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Celebration is in order for "The Blue Water Navy Act for Vietnam Veterans", which now replaces HR 299! Backslapping politicians are taking credit for the Bill passing, yet did nothing for over 40 years! Senators could have acted when most of Veterans concerned were alive. Now that most of these Vietnam Veterans affected are deceased, hooray for the Senate Sub-Committee. We have been discussing this issue for quite some time with no support from The House and Senate, yet, politicians display their names as co-sponsors. HR 299 subsequently is sent to sub-committee, where it inevitably becomes inconsequential until the next election.
Now that HR 299 is behind us, we are grateful that the few remaining Patriots who served as Blue Water Veterans, will be provided the compensation they earned. What has not yet come to light is the issue of "Territorial Seas of Vietnam". This area is only 12 nautical miles. It would not cover the Veterans serving on our Air Craft Carriers, heavily exposed to Agent Orange, nor the pilots landing the distributors. Aircraft covered in this poisonous substance that flew low for ground support may also be exempted. Currently, we shall remain silent on the subject. The credit should go where the credit is due. Vice President Pence and President Trump, who made a simple phone call, got action taken. They both deserve our gratitude, respect and loyalty.
Now we must focus on another conundrum. We must confront the flawed Table used by the VA to determine combined service related disabilities.
Our goal at onlyusa.us, is the final and complete abolition of The Combined Ratings Table, which has been in use for 100 years. This table is used to calculate related and consequential service disabilities in order to determine the rate of compensation for the Veteran. It is mathematically obtuse. It does not serve the purpose for which is was originally intended. Please know that Miss Harriet Nix, myself and our colleagues are ON IT ! We will not rest until this flagrantly misguided system is terminated.
The sad truth is that the VA already knows this method is inaccurate and unfair to the Veteran. Yet, they chose to idly continue usage. I see it as being very much like cooking with a pot that you are certain has a hole in the bottom.
Experts trained in the field of Actuary Science are astounded that the VA uses this table. I refer you to the opinion of one of those experts. A Professor of Actuary Science, from a prominent university, commented directly to myself via email:
"As an actuary who has worked with disabled life tables - we call them impaired life tables - in the past, I am sympathetic to the issues you brought up. The VA formula appears to assume that each disability is "independent" of one other which is true sometimes, but not true other times. An example would go like this: If a loss of an eye is deemed to be 50% disability; the loss of the second eye is not an additional 25% disability, but an additional 50% disability, adding up to a 100% total disability. On the other hand, a loss of an eye, plus a loss of an arm may be thought of as "independent" as the VA formula assumes.
I find some obvious issues with VA formulas.
The VA's practice of rounding to the nearest 10% all but propagates that their formula provides only a rough guideline. Is there room for improvement? Yes. Will it make a huge difference? Only for some of those affected." This speculation is in congruence with the legal findings of an Attorney I spoke with, who has represented Veterans in The United States Court of Appeal- Federal District Level.
The courts do not rule on the accuracy of method(s) used by the Veterans Administration. They rule only on whether or not the methods were properly applied in the singular case. There is a huge discrepancy.
This calculation is in agreement with the Professor of Actuary Science and said: "If the loss of one eye is deemed to be 50% disability, and then the loss of the second eye is considered 25% disability, that is illogical. The loss of the second eye is actually another 50% impairment. This adds to a total of 100%, not 75% as the table concludes. Most secondary disabilities are not independent of the first. It is the same human being. Each subsequent impairing wound produces a cumulative effect. It is cold-hearted to assume separation. Initially, 100 years ago, this ideology may have been acceptable, but it would not be deemed accurate today."
Update from: Actuary-in-Residence & Actuarial Program Coordinator, Oregon State University ; Department of Mathematics, My question, to him, was about independence of service connected conditions. Here is his response:
"If independence were assumed, what VA is doing would be correct. With my eye-then-another-eye example, I was demonstrating that not all second disabilities are independent of the first. The second disability should be assessed in in conjunction with the first, not independent of it. That would make the formula too complex, and that's why they assume independence - to make the whole scheme simple. I think that most secondary disabilities are not independent of the first. It's the same body: each disability has a cumulative effect. Independence should not be assumed. It may have been acceptable when conceived, but it wouldn't pass muster today."
Additionally, consider the impact of a service connected disability on a Veteran already disabled and compare it to a Veteran who is 100% healthy. They both get the same disability rating for a heart condition; 60%. The 100% healthy Veteran receives the full 60%, however, the Veteran with a 50% disability has the 60% new disability reduced to 20% (60% +20% = 80%).
Politicians do not realize that the Veteran with an existing disability is impacted greater than, not less than, a Veteran 100% healthy. I feel certain that we can once again call upon Vice President Pence and President Trump for their leadership by insisting the Senators involved correct this injustice for our Veterans. Disabled Veterans have offered their lives to protect The United States .Those who have survived and returned to our great nation deserve equitable retribution.
Personnel at the VA that I have spoken with do not even comprehend the math behind the formula for combining service connected disabilities. The VA takes two ratings like the two I mentioned 50% & 60%. The highest rating is 60%, they subtract 60% from 100% for a remainder of 40%. Then they multiply 40% x 50% = 20%. Next they add 20% to the 60% for a rating of 80%.
That is the absurd formula behind the table. It is inconceivably faulty. This methodology should be abolished. The nature of warfare has changed, the nature of service related injury and disability has changed. There are other various means by which the level of disability may be determined and addressed. This is America. We have choices. Our disabled service men and women had a choice as well. They chose to serve their country.