Letter from Island County Service Member to Larsen Inspires Policy Fix

Jun 5, 2013 Issues: Health Care, Veterans

WASHINGTON—An Island County service member’s request for help from Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, turned into a new veterans health care policy approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last night.

Shirin Lane, a retiring Air Force service member who lives in Clinton, wrote to Larsen in March asking for assistance when the disability rating she received for her fibromyalgia was not consistent with standard medical assessments. Because of this lower disability rating, Lane is not slated to receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits commensurate with her need when she retires this year.

Larsen successfully attached language to a VA funding bill that directs the VA to update the Veterans Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) according to up-to-date, medically accurate standards. Some portions of the VASRD have not kept pace with medical standards. The change will benefit veterans like Lane who have fibromyalgia or other disorders about which medical professionals have learned more in recent years.

“I am really grateful to Congressman Larsen and his staff who worked so hard and so quickly to fix this,” Lane said. “Even if this policy doesn’t affect me, I’m grateful that it will help veterans who come after me.”

“Shirin spoke up, and I listened,” Larsen said. “Health care and benefits for veterans should be determined based on the best medical information available. Thanks to Shirin, they will be.”

“This story is a perfect example of how my actions are guided by what people in Northwest Washington tell me is important to them,” Larsen added. “If this Air Force veteran had not told me about her challenge, Congress would not have addressed this problem as quickly as we have.”

The House of Representatives passed the bill, which funds the VA as well as military construction projects, on a 421 to 4 vote last night. Congress will likely vote on final legislation later this year.