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Re: Update on OIG Investigation

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  • Kevin
    I forgot to mention the one sentence in the OIG report that really caught my eye: Within a relatively short period after the OIG mailings, more than 500 FECA
    Message 1 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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      I forgot to mention the one sentence in the OIG report that really
      caught my eye:

      "Within a relatively short period after the OIG mailings, more than
      500 FECA recipients voluntarily dropped off the rolls, which resulted
      in a savings of approximately $500,000."

      I have to wonder how many of those individuals were scofflaws and how
      many gave up because they were intimidated by the OIG!



      --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:
      >
      > Hi group,
      >
      > Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact that the whole
      OIG
      > investigation exists in order to serve the government and save them
      money while
      > nothing is being done to help those of us who struggle so hard to
      obtain what we
      > are entitled to in order to heal or survive because we became ill
      while serving
      > our country? ...

      > Best Wishes,
      > Nancy Tongue
      > NYC (Chile 1980-82)
    • Felicia
      Also, if your condition isn t one that the Peace Corps wants to talk about (like the long term side effects of taking Lariam), then they do a good job of
      Message 2 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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        Also, if your condition isn't one that the Peace Corps
        wants to talk about (like the long term side effects of
        taking Lariam), then they do a good job of preventing
        injured volunteers from getting compensation. -- Felicia

        > Peace Corps, especially its OIG, has a vested (and
        > legitimate)
        > interest in properly and efficiently paying for workers'
        > compensation
        > claims. Peace Corps also has a vested interest, not to
        > mention a
        > legal responsibility, to make sure that those of us who
        > are eligible
        > for workers' compensation benefits receive those benefits.
        >
        > I am concerned that the former may take precedence over
        > the latter.
        > It's unfortunate that Peace Corps refuses to advocate for
        > those of us
        > who suffer at the hands of OWCP. Peace Corps is the
        > client agency
        > and could have a powerful influence over OWCP if it chose
        > to.
        > Unfortunately, to date, they have shown absolutely no
        > interest in
        > doing so.
        >
        > Kevin
        >
        > --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:
        >>
        >> Hi group,
        >>
        >> Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact that
        >> the whole
        > OIG
        >> investigation exists in order to serve the government
        >> and save them
        > money while
        >> nothing is being done to help those of us who struggle
        >> so hard to
        > obtain what we
        >> are entitled to in order to heal or survive because we
        >> became ill
        > while serving
        >> our country? I was not medivaced but became ill shortly
        >> after my
        > departure
        >> for a Peace Corps related set of illnesses for which I
        >> have had a
        > very
        >> legitimate claim.
        >>
        >> Just wondering how the group feels about this issue. I
        >> get so
        > frustrated
        >> that we have no advocates.
        >>
        >> And Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead on
        >> managing
        > this Listserv
        >> so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be well.
        >>
        >> I do hope you are still interested, Sue!
        >>
        >> Best Wishes,
        >> Nancy Tongue
        >> NYC (Chile 1980-82)
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • FourDirect@aol.com
        In a message dated 7/11/2007 1:41:44 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, rpcv@coolgoose.com writes: Sue, You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that
        Message 3 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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          In a message dated 7/11/2007 1:41:44 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, rpcv@... writes:
          Sue,

          You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that until there is
          a critical mass
          nothing will change. The problem is how to reach that critical mass.
          Since there is no centralized place (or person) that we can go to for
          assistance, it's extremely difficult to even approach critical mass.
          With 12 OWCP District Offices, 100 Senators, and 435 Representatives,
          how much more decentralized could the system be? As you may know, the
          former Peace Corps Director nixed the idea of an ombudsman to assist us.
          I wonder if the new Director, Ron Tschetter, would be amenable to
          resurrecting the idea. Maybe we should ask?

          Kevin
          Senator Schumer's office (US Senate (D) NY), which submits my medical claims, is also willing to investigate this issue but needs critical mass, as well. And I had a contact at NBC a while back who wished to do a feature on this but needed a number of people willing to come forward. That's when I began to want to get this group going and Kevin came forward with his willingness to do so. I don't believe anymore that Peace Corps will really ever become accountable to us unless they are somehow "shamed" into doing so, so to speak. I really wonder how many of there actually are and how we can go about bringing our concerns to the correct body to create positive change?
           
          I know that speaking for myself I have a tendency to just try to get my own health and life together when I am in crisis and then when that passes I just want to leave all this behind me and move my life forward. It is hard to find the right time in my own life to actually go forward in the correct manner and speak out. I am on some kind of road to health stabilization and am changing my career to accommodate my illnesses so maybe once I accomplish that I won't be so reticent to really move forward and consider going to press.
           
