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Thank you note for VBA workers

Government workers don't get much respect these days, and are sometimes the targets of unfair abuse. That's not right.

In particular, I've been working with people from the Department of Veterans Affairs, mostly with workers from Veterans Benefits Administration, VBA.

A lot of work should've been started the middle of the last decade, but only since 2009 has VBA been able to start catching up at an impressive rate. That means developing new systems, and means that currently, claims processors are putting in five months worth of mandatory overtime.

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It's not easy, requiring a lot of culture change, and moving to new systems while providing continuous veterans support via the old systems. This is difficult under the best of conditions, and worse when taking the verbal equivalent of friendly fire. That's like trying to remodel the plane you're flying on while your own side's shooting at you.

However, that story isn't being reported, so VBA workers get a lot of unfair crap, and that's not right.

I bear witness to the good work these guys are doing, first hand.

In 2009 I participated in a VBA employees' competition, where they suggested business process changes to expedite claims processing. In particular, I voted up what's become Disability Benefits Questionnaires, DBQs. I'm now quietly working with VA folks to improve their use.

A nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do, so, for the record, I bear witness to the good work VBA people are doing, and will continue to follow through.

 

124 Responses »

124 Responses to Thank you note for VBA workers

Donna Trivilino says:

WOW! Thank you so much, Craig. I can't believe that someone is giving the VBA some credit. All we hear is horrible things about what we are suppossively NOT doing for our Veterans! It's so nice to hear a positive response and I want to thank you. We LOVE our Veterans. We are Veterans!

Thanks again!

Donna Trivilino

Lesa says:

It's nice to think that someone notices how hard we are working for our veterans and not just where we fall short. Thanks!

Kurt says:

Thanks Bro.. As a guy down in the pit everyday pulln files it's a thankless job. Although I dont do it for that. It's all about the Vet.. Thanks again dude. Kurt. Retired US Army…

Stephania says:

Thank you Craig. I'm a veteran, working at the VBA as an adjudicator. Six and seven day weeks are the norm. We work very hard to keep up with the demand and it is a wonderful moral booster to read good things about us!

G unit says:

Hey, thanks for the article!! I'm taking some excluded time for this. It boosted my morale.

Gene says:

I am both a veteran and an employee at the VBA.

Thank you for noticing and sharing thesimple fact that the employees here at the VA really do care and are trying to do their very best.

Heather O. says:

Thank you so much, it has been tough for our agency with the media. There is so much negative thinking out there. We are certainly trying at exhausting levels. Our leadership sends us emails and reminds us that "we just cant take a knee yet" so we are pushing and will continue to do so in every aspect of VA.

Your article was touching and I thank you for your work as well to help improve our business processes and delivery!

Jake says:

As a VBA employee, thanks for the kind remarks. We're trying our best. DBQ's are very helpgul VBMS-R getting less glitchy will help also. Also, dropping the Adults Only personals from Craigslist was the right thing to do.

Lucia Roche-Santiago says:

Thank you for your kind remarks. We work hard every day to get the Veterans what they deserve. I see a lot of my co-workers work, in a daily basis, from 6am to 8pm to get the claims moving. We here at the Philadelphia Regional Office are proud of our work. Again, Thank you very much, as a Veteran and Veterans Services Representative, I take a lot of pride on what I do every day as many as my coworkers, which most are also Veterans, are proud of their work. We are a new generation of Veterans taking care of our newest ones (Veterans).

Lura Winn says:

Thank you Craig…!! I work for the VBA, for VR&E as a Vocational Rehabiliation Counselor. We help veterans with service- connected disabilies get back to work. This is the hardest job I have ever had, and although I truly believe in my agency's mission there are days when the fact that we get no positive appreciation really gets me down. I didn't go into human services for appriciation of course, but it would be nice if more people really did understand the difference that the people the work for the VBA make in veterans lives.
Lura Winn MA CRC VRC

catlady says:

I work for the VBA, its good to hear positive feedback.

So you're responsible for the DBQs. Great idea

Rob says:

As a VBA Education employee I appreciate your statement of support for us. It really is amazing what we are able accomplish in the VA. I think a large part our ability to accomplish so much is that it is easy to maintain motivation to help the people that we help. Many of us are veterans, know veterans, or are related to veterans. Though not all VA offices or departments may be deserving of your praise, the one where I am employed (with about 1350 co-workers), is definitely top-knotch and wanting to do the best we can every day for those American women and men who put their lives on the line for us and our families.

chanda Plair says:

You are welcome. It is a true pleasure serving America's Veterans, widows, and children.

paul perdue says:

i am at well over 2 yrs in my claim process… i know the va people are doing their best under difficult circumstances… and working hard… but im still waiting for a decision… over 2 years…. thats just wrong….

    mark says:

    Paul – there are fewer than 1,700 claims pending more than 2 years right now (6/27/13). If you are one of those I would send a note to Craig or to VBA headquarters, or call 1-800-827-1000 to ask for help. My guess is your claim will be completed very soon, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Thanks for your service to our country!

    Frustrated too says:

    I wish veterans realized that old claims are sooo often not the VA's fault. Sit down with your Power of Attorney (DAV, American Legion etc…) after they review your claims file and see what the hold up is). Don't just wait around. Something is wrong with your claim. Alot of times it's military units and private doctors who don't respond to our requests for records.

