Veterans Disability Claims Backlog, setting the record straight

There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the disability claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Setting the record straight requires some honest brokering with many years experience in both customer service and writing computer software for moving from paper-based customer service to workflow systems.

It takes a customer service rep (eighteen years) and it takes a nerd (sixty years).

That makes it personal for me, particularly as I work with lots of veterans and military families groups.  I take this personally, since I figure if someone’s stepping up to protect me, I need to reciprocate. That’s particularly true when a fellow citizen goes overseas and risks taking a bullet for me.

One advantage of a deep dive like this means that I can include some recommendations for moving ahead faster.

Here’s the deal, using the best metaphor I can figure.

The VA disability claims process has been like a car with the “check engine light” on for a decade or longer.  Wasn’t much of a problem until maybe around 2005, when the car filled up, and more people needed that ride. Vets needed a much bigger car back then, but that costs money, and no one in Washington stood up for that.

Here's what the VA's VBMS screens look like. Similar to Gmail. Web based. Searchable. Fast.

This got worse in following years, since Washington did stand up for Vietnam era vets, particularly when it came to the Agent Orange situation. As troops returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s like the car getting more riders, who needed a longer ride.

Sure, I’m understating the case, the case load of Veterans Affairs got a lot worse, with the Camp Lejeune situation only beginning to heat up. The deal is that people knew about this maybe eight years ago or longer, when that engine light went on.  The new car didn’t start to get made until 2009, when Washington stood up to support Vietnam vets as well as the vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Problem is that normally, in Washington, big software projects frequently fail, they don’t get the job done, and projects are abandoned after spending maybe a billion or more.  In plain terms, the software specs are frequently written by big shots who long ago got out of touch with their customers.

Maybe twenty years ago, private industry figured a better way to build software for real people was basically:

1. Listen to customers, get an idea what the majority want and need.

2. Write some code, ask customers about it.

3. Repeat, forever.

That’s the approach Veterans Affairs took in 2009, which really was swimming upriver. This was really a big deal challenge:

  • The old systems needed to be kept running while the new stuff was built.
  • The new systems needed VA customer service reps to work with VA software people, which is the opposite of the big shot way of doing things. That’s big deal culture change and that’s always painful.

All this was happening as the VA got way more claims, and the claims got way more complicated. That’s to say that they built a new car while driving the old car, and the wheels are falling off the old car, and they have a lot more riders coming.

Meanwhile, explaining this is really hard, and in the Washington way of talking, there’s no way to win.  People don’t generally know that VA is getting through huge, unprecedented numbers of claims, over a million per year for the last three years. Last year they paid around $54 billion. Around half of vets in the backlog, mostly Vietnam vets, already receive cash from a prior claim.

Also, the VA gives Congress the reports they ask for.  You can get more info, just ask.  The downside of this is that it can look like VA is withholding vital info, if you don’t know the way they talk.

This all only makes sense to me since I’m a customer service rep and a software developer, and I know something about charts, numbers, and statistics.  I can tell that VA has the worst of all worlds:

1. Gotta keep the old stuff working.

2. Gotta build the new stuff.

3. Gotta focus on finding and preventing the slow parts/bottlenecks.

4. Gotta move customers from old to new systems.

That means a new paperless system, the Veterans Benefits Management Systems, which has means of expediting claims. It moves toward replacing huge piles of paper with online workflow.  That means it’s much easier to move case files from one worker to another, and it means no one loses track of paper.

Part of this involves means by which vets can fill out their own claims, via online eBenefits, which is kind of like TurboTax or similar. It’s good for straightforward cases like when you don’t need a CPA to do taxes.

If a vet needs help filing, that’s much like getting a CPA to help with taxes.

Veteran Service Organizations can use the VA stuff via the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal, online.

VSOs sometimes use claims management systems, like VetPro. VA is testing a “digits to digits” interface for those systems. The deal there is to eliminate more paper, and to generally accelerate the process, since the outside systems talk directly with VA systems.  Security and privacy have already been addressed.