          Nancy Tongue
           
          Ideas?




          Get a sneak peak of the all-new AOL.com.
        • Kevin
          Nancy, This is promising news. Do you know, or can you find out, what Senator Schumer would need to proceed? I wouldn t expect his office to do casework for
          Message 4 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
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            Nancy,

            This is promising news. Do you know, or can you find out, what
            Senator Schumer would need to proceed? I wouldn't expect his office
            to do casework for former Volunteers across the country, but what
            would be possible? Advocate for us as a group? Push for
            Congressional hearings? Call for a GAO study of OWCP and/or PCMO?

            I, for one, would be willing to provide his office anything I could
            if he were willing to run with it.

            Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

            Kevin

            --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:

            Senator Schumer's office (US Senate (D) NY), which submits my medical
            claims, is also willing to investigate this issue but needs critical
            mass, as well...
          • Felicia
            If we are looking for volunteers who have been badly treated by the Peace Corps, the Lariam toxicity group that I m on has tons. While they add numbers,
            Message 5 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
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              If we are looking for volunteers who have been badly
              treated by the Peace Corps, the Lariam toxicity group that
              I'm on has tons. While they add numbers, though, they
              take away credibility. Since next to none of us can prove
              that Lariam caused our condition (although at least there
              are studies out there now that prove that it causes the
              brain damage that all of us suffer from), we look more
              often like a bunch of cranks. Of course, the Peace Corps
              doesn't help with that, since they are the first ones to
              call us liars. -- Felicia

              >
              > In a message dated 7/11/2007 1:41:44 P.M. Eastern Standard
              > Time,
              > rpcv@... writes:
              >
              > Sue,
              >
              > You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that
              > until there is
              > a critical mass
              > nothing will change. The problem is how to reach that
              > critical mass.
              > Since there is no centralized place (or person) that we
              > can go to for
              > assistance, it's extremely difficult to even approach
              > critical mass.
              > With 12 OWCP District Offices, 100 Senators, and 435
              > Representatives,
              > how much more decentralized could the system be? As you
              > may know, the
              > former Peace Corps Director nixed the idea of an
              > ombudsman to assist us.
              > I wonder if the new Director, Ron Tschetter, would be
              > amenable to
              > resurrecting the idea. Maybe we should ask?
              >
              > Kevin
              >
              >
              >
              > Senator Schumer's office (US Senate (D) NY), which submits
              > my medical
              > claims, is also willing to investigate this issue but
              > needs critical mass, as well.
              > And I had a contact at NBC a while back who wished to do a
              > feature on this
              > but needed a number of people willing to come forward.
              > That's when I began to
              > want to get this group going and Kevin came forward with
              > his willingness to
              > do so. I don't believe anymore that Peace Corps will
              > really ever become
              > accountable to us unless they are somehow "shamed" into
              > doing so, so to speak. I
              > really wonder how many of there actually are and how we
              > can go about bringing
              > our concerns to the correct body to create positive
              > change?
              >
              > I know that speaking for myself I have a tendency to just
              > try to get my own
              > health and life together when I am in crisis and then when
              > that passes I just
              > want to leave all this behind me and move my life forward.
              > It is hard to find
              > the right time in my own life to actually go forward in
              > the correct manner
              > and speak out. I am on some kind of road to health
              > stabilization and am
              > changing my career to accommodate my illnesses so maybe
              > once I accomplish that I
              > won't be so reticent to really move forward and consider
              > going to press.
              >
              > Nancy Tongue
              >
              > Ideas?
              >
              >
              >
              > ************************************** Get a sneak peak of
              > the all-new AOL at
              > http://discover.aol.com/memed/aolcom30tour
              >
            • Kevin
              Felicia, Please remind me: 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service? If so, do you have substantially similar symptoms now or a documented progression
              Message 6 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
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                Felicia,

                Please remind me:

                1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service? If so, do you have
                substantially similar symptoms now or a documented progression of those
                symptoms?

                2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or disability
                benefits from OWCP?

                Thanks.

                Kevin

                --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, "Felicia" <felicia@...> wrote:
                >
                > If we are looking for volunteers who have been badly
                > treated by the Peace Corps, the Lariam toxicity group that
                > I'm on has tons. While they add numbers, though, they
                > take away credibility. Since next to none of us can prove
                > that Lariam caused our condition (although at least there
                > are studies out there now that prove that it causes the
                > brain damage that all of us suffer from), we look more
                > often like a bunch of cranks. Of course, the Peace Corps
                > doesn't help with that, since they are the first ones to
                > call us liars. -- Felicia
              • Felicia
                ... Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of this problem. ... Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I go through phases. ...
                Message 7 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
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                  > 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service?

