The Claims Process: Inside a VA Regional Office

Muskogee Regional Office

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit a Regional Office.  As you might know, I’ve worked on a number of benefits technology projects, but until last week, I’d never actually seen an RO up close, in action.  And because I hear and read the complaints—because I’m aware many Veterans view regional offices as black holes where their claims go to languish—I decided we should start trying to shed some light on what these offices are, how they work, and how their staffs do their jobs.  A good place to start, I thought, would be the office that functions as the national touch point for the Fast Track claims processing system—Nashville.

 

The Regional office is situated in downtown Nashville, housed in an unassuming Federal building that is also home to part of the Social Security Administration and the Federal Courts.  I was met by Assistant Director Alan Bozeman (who is also the business owner of the Fast Track system) who took me on a tour of the building.

 VA’s claims processing operation takes up two floors that I saw.  My immediate observation, like all my colleagues at Central Office promised, was that my colleagues in the field are literally buried in paper. 

Claims processor at her desk surrounded by filesThe picture here is one that VA Chief Technology Officer Peter Levin took when he first visited a Regional Office.  I like Dr. Levin a lot—one of his best qualities is his ability to tell a story, which is exactly what I thought he was doing when he showed me this picture the first time. There’s no way everyone’s desk looks like that, is there?

I thought there would be one or two VA employees who weren’t so good at processing claims that would have stacks and stacks and stacks of paper surrounding them while the rest had empty desks and were playing Minesweeper and surfing the web.  Oh how wrong I was.  Each Veteran who submits a claim has at least, at least,  three folders that make up their total claim.  

As Alan led me first through the rows of cubes occupied by employees who rate claims (who looked like they were going to, at any moment, be crushed by the huge folders surrounding them on their desks) we chatted in hushed voices so as not to disturb them.  You could hear Rating Veteran Service Representatives (RVSRs) talking amongst themselves, asking questions and meeting about different claims related issues.  I didn’t hear anyone talking about the Monday night football game or the big college games or even the record snow that Nashville had gotten that weekend.  It was all business.

We made our way downstairs to the Veterans Service Representative’s area where I was again astounded by the stacks of paper that surrounded my colleagues.  The VSRs are the people that do the development of Veterans’ claims; this is the part of the process that takes the longest.

While I was on that floor I talked for a long time to a VSR named Chris.  Chris probably isn’t much older than me (a spry 27 in case you were wondering) and he speaks really quietly and intently.  He told me about his job, which is to review the Fast Track claims that are coming through the system.  He maneuvered me through the first couple of steps of a claims folder, explaining the different acronyms and parts of the process.   After we talked Fast Track, I asked Chris what he thought about VBA’s bad rap with Veterans—especially given past media coverage.  He looked sullen.  He told me that if there were only a few things he would want Veterans to know:  The issues that VSRs and RVSRs are working for Veterans are complex, mostly as a result of federal regulation.  He doesn’t like the bureaucracy any more than the Veterans waiting for their claims decisions, but he and his colleagues follow the rules very closely and do their jobs and quickly and as efficiently as possible. 

After visiting with Chris I went to the first floor where I sat with the Public Contact Office.  There I met Sheila and Dan who sit down with Veterans from the area one on one to help them with any issues they have.  Veterans can go the their local Public Contact Office for help with medical questions, assistance with filing paperwork, to check on their claim or to have the Public Contact representative help them get started with an appeal.  Sheila and Dan allowed me to sit in as they helped an elderly Veteran–who had driven all the way from Kentucky–itemize a year’s worth of out-of-pocket health care costs (which took Sheila the better part of an hour). Then I watched them explain another Veteran’s right to appeal based on a recent claims decision.  Dan and Sheila worked patiently and attentively with these Veterans-–and I was impressed.

Finally, Alan took me to meet an RVSR, the people who determine the rating.  Glenda, the team leader, introduced me to a new RVSR who had recently been promoted.  Again, I was astounded by the amount of paper that surrounded him in his cube.  He began walking me through a claim and what struck me was his unbelievable attention to detail.  Despite the enormous stacks of paper in the claim, he carefully went to each tab, poring over the information, looking for what he needed and marking details and facts in the folder that might be helpful to expedite the process later.  Had I not had to jump up (rudely and a little frantically) to deal with my travel plans, I would have mostly likely watched the RVSR work that claim for hours.  Not because he’s slow or bad at his job, but because the Veteran has 10 folders making up his claim.  10.  And each folder had roughly 400 pieces of paper in it.  All important.  All that needed, at some time, someone’s attention.

I learned a lot in Nashville.  I learned about the complex external system that both Veterans and VA employees are working with.  I was shocked by the amount of paper that passes through the hands of my colleagues when they’re trying to develop and rate a claim and I listened as they coached their colleagues elsewhere in the country to adopt and get smart on the new technology.  I also learned that the employees are frustrated with the same issues Veterans are frustrated with:  No contact, the 1-800 number not working, too much paper, a lot of confusing rules—the list I took from them looked almost EXACTLY like the list I’ve gotten from you.

Most importantly, I learned that VBA (at least this office) isn’t filled to the brim with people who hate Veterans and who want them to suffer without the compensation they deserve.  They are there to help (especially in that Public Contact Office) and the employees I met, from what I saw, really are doing their best.  As I sped to the airport, I started agonizing over this piece:  how to tell you that there are RVSRs and VSRs who care deeply about your claims and the issues you submit claims about.  I know that just because I say it doesn’t mean you believe it.  The people who care are out there-–and many of them are working on your claims right now.

Have you ever visited your Regional Office in person?  What was your experience?

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189 Comments to “The Claims Process: Inside a VA Regional Office”

  1. Ron Nesler says:

    I didn’t see a picture of the paper shredder? Have you ever found the eight years of my Army medical records that you lost? Are you even trying to find them? Oh, I forgot! All of your energy is tied up in finding new and more creative ways to avoid communicating with me about those lost records. Meanwhile, after losing or shredding my entire eight years of Army medical records, you have the nerve to send me claim denials stating that the claim is denied BECAUSE it is not supported by the very records you lost. And then, you act confused that veterans fear and mistrust you. The VA is truly a piece of work.

    • Louie Griffey says:

      I am not syaing this process is perfect, I have been battling for two years and will continue till something is decided, but did you get your copies when you ETS’ed.

      • Ron Nesler says:

        Louis, I ETS’d in 1975 and never even knew the VA existed for many years after that. In those days no effort at all was made to tell veterans what their rights were after the Army. I understand that today veterans are told about the VA when they ETS. You can thank the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) for most of the positive improvements like that over the past few decades. VVA says “Never again…………………

        • Netter says:

          @Ron- most of the time it is not the VA that lost your records, but the service department or the NPRC. But, go right on ahead and blame the VA if you want.

        • tom says:

          They didn’t want us to know what our bennefits were,they still donn’t.they only reason we are being thrown a bone now is so they can take care of the Iraq and afgan vets

        • Witty says:

          During the Vietnam era all soldiers who were ETSing attended an outbriefing which included information about the VA and VA Benefits. Either you weren’t listening or you skipped the briefing. I did the outbriefings.

          • Frank says:

            Im a Viet Nam Vet . I was injured on my second tour and Medically discharged. I was never given a ETS breifing of any kind. Just my discharge papers and good By. Thank god for the DAV. who helped me get my bennifits.

        • Ron Nesler says:

          Sorry, Witty. But, I was a squared away soldier who did not miss formations or briefings, an SSG E-6 with eight years of service and four and one half years of time in grade, who followed orders and did as I was told. I ETS’s at Ft Greely Alaska in 1975, and no such briefing was ever mentioned to me. If it had been I would have certainly attended. Not all problems with the VA are the fault of the veteran.

      • A says:

        I’d believe it if the process didn’t seem as if it was designed by a schizophrenic channeling Pablo Picasso. I know the staff work hard, but the process is frustratingly convoluted.

        I don’t even bother with the travel vouchers anymore since there always seems to be 50 people in line. I end up being late to my first appointment because the letter only had the mailing address, the buildings aren’t marked, the only ‘map’ was a sign with arrows vaguely pointing at a cluster of buildings. I kept asking passing employees for directions, and after the fifth person I finally found out where to go.

        As crazy as the building layout is, it is nothing compared to the inside of the clinic. There’s no map of where to go, and no consistency in the setup.

        I tried to make an appointment to enroll at the local VA hospital. I get there only to find out I can’t make an appointment (even though I am a full time student with a job and don’t have time to arrive before sunrise and twiddle my thumbs for a few ours.) I return a few days later, only this time I was sent to talk to an eligibility verifier. I waited for about 30 minutes

        I updated my address two months ago, but my parents are still getting letters and phone calls about my appointments, but I have yet to get any paperwork other than a half dozen ‘We’re still working on your claim’ letters. I only just learned about my next appointment since the letters kept going to either my old PO Box or my parent’s house. I go online to find out how to cancel it, call the number, and am then told I need to call the regional office.

        I didn’t believe the other student veterans as to how bad it was. I won’t be going back for anything but my C&P appointments, and I will scrounge up the money I don’t have so I can decent service in a timely manner.

    • Netter says:

      Lauren,

      Thanks for trying. They will never believe until we give them everything they think they are entitled to. I work my butt off everyday to process Veteran’s claims, and to do the right thing. It is a thankless job.

      • Rod says:

        What is thankless is the b s we get from the va for the job we did defending them and thier families

        • Bielo Wilkes says:

          I’ve filed a claim four times, my mobility is decreasing year after year, but VA denies my claim everytime. I know, new supporting evidence is needed, right! Each time I spend more money going to different doctors for evaluations without showing them the results from the previous doctor, resubmit to VA and still “REJECTED”. I spent 15 1/2 years following orders. Unlike some of my military brothers and sisters, my injuries and the damage is not visible but it is real. I believe some of the people at VA really care, but unfortunately, I do not believe that to be true for the majority. I’ve met too many with the attitude they’re doing me a favor. Don’t do me a favor, do me justice and approve my claim.

      • Ron Nesler says:

        The NPRC sent my eight years of Army medical records to the Alb, New Mexico VARO and my records went missing there never to be seen again. After over 10 years of writing letters, going to Congress and begging everyone I can reach at the VA for help, I have still not even gotten an apology, much less help finding my records. What I have gotten is claims denied for the stated reason that the claims are not supported by my military service records. Insult to injury.

      • Ron Nesler says:

        Thank you very much, Netter, for typifying that old “VA attitude” that veterans know and love so well. You are a peach of a guy.

      • Steven says:

        “Think “,”They” are “entitled” too? That is the very altitude in this country that I pray to all gods in heaven that we go to war and there is a national draft! So “you” people can see what sacrifices are made so your daughters can go to dance class…Wake up you live in a dream world that flows on the blood of veterans past, present and future.

        Jaded

      • Waiting says:

        I Thank You, I know its frustrating for everyone until things can be made easier some how.

      • Patrick Williams says:

        To the individual processing claims all day resulting in the “Thankless Job”…
        I do have empathy for your position, truely I do. I am a Veteran whom consistently observes “rude and discusting behavior” that my fellow Veterans project to Va Employee’s. For what it is worth and from my core, I am so sorry this has to be your resulting feeling from your job. The “entitlement” issue Veterans do have goes further back than the military service and its benefits they are due. Many people in general as you know carry a heavy projection of being entitled, the less an american produces in society which amounts to being worthwhile as per societies view lends a human being to “seek out, conspire with others concerning what they have due. I have heard a statement once like this “Im going to get mine” Generally I would have to say when it comes to people who have had litlle to no positive goal training within thier childhood grow up to be the persons always complaining to the inth degree about the injustices from all aspect of thier existence.
        Chin up, your an overburdened VA employee that is always expected to produce 120%, I would assume your fellow emplotyee turn over rate is fairly high, just my guess. It is impossible to enter the claimants life literally and know or be able to mind read and assume where to look for thier proof to justify a claim for instance. Without a claimant being full on willing to demonstrate to his/her best ability the evidence to prove his/her position for said claim then Im uncertain what can really be the most effictive path to prove the position of the claim.
        So of course, you get a pack of papers review them and the veteran feels you are failing the claim due to “lack of evidence or whatever”.
        Heres my suggestion, a veteran who doesnt take the initiative to do the work involved, the footwork and want to sit around the VA complex complaining till the day is over is the real problem.
        We are all victims of our own behavioral position in life, we are responsible as veterans to provide all pertenence paperwork to the VA, it will NEVER magically be brought forth. The resulting decision will then truely seem more resonable potentially, if not then there are other ways to deal with a claim.
        Yes, everyday you come to work, Expect the worst. I hope sometime you do find someone within or something in the system of worth beside a check and a headache to return hiome with. My 2 cents, frankly Im not overly concerned about people being mad because I dont see the VA as the enemy.
        PWilliams Sepulveda Ambulatory Clinic Veteran…

        • Lory says:

          I have had several dealings with the VA. The one thing that will help any claim is for you to get every paper you need and copy it. Send it registered mail. Make sure to keep the copy for yourself. Lastly, I get treatment at the VA. They have access to my records and they can just bring them up on the computer. I know its frustrating I am in the second year of my wait for a increase so I know first hand how hard it is to make it daily without thinking why is it taking so long. But, in the end it should work out. At least that is what I tell my self daily. I want to work so bad but, man when you have what I have you can’t . That’s the hardest part about being disabled….

      • Rocky says:

        (Lauren,
        Thanks for trying. They will never believe until we give them everything they think they are entitled to. I work my butt off everyday to process Veteran’s claims, and to do the right thing. It is a thankless job.)

        Lauren,
        Your job must be tough. I mean really tough. We shouldnt complain. All I had to do was survive the daily rocket and morter attacks, avoid getting shot by a sniper, live half my career away from my wife and kids, get shot at and blown up and wonder if I would live thru the night every night for all 5 of my combat tours over my 23 years of service. Damn right “I think I’m entitled to it”.

        If you guys were a business you would go bankrupt for inability to properly process and maintain records and complete incompetancy. Its really disturbing how you can defend people who lose someones records and effectivly their only income. Wow, you are just as I figured a VA worker would be. You guys are a joke. The right thing to do is show respect to a veteran who is understandably pissed off after the VA loses his records for the third or fourth time, and take 10 years to get his claim done, and then say its because of incomplete service doccumentation!? Really? Really? Sorry you have to work so hard, hope no-one dies waiting on their claim, oops to late, it happens every day!

