The View From Here: Three Projects Designed For You

Hi!  My name is Lauren and I work for VA’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Peter Levin.  I’ve been blogging for a few years now (on very important subjects:  my wedding, the pros and cons of buying over the knee boots), but this is my first foray into communicating with Vets on behalf of the Department.  I’m not VA’s typical spokesperson, but I’m here for a specific reason.  VA is changing.  Our culture is changing and the processes are changing, too.  What I find most exciting is that we’re completely overhauling the technology we use to deliver benefits and services to those who’ve earned them.  That’s primarily what I’ll be discussing here with you.

As the CTO’s Special Assistant, my job allows me to work on VA projects which you may—or may not—have heard of.  I get to see things from 10,000 feet—a view that can help me translate into plain English the complex, technology projects which reengineer the business processes that affect you and the care you receive at VA.

I mean, they’re your benefits, right?  We should be able to explain the processes here in ways that don’t require a degree in advanced mathematics or engineering (no offense, Dr. Levin).

So, as we get started here at VAntage Point, I’ll be talking about three upcoming VA projects that will have an impact on the service you receive: The Fast Track paperless claims processing system, the Veterans Benefits Management System, and the Virtual Call Center.  These projects are designed with you in mind so you don’t have to fight the bureaucracy to take advantage of your benefits.  We want the  system to work, the way you need it to.

I’m not a Veteran, but that’s why my job here is so important to me.  You’ve done your part, now it’s my turn.  I’m going to do all I can to make sure you know all the things you need to know to get the most out of your relationship with us here at VA.

Have you heard about any of the projects I mentioned?  What are you initial thoughts and questions?

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126 Comments to “The View From Here: Three Projects Designed For You”

  1. Joe Average Vet says:

    I have heard of these projects, but the VA has “cried wolf” so many times, promising to cut the backlog, reduce homelessness, etc, etc, that we are not listening to promises anymore, but are awaiting results. Is Shinseki going to “break the back” of the backlog this year? Well, I submitted my claim in 2002, and I predict it wont be resolved until 2012 or later…it has been in appeals since 2008, and the Regional Office has not done a thing with it in more than 2 years..they havent even sent it to the BVA. Dont tell me about some “fast track” program when my claim is more than 8 years old, and no ways near completion.

    • Alex Horton says:

      Sorry to hear your appeal looks to be stuck. Did you go through this process?

      http://www.military.com/benefits/legal-matters/appeals-process/appeals-process-overview

      • Joe Average Vet says:

        Alex: Yes, I went through “the process”, did my part and it is “stuck” on Step 4, where the RO is supposed to send the VA form 9 and “certify” it to the BVA, but they have dragged their feet for the past 2 years. It is as if VA employees dont care how long it takes Veterans to get their compensation just as long as the VA employee checks show up on time. Personally, I dont think Va employee executives deserve one cent in bonuses until the million man backlog of claims is zero.

        • 33MarineNC says:

          Joe,
          I have had exactly the opposite experience, and I am also a Vietnam Vet. My claim took only a few months and my second claim didn’t take that long either, after 26 years away from the USMC; but then I have fairly well documented combat-related injuries. And, the service I get at my local VAMC is top notch.

          Lauren,
          For the past 15 years I have seen dramatic improvement in the care I get at the VA, and I think it is mainly due to the improvement in technology. You folks are doing a great job and I look forward to seeing how much better it gets (especially as I get older and find it harder to get around a lot). I stopped going to my civilian doctors years ago because they couldn’t match the VA’s care and service or price (even when I have had medical needs while visiting relatives across country–let’s see a civilian physician match that!). I am also appreciative that my VA Doc isn’t getting text messages during my appointments, and that the VA does much to protect my privacy like NOT corresponding by email or leaving phone messages full of personal details.

          So, keep up the good work; and as always Semper Fi!

        • GAIL says:

          that is so true about the employees of the va. it should not take that long to process anything. i work for doctors and i fighting the va to pay claims for the veterans my doctors are taken care of. money or no money i do know one thing. my doctor will not walk away from these veteran. i get so mad that the va does not take care of the vet;s like they should. the memphis, tn va medical is dirty.

    • D W says:

      Lauren,

      In reading through these posts it is clear that there is a lot of frustration that is attributable to years of neglect and beauracracy. That said, please don’t let these comments negatively impact your energy or commitment to making things better. If anything, this proves that there is plenty of noble work to be done on behalf of our heroes. Best of luck in your endeavors.

  2. Princess Hooah says:

    I am glad to be getting updates online. I love the internet and spend countless hours a day on it. I organize my life via the internet. I am not a veteran. My husband, however, is a veteran. My husband only infrequently uses the computer. Moving his communications from snail mail and face time into a world with which he is less familiar than the civilian world at large means that I will be bearing more of the burden than I already do for his appointments and benefits. My husband is an Iraq veteran, not yet 30. As I consider the issues this will bring up for him, I wonder about older vets – Vietnam vets and WWII vets – will they be left behind by a system’s improvements?

    • Brandon Friedman says:

      I wouldn’t worry about snail mail going away anytime soon. We’re making improvements, but VA doesn’t intend to leave anyone behind, either.

  3. Old Vet says:

    I remember th VA 40 years or more back. I’m not so cynical or maybe I,m just mellowing.
    Looking forward to what you have to say. Compared to the “old days” I think you do a great job for majority and wish you luck. Jim

  4. Sherry Atkinson says:

    I agree with Joe Average Vet. My appeals claim has been in for almost 4 years and nothing. I call once a month to check on the status. I feel that the VA is more focus on the vets getting out since 2000 and the rest of the vet are forgotten. For example alot of times post are referred to Iraq and Afghanistan vets. It’s like the rest of us who served don’t matter. I feel for the Vietnam vets, as I feel it disrespects thm all over again.

    • IDK if they are focused on VETs after 2000 I got out in 2002 and still have the same run around. Iv been laid off for over a year, I need my claim now! or Im about to be a homeless vet with a family.

      • Bre B says:

        My father’s case with the VA has been pending since about 1980. Apparently the traumatic brain injury he sustained after shrapnel was launched through his eye, into his brain, causing a massive stroke isn’t what the VA considers to be “service-related.”

    • John Birch says:

      It is easier for the VA to forget aabout the Vietnam Vets, they will all be dead soon. WWII (the greatest generation) were all heros, so they got lots when the war ended. Korean and Vietnam vets not so much, though alot of Korean vets were also WWII vets. As a Vietnam vet, the attitude I have came across is one hate, from the time I got back to now. I am alowed certain medical items, each year, I am now going on 3 years since my last supply. I go to the local CBOC get the referal and then Orlando Medical Center will cancelled them. But, like I said we will all be dead soon so it won’t matter.

  5. Norman Peacock says:

    My local clinic has provided me with the best of care,Dr.Jennifer Coady,my primary care Physician and all other Physicians and employees have been excellent and really do care about their patients.

  6. Keno Phillips says:

    This is the first time that I have heard of these systems. I am interested in hearing more about them and what they can do to make it simplier on me to get the services that I need and looking for.

  7. Len Griffin says:

    Call system. It is so upsetting to try and contact your provider on the phone. I have tried and always failed. Tried TAPP…no reply, tried FAX machine…no reply. To be able to send an e-mail with a simple question that anyone in the clinic could answer would be great.