      Ted Perrin says:

      Uh, I'm a Senior VSR, and we should not blame anyone but ourselves for claims that are as old as Paul Perdue's. If claims are developed and worked appropriately, this wouldn't be a problem. Blaming private doctors who don't respond is a shameless lack of accountability. We don't wait years for records from private doctor's to move the claim. We send a letter and follow-up after thirty days. As for military units, we let the veteran know when we've sent follow-up letters, and there's such a thing as a memorandum of unavailability.

      Claims get to be two-years-old because they haven't been work appropriately. Period. Let's stop pointing fingers and get to work on them.

      And thanks to Craig for the kind words.

        Luke says:

        Ted,
        While I partially agree with you, some of the blame does fall on the VSO's who keep dragging things out with appeal after appeal for issues that the VA CANNOT grant. Not "won't grant". Cannot grant. When I worked in appeals, I scheduled veterans for hearings and a great many of those veterans were from one particular VSO office. The VSO came to me and asked why so many of their cases were being heard for hearings. I responded "Because you guys appeal every single rating." They were then upset because the schedule was going to interfere with their motorcycle rally. I told them that maybe they should worry more about their veterans than their motorcycles. BTW, I'm a disabled Army Veteran.

        I do agree with you on the private doctor issue, however. It is the VA's responsibility to attempt to get those records and our responsibility to inform the veteran if their doctor isn't giving us those records.

        Yetta N.A. says:

        Ted, it's clear to me why you are a Senior VSR. Thank you for your comment. It, too, is inspiring. We have to own it before we can fix it.

      Kimberly says:

      Frustrated too, I am a VA employee and it shocks me how many Veterans do not contact us when they have not heard anything regarding their claim. Sometimes upwards of 2 to 3-years. That amazes me. While calling or coming into the VA Regional office every other day will not help move your claim along faster, if you have not heard anything CALL. Yes, something is wrong. I have been told many Veterans are told not to inquire about their claim because it will delay it further. That is far from the truth. Don't hesitate to call us and check the status of your claim. We are here to serve our Veterans and their families.

jacqueline jackson says:

thanks for that because sometime a kind word goes a long way…………..

Barbara H says:

Thank you Craig! People should know that a large percentage of VBA workers are actually Veterans. They really care about other Veterans and want to do the right thing when reviewing their claims. Much of the backlog has been a result of beauracracy passed that slows down the claims process. Now recent provisional legislature approval has actually allowed VBA the fuel it needs to make decisions more timely based on the evidence of record. Combine that with the VA Secretary's vision, the new technology of VBMS, the fully developed claims process, and National Service Officers partnership and you have a winning formula. Hats off to you Craig for mentioning the great work VBA is doing in breaking the backlog. VBA – Keep up the great work of serving our Nation's finest!

RVSR GUY Nashville RO says:

Craig,

There are two sides to every coin. Thanks for turning over the other side and letting the real VBA be seen and recognized for doing some real challenging work and continuing to lay the foundation for a more sound claims process for all Veterans.

Lou Brown says:

Thank you very much for the posting. We will continue to try to make a difference in every veteran we serve. We have an ethical obligation to look for hope and find it.

Ben says:

Thanks for the recognition. We don't get much of that, especially at the employee level. I am a senior adjudicator for the VBA. Our leadership is corrupt and grossly incompetent. Government sweatshop at its best. I wonder if morale affects productivity? I wonder if I'll get fired for posting this?

    Rich Corprin says:

    Ben, I am sure you are upset by the push from the top, the mandatory overtime, the voluntary hiring freeze, VBMS' growing pains, and/or what ever issues you have. But do us all a favor, please speak for yourself when you chide your leadership in such a public forum. I assure you, and the public reading this, your views are not reflected throughout the VBA. I would personally like to thank you for that taste of the verbal blue-on-blue mentioned by our host in his blog post. We have a tough job with little positive reinforcement from the outside, and every day presents us with challenges at all levels. It is YOUR attitude, performance, and flexibility that dictates the success or failure of your team and leadership. If your leadership is "corrupt and grossly incompetent" within your "government sweatshop" than it is nothing more than a reflection of your team, and ultimately of YOU, sir. With this, I feel safe to assume it is YOUR corruption and gross incompetence, and that of those similar to you, which has resulted in the thousands of brokered files passing through my hands daily; Veterans who are finally receiving the due diligence each has earned and deserves. If you are displeased by your team's performance, maybe you should begin looking for an alternative source of income? I know I speak for myself, and the hard-chargers I work with, when I say there are a lot of us itching to sit in your cube, do your job, and cash your checks, all without a peep of discontent in our voice. Why not step aside and let one of us who can deal with the discomfort of change take charge and ensure the Veterans we SWORE to serve are given our all. If your low morale is negatively effecting your productivity, you should have the decency to get out of the way, as you are obviously not leading, nor following, at this point.

      rim says:

      Rich,
      Hmmmm telling Ben he should get out of the way! He voiced his opoinion and you yours. However, I read his comments and noticed he only asked, "I wonder if morale affects productivity." Also, how brilliant of you to point out "your views are not reflected throuought the VBA!!!!!" No kidding, really, gee thanks for the words of wisdom…now tell us something we don't know or can't figure out on our own!
      Voicing an unpopular opinion does not make one a poor performer in the workplace.
      Having said that, THANK YOU CRAIG FOR THE KIND WORDS

      Kimberly says:

      Rich, your responce to Ben's post sounded a lot like a politician and not a VBA employee. Throwing everything back on him…yep a plitician.