        • Ellie says:

          “Your job must be tough. I mean really tough. We shouldnt complain. All I had to do was survive the daily rocket and morter attacks, avoid getting shot by a sniper, live half my career away from my wife and kids, get shot at and blown up and wonder if I would live thru the night every night for all 5 of my combat tours over my 23 years of service. Damn right “I think I’m entitled to it”.

          “If you guys were a business you would go bankrupt for inability to properly process and maintain records and complete incompetancy. Its really disturbing how you can defend people who lose someones records and effectivly their only income. Wow, you are just as I figured a VA worker would be. You guys are a joke. The right thing to do is show respect to a veteran who is understandably pissed off after the VA loses his records for the third or fourth time, and take 10 years to get his claim done, and then say its because of incomplete service doccumentation!? Really? Really? Sorry you have to work so hard, hope no-one dies waiting on their claim, oops to late, it happens every day!”

          I’m a VA employee and I do take pride in my job but the blame game doesn’t work for neither Veteran nor VA rep. The typical start to my day is answering the phone and someone telling me a very long, detailed message (“story”) and I’m happy to listen. Should I try to interject b/c I know what the answer is, I’m yelled at. Ok, fine. Continue telling me the story. This causes a huge back up in the call volume which is why many Veterans cannot get through to check the status of their claim. As for losing records, it happens everywhere. It’s happened to me. I believe and I hear VA reps apologize constantly but we are the people that answer the phones; not the mail system. We are the mouthpiece for the VA; not Congress who sets the policies. Veterans and VA reps need to work together to make things happen. One party griping at another party does not help. Please remember, as a VA employee, I selected this job to serve Veterans – not be tossed crude profanity and vulgar words b/c you’ve been on hold for 30 mins. I can’t help that. Help me help you. I have family currently serving and family members that are sick or disabled and others who have fallen for our country. Just as I place myself in your shoes, try to put yourself in mine. We are people. All of us. I can act civil even when your attitude worsens. I do not reach across the desk and spit in your face. I do not call you names, not even behind your back; I pray for you. Most of the time, by the time I’m done talking to a…

      • Bielo Wilkes says:

        Lauren, I spent 10 years as a military personnel clerk and Sergeant, I know thankless. However, I volunteered to do that job and said I’ll take whatever pay you give me, do whatever you say do and go whenever and where ever you say go. On the other hand, you asked for the job you have! You are not obligated by the Federal Government to stay, so stop you whining and belly aching and pay more attention to the claims you have that we need you to process. I know some will be frivolous and petty and others will not. Unless you’ve worn our boots, humped the hills in foreign countries, walked through the jungles of Panama, and spent years desensitizing yourself to kill someone, shut up, PROCESS the claims, be grateful you have a job or quit! You decide!

        • Ellie says:

          The place where I work employs 470 workers to handle this. Did you know that 70% of them have been in your boots humping those hills and killing people? You really should be thankful you came back, sir. I take offense to your comment. My uncle and my friend did not come back from Vietnam or Iraq. My grandfather died from a service-connected disability. Several of my friends are coming back legless and have PTSD. All around me I see death and struggles and I do not dare desensitize myself to any of it. Life does not come without hardships and we have them, too, for the same reasons you have them. You have your own hardship; I have every single one of them that crosses my sight. I live those hardships. Maybe some days I am worn down and am not at my best because I’ve heard and read so many problems and you’re right, it’s the job I’ve chosen, but you chose your job, too. We all have issues. We have to help each other; not tell each other off, alright?

          • Murphy says:

            Ellie is right. In my office alone dozens have been called back up in the last ten years to go back active. They have come back and gone back to their jobs working claims, yes to pay for their daughters dance class but also because they still serve.

            Things can be better. Things get better.

      • A says:

        Well, I’d say it’s more than what we ‘think’ we’re entitled to since it’s the VA, their separation classes, fancy websites, and promotional literature that gave us the expectation in the first place. The bureaucratic foot dragging forced me to borrow money from my family so I could pay my rent and buy my textbooks for the first two months. We’re not asking for a mint on our pillows or Lazyboy recliners in the waiting room. We just want the process to make sense, and actually get done.

        I am a full time student, have a job, and several chronic service connected injuries. Almost all of my veteran friends are in a similar predicament. Probably 8 or 9 out of every 10 veterans I talk to have not had substantial service, and most of them also won’t go there for anything unless they absolutely have to. I’m starting to share their sentiment.

      • Rob says:

        “they think they are entitled to”…..I believe to understand the massive job “they think they have” processing claims. However, you may want to not show the very attitude in a text format that VETERANS believe “you people” (squared away hard working individuals with a thankless job) have.

    • Ron Nesler says:

      Here is part of where the money and the effort goes http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_715194.html when it should be put into helping veterans. The VA is totally out of control and just cries out for Congressional investigation and oversight. I am sending this thread to the offices of both of my Senators. Claims are settled, phone calls and letters are not answered, VA medical care is dangerous and nobody at the VA cares about what happened to my “lost” Army medical records, but the bonuses for PR flacks are freely flowing.

    • Steven says:

      Right on!!!! Don’t we have a 10% unemployment rate in this country? Even Higher among Veterans? Let’s see….we need people to serve veterans…hmmmm..O that’s right we are not Wall Street..no bail outs. Lol I don’t know, Train, hire, employ, Veterans to help Veterans…O sorry again, I don’t have a MBA, My Promised 911 GI bill (When we were fighting two losing wars) has been magically updated to cut my benefits…Stupid me.

      Jaded

      • PBerry says:

        I know a couple dozen folks who are Veterans, who were hired, but, they say the job requirements include at least a year of college work towards their Masters Degree, one year of pre-med, just to get to sort through veterans files!

        The reason for the piles of records surrounding every CSR at the VA is that it is a rule that they are prohibited from “filing” anything, and must account for every scrap of paper, every day! Also, each week, there is one day that all records under each CSR’s control, must be logged onto the computer database, showing it’s status and recent work that was performed!

        • wpdirect says:

          The reason for the piles of records surrounding every CSR at the VA is that it is a rule that they are prohibited from “filing” anything, and must account for every scrap of paper, every day! Also, each week, there is one day that all records under each CSR’s control, must be logged onto the computer database, showing it’s status and recent work that was performed.

          This because they have been caught numerous times shredding claims or claim related documents, hiding mail, intentionally losing files and in general just doing whatever they want to not process claims properly. Where else can you get a bonus for making the numbers even when you are doing it at the expense of quality of work, A denied claim may get a random spot check an approved claim gets several reviews before it is entered into the system and mailed out. So lets get real and report the truth, The system is massively broke and does not serve the veteran as much as it abuses them.

    • Steven says:

      Serurity screens??B

    • observer says:

      My 2 cents… STOP WHINING. Instead of blaming these RO folks for all your woes and circumstances, HELP THEM HELP YOU. If someone lost your records, they will query the appropriate agencies to try and find them… it WILL happen…they do it all the time. And if you didn’t obtain a copy of your SMR’s on discharge, and some clown lost them, is it truly VA’s fault? I think not. SO STOP WHINING and blaming them for your issues… instead, HELP THEM. WHy didn’t you make a copy of your SMR’s when discharged? Can u query some of the old hospitals you were in while AD? Perhaps obtain some old records from your private docs after discharge? Maybe buddy statements? C’MON… get off your a-s and help them and stop blaming them for stuff they cannot take blame for. Yes, records do sometimes get lost, but geeez… give them a break. They WILL help you..that’s their job. But if they say no records are available, then give them a good reason why they should SC your cliamed issues.. like obtain old private records, buddy statements, etc. If you give them REASONS AND BASIS, they will reopen previous claims, but ya gotta give them a GOOD REASON.

      Here are great ways to keep you angry at them…

      First, whine and complain and sit on your a-s.
      Second, do nothing and keep blaming them.
      Third, hire lame lawyers who say they will “represent you”, and let them milk the system for 5-10 years, you never hear from them, and if you DO get anything out of it (like appealing every appeal from here to kingdom come), do you think they will actually do it for free? Pro bono? I think not…they’re lawyers…
      Fourth, go talk with your friends and buddies and conjure up all sorts of misery, blaming everyone else for your mishaps…

      WHen one looks at these cases OBJECTIVELY, it is easy to see where most of the blame SHOULD be directed…

      • anti observer says:

        Hey observer! How are you doing? Nice to see you getting all defensive while covering up your name. Let me tell you something. These complaints are real complaints. Some may not have been to the individual worker. How about those burn pits that are killing us off or leaving us injured? What did the VA say about that? Paper work could be everyones fault. I know a lot goes missing with the government. So how about you get with your buddies and conjure up another cover up and blame reversal scheme. When a vet looks at his case repeadetly being closed and reopened while suffering it easy to see WHERE THE BLAME SHOULD BE DIRECTED TOO!!!

        • Robert says:

          OK, I am going thru the same thing they have lost my records they had them when I was in louisville but when I came down to wichita they are gone and yes I had a copy and yes they lost that too. I was in special forces for the navy and all my record are behind seal in a vault so you tell me and i been fight this for over 5 yrs just to get what yes I am entitle to. Here another thought and I know it has happen to me number of times. You set an appt. with your Doc. and then make it so you can get there thru a friend or family who has taken off work to help you out so in thier case has lost money for you and the day before your appt you call to check on it and it is cancel and not just that day but 2 wks before and no one has call or told you at all. Now is that anyway for anyplace to be run

          • A says:

            Ugh, there are so many lost medical records floating around. I almost wish the VA was maliciously shredding them because otherwise that indicates a terrifying level of incompetence. I don’t get how out of the different services, different ages, different ranks, different duty stations, and different deployments that it’s always magically the veteran’s fault.

            I’ve been out for a while, and my C&P is nowhere near complete. I need that money so I can devote myself full time to school. Instead I had to starting working part time. So now I’m standing all day at work, and lifting heavy objects which is the perfect job for someone with knee, back, and rotator cuff injuries.

      • Patrick Williams says:

        RIGHT ON…..

        Glad to see Im not in the minority and someone else feels the same as I do…. YES!!!!
        PWilliams Veteran, Sepulveda Ambulatory Clinic – Los Angeles CA

      • A says:

        You’re right, it’s selfish of me to want to ensure I get some medical care only to find myself running through a phone tree and back. I almost never get a substantial answer. When I do say something I the proverbial pat on the head, and a new phone number to call. Go find a veteran with a missing limb, extensive burns, mental illness, paralysis, or brain damage and say that to their face.

        We shouldn’t have to jump through hoops like this. If you go to the DFAC you aren’t told to deliver food to the cooking area, eggs to the omelet maker, or . The cooks are paid to prep, cook, and serve the food with some input on what in particular you want to eat. It’s their job, and if they’re not good at it then they don’t have one anymore. Would you make a soldier clean and repair an aircraft in order to get air support or supplies? If he requested air support would you tell him, “You don’t have any proof there is a firefight going on, so we’ll wait here until you get back with us.”

    • Bruce says:

      Most people make a copy of their record before they get out. You should never trust in a single copy going through the system. That’s common sense.

      • Bielo Wilkes says:

        Bruce, it might be to you. But not to that 11B Infantryman who was told repeatedly not to go on sick call and to stop his whining. Had I not reclassified into an office job I would never have learned to “copy everything” before submitting it. I did however for to copy my dental and hearing records to prove I have just cause for the ringing or high pitched tone I hear. The message has to be better disseminated so that our service members know that they should have copies (paper or digital) of all records concerning their health prior to leaving a military service. These records should be treated just like the coveted DD214!

    • mh says:

      how many people die or commit suicide before the va processes peoples claims how much money does the government save by taking so long to process claims .

      • J. Washington says:

        Obviously you do not know how the claims process works. The government does not save money at all because of the length of time it takes to process a claim. No matter what, if your claim is granted, the date of claim and effective date don’t change. It remains the date the VA received your claim no matter I its 1-day or 20 years, you receive back payment from that date.

  2. Rebecca Mimnall says:

    Thanks for sharing your visit, Lauren. I’m also a non-VBA employee, and it’s always helpful to gain knowledge and perspective about what our colleagues’ day-to-day jobs are like.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Ron, I was just wondering…

    Are you referring to your active duty medical records? Or medical records you’ve acquired since being out…?

    • Thomas Talbert says:

      You must work for the V.A. . He said “eight years of “ARMY” medical records. That does not sound like medical records after he seperated from service.

    • Ron Nesler says:

      My active duty medical records went missing while in the hands of the VA.

      • Tammy says:

        Anyone that has been unfortunate to have their “Military Medical Records” lost within the VA system, contact your Senators office and put in a “formal” request to get them. The VA in New Orleans lost mine, through Sen Vitter’s office I was able to obtain them.

        The good thing with going through the Senator’s office is, if they can’t produce them they have to answer to Congress as to WHY!!!

        Good Luck

        • Steven says:

          Congress cares only what effects their votes..period. I challenge anyone to debate that..Questions, to injured Vets get the treatment this Congress woman is getting? Naaa their “just” Soldiers…My point.

          Jaded

        • Going through a Senator’s office does not work well if you have submitted a claim to the Nashville RO. My brother recently died waiting two years for his claim that was first submitted direct, then when there was no record, the next time via Senator Alexander’s office (TN). After months of waiting and no feedback from Nashville RO, we requested that Senator Alexander’s office followup. They did so to include another copy of the claim. Still nothing back from the Nashville RO. My brother died and I buried him with full military honors courtesy of the American Legion. In the process, the funeral home submitted a burial claim on my behalf. I didn’t expect any reimbursement, but what got me was a statement saying that he did not have a claim within the VA system!

          Needless to say, I knew better and visited Senator Alexander’s office who showed me the documents they submitted. A letter to Senator Akaka and Congressman Filner was worthless. They don’t care either. Someone in Congressman Filner’s office was kind enough to send the letter to Senator Corker (the other TN Senator). His staffer, who is a military vet, isn’t taking “we don’t have a record and since he is dead it doesn’t matter” answers. She is pressing hard for an answer to why there was not record. It is likely that my brother’s untimely death could have been avoided if the compensation and medical care that he rated from working with Agent Orange in Vietnam would have been approved.