    • P Berry says:

      pet peeve:3 days of playing voicemail tag with someone from VAMC.stop making me listen to the entire contents of my voicemail box, just to hear a callback number! leave a real msg already or send an email or a txt msg.

  8. Randy Watson says:

    Lauren, lets not forget the new Blue Button on MyHealthVet. Another new feature Team Peter has developed. Thanks for everything you all are doing for us Veterans.

    One thing I would like to see if at all possible, would be to have access to check the status of the Nehmer Claims for the new presumptive Agent Orange Diseases.

    Also, Tell Dr. Levin that some veterans are still having problems trying to gain a Level Two Access on Ebenefits using their MHV Account. As you know I was assisting the Developers on the new Portal but haven’t done so for some time now, so if they still need assistance they have my number and I’ll be happy to assist them again.

    Again, KUDOS to you all..
    Thanks..

    • Frank says:

      Thanks, Randy. The ability to obtain a premium eBenefits account by using an existing MyHealtheVet account is a top priority for the eBenefits team. Unfortunately, as you’re aware, the program did not perform as expected, and that has caused a great deal of frustration within the Veteran community, as well as with the eBenefits team. Staff from both eBenefits and MyHealtheVet are working closely to correct this problem, and hope to have it resolved soon. We were glad to have your support and we appreciate your offer of assistance.

  9. Good, Bad and Ugly:
    My local clinic gets 4 Stars for doing it well, on time and with care.That’s GOOD
    My “local” VA hospital -2.5 hours away- is an inefficient zoo that never does anything on time, takes forever to get an apt that’s hurry up and wait. I’m seen at 2PM for my 9AM appointment. That’s BAD
    My application for PTSD: “should take about ten months”. Ten months later: “What’s happening with my claim?” Oops! “it never got sent in – we’ll do it today. You should hear back in ten months”. That’s 20 months ’cause somebody “forgot”. That’s UGLY

  10. I am glad that the VA is making steps towards technology. I have herd of only one the fast track which, when I was asked to try it I said no.

    Here is a suggestion, have you gone to a website, and a box shows up with a question like would you like help with something today. And you have a conversation with a real person, why cant the VA do that on their website, I spend a lot of time on the web as with most 20 somethings, for answers to life’s questions like why is my claim taking so long and why have I not been called with the results of what ever test. I have seen that the VA is trying to make some email management system that would allow me to talk with my provider, I cant wait for that, because it is very annoying to be scheduled a phone consult 3 weeks out for a simple question of what wrong with me doc…ok maybe not so simple :) but still

  11. Can the VA make an iPhone app, that would let me
    1) seclude appointments with the doc,
    2) refill my prescriptions,
    3) allow SMS (texting) with my provider texts are not just on cell phones, but just for the quick questions.
    4) locate VA sites, and use the gps to get me from here to there.

    I know that is a lot to ask. but really, the technology is there. If the VA would pay of me to do it, I would run with the ball and make it.

    • Eric Roberts says:

      if you do…don’t forget the Droid ;-)

      • Eric and Jason — you’ll be so pleased about some of the health IT projects I’ll be discussing after I get through claims! I can’t wait to tell you about them!

        • Pam/TPA OEF/OIF Clinic says:

          AWESOME, the OEF/OIF generation of Veterans use all modern technology and would not only appreciate applications like Jason mentioned but would greatly benefit from them. Keep “Forward Thinking”!!

    • Mark Drewnoski says:

      Jason,
      Check out http://www.myhealth.va.gov. You can refill scripts, communicate with your primary care physican via secure messaging and many other cool things.

      • Dave Bristol says:

        @ Mark. That sounds great IF you have a Primary Care Physician. I have not had one in over a year. Sad situation.

    • I have been using the Droid application to track depression, mood, etc for my therapist. I can also track medication – amounts, when taken and then put everything on a graph. It’s called T2 – great application!

  12. Eric Roberts says:

    As a web developer, I look forward to the VA embracing new technology and using it to become more efficient…gods know, they sure need it. I hope they embrace the Presidents initiative to digitize health records and make them available to us and our non-VA health care providers to better coordinate our care. I will definitely be adding my 2 cents in. Here’s one…the comment field doesn’t scroll so as I am typing right now, I cannot see what I am typing…not very user friendly. Turn on scrolling already and make the field bigger. Unless you expect people to type in 5 words and that’s it ;-) Also, for some reason the filed with “Email” over it looks like it wants a url as it prepends http:// to my email address. You should also put on the second field, something along the lines of “Verify Email” as it will cause the submission to bomb if you don’t have your email addy there.

  13. Denise Boulet says:

    You know, the VA had the same problems when I got off active duty in 1983. I would have thougt the problems would have been smoothed out by now. I see they haven’t been.

    Although I’m reeiving good help now, I had to go through a congressman here in Orlando and prior to that, when I lived in Melbourne Fl, I got so disgusted I walked into the local congressman’s office and filled out a form and my issue was resolved in no time.

    That’s wrong. Vets should not have to go through such nonsense but I can relate to so many of the thoughts expressed here.

    Right now Kudos to the Orlando VA Medical Clinic. And Kudos to the Veira VA outpatient clinic in Brevard County F>

    • Jenn V says:

      It doesn’t hurt to remember that most healthcare facilites have a board of directors making the final policies affecting the facilty. In the case of the VA, Congress IS the board of directors. Please utilize your congressmen/woman for any VA related issues. After sll, they can’t fix the problem if they don’t know it exists or if other agendas are taking precedence. It seems in this blog that most Veteran’s are happy with their VA doctors and staff, its the benefits and C+P claims processes that are getting the most complaints. These complaints MUST get to the right people who can then affect change. Please keep writing/calling/visiting your congress reps, they are ultimately responsible for bringing Veteran’s issues forward.

  14. A. D. Skallerup says:

    My computer skills aren’t the best but an looking forward to the new systems.
    After reading some of the post I find myself to be very lucky as when I finally filed a claim for a disablility it took a short time compaired to some veterans that have filed claims and have to wait years for a resolution to the claims. My experience at the VA Health Care Ctr I used has been fantastic with the exception of a visit to the ER. Everyone that I have dealt with have been very respectful and helpful. My primary care physician, Dr. M. Trump, is a very personable and caring individual. He has taken the time to call me on several occasions to discuse different health issues. I feel truly blessed by the experiences that I have had with VA Health Care. Lauren I would also like to thank you for all the work you are doing to keep all of us Vets informed as to what is being done to improve how the system works.

  15. Daniel Witmer says:

    In the MyVA section could the VA place a current VA Benefit letter? Then when refiancing a home or anything that requires the VA to verify the disability award it will be right at the vets finger tips…

  16. Tbird Founder HadIt.com says:

    Lauren -

    This looks like an excellent endeavor for the V.A. I hope it proves to be helpful to veterans. Knowledge Is Power!

    Founder HadIt.com Veteran To Veteran LLC

  17. John Maiden says:

    That’s nice. People are truly suffering and dying from the chronic ineptitude of the VA. The mainstream medical community has far better technology than the VA for surgical procedures, medications, and diagnostic tools.
    Deny, deny, deny… then wait for the vets to die, die, die.

