The following were submitted from 2000-2001
Homeless Women Veterans
“Notes from A Retired Army SFC
“Have I Got A Story For You”
In A school, I was again LIMDU after our first few marching exercises. I was sent again to medical and soon scheduled for a neurology appointment in Pensacola, Florida four days before my scheduled graduation from Personnelman Training. The doctor in medical was furious that they sent me out of boot camp when they should have discharged me with permanent disability. I went to the neurologist, and begged to keep my sea duty, and asked if I could prove to him I was capable of climbing ladder wells by climbing a 12 ft ladder over and over. He ran his tests and confirmed that i had sustained a sciatic nerve injury that should heal within three years and allowed me to keep my sea duty.
I went to my duty station and was blessed to be the only female TAD to a Minesweeper as a day worker while they were in port. Three weeks later I was of to my ship, The U.S.S. Inchon. I spent 28 days aboard, finding out on the 25th day that I was pregnant, two months, and flown off to Italy for bleeding that started20 days prior that could not be explained. I was put through ultrasound after ultrasound, and still no reason was found for the bleeding. I was sent back to the states and placed on half days for the remainder of my pregnancy and worked shore duty in my rating. I continued to bleed, with no explanation, and hemmoraged three times, with the third one landing me in the ER. All three times, my son held on.
During my pregnancy I was treated well by my superiors, even thought the pain I was in was thought only to be part of the pregnancy itself. Once i delivered my son, though, the pain kicked in with a vengeance. I had trouble walking like never before. I had to have help getting up from a sitting position, and the limp was so evident that I was again sent to medical for review. I was placed on pain med after pain med, anti-depressant after anti-depressant until they arrived at the combination of Ultram(Tramadol) and Zoloft. I was taking 300mg of Ultram per day and 150 mg of Zoloft per day. I started to research my meds to make sure they were compatible and non-addictive as I had been told. i was sent to physical therapy again to no avail. The pain was not easing. X-rays revealed that my lower back was beginning to twist…the beginnings of sciatic scoliosis. My Orthopedic doctor gave me my X-rays and told me to say they! were lost, that I would need them for the VA when they finished my medical board. All of this took place over the course of eighteen months. i was also found to have elongated QT syndrome..a condition of the heart that keeps the polyps of the heart from accepting potassium, sodium and thiamin, all necessary to keep it beating. I was passing out seven to twelve times a month for anywhere from 45 seconds to nearly an hour at a time. I was also dealing with a superior enlisted who was verbally abusive to me and against my every effort to try harder.
“Degenerative Disc Disease”
I want to tell women who write about their terrible treatment, PTSD, and other serious consequences of the culture we live in that they are not alone, the past is filled with largely silent women who have undergone gross injustices and mistreatment, but that there is, at least, some information out there about it. See my book, “Warriors Without Weapons: The Victimization of Military Women”, by Donna Dean, and “Hornet’s Nest” by Missy Cummings for example.
“Foot disorders & Fibromyalgia”
I am a veteran of the United States Air Force and I am being treated very unfair by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Many other veterans are too, from what I can gather, but probably don’t know how to speak out about it. I do and am. I have written the Senators for our state, Alaska, and also the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, The VFW Rep for the Department of Veterans Affairs, since he is there to supposedly help us Veterans with things. The DAV only laughed and said good luck. I have written to the Veterans Affairs Consumer Affairs Department in Washington D.C., and also the President himself. I am not nor will not stop there. I am being told as suggestions to notify my local television stations, radio stations, newspaper(s), etc. to see on how to go about getting this covered with the media. The Veterans’ Administration treats the veterans badly, and when/if they have a claim filed with them, the veteran(s) are treated even worse. I am one of them being treated so. As I stated I have written and hand carried papers, letters, etc. to people here in Anchorage that I need to, and am writing to others via the internet that I cannot reach through “snail mail”. It is difficult for me to walk, and much of my day is usually staying off my feet. I have a claim in with the Veterans Administration for the past three years. Half of it was approved, the other half I just have been informed was not. Why? Because the military/veterans department lost my medical records which therefore makes them say they cannot process the veterans claims. I am not the only one going through this. There are many out there. WE are pleading with people to please give us the respect we so much earned and deserve. Why do we get penalized for defending our country, our rights, our people, etc? The Veterans Department of Affairs is being very unfair with how they are treating us veterans and what they are doing to those of us that suffered injuries, etc. while serving. My opinion and belief is that they know we are filing claims and automatically discard our records, leaving a fight to be fought the rest of our lives. Wasn’t the time we protected and fought for our own country enough fighting? Not to them. All WE are asking for is the respect and honesty due us as veterans. I have searched for over three years for my medical records and am being denied my rights to a “fair” claim due to this. I am now looking for information such as names, addresses, and phone numbers of “higher” people to contact.
“Filing and Fighting for Compensation”
“Need More Evidence”
While serving in the Navy in 1993 my ship was in the yards. I was in front of the plate I didn’t realize the guy was going to drop the plate. I ended up with 1/2 ton of steel on my toes, I even had my steel toes boots on. I was lucky that the rms. and sm. were up on 05 level with me. I got my boot off before the welling. I still had trouble with my foot after 6 months So I decided to get surgery done in January of 94. The blue team went in and put a plate and 5 screws in my big toe, and they didn’t straighten out my toe its’ sideways. I had a follow up appointment with a doctor who didn’t know my case. He sent me back full duty I was sent to a aircraft carrier the Abraham Lincoln cvn-72. for 6 months. I even asked the doctor if this was going to bother me, and what should I do. (prior to me seeing him I had a post op shoe.) He told me that I just wanted out of sea duty. I was stuck on shore duty for 1 1/2 years. I couldn’t wait to go back to sea. It didn’t take me long to find out I couldn’t wear the boots or dress shoes because of my toe. I was sent down to medical and they didn’t do much and kept canceling my appointments at Oakland Hospital my surgeon was still there. I had a hard time on this ship they didn’t like females being there and on top of all this I met my husband on the ship, so I had double trouble for me. I left the ship 5 months after I got there and got married. My Dad wanted me to get a medical discharge before I left, I really didn’t think it should be that hard to get medical. I had everything documented in my records and I copied them myself. I sent for my claim and was denied I even sent them a copy of my records. A year later I filed another claim I got help from the regional office to fill out the paper work and they got me 10%.I can’t find shoes to wear. I have had problems with my hip and my back. They did a graph from my hip They took bone and stuck it in my toe. They say I don’t have any evidence to prove connected problems. I went to a civilian doctor I was put on 5 different types of pain medication nothing worked. Of course VA relies on Motrin cures all. I was sent to the Philadelphia medical center and they said I was crazy for feeling any pain in my toe because it’s fused. I have hip and back pain. I am off balance because of my toe, I was told to do exercises, which didn’t help. I went to a foot doctor outside the VA. and she agreed with me. She also said I need orthonics VA. said no I didn’t they were expensive. The I opt for surgery? (My CIVILIAN DOCTOR ) I got pregnant last year right before the appointment. I have been back n forth with the VA., I was worried because I was pregnant my back and hip would get worse, 1st thing came out of his mouth was the women center doesn’t help with pregnancy. Then he tried making me this orthonics, what a lousy job I gave it to my doctor. she wasn’t surprised at what he did since most doctors at the VA. graduated at the bottom of their class. So that doesn’t give me much confidence in the VA. The only VA Hospital I liked so far is Butler, Pa they treat you like a patient. Elsmere one just pushed in and out. My doctor only writes down what he wants not what I tell him. I need to know What information can I give to get connected disability? They refused the information from my foot doctor. They said it’s not new.
The folowing were submitted in 1999
“Equal Rights or Human Rights?”
In Response to ” Become Productive Civilians;”
“In Response to the 8 Jul 99 post, ‘Become Productive Civilians;”
The person who wrote the post about being productive civilians will probably never read this but I just had to vent. The nerve of you to come into this forum and downplay the severity of these women’s situations. It is not only disgusting and disrespectful but I am appalled that it is coming from a former service woman.
I am so happy for you that you could pass a pft test if need be…I also could but that does NOT in any way make my disability any less real. I was a great and productive military member. It was by no means my choice to be separated from the Air Force and in fact I fought long and hard to stay within the military ranks. It was a panel of officers who decided my fate and it was also a panel of officers who continued for years to deny any wrongdoing in my case. I was not diagnosed on time I was ignored I was sent to mental health as a malingerer. I was pushed through the system. I had never been to a hospital a day in my life until I joined the service. And I feel that if I was taken seriously in the beginning I would not be where I am today, receiving VA benefits. Those benefits are put there for a reason. I qualify to receive them and I have no shame about it. And your comment about out the gate and to the VA? I waited 2 years to file my claim. And yes I do think that the military holds all responsibility in this. If they had done their job in the beginning I would still be a cop. As a matter of fact on the day of my TDRL board I was 1 of 3 women and 2 men going through it and out of the 5 of us, the men, were allowed to return to duty…is that justice? I had 7 letters of recommendation , 8 letters of appreciation, 3 different doctors letters and testified on my own behalf. And not one thing was taken into consideration.
Yes, you are entitled to your opinion…but I highly suggest you get ALL the facts before you begin to judge anyone!