Making this happen means engaging in serious conversation with all VSOs, from the ground up, which is totally contrary to the usual Washington way of doing things. That is, talking with national leadership needs to be complemented with direct engagement with disability claim line workers, everywhere.

This means serious and ongoing real engagement with all customers, which is really hard to do. You need to listen to the majority of customers, who are largely quiet, not so much listening to noisy special interests.

That means engagement with line workers as well as the big shots, and in practice it means customer service reps talking with other Customer Service Representatives (CSRs).

There’s talk of a Presidential commission to make this happen, but I’m not a patient guy, and I’ve already chatted with fellow nerds and CSRs in Washington who want to make stuff happen.  Here’s the beginning of recommendations, which need a bit more reality testing, and then approval by the big guys.

(I’d like to present recommendations in priority order, but they’re pretty intertwined, so in no particular order…)

1. Continuous engagement with VA workers, VSOs, vets, in social media.

  • Keep everyone in the loop, and most of all, that means two way communications with the customer service people in Veterans Affairs, and also with Veteran Service Officers, who help vets with the process.
  • Specifically, we need private discussion groups where CSRs, internal and external, talk to Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) management and get answers where that makes sense.

My commitments:

  • Continuing engagement with engagement as illustrated by the thing you’re reading right now, assuming that I’m not pissing off the people I need to talk to.
  • Participation in discussion, mostly to help articulate suggestions in the form that my fellow nerds might need to code.

2. Permanent employee innovation.

  • That means, perhaps as part of discussion groups, asking employees and VSOs what might make the system work better. Several years ago, I helped in a very minor way with an employee innovation effort which resulted in real results, one of which is the Disability Benefit Questionnaire (DBQ) thing below. This needs to be part of VA culture.  (It needs to be part of the culture of any organization, but that’s a separate article.)

3. Identify bottlenecks, like records transfer from DoD, Guard and Reserve. VA Center for Innovation people and VBA developers, have an idea what they are.

  • Some can be solved with software improvements, but the most difficult involve getting treatment records and related info from other Federal agencies, which leads to …

4. Get the tech people in different agencies to start talking with each other, now, and get management approvals ready for the flow of data.  Some of this is already in process, but not enough. They can blame me.

5. Create workarounds in situations where getting service treatment records or related data will take too long.  That kind of thing’s a big judgment call, and I’m happy to trust VBA workers with that.

  • For example, the employee innovation effort cited earlier involved a suggestion from VA in Pittsburgh.  If a private physician verifies a medical condition, no point in having a VA doctor do the same.  That involves private doctors filling out the Disability Benefit Questionnaire. However, DBQs need significant usability improvements, which VA folks and I have already discussed.  (VACI folks, I’m still on board for a challenge.gov thing.)
  • Very specifically, if a vet can show a medical condition, and getting records showing a service connection are too slow, give the VBA worker the okay to approve. I trust the line workers with such decisions. Blame me if it doesn’t work.

6. Improve the user experience for all Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) UIs so that experienced people can submit claims with minimal additional help.  That is, if you know how claims work now, and you’re Internet-literate, there should be no need to wait for, and maybe travel to, classes.

  • In the interim, maybe we need a quick VMBS for Dummies? I’d qualify the the latter part of that.

7. Get everyone on board to help vets build Fully Developed Claims(FDCs). FDCs are pretty much like filling out one of those forms CPAs give you, where you fill in lots of information, and provide the documentation needed to submit your taxes.

  • That needs the communications efforts described above, plus… this should be part of the Transition Assistance Program that active service troops do when leaving service.  That’s in process, needs to be accelerated.

Turns out that VA has 56 regional offices, each running the old paper-based system, that’s like 56 cars that are breaking down, some badly. The challenge is to replace each old car with new ones, while gracefully transferring riders to the new cars.  In practice, that means getting a lot of paper scanned into the new systems, a lot of work. Key to that is getting everyone on board, something assisted by the recommendations above.