    • While that may be true in some facilities I have to give kudos to the VAMCs I’ve been involved with over the last five years. I received great care at the Jerry L. Pettis VAMC in Loma Linda CA and now receive what I consider outstanding care at the Fargo VAMC. I am happy with the overall care I now receive at the Minot VA Clinic though was not so happy with the Clinic I used in Sun City (Now Menifee) Ca. The issues there were not due to the medical staff, rather than the receptionists who had and attitude they were doing you a huge favor to acknowledge your presence.
      I can also attest to much better wait times for my appointments than I ever had with private care and the time the VA doctors spend with me is at least double the time private care doctors spent with me, with very few exceptions.
      Overall I agree with the notice that just came out; VA Health System Shines in Quality-of-Care Study

      • JOHN CLOWER says:

        In South Florida I have always found that the VA in Miami was up to date and even ahead of the private sector on treatment, personnel and equipment.The staff and Doctor at the HOme stead out patient clinic are out standing and caring.

  18. Jerry says:

    I feel a great peace of mind knowing my medical records electronically travel with me to all 50 states. I keep my Veteran ID card visible in my wallet so if I’m ever in an accident the emergency crew will know I’m a Vet and know where to take me. And I have the best primary care doctor in the world. He takes a holistic approach to my care and stays on me when I get lazy about my exercise and diet. No amount of help from a doctor will work if I’m unwilling to do my part. I’d rather avoid a heart attack than recover from one.

    My biggest complaint as a Veteran is the low visibility given to members of Congress who underfund and/or vote against programs, or privatize them for a political donor. My local house member voted against programs that deal with TBI, PTSD, and improving the GI Bill. Unfortunately his office spends a lot of time at the hosptial so people wrongly believe he is doing a lot for Veterans.

  19. G F Mueden says:

    Your Veterans Health emails are not well accessible to the low visioned due to low contrast.

    Aries Arditi, PhD, for many years the legibility expert at Lighthouse International in NY, spoke at the European Congress on Visual Impairment in Valladolid, Spain, Oct. 2010, on The Mutuality of Vision Science and Visual Accessibility. Michael Crossland, a UK eye man, reported that the key point he took from Arditi’s talk was that individuals need to be able to tailor any adaptations (size, contrast, colour contrast, scrolling speed) to suit themselves rather than to use a ‘one-size fits all’ approach.

    Thus the VA needs to do two things in its emails:
    (1) enable word wrap so enlarged copy will stay on the screen, and,
    (2) enable the viewer’s choice of font so, if he needs high contrast, he can get it.

    ===gm===

  20. Jaclyn says:

    I am impressed with this blog and the open dialog which is starting here. Great job VA, and thank you Lauren.

  21. G F Mueden says:

    Don’t tell us that you want our imput. Instead tell your employees that you want it, and at the highest levels, and make it possible. You should have an Inspector General and access should be easy.

    The VA lost my records and after 60 years of enrollment I was told “You are not service connected.” Bilgewater. I was in uniform on the table when the foot came off. To say that I was not service connected was insulting. Nobody has ever said “I’m sorry we lost them.” My case was handled by three regional offices and after MA said I wss OK, NY said “We are working on it.” We have been at war for several years and the VA is not yet up to speed.

    Just to send a vet to va.gov is inadequate, there are too many ways to get lost.

    Don’t tell us you want to be helpful; tell your employees to be helpful.
    I asked my contact how to address the papers and when I asked again the reply was “I’m waiting” .

    ===gm===

  22. Terry Goodbody says:

    First time I filed for AO was in June of 2003 and got very frustrated with the help I was getting from the VA so walked away and received a denial in January of 2004. A friend suggested I file for benefits under AO and I said I all ready had and was denied. He informed me things have changed and I needed to re-file so I did. This time has been a piece of cake since I was already under VA care. First, they opened my old case and gave me that file number. Second, at the CP they had all my VA doctor records in front of them and the doctor found things I didn’t really think were an issue but he included them. Last time I talked to them (call center) September 10 they stated they had everything they needed and I would be rated but because I had claimed IHD they would hold everything until November (I am also Diabetic and tons of circulation problems). As of the 26th of October the process has taken 6 months. A VVET on another site said they should have rated my diabetes right away as they did him within 60 days of his filing. I was told they were bundling it and I would have to wait until November 1. So what should have happened? And how do I REALLY find out what the status of my claim is?

  23. Tom says:

    The Va Website is awesome and very user friendly…..I know alot of websites that never get updated after all the hard work is done getting them up and running. The Va. is constantly putting up to date information on the site to better inform the veteran and their families. I thank all who works so hard on making it current and available to all veterans…..keep up the good work….. and Thank You

  24. capthutch says:

    I am a volunteer at our local VAMC. I work with two other disabled veterans in our office. Our mission is to provide vets and their families to find assistance from “non-VA” sources. We also provide help with resumes and cover letters. We speak to other vets in half-way houses etc to let them know what is available once they are healthy and clean once again.

    I say all this to you Lauren and other families and friends of vets that while these 3 projects have great potential we need to insure that we get as many vets computer literate. We handle so many vets that want to be able to use myhealthy but they are stopped because they cannot set up and use use a computer. I feel, that from what we have seen here, BASIC COMPUTER LITERACY should be our first project.

    Never leave one of use behind

    AIRBORNE

    • Thank you for that insight. I’d be interested in learning more about your experiences with Veterans and computer literacy at your local VAMC.

      • capthutch says:

        my email address is rjhutch575887@live.com and we can go from there

      • Actually, that sounds like a really good thing. I am a Legion member, and I cannot tell you how many times my ‘guys’ who are all pushing 80 or better could benefit from using the computer to get things done. I am always looking for ways to help make things easier for them.
        Do all VAMC’s have this or just where you are, Caphutch?

  25. John Perez says:

    My disability claim for Agent Orange related Ischemic Heart Disease was denied on August 7, 2008. I chose the DRO option rather than the traditional appeal route because I was informed (by VA) that my claim would stay at the Regional Office and would save time. Another year has passed and I finally get word that my appeal is in front of a VSR to be rated!. Last week in the mail I get the big envelope and it’s a brand new letter telling they just received my claim, with a new claim date of Sep 1,2010. The letter asks for me to submit another 2 years worth of evidence to support my claim!. It looks as though the VA is starting a new file for every Vet that may qualify as a potential Nehmer class member. Is so this as really going to cause a big mess rather than fix one.

    • MCPO (SW) Robert J. Colonna, USN (Ret.) says:

      I request a reply from the VA concerning comments in John Perezs’ blog, and why the VA is once again taking their time, gathering additional info from VV’s who have already submitted claims for Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD). He deserves an answer.

      I submitted my claim for IHD in March of 2010 and I am still awaiting for a decision. I already went through a VA examination, etc; a few months ago and I have not had any response from the VA on my status. I know, Mr. Perez and I are not alone in this endeavor, and I do understand that the VA has a lot of claims to shuffle through, but, a simple letter to let the VV know the status and/or update to his/her claim from the VA is certainly warranted.

    • Terry Allen Sr says:

      The same thing hapened to me I got a letter from the VA Just to say that I had to file more forms for my dependents OK if I was not in the SYSTEM

  26. Daniel A. Ashcraft says:

    Nice to see this blog. I am a Natl. Service Officer for the Military Order Of The Purple Heart. I work in the VAMC Saginaw three days a week. I also receive all my medical care here. The Saginsw VAMC has to one of the most Veteran friendly in the country. I too am frustrated at the backlog of claims at our Detroit Regional Office. But they’re working hard. Keep up the good work.