“In Response to the 8 Jul 99 post, ‘Become Productive Civilians’”
In response to the person who claimed we went straight out the front gate and to the VA hospital. It took me 4 years before the swelling, pain and inability to move me knees affected my performance at work and I need to have them evaluated by the VA. I contracted German measles while in active duty (worked pediatrics at the time) and instead of spots my joints swelled up. The residual joint pain in my knees was diagnosed as osteoarthritis coupled with bursitis (the bursitis never went away). There were a few physicians in the military I would not even see as they were not very good so I can feel for some of my fellow vets when they literally had to wait until discharge to have the proper diagnosis. I was just recently awarded 50% for the arthritis in multiple joints and in the last 3 months I was granted an additional 10% taking me to 60%. I thank my DAV officer for taking the time to look at my records carefully. Bye the way I was a US Army Medic and worked for the first 5 years at a US Army hospital. Gail
Hello, after 8 years in the service I am separating with a diagnose of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder as a result of a sexual assault that occurred while I was active duty military. From what I have heard so far the VA is pretty much blowing off anyone who tries to make a claim on these grounds. I would really appreciate hearing from others who have tried to file such claims with the VA.
I am a woman veteran and I want women to know they can win claims for sexual misconduct, harassment, assault and rape which causes PTSD. I am 100% connected for PTSD and depression due to above.
In Response to the 8 Jul 99 Post ‘Become Productive Civilians’”
I need to respond to this listing. How offensive that you would qualify yourself as judge & jury for those seeking medical care & compensation. Your name calling of “sick bay commandos” is unwarranted. You may indeed be able to pass a PT test, good for you. However, there are veterans who do not deserve to be chastised by someone who not only dosen’t know them but also does not know the facts surrounding their cases. It is improper that you feel qualified to make such a judgement. It is more than sad that you chose not to identify yourself & receive the proper response from the veterans themselves. Does this make you a coward? Maybe. I’d be much more careful in the judgements I choose to air in this forum. If you feel such a distaste for the veterans who are stating their concerns and questions here perhaps you should visit another site. I am a Honorably discharged A.F. veteran, I am also disabled.
In Response to ‘Become Productive Civilians’”
You should consider yourself very lucky to still be able to pass a PT test, but not all women veterans are as lucky. Some have diseases or injuries contracted in the military or made worse by military service. I am disabled because I severely injured my hand in a fall while stationed in Korea. Due to the poor medical care I received in Korea, I have limited use of my hand and yes, I did file a VA claim for the injury after I was medically retired from the Air Force. I would gladly give back the money I receive from the VA if I could use my hand. And, I do have a life, a job, a family, and many wonderful activities. Again, recommend you count your blessings and stop condemning people you know so little about!
“Disability and Support Group for Women”
I’m an Air Force retired veteran. I am an RN and served as an aeromedical technician. My VA claim is still in review. I can use some pointers anyone may have to get the most I deserve out of my claim. I’ve recently lost the medical review board because I had heart surgery and I was given a medical retirement on 30 Apr 99. I’m very upset at my forced retirement. I loved my Air Force job and all the travel I was able to do. At 36 years old I acquired heart disease (not known to the Air Force). I had a double by-pass last year. My condition was corrected and I couldn’t even been considered for a non-flying job. I’ve also been sexually assaulted and I’m now in a womens PTSD group at the VA. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I encourage everyone to push to get a women’s group started at your VA.
I have read and studied all of your stories very carefully and I sympathize with all of you. I am a 26 year old female who served as a security policeman in the Air Force for 2 and a half years. I was a healthy female when I enlisted…never had any medical conditions. During my first year I started having numerous GYN problems. I had recurrent bartholyn cysts for 5 consecutive months. I then went a year without a period and was bothered by excruciating abdominal pain. I kept going to the GYN who told me there was nothing wrong with me, and sent me to mental health. Finally at work one night I collapsed and was rushed to the ER by ambulance. A GP finally diagnosed me with endometriosis. I had my first of 6 laporoscopic surgeries at age 21. The original GYN refused to do the surgery as he kept saying there was nothing wrong so I had the operation at an army hospital. I was diagnosed stage 3 endo with polycystic ovaries and annovulation. I went back to work and was started on depo provera and lupron. 6 months later I was back in the same position. PAIN. I was sent to Wilford Hall in Texas for a work up and told once again there was nothing wrong. I was eventually boarded out on TDRL. I had 4 surgeries in 18 months and was finally separated with severance pay. I had one more lap after that. My husband (who was also in the AF) got out and moved us to FL. We tried with no success to have kids. I was put on Clomid but the wait to diagnose me was so long that my fertility was ruined. My husband is now in the Coast Guard and we are in Connecticut. On September 8th of 1998 I underwent a total hysterectomy with removal of uterus and ovaries, we have no children. I filed my claim with the VA on December 16th 1998 and was awarded compensation last week.I was rated 80% service connected for loss of creative organs due to the endo and adhesions and also for depression. I feel totally vindicated. I fought so long to get someone the military to listen to me when I was sick. I suffered for a long time with this debilitating illness. I only wish I could confront all those doctors who told me it was all in my head. All the time I was out on TDRL I wanted so bad to go back in the AF. I went to all my boards and I fought to stay in. Even though it seemed they did not give a crap about me. I was loyal and wanted to be a solider. I think now I gave the AF all I could…I gave them all of me, including my ability to have children. I will never forget one doctors words to me.”If the military wanted you to have kids they would have assigned you one.” Since I am new at this VA thing if anyone can give me some info on what to expect from here on out I would appreciate it. I want to be ahead of the game with no more surprises. Thank you for your time.
“Become Productive Civilians”
When I was on active duty for 20 years we were required to be physically fit for duty. Why are so many people leaving the front gait and heading strait to a VA medical center. If you were healthy enough for active duty why the rush to become medically disabled? I have been retired almost 10 years and I am still in good . I could still pass a PFT. It appears that we have a bunch of sick bay commandos in our mist. Get a life ladies and become productive civilians.
I am a civilian clerk who works with and for the only Veterans Affairs Officer in my state. We do not have federal positions. I am truly touched and have some understanding of what many of the female vets have written. My boss a 50% service-connected disabled Viet-Nam Era Veteran has “been through the meat-grinder” as she calls it. There was a 6-month period when she was 100% SCD when she was paralyzed from the neck down. (jeep accident). I have watched and heard her do a lot to help Veterans; male as well as female. Some of her clients are out-of-state. If anyone is interested I could approach her about problems some of you have or have had and have not received satisfactory help. She does understand; more than you might know. She can represent members of VFW, AL, MOPH, Red Cross, VVA and so forth. However, because of the rules and regs (state? or federal?) she cannot represent and work on behalf of members of the DAV. My most heart-felt and sincerest thoughts go with you,
“ TMJ/Left Knee/Sinusitus”
I was discharged in 1986 with a 10% disability for my left knee. At this time I put in a claim with the DAV and some of my claims have been solved and others are still going which means that some of my claims have been in process for 13 years without a solution. In 1986 when my claim was filed, the DAV did lousy work and I was denied any service-connection even though I was put out of the service for my left knee (at Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany the military accidently cut the nerve in my left knee and I fought for 10% and received it). To this day I still have a lot of problems with my left knee and everytime I go to the VA for an appointment I am told I am imagining the pain. Also, when I have a C & P exam the doctor is so old he doesn’t even listen to what you tell him – he is in a rush and you get no where. They have never looked at my knee in a C & P exam even though they fill out the paperwork. It’s my word against the doctor’s and they believe the doctor did the exam. I wish I could give them the pain and then I could give them the same answer I get. I also had to fight for TMJ as they corrected my overbite and when they cut the wires my jaw shifted because it wasn’t healed all the way. I am now in a Stage 4 which means there is nothing they can do for me except bilateral injections or do bilateral joint replacements in my jaw (my joints are a blob of scar tissue and don’t go into the joints.) I have trouble with my joints and am have received an upgrade to 30% but I feel I should receive more compensation for this. During this time I was also sexually assaulted in Wilford Hall by a physician. I told the Staff Duty Officer of the Day what happened and was not believed. Upon discharge in 1986 I saw an article in the San Antonio Express News where this doctor was being charged with sexually abusing a minor child and I contacted the base legal office and gave names, dates, individuals and other pertinent information that was not published. I filed for this and in 1993 the VA Office closed the claim and I never got to present my evidence which I have everything in black and white and it can be verified. I was lucky I paid $6.25 for copies of my hospital inpatient records because I have contacted my Congressman and he has helped me try to get this claim settled dated back to 1986 since this was when it was originally filed and nothing had been done on it. I just had a C&P evaluation for PTSD on March 22nd of this year. I also received in July 1997 service connection for sinusitus which was created by cutting of my sinuses at Wilford Hall when they did a Lefort I Procedure. They awarded me 10% back to February 1997 and 0% back to 1986. I have a claim that I need to reopen on this issue as I have medical expenses when I was refused treatment because of no service- connection. To this date I still have migranes and ear problems and I would like them looked at but the VA says this is connected with the TMJ. I need help from somewhere to try to get the claims going again as the San Antonio DAV office discriminates against female veterans (I called to try to get help to reopen the claim on the medical expenses and waited several days and still received no phone call back, called again and I asked to speak to someone who could help me and was told that someone would call back, which they didn’t so I called back again and told them if they couldn’t help me to please let me know and I would contact someone in the Houston DAV office.) I was contacted by the person in charge of the office and told not to call there or show up at there office since I had threatened one of their employees (all I asked is if they could help me and if they couldn’t I would go to the Houston DAV) and this was taken as a threat. So now if I want anything done I have to contact Houston and I have made a decision that even though I am a lifetime member of the DAV I want nothing to do with such a discriminating organization. I even tell people who want to join that they don’t want to belong to a discriminating organization and not to waste their money. They should join another organization. I also believe they should close down the DAV office in San Antonio since they discriminate. Now any claims I have with the VA I will handle them myself. I have told the Veterans Administration the DAV isn’t to receive any copies of correspondence as my power of attorney has been revolked in writing that they are no longer my representatives. I will never recommend the DAV to anyone. To this date I have only a 40% connection with the additional 10% for sinusitus giving me a 46% connection which is rounded down to 40%. In order to get my claims solved I needed to go to my Congressman since the VA just put my claims in a pile and woundn’t do anything. He saw my paperwork sit for 2 years and do nothing but go around in circles and finally told them he wanted a decision. That is when I got my decision in July 1997.