          Re: med care in Nashville area: For several years, the VA med center provided high quality care to him. Two years ago, about the time the claim was submitted, he was told that he no longer would have access. Coincidence? Result, he postponed medical care that he should have used and didn’t have the funds to pay for it himself. Processing of the submitted claim might have changed the outcome. We’ll never know.

          USMC-Retired

  4. TIM says:

    What was the amount that was spent to send this NEW MEDIA team to Tennessee ? Senator Jeff Miller wants to know. He is on the VA oversight committee that is going to investigate your spending !

    • Ron Nesler says:

      One thing the VA does with great zeal and expertise is spend lots of tax dollars. Sadly, they will fight you like wolverines to keep the money in use for travel and other unnecessary perqs for VA employees.

      Try to find any VA big shot in his or her office and at least half the time they will be out of town attending conferences and/or meetings or inspecting someone or something. Too bad that they don’t have telephones and computers like the rest of us mortal humans, it could save the taxpayers a fortune on travel costs.

      • Ron Nesler says:

        I am not one of those who feel that the VA is so abysmal because they don’t have enough money. That is not the case. Most of the improvements to the VA that could save the sanity and even the lives of veterans would cost much less than is being spent now. More money will only further empower the bureaucrats and make things worse for veterans. Very little VA money is actually spent on veterans. It goes to bureaucrats and contractors.

      • observer says:

        The above statements are not correct. YOur congressmen/women pour more funds into the VA system. VA does use them wisely, in most cases. Over half is spent on disability. Everyone and their brother is claiming disability… many of these folks know how to milk the system, being coached on how to claim items. And many of them have good service officers who insist they all become 100% disabled, when many of them are working full time. Ahhh…the idiosyncrasies…

        Agent Orange and heart disease… this MUST have been thought up by overzealous veterans groups…. when u sit and listen, c’mon… don’t ya think natural progression of disease with age, family histories of heart disease, I smoke 3 packs a day, my cholesterol is higher than the stratosphere, i eat BK every day, I don’t exercise, and I weigh 300 lbs… And my routine daily activity is blaming military service and VA for my health issues… let’s be real folks… there’s a thing out there called RISK FACTORS… that means, if you have heart disease, it was gonna happen, REGARDLESS, whether you were in RVN or not, or whether you were Army, or Salvation Army. Yet our system pushes these rules thru, based on nonvalid medical evidence. Now, think of where this nonsense comes from… American Legion, VVA, PVA, powerful lobbies, etc.

    • Ron Nesler says:

      Tim, I like your spirit, but if you think the VA fears any Senator or even the entire Congress in aggregate, then you are underestimating the power and arrogance of the VA. The VA is totally out of the Control of Congress. They are not beyond being brought back into control, but it will require a concerted effort by a significant number of committed legislators over a long period of time to get them back on the leash. One of the big advantages the VA has is that the magnitude of their wrong doing is so vast as to be unfathomable for most people not directly affected.

  5. I have seen my folders going through VBA exam rooms. Personally I would think that instead of the giant folder you would have a synopsis sheet in your medical record. Something simple with known diseases ie diabetes, prostate cancer, hypertension, myloma etc. Allergies, disabilities service realted. with progress notes. That way the VBA could access the medical record in the computer (with permission of course) and do a search for particulars. The Navy does it why not VBA? personally I think it is a miracle that they can get anything completed ever let alone in a timely manner.

  6. MSGT FOSTER says:

    It appears to me that those who work in the RO are doing jobs which should not be in their document review process. I worked as a professional accountant for the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR MANY YEARS. I know what will happen to the flow of paperwork if those who have been tasked to perform tasks not in their pay grade what happens. Complete log jams and failure to correctly process to the next step. IT IS APPARENT THAT THE VBA HAS TAKEN ON DUTIES FROM THE VHA. RECOMMENDATIONS AS TO VALIDITY OF CLAIMS AND ILLNESSES/INJURIES/MENTAL HEALTH BEHAVIORIAL HEALTH ISSUES should completely remain on the VHA side. Degrees of disability should then be processed by the VBA and overseen by the REGIONAL OFFICES AND A PEER REVIEW GROUP.

    • Perry says:

      The problem with the VA and benefits is not the people it is this document

      38 C.F.R. do a google search and you try and figure it out, but it is what the VA uses to determine benefits. There is no reading between the lines, no GRAY area Just Black and White

  7. Joe says:

    I guess technology is not a term used to work on veterans claims. Let’s just muck through mounds of paper like our forefathers did. That way my fellow veterans can fall deeper into financial debt or coveniently die or just give up.

    • Joe, I’m working on some pieces for the new year about VBA’s paperless claims processing system that is beginning to role out.

      • Charles Pierce says:

        Can we not take your salary Lauren and use it roll out this paperless process a lot faster?

        • Ron Nesler says:

          Or maybe to find my lost 8 years of Army medical records? All of the money and the vast effort the VA spends on propaganda should be spent on fixing some of the problems that the propaganda is intended to cover up. Of course, I am just a war veteran, what would I know?

  8. MsALB says:

    That would be a valuable experience visiting an RO office! It is a must see! And I love how you put

    “I started agonizing over this piece: how to tell you that there are RVSRs and VSRs who care deeply about your claims and the issues you submit claims about. I know that just because I say it doesn’t mean you believe it. The people who care are out there-–and many of them are working on your claims right now”

    that is a LOL for sure! We are nothing but a number a VA FILE number it is far too many vets to care about , im sure the reps say “hey they have feelings and discomfort” not saying they don’t care just saying if they are backlogged and are trying to get case file out in a “timely manner” they don’t have time to sit and worry and care about each and every Vet! Good piece though.

    • Netter says:

      MsALB, you could not be more mistaken. If you have a problem with how long the claims process takes, blame it on the courts, congress and the Veterans Organizations. The personnel processing your claims would love nothing more than to give you money. We have to follow the LAW, as it is interpreted by the courts. The more Veteran’s that appeal to the court, (for totally frivolous claims) the more paper work we have to do to satisfy our “duty to assist”. Do you all really believe that we should accept your statements as proof, when the evidence totally disputes what you say? I process all claims I touch as quickly as possible. If the evidence is not there, what do you propose I do?

      • Charles Pierce says:

        Why blame it on the Veteran’s organization’s? I know for a fact that the American Legion is its best to make this process easier for the Veteran’s and the processor’s. I personally issued a suggestion to include dependent info on the original claim. Did you know a separate claim is opened once you reach a certain rating? Yes double the paperwork!! You talk about detail, most of these people have no idea what they are looking at. Or what form you get when you retire full time from the Army National Guard. The same form you get if you retire from the regualr army. I was just a active army soldier that worked for a NG unit and they stIll can’t get my benefits right. Or how about the stupid rating system that states you can only get 10% the first time around. Which creates more papeR work. Why cant they fully rate the issue the first time around?

      • Drew says:

        How about acknowledging that it is the VA itself that creates the law in the 1st place? That’s right, the VA is the proponent for the Federal Rules under Title 38–they write them! So, VA shouldn’t complain about the law when they get to write the rules, figure out implementation, and suggest legislation to Congress. The Courts got involved because Congress finally had enough in 1988 and allowed for judicial review after they figured out how badly VA was treating veterans claims. Never would have had happened IF the VA had been doing a good job up front. VCAA would never had happened either if VA had done a good job in duty to assist–VA didn’t, so the Congress mandated the extra effort. Congress certainly thought it important, even if the VA did not.

      • Ron Nesler says:

        Sorry Netter, but the VA itself writes almost all of the legislation that they use for an excuse to perform badly. They create legislative language and the Congress just rubber stamps it into law, then the VA gets to “interpret” the law. The VA has regiments of lawyers and policy wonks to make sure that almost all veteran legislation benefits the VA rather than the veteran. The courts are occasionally on the side of veterans but seldom Congress.

      • tom says:

        the va is good at passing the buck,too bad they aren’t at good at doing thier jobs

    • MsALB,
      I can say without a doubt that everyone I spoke with in Nasvhille cares deeply about the Veterans they serve. I’m sure that this is not representative of all, but I’ve met the ones that do care and trust me, they are working your claims right now.

      • Grace says:

        Well, I am truely sorry to say this but I must be one of the unfortunate ones who’s case is being handled by one of the VA personnel who doesn’t care about the vet. They have had my case for seven– yes seven– years and have done nothing but delay. The records show my disability started in the military, I have three docs who connected what I have now to the military, the JUDGE who heard my appeal connected the events, ANNDD their own C&P doc connected the events. Should be an open and shut case. Not– still waiting folks. After seven years in the system you think SOMEONE would care.

  9. LAWRENCE CATALDO says:

    I WAS APPROVED FOR HISA GRANT (specilly adapted housing) IN FEB. WORK WAS COMPLEATED IN JUNE, THE VENDORS STILL HAVE NOT BEEN PAYED! CHRISTMAS IS 4 DAYS AWAY! THEY WANT LEAGAL ACTION AGAINST ME. I HOLD THEM AT BAY FOR MY GOV, THATS THE KIND OF GUY I AM , THESE KIND OF DELAYS ARE LUDACRIST & DISGRACEFUL. OUR GOVERNMENT WILL BORROW TRILLIONS BUT WILL NOT SPEND A DIME TO OPEN THIS BACKLOG! WELL THATS MY WEEKLY EXCERIZE IN IN FRUTILTY!!!!

  10. Doug Noble says:

    Can you find out what % of appeals are remanded back to the VAROs after the BVA review the form 9 Appeals? The DAV says that 42% of their appeals get remanded back to the VARO for correction of CUEs and 27% are awarded by the BVA.That is 69% of claims handled by the DAV POAs in the VARO. More than 2 in 3 claims are wrong from the VARO decision makers. 31% of the Appeals are denied by the BVA. This is just the numbers from the DAV alone, and not the over all claims from the other service organization’s POA represented claims.
    @Lauren,Can you ask the BVA what the overall % of claims are remanded back to the VAROs or awarded by the BVA?
    Can you ask and answer this question, please? Thanks from all us Veterans. Doug Noble
    PS I asked this question of Brandon and he didn’t know the answer, but he had to look into the statistics, Still waiting for the answer.

  11. Scott Rupe - Veteran under authority of the Nashville Office....and I do mean "Authority" says:

    Lauren:

    Thank you for the article. It would have been interesting had you asked the regional VRO to quote a “ballpark percentage”….of which I’m sure you would NOT have received….of the claims genuinely resolved vs. what is perceived to be an almost automatic decline and appeal to BVA. Frankly, I am of the firm impression that there perhaps exists a “back channel quota,” of sorts, that when reached equals, you guessed it: bonus time. The language received from “their” denial(s) is sadly comical, grossly out of context, woefully irrelevant. Even when presented with clear and convincing evidence, which, by the way, is more than the standard required by VA’s own rules, the issue at hand becomes entangled in PAGES of rhetoric. Further, nationally recognized medical EXPERT testimony is merely disregarded and given “no weight.”
    So, with that being said, I’m quite sure that now my claim will be somehow misplaced and put on the proverbial back burner. Although I would indeed look forward to becoming a part of a VA team, in some capacity, as I genuinely believe that “they” are making attempts at sincere service….and I have current employment applications in review, as I am currently part of the great unwashed and unemployed….figure the odds of this posts’ effect on that. Things like that don’t happen though….right?

  12. Pierre says:

    Mounds of paper work and lost files. That’s hard to fathom in this century. If a regional office is overburden, can they not send some of that paper work to other regional offices that are not over burden. Also are the clerks still receiving bonuses for claims they look at, but not finalized. I hope the shredders are under strict supervision. There have been exposed horror stories in the Northeast in previous years of files disappearing by way of the shredders.

  13. Doug Noble says:

    @Lauren, You just visited one of the busiest VARO. Visit one of the least busy VAROs and see if they can handle some of the claims backlogged in the busier VAROs. Nashville VARO handles Tenn., and parts of Kentucky…Check it out,please.

  14. Ellen says:

    I remember my 1st visit to the DAV and Regional VA Office when I got out on medical retirement in 74. I was told before leaving the military to have them make copies of all of your medical records to be used for the VA, etc. I did just that and when I got home I made 2 more sets. So, if the VA lost my paperwork I had copies to keep them on their toes. I was denied the 1st time, but the DAV fought with me on the appeals and I’ve been in the system now for 34 yrs.

  15. Scott Rupe - While we're on the subject of the Nashville office... says:

    I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my mind around the fact that some of these VA employees are also allowed to act as agents for organizations such as the VFW, DAV, maybe others, while working on the same case as a VA employee. Talk about conflict of interest. But hey, they’ve got the paper work to prove it. I had critical doubts about a gentleman I had been assigned from that office….who claimed to be a VFW representative, but also a VA employee….and quickly brought my concerns to the supervisor. Can someone tell me how this works?

    • Netter says:

      That is a violation of the law, and I hope report it to your congrssman. I sincerely doubt this is going on, you just have an incorrect perception.

      • Scott Rupe - While we're on the subject of the Nashville office... says:

        Well sir, or madam, from reviewing your other replies you apparently have all of the answers, so there is no probable way I could be correct. As you previously stated: “Would you have ‘us’ just believe your claim?” By the way, I am indeed informing my congressman.

    • Curret VA Employee/Former POA Employee says:

      What most people do not realize is that every state has a Department of Veterans Affairs that employs STATE workers. In TN, the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affaris (TDVA) represents American Legion, VFW, and other organizations. But they are STATE employees, not Fedral VA employees. And as a fellow Disabled Veteran, there are people here that do the best they can to assist their fellow Veterns. It is sad that the actions of some have ruined the image of all. Yes, I understand that 1 bad apple ruins the bunch. I would just hope that it can be viewed that there are people on the inside that are trying to correct, and make the system better. But people have become so jaded, it is not an easy task. But there are good people in the POA spots that do a great job at assisting Vets with the mountain of red-tape paperwork. There are organizations that are much better than others in assisting and telling Vets ecxactly what is needed to help with their claims; others don’t really have a clue as there is no training offered to them in doing the actual work. Those that are trained know how to walk through the VA minefields and actually help. But please consider….there are people on the inside that really do care and really do want to make this system work to help all of his and her fellow Veterans…

      • Scott Rupe - While we're on the subject of the Nashville office... says:

        I firmly believe that! Thank you for a thoughtful and insightful post.