Okay, that’s the gist of things, and I’ll add one more personal commitment:

I’ll run these suggestions by VA people and others in Washington, and VSOs, and will update. If it means more time in Washington, even in August, well, I’ll do what it takes.  After all, a nerd’s gotta do, what… well, you know the rest.

0 thoughts on “Veterans Disability Claims Backlog, setting the record straight

  1. Craig,

    As an Air Force vet I can say the VA claims process is challenging. The light at the end of the tunnel, however, is once you have cleared the claims process. By “cleared” I mean the usual appeal since the VA doesn’t seem to get it right the first time. But here’s the good news. The health care I receive from the VA is by far some of the best medicine I have ever received. I could go to Yale or any New York hospital but I choose to go to the VA hospital near my home. Again, the care is phenomenal.

    Even better is the delivery model. I have a dedicated primary care clinician. I can email that clinician and usually get a reply in a matter of HOURS! Can you imagine that? I can send my doctor (she’s really a Nurse Practitioner but who cares) an email, AND SHE RESPONDS! I can refill prescriptions online, obtain copies of my lab results online, even get seen at a different VA facility even in another state! It’s seamless. It’s nothing short of amazing.

    I appreciate your work to help shorten/lessen the barrier to entry. Once those barriers are removed, even more Vets can experience this amazing level of care.

    Thank you for what you do.

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  2. WOW!!! I hope you can get these changes through. I am a 100% disabled Persian Gulf vet. I did 20 years in the Navy and have been in VA care since 2001. I am one of the lucky one’s. I had a VSO who was ex Navy and he had my claim done and back and approved in 7 months. I wont get into Social Security Disability. That took 2 1/2 years from start to finish!!! I get all my care thru the VA and am very lucky that I have a great VA Hospital here in Canandaigua, NY whose staff is awesome. From the custodial crews, to nurses, doctors & admin, it is a great place. Sure, they have some things that could be done better, but that goes for just about every large operation. The problem always come from the TOP down, because these people have no understanding of the people they are there to serve. The same big shots that think because they went to Harvard, they know better than everyone. I thank you for getting involved and taking them to task and showing there is a better way. I also that you for coming up with Craig’s List which I use a lot. Thanks for all you do.

    Sincerely,

    Don Hoyt

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  3. thats all well and good but how do you deal with false claims and fraud if you approve claims without verifying the documents first

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  4. I second Ben Strong’s commentary on the quality of care. I am a Vietnam vet who got invited to the VA system by a buddy I served with who suffers much more than me. But it was the VA who tested for and then treated me for hep-C after FORTY YEARS! If not for them, I would be on the transplant recipient list if not in the state’s vet mausoleum. The care provided was and is superior to any I received in the civilian world. The one suggestion I have for you Craig, in your role as a leader of the nerd squad, is fix or create translation software between the DoD and the VA electronic records systems. They don’t talk to one another and desperately need a translator to break that bottleneck.

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  5. Craig,

    I am a 21 year Air Force Veteran who was forced out of military service due to medical reasons in 2009. I’ve been working on my VA disability claim for 4 years as of the date I’m writing this. I was a Systems Analyst in the Air Force and towards the end of my career I was working hard to join a VA IG Team. In doing so I read and learned VA regulations, studied several IG Reports, and court cases. There is no doubt that my main disability that forced me out of the Air Force should have been a very easy case and rated at 100 percent. Last August I was granted 80% after the Board of Veterans Appeals told the Regional office that my condition was service connected.
    Throughout this process I have learned more about the workings of the VA then I ever cared to. A major part of job in the Air Force was internal surveillance. That is looking at how people do things. What I’ve discovered about the VA is that they are like so many other workers. They will do anything to find the easy way out and clear names off their spreadsheets. This includes losing files, misplacing files, asking for documents they already have and not reading what is sent to them for the veteran or veterans service organizations. There is no doubt that part of this is due to them being over whelmed. One big suggestion I’d give to the VA is to spend a little extra time to do the job right the first time. Getting a name off your spreadsheet this month only to see it pop back up in another month is not good practice. That just adds to the work load.
    About the VA healthcare. I totally agree that it is very, very awesome. Having been an Administrator in a long term care facility I can really appreciate the innovative medical care of the VA is giving.
    Hope you can help with the claims processing.