I am a 20%disabled woman veteran who is trying to receive compensation for fybromyalgia. While on active duty I suffered numerous stress fractures of both the left and right shins (tibias). Our unit was required to run 3 miles every 2 days on gravel. Upon discharge in 1988, I was awarded compensation in the amount of 10% for (stress fracture right tibia with complaints of pain in the knees, ankles and feet). For three years I was treated by the VA medical center for the pain in both legs. I was given Motrin during that time to releive the pain. In 1990, I was diagnosised with firbromyalgia. By that time constant pain had accelerated throughout my body. I was told there was no cure for this and that most of the time the symptoms were all in a persons mind and that mostly women contracted it. In 1997 after doing further research into the syndrom, I found that it can be directly related to an injury or trauma. I reapplied for an increase in compensation with the VA in April 1997 due to the fact that through the years the pain has limited my daily activities and occupations. The Compensation board came back with an increase of an additional 10% making my overall compensation at 20%. However, the compensation board is still categorizing the ailmens as, (stress fracture right tibia with complaints of pain in the knees, ankles and feet). I went from being a full time active Marine to now pushing a library cart around the VA medical center part time. I have been given, Motrin, Ambian, Zopidiem (Elevil), Amtryptaline through the years and now I am on Indomethacin and Nazadone.
I am a vet and if it wasn’t for the DAV helping me with my C&P CASE, I probably would still be waiting for results. And lucky for me I had a positive experience with the VA here in Sioux Falls, SD. So, if you’re not a member of the DAV, it only cost $125.00 for a life time membership, first pymt is $10.00 and the rest is spread out over years, IT’S WORTH IT. Find out where the local chapter is in your area and talk to a NSO. ………DON’T GIVE UP
I served over 8yrs active duty Air Force and have been in the Air National Guard for the past 3 yrs. I am currently facing being discharged from the Guard for bilateral chronic shoulder condition. This was service-connected in 1995 and I got 0%. I also have DGD in my spine and finally, after 4 yrs f VA paperwars, got 10% retroactive to Mar 1995. I am still fighting for the compensation for my shoulders, now facing a discharge for a service connected disability <that the guard called “non duty related”> is even more stressful. I can’t use my arms for too long before I experience shaking, loss of endurance, and chronic pain. I am only 29 yrs old with a backround of electronics/mechanics and weather forecasting with the military/guard combined. All I want is to be compensated for the time I no longer can work. I gained civilian employment and reinjured my shoulders in 1997. I am basically unemployable and recognized to be semi-qualified for 15% of the workforce by unemployment. I have been utilizing the DAV and have experienced results as I stated before, but I have a feeling my road may be another 4 yrs. I enjoy reading all of your letters and quotes of encouragement…. anyone who can help or may be a neighbor to Wisconsin, you can email me at KC0401RNBW@aol.com. KEEP FIGHTING… WE’RE ALL TOGETHER!
“The Way the VA is Handling my PTSD Claim”
I was in the Air Force in 1977, sexually harassed by my Sgt. everyday, tortured verbally and threatened, and finally raped by my OB/GYN doctor, an officer in the air force hospital. I am working hard to get myself together and it isn’t easy. The VA isn’t very helpful and the fact that I am a female makes it all that much harder to be heard. I am still struggling with my pride at serving in the Air Force and my shame for taking an early out. I have an honorable discharge, but they made me say I would go AWOL, that was the only way it would stop… So finally I did say it but I feel so ashamed. I feel like I cut and ran… I ran to save my life… I was discharged with 10% disability for a back injury. They took that away in 1980… I was so afraid of the government, I stayed silent and dying for 20 years. Finally I got 40% for my back……. and they didn’t take my PTSD claim serious at all. The VA doctor is not on the patient’s side, they’re on the government’s side… I can’t handle many more C&P reviews…. but I have another one tomorrow….God bless all that served these United States. Lets help make it safer for our younger sisters in the service.
It took me almost 5 years and a DAV representative to go from 20% to 50% and a firm determination not to let the same doctor do my comp and pension exam. I encourage you if you keep getting the same doctor for comp and pension refuse and ask for another. I did and finally was given a practicing orthopod who looked at my x-rays, felt my joints and had the rheumatologist look at my hands. The DAV officer also had my records read from front to back and I had to have 4 more comp and pension exams because of mistakes made on the original consults. I thanked the DAV by becoming a life long member.
I’m in the military and getting ready to retire. I am glad that I am getting out now. At one time I really loved the military and even did a tour at recruiting trying to get other people to come in. Now that my time is close to an end I can honestly say that I am very happy to get out. Since I have been in I have been through a number of different types of harassment to include sexual harassment and even raped while I was out to sea. Each time I tried to take care of the situation I was told there was nothing I could do about it. Lots of luck to you females that try and get yourself together. I have been diagnosed as having the PTSD disorder, also had a partial hysterectomy done and have other medical problems that I am in the process of seeing what type of disability for. God bless you all.
Health care for women at the Boston VA is a nightmare. They are not equipped to accommodate women. When I was admitted, I was the only woman in a ward full of men (of course), and they had no bathrooms or showers for women, just community facilities. They said when I wanted to shower or use the toilet, to put up a sign announcing that a woman was in there! Sounds like an invitation to rape! Fortunately, the men were gentlemen about it. When I got my period unexpectedly, they had no sanitary supplies. A woman doctor finally went and bought a box of tampons for me out of the goodness of her heart. After I was released, I was told to come back to the walk-in clinic a month later to get the results of my tests, to determine if I had cancer. The doctor who saw me was shocked to see a woman, and he said, “I don’t know what you’re doing here, but this clinic is only for veterans.” Then he couldn’t find my test results and just shrugged it off. When I applied for disability, they closed my file before asking for any documentation, then disapproved it because there was no documentation in the file! I sent for copies of all my military and VA medical records, and everything that would have supported my claim had been removed. So much for a system that “takes care of its own!”
I am a disabled USAF Veteran. I was infected with the hepatitis C virus while serving ing the Air Force in 1980. It took 18 years to find out that I had the virus due to another illness. The VA has given me a disability rating of 20%. Somehow that just doesn’t seem fair. This illness has changed my entire life and I don’t know if I will ever get better or if it’ll get worse enough to warrant a liver transplant. I am just beginning a new therapy that will hopefully put the virus in remission. If not……. My country, my consequences…. Debra J. Baptista.
As I read all of the e-mails from ladies who have medical problems, it occurred to me the limitations with the VA medical system. I am currently rated at 50% I have two outstanding applies, that the VA states may be looked at 2 years from now, even though I turned them in in 1995. I live in a remote area of Oregon, where no VA center is available, so I am on ‘Fee Basis’. Most people think great, you get medical care from whatever physician you like and can have anything completed. Wrong! First I have to call the ‘Fee Basis office’ which is staffed by MEN and explain in great detail every little pap smear or pelvic exam, just for them to say, “Didn’t you have one of those last year?” When is comes to women’s issues, they have no real training and end up making ladies feel uncomfortable about calling in for any exams. Another thing, is almost every time I call because a bill isn’t paid, they say “Oh, Bob or Harry or whoever left and we can’t prove you called in advance.” What kind of service is this. I work with a Male Vet and he never has this problem. I want to know what I can do to fight this. If you have any suggestions, e-mail me.
“The VA Claim Process”
“I Can Relate”
The following were submitted in 1998:
I am a retired E-8, USN, writing on behalf of my daughter, presently in Hawaii. She is going to be discharged from the Corps based on some medical problems with her knees. The type of discharge is to be an admin, with no medical basis. Essentially, although I have not yet seen her medical record to read exactly the full diagnosis, she formerly was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome, as a young girl (pre-teen). This was a “growing pain” type of problem and disappears after adolescence. Now she is diagnosed with “Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome.” There are several varieties of treatment, consisting of Pys Ther, braces and reduction in exercise. The separation letter considers PFPS as a non-disability, although the Corps will not perform arthoscopy to confirm their diagnosis. Although the discharge is inevitable, I am concerned that the military will run roughshod over our little E-3, and she may not be eligible for VA or any follow-up care if so. One of the points that upset me about the sep letter is the fact that the doctor states that “all medical treatments available for this problem have been exhausted.” That is in fact not true as the doctor have refused the artho, and ceased the phys therapy.
