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THIS website is a private SUPPORT SITE for 4th ID veterans, active duty soldiers, family members, friends and everyone who supports our troops no matter how you feel about our leaders. Troublemakers, gossips. trolls, liars, etc are NOT welcome here. Posts that defame,, humiliate and/or intimidate other posters or the webmaster will be deleted without notice or comment. Please read the rules on the Main Page, thank you!
This forum has a long history, by interent standards anyway-unfortunately it has been abandoned for far too long due to real life circumstances knocking the heck out of what had been my very real desire to keep this board alive and well forever so that all of us could meet here and communicate with each other everyday.

I'm not sure that a forum like this is even needed nowadays since the advent of facebook, etc...but I hope that this once thriving BB does bring some of us back together again and that maybe some new folks will join us as well!   
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Army veteran fights for his VA benefits

His war is over, but not battle

Army veteran fights for his VA benefits

By Mike Hall
The Capital-Journal

Walking up and down the sidewalk near the Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center, Tim Sanders looks like a model for the "Army Strong" ad campaign.

Except, that is, for the placard he is holding high proclaiming, "Vets are losing their benefits."

Sanders, an imposing 6-foot-3 inches tall, isn't the picture of health he appears to be. After tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is considered 50 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He suffers physical, emotional and now bureaucratic problems.

For starters, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He also has back and knee problems from paratrooper duty.

"The transition from combat veteran to civilian was very difficult for me," he said.

Now 32, he is entitled to care at the VA medical center and normally receives a VA check for $730 each month. This month his check was reduced to $196. He can't pay his rent or other bills.

The VA asserted he owed money for medical expenses he incurred in 2006. The VA began retrieving the money from his monthly allotment. But Sanders insists he doesn't owe the money and believes the error is being corrected, thanks to the efforts of a Veterans of Foreign Wars representative who went to bat for him.

Sanders still hasn't seen the missing money, but even if it arrives soon, he is on a mission to bring public attention to what he considers the VA's insensitivity to the needs of veterans like himself.

So, he continues picketing at S.W. 21st and Gage as a matter of principle.

"I believe our government is being a tyrant. I'm proud of my country. I'm not proud of my government," he said.

Because of his arthritis and back and knee problems, he often is limited to picketing two hours a day, waving to friendly motorists who wave and honk.

"I've had it," he said. "I've been passive. I'm not going to be passive anymore."

He said the medical expense he was being dunned for was supposed to be covered by the VA because he was eligible for VA medical care for two years following his leaving the Army in 2005.

He had high praise for Scott Ferguson, the VFW representative in Topeka who worked long and hard to correct the error.

When he went to the VFW office at the medical center, he found 10 other veterans waiting to see a representative with similar problems.

Two district representatives in U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda's Topeka office, Jefferson Lawson and Adam Stolte, said they hadn't heard about Sanders' case, but weren't surprised.

When Lawson was asked if the office received a lot of complaints from veterans about similar problems, he replied, "extremely."

He and Stolte can tell lots of horror stories, but they also try to put the complaints in perspective.

"People don't call us with good information," Stolte said.

So there is no way of knowing how many veterans receive good service, he said.

And, he said, almost every VA employee they deal with is well-intentioned. The problem is the system.

Lawson explained there are two divisions of the VA — The Veterans Health Administration that provides the health care and the Veterans' Benefit Administration that sends out the checks to qualifying veterans.

"I can tell you from experience those two agencies do not talk to each other," Lawson said.

Barry Inman in the VBA office in Wichita, which serves Kansas, was asked earlier this week if he could confirm Sanders' situation had been corrected. Inman did a records search and reported back that he had no information on Sanders because he was "a Missouri veteran, not a Kansas veteran."

Told that, Sanders replied: "I'm a Kansas resident. I'm no longer a Missouri resident."

In fact, he is a Kansas resident because of the VA. He was receiving some health care from the VA in Missouri, but was referred to Topeka because it was the nearest center with a post-traumatic distress disorder unit.

Even more, he called the VFW service office at Colmery-O'Neil and was told they have paperwork showing his records were transferred from Missouri to Wichita on Sept. 19, 2007.

Boyda blamed the problem on an overburdened system. She said Congress increased funding for the VA by $6.6 billion last year and by another $4.9 billion this year. More is needed, she said.

"This is the real cost of war," she said. "It's easy to wear a yellow ribbon. Veterans need real help. And that takes money."

Sarah Little, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, said the senator continues to support greater funding for the VA.

Both Roberts and Sen. Sam Brownback also have representatives in their Topeka offices designated to deal with veterans' issues.

Mike Hall can be reached at (785) 295-1209 or