If the current VA administration is transpartent, they why hasn't
the FINAL report of 2009's Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans
was not published to the public or the (congressional) HOUSE
Committee on Veterans Affairs which has prosmised to hold meeting
since last November. It is still under a cloak of mystery if
anyone beside the chairman of the VA Advisory Committee GW Cragin
is speak ? Where are Veterans Organation Reps or NGWRC and Veterans
of Modern Warfare ?
Dear Mr. Chairman
My name is Kirt Love. I am a disabled Gulf War Veteran and long
standing advocate for GW vets healthcare as well as benefits. I
have a small organization that I have run since 1997 that has
participated in countless government events on behalf of GW vets.
The Desert Storm Battle Registry. Then I managed to get a VA
advisory committee together through Congress and later get on
that committee. It concluded in September 2009 and filed its final
report with VA.
In November Kerri Keehn was talking to me to put me on the
stand before your committee to talk about my dissenting vote
on that final report. The problems with that report were orchestrated
by Chairman Charles Cragin who forced his will on the committee
and censored me as much as possible to produce a thin report.
In the end it would endorse the PDICI which is a psychiatric
program in Seattle that is not appropriate for Gulf War care.
Yet, Keeri then preceded to tell me what my testimony would
be and that I was not to antagonize Cragin. Then after that
she dropped me from the testimony list citing that they could
not justify the transportation budget.
In December I called VA asking Col John Peters about the progress of the
Gulf War Illness Task Force. He told me many things to include
that VA would announce service connecting 9 diseases from
the Persian Gulf. That announcement would be in December.
Then just as quick he retracted that remark. They had said there
would be a public disclosure of the report they would send to
the Secretary in January. Then in January VA pulled back on that and
decided to keep the report from the public. No website, or anything
to show the progress or details of this Task Force.
I was the one that drew attention to the large numerical errors in the
GWVIS report in February 2009. My committee didn't support my
pursuit of this fact until May 29th when I got angry that VBA would
make me start over on my request for a answer on this problem.
After that point Cragin put me on a subcommittee to get answers
from VBA which lead to a meeting in June to discuss it. This would
be abbreviated in our final report. VBA's Steerling Stokes assured
me that the reports would be corrected soon. Yet, its now February
2010 and there is nothing on the VBA website to explain any of this
much less any 2009 report. They claim its a coding problem but
they have had 8 months to resolve that.
When my committee got its response letter back on February 12th,
it had been around 120 days to what was supposed to be a 30 day
response to us. The letter wasn't from the Secretary of VA, it was
from the Chief of Staff John Gingrich. It was barely one page and had
no details of any pending programs or ideas. Worse yet, it made
reference to a private meeting between Cragin and himself to discuss
the Task Force conclusions. This gives Cragin a opportunity to
push his program in secret with Gingrich and not even give any
one else the opportunity to know any details. The need for
secrecy here is not called for.
There is also the rumor that the IOM is planning to hand over a
non-disclosure prepress copy of the Gulf War & Health: Health Effects
of Serving in the Gulf War-Update 2009 250 page report to the
subcommittee to re-enforce certain unfavorable VA elements heading
into 2010. Though the IOM itself is saying the report wont be ready
till late March or early April.http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/projectview.aspx?key=PHPH-H-08-04-A
But, what makes this all even more suspicious is that the HVAC
subcommittee is not even posting the pending hearing to the
Congressional website so that others can attend. Now with the
hearing 9 days away this will guarantee a small turn out because
of the transportation expenses to attend at the last minute. Then
on top of that Todd Chambers and Dionne Trahan do not answer
thee phones or return phone calls related to this hearing.
There are a variety of reasons I should have been asked to testify
at this hearing but I have been censored from it. VA gives the
appearance of gearing up to shut out any unwanted veteran
opinions in favor of pro-government supporters. Transparency
is in effect not been the case with VA, and I fear this is to push
a less than savory program they are trying to slip by rather than
working with outside interest on more beneficial solutions.
Mr. Chairman, this hearing taking place should be fair - but it
doesn't look like it will come off that way. There is more to this but
I need to wrap this up before it gets to long winded. Please look
a little deeper than the surface on this as I don't think your getting
the full story from everyone on this. VA is NOT being transparent
about these GW programs or the route they are taking.
Thank your for your time.
Former member of the VA Advisory
Committee on Gulf War Veterans