I am 50% disabled with multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed in 1985, I have fought this disease ever since. I managed to stay in 20 years and retire in 94. I’ve had good and bad days, but mostly good. The VA hospital at Bay Pines in St Pete Florida has been good. Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC is the finest! They have wonderful MS research facilities there. I recommend anyone who may need information about MS treatment to contact WRAMC.
Hi I am 20% disabled and I am going through VA vocational rehab. I had to go through some testing but I am currently enrolled in college with the VA paying for me to go. I did not find out about this till I was out of the military for awhile and there is a time limit on this. I think everybody who is interested should check with there local VA to find out more on this program. It is helping me achieve a dream of mine.
I am currently rated at 100% for PTSD and major depression directly related to sexual assault in the military. I was in the service in 1966-67 and was assaulted. I did not file my claim until 1990 but won my claim even though I did not have proof of the assaults in my military file.
I wrote to you a couple of months ago, about being assaulted by a physician at Norton AFB, CA in May 1977. I was notified today that I have been awarded my claim at 30%. Tell other women veterans not to give up. Miracles in dealing with the VA, still happen.
I too waited like a good girl to get my case adjudicated….22 years I waited and suffered pain and sickness, and raised three children, but I never gave up and finally last Nov. they paid me for the 22 years I waited…and they cost me 22 years of medical care…I could have been going to the VA as 30% but because I was not rated, the VA hospital would not see me..now I have service connected psteoporosis and osteopenis..I will never give up…all that I have wrong with me they will pay for..I wrote all the senators and congress people, I wrote Gore, Clinton, Brown. I called, I screamed…every time I got a Mr. letter I called again. I decided this is my life’s work…they drove me crazy with “we’ll look in to it” now it is my turn…I will not take it any more. Now I’m having trouble getting medicine for the psteoporosis…saw Dr. at Memphis VA hospital and had test that said psteoporosis…went down one floor and asked if could get medicine had results in hand for Dr. to read….Dr. refused to give meds until schl. appt. that is in Oct 98. Do they just do this to drive us crazy or to test us….now must suffer until they see fit to see me.
“Violence in the Military”
I read your page on domestic violence in the military. However, there are other acts of violence in the military which most people fail to address. That of violence against other (non spouse or co-habitating) women. We women veterans were also abused, harassed, and in many cases, raped. Those who did these acts got little more than a slap on the wrist if that. Now when we women vets file for PTSD, which we do have, we’re told over and over, your records aren’t here, no proof, etc. We’re denied our claims because we lack proof. And who destroyed that proof? It was not the women but the military itself. I could cite you case after case of this but you get the drift. How about putting a bug in the DoDs’ collective ears to find or direct us where to find our needed records. The VA is a joke when it comes to this issue so please don’t send me there for help. I have a claim pending, but again lack actual proof.
God, I do not know where to begin. A very good friend “Vietnam Vet” sent me this URL. He knew what I had been going through since May of 1991. I was one of many called back during the Desert Storm War. I have been feeling I was the only one with these symptoms, and was informed by my VA counselor that there was not enough evidence to link my symptoms with the vaccines that we received prior to arriving at our duty stations. Now that I know that I am not alone, I will share my experience, in the hopes that someone out their will e-mail me with information that will assist me in my journey to find out what is causing so many of us veterans to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and similar diseases. Mostly Neuro in nature.
I received the pre-deployment vaccines. Unfortunately, the portion of my medical records that were made up at William Beaumont Medical Center in El Paso Texas, are no where to be found. So, obviously did not exist. “Right” We were called back to active duty to replace those in the medical field who were shipped out to serve in the theatre at the Persian Gulf War. During the time at WM. Beaumont, the 91Charlies were assigned to work in different departments at the hospital. In between training classes and other assigned duties, I cared for several veterans who were Med-evacuated to the hospital for unexplained illnesses. Since, at that time the Military swore that no Mustard gas or other agents were used, there was no decontamination performed prior to our contact with these soldiers who had these unexplained rashes, PTSD, nausea, etc. We stripped the soldiers and bagged and tagged their clothing and went on with patient care. MY medical history is or was what I thought to be uneventful, but growing larger and larger since my return home, pain is a small word in comparison to what I have experienced in the past 8 years. I was beginning to think that I was loosing my mind along with my strength, my endurance, and stamina. After reading the many letters and notes sent by soldiers who are experiencing similar symptoms, I feel somewhat not alone. I reopened my VA claim several months ago, but for reasons other than fibromyalgia. Received cervical and lumbar injuries in the military and these conditions had started becoming worse. During the process, had to notate all the treatment that I had received since the original claim. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, mainly because they had nothing else to point the finger at, as a cause for the severe pain I was experiencing. Blood tests were normal, MRI’s showed progression of the osteo that had settled in the areas of my injuries, Tests for multiple sclerosis returned negative, My many trips to the emergency room due to loss of feeling in one or the other leg, and extreme pain were getting too frequent, numbness and tingling of extremities, unprovoked, burning (feels like bones are on fire sometimes), EMG’s results are nothing to get shook up about. Mental: Well, upon return, everyone I was close to thought I was different. Personality change, compulsiveness, depression, almost manic, depressive at times, nervousness. Now, when I play bingo and reach to dob a number, I notice tremors and sometimes my dobber does not go where my mind tells it too. I feel at times that the trembling is only seen by me. But, friends say they see it at times. I reach out to touch or type and my hands are shaking. This has all continued to escalate since my return from the Desert Storm recall. To share a bit of history. I entered into the Army because I love my country. I had a talent that could be well used in the military. I was a nurse, civilian trained. My desire was to become flight nurse. Was the “ole lady” in basic at Ft. Jackson “WWII barracks” who got to know the sand bag detail very well. Was in excellent health and gung-ho as hell,had to earn every bit of respect received. AIT at FT. SAM, Settled in at Ft. Carson, Colorado. No health problems, except when a USARRED chest was dropped while I hung on to the other end. Whiplash and lumbar strain. Figured I would recover fully, Physical Therapy etc. Did just fine all the way. ETS’d and stayed in Colorado. Was recalled December 1990 for Desert Storm. Went through the re-entry program with everyone else. Came home in April 1991. Soon began to change, now in 1998 I am “A sinking ship” my condition worsens every month. My love of country has not changed, but as far as the government, well, they would lock me up if I voiced what I believe to be true of them. Your sight has enlightened me, and has increased the drive in me to find out what the heck all of us were exposed to during our service that has made us all so ill. Hell, I can’t even hang curtains anymore. Not for lack of desire. In response to the many inserts I read, regarding fibromyalgia and other unexplained illnesses after Desert Storm: Don’t give up. When they say denied, keep fighting, soldiers don’t give up.
“12 Years Later”
I was in the Army for 3 years and suffered from endometriosis I was on medication for it for 2 years while I was on active duty. When I was finally discharged the VA took me of the medication which caused the problem to get worse. In 1986 after buckling with pain so severe my husband started a crusade to get something done. A local doctor said that since I was taken off the medicine so abruptly it cause the organs to grow together and multiple cysts he recommended a total hysterectomy. After I had the surgery I went to get an upgrade and a local DAV officer told me I could not get anything and to top the icing on the cake it was put in my records at the VA Hospital that all it was a uterine displacement. Finally almost 12 years later I came across a women DAV who filled out the paperwork and got everything upgraded to 50%. But I have lost 12 years of pay and medical treatment of this because of the first male DAV officer.
“Need Help Finding Documents”
Thank God, I finally got on-line and found your page. Even up until Tailhook and Aberdeen, I thought I was the only one to have ever had that kind of trauma while on active duty. Until I saw that program on 20/20, I still thought it was a very small problem. The V.A. said on the program that it would accept “soft evidence”, expedite our claims, and have females hear our cases, NOT. Can anyone out there help me understand them? The DAV is my representative. I’m doing the work though.
I was an E-4 (Sgt) at an Air Force Base in May 1977 when my incident occurred. It was by a Lt. Col. physician in his office during duty hours. I never knew what was wrong with me, except I knew I couldn’t bear to have relations with my husband. I’d never heard of PTSD. Now I’m divorced and still dealing with that S.O.B. in my flashbacks. The base is now closed and not even the V.A. can tell me where the base records were sent. I’ve written to the addresses listed on the V. A. form but still haven’t found them. I’ve called the numbers listed on the answers that various people or agencies have sent me. Does anybody out there have any other clues of where to look for the info? I have my medical records which indicate I went to the clinic for “Anxiety Reaction”. I’m looking for a copy of the polygraph that I took and passed or the records of the counseling I received. (Neither of which is, of course, in my medical records.)
Does anyone have any other ideas of where to look for them or who to contact? I guess the worst parts of this incident were: 1) It wasn’t the first complaint against him for something like that; 2) that I was put out on a medical discharge (not retired): and 3) HE got promoted to full Col. and retired 30 days early since I “Just don’t understand medical procedures”.
“Problem with the Real World but VA Helps”
I am a 23 year old Veteran who served as an ET in the Navy. I went to a Navy Hospital where I was stationed and reported of a knee injury. They performed surgery that only made things worse. Since then I have been going to the VA and have received good help for my problem. I am 20% disabled because of the surgery and because of that I am unable to get a job. Many people who are hiring do not like a person who is disabled and can’t stand for long periods of time. The only good thing about the entire thing that I have found since my release in 12/96 is the VA. After serving 4 and a half years in the service, I am unable to do the job that I was trained in the Navy so the VA is paying for my college to get retrained. It’s call Vocational Rehab. It is a great program for those with 20% or more who can’t work in the field that they were trained in in the service. Also now I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to find out just what is wrong with my knee. At times I wish that the civilian people knew what it was like to be in the service and to be disabled. I don’t think that there really is anything “special” about being a disabled veteran. Everyone told me that being one would make life easier but it’s not. At least not that I have found. I am grateful for the opportunity that the VA is giving me. In four years I will be a Paralegal and hopefully have a better life. Most of all I will owe it all to the VA.