                  Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of this
                  problem.

                  > If so,
                  > do you have
                  > substantially similar symptoms now or a documented
                  > progression of those
                  > symptoms?

                  Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I
                  go through phases.

                  > 2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or
                  > disability
                  > benefits from OWCP?

                  Yes, I receive both time loss payments and
                  medical/psychiatric coverage from OWCP. This, I believe,
                  is because I made a huge stink when I was in DC before my
                  medical separation. I was so emotionally unstable that I
                  knew (and I was right) that there was no way that I'd be
                  able to work. I told them that I'd end up homeless if
                  they sent me away in that condition. The Peace Corps said
                  that my illness was because of my service, although the
                  psychologist in DC never mentioned Lariam. Here we are
                  three years later and my psychologist tells me not to even
                  think about work, as it will be years before I will have
                  recovered enough. Although in the last few months, I have
                  found that my ability to think is coming back, which gives
                  me hope that recovery is possible.

                  My problem with the OWCP is mainly small things, like
                  billing issues, combined with the larger problem of the
                  Peace Corps not talking about the damage that Lariam does.
                  It is an uphill battle to get anyone to take my condition
                  seriously, but I am far luckier than most Lariam victims.
                  Most cannot get any disability, have much more severe
                  psychological and health problems, and are still trying to
                  work. -- Felicia
                • Kevin
                  Nancy, I m willing to provide my story. Is anyone else? Did the Senator s staff give you any idea of the numbers that would be required to move ahead with an
                  Message 8 of 17 , Jul 13, 2007
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                    Nancy,

                    I'm willing to provide my story. Is anyone else? Did the Senator's
                    staff give you any idea of the numbers that would be required to move
                    ahead with an investigation?

                    Kevin

                    > --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@ wrote:
                    Senator Schumer's office last fall said that they would like some
                    stories and numbers and then they would decide what they would do
                    regarding possible investigations.
                  • Kevin
                    Hi Felicia, Thank you for putting up with my questions. I know most of what I asked was redundant; I was just too lazy to read through several old messages to
                    Message 9 of 17 , Jul 13, 2007
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                      Hi Felicia,

                      Thank you for putting up with my questions.  I know most of what I asked was redundant; I was just too lazy to read through several old messages to find the answers.

                      The reasons I asked what I did, particularly those questions in item 1, was to get a feel for when and how the adverse effects of Lariam arise.

                      In my opinion, you and other persons in your situation should not be asked by Peace Corps or OWCP to "prove" that Lariam was the underlying cause of your condition.  It's irrelevant.  As the OIG noted in his report, the [FECA] regulations provide for a presumption that any injury sustained by a Volunteer while he or she is located abroad has been sustained in the performance of duty, and any illness contracted by aVolunteer during Peace Corps service is proximately caused by the employment.

                      Early on, I too was asked to prove that my condition (asthma) was caused by some environmental factor in Yemen.  OWCP quickly backed off when my Congressman at the time called them on it.  I don't know if claims examiners are so poorly trained that they don't know the special regulations for former Volunteers, or if trying to saddle the claimant with the burden of proof is just a tactic to get people to withdraw their claims.

                      Kevin

                      --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, "Felicia" <felicia@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service?
                      >
                      > Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of this
                      > problem.
                      >
                      > > If so,
                      > > do you have
                      > > substantially similar symptoms now or a documented
                      > > progression of those
                      > > symptoms?
                      >
                      > Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I
                      > go through phases.
                      >
                      > > 2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or
                      > > disability
                      > > benefits from OWCP?
                      >
                      > Yes, I receive both time loss payments and
                      > medical/psychiatric coverage from OWCP. This, I believe,
                      > is because I made a huge stink when I was in DC before my
                      > medical separation. I was so emotionally unstable that I
                      > knew (and I was right) that there was no way that I'd be
                      > able to work. I told them that I'd end up homeless if
                      > they sent me away in that condition. The Peace Corps said
                      > that my illness was because of my service, although the
                      > psychologist in DC never mentioned Lariam. Here we are
                      > three years later and my psychologist tells me not to even
                      > think about work, as it will be years before I will have
                      > recovered enough. Although in the last few months, I have
                      > found that my ability to think is coming back, which gives
                      > me hope that recovery is possible.
                      >
                      > My problem with the OWCP is mainly small things, like
                      > billing issues, combined with the larger problem of the
                      > Peace Corps not talking about the damage that Lariam does.
                      > It is an uphill battle to get anyone to take my condition
                      > seriously, but I am far luckier than most Lariam victims.
                      > Most cannot get any disability, have much more severe
                      > psychological and health problems, and are still trying to
                      > work. -- Felicia
                      >

