Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 852 - Sep 28, 2010

This might be a lengthy post tonight because I have a lot to say concerning some of the comments from today - most notably Holee's.

It has many times been said to me that this blog is the cause of all my problems. If I had a nickel for all the times I was told to delete the blog I would be well off. But I refuse - this blog really isn't about money or any other material things. It's about Kevin and the things we go through to help him recover.

To be honest, I could probably come on here everyday and complain about something from the VA - have I done that? No.

And did I complain about the Army and their lack of thought for Kevin? No, I didn't do that either.

As I mentioned, this really is about Kevin and his recovery.

But it has been intimated to me that maybe someone from the blog called and told the VA that Kevin has a lot of things? Shame on you if that's the case. This boy worked hard for what he has. His life is going to suck pretty much forever and if all he has are nice things - then I say he deserves it.

What I always find sad though are those that like to cause drama by making derogatory comments about myself or about the things Kevin has when you really don't know the truth of the situation. You make assumptions through and through and hope it causes others to jump on your bandwagon.

Holee - at first I thought your post was pretty rude. But after reading the second one, I do see your point somewhat. I don't think all of your questions were relevant and some SEEM like they are based on jealousy or anger, but I think you are basically saying that this blog could be part of the problem - only because I don't give every single detail of how things were done, purchased, thought through etc, etc. Frankly, I don't have the time to do that. It would take 8 hours for me to type all of that up every day.

One thing you did say though was that you don't think they are after me. My attorney disagrees with you. So do various VA employees - including fiduciary folks in both Houston and Pittsburgh. Now these people? They know way more about the situation than any of us (notice I said 'us' as they have more info than even I do).

Like I've said numerous times - the readers here only know what I choose, or think of, to say. Case in point - how long have you known I was having these issues with the VA? Just a few days. Even though it's been going on for close to ten months.

So let's just clear some things up right now. I have done it before, but apparently those posts weren't read by the folks that think Kevin should live in an 8x8 shack with a hot plate and an outhouse...

1. As for you saying that Breezy only visited and wasn't a caregiver to Kevin? Honestly? How could you know that? Were you there? Did you see that girl doing almost as much as I did? She gave up everything as well and she worked hard, right along side me every single day to help Kevin get better (at 23 years old, no less). To be honest, both of us were always at the hospital, so I am curious how you claim to think you know so much? And honestly - what does that have to do with the situation anyway?

2. The reason Kevin has such a large house is because a doctor at the Tampa VA told us we needed to have at least 3000 sq ft. I questioned it then because really...who the heck has time to clean that much space? But that is what I was told to do - so that's what I did. Joel's mom was told at least 2700 sq foot and everyone else has been told large numbers as well.

As for it being a 5 bedroom - I suppose I could have shown Kevin only 3 bedroom homes that were still over 3000 sq ft, but why not shoot for more rooms - just in case he does end up someday getting married and having children? It made sense to me then and it still makes sense to me now. But, I will say this - if a VA employee hadn't told me to purchase such a large house - I never would have.

And I want to remind you all that Kevin did choose his home. I narrowed it down to five of them and he picked this one out himself. He knew what it was going to cost and that he would need a mortgage. He fell in love with it the moment he walked in and that was all I needed to see. And after all - shouldn't his very own money be used to make him happy? Shouldn't he be able to purchase things he wants?

(btw, the VA didn't seem to care about the house itself. They just tried to cause problems with the court saying that the court didn't give me permission to buy it. It turns out I didn't need permission - but that is because the courts forgot to put in my original guardianship papers that I needed to get approval for large purchases)

I also want to point out one more thing. You are right and wrong when you say that most vets don't have such large homes. You are right that most don't, but these guys? The guys/gals that are the most severely wounded - they all do. There is one difference though - most of them didn't have to pay for their homes and many of them didn't have to pay for their vans. Kevin did though. He has a mortgage (that he can afford) and after the VA grant to purchase the van was applied, I paid for the remainder of it out of the donations that were sent.