Working in Florida says:

THANK YOU! I will log 56 hours this week proudly serving our veterans. Overtime money is nice but seeing the backlog go down means alot too!

J Bowden says:

Mr. Perdue, we feel the same way. IT frustrates us all. If you feel we work a 40 hour week as a norm. Well, I wish we only worked 40 hour weeks. I too am a disabled veteran. I have waited just like you for my claims. I know how hard my team works and the efforts they put in. One statement I often hear is, "I have got to take care of this veteran". It is a very common statement. We work for you and will do our best. It is so awesome to hear someone appreciate what we do. Thanks Craigslist!!!!

VA employee says:

To all VBA employees: We all bear witness that much of what we have to work with is outside of our control. The world may never know of your hard work and dedication to the veteran's of this great nation, but you know, and the tens of thousands of veterans who have gotten that right decision, at that right time; knows. "It's not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the one who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with the sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause and who, at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…" – (Theodore Roosevelt, 23 April 1923.)

Anthony Irby says:

THANKS, as a combat vet of both Desert Storm and the Iraq War, I know about and practice the motto of ‘leaving no one behind’. As employee of the VBA and working in frontlines to help our homeless veterans, I can truly testify about the dedication that my co-workers put in on working these claims for compensation and pension. I always complimented them about their hard work which is appreciated not just by the veteran but our community as we tried to end homelessness among veterans. It is nice to hear a voice of positivity..

Laurie says:

I've said for years that in order to work here you have to be made of stern stuff….working overtime just reinforces that reality. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and my husband's heart for saying out loud what we whisper to each other every day….that this job is heartbreakingly hard and it's harder still to know that our fellow veterans are waiting for us to get their claim finished….Thank you, thank you, thank you….still here, still working….

DANIEL says:

THANK YOU MR. NEWMARK FOR AT LEAST UNDERSTANDING THAT THE EFFORT IS TRULY THERE FOR OUR VETERANS THROUGH THE VSR'S, RVSR'S, AND LEADERSHIP THROUGHOUT THE VA! AS A VETERAN MYSELF I JUST WANT TO SAY THANKS AGAIN.

Francis Kim says:

It is great pleasure to have a man like you to recognize works that we accomplished. We need such kind and encouraging words to keep motivating ourselves to the end of our goal.

I am so happy to contribute my life in VA to serve people who well deserved.

Dominga A. Oakland RO says:

Recent provisional legislature approval has allowed VBA the leniency it needs to make decisions in a timely manner based on the evidence of record. For that alone we are grateful. If you give us the tools that work we are sure to complete the task. Thank you Craig.

Nestor L. Hernandez says:

It is very refreshing to be recognized especially those employees who are working hard beyond the scene.I am proud to be a member of this "Winning VA Team". For all my fellow Veterans and VA Employees: "Press ON!! Regardless for our fellow Veterans.

Bob says:

Thank you for your comments Craig. So many people do not realize that very many people that work at the Department of Veterans Affairs are veterans; a large number are disabled veterans. We work for hard and some unpaid extra hour to help our returning heroes, men and women.

Yolanda D. Phoenix says:

Thank you for so many things. First, thank you for your assistance with the Disability Benefits Questionnaires, as an agency decisionmaker I can't thank you enough! There are some things that need to be addressed with them but it sounds like you all are making great strides. Thank you for acknowledging that my colleagues and I are working hard to provide our veterans with excellent service and a great product. Thank you for telling our side of the story. Getting hit with friendly fire while you are trying to do the best job possible is difficult at best. By the way, many of us VOLUNTEER for overtime on a regular basis — now the rest of our colleagues who rarely volunteer are working along side us now. But we are doing what is required to get benefits to our veterans as quickly as possible! Thanks again for everything!!!

Little Rock RVSR says:

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! No matter what is thought of the VA, the fact is, we REALLY DO CARE about our veterans!

feds81 says:

Thank you Craig. It's amazing how one kind word wipes out a 100 negative ones. When everyone does their part, things get done. I love serving our Veterans! And as many have already said, many Veterans actually work at the VBA so they know both sides. If you think it is all one-sided, please find one of these amazing men and women who continue to help their brothers and sisters through the VBA.

Robert E. Repp says:

Thank you, Sir! Now please let Congress know we're headed in the right direction. They seem to love to point their fingers at us and threaten our leadership, suggesting they all resign. Maybe all of Congress should resign for all the work they don't seem to get accomplished on time…

jerome says:

Wow, thank you so much for the acknowledgement. We do what we do because we want to serve and be there for the Veterans who served out county. As a VBA employee and disabled Army Veteran, Thank you for your support!

Angelique Golden says:

Craig, I read your kind and gracious words at the end of a long day toward the end of a long week, when I have been running on fumes.

Your recognition of the difficulty of the claims process, and your validation of the hard work we VBA employees are doing day in and day out to keep the sacred trust our veterans are owed, was precisely the gas I needed to fill my tank and power through.