  16. Tammy says:

    From what was told to me at the Regional Office in New Orleans, all claims are processed in priority..meaning…Iraq Vets and Afghanistan Vets have high priority all other are down the list…I have been going through this process since 1994, and now in Appeal. That will take up to 5 years.

    My thing is had the VA did their job the first time I applied for benefits, I wouldn’t be going through the Appeal process. They DON’T read the entire Vet’s Medical Jacket, they skim over it. If the issue you are filing for isn’t in front of them, its like they just don’t care. I was told on 2-3 separate times “documentation” isn’t founded for claim.
    When I had to go through the Senators office to get my Medical Jacket, within 5 minutes I found “supporting doucmentation”…

    I think they need to get Service Connected VETS in this job who have gone through and suffered from the process, maybe things would get better.

    Read someones post, screw a quota, when we were in the trenches no one was giving a hoot about “QUOTA”

    I don’t know, I’m beyond frustrated with the whole system.

  17. Pam Jennings says:

    Lauren,

    Thank you for the post. I am a BDD veteran; I retired 30 SEP 10, so my claim is dated 1 OCT 10. I have been checking my C & P status on eBenefits and my claim is in the decision phase at the Winston-Salem office. I was fortunate to complete all my C & P appointments before the end of July at the DC VAMC while I was still stationed in the DC area. I am trying to work with the technology but I am getting a little frustrated. Would you please ask the people who update or design updates to eBenefits to make it functional to see when and if delays are occurring in your claim processing? I still have notes in my status that state they need my DD-214 when I know that is untrue because they received it on 18 SEP 10 (I spoke with a rep from the Winston-Salem office who confirmed this). It also says in the “What we still need from you” section that my claim has been in suspense since 2 JUL 10 and they have received the info they requested from the DCVA on 18 AUG 10. I am totally confused. I do not want personal attention to my case since I have been told that action usually puts your claim at the back of the pile. I want to hope that I am close to that 125 day turnaround I hear about so often since I received a delay letter dated 30 NOV 10! Just want more clarity with dates and actions in the eBenefits section of C & P status. Then I would not need to speak to a person – the screen would tell me everything I need to know!

    Thanks again, Lauren! I appreciate the ear!

    • Scott Rupe - While we're on the subject of the Nashville office... says:

      Pam….you will hear something, eventually. This becomes a LONG, SLOW process, with many interesting twists and turns.

    • Randy Nesbitt says:

      125 day turnaround? You woould have to be daft to believe that nonsense. I submitted everything requested, provided all of the info releases and even went to the civilian Drs. and hand carried the findings to the Post Office for mailing registered mail. That was in 1989. Thank you Uncle Sam for the airguns and the slow death sentence! I was approved for SC for the disease and yet the comp and disability percentages never changed. I have all of my arrangements made because if I had to depend on the VA to get me in the ground I might in fact end up going through the shredder. The VA recently began contracting out many of the C&P exams and yet still run you through the mill even if the Dr. states SC and the opinion that the problem is more likely than not attributable to service.

  18. Thomas says:

    Good article Lauren, it gives some insight as to the process, after so many negative comment, I know you will appreciate a pat on the back. Overall I am very pleased with the treatment I have received with the VA,altho I think it takes way too long to process a claim. I also think that there is a certain lack of communication between the VA and the veterans. When I went to Winston-Salem for my C&P exam the examiner asked me what medications I was currently taking, and I told him that I couldn’t pronounce half of them much less remember all of them from memory, and he told me that I should of printed a copy, to bring with me to the exam. I told him that he had my records in front of him and a computer in front of him as well, and he shouldn’t have any trouble locating a list of my medications. He said that anytime a veteran goes for a C&P exam they should bring a copy of their medications. I think if that is true the VA should of indicated that to me in the letter they sent informing me of my appointment.

  19. Parker says:

    there’s more to this story..the system is more screwed up than ever. what happened to the electronic process? why am I going on for years of sending repeat information to the VA Regional Office for a claim. I know now its because the paperwork was probably lost. this photo shows there is a lack of organization,proper staffing and equipment. the Veterans should not have to pay the price for the systems failure.

    • Randy Nesbitt says:

      Kind of reminded me of what Bank of America employees desks must look like and that wasn’t funny either.

  20. Maurice Wyman Scott says:

    vA@,there are some good Regional offices, and some great employees, I know, the corruption that is happening to me, was first brought to my attention by one of those good employees within this same regional office, but he in this economic time, can’t come out and say, he needs his job. Whether its politics, which I suspect here in South Carolina, or just corruption gone wild, its a problem, but its not because they aren’t given direction, or that the central office isn’t trying to help us, its because these folks just want to be the way they are, and nothing except a walk out the door will help.

    This is a textbook statement of someone tomorrow not having a job, if we are going to be honest.

    So lets be honest, some are great, and some are bad, SC is just bad.
    Simple approval: Diagnosis-VA hospital, Service Connection-Three accident reports, within 4 months while on active duty. Nexus:VA National PTSD website,and its …nationally adopted clinical findings.
    Simple approval: Diagnosis-Hospitalized in Germany, verified:VA hospital, Nexus blood in urine in service and chronic kidney dysfuction same thing. Service connection: Again those accident reports, one of the injuries reported-Guess What? Kidney Injury.
    Simple approval, (updated claim) Gout, link and causation uric acid, primary, WHAT?KIDNEY DYSFUNCTION.
    Common Sense approval: Three auto accidents while in Government vehicles, age, health, and time. Diagnosis:Cervical Radiopathy, and Chronic Pain Disorder, Nexus-Auto Accidents, COMMON SENSE.

    EVIDENCE OF A CONSPIRACY:
    1.HIDING A WITNESS STATEMENT AS STATEMENT FROM MY SPOUSE, BUT THE WITNESS WAS A EMPLOYEE OF THE US ARMY, I.E. THE ASSIGNED GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY THAT I WAS ASSIGNED, PROVIDED HER PERSONNEL ACTION SF FORM, AS PROOF.
    2. CLAIMING THEY COULDN’T FIND GSA ACCIDENT REPORTS, SAYING THAT THEY WERE DESTROYED, BUT NEVER TELLING ME THEY COULDNT FIND THEM, UNTIL THEY DISAPPROVED THE CLAIM, SOUNDS LIKE A VIOLATION OF THE RULES, OR DOESN’T IT.
    3. Now this has to be the worst, ordering a C and P examination,but not telling the examiner that I was being seen by the same VA medical center.
    4. William Bryan Dorn VA medical center records, not included at all.
    5. The objection filed against the C and P examination included copy of diagnosis from the VA medical center, completely ignored.
    6. Zoloft, redesignated, not stated in military medical records, but redesignated by the rating activity as ANXIETY, THE OLDEST VA TRICK IN THE BOOK.
    7. Now this is actually just bad, removal destruction, and elimination of a medical record excerpt from Oakland Naval Hospital Psychiatrist who in 1986 recommended me for discharge for mental health, and the Army ignored it. THAT RECORD HAS GOTTEN WINGS. But because of paper C files, stupid is as stupid does, some person wrote on one of the screen print outs, that the original file

  21. Maurice Wyman Scott says:

    VA@, while sometimes it seems easy to think that we are just complaining and just want things our way, at our time, its not that, I would be the first in line to praise the VHA, they are the best I have ever had in South Carolina, my mental health team is the best, with intregrity. I say with that because my VA Psychiatrist had the confident will to write in my treatment notes, that the VBA is causing the decline in this veterans overall health.

    When trouble comes, we can ignore it, and hope for the best, which usually never happens, or we can take action. Sometimes to save the total ship,we have to put some folks off who aren’t rowing in our directions. Neither of us has to be a genious, nor a Senior Veteran Service Representative, nor the actual rater to see the truth. If I have one evidence as described, which I do in the file; if the evidence has been miscategorized, from what is apparently on purpose;If nexus,recorded incident, and current medical diagnosis are the very elements of a expedited or fast processing, and each is based upon evidence, then this should have been a walk in the park. But when entities, not as the totality of organization, but separate entities perform with such rejection of the population they serve, then and only then does the central activity have a responsibility to take action.

    When corruption happens the public, and affected population blame the organization, and ultimately the President of the United States, of which of this administration our, the Veterans of these United States have been served with the respect that has been lacking for decades, he has made a way out of no way. But the past still lingers on, because in change, methods, and applications are easy, but mentality is always the challenge. We are not those who seek welfare, or social handouts, but those who stood, served, and now seek our grateful nation to stand by us.

    So i salute the Nashville Regional Office, it sounds as if they get it, they serve the population that is intended to be serve, and to that end, I offer them my respect. For this one, in short I have illustrated what should be obvious, but its not, its a pattern of mistrust, that reflects upon the whole organization.

    Now get out of Washington, make some unannounced visits, be regular “Joe”, come to SC, and see what kind of treatment you get, and when the record, matches the performance, just go and ask to see the director, or manager, and see what they tell you. Then and only then do you reveal yourself, and then you will have the answer.

  22. Scott Hines says:

    I have applied for and received my disability from the VA. I found the process to be slow, but was told it would be 6 months before I got a reply. It was 5 months.
    As I waited on several occasions in various waiting rooms for treatments, or test, it has been my pleasure to meet with some fellow vets and chat. Sharing experiences with the VA is a popular topic of conversation. All had similar experiences except some like me expected a long wait, and some bureaucratic red tape but were able to get through it without temper tantrums. It is unfortunate that some veterans seem to think that yelling and making a scene is the way to behave when confronting a delay in treatment or paperwork.

    • Rod says:

      you got your claim settlrd in five months,you must not have been a viet nam vet. my claim has been in over 18 months,and to date haven’t heard anything.They just kee telling me the handle them in the order they get them.

      • Ron Nesler says:

        The VA is shuffling the claims of Vietnam veterans to the back of the line because their is more political pressure to get the claims done for the more recent veterans. Would any of you VA employees posting here care to refute that?

        Maybe you could do it while you are on break from looking for my eight years of lost active duty Army medical records?

  23. Doug Noble says:

    @Lauren, I hope you reply to my question tomorrow, thanks Doug Noble

    • Hi Doug,
      I’m anxious to see as much of the field as I can and will happily be reporting about my travels. The appeals process is something brand new to me, so I’m learning about it before I can answer any questions or point you in the direction of answers.

      • Doug Noble says:

        @Lauren, Thanks for the rely. I got a reply on the DAV FB page. Statistics are overall appeal claims, and not just the DAVs. 69% remanded back to the VARO and or granted by the BVA is a lot of CUEs made by the VARO Rating board and DROs. No excuse. Just carelessness.

  24. tom says:

    It would realy be nice to get some dtaight answers for a change instesd of all the propaganda.We keep hearing about nashville but what about the rest of the country.why are our claims not being processed in a timely manor,or are they to busy at the shredders to work on our claims.

  25. Glenn says:

    These absurd articles whipped up by delusional VA PR flacks would make Joseph Goebbels himself blush. Who else but a VA employee could be so utterly disconnected from reality as to say the following? “Most importantly, I learned that VBA (at least this office) isn’t filled to the brim with people who hate Veterans and who want them to suffer without the compensation they deserve.” One would think there were not a million plus claims backed up, or a profound amount of homeless veterans, or suicide rates among veterans the highest in recorded history. If this isn’t the VA expressing profound hatred and contempt for veterans, I would hate to see what is!

  26. Joe says:

    I had a claim brokered out to San Juan, when I received the SOC it was written in broken English, said things like I had a C&P exam at San Juan, I’ve never been to San Juan, overlooked most of the evidence and of course disapproved it, now it is on appeal (DRO) and it’s been 19 months. Now tell me how they did such a great job, I would have fired an employee that did such shabby work.

  27. John Preuss says:

    This is typical – I just completed my statement and it was not accepted then I was told use my back browser and it was all gone.

    Comment:

    I have been in this downward spiral for 5 years. I did get an intial within 18 months but he within one year of providing more information has taken over 2 years to get a response.

    I wonder, what is the 125 days for: date of inital claim – NO; date after all additional information requested given – WHICH TIME -NO WHICH INFORMATION – NO which is it???? Now is it date after my last Dr appointment which took 5 yes 5 years for me to get?????????????????????

    I think the system is designed to make Vets quit! Im not quitting I hope other dont either!

    Oh yeah – can you make decesion consistant across the nation? TOO badd for me my file is in Chicago one of the lowest paying per decesion in the nation.

    JOHN Preuss

  28. brenda hayes says:

    SUGGESTION TO ALL POSTERS:

    Make Copies of what you write so when this system continues to “screw up”; you can just redo it.

    This is worked quite a few times for me.

    Remember the old saying, “…happens once…shame on you…Twice…shame on me!! Not again!!!

    If people take the time to comment and make this site what it needs to be; the VP Team should make sure that IT does its job and correct these problems.

    BH

  29. brenda hayes says:

    I put the correct code in the first time and it said…”wrong captcha code”.

    I know how to read and write, especiall letters and numbers!!!! BUT this time; it saved my message. Making progress!!!

    bh

  30. brenda hayes says:

    Rick,

    Thanks for sharing your success story. I truly wish there were more success stories like yours. Maybe Cheynenne needs to train other VAMC’s how to do it. MCGuire VAMC in Richmond VA, IMHO, does not have its act together. They don’t have wrap around services; I was told they had no in-house program and then I was told they have a 5 person limit on their inhouse A/D “program”; that’s not an Inhouse A/D Program!!

    They expect homeless Vets to come to a OP A/D Program–never mind that their “camp” is 10 or miles away and they don’t have transportation or it can’t be coordinated with the DAV van, etc.

    After detox; they just let them walk; again no coordinated services with outside community resources, or other VAMC’s. I know– as I tried helping a homeless Vet and….I could write a book.

    Shameful!!

    There is No open door policy at that VAMC; there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY. Calls are not returned from Patient Affairs,or those that take complaints and say they will get back with you…Because there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY AND NO CONSEQUENCES.