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  6. Best of Luck on your quest & I thank you for your efforts! I am Not one of the lucky Veterans that had any part of my case happen in a timely manner! I am currently in Appeal status (4yrs now)with my VA case & have had trouble with records & DAV mistakes since 1992. I absolutely agree that the wheels started falling off a long time ago! I still have no idea of a time-frame for the end of my Appeal & it’s not only frustrating but has affected all aspects of my life!! Your tentative changes sound wonderful & one of the reasons they sound so wonderful is because they are the only changes I’ve even seen proposed…Point being, as the Vet waiting 4yrs for my Appeal, I feel completely left out of the loop & even forgotten (yes, I have been to DAV 100 times to ask ETA of resolution) and am the last person to know what is going on! If I don’t go to the DAV, I receive the bi-yearly, “We are still working on your case” letter. Veterans should be allowed to be involved in the details of their own cases!! So from the “Other” perspective….Thanks for your efforts as they are appreciated!! Steve A. US Army Ret, Desert Storm Veteran

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  7. In regards to your article, it is nice to know more is being done to improve the system for claims. I am sure it is difficult, and will take a long time to get it right. I first filed a claim in 1991, and wit took 16 years for them to get it done, and it was denied. Then when I appealed it, they denied it again, due to still not being able to get my sealed records from back int he 70’s. The thing is on that claim, is that I checked with archives, and my records were released to the VA, but they did not wait the required time for the records, and went ahead and finalized my case, 1 month prior to receiving the records, and state that my claim cannot be reopened! I have since 2010 filed on other claims after over 22 years of service and numerous injuries, and exposures chemicals, and have had to appeal, since so far I only get 30% disability for just 3 of 15 injuries/disease. They still inform me they are still working my appeal, but on the ebenefits site it shows it is done, which makes no sense. The medical care here in Wichita, KS is half baked at best, maybe NY is good, but here there is a lot to be desired, I was at VA yesterday over 6 hours, because again they forgot about me being there!

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  8. I’m a Vietnam Veteran – on the AO registry since 1971. I took it upon myself to deal with my medical care for far too long. The claims process took over 3 years to navigate, and I finally had help from DAV to get that done. Several years (maybe 2) ago, the VA introduced the MyHealtheVet program, and being at least computer literate, I signed up. It was cumbersome and went virtually unused. I generally had to drive out to the facility (easy for me at 11.3 miles round trip) and make appointments or to get prescriptions renewed. Last year they introduced a secure messaging service, whereby you could communicate with your care provider if you felt you did not need to be actually seen. Only problem? Unless the primary care provider (overworked, believe me) actually uses it and communicates with the veteran (me), it is a big FAIL. I moved from private care (local hospital) to the VA because the private care was a dismal failure. Wrong diagnosis and overdosed me with multiple antibiotics when in fact what they did was almost cause me to lose a foot. I am not diabetic. I had serious skin issues caused by exposure to AO. I moved to the Fort, and two days later I was able to leave. Good care, but a lousy support system. I remain seeking my care at Ft. Harrison. BUT – if I lived more than 7 miles from the hospital and only needed a prescription refilled or lab tests scheduled, I’d be upset if I had to make multiple trips to the Fort for that reason. I’d like for the MyHealtheVet system to work. I’m on your bandwagon if you can really move to get this system working the way it is supposed to work.

