Reading this after watching the video of Rep. Tammie Duckworth with an IRS Contractor receiving disability benefits certainly shows how desperately the VA needs help.
I filed a claim for VA benefits four years ago. It took almost 3 years before I was granted portions of my claim. There were quite a few errors. The rating officer overlooked medical records from the Phoenix VA Hospital and items from my service record.
Last year I sent in a claim for the “Clear and Unmistakable Errors” on the original claim. I contacted the offices of Senator McCain, former Congressman Flake and Congressman Salmon for help. My file was marked and letters sent out that said I was already receiving benefits and new claims can take up to 2 years. The letters seemed to state that I should be grateful for what they were already giving me.
I recently received a denial for errors on my PTSD claim and the other errors were deferred to the appeals process. The rating officer ignored the evidence I supplied and medical evidence provided by the Phoenix VA hospital.
The rating officer did take the time to change the date of my eligibility. It seems that there was an error of one day. When I tried to file my original claim in August, 2009 using the online system there was a problem. The rating officer spent more time correcting that one day than looking for the errors the VA had made on my original claim.
Instead of helping or assisting me, this rating officer chose to take the easy way out and deny my claim. My next step is to go through the appeals process that takes 2 to 4 years to complete.
My claim was one of the thousands in the VA backlog of over 900,000 claims. The VA is in the process of closing all of the claims older than I year. Thousands of claims are being closed as I write. I have to wonder if most of these claims are just going to be closed without any concern for the veterans. Most rating officers seem to go by the old motto “Delay, Deny or wait for the Vets to Die!”
According to a VA study, we are losing 22 veterans every day to suicide. We have lost more vets after they return home than were killed during the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. The VA has the upper hand in this undeclared war against our vets.
What happened to the core values that are supposed to define VA employees? Those values are spelled out in the law that governs the VA: Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief.Former specialty area, or location.
· Integrity. VA employees will act with high moral principle, adhere to the highest professional standards, and maintain the trust and confidence of all with whom they engage.
· Commitment. VA employees will work diligently to serve veterans and other beneficiaries, be driven by an earnest belief in VA's mission, and fulfill their individual responsibilities and organizational responsibilities.
· Advocacy. VA employees will be truly veteran-centric by identifying, fully considering, and appropriately advancing the interests of veterans and other beneficiaries.
· Respect. VA employees will treat all those they serve and with whom they work with dignity and respect, and they will show respect to earn it.
· Excellence. VA employees will strive for the highest quality and continuous improvement, and be thoughtful and decisive in leadership, accountable for their actions, willing to admit mistakes, and rigorous in correcting them.
Who is out there to help the veterans if not the VA.? Can the President or Congress reach out to the VA employees that work directly on the claims? If the VA employees had their pay and benefits delayed or denied, they might understand what the veterans are going through.
There has to be a way to get the VA back on the path of helping our veterans. This decade’s old cycle of delay, deny or waiting for the vets to die has to end.
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