Honey Sue is one of fewer than one thousand children of Vietnam veterans to be acknowledged by the US Department of veterans Affairs, (VA) as disabled by birth defects caused by a birth parent’s exposure to Agent Orange. Honey Sue’s biological birth father served four 13 month tours in combat in Vietnam as a Marine Rifleman. Because of his exposure to A/O during those 52 months, Honey Sue’s birth defects are conceded by the VA to be a result of his (lengthy and direct) exposure to the highly toxic Agent Orange.
The US Congress has decreed that all of the roughly one thousand A/O birth defect children from the Vietnam war, including Honey Sue, are to receive full health care coverage from the VA, the same as disabled war veterans, since their birth defects are determined to be caused by their parent’s A/O exposure. A great part of this health care coverage is authorized to be provided under federal law in 38 US 1803 .
38 US 1803 says that the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs “SHALL” provide health care to the A/O Spina Bifida children such as Honey Sue. It does not say the Secretary “may provide” or that the Secretary “can provide,” it says that the Secretary of the VA “SHALL PROVIDE” health care to the A/O Spina Bifida children such as Honey Sue.
The text of 38 US 1803 goes on to define health care as INCLUDING home care, hospital care, nursing home care, outpatient care, preventive care, habilitative and rehabilitative care, case management, and respite care.
Then it DEFINES habilitative and rehabilitative care in this manner : The term “habilitative and rehabilitative care” means such professional, counseling, and guidance services and treatment programs (other than vocational training under section 1804 of this title) as are necessary to develop, maintain, or restore, to the maximum extent practicable, the functioning of a disabled person.
Pretty simple, huh?
The PROBLEM is that despite the enabling legislation and the federal codes, and the clarity of the language, the VA refuses to provide the care to the A/O children. They just flat refuse. No reasons, no explanations, no communication, they just refuse to provide the care laid out in 38 US 1803. This leaves Honey Sue and the other A/O Spina Bifida in the lurch, without the needed health care they are owed.
How does the VA get by with refusing to do what Congress has legislated for them to do? The VA is a HUGE, cumbersome bureaucracy, second in size in our government to ONLY the US Dept of Defense. (DoD) If the VA doesn’t want to do something that Congress intends them to do, they just fail to respond and stall, stall, stall. The VA knows it can often take years or decades for Congress or the courts to force them to obey the law, and they take advantage of this to ignore the intentions of Congress and the needs of veterans. That is what the VA has done and is still doing on the 38 US 1803 care for the A/O children. The Va has simply ignored the law, and refuses to answer. And, they stall, and stall and stall.
My family has attempted to communicate with the VA about this for several years. They have ignored our attempts. Our former Congressman, Congressman Brad Elsworth tried to communicate with the VA about their failure to provide the 38 US 1803 care, but the VA ignored him and his staff. The office of our current Congressman, Congressman Larry Bucshon, has ALSO tried to communicate with the VA about this, without any sucess. So has the office of Senator Richard Luger, but he can’t get answers either. The national office of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) has also tried to pry answers about this issue out of the VA, and they too are ignored, disrespected and stalled by the VA.
One journalist, while attempting to dig into the VA actions, by seeking information under the Freedom of Information Act, was threatened by the VA to “back off” about asking questions about 38 US 1803. If you or I made the same threat to the a VA employee, we would be interogated by the FBI, and probably go to jail. But, the VA threatens journalists that try to shed light on VA crimes, and the VA makes these threats with complete impunity. I will gladly put any FBI agents or newspaper reporters into contact with the journalist that the VA threatened over this. Ask me.
The VA would like everyone to believe that this issue is very complicated. It is not, it is as simple as pie. The US Congress and 38 US 1803 says that Honey Sue and the other A/O Spina Bifida children are supposed to receive habilitative and rehabilitative care, as well as case managent services, respite care, guidance and counseling, but the VA simply refuses to obey and refuses to communicate about 38 us 1803 services with either our family, Congress or the news media.
I want to know WHY the VA won’t deliver the authorized care? And, I want to know where ALL OF THE MONEY has gone since 1997, that was intended by Congress to pay for the care which I am seeking for Honey Sue and the other A/O Spina Bifida children?
If YOU want to help force some justice for these helpless children of war, and make the VA tell the truth about the 38 US 1803 care, please call these following government offices, and tell them, that you request that the VA to follow the law, obey 38 US 1803 and provide the health care Congress intended for the A/O Spina Bifida children.
Please call NOW!
1. Congressman Larry Bucshon — Indiana office -812-422-4761 Washington, DC office 202-225-3284
2. Senator Richard Luger —- Indiana office 812-465-6313 Washington, DC office 202-224-4814
3. House Veterans Affairs office (Jon Tower) Washington, DC office 202-225-3527
4. Kate Shebesh Chief Business Officer (VA) VHA Washington, DC office 202-461-1600