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  9. What you’ve stated as a probably approach to the problem of the VA claims backlog should include one thing that will speed future claims from the 2.5 million and growing veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That one thing is a common medical records information system between the VA and DOD; the President has to order DOD to move all medical records from the problematic AHLTA to VisTA; something both agencies knew needed to happen from the very beginning but parochialism got in the way . . . waste of a billion while waisting more on work arounds. The second big issue slowing down the process is the lack of Line of Duty determinations by the DOD and the separate National Guard state commands; they don’t do them in country and they seldom get done . . . easier to simply put the injured military member out with an honorable after they fail a fit for duty determination; disabled but no benefits except the 5 year access to VA care that they can’t afford to get to because they have no money for gas and they will not get help from the VSOs until they get an approved claim for disability or pension . . . that is the part left out that makes me angry . . . they can’t afford to get to the “free care” and that is why they end up homeless, too sick to work and too poor to get to the “free care” because most ARE NOT military retirees with a retired military check to fall back on. . . that is the despair that drives them to suicide and too many don’t get it . . . I’m tired of hearing about other era Veterans who have already retired from a primary job and are drawing social security, who were too busy doing whatever to make the VVA, DAV, American Legion, and VFW sound the alarm on their cases effectively . . . and now it is an emergency now that they have retired from their first job; what are we trying to do? Are we trying to create a generation of alcoholics and drug addicted new veterans to continue the cycle of mass dysfunction while we skip over the current generation to benefit those who weren’t too interested in making the system work 40 years ago? Yes we can fix the system but our priority must go to right now, BEFORE we allow it to become so expensive that no one want to fund large detox programs . . . expand homeless programs for men and women veterans and their children . . . because if we don’t handle this correctly you can start multiplying the welfare resources required to solve the aggravated problems of alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic sexual disease that is the result of survival prostitution, child abuse, etc . . .all among the current generation of veterans that we throw away in order to get back to veterans who are in decline now; priorities have to be tough and based on matching future demand, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans ARE NOT the primary consumers of the new services available in the VA through the “temporary term limited” GS clinicians they have hired. Lets get it right or it will cost so much to address the problem that we will repeat a historical cycle of simply giving up as a nation and allowing the whole Veterans Benefits and Health Care system to RETURN to the state of disrepair it was in prior to 9/11 . . . lets be honest, accurate and understand we have limited time to get it right.

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    1. Thanks for those words and many people have been shouting and sounding this alarm. I agree with your analysis and observation which is key. Especially when our future is in there hands… LetsGetItRight thanks for all you do!

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  10. i concur. Well written.

    And as the mule said to the farmer, “this is one tuff row to hoe.”

    But VA workers get it done Baby.

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  11. First I would like to thank you Craig for your excellent assessment of the current situation at the DVA and the DoD with regards to claims processing. And your obvious well thought out solutions to this nightmare of inefficiency.

    While Dr. Williams offers some viable suggestions in his opinion, I take serious exception to his comments about ” veterans from other eras were too ‘busy’ doing whatever to make the VSO’s sound the alarm on our cases”! Now THAT REALLY PSSES ME OFF!

    What this idiot fails to recognize is that WE (especially Vietnam Veterans like myself and millions like me) DID try and get the Veterans Service Organizations “involved” during our attempts to get claims filed and followed up with by nearly ALL these organizations. These organizations at that time were usually filed and administered by WW II era veterans who wanted nothing to do with vets from Vietnam and occasionally called us UNworthy of their efforts because OUR ” War” was nothing but a freakin “police action”….not a REAL war like THEIR war!

    So we were left virtually ALONE in our efforts to get our claims adjudicated. Especially with regards to Agent Orange related illnesses. We fought tooth and nail for more than twenty years to get the VA to recognize this insidious chemical as a ” service connected” causation for the many, many diseases that it now encompasses! We Vietnam Veterans had to battle through uncaring and incompetent VSO’s, an uncaring and absent public opinion along with an adversarial VA bureaucracy to get our disability claims processed.