    Lauren, when I was 27, I too was quite naive. After a few years in dealing with these systems and being online with other Vets and family members dealing with the VA–and I mean ALL of the VA; to us; even though it is is 3 separate administrations; to us–it is the VA AND the buck stops with the Secretary; Have not a clue who heads up the others; we never hear from them or invited to open forums that have call ins like other Federal agencys…
    Seems like this site Team could work on that and let us know when, where and how to sign up to be a part of this “transparency”.

    There has been quite a few Very Good solutions to issues on this site. Have a running blog ISSUE/SOLUTIONS.

    Does the VA have a OE/OD/IG report on their processes that are notworking in the claims arena that have suggestions for processes that need to be reworked, etc?

    Because “…Veterans and their family members deserve better; much better!”

    BH

    • Brenda, I respectfully disagree with the assesment of naivety. I know what laziness looks like and I saw myself the dedication to serving Veterans that day at the RO. There’s a lot of work to be done and as you noted, Secretary Shinseki has some of his best people on the jobs.
      The claims process is being reworked as we speak. I shoudl have more info to pass along soon!

  31. Roger Phillips says:

    Lauren, please take the time to visit this website and read some of the comments about your fine article. There are many Veterans out there that do appreciate what the VA workers do to take care of them, oh; and a few jerks post some comments at this website. The VA employees have a thankless job and I personnally could not handle the day to day stress that they must endure. And by the way, VA is doing an excellent job of initiating new methods of communications with Veterans through this blog site, Ebenefits and IRIS. The famous National 1-800 may go by the wayside some day in the future.
    Keep up the good work.
    Here is the link to Veterans Benefit Network http://vets.yuku.com/topic/50838/t/The-Claims-Process-Inside-A-VA-Regional-Office.html

  32. JIM MORELAND says:

    I HAVE READ ALL THE POST AND NATURALLY EVERYBODY COMES WITH THEIR OWN TAKE ON THINGS. FOR US VETS IT IS CRUCIAL BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH PAIN AND SUFFERING AND FINANCIAL LOSS. I AM GETTING READY TO BATTLE THE CAMP LEJEUNE WATER CONTAMINATION CASE. I HAVE BEEN A PA FOR 30 YEARS AND DID A LOT OF MY TRAINING IN THE VA SYSTEM. SO I HAVE A DIFFERENT SLANT BEING A PRACTITIONER BUT AS A PRACTITIONER I ALSO SEE THE GAME. IT IS SAD. BUT IT IS NOT THE VA EMPLOYEES FOR THEY ARE UNDER ORDERS. IF WE EVER WANT TO REALLY AFFECT CHANGE IT STARTS WITH THE LEGISLATIVE ORDERS AND LAWS. BUT YOU SEE OUR FEDERAL GOVERNEMENT DOES NOT RESPOND IN REAL TIME. CHANGE NEVER OCCCRS BUT DYSFUNTION OF A BROKEN GOVERNMENT AND BEURACRATIC SYSTEM. THE BLAME GAME IS IN ESSENCE WHAT THEY WANT. THEY WANT US AT EACH OTHERS THROAT, THEY DO NOT CARE WHRTHER I DIE TO LETHAL CHEMICAL EXPOSURE OR NOT. THEY ARE INSULATED AND IMMUNE FROM ANY ACCOUNTABILITY. WE THE PEOPLE DESERVE WHAT WE HAVE BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT TAKEN THE PROPEER STEPS AND THAT WOULD BE TO ALL OF US GO TO THE CAPITAL AND DEMAND THAT THINGS CHANGE. WEN YOU ARE DYING THERE IS NOTHING TO LOSE. SO STOP BLAMING EACH OTHER AND BLAME A BROKEN GOVERNMENT WHO HAVE LEFT THEIR HEROES BEHIND. I WILL GO TO WASHINGTON…WILL YOU…CHANGE IT TAKES CONSENSUS..WE VETS ARE A DIVIDED HOUSE. WE FORGOT IT TAKES TEAM WORK TO TAKE THAT HILL. ANY QUESTIONS? JIM MORELAND PA-C, MHS

    • tom says:

      THE only thing congress cares about is thier own pay,much like these va employees.The only reason they are throwing us viet nam vets a bone is to shut us up so they can take care of the vets from iraq and afgan.
      I’ve been waiting over three years on my claim and just get the runaround.Doubt I will ever get it settled before they bury me

      • Ron Nesler says:

        Tom, as another Vietnam veteran I suggest that we just be very grateful that the VA employees are still getting their bonuses right on time regardless of what happens to us veterans. –SARCASM OFF–

        Maybe Lauren could explain the bonus system for us in a later report. Many veterans don’t even realize the VA employees routinely get regular “performance” bonuses above and beyond their salaries and generous benefits package.

        • Ron Nesler says:

          Of course Lauren won’t be able to do that do day, because while years of work is backlogged on completing veterans’ claims, the whole VA is off work for a long Christmas vacation.

          Merry Christmas to all veterans, not so much to greedy federal bureaucrats and politicians and the corporations to whom they funnel the VA money.

        • Ron Nesler says:

          Here is part of where the VA money and the VA effort goes http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_715194.html when it should be put into helping veterans. The VA is totally out of control and just cries out for Congressional investigation and oversight. I am sending this thread to the offices of both of my Senators.

        • tom says:

          Merry Christmas to all my brother viet nam vets. Hopefully next year will be better for all of us.

    • Linda says:

      This is a Senator at work.. Just read the Linda Ebbert comments..

      http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=75755694423&topic=11517

  33. The Office can add 100 new employees to expedite benefits claims processing to reduce back flow

  34. Robert says:

    I filed a claim in early 2001 for PTSD. My case was when I had no idea how to file a claim. The AL was assigned to be my VSO by the VBA. At eery sep from step one at the RO mistakes were made that led to errors at every step from the RO to BVA TO AMC back to BVA and now it sits at the CAVC with the same mistakes and errors made from the start. The main problem lies with the C&P exam that was a joke. I have many VHA Mental Health Drs. say that my PTSD was caused by Military Service with my stressors proven during Military Service then rejected by the hired gun VA examiner because of no nexus to military service. He based his exam on malingering based on a paper test that when I was finished with all the questions on one sheet I still had 10 spaces left to fill in.Of course the answers were wrong because they were on the wrong line when scored.Now he never read my file like he said he did. He said I was a plumber when in fact I was a farmer.

  35. James Burleson says:

    Interesting article. I have been to my local office in Portland Oregon several times. I turn in all of my claims, appeals, have hearings, etc to this office as only live about 25 miles away. I have met with VA employees who would sit and review the items I turned in, or other times when I would have a question regarding claim and they have always been very helpful and professional. I am one of those multi-claim folders and fully understand how much preasure they must be under during the claim process. My personnel feeling is that the people who complain most about the VA are probably due to a lack of understanding the nature of the claim process. It is not unusual for a veteran to have more than 6 disabilities they are seeking a decision on. This means the work that must be performed on the claim has been more than 6 times the claim for a person with one disability. When the claim is finally processed, no one is happy with their payment, disallowed claims, etc so there will be appeals filed. Sorry to say that some of the comments I read make me wonder about the writter. I just wish some people could have a job with the same stress, deadlines, and numbers the VA people work with. In addition, you would have to do it in 8 hours. When a decision is made, the first thing we all look at is what is my percentage and pay. None of us ever think how much time went into this decision and is it fair for the evidence submitted.

  36. Robert says:

    I contacted Iris the other day to see what happened to my Agent Orange claim I files 14 + months ago. I have never heard a word since Feb 5th 2010 when I went to a C&P exam. I files Oct 28 2009. Nothing…nada…since. I ask them if they thought I had died. I got a canned generic response telling me that they were real busy and started working on claims on Nov 1 2010. I would have been one of the first claims after the presumption was announced. I know they are working older claims than mine,but I just wanted to know how far down in the stack I was.When I was drafted back in 1968 I should have told the Government I will go to war when I get around to it. Hell they would still be waiting on me to show up to this day if I did business like they do. Still waiting Robert

    • roger says:

      I know what you are going thru,I’ve been having the same problem.they keep telling me they proscess them in the order recieved.Itold them I had read of some claims filed since oct 30th being already settled,so now they are telling me they just recieved my medical records from iowa heart center on dec 23.I submitted those records with my claim back in march.

    • Not a federal employee says:

      Roger,
      Each RO has a different “stream” for processing the new AO presumptives. At the RO where I work, they are first handling the claims identified as denied prior to the presumptive even being proposed. For example, I saw a rating decision the other day that granted DIC to a widow of a Vietnam veteran who claimed ischemic heart disease as service connected in 1998 and died in 2001. The retroactive was complicated as the cost of living adjustments for each year must be taken in to consideration. They have not yet moved to the new claims submitted after the presumptives were announced, though the development for these claims was being performed even before the law was published on the federal register. As far as I can tell, your 14+ month claim will be closer to the end of the backlog. The only hope I can offer you is that these claims are slated to be cleared from backlog status by March 2011… Knowing the VBA, I would suppose that means they’ll mostly be done by the end of June 2011. :(

  37. roger says:

    I submitted my claim for heart disease in march 2010,followed by all my medical records from my heart doctor and the va medical center in des moines.
    now they are trying to tell ke they just recieved them dec 23,2010.They also say they are waiying for my federal records fron the va debt department, whatever that is. sounds like just a lot more of the same old runaround.

  38. Jon Hofer says:

    If we are suppose to be fast tracked for the agent orange related conditions what time frame are we looking at to get an answer from the time we submit to the time receive an outcome. I submitted a claim in Sept. and had the C&P exam on Dec 15.

    • POA employee says:

      Only some ROs do quick pay disability claims for Agent Orange presumptives… Sounds like your claim has taken a traditional development route. About 30 days after your C&P, you’re at a cross roads. Depending on the results of the exam and the examiner’s opinion submitted, your claim will either need more development or it will be ready to rate. If your claim is ready to rate, it’s about 60-90 days for a decision. Unless it’s cut and dry, you’re looking at about 3 months after a C&P for a decision at a busy RO. Hope that helps.

    • Jon — the POA Employee is exactly right. VA deployed its Fast Track System in November right after the regulations took affect for the three newest presumptives.

  39. Texas Vet says:

    Baily, this article, which I read on Veterans Today, is about as far from reality as life can get. I would have been embarrassed to write it, if I were you.

    The VA Medical side, here in Texas are outstanding. The VBA, however, presents itself as a totally incompetent, lazy black hole.

    Texas Vet

  40. Casey W. says:

    Dear V.A,

    Thank you for not giving me an education and instead ruining my life. I gave up a 15+ dollar an hour tech job to go back to school and you people have all but ruined it.
    Due to your accounting errors, my life is falling apart. When I ask for help you do nothing to fix it. You should all be fired and until the whole system overhauled.

    -I have no idea what I am getting for education benefits, no idea who to speak with, the people I try to contact are inept and argumentative.
    -Every term some error in accounting is made and its taken out on me financially, not you. So I am constantly docked money I already can’t afford to lose and bare the brunt of your failures.
    -I am always behind in my bills and can’t afford to live on my own while going to school. I have no one to lean on for resources, every time you fail it hurts me and no one else. If your paycheck got docked for no reason, you would revolt…what should I do?
    -I am a veteran with PTSD and cannot deal with the extra anxiety you are putting on me, the system should not be this hard to use or navigate. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
    -You should not be allowed to take money out of my check without first consulting with me, because you have no idea the damage you are doing to my life when you do this.
    -I haven’t received word from you in months about anything having to do with my education other than photo copied forms that have no pertinent data in them.

    I am going to keep finding public forums to decry you until you start really helping veterans.

    Casey W.

    Soon to be homeless, failed out student.

    • Alex Horton says:

      Casey, let’s try to sort this out. What do you mean by accounting errors? You were not properly certified, or did you get the $3000 emergency payment check and VA is asking for reimbursement? Have you checked with your certifying official at the school to make sure your classes and benefits award letter were filed correctly?

      I know this is just another VA call number, but I used this to answer questions about my GI Bill benefits (how many months I had left and all that). They answered pretty quick and were fairly helpful, and I didn’t identify myself as a VA employee. Give them a shot: 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). If you can’t get through or they haven’t been able to help, let me know and I’ll see what else I can do for you. I know what it’s like to depend on the housing allowance to live; I was very close to dropping out of school because my Post-9/11 stipend didn’t come through last year like everyone else, and I was facing eviction. So I will try to help you the best I can.

  41. Richard says:

    It really disturbs me to see so many negative comments about the VA. In regards to keeping records, I have kept copies of all my records ever since I was discharged. (1970 from Viet Nam) I figured that was part of my responsibility. Why does everyone figure that it is someone elses job to take care of them.

    In regards to the VA, I have nothing but praise for them. I had a problem initially with the rating of my disability, but a lady at the VA office in Detroit went above and beyond the call of duty to help me. I’m not saying that problems won’t arise from time to time, but remember that the VA people are there to help us. Maybe some of the complainers are figuring they are owed more than they deserve, I don’t know.
    And remember, you can attract more bees with honey than you can with vinegar.

    On a final note. I want to send a big thank you to all my fellow veterans out there.

  42. michael says:

    the salt lake medical clinic and regional office has been realy great with a couple of small set backs because of lack of experience and my claim ended up in San diego my disability claim went through pretty fast although I have been waiting a month for my log in information for e-benifits still nothing
    the medical attention the meds and equipment i needed was excalant I have a van now a stair lift a power wheelchair grab bars raised toilet seat and the list goes on I have als and if it wasn’t for the va and my vfw rep mark I would probably be in a shelter home,I urge everyone to get a rep from eather vfw dav (disabled vets) you don’t need a lawer to get whats yours there is help out ther if you ask for it

  43. Linda says:

    I just buried my husband of 44 years this November. He fought the VA with all his heart. Our RO is the Houston branch, which is the worst in the nation. He did not receive anything until a month before he died.. by then it was too late for him to even enjoy the extra money. They only granted him 50%. He died full of cancer and ischemic heart… The cancer was in pancreas, lung, liver basely everywhere including major cancers on his scalp.. Now take in mind the VA doctors MISSED this for 9 months… In fact claimed the one cancer on face was an ingrown hair.. Take in mind, they did not run test, just said…

    ANYONE who says the VA is getting a bad rep.. had truly not dealt with them like our family has.. Husband’s claim is STILL in the system and they are STILL working on it. That is AFTER a death certificate stating the ischemic.. Waiting on the VA husband lost all faith in his country.. The last 2 days of his life he was back in Nam, fighting a war that never left him.. It was with him until his last breath.