  27. MsALB says:

    How can I get on ebenefits? I have tried to call and log on to ebenefits for months now! When trying to log on thru myhealthvet it is down (has been for months now) and I am too far from a regional office to go there and DEERS wont find me even though I am in Deers, and I also work for the VA! So I would actually like to see what this site is about but I still cannot access it! Any advice?

    • MsALB, where do you work for VA? We can do in person proofing for eBeneftis at any regional office or VA facility.

      • Dave Bristol says:

        Lauren. I tried in person proofing at the Leesburg FL VAOPC. I must have been speaking Italian as no one there even knew what ebenefits was.

  28. Joe Average Vet says:

    Sherry is right. If the VA claims system were fair and claims were processed in the order received, instead of playing political football pitting Vietnam Vets against Iraq/more recent Vets, there would be no such thing as claims taking 5, 10, or even 20 or more years for the VA to “process” them. It should be a crime for the VA to take more than 10 years to process a claim instead, its practically an every day occurrence. If you are a Veteran of a politically popular war, then you can expect your claim to be moved to the head of the line while Vietnam Vets sit an wait often until the Veteran gives up and becomes homeless or dies.

  29. Kyle Callan says:

    I am a WW2 China Marine vet. I applied several years age for va benifits. Was told they would “put me on the list.” No word yet. Wonder what happened????

  30. Joe Owens says:

    I hope and pray that VA does what it say it will do. They have been very responsive to me but I have a friend that has been in never never land for two years. Its time for VA to step-up and do what is right for all veterans.

  31. Bill Hoffman says:

    Glad to see the response from all because some people have to see it in black in white to believe it. However, I have been lucky from day one with my claims and work to help other fellow vets. I now work for the VA and have always wanted to help fellow vets because most of them don’t even know what benefits they deserve. I am here in the forefront at the Vet Centers to make sure that happens. Woo.. Bring it!!!
    ENC(sw/aw)cc, RET.

  32. Ron Ouellette says:

    As a retired VA Police Officer I am also a Disabled Vet and want to say that
    the care on the medical and mental side of the house are just great and I am
    appreciative of that, HOWEVER, when it comes to the Administration Side of the
    house I am disgusted. Can someone explain to me why VA Executives who have an average salary of $150-185K wind up with additional BONUSES of $30-40K????
    Why?? Can’t they live on their already high salaries?? As most veterans I have nevered earned that kind of money in my life and I don’t know too many veterans who have?? Do you?? Maybe the Government feels that they are worth $200K a year in salary, but, PLEASE DON’T INSULT the rest of us by doing this, STOP THAT PRACTICE NOW!!! Look at the OUTRAGE after Bankers got federal Bailouts and then BONUSES, GIMME A BREAK!!! I would rather see our Health Providers making that kind of money than an empty suit walking around with a clipboard and holding meetings. Make no mistake I am not painting the whole administration side with this broad brush but clear out these non-veterans who hold top posts and who are making that kind of dough. Wasn’t the VA supposed to an organization run by veterans for veterans?? Maybe we should go back to that tenet. Also when you are fighting a claim, that based on my experience the VA seems to have an attitude that we vets are out to scam or cheat the VA?? We have to fight for every dime we get, why is that??
    I am now 68 years old and the things that happened to me when I was in the Navy 45 years ago are manifesting themselves in health matters and I have to continue to fight tooth and nail, I am NOT trying to scam the government, but, I am trying to get my fair share of what I am entitled to, but, its fight, fight and fight more. In closing on the BONUSES I asked Anthony J. Principi personally and up close and personal why he gave out BONUSES and his answer was “well, I haven’t given out that many bonuses this year and the ones I have given were to people who work more than 8 hours a day.” Talk about a crock of you know what. I wrote to Shinseki two years ago right after he took office and asked the same question and as of today I have NOT
    received a reply?? Why?? From where I sit Shinseki and the rest of the Bureaucrats work for me, I don’t work for them, anymore.

    • MCPO (SW) Robert J. Colonna, USN (Ret.) says:

      Ron,

      Your my kind of guy, standing up for what is the right thing to do and voicing your opinion.

      It is a shame that these VA folks are making that kind of money, and the Vets are fighting tooth and nail just to receive compensation that they have rightly earned. I salute you, SIR, as a 30 year retired MCPO. And by the way I live in Va Beach, VA.

    • Terry Allen Sr says:

      I could not of said it better

  33. I am thankful every day for the staff at the Haverhill MA clinic. Kathy Higgins (my primary care) save my life when she convince me to get treatment for a condition that I had ignored for years. And the staff there treat me and the others with respect, something I never got from the non-VA system. I have come to trust the VA system here in Boston more than any of the so called “great hospitals” here. I can’t blame the VA system for not providing all the services I would like to see, but I do blame congress. Many of our congress men and women have not had any military experience and think that what problems veterans have are not as bad as we think.

  34. AL OWENS, VN VET says:

    That’s interesting about Sec. Shinseki not answering the mail from his “clients.” I had the same esperience this summer… On the plus side I can report that VA employee S. L Smith of the St. Petersburg VARO should be nominated for the Nobel Medical prize. Smith has developed an administrative cure for cancer which should excite VA Execs nationwide….just ignore the CT Scans, biopsies and C&P reports and declare service connected metastatic cancer to be cured…

  35. Capthutch says:

    I dont know if any other VAMC’s have this. I would like to talk to you more. Please contact me at rjhutch575887@live.com. Thank you Capthutch

  36. Terry Goodbody says:

    Lauren,It’s good to hear from the technical side of the house at least for me and my first question is at 10,000 feet have you created an Enterprise Architecture (As Is and To Be) I assume you have because its mandated. I just can’t understand why the computer systems you continue to reference aren’t integrated as opposed to one offs. We continue to see different results out of different RO’s why? That should all be in the systems no human intervention. I’ve built Computer Systems for the Navy/Marines to manage Aircraft Maintenance and Logistics, I’ve built Integrated Financial/Supply Systems for the Sea Bees. I’ve also built many civilian systems all based on well documented business rules such as you have in the VA but integrated through the use of a Data Architecture. To be in this day and age and still have the government (VA) doings things manually is ridiculous. To spend money on Fast Track as a one off when a system was already in place that did some of the same things is a waste of money. I don’t care who did it and my last job was with IBM crisis control when IBM couldn’t accomplish what they signed up for my job was to take over, create an Enterprise Architecture so we could determine where we are (as is) and where we need to go (To Be) and present it back to the client so we could establish consensus. Are you taking a similar approach?

    Yes, I’m frustrated as I’m caught up as the rest of my fellow Veterans and can’t handle the excuses continually made.

  37. my local VA clinic is very good and i am treated very well. all the doctors
    ,nurses and staff are great.i wish the entire clinic was run by the federal goverment. The county employees leave much to be desired.the county seems to have their own ideas of veterans rights. i wish there was a web page or a phone number where i could ask question about my disability or other benefits i’am entitled to.eveyone you ask has a different answer or opinion. if veterans could get the correct answers to their questions and maybe help screening their claims it would cut down on time waisted dealing with incorrect paperwork and save time.