3. As for the new stuff in his home - almost all of it was used. Yes folks, I purchased used furniture and got a helluva good deal too. I should mention here to the anonymous person that cowardly commented that Kevin seems to have a lot of new things - that is kinda true. Unfortunately Kevin was only 19 when he was wounded. He wasn't old enough yet to have accumulated any belongings that would fill a house. So my question to you - did you want him to sleep on the floor? Should he air dry when he gets out of the shower? Or maybe you want me to sit on the floor with him in my lap while he watches tv? Oh wait - you don't want him to have a TV, do you? That's right. He's supposed to HAVE nothing and DO nothing.

As to your comment that Kevin has a lot of things as opposed to other vets - here might be why. Kevin didn't go to a bar 7 days a week and drop a thousand dollars a night buying round after round. Kevin also didn't go to shoe stores and drop $700 a clip or take his friends on vacation after vacation and he also didn't just blow through his funds on stupid stuff - not having anything to show for it in the end. That boy lay in a hospital for 12 months straight. His paychecks just accumulated and accumulated. When he was able to think more clearly, we started making decisions TOGETHER about what he needs vs what he wants.

Most of the vets that are here at BAMC and were combat wounded have blown through ALL of their money. I see them now having no place to live, no furniture and their fancy cars being repo'd. That won't happen to Kevin. He used his money maturely - with my help. He bought a house. He bought a pool and he bought furniture. Oh and let's be honest - he also bought his dream car. He had to wait for that one - but he eventually got it.

4. As to the pool - it's good for him to swim - in every way. We got three bids and all three were very close. I also want to remind you that Kevin chose his pool. Look back to April or May of last year and check out the photos of him at the pool center. I also want you to look at all the various photos of Kevin swimming - how happy that makes him, which in turn makes me happy. He has so little to smile about and if swimming makes him happy - then I say let him be happy. (and btw, a marine was just given a pool/spa from the marine semper fi fund. Kevin paid for his and still had money in his savings).

What this all really boils down to is the fact that the VA is still taking the money from Kevin's/my control - even after investigating me and finding no problems. I knew I did nothing wrong, which is why I allowed them into our home and proved it, but when it kept going and more and more lies kept coming up, I knew I had to stop this. At this point, someone has a personal problem with me and they are taking it out on Kevin. He is the one that will be forced to pay a stranger to pay his bills. Someone that won't be monitored at all and can do what he wants with Kevin's money. I am also curious if this 'attorney' is going to call AT&T every month to get all of the purchases Kevin made by hitting buttons removed? Is he also going to monitor for water leaks and electrical problems at the house? I also wonder how Kevin will be able to buy a book of stamps? Or if he is having Thanksgiving dinner at his house how he can buy the extra groceries necessary? He won't be able to do any of this.

Oh and Holee - you apparently don't know that the VA already monitors how Kevin's money is spent. We have to have all purchases over $1000 approved and we are on a budget. His funds are also audited every year and I have no problem with any of this. I don't mind that they watch his funds. I may not be around forever and if he remains incompetent, I will want any future caregiver watched as well. What I do have a problem with is them forcing him to pay the above mentioned person to write out his bills. This person won't be watched. See for yourself - read this part of a VA IG report:

"When the Fiduciary Program does not adequately supervise appointed fiduciaries, incompetent beneficiary estates are subject to misuse. For example, a joint Federal and State investigation in Minnesota disclosed that a fiduciary submitted false accountings in an effort to conceal the embezzlement of nearly $1 million from 33 disabled veterans while acting as their appointed fiduciary. The defendant admitted to taking funds from the veterans’ bank accounts to support a gambling habit and to submitting false accountings to VA and agreed to make restitution to VA, the Social Security Administration, and a bonding company that reimbursed the veterans for their losses. Earlier this year, the fiduciary was sentenced to 55 months’ incarceration after pleading guilty to making a false statement to VA."