    While in the hospital he told who ever would listen, not to join the military as this is how they take care of you.. by letting you die.

    • Ron Nesler says:

      Linda,

      God Bless you, and thank you to your husband for his service. I am a Vietnam vet with a/o cancer too. The VA is a wasteful, pernicious entity. In fact, as they presently operate, they are the veterans very worst enemy in my opinion.

      Your story needs to get out. Could you contact Jim Strickland at http://www.VAWAtchDogToday.org ? Either by going to his website to post, or by Emailing him at jim912@gmail.com

      If you would like for you and I to put our heads together to work towards changing the VA, my Email addy is ChezPumpkin@aol.com

      The VA will probably delete my post to protect me from myself, since I posted my Email addy. LOL

    • Jim, SF Retired says:

      I say the same things to young people and parents I meet. Plus, don’t do anything until they get grownups in D.C. (which I’ve never seen).

  44. James Midgett says:

    The VA can’t seem to find my C-file that was sent to a clinic for a C&P exam over 3 months after the appointment date. They just keep sending request back and fourth (ASVL sent records back — RO can you send records back) but they will be quick to tell me all we need to rate your claim is your C-file but won’t tell me why they can’t seem to find it..

    • Ron Nesler says:

      As I type, Just as an aside, there is a problem that the VAMC in Marion, Illinois and it’s clinic in Evansville, Indiana can’t seem to locate my VA medical records.

      This is a completely separate issue from the eight years of active duty Army medical records that the VARO in Albuquerque, NM lost.

      When the VA wants to see your active duty medical records, they arrogantly insist on receiving only originals from the NPRC. Presumably they do this because they just assume that anyone not on the VA payroll will submit fraudulently records if they are willing to accept copies rather than originals.

      This needs to be stopped. The VA should be forced to accept copies from the NPRC, so that the originals can remain where they are and be safe from VA shredding or loss. I trust the NPRC a lot more than I trust the VA.

  45. DANIEL BRACKER says:

    Does anyone know how long I should wait before checking with the Regional Office for an Ajunctant claim (add on related problem). I submitted my claim in March 2010, Had my C&P Exam on September 11, 2010. I haven’t heard anything back yet, but I was just trying to figure out when I should call. I don’t want to push the VA, but I would like to know when is an appropriate time to remind them I have a claim in. Is there a required processing time between the steps to process a normal claim (I understand some claims might have exceptional circumstances)? Any information will be greatly appreciated.

    • Craig A. Nystrom Jr. says:

      I am no expert but they are advertising 125 days, since you have had your C&P exam this is a good sign. Also other factors that can delay your claim is if you have submitted any additional evidence, requested any new or additonal things from the VA such as a copy of your military treatment records and so on. You can contact your VAMC where you had the C&P exam and go to the release of information and obtain a copy of the C&P exam(s) for your records which I personally would suggest that you do. You will need to have these notes and records for an appeal to refute the VA’s decision especially if your benefits are denied and you decide to pursue or appeal your claim further. In my case the VA Regional Office said that my original claim would take 6-9 months, turned into 24 months before an intial decision was made by the Board. As I said and as you probably have heard a lot depends on which VA Regional Office is handling your claim as well as what issue(s) you are seeking disability. You can call the VA 800 National number and speak with an employee and ask what the status of your claim is but they will just give you more lip service and generalized time frames. Another approach is to contact your Veterans Service Oraganization that has your power of attorney, ask your representative to do the leg work for you and check into your claim status. Definately though obtain a copy for your records the C&P exam(s). I hope I was helpful, good luck.

      • DANIEL BRACKER says:

        Thank you, very helpful. I guess I’ll contact DAV, and then wait it out. Thanks again

        • DANIEL BRACKER says:

          Chicago VRO is handling my claim.

        • Craig A. Nystrom Jr. says:

          Oh no!!! Well hopefully you will have better luck than I ever have had, the Chicago VA regional Office has and is handling my claim. What a disaster it has been from the very begining for me. 24 months to handle my initial claim, lost my claim, outsourced my claim. The for my appeal they refused to review evidence that was in their possession for years, the foul-ups on their part goes on and on. The top of the list is that a rating officer for my appeal the DRO said that my four medical doctor’s opinions were “Unfounded” as they did not reflect that these doctor’s had reviewed my military medical or treatment records. Well that is because the Chicago VA Regional Office despite every year for the last five plus years I have requested in writing and verbally to receive my military medical records and I would receive a form letter saying that the Chicago VA Regional Office was working on this in a first come basis and that they would send me these records. Well they never arrived until this past October once the DRO started working on my Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC), then this Decision Review Officer who is not a medical doctor states that all four medical nexus letters were “Unfounded”. See the problem here? The VA Regional Office refuses to release records and then denies benfits because my doctor’s could not review records that this same VA Regional Office controlled and refused to release!! But all the while the VA claims that they are here to assist the veterans and quote have the duty to notify and assist. The only way that I am ever going to actually have an honest review of my claim is to have someone in the government help or to appear at the Board of Veterans Appeals and submit the journal that I have kept on how this specific VA Regional Office is and has been corrupt, negligent and are totally not for the veterans but are for these people to just hinder the vetereans. But Heck good luck to you, hopefully yours is an easy open and shut claim.

      • DANIEL BRACKER says:

        Thanks for the info. I’ll say my prayers

      • DANIEL BRACKER says:

        Well I found out through ebenifits that my claim is in the decision phase, and that they added a claim for dependants (in the developement phase). I was not drawing my full dependants.

  46. Jon Anderson says:

    Over the past several months I have responded to a number of VA blogs. My comments generally praised the medical care part of the VA but I was critical of the Regional Office system.

    I just received a telephone call from a VARO employee. The man who talked with me was very professional and gave me an excellent overview of the status of my claim and what to expect in the next few weeks.This kind of service is fantastic!

    • Hunter says:

      That’s great for you. Can’t tell you how many times I heard “check the mail over the next couple of weeks, it should be there.” Bologna.

  47. David says:

    I have had my share of call center experience – 5 years full time being a computer tech, before the job was outsourced and 9 years part time (since the job market is so soft and your full time job could away at any time).

    I would rather call someone in India than keep calling the VA call centers – and they are allowed to use their brains (if they have any) at about the same level. Also if I request to speak to an Indian supervisor, that usually gets the issue either resolved or I get transferred to the person who can resolve it – not with a VA callcenter.

    I found out by accident (since the VA never contacted me) that I still had some GI Bill entitlement, 11 months worth – AND I was told that they can go back up to 12 months! I almost got excited, however past experience with the VA has proven that this will be a slow and painful process.

    Since I am now in the Reserves, I had to jump through multiple hoops – I have been doing Project Management for the last several years and I can tell you – they have next to zero processes. How about a simple checklist of what you must fill out? You need the following forms sent to us (and if you wait 2 months they will eventually process your Fax – uploading into a question is faster AND you have a record of your contact). The LAST thing I was told to provide was a Notice of Basic Eligibility. Here is the kick in the crotch – some other monkey at DoD put the date I signed the NOBE not the Eligibility date into some database that the VA looks at. So even though the VA has a copy and can see the correct Eligibility Date, they are claiming that they have to use what is in the database. “Well I can’t break the law” is the parroting I keep getting. Well I am not afraid to ask just what Title and chapter of U.S.C. are you “quoting”? The one the monkey gave me is for the Post 9/11 and I still have entitlement for a previous Chapter. When you call them on it, I think some of the answers from India are more intelligent.

    I have been working on this since August of 2010. I am hoping it does not take much longer to get entitled.

    I am working with another Vet that she did not know she was entitled to GI Bill at all. The VA does such a poor job of taking care of vets, you get most of the information by talking to other vets.

  48. Jim, SF Retired says:

    Bitching, bitching bitching. Excuses excuses excuses. You all remember what excuses are like, right?

    Bottom Line Up Front: There is a mission. The mission is failing because the PERSON who is RESPONSIBLE is not getting that job done.

    We need to hear from that person. And, if they say they’ve asked the President, well guess what… it’s HIS RESPONSIBILITY.

    Our President(s) and elected officials have failed to upgrade the system. I’m tired of the MOTOR BOATING (but but but but but). Get it done. I’m a retired Green Beret. Do you think we just said “we’re doing the best we can.”?

    THERE IS YOUR REAL STORY TO RESEARCH !!!

  49. Mark Mullikin says:

    A few years ago the VA hired a new group of individuals to do the compensation and disability calculations. The lion share of hires were individuals who never served a day on active duty in their life. If you wonder why your are getting the run around or no response from the system here is why;
    1. These people are now federal employees with union support and can never be fired no matter how much they screw up or fail to do.
    2. Their supervisors were the dregs of the VA system who did not retire and were given first choice and preferential hire status.
    3. The VA senior managers are so ingrained into the, this is my”little kingdom and no-one or nothing is going to change.”
    4. None of these individuals have ever experienced the military way of life, combat, severe injury or disability and just can’t relate to them.

    So if you want the system to change in is not going to. It is what it is!

  50. macfast says:

    this is really interesting. i have been fighting the VBA for 8 years now and have found the thorn in the system lies in the c&p process. The c&p examiners are for the most part, doctors assistants. They meet with you for about 20 min and then submit a report blaming your lifestyle. We are cattle to them. I knew i was being set up when all of a sudden i was determined to have abused alcohol for 14 years and smoked for 30 years. Didn’t we get smokes in our rations??

    This was the cause of my heart, kidney, liver, neuropathy, diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, etc etc etc—of which i have NO family history. My father smoked all his 93 years and still does. He farms and still rides his motorcycles every day he can. My mother is 88 and still works as a nursing home administrator.

    I am 60 and don’t have much time left. I am just being honest—–not crying in my beer. Now its funny that the c&p exam that EXPOSED my bad lifestyle was just before IHD became presumptive. DENY – DELAY -DISCOURAGE – DEATH Thats the plan folks but i refuse to die. This is now a Quest!!

    • Charles Cauthen says:

      Macfest, you are so right on. I’ve made my compensation a quest, too. I’d gladly sit on my butt and work claims with anyone in the VA, who’ll take my diseases in exchange.My young primary nurse practioner did not even know what PCT was, she told me i had Coronary Heart Disease, Not Ischmic Heart Disease.
      I’m suffering with Chronic Hep C and told her my symptons, she said my symptons were from smoking a pack of cigs. a day. She puts on her reports that my blood and coronry is normal/ satisfactory.
      I really feel so sorry for those poor people in claims. They gave somebody their disabilty in just 4 days. Great work.

  51. I AM A 67 YEAR OLD RETIRED SGM I SUFFERED A SEVERE GS WOUND IN VIET NAM IN 66IRECIEVED A SILER STAR,BRONZE STAR AND A PURPLE HEART.I AM PARALYSIED FROM MY LEFT SHOULDER TO INCLUDE MY LEFT HAND.AFTER RETIREMENT I WENT TO COLLEGE UNDER VETERANS REHAB.TO FINISH COLLEGE I HAD NEVER APPLIED FOR VA (THE OLD CHIP ON THE SHOULDER)I THOUGHT MY RETIREMENT WAS MORE THAN VA WOULD PAY ME SO I REFUSED C&P THE GAVE ME AN AUTOMATIC 10% TO FUTHER DISTANCE ME FROM VA I
    HAD BEEN IN REHAB.FOR ABOUT 3 MOS AND HAD NEVER GOTTEN MY SUBSISTANCE ALLOW.I WENT TO THE VA HOSP.IN THAT CITY TO INQUIRE.IWAS TOLD TO SEE A LADY IN FINANCE SO I MET WITH(SORRY)OLD FAT LADY WITH CHAINS HANGING FROM HER GLASSES AT FIRST SHE IGNORED ME AFTER I SAID MAMM SHE LOOKED UP AT ME AND SAID WHAT DO YOU WANT.I EXPLAINED ,SHE SCOWLED AT ME AND SAID YOU ARE A RETIRED SGM USARMY WHY ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT $140 A MONTH.I EXPLAINED TO HER WHILE SHE WAS SITTING ON HER FAT ASS DRAWING A GOOD SALARY I WAS DEFENDING HER AND SORRY I WAS.SO I STAYED BITTER AT VA FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS.2YEARS AGO WE HAD A HURRICANE AND MY 5 ACRES WAS COVERED WITH DOWNED LIMBS.NEITHER I NOR MY WIFE WERE ABLE TO DO THIS WORK THAT NEXT DAY THERE WAS A NOTICE IN THE PAPER THAT THE DVA WAS GIVING ASSISTANCE TO DISABLE VETS.SO I WENT TO THE DAV HUT ONLY TO BE TOLD I COULDNOT PROVE I WAS A DISABLED VET WITHOUT A VA CARD TO NO AVAIL I SHOWED THE MY ORDERS FOR THE SILVER STAR,THE BRONZE STAR AND THE PURPLE HEART.I HAVE TO I WAS MADER(SIC)ABOUT THAT THAN ANTHING ELSE IN MY LIFE.SO I DECIDED TO FIGHT BACK.I WENT TO VA FILLED A CLAIM THE LOST IT FOR 6 MO.NOW IM REALLY MAD I CONTACTED MY CONGRESSMAN HE CALLED THE CONGRESSINAL LAISON I RECIEVED A CALL FROM MY REP 1 WEEK LATER THEY HAD FOUND MY CLAIM IN THE PAST 6MOS I HAVE BEEN AWARDED 100%COMBAT RELATED DISABILITY FOR LOSS OF USE OF LEFT ARM AND HAND,AGENT ORANGE,DIABETES2,NEUROPHY UPPER AND LOWER EXTREMITIE,ED,AND MACULAR DEGENERATION.BEFORE I GO ANY FUTHER THE VA HOSP WAS NOT LIKE I THOUGHT.IT WAS VERY CLEAN THE PEOPLE WERE VERY NICE(CALLED ME BY RANK)2 MOS AGO I GOT A FORM TO FILL OUT FOR A SPECIALLY EQUIPPED AUTO UP TO 11,000 ON THE SECOND PAGE OF MY DETERMINATION IT STATES ENTITLEMENT TO AUTO AND ADAPTIVE EQUIP IS ESTABLISHED.I FILLED OUT THE FORM AND SENT A COPY OF MY AWARD LTR.DEC.2010 IT IS NOW ALMOST MAR 2011 GUESS WHAT THEY CANT FIND MY CLAIM .(I CALLED MY REP.)WHAT I CANT UNDERSTAND IS WHY DO WE HAVE TO FIGHT EVERY STEP TO GET WHAT WE EARNED I LED MEN AND GAVE MY BLOOD FOR MY COUNTRY THIS IS NOT WELFARE.IN CLOSING HOW ABOUT THE UNEDUCATED VET WHO JUST GIVE UP AND HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO READ REQUEST FOR AUTO GRANT THAT HAS ALREAD BEEN ESTABLISHED GOD BLESS ALL WHO HAVE FOUGHT AND BLEED FOR THIS COUNTRY

  52. Paula says:

    Does anyone know how far behind national average OHIO Va regional office in Cleveland is with claim process? I have been in decision process since Jan 2011.