    • Claire says:

      James, You might want to contact your local Veterans Service Organization (VFW, American Legion, etc.) to help you through the process.

  38. John Birch says:

    I noticed that a lot of the VA responses talk about going to eBenefits. i went to it, to be able to find your records you have to have a premium membership. How do you get a premium membership go to you Regional VA Office and have a in person verification. So if you live a great distance and don’t have transportation you are screwed. But, wait if you have signed up for myHealthVet you can get a premium membership, except it is down for maintenance so obiviously another roadblock from the VA.

    • John, nothing is more frustrating to me than what you just enumerated. I actually had a fit about it last night in my office :). I know this doesn’t make it better right now, but promise me we’re working on it. I’ll be giving an update soon.

      • jason Shattuck says:

        I have the same problem, I have both accounts, I am authenticated for my healtyevet, but the website ALL THIS week has been saying it undergoing maintenance. I even called the 800 number that it list on the page, and got a nice lady, whom was able to help, but then the page where you verify your information keep saying that there is a page error flow problem and would not let me go on.

  39. Terry Goodbody says:

    Lauren, I don’t want to come across as a know it all or anything I just have been involved in large organizations trying to change like the IRS, DOD, Boeing, Enron, etc. for the VA, a quick win is how do we allow Veterans to get access to their claim information and where it is in the process. VVet’s thought that was Fast Track and on October the 29th it was to go live right before the Preemptive went into effect (Oh boy! we can see our claim get approved or at least where it is in the process). The site didn’t go live on the 29th, 30th, 31st, and when it did on the 1st we find out its only for new claims. There wasn’t much of a reaction because it was business as usual for the VA (no beef). I’m excited about what IT can do to improve the system and to get some real quick wins that will WOW the veterans. Because as you know in all this stuff there are real opputunities and an Enterprise Architecture can give you that 10,000 mile view and identify some real quick hits that can be implemented in short periods of time using Data Warehousing and other tools you already know about. Just my own attempt to deal with this frustration I feel with the VA system.

    • Terry, do you use eBenefits? You can track the status of your compensation and pension claims at that portal. I will be addressing Fast Track in my next post(s) and we can discuss that process then!

      • Terry Goodbody says:

        I have the same problem as everyone else I have my DS log on and have tried upgrade my account through MyHealth using APR (?) given that’s my personnel auth but get system is under maintenance as does everyone else for days now.

      • Terry Goodbody says:

        Lauren, I did find your EA at this link http://www.ea.oit.va.gov/EA_Reference_Models.asp Look under Data and Information (Really nothing there)and thats a big problem when trying to accomplish what IT wants to do for the VA

        • Terry — I think the points you raise here should be addressed at large. I’ll draft something for this week to talk about IT, our business lines and how they are both working for better customer service outcomes.

  40. Bill Bale says:

    I’ve been with the VA healthcare system for almost 3 years now, and it only took one call to get it started. I have no idea why other vets are having such dire problems with the VA. I have a fine GP and have had two fine psychiatrists so far. Only stopped the first one to start using the new one placed in my local clinic with my GP. The only problems I can say I’ve had are with the regional parent facility which is so overworked that things take time with them months to get some things started, but once started they stay on track.

    I will pray for the vets not getting the service I receive.

  41. Fred Foskey says:

    have to tell you… medical care is great at Hampton VAMC but your internet applications are horrible and one side blames it on the other. I have tried to see my my e-benefits page and yes I received my level two through myhealthe-vet, I can see my cofidential payment history but thats it, I have an NOD appeal in and am unable to see anything else. It tells me that I have no active appeal. I can see some posts from the past and thats it. I also can’t order my personel file. I try to send an IRIS and I get a return of CGI error. Is someone working on these problems and if I am the only one who should I talk to? I wanted to let you know that Roanoke regional said its e-benefits fault and e-benefits said its the regional office’s fault. PLEASE fix this soon.

  42. TOM SANTIAGO says:

    I’M GLAD TO SEE A SITE WHERE SOMEONE RESPONDS AND AT LEAST GIVES HOPE FOR VETERANS LIKE ME, I SERVED I DESERT STORM AND WHEN I CAME BACK STARTED DEALING WITH THE REGISTRY WENT THRU PHYSICALS AND FILED CLAIM JUNE OF 2000. IT TOOK 5 YEARS FROM THE DATED OF ILE TO GET A DENIAL LETTER, WHICH IS VERY FRUSTRATING. NOW 5 YRS SINCE I’VE FILED AGAIN AND SUPPOSED TO BE ON THIS NEW FAST TRACK BUT WHEN I ASK ABOUT BEING COMPENSATED SINCE THE FIRST TIME I FILED I GET THIS THIS RESPONSE THAT I HAD TO HAVE FILED AND APPEAL WITHIN 1 YR OF DENIAL BUT I HAD TO KEEP WORKING TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE SO I HOPE THAT AFTER THIS PROCESS THAT THE VA WILL CONSIDER TAKING CARE OF US VETERANS. THE WORDING IN DENIAL LETTER IS ALWAYS OF CLAIM NOT BEING WELL GROUNDED BUT I CAN TELL YOU WHILE I WAS SERVING I WAS WELL GROUND ON THE GROUND BECAUSE I HAD LOTS OF SANDS IN MY POCKETS AND IN MY LUNGS.

  43. Ernestine says:

    I have service connected breast cancer, which now is metastatic. To add insult to injury that Smith person in St. Petersburg, ignoring all medical evidence, issued a rating decision saying my condition was IMPROVED and my benefits are to be reduced!

  44. I live 94 miles away from the VAMC. I’m having difficulty getting the PCP receptionist to answer her phone. She just doesn’t do it. I’m trying to find out about medical test results. What should I do?

    • Terry Allen Sr says:

      go to the VA and see the records dept and ask for a printout of your C&P for your test they will give it to you

  45. Pat Willson says:

    I submitted my “paperless claim” last November (2009). I have been through my exam in February 2010 and the interview. Not once in the year since my claim, have I ever received any reply from the VA regarding the status of my claim. I thought the paperless system was a great idea when I was filling out my claim, but not now. How am I suppose to know if I’m still in the system or not. When I call – they never tell me anything other than what I already know, being that I applied and had my C&P interview. What’s wrong with telling what the status, or what stage, my claim is in? At least tell it’s being worked on. Hell – just send me anything that tells me I’m being processed one way or the other.
    Also I agree with a previous comment regarding recent vets taking priority over the Older boys. Unless it’s a severe case, vet claims should be handled according to their date of service. Us old vets are dying off fast. We hate to think that’s the idea, but we just can’t help it. As for the recent rash of PTSS with the new vets – bull. We all have PTS. Anyone who has saw combat will never forget it.

  46. Terry Goodbody says:

    Lauren, Do you have anymore information as to why we get the System Maintenance screen when trying to follow the ARP portal for getting at our claim information? This happens when trying to upgrade our Claim account to premium.

