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red star bulletRelated Links: Testimony Main Page

Veterans, Combat Stress and the Family: A Bipartisan Federal Issue Briefing” hosted by Witness Justice and supported by VVA. Panelists included VVA’s Dr. Tom Berger; Kathryn Power, CMHS Director; John Baker, Attorney; Todd Bowers, IAVA; and Gen. Xenakis, DoD

October 24, 2008

Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member and members of the Subcommittee. On behalf of VVA National President John Rowan and all of our officers and members we thank you for the opportunity for Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) to appear here today to share our views regarding Media Outreach to Veterans. We thank you for your leadership on this all important issue of vital importance to veterans of every generation. I will briefly summarize the most important points of our statement.

It is a truism, but is none the less true that denial of knowledge of veterans’ benefits, health issues, and available medical care is tantamount to denying said health care, benefits, and services. This is the situation that all too many veterans find themselves today, and they are not even aware of it.

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) estimates that the majority of those in-country Vietnam veterans who have had prostate cancer and died, are battling prostate cancer today, or who have battled prostate cancer and are still surviving have no clue that it is related to their service in Southeast Asia during the war. Since about 80% of veterans do not go anywhere near a VA medical facility, and the majority of veterans do not belong to any veterans group, and the VA does virtually nothing to educate them and their civilian medical providers that prostate cancer is service connected presumptive at VA and that we are twice as likely to get prostate cancer as those who did not serve in SE Asia, this fact is not surprising.

Some may ask “what is the big deal about that?” Well, what it means for those veterans who get very sick and die is that often their families are left with enormous and crushing medical bills that endanger the retention of the home. Instead of VA paying for something that should be treated as service connected, and the veteran receiving compensation while he is too sick to work and the widow receiving dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) if he dies, the widow and family are left with nothing but debts and in dire financial straights. This is just so wrong on every level. It is egregious that this situation is allowed to continue. Yet VA has done nothing about it, despite the fact that VVA has repeatedly used this example with the current and previous top leadership of VA, to no avail.

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