    I take exception to Dr. Williams categorization of “previous” veterans as “alcoholics and drug addicted” and therefore perpetuate the “myth” that ALL or MOST of us are or were “unworthy” of this Nations commitment to honor OUR blood, pain, suffering and sacrifice as ” equal” to other military veterans.

    He, Dr. Williams, should hang his his in shame for even suggesting such a travesty!

    Gimp—-Aco/2ndBn/60thInf/NinthInfantryDivision….MekongDelta 1967—100%Permanent&Totally Disabled Combat Wounded and DAMN PROUD Vietnam Veteran

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  12. This is the first article regarding the VBA’s backlong that actually made me not feel so bad about being a Rating Veterans Service Representative. I’ve been busting my butt for 5 years now trying to get Veteran’s claims rated and out to them as soon as I can. There are thousands of us throughout the United States doing this on a daily basis. While we have implemented alot of what you are talking about already, there are still fixes that have to be done. Nobody buys a “new car” without finding a few bugs after they buy it, but still I don’t think that Veterans get the whole picture unless they actually work for the VBA. It’s not like we can just take a claim in an process it. Not only do we have to retrieve a lot of documents from various places, we (as raters) have to obey a plethra of rules, regulations, and laws – just like you do in the military. We can’t just rate a claim. It takes a lot of time and consideration to make sure we get it right. Yes, errors are made, but a lot of that is because we are being forced to produce finished claims at a very rapid pace to appease our Veteran public. We are kind of “damned if we do and damned if we don’t.” Change doesn’t come over night either. Although we have stepped into the 21st centure with the digital and automated claims systems, we are at the mercy of what is given to us to work with – and that comes from both the Veteran’s level and the “powers that be.”

    I guess I just want our Veterans to know – we are trying our hardest to get’r done. Give us a break. Many of us are Veterans too. We know that you are frustrated. So are we when we can’t get your claim processed in a timely manner. Many of us are actually getting ill from all the stress that we endure on a daily basis trying to keep up with the break-neck speed that is required of us to produce, produce, produce.

    Use eBenefits as a tool to follow along with where your claim is and where it is going. Call our National Call Center and ask questions. But, please don’t take it out on “all” the VA employees when your claim doesn’t get processed as fast as you think it should. We all want our money now – but how often does that happen in life? If anyone thinks they could do a bette job then I put it out to you – Apply to work for the VBA.

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  13. Hi I’m linusVA,
    http://m.voices.yahoo.com/social-security-denies-disabled-veterans-disability-10675201.html
    The same results is true for me. After homeless since 2002, I no longer had enough credit after having until last 10 years of my life. Because of little work , so the ssa examiner after 10 minutes of mental exam she said I was not disable but VA granted my disability pension. She told untrues on her report to match her conclusion. They lost my documents I turned in to them and did not include in decision letter. It appears Va and SSA prefers to do the appeal process consistently to convolute the process. Craig thank you for having a concern for the claims process to help the military and veterans get the benefits they deserve and save tax payers money spent on wasteful spending due prolonged claims processing. Thanks again and good luck with your efforts… From Another computer and engineering nerd.

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  14. I want to also mention that because of VAMC Detroit I’m no longer homeless and have been receiving good Health care for my disabilities after serving at ft bliss Texas and South Korea from 1974 to 1977. I have regular clinic appointments med refills and use ebenefits. My life is improving even with disabilities. The automated technology is awesome and after the VA team efforts and your suggestions, I’m sure the claims process will be leading edge state of the art engineering.

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  15. As a Navy Vietnam-era Veteran I really appreciate the explanation, even it is a bit confusing. Still, this really does help set the record straight. Thank you Craig for caring enough to dig into this and help us to understand that VA really does care — it’s just not that easy!!!

