By the time veterans receive their VA disability checks, they may not be able to access their health insurance benefits, even though their physical condition is well-documented.
That’s because the VA-designated health plan doesn’t count the medical expenses veterans pay out of pocket.
“If you get the VA plan, you’re still not allowed to use your medical insurance benefits,” says Chris Satterfield, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“It’s a little bit like you’re not allowed the benefits if you don’t use your VA medical plan.”
And the VA says that if veterans don’t receive a VA health plan, they must wait two years to start using their VA benefits.
Veterans can apply for a VA-mandated fitness plan to keep fit, but it’s very difficult to qualify.
“The VA has been very helpful and supportive of our efforts to ensure we can keep the veterans healthy and fit and provide the services they need,” says Sarah Hurd, a spokesperson for the VA.
In response to the VA policy, a group of veterans groups has launched a petition calling for a review of the VA fitness plan, which was approved by the VA last year.
“I’ve worked in the VA and I’ve seen how the VA has gone to great lengths to protect our veterans from injury, illness and loss,” says the petition’s author, Chris Sattler, who has served in the Army for over four years.
The petition calls for the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate the fitness plan’s implementation and determine if the VA could have done more to prevent veterans from going under the knife.
But the VA isn’t interested in looking into the fitness program.
“We can’t look into it because we don’t have any documents,” says a VA spokesperson.
Veterans organizations have called on the VA to look into the issue and determine whether the fitness plans were actually effective.
“While the VA was not the primary agency implementing the fitness standards, it has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the integrity of its own medical program,” says Jessica Kopp, the president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“As the head of the organization tasked with overseeing the fitness standard, the VA should have the final say in its implementation, which would include the review of all the data and data supporting the standards.”
Kopp also pointed out that the VA hasn’t provided a copy of the fitness policy to the group.
“That’s the same way the VA is not transparent with our data,” she says.
“This is an agency that has been accused of fraud.
It’s not going to make the same mistake again.”
The VA has long been criticized for its inadequate oversight of the medical system and the use of a medical fitness program to keep veterans healthy.
In 2012, the government’s Inspector General found that VA doctors were treating veterans who needed to undergo knee surgery without properly informing them that they would not be covered under the medical insurance plan they were applying for.
And in 2014, the inspector general said that some doctors were prescribing unnecessary treatments for veterans suffering from chronic pain and other ailments.
The VA claims that the fitness programs are a way to improve the health of its veterans and protect its finances.
“Our goal is to help our veterans achieve their fitness goals,” says Sattner.
“They’re our financial goal.
We can’t do it on our own.
That is not sustainable.
That would be unfair to our veterans.”
In 2015, the Department’s inspector general issued a report stating that the Veterans Health Administration, which runs the VA, had failed to properly implement its fitness program, which is meant to help veterans get back to work.
In the report, the agency acknowledged that the health and fitness programs “fail to meet their goal of providing an efficient and cost-effective medical care delivery system for all Veterans, including those with chronic conditions.”
It also noted that many veterans have complained about the lack of care they receive at VA medical facilities.
But VA officials have maintained that the wellness program has made the VA healthier, which may be the case.
“Because we are the nation’s largest health care system, we have the capacity to help every veteran achieve a healthier lifestyle and achieve a long-term health,” said VA Secretary David Shulkin in an email to The Washington Post.
“Health care is a priority for the secretary and his team as they focus on delivering a more secure, efficient and more effective health care delivery model for our Veterans.”
But critics have questioned whether VA officials are actually following through on the fitness goal.
In 2014, a report by the Office of Inspector General said that the office of veterans affairs was not taking any action to improve health care at VA facilities.
Instead, it was spending more time and money on promoting the fitness-related program, according to the report.
“VA’s Department of Health and Human Services, which has the sole authority to implement the wellness policy, has engaged in significant waste of taxpayer dollars and