I know I am hardly the only employee who feels this way, and your continued support is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again!

Awni A Waco RO says:

Thank you very much for the acknowlegment. Hard working VA employees always need that. It has been a long journey this year, and we will continue doing all our best in support of our veterans, men and women. Waco VARO Rocks.

Lyn says:

Thank you!! I simply echo most of the posts already here. It is nice to have someone say something nice about us in a public forum. Thanks for taking the time to do so.

Richard says:

Mr. Newmark,

Thank you so much for the kind words and the pat on the back. Your post serves as does the beautiful golf shot. It is the one that makes you keep coming back

Sincerely

Rich Knowlton

bob says:

Thanks for the boost its nice to see a comment where telling me that I have done a good job without telling that I have more to do is refreshing. And getting any notice from any level is gold in my book.

E. spinks says:

Thanks Craig,
It's not often that we get alot of thanks from the outside, but still we are working hard to catch-up and elemenate the backlog. That truely means becoming a nationwide team and giving a hand to our co-workers at the other regional offices when necessary.

Dawn Kelly says:

This compliment is a breath of fresh air. I love working with my Veteran's and helping them get the compensation they have earned. Thank you so much! I put to heart these words everyday, I may be employed by the VA, however, I work for my Veteran's. When our hard work is noticed and appreciated, it gives us a little more encouragement to keep up the dedication! I thank you again, and to my Veterans I say we are giving you 100 to get it done ;) Have a great day!

Brendan says:

Dear Craig-
It's all too often in this world that people create blogs and get on websites to vent, complain, and show true anger toward both humans and institutions for one thing or another. Its very rare that they do these things to encourage, pat on the back, or support these entities-therefore I cannot thank you enough for going way out on a limb to do so!

I am not only a VA, employee, but a VBA Employee on that! I am also a 90% Service Connected (Disabled) Marine Corps Veteran who had some serious "Invisible Wound" injuries sustained during my tour in Iraq. I also had to wait for my claims to be processed just like the thousands of others out there waiting each day for something to come-whether it be a denial or granted claim, something! So I DO IN FACT feel the pain these Vets feel when it comes to this aspect of this Agency of our Govt, and for a fact can testify that the current leadership at VBA has been constructively driving this massive force forward in an extremely positive and respectful manner!

General Allison Hickey is everything a true leader should be, and thats coming from a career Marine too! :) She has motivated all VBA Employees and not chastised anyone to assist in getting this incredible backlog worn down. I am the product of the DBQ and FDC myself and I must say that they TRULY WORK! I am proud to be a part of this organization and proud that they have all pitched in to help our Veterans out there obtain equality and assistance for the injuries sustained during their periods of service – AND I dont mean spraining an ankle while playing football at one year of ROTC or anything either! LOL.

Thank you again Craig and thank you General Hickey! I'm proud to be part of the team that is ALL IN and so is "Russell"
Semper Fidelis!

ENRIQUE RIVERA says:

Thanks for your kind words. We are indeed working hard and long for our vets!

Michael Grabman says:

The one thing that stands out in all these posts is that many of us are veterans. When you listen to people testify before Congress that VA employees don't know or understand what it's like to be a veteran or even a disabled vet. We know. Thanks Craig for seeing behind the curtain.

Adrian says:

Federal employees are some of the hardest workers actually. People have this misconception of the federal worker, feet kicked up on the desk, taking multiple breaks…when in fact I've seen numerous other for-profit agencies with more stakeholders continually fufilling this stereotype and on top of it, packing their own "golden parachute" at the expense of others. Federal management cannot do this, nor is it given to them.

Jennifer says:

Thank you so much. We work very hard for our veterans. It's nice to know it's appreciated.

Jaime says:

Thank you so much for acknowledging the hard work that our employees do every single day. As a VBA HR person who is working directly in support of the technology being built to catch VA up to the 21st century, I see just how thankless the job can be. Employees are asked to do more, often with less (time, resources, etc). And employees are giving up a whole lot of their precious personal time to do it. Many folks give up a big chunk of their weekends which means missing their kids sporting events, plays, date night with the spouse and just plain old down time to recharge the batteries. It's so nice to see that someone is showing appreciation for what they do and what they have sacrificed. Our employees have a genuine desire to help our nation's Veterans but it's not often credited. So thank you again for acknowledging the hard work that VBA employees do.

VCE says:

Craig, thanks for much for your kind words. People really just don't understand the overwhelming numbers of claims each day and that it can take several hours just to rate ONE of them. When we put our hearts and souls into this job and just hear everyone complain all the time, it's very demoralizing. It's nice to know that someone appreciates the sacrifices we make. Many of us have small children at home and put in 12 hour days…by the time we get home we might get an hour with our child before sending him/her off to bed.

J. Monette says:

It was really nice to read your positive comments. I'm 24 years VBA and have seen a lot of changes. I also helped design VBMS-R at Compensation Service. Since you say you're working to improve DBQs, it would be nice if the examiner's could not put input contradictory information. For example, in the mental examination DBQ. They can click both "difficulty" and "inability" to have meaningful social and occupational relationships. They should be only able to pick one. Theses types of contradictions are rampant in the DBQs and while these exams are a great move forward, it's time to improve them even more.