This is in response to the woman veteran who also works for VA. I honestly feel that many VA employees have a veteran’s best interests at heart, but I also honestly feel that the majority of VA employees do their job because it’s a job, not because they want to provide a service to vets. I know, because I’m a woman, a disabled veteran, and a former VA employee who left employment by choice, with maxed evaluations and awards. I think you are a good person, and it’s good to know that you are on the side of the veteran. However, I have recently been working as an intermittent without any sort of health care benefits. I live approximately 500 miles from the nearest VA hospital. I had flu-like symptoms and was preapproved to be seen in an outpatient clinic for that; it turned out to be a sinus infection and chronic sinusitis. A few weeks later I suffered some sort of event to my service-connected extremity, and was in exquisite pain, and could not weight-bear without a cane. Getting preapproval from my regional medical review committee was such a hassle that by the time I had an actual appointment date and time for a physician to evaluate the problem, it was two weeks after the fact and he is left guessing. Not only that, but the sinus infection did not clear and required another course of antibiotics, inhalers, etc. VA denied approval of this visit and I now have to pay all costs, including $150 for prescriptions, and I have no insurance. But you know what really, really, REALLY makes me mad? A MAN I talked to at VA laughingly said to me on the phone words to the effect, “Yep, if you don’t get preapproval first, you’ll have to pay for it, gal.” What is this? GAL??? It’s no better than being in the Army!!
I was in the Army and served 3-1/2 years–3 of them at Ft Hood, TX. I was released in 1974 and denied having any problems at the exit interview. After nearly 20 years of low-paying jobs, being in and out of school, drinking, drugs, and screwed-up relationships I landed in a VA psyche ward for ‘atypical depression’. I called it a nervous breakdown and I never thought of myself as disabled–only as a [screw]up whose death couldn’t come soon enough. During my stay a benefits counselor suggested I apply for service-connected disability since I remembered seeing a psychiatrist during my active duty. So I entered the system and persisted for 3-1/2 with my claim until I was finally awarded 100% for a ‘nervous disorder’ and ‘unemployability’. I believe that the 100% came from the fact that my service officer (DAV) had applied for a pension for me so that I would have something to live on in addition to Social Security. In order to receive a pension a person has to be found ‘permanently and totally disabled’ by reason of an illness not service-connected. Since my claim was in progress I was awarded the pension in the interim. I believe the pension finding helped to keep my final award high. And it paid off big time. In addition to the high rating I also received back pay for those 3-1/2 years at 100%! I realize that I have been far luckier than most vets in dealing with the VA but the only thing I would encourage you to do is to stay on top of your claim and if your service officer says he (rarely she) can’t get something done than find someone else who can and don’t be afraid of doing some of the legwork yourself–it’s your right and it may be the only way of getting things done. My disability request was at first denied because St Louis couldn’t find any records of my visits to the psychiatrist so I wrote myself to St Louis and to the hospital and the mental health clinics at Ft Hood. While the entire record never showed up I did uncover an intake interview done at Ft Hood that carried a recommendation at the bottom that I see a shrink. This was enough for the VA to grant me service-connected status. I was denied PTSD, even though they said I had most of the major features, because I lacked a ‘significant single trauma’ that they could attribute it to–I guess three years of threats, humiliation, shoves, trips, and being chased on a regular basis wasn’t enough for them.
”I am a Disabled vet –never told this story before”
I was discharged on Veteran’s Day, 1987 while in a civilian psychiatric hospital. I have never told anyone the exact nature of what I endured in the military and never thought I would. I am tiring of the constant flashbacks and the negative feelings that the memories create. I will tell my story in brief. I became a JAG officer in 1985 after a difficult application process. I had always been a successful attorney and never had any problems in any jobs before that. I had a wonderful first year and a half and then my new supervisor came on board. He abused me in ways that I cannot describe. His verbal abuse still rings in my ears. He kept a journal on me and my comings and goings. He was obsessed with my sex life. When I became pregnant unexpectedly, he freaked and demanded that I resign immediately–or he would force me out. Within a week, after getting a duty excuse for hyperemesis (extreme vomiting of pregnancy and dehydration) he gave me a letter of reprimand for not coming to work. I called what was then “Social Actions”–the supposed watchdog of sexual harassment and told them half the story. They called HIM and the Base commander!!! There was no confidentiality. He would make me stay after work and would really get off on horribly demeaning things while at the same time doing other things. He is out of the service now. Even over ten years later I still wonder where he is and what he is doing. I am rating at 70% and I can tell you that it is so upsetting that this person was a major contributor in shattering my hopes, dreams and desire to serve my country for many years. I can try to forgive–it is the forgetting that is destroying me inside. I go to a psychiatrist and they haven’t offered much hope–I haven’t told them the whole story. I am not psychotic, but have had major depressive episodes. Has anyone been able to put all of this behind them? It is nice how these people continue on to retire while we are forced out in shame and depression (I tried to take my life one day after he told me “no one wants you”) His response–expedite my request for early release for pregnancy while I was in the hospital–I never got to go back to my desk to get my things. The bums rush. Sorry I have been so rambling–can’t believe after all these years it hasn’t gotten any better.
“FIBROMYALGIA, STENOSIS AND SPONDILOSIS OF SPINE, RADICUALOPATHY, CODSTEOCHONDRIT”
I have all these problems from the military, plus ulcers and now on meds for depression I did not know what PTSD. I have had a bad time in my career due to harassment at work. Being a woman in the US Army was difficult but if I was told I couldn’t do something “oh, your just a girl” I tried ten times harder and accomplished most things I tried to do. Although I’ve gotten my 100% disability I still can not get the medical community to help with my pain. With fibroyalgia I am in pain 24hr x 7days and not relief. What can be done? They had me on meds to help now they have changed to a lower pain medication because they don’t want me to get addicted. I am at whits end.
“Can someone help?”
I am a veteran of the U.S. Army and Army National Guard. For over 10 years I lived in silence about my experience in the military. I have had substance abuse problems, depression, anxiety, nightmares, just to name a few. I finally called the VA in August of 97 and have finally been getting help to deal with the rape and sexual harassment that I experienced while in the military. I am different than some in that I have been able, by the grace of God, to hold a job and be strong enough to get through one day at a time. With a field of broken relationships, and confusion behind me, there are more times than not that I feel alone, with no one to understand what I fight inside my head on a daily basis. Even my significant other of 3 years is slowly fading away. Intimacy problems, trust, love, and so many other basic human needs are all difficult to conquer. My therapist has informed me that I have the right to make a claim, but I fear that it may be a waste of time because I am able to hold a job, I have a place to live and on the outside I appear as normal as anyone else. I believe I owe it to all the women who are veterans, and are going to be veterans one day to tell my story, however I fear that it may be in vain. I fear that I may suffer for the rest of my life alone. If there is anyone out there who is like me and who has successfully been given disability for PTSD, can you write me? If there is anyone out there who just would take the time to understand me, I would like to talk. What should I do? I feel very alone
The following were submitted in 1997:
“Vocab Rehab Program”
After 2 back surgeries that left me with 6 screws and 2 titanium discs in my lower back, I was placed on the PDRL at 10% on 30 April 97. I immediately applied for this program because it was so loudly touted BY THE VA REP during the DTAP class as the best way to get training since I couldn’t be a jarhead any more. What a crock! Today I found out that I am not even eligible for this program because I was an administrator and have a degree. You’d think they would at least provide training in a marketable software application. If I don’t meet the prerequisites, fine—but why have me go through all this, anticipating some help—and then slam the door in my face? Has anyone gone else through this? Am I really not eligible? Linda
“Good Dealings with the VA”
I am a 19 year-old Navy vet, rated at 20% disabled. I went to my Counselor to ask about disability for foot problems. I had also, while [in] RM “A” School, had a lot of problems with what I thought was just bronchitis. My counselor told me to put in for disabilities for that, as well, and the chronic headaches I suffer from. I applied with my counselor on 3 Sep 96 and received my letter of declaration on my 19th birthday 3 Jan 97. I was awarded 10% each for bilateral foot problems, as well as asthma, the thing I wasn’t going to apply for benefits on. I have had nothing but good dealings with my VA I have a nice female doctor (a first for me!!!), and I am being treated for migraines. Thanks to supportive friends and family, as well as my fiancé (a Third Class Petty Officer E-4), I have been doing well. I am supposed to have surgery on my feet, but, well, I was told that the surgery within the month that was 4-6 months ago. I am thinking about taking advantage of the Rape counseling that the VA offers, because I was raped both before, and during my time in the service.