  53. maurice wyman scott says:

    While the system, insomuchas its told to the public is overwhelmed, and being ovewhelmed is often times understood, and accepted, but when evidence support a deliberate and purposeful conspiracy. While in reaching out to named individuals, within that very office, the Columbia Regional Office, located in Columbia, SC, what i’ve found is a culture, from its directors that causes his name to affixed to a document bearing absolutely no truth, to senior VSR, and the public information director who are engaged in the same level of covering up the truth of their operation, a operation dedicated to stalling, fraudulent and deliberate wrongful processing,and to this end, vengence against anyone who would expose them, in form of the attempted assault by ordering a c and p for something i don’t have.

    But its been more than a year since i’ve tried to have this system that isnt dedicated to veteans, but rather dedicated to their demise investigated, oversight, or anything that could stop the level of harm they inflict upon our veteran as a whole, and nothing, internally. But just when you think no one is looking, no one is really paying attention, low and behold you have a media avocate. This year long journey of reporting, documenting, and observing the harms to veteran this location causes has been complete, and while its more of a financial incentive, this NBC affiliate is helping me stay afloat, and not homeless, its more about removing named people from the system, because often times,while folks occupy jobs, doesn’t mean that they should, this extreme means position of exposing them, by name, all because they wouldn’t stop the nonsense, and just perfomr as they should have.

    While it will eventually cause shame to the Secretary and the President all of whom are my hero’s for trying to change this corrupt system, it is nevertheless necessary. Necessary because if they would cause me pain, they are causing the same level of pain to others, and the media is the only way to stop them. While I don’t avocate teh tea party in general, I do advocate some of their methods, expose all you can about the enemy, and let them live with the consequences. The folks at Columbia Regional Office are the enemy, and this is the only way seemingly they will stop, be removed,and change can come to the VBA in Columbia, SC.

    Change is coming to Columbia, and while I fully expect them to remove, and lie about what has happened, the lucky thing for me, is that i have my own records, and a lie is only good if you can’t prove otherwise, I can. So Mr. Dirctor, Public Affairs Director, and three senior VSR, I hope at the end it was worth it, because the games stop now, and the media will be the tool of justice. It would have just been easier to be honorable people and say, well we made some mistakes, and we are sorry, and we will fix them now.

  54. Jack Kelley says:

    I love it when you get the guts to write about claims and the claims process.
    The blog gets the most comments and it seems everyone has a story about “lost files’ and
    long delays.
    I’ve been in the system since 1968. I have a catalogue of horror stories available about the claims process.
    Everyone of them unique to my own situation.

    For instance, I am a Right Leg Amputee. The VA “Pays by the pound”, that is, they have assigned percentages for
    the specific length of your stump. It is measured from the Greater Trochanter formation on your upper inside femur.
    The Physician Guide to ortho exams gives specific instruction on how to measure. If the VA has not done the exam
    properly, it is a “Clear and Unmistakable Error”.

    My stump was measured by a E-2 Hospital Corpsman incorrectly, he measured on the outside of my thigh. This was done at Philly Naval Hospital in 1967. A Vet Rep from the DAV suggested I was measured wrong and I began to investigate. And, lo and behold, he was right. So I went and got a measurement from the Chief of Orthropaedics at VAMC Jamaica PLains, MA. He said I had a 5″ stump, not the 9″ stump in my records. I filed this and was summarily denied within 4 days.

    This length measurement is not open to subjective interpretation, it’s observable, concrete evidence yet I was DENIED as they said the E-2′s measurement stood. End of conversation.

    This is black and white evidence. Yet the VARO Manchester denied the evidence with no basis or reason.
    It delayed my claim for a year or so. In the end the VA paid a 30 year retro payment.

    My question is “Why were they fighting the truth?” and when can I expect an apology?

    Jack K F 2/7 1st MARDIV 1966-67

    • TONY says:

      The resonway it took you so long they though you will just give up.But you kept at it until they gave in and also they did not want you pay you the back pay.Your last time around, you had someone who know what they was doing.

      • William Myers says:

        I think the files should be rotated and given to someone else after they have been first denied. That should eliminate the overlooking of important files

  55. From the picture above, it shows that all employees works really hard to accomplish their tasks.

  56. William Myers says:

    Question. If the court of veterans appeals sends you a remand and basically says to “get it right this time” and my doctor has proven that I was injured in the service by written documentation and my lawyer point blank shows it to you in writing that my injury was indeed caused in service on a certain date than why do I keep getting denied and the reason is because what you all say is there is no evidence that the injury was caused durring my service?
    You even have the documentation from my doctor that states is is more than 50% possitive that I was injured in service and points out the record in my file that shows the exact date when the injury occured? What more proof do you all need to show that it was in service. I dont have an actual video tape of the incident to proove it other than the documents in front of you. Meanwhile I will continue as I have for the past 20 years hoping that someone from your office stopps overlooking the 32 times I was seen in service due to the injury and start seeing a way to help a highly decorated war veteran become service connected and help with the thousands of dollars this injury for serving my country has cost me out of my own pocket.

  57. Brian says:

    I have been fighting my claim for 6 years now. I am an iraqi war veteran (1st Marines in to Ramadi)..my records were lost..my qtc exames were ridiculous. I recieved two nams..one of which from helping medivac over 50 bodies. I’ve been blown up..lost my hearing..and now suffer from ptsd and TBI..im lucky if I can remember my name on a good day. What did the VA rate me at ….30%! They denied everything else because my medical records were lost..destroyed..some excuse. I will never stop figting for what I know is right, what needs to be fixed, and for all of the assholes out there who dont realize that it is a privalige to live in the wonderful united states.

  58. Nick says:

    I know that this is a little late after the blog was posted. But I came across this blog looking for a way to make a valid complaint against the VBA. One that will actually be effective and legal.

    First off I am an employee of the VHA. And while I have some issues with that portion of the VA, they are mostly minor and can be worked around. Plus the VA was the only place that I could find that was hiring veterans during this recession, and for that I am very thankful.

    My issue with the VBA claims process deals with 2 main issues. 1 is that they have moved my claim twice now to a different RO to process it. Both times while it was in the Decision phase, which placed it into the Development phase for the 3rd time. The 2nd issue is in communication. At no point did they tell me they were going to do any of the moves. Nor have they reached out to communicate with me about where my claim is in the process, and I have requested physical communication about my concerns (phone or in person). They need to improve communication with the veteran, it would go a long way to placating a lot of us. And limiting the complaints and issues that we have.

    Otherwise, it’s a good blog. Informative, obviously propaganda, but it still shed more light into the process then we had.

  59. Ronald E Beier says:

    i first applyed in 2005 and finaly recieved 10% for hearing loss and denied for all others saying my medical records were destroyed in fire.. i reapplyed in 2009 and in june 2011 i got to go to penesocola va center for a physical and ecocardiagram i still havent heard a thing since the i hope the decide befor i die. i have lost the use of my right hand and have radation skin cancer due to the job i had in the army and the cant decide the funny thing is they gave me 10% in 2005 for hearing loss and i didnt even claim that…. but i guess they knew better than me cause the installed 2 hearing aids in may of this year saying ineeded them i was told i would hear about the claim now in 90 days i guess i will sit back and wait and hope for the best ron

  60. Jason G says:

    Well, I stumbled into this doing some research….in October, it will be TWO (2) years since I filed my initial claim paperwork. 2 C&P exams (Hearing, PTSD) this past May. Claim finally moved to ‘decision’ where it has been sitting since the beginning of JULY. Here it is…almost the end of August and there it remains.

    Color me LESS than impressed with the Balto VA office, needless to say. And I’ve heard through ‘backchannel’ VA employees that Balto VA office has the WORST record in the country for processing claims. What a shock that is….

    I will say that every single VA employee I’ve talked to has been kind, decent, and helpful…but the ‘process’ of this system is totally jacked the heck up.

    And yes, I submitted every single record I ever had, dating back to 1982, I made copies of it ALL (which I still have). My initial claim file was almost six inches thick with documentation. You know what the ‘holdup’ was? My PTSD claim. You see, apparently the VA found it difficult to substantiate my ‘stressor’….THE PENTAGON ON 9/11.

    I have no doubt at this point that when I finally get rated, it’ll probably have to go to appeal for some crazy reason or another. I’m just so very disgusted at this point.

  61. Josh says:

    They need to set time limits on how long it should take to decide claims and fine people for not doing their job like they do in all government offices. The 911 people can steal from Veterans by allowing them to play games with the process. Some of them work in these offices. They then rip off the desperate Vets.

  62. Hassan says:

    If as a Vet you dont do your own due diligence, you are doing your self a dis service . The VA Job is noting an easy one, I more than respect that, and we must remember that people are human and do make mistakes, im in the midst of finally receiving 70% after fighting for 3 years. My claim started in Texas where some mistakes were made, then transferred to Boston where the mistakes were corrected. Veterans should study Title 38 backwards and forwards it is the VA Ratings Bible and knowing where you stand with it will help you in your claims tremendously.. There is nothing more powerful than a knowledgeable veteran. And with medical documents and Title 38 ratings specific to back it up, with patience you will get what you deserve as long as your military medical files dictate it. All ducks must be in a row. Also when asking someone for help at the Va, understand that her or she is a person too, When you talk at someone you will get nothing in return, Talk TOO someone and you will receive all the help in the world. I say this from real time experience. And if you received your 1st rating and when you read what they said, if it contradicts what TITLE 38 says, it will get overturned I know that first hand, and too my fellow Vets if your not happy with how a claim was handled ask for a ratings supervisor, I did in Boston and she sat down for an hour and went over my case with me, saw where the mistakes were made, pulled my claims folder and made the proper corrections according to what TITLE 38 said and what my Military medical records dictated. Good things can happen with common courtesy, due diligence and patience

  63. Zaubern13 says:

    Something ask for years ago, keep the veterans informed, and 90% of the problem is solved. VA still can not do that. The have upgraded ebenefits, yes it is better, but it is not there yet.

    30 December my file went from “gathering evidence” to “review of evidence”, in my mind review of evidence means they will insure all the info is there and then send on to the next step or they will request more information.

    It is now the 19th of January and it is still in review of evidence, they have had 13 working days to review this file and take an action. As there is nothing saying they have requested more information, nor has it moved up the the next step. So am I to believe they have been reading my file for 13 days, I doubt it.

    If they laid it back down with no action and started on another file, then when they get back to it they will have to read the file again, if they are waiting on a action from someone else it is not reflected on ebenefits. Back to step one, keep the veteran informed.

    If it is complicated ask for help, if you need more info ask for help, But there is no reason to lay it back down with no action taken. You have now create double work for yourself, and left me hanging.

    The other problem I see is putting dates in that are not correct, an example: I file some papers, I missed an item, yo sent it back to me for corrections, I received it on the 13th of the month, put back in the mail in the 17th of the month and it was recorded as received in your office on the 20th of the month, but yet you marked the items as received 90 days later. So for 90 days it lay doing nothing, an exam was requested the same day you marked it received. the exam was done scheduled and done with in 10 days, and returned to your office. Again it lay there for 30 more days and the file was picked up and they worked on a action that was done almost 100 days in the past. You go on Holiday, you come back and read the file lay it down and it now is waiting on what, no one knows.

    It is real simple keep the veteran informed!!!!

    • Hunter says:

      Hahaha,

      Zaubern13, not to detract from your predicament, but I submitted my paperwork on August 4, 2011. It is now February 16, 2012 and I still haven’t heard back from them.

      If I call the Department of Veterans Affairs, there’s a two day wait window until they can take my call. Then they tell me it is still being reviewed.

      There is no outside agency that I can contact to expedite the process. There’s no “can I speak to your boss” or “put me on with someone who can fix this.” Instead there’s just a nine month wait period. For what, you ask? My GI-Bill.

      Benefit my ass. Funny, the recruiters never mention the nine-month wait period. I’ll graduate long before I get my GI Bill.

      Good luck friend.

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  66. wtf says:

    I’ve been waiting on a dependancy claim since may 02/2011 all documents are in anyone else waiting this long or have I been overlooked somehow , you know how the 1800 number works your getting no helpful answers from them. I’m dealing with the Detroit regional office.

    • Hunter says:

      I haven’t been waiting as long as you have. Somebody needs to fix this problem, because it isn’t serving the veterans at all.

    • Winston says:

      I,ve been waiting since June 2011 (you are not alone) my RO is in Houston TX. The clerks processing our claims just don’t understand that some of us are so disabled, that we can no longer work and that our only income is in their hands.

      Some of us vets don’t need to have went to war to have PTSD, because the VA is giving us PTSD.( I dream about the VA constantly,and that yellow envelop coming in the mail and it is a never ending dream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I know I need help

      • william says:

        You have a great point; stress is a real problem and it can come from any source. Every time I take my pills for my medical problems and my PTSD. I often wonder if anyone out there really cares. I have a support system keeping me strong; however, after reading these comments I feel even more depressed. I started my second clam on 10/2011 and I ran around and collected all of my medical information in sent it to my VA office on 1/2011. As you have said, VA should feel some responsibility for the added stress they are adding to those of us who are waiting. Also, S/S is a whole different story and they are not any better. I wonder does anyone understand what risk is?

