Incarcerated, disabled veterans

Smith, Andrew Jackson

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Andrew Jackson Smith Elmore Correctional Center (AL) Incarcerated Disabled Veterans Many issues concerning out military veterans exist today and attempts to address most are in progress. Some neglect has been identified, such as the length of disability claims being made to time of conference, but recently progress in resolving these has improved much. There is the ever-present, emotional and debatable POW/MIA issue involving Congress and families. Relatively new health issues such as traumatic brain injury and Gulf War Syndrome have been pursued, as well as on-going old issues, such as agent orange and asbestos related illnesses. Homeless veterans are being accommodated and those with substance abuse related problems. The high incidence of suicide has been noted and efforts to curtail these are under way. One group of veterans exist today that have been all but denied, which is inconsistant with United States ideology. The lack of acknowlegement and inadequate treatment of veterans while incarcerated is the greatest insult to those having served their nation by our all-inclusive government from every level (Federal, state, and local). This paper concentrates on a sub-set of those incarcerated veterans: those with disabilities as a result of their military service. Men and women from across our great nation join the various branches of our military while fully knowing the risk entailed, specially if called upon for hazardous duty. The ultimate sacrifice, for which there is no due compensation, is one?s very own life. Then, this is distantly followed by injury which may lead to present and/or future disability. The Veterans Administration has a system in place to collect, evaluate, and determine treatment and financial compensation for injuries incurred in line of duty or as a consequence of duty. A veteran may be rated from zero percent, warranting no financial recompense but having shown a connection to service, up to one hundred percent entitling him or her to two thousand eight hundred and sixteen dollars per month. A veteran receiving disability pay and other benefits (and there are many) has earned that. Many soldiers careers were terminated prematurely as a direct result of their disability. Others continued service with endurable disability until reaching retirement. Most Americans would find it unthinkable to know that totally disabled veterans may have their monthly payment reduced from two thousand eight hundred and sixteen dollars per month to one hundred and twenty nine dollars per month, and in addition be denied all heath care, and all other veteran benefits. This is exactly what occurs when a disabled veteran becomes incarcerated as a result of a conviction. In no other circumstances are veterans denied the befits to which they have rightfully earned by service to the their country, whom has qualified them for these entitlements. Now, the stated reasoning behind incarcerated veterans being denied all benefits is grossly flawed, to the extent to simply being an absolute false/ untrue claim made by the Federal government, and repeatedly falsely claimed by state and local government entities. The government claims veterans are adequately housed, clothed, fed, provided medical care, educational, recreational, social opportunities, so as not to necessitate disability pay; that is disability pay on top of care already provided would consist of a double dividend. This is a preposterous claim and completely irresponsible of the government toward veterans, and without and contrary to factual data widely known and available to our officials, concerning America?s penal institutions holding our veterans. Prison conditions at every level, throughout the country are indisputably substandard to those in society. This is not to say this substandard equivalates to unconstitutional for not, that encroaches on yet another argument, needing to be addressed. But this long-term, widely known, and consciously intolerable problem of neglect and denial of incarcerated veterans basic human needs is an issue that warrants, no less than the president of the United States attention at the executive level. To date, in the history of this country, could any president, so much as answer the question: ?how many incarcerated veterans are there and also with disability?? This paper is to be non-biased. Some feel veterans convicted of crimes should loose all benefits. Remember that veterans are also among the wrongly convicted and absolutely innocent serving time, sometimes life for crimes they had no part of, what so ever. Retired veterans continue to receive their retirement pay while incarcerated, as it should be, while disabled veteran are loosing their pay. Also, significant progress has been made to intervene in the judiciary system prior to veterans being incarcerated and also once they have been released from captivity. However, the government has taken a ?hands-off? approach to those veterans living daily within the confines of America?s prisons, providing absolutely no support during their incarceration, which can extend to the duration of their entire lives. This author?s opinion is that disabled veterans convicted of crimes should not be deemed no longer disabled, fit for work assignments, forced into labor, all previous medical diagnosis invalidated and denied all medical care. This is precisely what occurs in at least one state (the Alabama Department of Corrections) and generally to some extent throughout the nation, while our government oversight committees in both the house and senate, sit back in passive approval. The penal system in the United States makes no provisions to acknowledge and accommodate veterans and their applicable situations or circumstances to incarceration. The government does however go to great effort to insure all disabled veterans are deprived of their monetary entitlement as soon as possible. These attitudes are extended to the Veterans Administration, who likewise cannot answer an inquiry as to how many veterans are incarcerated. The correct actions toward veterans during their incarceration serve no purpose but to deprive monies rightfully owed to veterans and misappropriate these funds to the U.S. treasury, while aggravating existing disabilities in our nation?s disabled veterans. The V.A. has done too little too late for disabled veterans interacting with the judiciary system because of attempting to avoid government vs. government dispute. So a fundamental methodological flaw of the V.A. allowing the penal system to be responsible for disabled incarcerated veterans has resulted in appalling national national travesty of abuse towards an entire class of America?s veterans. One such real case example follows: A veteran enters the Alabama Department of Corrections and presents his documentation from the V.A. that he is totally and permanently disabled with both one hundred percent disability due to physical diagnosis and one hundred percent to psychological diagnosis. The veteran has copies of his medical records, he presents to the medical staff of both nurses and again to the doctor. The veteran is then told he is no longer disabled by the nurses and doctor and will be assigned work. The veteran presents documentation to the warden, who responds that if he does not report to work, he will be place in punitive ?hot dorm,? until he works. In addition, of the dozen or so previous prescriptions the veteran takes, none are continued in the D.O.C. As his medical conditions are aggravated due to work and new ailments emerge as a consequence of prison conditions, the veteran is denied all treatment. He must file a law suit to which the D.O.C. responds with a campaign of harassment further leading to deterioration of the veteran?s condition. This is a typical scenario which often gets worse leading to avoidable illness and premature death in incarcerated veterans. the government is responsible, and burying it?s head in the sand will not help. It?s time to address the denial of benefits to incarcerated veterans. By the time a veteran emerges from a lengthy incarceration he will be mentally ill, physically broken, and unable to adapt to society, as a direct result of having been neglected while incarcerated. All the programs in the world ?after-the-fact?, when he is released, will not prevent a detrimental outcome. this is a national travesty. Transcribed: 2017-07

Author: Smith, Andrew Jackson

Author Location: Alabama

Date: January 12, 2014

Genre: Essay

Extent: 11 pages

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