                    • Felicia
                      You are correct. I often point this out to volunteers who are trying to get medical coverage, as they often fixate on Lariam. My problem isn t that I don t
                      Message 10 of 17 , Jul 13, 2007
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                        You are correct. I often point this out to volunteers who
                        are trying to get medical coverage, as they often fixate
                        on Lariam. My problem isn't that I don't get coverage,
                        but that the Peace Corps is the largest user in the world
                        of this medication and they deny that it causes problems.
                        Most doctors just want to say that I have depression or
                        that I'm neurotic and lazy. If the Peace Corps were to
                        say "Yes, Lariam can cause long term problems" then I'd
                        have better luck getting doctors to look harder at my
                        problems. Luckily, my psychologist is convinced that
                        Lariam has caused this weird collection of cognitive,
                        emotional, vision and balance problems that I have. Does
                        that make sense? Please feel free to ask more questions.
                        -- Felicia

                        > Thank you for putting up with my questions. I know most
                        > of what I asked
                        > was redundant; I was just too lazy to read through several
                        > old messages
                        > to find the answers.
                        >
                        > The reasons I asked what I did, particularly those
                        > questions in item 1,
                        > was to get a feel for when and how the adverse effects of
                        > Lariam arise.
                        >
                        > In my opinion, you and other persons in your situation
                        > should not be
                        > asked by Peace Corps or OWCP to "prove" that Lariam was
                        > the underlying
                        > cause of your condition. It's irrelevant. As the OIG
                        > noted in his
                        > report, the [FECA] regulations provide for a presumption
                        > that any injury
                        > sustained by a Volunteer while he or she is located abroad
                        > has been
                        > sustained in the performance of duty, and any illness
                        > contracted by
                        > aVolunteer during Peace Corps service is proximately
                        > caused by the
                        > employment.
                        >
                        > Early on, I too was asked to prove that my condition
                        > (asthma) was caused
                        > by some environmental factor in Yemen. OWCP quickly
                        > backed off when my
                        > Congressman at the time called them on it. I don't know
                        > if claims
                        > examiners are so poorly trained that they don't know the
                        > special
                        > regulations for former Volunteers, or if trying to saddle
                        > the claimant
                        > with the burden of proof is just a tactic to get people to
                        > withdraw
                        > their claims.
                        >
                        > Kevin
                        >
                        >
                        > --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, "Felicia" <felicia@...>
                        > wrote:
                        >>
                        >> > 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service?
                        >>
                        >> Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of
                        >> this
                        >> problem.
                        >>
                        >> > If so,
                        >> > do you have
                        >> > substantially similar symptoms now or a documented
                        >> > progression of those
                        >> > symptoms?
                        >>
                        >> Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I
                        >> go through phases.
                        >>
                        >> > 2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or
                        >> > disability
                        >> > benefits from OWCP?
                        >>
                        >> Yes, I receive both time loss payments and
                        >> medical/psychiatric coverage from OWCP. This, I believe,
                        >> is because I made a huge stink when I was in DC before
                        >> my
                        >> medical separation. I was so emotionally unstable that I
                        >> knew (and I was right) that there was no way that I'd be
                        >> able to work. I told them that I'd end up homeless if
                        >> they sent me away in that condition. The Peace Corps
                        >> said
                        >> that my illness was because of my service, although the
                        >> psychologist in DC never mentioned Lariam. Here we are
                        >> three years later and my psychologist tells me not to
                        >> even
                        >> think about work, as it will be years before I will have
                        >> recovered enough. Although in the last few months, I
                        >> have
                        >> found that my ability to think is coming back, which
                        >> gives
                        >> me hope that recovery is possible.
                        >>
                        >> My problem with the OWCP is mainly small things, like
                        >> billing issues, combined with the larger problem of the
                        >> Peace Corps not talking about the damage that Lariam
                        >> does.
                        >> It is an uphill battle to get anyone to take my
                        >> condition
                        >> seriously, but I am far luckier than most Lariam
                        >> victims.
                        >> Most cannot get any disability, have much more severe
                        >> psychological and health problems, and are still trying
                        >> to
                        >> work. -- Felicia
                        >>
                        >
                        >
                        >
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