Disabled Woman Veteran in Vermont
I am an Army veteran, I’ve been out for two years and have been declared 30% disabled. I am currently attending the University of Vermont under Vocational Rehab, majoring in dietetics. The VA in Vermont has been very helpful to me and I haven’t experienced any of the problems I see on this page, I’m pretty sure that one reason is that Vermont is so small. I have friends in Texas and other bigger states that have been ignored and treated rudely by the VA Hospitals. I was medically discharged after a year of going from doctor to doctor and profile to profile. It was really hard for me because I had always been the one who could keep up with and surpass most of the men in my unit. I felt like I was whining and it didn’t help that the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, I had a civilian nurse say to me “Maybe you should work out more” At the time I was working out twice a day. I was so furious I couldn’t even utter a sarcastic remark (an unusual occurrence for me). When they finally discharged me I was so happy because I could get on with my life and I would no longer be looked at as weak because I was on profile for something that my being strong had caused. Now that I’ve been out for 2 years I find that I really miss it. I never thought separation anxiety would happen to me but it has. If I could hack it I would join National Guard but I would never be able to pass a PT test with my back all screwed up like it is now. I was wondering if any other woman veterans out there still miss the Military and what you do to get over it, I find myself renting “Renaissance Man” way too often.
The VA is required by their own laws to provide all vets with the help they need to document their in service stressors as well as assist with whatever the vets needs are regarding their case. In fact, this rarely occurs unless the vet is knowledgeable about this and requests and requests their (VA) help in their case. There is a hidden agenda, and if a vet doesn’t accept this and move onward, the vet may give up if the job of proving their case seems insurmountable. Even at first blush, it is a long journey into what, who, when, where and how the vet’s in service injury or stressor will or can stand alone as the sole cause of the current disability. Even some vet organizations are not as savvy as they must be, if you are to win your case on its merits. So it remains an underground info system that is passed on from vet to vet. You meet someone in the VA hospital bed next to yours and they tell you a piece of info,you’d never heard before from anyone in authority or vet rep and then you meet another vet who tells you how this or that really happens and then you use the info and a couple of 5 or 6 years down the road after appeal after appeal, you finally have all that the VA needs to say yes, you were and are entitled to compensation. Now, you are totally exhausted, severely depressed from reliving the stressors, telling your story to every VA/first year psych med student/ intern mental health professional you’ve met, subjecting yourself to every psych evaluation exam you possibly could drag yourself to and a chronic mental health mess with adaptive personality disorder to comfort yourself while you’ve attempted to prove you had a compensatable case in the first place.. So, do you really want or believe that what happened to you in the Military is worth all this. If you do, then fight the good fight. Get your hands on all the material that is lawfully yours to have and know about and read every denial the VA gives you and list each issue with which they can not resolve in your favor. Then file an appeal. Get with it and provide the info they’ll need to rule in your favor. Remember, if they say NO, your case is denied, you haven’t given them (VA adjudication) enough info to say YES, compensation is granted.
I am retired military with 10% disability. I travel to a VA hospital approximately 40 miles from my home. I get great health care from this facility. The staff is competent, displays wonderful patient sensitivity, and delivers good service. I’ve read lots of horror stories about VA facilities and health care. I just wanted to let you know that I am a very satisfied customer of the VA system.
I was in the Air Force, and never experienced the sexual trauma that most of you have. I was 25 when I entered the military. I got out in 1981, and am now finally on 100% disability. I have had many doctors tell me that there was nothing wrong with me, that it was all in my head. I managed to quit working 11 years ago and do not regret it one minute. I lived in great poverty for 9 years. I was a single parent, [with] two children, but never took anything from anyone. I don’t to this day. I have also been to the VA hospital and left in tears. I even would not go back for as long as a year. I have had some of the civilians act like I did not belong there and treated me like dirt. But let me tell you, I did not put up with that long. I remember going to the emergency room one holiday, Monday, I ask for a copy of what I was signing as I did not have my glasses on. The person got rude with me…I was later waiting on some test results and she even got ruder with me…I think I really lost it at that point…I told her that I did not feel well and that is Why I was there, and that I did not need any of their S—, and would be happy to drive over the next day and we would settle this matter in the front office. Her supervisor was standing right beside her when she did this to me and said nothing. I sent a letter about this matter. I have even got to a VA hospital one time when I hit my ankle with a weed eater, when I got to the emergency room, there was no one else waiting in the area. I over heard two women discussing what I was getting disability for. This was none of their business, and I was so mad, I walked out of the emergency room. So if you didn’t have doctors telling you it was in your head, the civilians were treating you like they were paying your bill and you were a welfare recipient. How about the time when we went for GYN appointment and and had to sit in the hall in those house coats holding our clothes, with men patients all around us. I quit going to GYN appointments due to being humiliated, however, I filed a complaint and told them that I would not be back until something was done. The facilities are much better now, however, I will not go back to the same make doctor they have, as when he did the exam, I felt dirty and cheap, and was treated like I was stupid. He asked if I was on hormone therapy, I replied no, and he never even attempted or offered it.
I feel that I also have made a DIFFERENCE. I am unable to get medical insurance, and have to drive about 63 miles one way just to get to the VA hospital. There are time when I feel so bad, I would give anything not to have to do this drive. And I did not intend for this to be this long. I beat the disability game they played with me, and am a wiser person for it. Don’t ever give up…you have to think like the government.
BIPOLAR, PTSD, HYSTERECTOMY DISABILITY
I was placed on the TDRL last year after I was diagnosed with Bipolar, PTSD from being raped when I was a teenager and was aggravated by service. My doctor at the naval hospital says I can’t work and I was awarded by the army 30% disability with 50% of my pay. I have been battling with the VA for the past year for an evaluation am finally being evaluated. Can anyone give me advice and what to expect out of all this? They really haven’t addressed the PTSD. I know I am rambling but please try and bear with me hear. I am constantly dealing with the bipolar and was recently hospitalized and they did Electroconvulsive Therapy on me (shock treatment) Scary!! Then when I finally am able to sleep I have the terrible nightmares from being raped and then sexually harassed for 16 years of service (part of the territory) but boy I ‘m paying for it now.
One of your postings from Feb 97 [19 Feb 97, "VA Disability"] noted that the rating for a hysterectomy is 30%. If both ovaries are removed also, it is rated at 50% with the compensation for “loss or loss of use of a creative organ” currently an additional $74. I’m sure many women have been told that a hysterectomy was necessary because of cysts, or that the doctor was only going to do explorative surgery. This was my case, and I was only 23 years old at the time. In addition, another surgeon botched what should have been a simple bunionectomy. Six foot surgeries later, a permanent limp, pinched nerve in the back, and various other difficulties related to the foot surgery, as well as an unnecessary hysterectomy, have taught me not to trust doctors. Any other women who have had similar surgery, and would like to e-mail me, please feel free to do so. I strongly recommend that women disabled veterans become active in a local DAV chapter. We are a growing group, and the DAV needs our youth and gender to help carry it into the future.
Hello to all my fellow disabled women veterans, I have read your stories, I have felt your pain and with all this constant media coverage of sexual misconduct, rape, and harassment, an age old practice is now out. I have been out for 2 1/2 years after a 12 year active duty Army career, and I am having a very hard time transitioning to civilian life. There is a part of me that will always be proud to have served my country and then there is a part of me that feels so ashamed of that same service because of those “extra duties”. I have studied the VA compensation system just as I had studied for the promotion board and I have been successful. But no matter how well I am compensated I marvel at the fact that the system even exists because that reaffirms to me that they knew, before I raised my hand at age17 that the abuse would happen. I have pet fish that swims back and forth in the fishtank, and I’m sure if they could talk they would say that they have a pet human that paces back and forth in the house. We are in the same situation, they are not safe outside the tank, just as I am not safe outside my home. In my home I have control and because of this need to have control I am not able to make friends. So I am writing in hopes of connecting with other female veterans.
I’m a MSG/E8 and would have twenty years active service in August, pending medical discharge. My medical board has returned, awarding me 40% disability (30% for depression and panic disorder and 10% for a back condition.
When notified of this award, I requested a formal hearing before the medical evaluation board with legal representation. My appointed lawyer contacted me (after I had left several messages on voice mail to please contact me) 2 days prior to my hearing. Her advice to me was that a formal hearing would not help my case. She seemed very knowledgeable about the board’s reasoning for the awarded percentiles. She stated that, after listening to me, the 30% for depression and panic disorder was fair, as I could articulate my situation and had not been in the pysch ward enough to justify a higher percentile and the 10% for my back problems and the other problems was because of the previous surgeries, that pain was rated at 0%, and incontinence did not and would not keep me from performing my military duties. I rescinded my request for a formal hearing not willing to subject myself to the emotional distress of presenting my case to the board, particularly since my appointed attorney was more interested in supporting the med boards decisions, than listening to the circumstances which have brought me to this point.
I have been hospitalized in the psych unit at XX Naval Hospital twice. The first time for three weeks due to depression, caused by discrimination and harassment within my immediate chain of command. The second time because of attempted suicide, after my command had ordered me back to duty, against my doctor’s recommendations. On my second day after reporting to duty, because my choices were to either follow doctors recommendations or disobey a direct order to report to duty, a Major General “happened” to find his way into the office in which I was performing my assigned duties of answering the telephone and taking messages, and while I was at the position of attention, began a tirade against me to include stating that “I was a drain on the army” and the “taxpayers” referring the my discharge proceedings and if “I was a civilian, with medical problems “I would have been gone in 60 days”. When I attempted to explain to him that I was ordered to duty against doctors recommendations, and asked him to look at my documents, he indicated that he didn’t have the time. When I attempted to explain that the discharge proceedings were also evaluating damage to my back, resulting in incontinence, sciatica, atrophy of my legs–because of two back surgeries–the second one was performed because the first surgeon had operated on the wrong vertebrae, he continued to threaten me, and at one point looked at me and asked “what’s wrong with you, you look like you are going to cry”. Later that evening, was when I attempted suicide.