B. Larkin says:

This is a very exciting thing to be recognized for what we do. It doesn't matter what area of the VBA we work in, as long as we are putting the Veteran first. Being a fellow veteran, I have always done the previous sentences. Do on to others as you would have them do on to you. Not my quote but God's.

Sharon says:

Thank you for the kind words! I don't know how many times I've tried to explain to someone in a bad place that we DO care and are trying our darndest to get what we need to fix that claim. I tell folks everywhere I go that I love MY Veterans and do everything in my power to assist them. We too many times get only negative press. Thanks again!!!

VBA Employee says:

I too am a veteran and have worked for the VA for 30 years now. I see the frustration every single day from the employees who feel like the proverbial whipping post, especially with all furlough talk, cutbacks, etc. It's just wonderful to get a positive word out through a large media source. I also understand the need to work all the back claims which MUST be done, but there are other issues that are being pushed aside that need to be done as well. (i.e. reinstatement of benefits, competency ratings, etc) I work with those issues and the 'pat' answer is they have to work the old claims first. That shouldn't mean to stop everything else! We are ALL a team and need to process ALL the work. Thank you!

Frances says:

It is great when someone recognizes the hard work that VA employees are doing. Not only does the VA get the Veterans the benefits they deserve; but they also hire Veterans. I am a Veteran and I am working for VA. Thank you for all you have done for me.

D Mac WSRO says:

I would like to say that I personally understand the anxieties of veterans,I myself went through the turmoils of waiting for my claim. So now that I work for the VA/VBA, I am sooo motivated and dedicated to make sure each and everyday I am helping as many veterans as possible. It's a great feeling to hear comments from Craigslist and many others, we need that boost of acknowledgement from time to time instead of pointing the finger. Thanks Craig!!!!

Terry Mickel Sr says:

Thank you sir for these kind words to the public. We work hard everyday to improve and assist Veterans. You are truely a God sent to the VA.

Terry Mickel Sr says:

Thank you for the kind words. We work hard to continue to improve our services and technology to assist the Veterans. As a Veteran and work, it is great to see that someone is seeing the work and dedication we put in our work!

Vickie says:

I think all the comments are good. I have personnally experience bullying in the work place, which can hurt morale for everyone including the bullies. I never would have thought such behavior is within the walls of the VA. But for those of you who has not experienced this :) and congratulation. The veterans still need our help. This was encouraging for me. Thank you!

      Kimberly says:

      Very true, it's not. However I worked for a supervisor who created such a hostile work environment that three her employees has nervous breakdowns, and I came close to having one myself. There are bullies and they are in supervisory postions. So, to hear an "Atta-boy" from Craig helps a great deal. Thank you Craig for your kind words.

Sean Townsend says:

As a USMC Veteran and an OIT employee within the VBA I would like to thank you for you post. It means a lot to a lot of people. Also my wife is addicted to your website.

L.Giles says:

Thank you so much for that! Although I dont process claims I do make contact daily with veterans and dependents and understand how important our jobs here @ VBA are! You put a smile on my face! Thanks for working with us to help us be more efficient and effective!

Shay Frederick says:

Thank you so much for all of YOUR help and for recognizing that the VBA is a mission that cannot catch up over night. There are a lot of dedicated and dilligent workers here, most Veterans themselves, that are fully motivated to helping better serve Veterans and their families. Thank you again for your awesome words regarding the tireless efforts put forth with in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A says:

Thank you for giving us some recognition! It's the system that is broken, not hte workers. A lot of us ARE vets ourselves, me included and love helping other veterans with their claims. We are under mandatory OT and it's hard to balance our lives. This work is not hard, but it's complicated at times and very much a mental drain. There are a lot of laws and regulations that we must follow and each case is so different it's hard to measure how or why we can't get some of the cases done fast enough to people who don't understand what we face in our systems. There is a contast struggle to make our production goals but still give the veterans our very best work. There is nothing that I personally love more than paying veterans money that they deserve!

monica says:

Thank you Craig. It's wonderful to know that someone out there notices. We don't always have the opportunity to speak candidly about the changes. I'm all in for any change that will benefit the Veteran. But it' so encouraging to know that someone on the outside looking in cares enough to simply say thank you. Your comments will certainly help brighten my day.

Shipmate says:

Culture change…that's a novel concept. At the Indy RO, the old timer AVSCM refuses to admit that her supervisors were promoted out of desperation. They wouldn't be successful under the current VSR performance standards, and actually, they werent overachievers under the old standards. BUT, the AVSCM is from the era of the supervisors doing no wrong, so she personally covers their ineptness. Gen. Hickey…please fix this place!

Mile High Robert says:

Thank you Sir for shinning a positive light on the VBA Team. We all share a passion and devotion to our Veterans, and are dedicated to providing 1st Class sevice to as many American Hero's as possible.

Doug says:

Thanks, Craig, for the recognition. As a retired Marine, I can honestly say that knowing I'm going to have a positive impact on a veteran or his family gives me a level of job satisfaction that is unmatched in the private sector. Semper Fi, I'm still serving.

yellow rose says:

Thanks Craig! We are working 50-60 hrs. a week to get the backlog down and to keep pace with Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Suggestion #1 from the trenches….please move the section: "was the Veteran's claims folder reviewed" to the very TOP, 1st. page, of ALL the DBQ forms. [If it was required that the STRs (service treatment records) be reviewed, and they were NOT, then the C-file and the DBQ have to go right back to the medical personnel that did the exam].
Suggestion #2, have personnel at the various VAMCs in Compensation & Pension Services review the completed exams for required review of the service treatment records. If it was required that the STRs be reviewed, and they were NOT reviewed, C&P can send the file BACK to the medical staff who failed to follow instructions and review the claims file. This would save an great amount of time
for the Regional Offices rating the claims, and speed up the entire claims process.

