Winston-Salem VA employees serve North Carolina Veterans at claims clinic


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Last Saturday, hours before sunrise, North Carolina Veterans formed a line outside Goodwill Industries in Winston-Salem, N.C., to speak directly with VA employees about the status of their benefits and other VA services. This free weekend claims clinic was the second of its kind, and was fully staffed by employees of the Winston-Salem Veterans regional benefits office.

Regional Benefits Clinic

More than 120 VA employee and volunteers (including dozens of claims processors) met with North Carolina Veterans to discuss the status of their claim and answer any questions regarding VA benefits and services.

More than 120 VA employees and volunteers (including dozens of claims processors) soon followed, each firing up her computer, ready for what would be a busy day.  In fact, Winston-Salem Director Cheryl Rawls opened the doors 45 minutes early to accommodate the early arrivals.

“This is our opportunity to give back to the community, restore trust and actually have our [North Carolina] Veterans sit down and talk with someone about the process of filing a claim,” said Rawls.

One by one, each Veteran and their family were greeted by VA employees and shared the reason for their visit.  Most Veterans wanted to check the status of their claim, while others were interested in other VA services, like vocational rehabilitation and employment counseling and Veterans Health Administration eligibility. VA even offered two education sessions for those interested in learning more about the appeals process, in addition to a town hall meeting featuring the director and other local VA leadership.

Based on the reason for the visit, each Veteran was personally escorted to the right individual or team to discuss their situation. Each claims processor was able to speak with a Veteran while simultaneously viewing their electronic folder located in our claims processing software, known as the Veterans Benefits Management System.

For additional support, dozens of claims processors were able to communicate directly with volunteer employees based at the regional office (10 minutes away) to help expedite and authorize claims that were ready to rate on the spot.

Regional Benefits Clinic

Kevin Blackshear, U.S. Army Veteran

One attending U.S. Army Veteran, Kevin Blackshear, was no stranger to VA benefits, as he has already used a VA home loan and the Post 9-11 GI Bill to fund his education. However, after talking with an employee who looked at his claim, he was granted an increase in his disability rating from 80 to 100 percent totally and permanently right on the spot.

“I’ve found that if you do your research and ask the right questions and are prepared with the right material, you’ll have a smooth experience with the VA,” said Blackshear, who now works as a physical evaluation board liaison officer at Fort Bragg, counseling Soldiers through transition options if found unfit to return to duty.

Blackshear’s experience was not uncommon throughout the course of the day. Many Veterans left satisfied with either getting their questions answered or in attaining a better understanding of the process and how to navigate other VA services.

Regional Benefits Clinic

Approximately 525 Veterans attended the Winston-Salem Claims Clinic held Jan. 17 at Goodwill Industries in Winston-Salem, N.C.

As each hour rolled by, employees stood guard to accommodate and support every Veteran who walked in the door. Over the course of 11 hours, VA employees personally assisted 525 Veterans and their families; awarded retroactive payments totaling more than $500,000; and assisted seven homeless Veterans.

While the event was a success for our Veterans and their family members, we want them to understand that they don’t have to wait for a claims clinic to meet with VA employees. Winston-Salem’s public contact office (and each of VA’s 56 regional benefits offices) is available every weekday during normal business hours to meet with Veterans to discuss benefit options.

Winston-Salem is leading the charge with institutionalizing this claims clinic model. It’s just one way VA is looking to improve how we can provide better customer service to our Veterans, and their families and Survivors.

Author

Samantha Reho

Comments

  1. DJ    

    I want to meet with a va rep but would like to set up an appointment, but there are no numbers to call or how to contact them. As per the last paragraph it says we can meet them 5 days a week, Some of us work and need to be on a appointment or a window or something. If that information is out there can someone point me in the right direction. Thanks… Also whens the next claims clinic I would drive hours and hours for something like this.

  2. Erica Alston    

    Amen… Can you guys bring something like this to Louisiana… I am a Vet had knee surgery December 5,2015… And I have yet to receive any ttypeof physical therapy plus the condition is service connected… Submit information about temp 100%. Was never explain this take as long as a claim. .I hope u can bring this in my area because it hard to receive help..well if you can help in that area do u know how to file a claim against the VA for not taken care of Vets….

  3. Danny    

    Thank You to those that helped our brothers & sisters. WHY CAN’T THIS TYPE OF PROGRESS BE AN EVERYDAY OCCURRENCE? If a handful of devoted VETERANS Administration employees can make this much of an impact, why can’t the whole administration DO THEIR JOBS & help a handful of veterans everyday? One handful a day would turn the stories on this site from horror stories to what some would call fantasy stories! THANKS AGAIN!