  47. Stephen M Guthrie says:

    Obersvation: after reading above blogs and blogs from various other military web sites one thing stands out more than others and that is the amount of critical remarks about the VA and the claims process.The question is will the system ever change ? well as long as the VA has the attitude that all vets exaggerate their disability.now im not navie enough to belive that this does not happen but there has to be a way to get around this so that vets who truly need help get it.it would also be nice to see that vets with a disease process that over time can become exacerbated have there case reviewed at pre-determined intervals so that any adjustment could be made, now of course those already receving 100% would be excluded.this would prevent alot of extra paperwork the vet would not have to re-file it would be automatic .but most of all a more freindily approach towards the vet from the start of the claim process to the end would be a huge step

  48. Terry Allen Sr says:

    That is what happend to me for no reason I have a 100% rate now and the VA has all My info so why ask me to send in more froms that they have in my file that was updated in 09 when I went to a 100%

  49. Pappey J. says:

    First … I gotta take a breath. I’ve got a lot to say, said it so many times already, but doesn’t seem like anyone is really listening. So you say VA is listening … I’ll try to say it again, succinctly:

    1. A veteran can’t be really honest and candid with the VA at any level … your words can, and in my case, will be used against you.

    2. The medical staff doesn’t DEMONSTRATE concern … sure I get the “Thank You for your service”, but it isn’t demonstrated in actions. I have to fight for each and every action, mostly to result.

    3.I’m One person against a system … a big system. The system will not/can not bend to accommodate my specific needs. I get “talked at” not “spoken with”.

    4.The VA will change? … yeah ok … we’ll see.

    5.The only good thing I’ve gotten from the VA in the almost 20 years of my dealings is a check every month. But when I get that check each and every month I am reminded frustration, anger, humiliation, contempt, and worthless communications that it took to get that check.

    Sorry, but the VA holds no promise to me … I’ve had nearly over 200 appts in the last two years to my VA medical facility … 5 hr drive round trip … and each appointment is an exercise in self control, patience, conformity, assimilation and tolerance of a self justifying system.

    The VA is improving? … sorry to be so negative … but that’s my VA world … and it isn’t a good world.

  50. Terry Goodbody says:

    I am so frustrated with this whole thing. Everyone assumes there is a methodology associated with this whole process accept the VA. If VA really wanted to help us understand whats going on they would publish the methodology (IE received the claim, initial qualification of claim, schedule CP, development of claim, rating, notification, etc.) how long does each step take and where am I in the process? Am I stupid or is this to much to ask?????????

    • Terry,

      I completely understand your frustration. There is a system in place. Please post any questions you may have specifically about your claim that you may want to discuss (please keep in mind your privacy), and I will do my best to help you get going.

      Best advice? Get a POA (Power of Attorney). I suggest the American Legion (the one I use) to help you navigate this process. Submit a VA Form 21-22 to your local Regional Office with jurisdiction over your claim.

      Let me know if you need my help.

      Best regards,

      Luis Concepcion

  51. s. krzyzak says:

    I would like to know why vets have to go back threw the proccess of getting something they already had because they did not get a form? back in 08 I was recieving 100% unemployablity from 06-08 then i had back surgery in april and that novmeber my rating changed and a few months later i finaly found out why it was cause i did not recieve a form to fill out that i still was not working. then to get my 100% back i have to go back threw the process going to comp appt. filling out papers and and still waiting on a rateing as of nov 2010. i call on a reg bases and it has been clear to getting final signture and keepes ketting kicked back. I call to find out why and i never get any straight answer the closes to a straight answer i have gotten it is sitting on the supervisers desk and that was over a month ago. Most of the time i try to call I get recordiing saying please try back later. I should not have to go threw all this sence it was not my fault that I did not get that form. the va should have just sent me the form again to fill out. there should be a way we can check on our claims online that might lower the call that come in Cause im going to guess alot of the call are vets checking on there claims after they been waiting for a yr or better like I have. If you have any suggestion how I can get my claim moving again please let me know. I am unable to work and going to school in hope one day I can work again but not sure sence I have not been able to go 12 weeks of school with out missing a day or two. Im just at teh point of not sure what to do or say to bill collects.

    s. krzyzak

  52. Terry Goodbody says:

    Lauren, I’ll bet your exhausted with all the complaints but I see they have fixed the Systems Maintenance issue they removed the link. So how do we get to a premium status to get to our claims?

    • John Birch says:

      I am glad that I am not the only one who notice the link to sign up using MHhealthvet is missing. Guess it is like everything else, if you can’t fix it get rid of it.

  53. Matias Jr, Ernesto says:

    Veterans Clinic in Yuma Az has done an excellent job taking care of veterans who uses their facility. Thanks to all the staff specially to Dr. Ramonito Panal for all their hard work.kudos to all of you and thanks.

  54. Matias Jr, Ernesto says:

    somebody help pls. Im a military retiree and 100% disabled vet. service connected. Have heard a few times from other disable vets that Financial benefits from VA are tax free. How true is this? thanks anyone.

  55. Matias Jr, Ernesto says:

    The small Va clinic in Yuma, Az. are over crowding with regular patients living in this area comes winter time when all the veterans that are coming from diff. states spend their time winter’s here in Yuma the clinic is just to small to handle the number of patient using the facility. don’t we think its time to move the clinic to a new and a little bigger facility?

  56. Matias Jr, Ernesto says:

    Kudos to all the Staff at Yuma Arizona Veterans Clinic, they are doing an excellent job helping us the vets. special thanks to Dr. Ramonito Panal

  57. Steve Redmond says:

    Like so many of the vets who have posted before me, I will believe what I see. Why does the VA spend all this time and energy on new programs, instead of taking care of vets? I know this looks good on paper and to the news, but I would rather you actually help me out, answer the phone, really answer my question, actually follow through with what you say. Actions speak louder than words!

  58. James Sealy says:

    Will the VA ever modernize by setting up paperless billing (and stampless) on-line credit card co-payments?

  59. Just Needing Help says:

    I would just like to know where else to turn to? I have had two bouts of cancer, had my stomach removed as well as parts of other orgins. Additonally I have been diagnosed with asbestosis now, I am house-bound and primarily bedridden. I filed a claim in 2005, waited two years was denied. My wife and I got educated and appealed and submitted medical nexus letter’s from four doctor’s from four different specialties stating that my cancer was caused by my military exposure. Waited the nearly three years for the DRO decision, yet this individual never reviewed all the new evidence but denied the claim. Also had submitted two witness statements as lay evidence, yet none of this was even looked at. The DRO Supervisor acknowledged to my DAV rep that the VA had clearly made a mistake and that the VA would issue a Suplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC). Well it has now been seven months and nothing, we’ve been informed by our Congressional Representative that it could take two years or more. How is this even morally right or just or fair? All my wife and I want is to be judged fairly by the evidence and science and records that are clearly there. We just don’t know where else to go or where else to turn to? I can handle it if the DRO denied the claim and said that we needed to provide something else, but to not even review what the VA had in hand and then say sorry but you’ll have to get back in line for another two or more years? Does anyone at the VA even consider what life span a two time cancer patient with asbestosis has? And yet if the benefits are not awarded then the VA can dismiss the claim without prejudice and then my wife will have to start all over again? It has been nothing but deny, delay, loose, misplace, outsource the claim since the begining. Yet no one seems to care, everyone at the VA has the attitude that it’s just our problem, there is no righting an injustice, only the attitude that well sorry Sir but all vets have problems. I am never going to be able to work again, my wife is my caretaker and yet because I am not 100% service connected disabled we don’t qualify for an aid. Nor can we pay through Medicare to have an aid or assistance. It just seems that the VA can care less.

