Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Unopened VA claims letters hidden at VA offices.

Tom's Journal.

And people wonder why Veterans don't trust the VA and are bitter toward them.
I am afraid that some of my sarcasm bleeds thru when I can't get the VA staff's attention.. and when I insult them, half the time they are so stupid that they don't realize it. Sorry. Every time I go there I hear the female staff moaning how they wish they could go home... lol. What a weak, lazy, incompetent bunch of employees who make top salaries and bennies!

Unopened claims letters hidden at VA offices

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Mar 4, 2009 15:30:03 EST

A new report about Veterans Affairs Department employees squirreling away tens of thousands of unopened letters related to benefits claims is sparking fresh concerns that veterans and their survivors are being cheated out of money.

VA officials acknowledge further credibility problems based on a new report of a previously undisclosed 2007 incident in which workers at a Detroit regional office turned in 16,000 pieces of unprocessed mail and 717 documents turned up in New York in December during amnesty periods in which workers were promised no one would be penalized.

“Veterans have lost trust in VA,” Michael Walcoff, VA’s under secretary for benefits, said at a hearing Tuesday. “That loss of trust is understandable, and winning back that trust will not be easy.”

Unprocessed and unopened mail was just one problem in VA claims processing mentioned by Belinda Finn, VA’s assistant inspector general for auditing, in testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Auditors also found that the dates recorded for receiving claims, which in many cases determine the effective date for benefits payments, are wrong in many cases because of intentional and unintentional errors, Finn said.

The worst case uncovered by auditors involved the New York regional office, where employees testified that managers told staff to put later dates on claims to make it appear claims were being processed faster. A review found that 56 percent of claims had incorrect dates, although no evidence was found of incorrect or delayed benefits payments. Finn said workers reported that this practice had been used for years.

The new report comes as VA is trying to resolve an earlier controversy involving documents essential to the claims process that were discovered in bins awaiting shredding at several regional offices, which raised questions about how many past claims had been delayed or denied because of intentional or unintentional destruction of documentation.

‘It is impossible not to be shocked’

Kathryn Witt of Gold Star Wives of America said survivors trying to receive VA benefits have long complained about problems getting accurate information and missing claims. “When they call to check on the status of the claim, they are often told that the VA has no record of their claim and that they should resubmit their paperwork,” she said.

In one case, a woman claimed she had to submit paperwork to VA three times to prove she was married and had three children, Witt said.

And having to resubmit the same claim, she added, does nothing to reduce the backlog that already forces survivors to wait six to nine months for simple claims to be approved.

“It is impossible not to be shocked by the numbers from Detroit,” said Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s oversight and investigations panel. “Shredding documents or burying them in the bottom drawer is a breach of trust. Whether that breach of trust comes as a consequence of inadequate training or negligent or deliberate behavior, Congress must not and will not tolerate it.”

It is unclear, however, whether there is any short-term fix.

A permanent solution is to have a fully electronic claims process to establish a record of when documents are received and their status as they move through the process. A fully electronic system will not be in place before 2011, VA officials said.

Kerry Baker of Disabled American Veterans said a short-term answer could be to scan all documents related to claims into computer systems. Baker, DAV’s assistant national legislative director, said this could be done at one or more large-scale imaging centers that would transform paper into electronic records.

“A large section of the veterans community and representatives of the community have long felt that the Veterans Benefits Administration operates in such a way that stalls the claims process until frustrated claimants either give up or die,” Baker said.

He said that although he doesn’t believe that is true, something must be done.

“Denying earned benefits by illegally destroying records should serve as the proverbial wake-up call that signals the urgency of this overdue transformation,” he said.

Geneva Moore, a senior veterans service representative from Winston-Salem, N.C., who testified on behalf of the American Federation of Government Employees, a union that counts about 160,000 VA workers among its members, said backdating claims and document shredding are signs of a claims system under stress.

“Clearly, if the disability claims process were already paperless, many of the problems being considered at this hearing today would no longer exist,” she said.

Veterans Info.

Tom's Journal.


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The new Survival Guide is a follow-up to the 1985 national bestseller, The Viet Vet Survival Guide. Just as the earlier book was a must-read for Vietnam veterans, the new book will prove an invaluable resource for the 1.7 million servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the 24 million veterans of past conflicts, and the families of all our troops and veterans. Unlike the earlier guide, the new Survival Guide is free.