I need some advice and help, feel like I have been used up and simply discarded. My shrink indicated to the medical board that my “industrial and social adaptability is severely hampered”. The medical terminology for a basket case.
I filed a complaint with the CID in November and that complaint has not been investigated–no response. I have a feeling it is buried at National Guard Bureau, because of the rank of the individuals involved. No one has had to answer for the sexual discrimination and harassment complaints, or why my command disregarded doctors recommendations, nor the “General’s actions”. In fact, the day after my suicide attempt, the chief of personnel told my doctors that I had “sought the General out and accosted him”. I had informed the CID that I would volunteer to a polygraph test to support my statements as I realized that on several issues it was my word against someone else’s.
It seems, I’m losing everything–my career and have been forced into bankruptcy, I am 43 years old and losing everything I’ve worked for, I can no longer support my children and picture us living out of a car-someplace and I haven’t done anything wrong–my performance has always been exemplary and have learned that it means nothing–that one or two people within your chain of command can destroy you.
As has already been stated apply for VA disability when you get out even if you don’t think of yourself as disabled. Some things that you get disability for is surprising. A hysterectomy for medical reasons (not elective) gets you 30% – it’s called “loss of reproductive organ. Even if you don’t get disability now documenting things with the VA immediately upon discharge makes later claims much easier. For instance, if you take meds for high blood pressure you may or may not get much in the way of current disability but if it gets worse later it will be much easier to prove. If a later condition develops which can be attributed to a condition that developed while in the military can also be covered. If that high blood pressure later results in kidney failure, the kidney problem may also be considered service connected!
“Non-Glorious Injuries and Me”
I’m a former Marine E-3 (LCPL) that loved to play softball. Seems our field wasn’t groomed as well as the men’s fields and I found a gopher hole in far left center field while chasing a long fly ball.
The doc in the dispensary gave me some ibuprofen and wrapped my knee. Told me to go home and come back in the morning after the swelling went down then they’d decided whether or not I’d have a cast put on. Got a cast the next morning..a day or two later the cast slipped and was chafing my ankle as the swelling had gone down more.. Doc sent me home without doing anything. I was so frustrated I soaked my leg in tub and took cast off my self. Months pass. Still having pain in back and wobbly knee .. Doctor tried to tell me I was depressed.. except for the pain I wasn’t depressed.. back and forth till finally they almost killed me by prescribing valium to relax my muscles and calm me down.. I’m allergic to valium (which I didn’t know). Doc finally gave up and sent me to board at Pendleton.
Board gave me a disability of 30%. Discharged me in May 75. Went to VA doctors..(funny thing is I was now working as a teletypist at the VA). Finally saw doctor around Sept/Oct; it takes a while to get an appointment …sigh.. young ARMY MAJOR doing rounds at the VA says “I think you have a back problem that’s aggravating your knee and your knee isn’t quite right.” Sends me all
over the hospital getting tests. Within a week, we are sitting down and he says I have 1, potentially more, disc’s out in my back . Well I saw how the women were treated at the VA and decided to have my surgery done at private hospital. So in January they did a myelogram the day before surgery to see exactly how bad my back was and found 4 disc’s out of whack. Next day I was up and about and my right leg was tingling..
I realized for the first time in months that I could feel my foot. And Now 21 years later am grateful for that Army DOC doing his rotation at the VA. Although I have a lil pain in the morning and after a long day I get around ok. and a year later I had my knee operated on .. now that I’m almost 42 I have a wee bit of pain and hope it won’t get worse but it probably will.
Not sure if I will be able to get my disability reinstated if it gets worse as back in the 80′s since I had had surgery and was relatively pain free I was dropped to 0 percent.
Has anyone else been in a situation where they were reduced to 0 per cent but later increased? I’m lucky as for now I have insurance and a good job(= ok money)
OH by the way I did catch that darn ball that caused all this fuss.
I made some great friends in the Corps. Heck except for the injuries I’d do it all again.
I was a medical assistant in the Air Force 68-70,Vietnam era. I was stationed at Travis AFB and worked mostly in the 2nd Casualty unit, caring for casualties of the war. While serving I started suffering from migraine headaches, stomach and bowel problems. I was also sexually assaulted and had a child because of that.
I have recently been evaluated at 70% disabled a combination of 50 for PTSD and 30 for migraines. I have awful nightmares and flashbacks often. Anyone who is having problems related to their service, please contact a DAV rep or someone who will listen. I tried first to the local VA office and they told me since I had kids I wouldn’t be eligible for benefits and should get welfare. Funny huh. Anyways, I went through the Disabled American Veterans through the Veterans Hospital, and she helped me with paper work. I sure appreciate this lady, who had recently retired. I miss her a lot. Please don’t give up. We are damaged by the years we sacrificed to serve our country. We do deserve help.
I started in the harassment section, moved on to the retiree section, found several other sections interesting and was amazed there seems to be others out there that are and have been going through what I have. I guess I’m a bit grateful I’m not the only one that has faced so much of this. Post Traumatic Stress?? The symptoms are all there but mine was ignored. I’m trying desperately to get someone to see me over medical problems left over from before I retired. I’ve got numerous “minor” problems that seem to be from stress including heart, back, tumors, panic attacks, depression, etc., etc. The problem is I can’t seem to get anyone to give me a clear answer. I’m unbelievably frustrated. I’d been through quite a bit and survived 20 years of service and even succeeded in raising a family and acquiring an MBA. Unfortunately, I’m apparently trapped by a negligent and uncaring Air Force medical facility. The result of which is that I’m unable to find employment and I’m facing bankruptcy. No one seems willing to hire someone in my situation. I’m determined to get back on track but it’s been over a year since they floored me by telling me I had a tumor that might be cancerous but that since I’d already requested to retire and had just started my terminal leave – tough luck. I’ve been trying to get it cleared up ever since. The latest round has netted near daily promises that when they hear of an opening where I might be seen and possibly scheduled for surgery they’ll let me know. That started 3 months ago. The VA was more observant. They actually did a real physical and found heart problems for which I’m receiving a 10% disability as well as noting numerous other items but I haven’t been able to find any more information out as to what to do about it. The response from this hospital concerning the VA heart findings was to tell me oh well, we can’t figure it out, “some people are just weird that way, deal with it”. So, if there is ANYONE that can provide some help or advice toward how I can get some medical help I’d be very grateful.
“It Has To Get Better”
I am a 60% disabled vet and I hope telling my story, will help someone who is the victim of sexual or racial discrimination in the military to come forward. We, as women in the military, know from the initial training phase that being able to become part of the team will make or break our career. If someone steps out of line, says or does what we would retaliate against a civilian for, we try very hard to push it aside if it is a military member, in particular a member who is part of our immediate team. I have seen and personally experienced acts that in the civilian community would find the harasser looking for another job, if not jail. We, as women in the military, have pushed these acts aside and tried to down play the offense, blowing it off so to speak. And I remember a time when I would look at women who complained of sexual harassment/assault as liars, whiney butts, and a threat to the camaraderie.
So, what changed for me? I became a victim. I was in a command that gave certain people entirely too much control over the lives of others. People who had proven themselves to be not capable of handling the job. God, I wish I could go back and stop the nightmare. I didn’t want this man to assault me, I didn’t ask for the pain, hurt, or anger he has evoked in me. But if you have been or are now being sexually abused or harassed, please speak out. Tell a chaplain, a doctor, anybody. Send an anonymous letter to you service EEO administrator. The VA Military Womens’ Benefits coordinator in you area will also be a great source of information and support whether you are active or veteran. Believe me, the hardest step I ever had to take was the first one. And it was only after 2 suicide attempts, 3 hospital stays, and a breakdown of my ability to function. I knew nothing but the military, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. But remembering that time, I know that if I had not left, I would be dead now. You don’t have to face this alone. He (my attacker) was the poster child for professionalism at work. Married, good family structure, poor geographical bachelor. I was of questionable background. Who would believe me? I honestly thought I could lock this away and never deal with it again. But the attacks did come back and they did haunt me. So, I had no choice but to address them. And in healing a range of emotions have surfaced from fear to anger. I continue to heal and the investigation into my assault is ongoing.
But hear this if nothing else. A few years ago, I came home to die. With the help of the Veterans Administration and my belief in a higher power, I am a successful college student looking at a future as an attorney. I am a survivor. And if you end the nightmare for yourself, you too will be a survivor. It may feel like it, but you are not alone.
I am very glad to see this board for disabled women vets. Many of us deal with PTSD and it is not easily recognized by the VA. I am a gulf war vet and also dealt with sexual harassment, discrimination, attempted sexual assault (my loaded 45 saved the day) and a variety of nightmares I won’t describe here.
There is a Women’s Trauma Recovery Unit in Palo Alto California which is run by the VA and is part of the National Center for PTSD. I probably would not be alive today if it was not for the wonderful staff there, especially the women who were so knowledgeable and helpful. They deal with war zone trauma (from all wars) as well as sexual trauma including assault, harassment etc.