    • Dear Veteran,

      My advice to you is to go to the Regional Office (RO) with jurisdiction over your claim directly. It seems that you have a pretty good handle on your situation so I’d try and have the help desk speak to the Veteran Service Representative/Rater that worked your claim to help them see this evidence that has not been considered. They will in turn understand your evidence to be NEW AND MATERIAL and reopen your claim hopefully with a better outlook.

      Remember that when you are trying to prove a Service-Connected issue, the key word is CONNECTED. What connects your current ailment to your honorable service? This fact must be strongly established in order for your ailment to be given a Service-Connection rating. IF YOU DON’T GET IT, you can always apply for NONSERVICE CONNECTED PENSION with HOUSEBOUND/AID AND ATTENDANCE benefits. This program is income based and requires that you disclose all your income and net worth to the VA yearly.

      Let me know if you need further help. You can find the Regional Office with jurisdiction over your claim by going to http://www.va.gov/. If you can’t find it, send me a note here of your city and state and I will post it for you.

      God bless,

      Luis Concepcion

  60. Just Needing Help says:

    Oh yes I wanted to make it clear that the DRO that handled or rather neglected to properly handle my claim works at the Chicago VA Regional Office. Since he/she can be negligent in his/her job, perhaps this person will read and see how just rubber-stamping denials truly impacts each and every veteran’s life as well as their spouses. Maybe this might instill a new sense of diligence, but knowing the VA I will not hold my breath.

  61. sick and tired says:

    Dear Sir/Madam:
    I have personally witnessed a serious and longstanding problem with the claims process at the VA, at the same time I am not just going to complain about it but am offering a simple solution to the problem that could be put into effect immediately at a miniscule cost and save both millions of dollars as well as countless man hours throughout the VA. I am only using my claim as a generic example of the problem while offering a simple solution to help all veterans in the future. I have been struggling with the VA for 9 years on a legitimate claim, in total and only recently found out exactly what I needed to get to prove my claim, which I immediately got from my VA primary care doctor within 2 weeks and submitted. Here is the problem [When a veteran files a claim for compensation and goes to his VA doctor for subsequent treatment he assumes his medical records from the VA doctor will be forwarded in support of his claim] this is NOT TRUE. My claim was denied because the regional office said I couldn’t prove the condition claimed even existed, even though I had been treated for it for years as well as operated on for it , and yet when they scheduled me for a C&P exam and the examiner agreed with me, because my service treatment medical records were not sent by VA to C&P for review by the C&P examiner they gave their own C&P examiners opinion no probative value and denied my claim I couldn’t believe it, my claim which is a very legitimate claim by the way denied due to the inability of VA employees to follow VA procedures, this starts a very lengthy process forcing me to appeal their wrong decision and adding unnecessarily years to the process as well as wasting many man hours by VA employees and causing undue stress and aggravation as well as financial ruin on me. Since this happened to me I am sure it also happens to many other veterans as well, it is very unlikely that this is an isolated incident considering the amount of claims on back log at VA, more likely than not to be a common occurrence through out VA. I have a simple solution to solve this once and for all worldwide, that could save many millions of man hours as well as dollars and reduce the number of claims to go to the appeals board significantly from day one after it is implemented. Every veteran should have a master treatment file or [e file] established in a centralized computer system at VA for them and when being treated at any VA facility worldwide, for any condition, when the records are sent from the treating doctors computer to the records division within the same building as it is done now a simple cc copy could be and should be automatically transferred to the master record or [e file] data base under that veterans name and file number. Then before any claim is decided at any regional office anywhere worldwide the decision makers would have access to all records current to that date showing all conditions and treatment for conditions and the duty to review the master record [e file] in support of the claim. This would be a simple but positive solution to a long standing problem at VA, and very cost effective, reducing both ongoing administrative costs as well as ending the redundancy in the claims process and drastically reducing the time required to adjudicate claims and I believe would in itself greatly reduce the back log of claims on file as well as greatly reduce the amount of claims sent on to BVA for appeal.
    Additionally if a [medical nexus letter] is required for VA from a doctor to prove a claim for the VA regional offices, then shouldn’t the VA regional offices immediately inform the veteran of this fact once a claim is filed, and if the veteran is only being seen by VA doctors, shouldn’t the VA regional offices themselves request a [medical nexus letter] from the primary care doctor on behalf of the veteran and not make the veteran try to outguess the claims process and or explain to the doctor what they need. At no time during the 9 year process did any DAV rep nor anyone else tell me exactly what I needed to prove my claim aka [medical nexus letter], while this may sound unlikely to you, let me assure you this is the truth, additionally my primary care doctor at the VA has worked there for 26 years and this is the first time he has heard of a [medical nexus letter] being necessary to prove a claim as well, he immediately wrote me one once I informed him what I needed without any hesitation. The claims process need not and should not be neither lengthy nor as confusing as it is, since information is almost nonexistent for veterans from the VA to help with this process, this would eliminate some of the Burdon from the backs of the veterans as well as ease the job for VA. I believe this would be the equivalent to adding an express lane at VA, Please consider this solution to help all veterans from this day forward so maybe, they won’t lose their homes as I did or suffer the financial hardships I have suffered throughout this difficult and very lengthy process and still do because I can no longer work due to my service connected disability, while yet the VA is still in denial and still delays my claim that is on appeal, I should eventually win the appeal now that I finally figured out what they needed on my own through hours and days even weeks and months of research on the internet and have sent it in to them from the VA’s own doctors now 3 different ones say the same thing all in my favor directly service related and not likely to improve. But this should have never, never, never happened not even once let alone countless times to countless veterans we have suffered enough, if a simple master [e file] was in place as I described to you and it was reviewed back in 2003, I am confident this never would have happened. Please consider this suggestion and implement it as soon as possible for the sake of all veterans and thank you for your time and consideration and hopefully compassion on this matter of the utmost urgency. While it is already too late to save my home and my credit rating that took me years to build up, Please don’t let it be too late to help the next veteran in need due to inaction when this could easily be prevented.
    P.S. I wrote to all Missouri reps and asked for help before I lost my home, to no avail both republican and democrat alike so to all veterans I say unless this change is made at VA nothing will be done on our behalf to correct this obvious problem. While their office will send out a standard inquiry form, that is all they will do, they won’t pick up a phone on your behalf and inquire about you themselves personally and until they do what good have they done.

    • Solution:

      1. REOPEN (submit a new VA Form 21-4138) your claim! Tell them where the information they were missing is found and ask them to consider this new information as NEW AND MATERIAL to your case.

      2. Find a POA (Power of Attorney) such as the American Legion and submit a VA Form 21-22 appointing them to help you with your VA claims. I also suggest JOINING THEM.

      Best of lucks and may God bless you.

      Best regards,

      Luis Concepcion

      • sick and tired says:

        Luis: But will you forward my suggestion to higher management to be considered for fixing the problem for future Veterans. As I said it is already too late to save my home.