Gregg says:

Thank You. We at the VA, rely almost entirely, on computer support. It’s great to see this government agency reaching out to trailblazers in the technical community whose ideas and innovations are proven successes. Continued R&D and cutting edge applications will pay dividends to those who shall have borne the battle. Our nations Veterans.

E W J says:

Craig, thanks for all the support. As a Veteran it is nice to hear someone praise the VBA and their workers. Thanks for the support.

worker says:

If more positive media like this existed, I wouldn’t have to hide where I work on a daily basis. When I first started working for the VBA in 2009, I was proud of it. As a disabled veteran myself, I wanted to help other veterans. But the first few times I told someone where I worked, you’d think I just told them something horrible about myself by the reactions I received.

We work hard every day in a stressful job in order to help the veteran. It’s very disheartening to be viewed as the enemy. Thank you Craig!

Matt LaPierre says:

As a VBA affiliate and disabled veteran, it is nice to hear those kind words from Craig. The VBA and VSO work hard to take care of veteran's. It takes a different breed of folks to jump into this type of career. It's hard to explain but there is no college for this type of work. The majority of us are veterans just trying to help veteran's and the non-veteran employees provide excellent service to our veteran's. We have been given the firepower in the last year to progressively eliminate claims backlog and everyone is doing their part in implementing the process.

Kim says:

As a Call Center employee, I just want to say thank you! Everyone at the VA works very hard and really care about the Veterans and their families!! While this is not always an easy job, its a job we all love! There is no better satisfaction than helping the ones who have helped our Nation.

Merri Busch says:

Thank you, Craig, for those kind words of encouragement. A beat horse doesn't usually run as fast for the long haul. This administration and under the leadership of Sec. Shinseki has been the best thing to happen to the VA in a long time. Homeless vets have a comprehensive program of support, we are getting enough workers to actually do the job in a timely manner, we have switched from paper to paperless (almost!) and every single one of my colleagues are doing their best because they know they are serving veterans, the heros and heroines of our country who gave their lives 24/7 in the service of their country. We appreciate them and we appreciate the kind words occasionally!

Lois says:

Thank you very much for the postive words. Having worked for VA for almost 24 years, it's refreshing to hear good news. Having family and friends who sacrificed so much for our country I've always felt pride in doing my part to assist veterans and their families. Again, thank you!

Cynthia says:

Thank you for notice how hard work we are doing for our veterans. My son is veterans. Thank you, Craig!

Deb says:

Craig,

Thank you for the words of encouragement and kudos, they do mean alot. VBA employees are working in an ever changing environment, where there are constant regulatory and legal changes, we are constantly adjusting for fire. We do what me must for our Veterans! It is an Honor to serve our Veterans and I am honored to BE a Veteran.

If there is ANY veteran out there that has been waiting over a year for there claim deteremination, I encourage them to call and ask what they can do to help, sometimes we are just waiting on Private Treatment Records and Private doctors are not REQUIRED to give them to us, but the Veteran can get them easily. Give the 1-800# a call and find out what the hold-up is!

Thanks Craig, Hooah!

Mike says:

It’s a new VBA and we are not playing games. We are going to drop-kick this backlog once and for all. Semper-Fi to my fallen brothers. –Marine Vet, proud VBA employee.

JJ says:

Craig, thanks for all your efforts to help make our life easier. Your work is greatly appreciated by many on the Board. That is not to set aside your recognition of our work. As with many of our VBA employees, I too am a disabled Veteran. I have worked for VBA since October 1994, arriving onboard after completing my degree through the assistance and dedication rendered by our Voc Rehab people. Whether Veteran or non-Veteran, the people at VBA are here to help better the lives of our claimant Veterans (and fellow employee Veterans)from the 1st claim, to increased severity and even into the appeals process. Our goal is to assist the Veteran by providing a better quality of life, in accordance with the laws and regulations we are bound to adhere to, for any disability incurred due to service rendered for support of safety to our Nation.

johnnie says:

It is truly wonderful,to see so many encourging words from people who operate in many major jobs, which impacts our veteran. But, it is just as important to be as helpful as we can to one another. A kind word to start the day, could impact your co-worker in a positive way. Let's practice what we preach, by spreading the love, consideration and helpful spirit to one another in the work place. When we think about our veterans, think about our co-workers, and remember that helping the veterans is being kind to one-another in the work place.

Cheryl says:

Hi Craig! Thanks. To tell how great you are, I would only be repeating the comments above so I want to give you an ARMY HOOOOOAH!!!!!!!! I work at the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) office, assisting Veterans at the Houston VA Regional building and I've seen the hard work and dedication of the VBA and staff…. The team and leadership is outstanding! Aggressive, Willing, and Able.

