avoided the protesting. Vet #1 received full compensation in a timely manner. Vet #2 has been denied over and over again and is still fighting red tape 20 years later.

This is not to say that the vet who did not protest was any lesser than he who did…all have various issue reactions towards their own war experience.

The bottom line and the VA’s “hidden agenda” is this; if you are on the blacklist, you are assured to get the minimal of health care and the most red tape possible in the hopes you give up trying or die before you receive compensation for your military service injuries.

Are you a retired veteran trying to get health care or compensation through the VA? What are your thoughts or experiences on this subject?

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
red tape 
:  bureaucratic procedure, especially as characterized by mechanical adherence to regulations, needless duplication of records, and the compilation of an excessive amount of extraneous information resulting in prolonged delay or inaction.
Origin of RED TAPE: so called from the red tape formerly used to tie up legal documents in England. 
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Karma in the Mirror by Teri Saya

I sit in front of the mirror, applying age defying makeup,
covering my Mother's laugh and worry lines.
I see parts of her in me, the way I remembered her.
She had a beautiful, crooked smile, dark hair, and alabaster skin.
Her blue eyes and cheekbones reflect mine in the mirror.
Although, I am not as beautiful as she was.

But, in remembering, guilt and shame raises its ugly head.
I remember how self-centered I was,
And how I treated her when she would call me from her tiny apartment 450 miles away.
She was desperately lonely and wanted to talk to her eldest daughter.
She wanted to know how my life was going, if all was well, how the grandchildren were.
I would answer with small, vague words.
Then, I half listened to her telling me about what had been happening in her life.
The phone on my shoulder, my hands busy making lunch, dressing the baby, or doing the dishes.
I would lower the volume on the TV, but still watch it while she spoke.
I only noticed when there was a sudden silence on the other end.
"You’re not listening to me, are you.”
This I hear loud and clear.
"Well of course I am Mom."
She calls me on it. "Ok, what did I just tell you?"
"Uuhm." is all I can say. I am embarrassed and put out a small chuckle.
"I’m sorry Mom, I'm just a little distracted at the moment."
I can hear the disappointment in her voice.
 "Ok, I'll let you go. Maybe I'll call you later....or you could call me?" she asks hopefully.
"I love you Mom, I'll call you later."
"I love you too honey, I'll talk to you later, goodbye."
Her voiced has lost its strength.

Tears well up and smudge my freshly applied mascara.
I had taken my sweet time calling her back.
My sister calls two weeks later to tell me Mom is in the hospital.
Her Emphysema had taken its toll.

My Mother has been with God fifteen years now.
I had avoided the love she tried to pour out to me,
The love I had taken for granted during my adult life.

I step away from the mirror and pick up my phone.
I call one of my sons.
“Hi Mom, I gotta call you back. Someone just came to the door.”
I call my other son.
“Leave a message…beep!”
“Hey sweetie, I just called to see what you’re up to. I haven’t heard from you in a while.
You know my number, call me when you can, ok?”
I call my third son.
His mailbox is full and I cannot leave a message.
I call my fourth son.
His phone has been disconnected.
I e-mail and Facebook all four of my sons.
No response.

I picture my Mom nodding her head with a sad little smile.

I make excuses, as a Mother will.
“But they are all very busy with their lives”…… I begin.

Then I glance in the mirror once more…..hello karma.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Observation, Creating a Story or an Article from the Odd Things you Notice

This sign is posted at our local La Estancia Park just down the street from us.The dog looks like one of those from the Disney movie "101 Dalmations" and I'm not sure what's in his eraser? Anyway, it basically reads;

"Your dog forgets nothing,
it is you who forgets
your responsibility
to collect their excrement."
From the Board settlers

It is a very nice park with lots of trash cans and most neighbors pay attention to this sign.

Below is a short article I wrote a while back about this very subject.

Baggie Blooms
by Teri Saya

If you walk through a lot of the neighborhood parks here in Guadalajara, you will notice that the trees and bushes are blooming baggies. The first time I noticed this was when my husband and I were exploring our new neighborhood, and while strolling along a path in a beautiful park, I noticed odd-looking blooms on some of the trees and bushes. Upon closer examination, the blooms turned out to be small, plastic baggies tied into the branches all along the trail. How very odd, I thought. Maybe it's an artistic statement? We had never encountered this in the states. We were both clueless until we decided to get a puppy.

Not only am I a Gringa in Mexico, but I am also learning how to live in the city. I was born and raised in the country, and in my adult life; I always stuck to rural living in California. I have always had a dog or three in my life, and whenever we went for walks, it would be off leash, through the forest or along the beach. I always taught my dogs not to do their business on a trail or walkway. They knew to go in the bushes or high grass where it would go unnoticed and eventually, washed away by rain. If we were anywhere near an asphalt road, I made sure they were leashed. This is actually a law in the states. You never know when a dog might see a cat or squirrel across the road and dart out into what little traffic there might be….So, I knew these basic, rural etiquettes for walking dogs.

The etiquette for city-walking your dog is so very different. We have now learned how to walk our Schnauzer on a short leash while maneuvering the obstacle course of people, skateboards, bicycles, motorcycles, buses, cars, and street drains. Pretty much, anywhere you look, anyone can walk. Thus, the beauty of the baggie blooms and abundance of trash bins. We have even added our own blooms upon leaving the park.

How often do you walk out of the door with your pet forgetting the poop bags? Head for the nearest neighborhood park, the shrubbery is in bloom!

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