Like the person above, this person isn't "watching how Kevin's funds are spent" - this person has total control of Kevin's money - with no one watching him. This over me - the person who has spent Kevin's money maturely (and at a mutual decision between Kevin and myself each and every time) and who has a judge agreeing with that. Hell, the VA report even says that, but they are still canceling payment of his benefits.

And once again - let's ask ourselves - why has the VA NEVER ONCE looked at how his VA funds have been spent over the last year? Not one time have they looked at those books. If they were really concerned about his money - and not attacking me - don't you think they would check that out first?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's obvious you need to get this "fiduciary" removed from power over Kevin's money. If there's no legal way to do so, that's where media and congressional pressure can help you.

Just say who you want to receive calls and emails and we'll start making them and only stop when you say the word.

karen said...

I'm shocked to hear that your blog might be the root of your troubles (I doubt it) and that people who read your blog would think that you are wasting/spending indiscriminately Kevin's money.

I can be honest in saying that there were a couple of times, about six months ago, when I read something that made me question your choices (I WAS WRONG). Rather than to post them as comments, I went and read the whole blog from the very beginning over the course of a few days. It was my responsibility if I chose to comment at all.

I can honestly say that, following that time, I thought it was plain that you were doing your best by Kevin, and that this was not a life of your choosing, nor would it be mine.

But sometimes we have to step up to the plate, in the service of a loved one or another, and I believe in my heart and my logical brain that this is what you have done. I hope the legal system in your country agrees, as you have the papers and the clear conscience stated here.

Might I be wrong? Perhaps. Does it matter? Seriously, I am merely a reader of a glimpse of what it is like to care for a severely disabled adult child. I am a nobody in the grand scheme of your life and, as far as I am concerned, my comments had better be encouraging, or not posted at all!

Leslie, I don't know if it makes a difference to you, but I am pretty sure the majority of sane individuals who read this blog believe that you, Breezy, and your community of friends and relatives, have only, and are doing right by your son. Anyone else should go read something a bit less real, like fiction.

Honestly. (and sorry this is so long).

SimpleS said...

Leslie, I seldom leave comments, but always read, awaiting info on that strong Trooper, a man I would have been Proud to Serve with... well, I wondert if BEATRICE has anything to say about her friendship with a person named Cindy Lewis ??? Oddly, the connection started in January, right around 10 months ago, when the problem started for CPL. K and his Mother.
Some folks complain too much, and some blame others when their own life seems bad... I could go on, but I am hoping that the person I refer to gets the hint... they are NOT a 'whistle blower" they are NOT a friend... they are the problem... and we are smarter than they are... and when Ms. Lewis is exposed, and legally sanctioned, they too shall face the consequences...
Beatrice, Cindy... never tick off a Marine... it is just bad for business..


Semper Fi, Kevin... you may be Army, but you got brass ones, and we respect that...
Beatrice? GFYDA and worry abouit your own 'money pit'

To those who think this post sounds odd, sorry, but it won't to old Bea... she knows who she is, and what she is...

Flee said...

Leslie this is breaking my heart! I don't know how you do it but stay strong! My husband wondered if you could become bonded? I'm keeping you in my prayers!

Shawnsgirl315 said...

There is something seriously wrong with the way the system is working for you and Kevin. And something even more wrong with the people who feel the need to try to make things worse.

I see there have been several people who have posted suggestions as far as people for you to get in touch with. Perhaps it would be easier if they passed along your story and asked those they know to get in touch with you. Because I am sure that as much as you would like to have time to try to explore all the avenues poeple suggest for help, you do still have more than a full time job caring for Kevin. But I think people may be hesitant to jump in so as to not jump the gun and step on any toes. If you would like us to reach out and try to help, would you please let us know? I am sure many of us would love to help get behind you as soon as you give the go ahead.

Michelle

Jenna said...