  4. Lic. Pierre Millet    

    This is a great idea and opportunity for all veterans there.

    Congratulations!
    God bless you,

    Sincerely,
    Lic. Pierre Millet

  5. Michael Scott, OEF/OF Disabled Scott    

    I was reading this on the website, and it was great the VA did this type of event for Veterans. My question is, as a Veteran myself, I was not aware of this event going on last weekend. If I would have been informed someway, somehow, I would have taken advantage of this opportunity. How can I be informed about this type of event in the future?

    1. Samantha Reho    

      Michael – thank you for your military service and for your question. VBA uses a variety of platforms to publicize events like these – mainly through social media/Internet. If you aren’t already – follow the Veterans Benefits Administration on Facebook and on Twitter (@VAVetBenefits). Also, become familiar with the VBA Calendar (http://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/events.asp) – more of these types of events will appear on this site once we have dates finalized. Additionally, each regional office does its own publicity (utilizing VSOs, TV/radio, etc.) to bring attention to the Veteran. Check with your closet regional office for the date of the next Town Hall!

      1. Danny    

        My local VETERANS Administration didn’t even advertise their town hall meeting. When I asked the public relations person why not, she said: “do you expect us to send a letter to every veterans registered here?” WELL….DUH…YEAH

  6. Bruce Steadman    

    How was this event advertised? I would have driven the 45 miles from my home to the event location if I had known about it.

    1. Samantha Reho    

      Bruce, I’m sorry you missed this event. My understanding is that the RO will host another one in late Spring 2015. As for this event, Winston-Salem began publicizing the event a few weeks out by reaching out to Veteran Service Organizations (DAV, VFW, etc.) and other Veteran-friendly partners to extend the invite to their members. Also, both the director and Veterans service center manager did interviews (radio & TV) the days leading up to the event to drum up publicity.

      VBA also publicized on their social media channels (Facebook, Twitter – @VAVetBenefits) and through the VBA Calendar (http://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/events.asp).

      Thank you for your military service.

  7. jdohnnie godbold    

    I am in the Atlanta area, I have the same problem (assess to a claims counselor) I filed a hardship case with the intake center in Newman as instructed in August 2014. I had a Disability Physical in May 2014, It is now Jan 2015. Last year when I called to check on the status they said that they have not received the results of my Disability Physical that VA scheduled for me or any information on the Hardship I sent to the intake center. I recently filed a congressional with congressman Johnny Isakson’s office and VA said that they scheduled me for a Disability Physical in Dec 2014. But what I got and sent it to Mr. Isakson’s office was a request for more documentation on my case not a Disability Physical that I already had taken in May 2014.
    I applaud your efforts and the intuitive to fix a backlog problem and to make your operation more efficient. Your action did more for the Veteran’s in North Carolina then all the bureaucratic legislation and policy’s of congress.
    I wish I was there for you to look into my case, Today Friday 23 I have been unemployed for 3 years, Divorced, bankrupt, broke, my car needs work my body has broken down my house is about to be foreclosed on, I cant pay my debt, lights, water and food. All I ask from VA is closure on my case.
    Again your work in North Carolina should be an example of how the fix VA broken system and clear up the back log of cases. Good Job to you all

  8. Gloria Mincey    

    I VA employees need to do this. I been waiting since 1997 to get disability for a service connected medical problem. I was treated for a growth on my left foot in May 1988 while on active duty in Okinawa, Japan. They have denied me for years. In March of 201l they determine after surgery that the growth was dermatofibrosarcoma cancer, which have gone untreated since 1988 and denied since 1998. During surgery, there was some nerve damage and the left side of my foot is completely numb. My appeal is still pending and it is now 2015 and almost 3 years since my last appeal for this problem. I need some advice.

  9. eugene gabrielli    

    it is nice to know that someone is finally being taken care of on their claim and I have had a claim filed 10 YEARS ago I have gotten no satisfaction I’ve even wrote a letter to the director and got no response. I have submitted my NOD for my appeal one year ago. I don’t understand why in other parts of our country there are taken care of the actions that yet where I am at it is not happen I am so disgusted

  10. Campbell W Choate    

    Wondering how I can get some answers about my claim adjustment request instead of just letters telling me that the VA was still working on my claim? It has been several months of just receiving letters and I’m still wondering if and when a decision will be reached.

    Please advise.

    V/r,

    Campbell W Choate

  11. VAROWS    

    Please don’t forget the dozens of staff from VAMC Salisbury and VAOPC Winston-Salem, as well as Veteran Service Officers from DAV, NC Dept of Veterans Affiars, and others. This was a OneVA event and an example of Bob’s vision for MyVA.

Comments are closed.