I was an officer and thought I would be immune from all the craziness involving sexual assault and harassment. It is worse in a war zone because all normal human respect for others goes out the window in a war zone. I am currently 100% service-connected for PTSD and resigned my commission in 1993. I am hoping to eventually get back to work, but at least now I know how to deal with my symptoms of PTSD and do not feel hopeless or crazy anymore. There is hope and there is help available.
I am a disabled veteran also, I’m 50% disabled by the military not having the right equipment for me when I went into the Army. My boots are size one they said. So they had to be specially made. It took them 11 months to get my boots to me. So in basic training I had to go to the brace shop and have the boots padded for my feet every Saturday morning so they would fit me. On the last Wednesday of basic training we went to the obstacle course, when I went to the 8 foot jump I fell on my left knee. I didn’t feel any pain. I just kept falling down when I walked, so my partner, the man that I had told, told me that I must have really hurt my leg. But, I didn’t feel anything. I just kept on falling down. When we started marching back to camp I still fell down. So we all stopped to see why I was doing that. I sat down and the Sgt. took off my left boot and my leg had swelled up like a basketball really quick. Then I was hurting really bad. I was put in the hospital for 3 months and still have trouble with my leg. I also hurt my right eye in the service. I was stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga. for three years. I really like the service but had to get out because of my leg.
I, too, am rated at 60% disabled. I thoroughly understand the frustrations voiced here. I’ve been to the ER at the local VA with my knee swelling so bad that they had to cut my jeans off to examine it. What did they do? Send me to emergency psych. It was all in my head. I’ve also been told that I would have to wait until the “real” vets were taken care of. It’s degrading, to say the least. Finally, in 1995, 19 years after the original injury, they replaced my right knee. Now, they say, the muscles have atrophied too much to properly use the knee. So, I’m stuck. And even now when I go in for exams, I feel like I’m taking up some young pup’s time. I am so grateful to have a loving, supporting husband and family, plus a circle of close friends that never let the despair get too bad. But I know I could never have done it alone. That’s what is so great about a place like this, everybody understands. Thanks.
I am a military veteran (Army) and declared 60% disabled. I am very bitter about the cause of part of my disability (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome with depression, secondary anxiety, panic attacks, and depersonalization episodes). The remaining portion of my disabilities may not have been necessary either if I had received proper medical care at the time of the injuries. I would like to elaborate on the former portion of my disability however, as it has to do with what is going on in the Army at the moment.
Twelve years ago, while holding the rank of 1LT, I fell victim to the sick desires of a male superior (MAJ X) and direct supervisor. I went through close to a year of pure hell fighting off his sexual advances and not buckling under the constant threats to give in or he would ruin my career. I was a single parent (15 year old daughter), out of my element in a fairly new duty assignment, and ashamed to even discuss the situation with my family. To make matters even worse, I felt if I came forth with charges or at a minimum, a complaint – the whole world would be against me because of his favorable reputation.
Having been prior enlisted, I was always very troop conscious and had a reputation as being a very fair and understanding officer among the enlisted and NCO personnel. I still can not come to a resolve with the guilt that finally brought this situation to light. We had sent an increment of enlisted personnel to Fort Sam Houston for a short duty tour under the direction of the previously mentioned officer. Three days into the assignment, my headquarters received a call that one of our female enlisted (PFC) had been found unconscious in a drainage ditch outside the female barracks around 6am. She had been evaluated in the emergency room and found to have been raped and sodimized so badly, that it was said her vagina appeared to be like raw hamburger. When the preliminary investigation disclosed that the last person known to have seen her was this MAJ X, a female SFC at the headquarters blew up in my face with rage. She told me I should have been ashamed of myself for allowing his actions toward me for the many previous months and that my negligence disgusted her to the point of making her physically nauseous. I over looked her out burst as I was elated to finally find a witness to his actions against me. It was a long and very emotionally draining up hill battle to get past the immediate headquarters and into the 5th Army investigative channels. During the period of investigations, my daughter was continually threatened my anonymous phone calls, I was physically run off the road between duty and home five times in four months, and I was even shot at while getting out of my car, in my drive way, after returning home from duty. The PFC was declared permanently catatonic and shipped to a mental institution, never to speak again for the rest of her life. The female SP4 who had initially come forth and made the statement that the MAJ X was the last one seen in the company of the PFC (under the pretense of safely escorting her to her barracks following a party) mysteriously disappeared before formal investigation came into place. Every near and distant family member was contacted for information as to her whereabouts with no result. It was suspicioned she had been disposed of but was contended without a body, there was no evidence for charges.
After a lengthy investigation by the 5th Army prosecutor, 29 female enlisted personnel from the MAJ X’s previous assignment (within the same command) anonymously came forth and provided statements of sexual assault and harassment against this officer on my behalf. After many months Washington D.C. approved a Court’s Martial against him with the prosecutors contention that he was going for a minimum of 20 years in Leavenworth. During the period of time that the approval was being returned to 5th Army for commencement of action, the officer (MAJ X) elected to take an unsolicited resignation from service. Washington DC approved the request as they said the Court’s Martial would take a minimum of six months to conclude considering the evidence and it would be a very expensive process. The MAJ X’s final statement in front of witnesses before he was released was that he would get me, if it took him the rest of his life to do it. I have spent 12 years and still am looking over my shoulder. I was never offered any assistance (medical or otherwise) following the episode, except for being whisked out of my duty assignment and reassigned to a bogus location on paper to cover my trail. This was prior to the conclusion of the final investigation because St. Louis contended (based on information from the investigations) that my life was in danger.
During the early part of 1986, I began to experience episodes of what has now been classified as depersonalization. Later that same year I ended up in the psych unit of a military hospital for two weeks. I didn’t even know where I was for two days after I was admitted. I couldn’t then nor for 10 years following bring myself to discuss what was bothering me for fear of being found by or having to possibly face the MAJ X again. I still often wake up screaming from nightmares of him. I am terrified to out into crowds for fear he will be there, and I haven’t had a successful intimate relationship since the occurrence. My mother died in late ’94 never knowing the circumstances of my situation but very aware there had been a vast and frustrating change in me. Until the day she died, she tried to encourage and comfort me without knowing why. My daughter was not as tolerant with the end result that this situation produced. As a result I have not seen or spoken to her since the month after my mother passed.
I am thankful for the assistance I am finally getting from the Veteran’s Hospital but more times than none, I feel the help has come too late. I am on my fifth medication at present and results are not evident. I fought desperately to take an early retirement in April of this year as I believed that I was no longer giving my best to the military. It was not until I was going through VA processing to determine the extent of other service connected disabilities that I broke down again and all of this was disclosed. I have been seen by a vast majority of service providers at the VA (as I retired with 20 contended service connected disabilities). All but three have been females, for which I will be eternally grateful. I now have four permanent service providers (all female) and they are wonderful. In conclusion I sincerely encourage any woman (still in service or a veteran) who has gone through anything similar to what I have experienced to seek help immediately. Please don’t let fear or guilt stand in your way. All of the other things you have a possibility of loosing far out weigh these emotions.
Take care and God bless, A veteran Major
I am a disabled woman veteran. I was discharged from service due to an injury that was totally the fault of the military. If it wasn’t for my fellow vets, I would have given up hope. Because I was a woman and easily frustrated by the circles I was being spun in by the hospital, I got extremely upset and began to cry when the doctor finally saw me. I was tired, in pain and ready to quit. This doctor made me feel the desire even more. He told me I was suffering depression and need to see a shrink, that my head was messed up and I didn’t need a medical doctor. I left the hospital feeling worse than when I’d come in and more upset and depressed than I had ever felt. I was a mess. I wanted to quit.
Fortunately, I had made friends with a vet who doesn’t know what the word quit is. He told me what I needed to do and helped me to do what was right for me and my condition. I’ve been to 4 different VA Hospitals, two of which I left in tears of frustration and humiliation. I was “searched” by a man who put his hands on me in one hospital. I was too scared to do anything about it. Well, I got tough. I learned to do the things that had to be done and began to work on getting other women vets together and straightening out our hospitals. I write letters, I talk to people, I make it better for women to be fear-free when entering a “male dominated” hospital. I am currently on the Women Veteran’s Committee at the hospital. I make a difference so that the women who comes through the doors behind me won’t feel the pain and humiliation that I did. Without the help and guidance of other vets who care, I wouldn’t be getting the help I need and the women behind me wouldn’t either. We do make a difference! I’ve learned to stand up for my rights and not be pushed aside. I MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!! We women need to stand together and be recognized, not criticized. We need to take back our rights and be recognized for the service we deserve for being VETERANS! I am unable to hold a job due to my disability; but it doesn’t stop me from doing whatever I can to help my fellow vets. I use everyday that I can to dedicate my life to helping my follow vets and though they are not as many as I’d like, I do what I can. Please, if you are disabled or need the help of the VA, DON’T GIVE UP!!!! MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!! WOMEN ARE VETERANS, TOO!!!!!!!!
I am a woman who is also a veteran and an employee of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. I understand the frustrations you experience in dealing with the system and want to encourage you to keep at it. Like all government agencies it can be slow and bureaucratic. The best thing you can do is to visit with a Veterans Benefits Counselor at your Regional Office and go over your file if you experience difficulty. We are willing and able. Many of us are veterans too! There are no less than five women veterans in our office, and many of the men are veterans. Everyone truly does try to work with you and help. And, if you don’t get the service you deserve, make sure you express this to the individual’s supervisor.