Leslie,

I don't typically read comments, and I seldom post, but I feel the need to today. Holee doesn't seem to understand the "Military Way" nor does she understand what it takes to care for a Wounded Warrior that DESERVES everything imaginable. He has made such a sacrifice. My husband served overseas as a medic, working in a trauma unit, and let me tell you - it's changed his life. And mine too. Kevin is a MIRACLE and you should be able to do whatever it takes to care for him. You have been there for your son - you have been the one to advocate for him - you went to DC to fight for Caregiver's Rights. There are so many parents that can't do what you do each and every day.

As a Military Spouse, I understand COMPLETELY about fighting for what's right and getting backlash for bucking to authority. According to the military (and sounds like the VA) if you ask questions, you are the one they scrutinize - they try to make you suffer to make an "example" out of you so people don't fight.

I say - KEEP FIGHTING - Fight for your rights as Kevin's caregiver and for Kevin's right to live as comfortable and as much of a life as he can.

I do agree that the blog may cause an "issue" but don't stop writing! This blog shows the TRUTH to being a wounded warrior, and how difficult it is for them to be treated and heal. (Again - "Bucking" the system) - You are making a difference by showing exactly how difficult, stressful, painful this struggle is - your strength in fighting and bringing to light problems that need fixed is just what is needed to find a solution.

I am forever grateful for his and so many others sacrifices. They know the danger, and they still go for all of us - even the ungrateful ones. Shame on those who don't understand.

Like Shawnsgirl315 (Michelle) said - if you need help, feel free to send me an email, I would love to find a way to help you from PA.

Anonymous said...

Well I guess all of us wouldn't be having this conversation if it wasn't for Kevin serving and protecting all of us!
Thank you Kevin for all that you've done for us and continue to do! We appreciate all of you!
Take care,
Kathy in IA

Wife of a Wounded Soldier said...

My husband and I bought a beautiful large house after he was wounded. We lived in an out of the hospital, hotels rooms, and someone's basement for over a year. It is an investment not some brand new car that looses its value. We too could have gotten a free house from some organziation but we never even asked. Kevin deserves the space. Also since Kev has such a bad brain injury he needs the extra space. I have been told this by doctors as well. They need space to get away from noise, light, and a place to breathe.

He deserves it all and you did the right thing. These people questioning it is a joke. The pool is a wonderful form of therapy and I cried when I read the post that he got one. He bought this house and doesn't even get to use it because of more surgeries and moving once again. Most people get to sit in their homes while receiving care at their local medical facility. With the VA you have to travel where is "best" because there are limited options.

I could go on and on. I learned last weekend on a retreat that these people shouldn't be commenting and it is out of your control. Focus on Kevin and the VA's crap and delete certain people's posts without even reading them. They want to cause harm.

GrannieEv said...

Keep on "keeping on" Leslie. You hit the nail right on the ol' head when you said a couple of comments sounded like jealousy. Kevin has a lot of new things .... I had to bite my tongue (well, in this case, fingers) on that one. Us taxpayers should be concerned - please.... we should thank men and women like Kevin everyday and say, what else do you need? Our government and we Americans owe our wounded military the BEST care possible - that includes whatever is best for their future.

I love the expression YOU GO GIRL!

Wasting $300 of Kevin's money each month - $3,600/yr. Now that's a concern! Makes me wanna spit.

Anonymous said...

Gosh! I started reading your blog today. I cant imagine the pain as a mother having to explain yourself to people. Some people just dont have a clue of what is required to care for someone. People make me so sick. This young man volunteered to fight for our freedom. I am sure he had big plans for his life and never expected to be in the situation he is in today. I believe we owe him more then we can ever do for him. His whole life has changed direction because he believed in his country. You and me!!

As for the house, please, have you ever been in a wheelchair, ever try getting around in small areas. My stepfather was at my house (2000 sq ft) once in his wheelchair. My bathroom was not big enough for his chair and my husband had to practically lift him. People in wheelchairs need doorways big enough to get through they need room to turn around. This young adult and any others that are injured fighting for our freedom should have the best of the best. Maybe those that dont think so should go live in another country and really see what we have here.

Just had to vent.