Edster says:

I work for VBA myself and our office has always been in the top 10 in the nation. Lately we have been brokering in work from stations that are less fortunate. We are a small station, but so far this year we have brokered in about 2,000 claims. We are currently working a minimum of 20 hours of overtime a month.

RJ says:

Thanks for you support. I'm in the Education division. I was hired on last year as a temp in the Atlanta Regional Office. They hired 40 veterans for the VRAP program and put us in a training room. We spent a whole year in that room processing the claims with the hope of an opportunity to become permanent employees. We had our gripes and complaints but there was a job that had to be done. We veterans of the United States and we know how to adapt. Unfortunately with the BIG changes within the Veterans Administration with a big focus on the compensation and pensions, the Atlanta regional office lost two of its big states from education which were sent to Muskogee. Now the 40 veterans including myself find ourselves with a contract not being renewed and out of a job. With no opportunity to apply for other positions within the regional office because they are only offered to the permanent employees. When they were hiring for the permanent employees, we had to compete with people off the street for a position we were already trained for and doing. Sorry to say that I will be unemployed in a few weeks from a job that I truly loved. Helping veterans like me.

MJ says:

With all the bad press lately, a word of encouragement is much appreciated. The vast majority of VBA employees really do care about our veterans and are trying our hardest to get these claims worked, despite the technological and bureaucratic obstacles. I wish the public understood how many of us are veterans or family members of veterans and want to serve them in the best way possible.

Stephen Morrison says:

Great effort to find solutions and not excuses! I am the Clackamas County, Oregon American Legion Homeless Coordinator,
Member of County Homeless Council and the Veterans Council ffor the County Commisioners. Also retired Marine (enlisted( and US Army (officer)
Thank you and all the VA staff that truley have not forgotten our promise as a Nation to the REAL 1%, the men and women that serve in uniform.
Every Day Is Veteran's Day !
Remember the VA Motto…partly stolen from the Marines "Semper Jumbee"….Always Flexbile !"
Plus big huggs to my wonderful sister in law at the New York City Office..Team 7 "C's"..lol Atalantic???

chuhi says:

Thank you for the positive feedback. It's refreshing to hear that someone outside the VA sees and understands what we are up against. We work hard, long hours and it's never enough. We'll get to where we need to be but it's gonna be a big challenge to become familiar with new systems, processes, new way of processing the workload and still maintain our mandated quality and production standards and achieve our targets. We have a great group and we'll get thru this….one day at a time.

Stephen Morrison says:

Craig,
Thank you for standing up for your fellow VA workers. As a Veteran (34 years), and someone that works with the homeless population, I understand the overwhelming task you all face. You are there to provide and protect the 'true 1%- the men and women , past and present, in uniform". To make whole.
I know that it is not the fault of the hard working VA personnel, but I do believe that the American people are already spending the so called peace dividend, and they have forgotten that the checkbook is yet to be balanced. And our leaders in DC have lost sight of what is owed. Setting unrealistic goals without the resources, and then to have the nerve to blame the VA staff?
And a big hug to my favorite sister in law, working at the NYC VA office. Go "7 C's"! Atlantic??

Roger (USAF Veteran) says:

Thank you. I am a Veteran and I love working for my fellow Veterans! Too bad good news stories don't sell papers or airtime… All of us at the VBA and VHA try our best to help! Thank you for lifting up my spirits with your kind comments!

David says:

Thank you Craig.

I do want to say, to all VBA employees who have said negative things about the Veterans Benefits Administration on this blog, and/or in other public forums or environments, you have the right to speak freely.

However, I have something to say about it.

How does the public view your posts or other conversations in public? Do they see the same VBA they have come to assume exists, or do they see a majority that cares about veterans?

A veteran is going through something bad right now, as I write this post, and not just veterans, but millions spanning the globe. Do your posts, fellow employees of the VBA, excite morale and courage in the last spark of life in the dying veteran, or do they cause the life to fade by reason of discouragement? Do they cause someone to hold on to the the last bit of hope that an adjudicator's signature is just around the corner?

Do they see that you care more about them than your work environment?

Veterans who are fellow employees: You fought valiantly for the Blood Red, Pure White, and Royal Blue. Won't you keep the negative things in your private quarters, and take the same courage you had in Vietnam, Kuwait, Kosovo, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other theatre, and apply it here to your adjudication?

A preacher once said, "We are the sum total of all our decisions."

Not just ourselves, but also those around us.

We are to be the SPARK, the MORALE, the flying flag of disability FREEDOM for those who have valiantly fought for the blood-stained flag that crests each of our regional offices.

Are you that employee that fights for the good, on and off the clock? Or will you float downstream with the rest of the salmon?

Denise says:

I appreciate the kudos too. As a veterans widow and a VA employee its nice to hear some good instead of only bad things. We are working hard to get the backlog taken care oe.

Rob says:

As both a VA employee and as a disabled Veteran, who has sat through the over 1 year claims process (20 months to complete), accept my thanks for the kind words. It is easy to become frustrated and complacent with the system but the majority of VA employees I have dealt with on both sides of the line have been motivated to do what it takes to help Veterans. There are bad apples in every barrel, but these are the exception and not the rules. A large part of the problem has and always will be the system we are forced to work in and the red tape placed on us by legislation. It is nice to see that being addressed in some part recently. We have come a long way but we still have plenty of room to improve. Being realistic with our customers, communicating clearly the policy and procedures and diligent in our efforts helps. As a Veteran, I can honestly say, being "in the dark" is the most frustrating part of our claims process.

