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Disabled American Vets Living Overseas Are Getting Screwed Out of Healthcare
Do you know that there are approximately 28,000 disabled Veterans who live outside of the U.S. who are excluded from receiving health care from the VA? Many of these Veterans are classified by the VA as 50% or more disabled. If they resided in the U.S., they could be entitled to non-service connected disability health care from the VA at no cost (depending upon their financial status); but because they live overseas they are flatly denied. The question is “Why?”
A group of laws known as “Title 38” originally authorized the VA to provide health care to only Veterans with service connected disabilities (regardless of where they lived). This general restriction was modified in 1996 to provide non-service disability health care for Veterans living in the U.S. but not for Veterans living outside of the U.S. Section 1724 of Title 38 specifically prohibits the VA from providing non-service disability health care to expat veterans.
Some argue that Veterans who have decided to live abroad have deserted their country and don’t deserve non-service disability health care from the VA. That is a tough opinion to change, but let me say this. In the 21st century with modern communications it doesn’t matter where in the world a person lives. An American is an American is an American no matter in what country he/she resides. Most expat Veterans continue to pay U.S. taxes, many vote regularly via absentee ballot and with the help of the Internet, stay better informed than many stateside Veterans.
Others argue that fraud would run rampant if the VA paid for non-service disability health care outside of the U.S. However, the facts simply do not support that contention. Military retirees living abroad use TriCare for their medical coverage – a form of health care insurance earned by their years of service; no rampant fraud experienced there.
Also, the FMP (Foreign Medical Program run by the VA) already pays for foreign health care directly related to service-connected disabilities that is incurred abroad; no rampant fraud experienced there.
So why aren’t disabled expat Veterans treated in the same manner as disabled stateside Veterans? Section 1724 of Title 38 is a horse and buggy era law and many, both inside and outside of the VA, agree that it should be repealed; but getting Congress to act is another story. “Budget constraints” is what most in Congress use as their defense for not acting but we all know that extending well-earned benefits to 25,000 disabled expat Veterans isn’t even going to cause a small blip on the Congressional budget radar screen.
One of the largest groups of Americans who decide to live abroad are Veterans. Many have spent a considerable part of their military service abroad; some speak two or more languages and have grown accustomed to life overseas, particularly in the developing world. Living back home in America may even seem boring and slow once they leave the service. And of course, the cost of living overseas, including health care, is substantially less than the U.S.
Making the location of where you place your boots at night a condition of VA health care benefit eligibility is shameful at best; cruel and deceitful at worst. When we raised our hands and swore to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States, there was no legal small print in our oath.
I now ask Congress to erase the legal small print in their oath to us; repeal Section 1724 of Title 38 and treat disabled expat Veterans fairly no matter where they place their boots at night.
Ken Adams is a disabled Vietnam veteran living in Thailand. He served 3 years in the U.S. Army as a Terrain Analyst assigned to CICV in Saigon in 1969 and to the 64th Engineering Detachment at IFFV HQ in Nha Trang in 1970. The VA has classified him as 70% disabled, primarily due to Ischemic Heart Disease more likely than not caused by exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
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An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.