  62. sick and tired says:

    P.S. after the last surgery at a vamc Little rock AR I was told that I was fine by the doctors. I knew something was wrong and requested my records, in them they described the stentin operation where they put in two stents in my leg as failed hmmm! Fine! Also I woke up during the operation which isn’t a pleasant thing to have happen when I heard a popping sound and the doctor said oh sh@t and I asked what was wrong and then argued with the doctor for more anesthesia and was held and ratcheted down on the table while they finished the operation. Then they noted they counseled me about it even giving a date of counseling saying that it probably failed, NEVER HAPPENED and to top it all off they are still denying service connection as of yet against my primary care doctors statement direct service connection. To the VA I say show me you are changing you broke me now show me. My original claim has gone on for over 9 years and how the VA can make a distinction between war time and peace time injuries every day still amazes me talk about discrimination at the highest levels, I say a compound fracture is a compound fracture regardless of what day it occurred mine was on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier during flight ops. I also say residuals are the same but what do I know I am not the judge I am only the VET and my opinion doesn’t mean a thing. I will have to have more operations in the future to include both hips replaced and fusion of my back all service connected according to my VA doctors they of course used common sense in their judgments but the VA will deny/delay hoping for me to die so they will win. Show me I say. Until then I am skeptical.

  63. John Birch says:

    After reading some of the comments and stories on this site, I have concluded that the VA doesn’t give a shit about veterans. They report all these new procedures that will streamline everything. The only thing I see stremlined is the VA keeping their jobs. If this was a business the boss would be firing everyone of the employees. In this case the boss is the President. I think we should organize a massive letter writing to the President and see if he can get the VA Secretary off his ass and do his job. Any comments?

    • John,

      As a disabled Veteran myself, I failed to see ANY constructive criticism of the VA structure on your post. What exactly do you want to change? Where? How? When? Why? Be specific. Once you determine your goal/goals, don’t bite more than what you can chew. Try writing a letter on single important issues to your congressman/woman/senator that you would like addressed. Follow up. Stay on track. Be participative. Understand the simple concepts of large government organizations. The VA is not perfect but IT WORKS! I am living proof of that as a disabled Veteran it has been there for me. It does not mean that I have not experience my fair share of long waits at VA hospitals (even turned away without care!) but we should try harder for the Veterans of tomorrow than simply moaning and complaining, which I completely understand: LET’S GET SOMETHING DONE! TODAY!

      Make sure your goals are SMART: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and TIMELY.

      Pick one or a few, and start work. However, you have EARNED the right to vent your frustration and do nothing as well. This country owes you that much as well.

      Best regards,

      Luis Concepcion

  64. sick and tired says:

    If you are getting the run around and have been denied on a legitimate claim call the rep for vets.advertised on tv.

  65. Pappey says:

    I don’t believe that the Sec of Veterans Affairs is on his ass; I believe he is a very busy person, but I don’t believe he is busy doing the right things.

    I taught as an artilleryman to take care of the details; details are most important; by taking care of the details the bigger issues will fall into place by themselves.

    We had some basic procedures on the guns that we followed and/or adapted to each situation. The situation dictated our actions.

    I never had the luxury of ignoring the situation or changing the situation to better fit my needs or abilities. The situation demanded certain actions and I acted based on the situation.

    Now I, the veteran, am the situation. The VA is not the environment … I, the veteran am the environment. I am the situation … I expect the VA to respond to my needs. I expect the VA to understand my needs, anticipate my needs, and react to my needs by following some basic procedures that can be adapted based on the situation.

    I don’t see this. I see a closed system, that doesn’t want to adapt to my needs. I must adapt to the VA system because the VA system will not adapt to me.

    That’s the crux of the conflict between me and the VA.

    I was in a system once. A very demanding system with extraordinary mental and physical strain. I willingly joined that system. I performed magnificiently in that system. I depleted much of mental and physical resources in that system.

    And now I am in another system that is demanding more resources, both mental and physical. The medical community unilaterally demands patience, tolerance, compliance, assimilation, blind obediance, and trust without regard to my tolerance levels, my mental resources, my physical endurance abilities, my embedded beliefs, and my lack of trust.

    The benefits side of thing is incredibly self centered, unwielding, and shrouded behind regulations, procedures, and excuses.

    The solution: Make the veteran the center, the focus, the justification … each and every one individually. Then and only then will the VA really take care of veterans.

    • John Birch says:

      I am sorry I said the VA Secretary was just sitting on his ass. He is very busy getting his picture taken and telling the press of all the new things the VA is doing to help veterans. To bad the press doesn’t talk to the veterans.

    • Solution? Write to your congressman/woman. Remember that this organization, even though it’s not perfect, does an EXTRAORDINARY work on behalf of MILLIONS of veteran’s men and women as well as dependants.

      I leave you with a quote from George Bernard Shaw:

      “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

      George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) “Maxims for Revolutionists”
      Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 – 1950)

      MAKE PROGRESS HAPPEN! CARPE DIEM!

  66. Fred Raymond says:

    I am a Purple Heart veteran and am drawing 50% disability. When I was tested/evaluated, however, I was rated 0% on my hearing. But the only way I can watch TV and UNDERSTAND what anyone is saying is with the “magic ears” that I bought thru a magazine ad. Also, in conversation with people, I have a very difficult time understanding words – and have to ask several times at least what they’ve said. The constant buzzing/chirping in my ears progressively gets worse. What remedy, if any, is available for me????

    • Two recommendations:

      1. Get a Power of Attorney (POA) if you don’t have one. I suggest the American Legion. They will file a VA Form 21-22 on your behalf and will be able to work as a strong liaison between you and VA and help you navigate the VA system.

      2. Immediately file (I suggest using your POA) a VA Form 21-4138 (available at http://www.va.gov/) Statement in Support of Claim asking the VA to increase/establish your hearing loss rating. When you do this, make sure you submit for EACH physician that has attended you a VA Form 21-4142.

      Make sure you respond promptly to any correspondence the VA sends you to follow up and attenda any medical examinations.

      Communication is the key.

      The VA rules!

      Best regards,

      Luis Concepcion

  67. Pat says:

    Lauren, time for Dr. Levin and the IT staff to do something about MyHealthEVet.

    For three years or so it’s been promoted as a great tool. The VA has so much electronic data on all patients which does not get put onto MyHealthEVet, that it’s criminal that the VA continues to try to “sell” it to vets. MyHealthEVet is at best 10% effective.

    Other than prescription information, the only information in my account is what I’ve entered myself. Yet every time I go to the VAMC, all of the staff look diligently at their computer screens and see information which is not available to me.

    Time to stop the B.S. and have it do what the VA says it supposed to do. No more nice articles about what to expect “soon,” soon nevers comes. The VA should either shut-up about this, or make it work. If the electronic record part of the President’s HealthCare program is based on MyHealthEVe, that program is doomed to fail.

  68. Diane says:

    Hi, I am a spouse of a veteran whom is passed away November 20 2009. I have applied for the Nehmer class member suite, Isn’t there a place to find out what the status of this claim is? I only have got one letter telling me that my claim is being processed, that was 02/22/2011 can you help me with this?
    Thank You
    Diane

  69. NAM VET says:

    I love to have access to my claimant records . So I may inquire the status of my “PTSD”
    CLAIM. All I seen from the V.A. is:
    “It is our sincere desire to decide your case promptly. “”However, as we have a great number of claims, ACTION ON YOURS MAY BE DELAYED.”" No need to CONTACT
    US IN THE MEANTIME.” ( from:D.V.A. 1722 Eye street ,NW Washington DC 20421)
    Ok, so how long will it take? One year, two years…..how long?