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  16. I served 79-92 witnessed my shift super commit suicide with service weapon in the 80s. Then in 84 I was in an MBA with line of duty established. Then in 91 after DS was over I developed an infection between the Mva and the infection the military docs were clueless and useless in helping me recover my health. When I was boarded I got the generic statement its in your head stuff. I new the docs were corrupt and had copies of health records in hand before anything got purged or misplaced. The Va took the easy way also. End result my infection lasted from march 91 til April 93. The mva had been severe enough that it shortened my left leg by an inch. This was Markcorrupted to low back strain not service connected. Since I had my records however reviewed by DAV rep I thought after a short fight that was it. I let it simmer for years and in time these issues became more pronounced. I first rechallenged the UTI and the Va was forced to acknowledge the infection that plagues me still. An accident at work brought the mva issue up. I have now challenged that showing LLOD and injury reports. You can challenge the Va it just takes a good counselor and determination. The care in Buffalo Vancouver is second to none. If you have concerns you have to make yourself heard and visible thanx

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  17. My legal practice (www.brownandroberto.com) deals almost exclusively with helping Veterans & their families obtain VA disability benefits. I am a retired Air Force Colonel; I spent 30 years as a military lawyer.

    Craig – Your suggestions don’t address the real substantive issues. To use your analogy, your approach may make the car run better, but it ignores whether the car is so poorly designed & built that the entire model needs to be junked. The VA claims system is like the Chevy Corvair – Unsafe at Any Speed – & IT fixes alone won’t change that fact, or solve problems of poor design.

    At its heart, we have a non-user friendly disability system VA created over decades. VA tasks people who rate claims with making legal & medical judgments, when they are neither lawyers nor doctors. VA claims it is “paternalistic” towards Veterans, yet there are no time requirements for VA to make decisions, Regional Office decisions are usually wrong at least 75% of the time, & the appeals process is mind-bogglingly complex.

    Claim two or more disabilities; chances are that different people will be handling the claims at the same time, & not talking to each other, so inconsistent results are highly likely. Submit evidence that supports your claim & have it dismissed by VA because their staff know more than your own doctors, or you, or your spouse.

    Absent approving every claim, which would be cheaper & less costly than the current system, the entire claims system must be revamped.

    Barry P. Allen

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  18. Kudos to Craig for supporting my current efforts in West Tejas to support Vet’s.

    Be advised once Vet’s qualify they enter into one of the worst medical systems around.

    Experienced Charlie…
    USMC

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  19. I’m glad to hear they are making some much needed changes to the va system.I was drafted into the army in 1969 and served active duty until 1971 and was on reserve for 4 more year. I started having problems while overseas in korea in 1970 and after
    my release in 1971.I almost lost my fingers and toes from what they called jungle rot back then, it is called something else now.I spent years trying to get help from va but all I would get is all day at va appointments, a tube of cream and sent home. I continue to have problems,i’ve been dienosed with demengia,parkisons,hearing lose, ringing in ears,and still deal with ongoing problem with jungle rot.I live in the rules of Tn.and the closes va is a hundred miles away,so I don’t have the money or time to get there.Va has denied every claim I’ve made even tho their own doctors have said it is service related.The va say they cannot find my records in the archives.Now they have finally admitted that they sprayed agent orange where I was serving in Korea at that time.
    . As you can tell I am not much on the computer or at spelling either.so as far as the Va goes, on my list they suck.I fell like I have been Used,Abused,Abandioned,disgusted, and left to the dogs

    Larry Davis

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  20. Thank you for the great article. I am not an expert on Veteran’s affairs, but when I was researching for a book on medical care in Mexico I discovered that disabled vets can receive all benefits while living in a foreign country including medical care. I felt like many more people should know about this program, so I included a chapter in the book I was writing. (You have to know about the program and apply once your disability is certified.) Why is this important? For many disabled vets it is a quality of life issue. A better life and better quality of care is available. Here’s a link to a case study related to my book: http://medicaltourismsouth.com/case-study-disabled-veterans/

    If you know of ways I can get the word out to disabled vets about this little-known benefit, please contact me!

    Monica Rix Paxson, author
    The English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico
    medicaltourismsouth@gmail.com

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