This is a "picture" in numbers of the impacts that discrimination and exclusion have on Veterans with mobility impairments that wish to use (and are not allowed to do so) the DAV-VA National Transportation Program. The DAV is a Veterans Service Organization with the full name: "Disabled American Veterans. The VA is an acronym for the Veterans Administration, the Federal Goverment USA Agency responsible for overseeing Veterans (military) Affairs. Thank you for reading this!
The Breakdown: An Analysis of Demographic in Excluding Mobility Impaired Veterans
Author: Debra A. Buell Today's Date: 9/30/2013
After reading the DAV National Voluntary Services Director's (Ron Minter) report on the
Voluntary Services for 2012, I made this analysis:
They (DAV) have just over 11,000 vehicles (vans) on the road (as of end of year 2012). Putting
a ramp in them (11,897 vans) would cost (at worst) (vans) X $1000 (highest probable cost) =
$11,897,000.00. It's staggering, but a class action suit would likely cost more."
1) 8.5 Million Veterans are enrolled for VA healthcare (25 million total Veterans according to
recent Census) so about 1/3 of all Veterans are enrolled.
2) 4.9 million are in urban areas (urban metro =population of 50,000 or more with at least 100
3) 3.46 million are in rural (10,000 or less)
4) 121,494 Veterans are in Highly Rural areas (7 or less people/square mile)
5) 24 States have Highly Rural areas (New York has one County in this class (Hamilton)
When 24 States have highly rural areas, you can start to imagine how very spread out those
121, 494 veterans are.
I found stunning statistics on anonymous giving to the Voluntary Services Office at the VA. In
the 2013 VAVS report (available here on slideshare), last year $11, 750,000 was given
anonymously to VAMC's across the nation. That alone would have paid for a ramp in every
Everyone (including Veterans Service Organizations) must submit a Standard Assurances
Form (SF) (The SF form is also here on slideshare) when they apply for, receive grants or act
as administrators for federal funds. Every SF or Standard Assurances Form has language
that is specific to the many Federal laws covering the protected classes of people including
those with disabilities, by race, age, religion and protected Veterans.
So, when the DAV submits and asserts that it will not discriminate, then does exclude
mobility impaired Veterans; they are breaking not only these Federal Laws but the
requirements under which they continue to receive those grants.
In addition, the Federal Government, knowing that this is happening (excluding Veterans in
wheelchairs) under all of these laws/conditions of grants) is ALLOWING this to happen.
When Robert Jesse made his witness testimony to: Veterans Health Administration U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs Hearing on 07/09/2013: Legislative Hearing on ‘Draft
Legislation, the Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act'; H.R. 1443; H.R. 1612; H.R. 1702; H.R.
H.R. 1702 Veterans Transportation Service Act
He said: " Furthermore, volunteer drivers are generally precluded from transporting Veterans
who are not ambulatory, require portable oxygen, have undergone a procedure involving
sedation, or have other clinical issues. Some volunteers, for valid reasons, are reluctant to
transport non-ambulatory or very ill Veterans."
Find this testimony here: http://veterans.house.gov/witness-testimony/robert-l-jesse-md-phd-2
When he used the words: "for valid reasons", he has no leg to stand on (pun not intended)
and neither would any VSO that accepted the grant funds for these programs.
The other operating belief set that seems to be occurring is an assumption that Veterans with
more recent service connected disabilities that have lead to mobility impairment would
ALWAYS qualify for VTS services in transportation. VTS services have income limits that
would require a Veteran to be at or below poverty levels even when they are service
connected (with their disability). If the Veteran has a spouse that is working even if that
spouse is not making "great money", they are likely to be disqualified for VTS transportation.
The VTS transport is also NOT AVAILABLE everywhere so it becomes a moot point for many
Veterans in Rural and Highly Rural areas.
In Clinton County, NY alone the value of getting Veterans in wheelchairs (derived from
estimates given by a professional ambulette business) in the vans each month is staggering.
We make 20 trips per month to the Albany, NY VAMC. If only one Veteran in a wheelchair was
present in the van on each trip, the value of that in dollars is $14,000. $14,000 is just a little
less than what each DAV Chapter is "required" to come up with as their share in the
purchase of their vans.
My last thoughts for today are about how culpability is measured whether by a Judge, Jury or
Settlement Administrator. Most Courts have a great deal of patience for "one off" infractions
even when the matter is related to a Federal Law. The Dept. of Justice typically will spend
years trying to negotiate a mediated settlement that cuts down the middle of each parties
wishes. The DOJ will also adjoin similar complaints in order to expedite a settlement.
In this case, this is anything but a casual "one off". If we calculated infractions
(discrimination against Veterans who are mobility impaired or severely disabled enough to
need an oxygen tank) from just 1990 when the ADA was passed (leaving out the requirements
of Title VI prior to 1990), we are looking at millions of incidents. Taking ONLY HALF of the
current stock of vans (say 6000 vans), multiplied by 1/2 the trips we take in Clinton County or
10 trips per month, it would equal 60,000 incidents of discrimination per month (across the
USA) or 720,000 incidents per year. Multiply that times 23 years (since the ADA was passed
(1990) we get 16,560,000 incidents of discrimination in the program (calculating for half since
1990). Of course, that's only half and that's only since 1990. The DAV National
Transportation program started in the early 1980's.
The bottom line is that a Court operating properly and legally would never see this as a minor
misunderstanding or an oversight. You can't do something 16 million times and call it an
error or a misunderstanding.
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