H. Morris says:

As a Veteran and a VBA employee, it feels so good to hear a positive comment. As a VBA employee, I often work late hours and sometimes on the weekends just to keep up with the high volume of work. Keep in mind I am not getting paid for working the extra hours, I just do this in order to keep up with the volume of work we get on a daily basis. These are the kind of things people don't see or hear about in the media. I do what I do because I love my job and I love working for our Veterans. We appreciate your comment this is good for morale. Thanks

Once Haze Gray and Underway says:

Craig,

As a veteran and VBA employee, I understand first hand how difficult and arduous processing claims and responding to congressional offices can be. I appreciate your kind words. The next step would be for someone to work hand in hand with the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA) and see what the hold up is.

Ray says:

to see the fruit trees when looking at the forest,you need a path.Thanks for looking past the forest.

David says:

My wife works at the VA. I know for a fact how hard she works, I just wish the rest of society had a clue.

    KD says:

    Thank You David…most times our job is thankless. We are expected to produce miracles with lacking resources….As a Veteran and a VA employee, I can assure you more of us are working just as hard as your spouse…please spread the word as much as you can so others can have a clue.

VA employee says:

Thank you Johnnie for your comment of June 28th regarding how we treat one another while working at VA. A kind word or even just a good morning will lift our spirits as we assist the veterans we serve. Thank you Craig for your positive comments. As a public contact employee at VA, I truly enjoy helping veterans who come in to the office; I feel satisfaction of my work when a veteran may come in to the interview angry and by the time the interview is completed, the veteran leaves happy. I always thank each veteran for their service to our country as the closing farewell.

Terry says:

My thanks as well for your kind words. And you're right, the media is full of onesided criticisms of compensation services. Judging from media accounts, CO leadership does not stick up for VBA employees. They should stick up for us by taking the heat and acknowledging their own responsibility in mismanagement. That would be leadership. There are plenty of factors for our backlog and poor workmanship at VBA is only a small factor. Mostly, the backlog is a result of the fact that the agency is run by congress and other politicians and these folks keep their jobs by making promises they do not intend to keep. On the one hand, they make irresponsible promises (look at 38 CFR 3.309(e) and 3.317 for examples), and on the other hand, they do not fund adequate staffing for the claims process. A terrible claims backlog is the inevitable result. Instead of accepting responsibility, senior leadership has, without even an apology to its employees, mandated 20 hours overtime per month for consecutive months each of the last several years; that's adding a half-week's work per month! This June they took the outrageous step of cancelling vacation time for employees. Then CO wants us to celebrate how productive we are! Are we supposed to forget that the increased production is the result of the intrusion into employee's personal lives? Also judging from media accounts, CO keeps promising reduction of the backlog through the the use of a new program called "VBMS." That program will greatly facilitate the transfer of documents since they will now be digital rather than hard copy, but otherwise the program slows down claims processing. It remains to be seen whether this program will be beneficial, but judging from the media accounts CO is banking on it. Is it really a solution or just another false promise? Thanks for reading.

VBA employee says:

VA employees are a fellowship of some of the most caring individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Learning to process VA claims really should be equivalent to earning an Associates degree, based on the difficulty and length of time it takes to become an expert. VA employees spend long hours at work, VOLUNTEERING to work overtime. The families of VA employees miss the presence of their spouses, parents, and grandparents while they are working all the extra hours to get our veterans paid. The sacrifice we make everyday, spending time away from our families, is worth it because we TRULY CARE about taking care of our veterans. Just this last Saturday, on my way in to work, the last comment I made before I walked out the door was, "I'm going to go pay some veterans." Thank you, Craig, for the kind words and support. I do what I do because I care. I have the best job in the world, and I thank God every day that he made it possible for me to serve veterans in this capacity.

GI Joe says:

I am a veteran and am very appreciative of the work and commitment of all VBE employees. I have been very patient and have been waiting since 2011 for a decision on my disability appeal. I have spoken to someone at the VA regional office in Philadelphia and they have told me my claim was finally favorably rated on May 16, 2013 and it would be processed within four weeks. After waiting for such a long time and enduring my disabilities and having to rely on relatives and soup kitchens and shelters….I am very, very tired and exhausted physically and emotionally from this delay. I call the VA 800 number but they offer little or no help or information and seem to be somewhat annoyed when I call. If you ask for a supervisor they say they will call you back within 7 to 10 and they don't return calls – this has happened several times. I have sent e-mail inqueries through the IRIS system that have never been answered. My e-benefits page never seems to reflect what is going on. Don't get me wrong…I loved serving my country and would serve again if I could. I have no problem with defending the freedom of every American and love my country as much as anyone. I understand the VBA is swamped with claims and the workers are under appreciated and work long and hard in a difficult government system. My only hope is that my claim will one day be finalized. From what I have encountered it seems that there is no where to turn to for answers and this is what upsets me the most. Right now, I am in a very difficult situation and fell like my claim is in a black hole somewhere. Even my pro bono attorney has given up on the situation, saying that your claim was rated there is nothing more I can do to get the VA to finalize your claim.