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VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA CREATES 'ARTICLE 99 AWARDS' TO HONOR INDIVIDUALS WHO BATTLE THE VA

 VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA CREATES 'ARTICLE 99 AWARDS'
 TO HONOR INDIVIDUALS WHO BATTLE THE VA
 WASHINGTON, March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Vietnam Veterans of America issued the following:
 Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. (VVA), the nation's only congressional chartered organization of veterans of the Vietnam War, is proud to bestow the first annual "Article 99 Award" to Frank and Josephine Stone. The award is dedicated to the thousands of men and women who have continued to fight an ongoing battle against the bureaucracy of the VA health care system.
 The Stones are receiving the award for their efforts in battling the VA. Their son Richard died from toilet paper being forced down his throat and a burst liver presumed to be caused by beatings. The hospital reported cardiac arrest as the cause of death. His family and the district attorney have filed second-degree murder charges for wrongful death and assault against the VA in Westwood, Calif.
 The "Article 99 Awards" were inspired by Orion Pictures' upcoming film "Article 99," scheduled for release on March 13. A "Catch 22" for the '90s and a bureaucratic lethal weapon, "Article 99" promises veterans "full medical benefits, however, as the diagnosed condition cannot be specifically related to military service, treatment is not available at this time."
 American military men and women put their lives in jeopardy twice: once, when they serve, and again when they enter the VA health care system, according to James L. Brazee Jr., president of the Vietnam Veterans of America. "The government has failed to keep its promise to provide veterans with adequate and reliable medical treatment," he said. "Budget cuts and bureaucracy have combined in the worst possible way, resulting in substandard condition, cases of unspeakable negligence and the denial of benefits to some 20,000 veterans each week."
 The Stone family will receive a special "Article 99 Award" from Vietnam Veterans of America later this week in Los Angeles. Others will receive certificates for their courage and commitment to this important issue.
 ARTICLE 99 AWARDS
 People receiving citations for their work this year include:
 -- Charles Smith: A Vietnam veteran who became a quadriplegic due to the failure of a Cleveland VA to treat a spinal abscess in time. Smith's horror story was revealed in detail on ABC-TV's "PrimeTime Live" last October. Hidden cameras disclosed the fact that Smith went three full days without food or water.
 -- Virginia Halverson: A nurse at the Charleston, S.C., VA hospital who refused to falsify records and gave Congress documentation of student doctors performing operations unattended. This courageous whistleblower was forced into retirement.
 -- Rep. Don Edwards (D-Calif.): For continuing to fight to pass legislation removing the $10 cap on veterans legal fees to enable veterans to sue the VA for benefits, a law which has been in effect since the Civil War. This legislation has been brought before Congress several times in the past and has been voted down each time.
 -- "PrimeTime Live": For continuously covering the VA health care crisis in America and providing the kind of media attention needed in order to initiate a change.
 -- Jeff Demetrius: For his courage in speaking out against a VA hospital's incompetence regarding emergency CPR procedures. His record of EKG tapes and personal notes documented over 100 cardiac cases which resulted in death. Seventy-five percent of those patients could have been saved if it weren't for the doctor's ignorance in using emergency equipment, claims Demetrius.
 -- Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.): This fifth-term representative is a subcommittee chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and House co-chair of the Vietnam-era veterans in Congress.
 His legislative achievements include spearheading the successful effort to pass Agent Orange compensation. Evans was also the architect of legislation that gives veterans the right to judicial review of adverse agency decisions. He has also championed expanded services for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and wrote legislation that increased the number of Vet Centers.
 Gordon Erspamer: A Bay area attorney who, for the last five years, has donated his services free of charge to rescind the Civil War-era $10 cap on attorney fees.
 The recipients are just a few of the many thousands of people who deserve recognition for their efforts to improve the veterans health care crisis in America.
 -0- 3/11/92
 /CONTACT: John Minnick of Vietnam Veterans of America, 202-628-2700/ CO: Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:


MH-DC -- DC003 -- 7185 03/11/92 09:01 EST
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Date:Mar 11, 1992
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