  67. Sean says:

    The biggest issue is the process. my first rating took a year so I feel lucky. I was denied and then given a upgraded rating to 30%. I am happy with that and do not need or want anything that I am not entitled to. I have been on the phone numerous times with the VA trying to ge a tracking on my temporary 100% for shoulder surgery I had in December. I was taken out of work and since I can not work I rely on the VA disability to cover what California State disability insurance does not cover. I am told that it can take an average of 230 days to compete a claim of temporary 100%. I do not want to jump a head of anyone in line, and I don’t believe that I am any more important than anyone else. What I do not understand is why there needs to be so much more work envolved for temporary claims. The VA scheduled my surgery, the VA signed my release from work for 3 months, and the VA performed the surgery! so why do they need all the proof and investigation?

    I believe that most of the people that work at the VA are good hard working people, but the people you see at the VA centers, and VA medical facilities are all government employees that do not fear consequence for their lack of respect and rude nature. The travel people I have spoken too at the VA medical facility in Los Angeles were horribly rude and hated when I wanted them to do their Jobs.

    We all have terrible stories of what the VA has done or not done to or for us. The process needs to be completely rebuilt and the antiquated systems they use need to be updated. I feel that a lot of the people that are working for the VA are lazy and do not care about any of the Veterans they are serving.

    When will the system be upgraded, and streamlined?

  68. william says:

    Could any one agree with me; there are a lot of Vets coming home and many of them are come home with medical and psychological concerns. With the current economic situation there should be a huge hiring of Vets to help process the claims of those Vets who are in need.

  69. william says:

    The picture above doesn’t look like this video; therefore, I don’t know what to think. One thing I do know the VA says the biggest problem they have in processing claims is collecting medical records from third parties. However, I been waiting since October, 2011 for them to collect my medical records form a VA medical center. I have been looking at ebenefit to see what records and information they have, till now I haven’t been seeing anything; not even my medical record from the VA Medical center. So, I decided to send in my copy of my medical record I had got back in December from the VA medical center. The problem is, since November, 2011 I have been calling the 1800-827-1000 number and asking can the VRO get my medical records from the VA medical center I have been visiting and I would always get a yes, or sure. However, until I sent the VRO a copy of my medical records on 3/12/2012 from the VA medical center I visited, I have not seen anything in ebenefit until 3/13/2012. So, I can’t help but to wonder; what I’m waiting for and how long do I have to wait?

    http://www.va.gov/JOBS/career_types/walker-video.asp

    • 2nd ID says:

      My understanding is that you really don’t have to worry about you VA medical records, they can get them themselves, its making sure you have your military records and other records, and you can have your military ones sent to you. when you go to the VA you can go by records and get a copy of them also, I do every few months so I can use them if I need them for some reason.

  70. Wes says:

    Here is my 2 cents! I have 11 volumes of records 7438 pages. It’a now on CD, great new technology is arriving! 50 of those pages belongs to another veterans. Accidents happens, the staff works hard we get that. How can the staff make medical decision when they have no medical training or background? How can a rating specialist override a doctor? The VA examine for the specific injury you claim. So, why are there so many repeating examine of the same issue? Answer, these people may work hard, but they lack the necessary training need to process these claims (Medical Training). Not only do they lack the training, so do must of the doctors that are hired hints the reason claims come back incomplete. Solution: move the paperwork to a virtue system, hire qualified rating specialist with medical backgrounds, hire doctor with the same, make quotas for staff member to complete each month (exception for difficult and extraordinary claims). Remove BVA from Washington and make Regional/Sector BVA Agencies to handle regions. One BVA can not handle all of these claims.

  71. 2nd ID says:

    For the most part the VA cares. It’s almost like the Lottery it depends on who gets your claim. there are some who work hard in doing their job right and want to help the veteran. then their are some who just don’t care and are there for the money. Wow sound like this happens in every job in America, and not just VA. The best thing you can do to help your claim is to find a Good VSO, and do everything they ask. take the time to research your proof. if you rush and just throw it together it makes the job harder for the folks at the VA to look at. They do have rules they have to follow in filing a claim, it’s like being in the military with out a uniform you have rules. I am very thankful for the job they do it’s just as hard on them as it is on you, You gave up a lot to serve your country and should be taken care of. and you will if your condition falls in the rules of that condition. The first time I filed a claim I put it in my self not using the right forms and not getting all the information to back up my claim, one year later denied. I talk with a VSO who knew what forms and info I needed and after a few appointments to make sure I had all I needed. sent it in an one year later approved. So you can blame the VA but we have responsibilities to. Like taking your car to the shop if you don’t know how to explain what the car was doing wrong the mechanic has to take the time to go thru it and find the problem, and if you rush the mechanic to hurry to get it back good chance you will be taking it back. same for filing a claim, take time to tell your story as best you can and be prepared to wait for best results.

  72. Awolf says:

    Getting out in a couple of months. Any recommendations on what I need to file? For example I had:

    Service related injuries:
    1.Tire Blow up in Iraq resulting in hearing loss
    2. A metal beam fall and crush my leg while TDY
    3. A recommendation for shoulder surgery
    4. A torn finger tendant
    5. Numerous gel injections for my knee and scope

    I have high blood pressure, and arthritis but I doubt that is related to service.

    After the Gulf War I developed a 6. sleep disorder and 7. memory loss – neither which can be explained, and are not related to PTSD.

    • Wife of Vet says:

      Get all of your medical records, make several copies and keep at least one copy in a safety deposit box. As soon as you do get out, get in the system, contact a local VA rep and start a claim. And last; but not least, do not give up, that is exactly what they want you to do! It is a horrible shame how American Veterans are treated, and the general population does not even have a clue, or they simply could care less. Check out Dr.Gary Null’s new film called American Veterans: Discarded & Forgotten, you can watch the trailer on youtube.
      Good Luck and God Bless

  73. CT Ditty Chaser Ahoy says:

    I´m 60 and recently applied to increase my 1973 30% disability rating due to complications caused by my partailly amputated foot. Houston Disabled American Veterans has my Power of Attorney and has not responded to 4 Emails via their website over 2 months. VARO Houston telephoned me in Central America just 3 weeks after my claim was filed. I suspect my problem will be my advocate, the Houston DAV, not the VA. I guess I better take a big chill pill and hope I survive the process. Thanks to all the writers above for preparing me to endure what may prove to be a very frustrating experience. It sucks being ignored. Best of luck to all the good people on both sides of the desk.

  74. Steven says:

    The stacks and boxes of the med records they never bothered to look at when I field my claims.. I am dying form pancreas disease… I don’t have time for years of appeals, and lies saying theva claims reviewed my veterans records.. they lied, and it took 2 years to get a DRO hearing ot bring my records to their attention and how I was forced to work with chemicals that made me sick causing my military career.. it’s in my smr’s and my va records… they just refused to look.. now they just delay, deny deny until I die..

    [IMG]http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m127/retiredat44/01-01-11_My_Medical_Records.jpg[/IMG]

  75. John says:

    I have come to the conclusion that the Dept of Veterans Affairs was a wonderful idea that has turned into a “license to steal” for many veterans. When anyone tries to fix what is wrong with the VA, there is a hue and cry from the unwashed masses, “The goverment is trying to take “our good stuff” away from our brave veterans!” So what do the critters on Congress do? The throw good money after bad toward the VA versus cleaning house. It is the perfect example of the bureaucrats bureaucracy. And don’t get me started with the for-$hit attitude of a some of the VA employees. You know? The old adage of “You can do 99 things right but that 1 screw up taints the entire barrel of apples.” Well, it is a thankless job and those of them who do it, seem to try their best. It is just that there are less & less funds to do more & more tasks with less people and for less time. While a goodly amount of veterans feel that the VA is not their friend…they do a pretty good job.

  76. brian says:

    I have worked @ a VA Hosp. for 20+ years. I listen to all my brother vets. I hear their “war stories”. I discover so many are looking for the “holy grail” vs medical help . These poor souls think that all their problems will go away when they get a 100% rate.

    Their claims get denighed. What do they do.

    They march right back over to the RO and refile. During my 20+ years I have gotten to know some of these Vets and discovered that many were never in combat. Some never made it out of “Boot”!

    So using “Stolen Valor” these Vets are clogging the system. While I don’t see this nearly as often now days this is still a problem. Their record jackets do not support their claims.

    These Vets can file again and again. If they get refused they contact their congressman and of course the congressman wants a vote. So back in the system they go and now RO has to copy the congressional office. What do you think happens?

    This is probably not a massive number of Vets operating like this, but it drags down the labor available in the RO.

    Disabled Vet. Squad radio Viet Nam, Purple Heart. 68-69 Libety bridge

  77. My 1151 claim for malpractice was agreed by the hospital and myself and I found out it contained two fraudulent documents placed there by the RO. For an expert opinion I was sent to a nurse practitioner who had no knowledge of my problem (Myopathy). In fact my claim read “I wish to file an 1151 claim for statin induced myopathy”.
    They denied AV fistula (which they invented) and Rhabdomyolysis which they also put in I suppose for a joke. They never did a thing about “Myopathy”, just forgot it.
    Myopathy can destroy every muscle in your body. My activities in total are sleeping, watching TV and working at the computer. In this case I’m using software called Nuance to type because my right hand muscles disappeared because of this medical negligence. I have waited over 2 1/2 years for reconsideration and to get rid of these felonies that the RO committed and get the compensation sent out. Deny, deny and they hope you die.

  78. Joe says:

    It took three years after leaving the service to get an answer on an appeal from what was overwhelmingly documented in the records I provided. It’s pretty frustrating. In the end, the answer was not what I expected, nor was it what I think the rating schedule calls for. But when I call on the phone to talk to a O2 exchanger, it has always been a fellow vet, and often a disabled vet. I know they are disabled because in frustration I asked once if the ape on the other line was disabled. Yes he was (shut my mouth up). So, they are vets helping vets. Now that my brain is a bit more clear (PTSD, sleep apnea, depression, etc. starting to get better) I realize I did not communicate as succinctly as I needed too — I need to learn the VA speak, the terminology, and how to ask the doctors for the specific wording in their reports to provide to the VA to make their determinations.

    On the other side of the fence, I imagine the VA bubbas have to be diligent since there is the occasional scam artist. These VA guys and gals are likely not doctors or lawyers but have to learn the lingo from both alien races. They have to wade through medical records like mine that are at least three inches thick. It took me two weeks of solid work to prepare my appeal and I knew exactly where to look in my records so I tip my hat at anyone else who searches into that abyss. Then there are conditions like mine … clinical depression, sleep apnea, hypothyroidism each with overlapping symptoms. Which of these point to underlying disease? Can you establish service connection to the disease? Oye. It’s a tough job. It’s not as tough as sweeping land mines or serving as a SEAL sniper, I’ll give you all that… but it’s a heck of a lot tougher than 99% of the civil service jobs out there.

    I appreciate the work you guys do at the VA helping us veterans cope with our disabilities.

  79. Alan says:

    Ireally don’t know what to say about the VA compensation system except to say that veterans need to be informed of why in paticular their claim is delayed. If we honestly know the answer to the WHY question, we might be less stress. I want to believe that these people working on our cases are not intentionally making life a hell for us however, their lack of passing out information on cases is not helping. Just telling me that that my case is in developmental stage is not enough information for me to process. The issue like I said is Lack of adequate or meaningful information to answer our questions. Please help us deal with this stress of waiting. Lives are depending on these claims. I have had to talk a friend out of commiting suicide because he was waiting for decision on his claim for almost 2 years.

    I filed for increase in Jan, 2011 for low back and wrist . I also filed a new claim for numbness of right leg. I received C&P exams for my back and wrist in March, 2011 and September 2011 for leg numbness. I receive a 10% decision for leg numbness in December while my back and wrist was marked defered for medical opinion. In Feb 2012, I received C&P for frequent urination and ED. I guess because I made mention of both frequent urination and ED during the march 2011 exam. They receive the C&P report for both back by March, 2012. I checked Ebenefit as at today may 7, 2012, it still says developmental stage. When I called, I was told that nothing else is requied for my case. My questions are:
    Why was one case decided within 3 months and the others taking forever?
    When are they going to review my other cases that started in jan, 2011?
    How much long should I anticipate assuming nothing else is needed from Doctors?

    Please someone reply. I am dealing with Roanoke Virginia Office.

  80. jerome says:

    i went to the regional office to check the status of my claims and was told that the v.A. is waiting to get my C&P exam scripted, then they will rate it. How long does it take to get records scripted and what exactly is scripted. My C&P exam was six months ago

  81. wardell says:

    If the Social Security Administration is electronic then why is the VA still buried in paper?

  82. Jim says:

    My claim was remanded to VARO Montg. Al. around March 12,2012 for treatment records for the period since March 2010,also affording me also the opportunity to attend a VA mental disorders examination and thereafter, ajudicate the claim for entitlement to service connection for an aquired psychiatric disoder on the merits.I was called on the phone the following day after i recieved the findings from the BVA who ordered that the matter be remanded this was out of the ordinary of what i was accustomed to usually i would recieve a letter informing me of the date and time of the C&P. I have now been waiting 2 months for the Dr. to sign off on her findings because the claim still has to go to the RO for adjudication and this is all after the BVA expressed that this claim must be afforded expeditious treatment.They went on to say that all claims remanded by the BVA or United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims for additional development or other appropriate action must be handled in an expeditious manner should i bring up the issue of facilitating this matter as requested.

  83. Donald Marshall says:

    This is how broken the DVA is I just found out that my claim for IU has hit another brick wall in the system. I claimed IU two years and two days ago. They just keep looking for thins to not have to make a decision. They are going to set me up with another medical exam the new on is fing out what the staus of my bi-latural orchiectomies is. Well I had testicular cancer inservice 1988. Part of the treatment is to remove the cancer and in my case that ment they had to remove both testicles. I wonder if they grew back. I guess it takes a doctor. Anything they have to do so that they don’t have to make a decision and close a claim. I filed for SSA disabilty and they completed and aproved my claim in less than 4 months and I never had to evan see a doctor. My 12″ high medical file from the service and the VA was enough. Two years and still going on my IU claim, I just don’t understand why they are so back logged. And the fight goes on.