Ben Krause (’13), a disabled veteran, has had plenty of experience dealing with the complexity and bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs. After years of advocating for disabled veterans on social media and other sites, in 2009 he created DisabledVeterans.org to help others get around some of the roadblocks he encountered. The site now averages 15,000 visits per month, and Krause is in the process of registering it as a 501c3 charitable organization.
In 2010, Krause’s Facebook page, Disabled Veterans—Chapter 31 Voc Rehab, came to the attention of "CBS Evening News." He was asked to help look into claims of fraud and discrimination against the Veterans Affairs’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, some of the accusations suggested by complaints on his Facebook page.
More recently, Krause has been working with the advocacy organization Veterans for Common Sense to garner support for an executive order making the Veterans' Administration take action on existing law. “We’re getting ramped up for this election cycle," he says, "and will distribute a veterans pledge to politicians (incumbents and challengers on a national level) to help hold them accountable for their promises on veterans' benefits–related issues."
In January, Krause and Veterans for Common Sense (which he serves as Assistant Director of Policy Advocacy for Veterans) were invited to speak at the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. During the two-day visit to Capitol Hill, the group attended a House Committee hearing and more than 20 meetings, including a discussion of disability issues with Congressmen Michael H. Michaud of Maine and Phil Roe, M.D., of Tennessee, and Senator Mark Begich of Alaska.
Krause's work on behalf of veterans is unceasing, but so are the health issues and concerns of returning troops, it seems. A March 8 report from Medill, Northwestern University's journalism school, recounted the "mystery symptoms" of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the article, Krause noted that many veterans are coming forward with lung and breathing problems, but receiving benefits can be a slow process. "In a lot of instances they consider it a pre-existing condition, so you'll have a hard time getting healthcare. Veterans are having to wait for a year or more to get coverage," Krause is quoted as saying. The article is available at http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=202996.
For more on Krause, see last winter's e>Perspectives.