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Letter to the editor: An account of problems with VA

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 12:01 am

I have been following the problems within the VA with interest as I am a Korean War veteran who, until recently, appeared not to be eligible for VA benefits. Let me explain.

I served in Korea in 1953 in a medical company located north of the 38th parallel. Although I did not see combat, I saw the results of combat. After coming back in 1954 and serving an additional eight years in the inactive reserve, I was given my DD214, the honorable discharge paper from the Army.

I did not try to get into the VA until after January 2003. I was not wounded and wanted other vets to avail themselves of the VA. Unfortunately, I found out that the VA director had arbitrarily made a means test for class 7 and 8 veterans on that date. These classifications were the least priority for the VA. I did not apply as I wasn’t eligible under the means test, even though I served in Korea during the conflict.

About six years ago, I applied for VA membership through the local assistance officer. I could not get into the VA as I still couldn’t meet the means test. The assistance officer then tried to get me in because of my loss of hearing (unloading evacuation helicopters) He was told that, since my records were burned in a fire in St. Louis, there was no record of my personnel history. I was refused admittance to the VA.

Recently, the VA relaxed the means test slightly and I tried again. I was accepted, and then found out that I had made an honest mistake on my income. At that point I was sent a letter saying that I could be removed from the VA roles at any time. I decided not to avail myself of the VA services since I didn’t want to run up a bill and have to pay later. I already had paid a bill sent by the VA due to their placing me in the wrong category.

Two weeks ago I inquired about my status by calling the VA’s national phone line. I was told that I should apply locally again. I called the VA-Fort Wayne and was told that I should no longer concern myself with the means test and that I also should reapply for hearing compensation. An appointment was made, but I later canceled it as I don’t have much trust in the Veterans Administration.

At this point, I’m waiting and watching, since it seems to me that the Veterans Administration can arbitrarily change the rules again.

Wayne A. Doenges

New Haven