The new book is as much a roadmap as a reference manual, detailing the benefits, assistance and resources available as well as the step-by-step directions for navigating the bureaucracies that serve our troops and veterans. The new Survival Guide contains 28 chapters, including 17 for veterans and their families and 11 for active-duty servicemembers, National Guard members and reservists, and their families. From legal to health services, job assistance to women’s issues, the new Survival Guide is designed to meet everyone’s needs.

What you will find in the new Survival Guide includes:

–Chapter 3, “Service-Connected Compensation,” which provides indispensable guidance for those suffering from PTSD and other psychological wounds and have questions or concerns about what they’re owed by the military.

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–Chapter 20, “Advice for Families and Caregivers of Wounded Servicemembers and Veterans,” is a vital resource to family members and the wider community about how to better take care, and honor, our veterans and wounded troops. It deals with issues including how to advocate effectively on behalf of the injured and how to deal with hospitals, doctors, and medical staff. It also emphasizes how stressful the role of caregiver can be and the importance of dealing with the caregiver’s own physical and emotional needs.

With far more women in the ranks than ever before, the new Survival Guide deals head-on with the problems of sexual discrimination, harassment and assault as well as discrimination. The chapter for women in the military details how to report harassment and other problems. It also helps military families deal with the problems that occur with the deployment of one or both parents.

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VFA Blog

VFA Report Release: Pennsylvania’s National Guard, Under Great Strain

by VFA on Oct 23

Washington, DC - Oct. 23, 2008 - The citizen Soldiers of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard have borne a disproportionate share of the burden of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Veterans for America (VFA) has found.

Between now and November…


GI Rights Hotline 1-877-447-4487

OurTroops Newsladder

Hobbies and Productive Passtimes.

Tom's Journal.

I remember about 30 years ago working in the hot, dangerous, sweat shop of AMC [American Motors Corp.- in Kenosha, WI] and my seniority date that ALL employees know and remember: 11-7-72. I can say that at least it kept my family fed, clothed and paid the mortgage.. and it's darn nice to have a pension and health care benefits... yet. But I know that I had a lot of buddies/ fellow workers there who had their own private, after work hobbies and even businesses on the side, and me too. I always liked working with wood and building things, that I learned from my father when I was a young boy. He had an old Sears table saw, and in those days they didn't even come with a motor! I guess he and grandpa took an old 1/4 horse motor from a refrigerator and stuck it on the table saw pulley and it lasted for some 20 years! When it finally died, I bought a new one horse motor to replace it as my Dad loaned it to me. I acquired many new tools thru the years and my own wood shop in the basement of my own home, but I really started to find my niche when I bought my first ROUTER [1 HORSE POWER]. A friend showed me how to use it, and after a while I started carving scriptures, pictures of animals, etc., into wood and started selling them. Then I expanded into picnic tables, furniture, shelves, huge chairs/ thrones and it gave me great satisfaction thru the years!

I also got into many other skills that my Dad insisted I learn and do to help our family on the farm, like veggie gardening, fixing things, welding, but I enjoyed reading many books on 'how-to-do- things', etc. I also payed guitar in a few small rock bands in high school. Latter on, I went to an old pioneer type camp out get together.. like the old 'Mountain Men' survival groups where I learned from an old geezer how to throw a tomahawk. The saying, "Practise makes Perfect" is not always true. If a person continues to bake a cake or meat loaf with a dent in the cake pan-- every cake will come out with a dent in it...duh. So we have to learn the correct way of doing something from the beginning-- or buy a new pan. Another example is, if you learn to make chords/ music on a guitar the wrong way-- it's very hard to change to re-learn the right/correct way latter. The Army had this joke- motto, that there is the 'Right way, the Wrong way, and the Army way'... LOL.
So, throwing an ax, tomahawk or any edge weapon is really a 'mathematical series of the proper number of revolutions of the 'hawk' turning end over end so that it lands on the target with the 'business end' sticking in the target. Once you learn the correct way-- THEN your practise will make it 'perfect', just like anything else, golf, bowling, archery, typing your post, etc.
I hope I have shared something good with my readers, but some of you probably knew this anyway, I'm sure. Learning the Truth of the bible is much the same way, in that if we learn from a TRUTHFUL, God loving person and/or fundamental church that really loves TRUTH and God-- his works and preaching will bare good fruit that will benefit the student/ member. Jesus said, that, "by their fruits you will know them-- Gal. 5:22." For instance, the fruits of the Spirit [the Holy Spirit-- of Him dwelling in the heart of a believer] are: 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,... ' True Christian are SUPPOSED to have these fruits to varying degrees according to our practiced maturity and growth! But in the world of darkness under Satan's works and machinations we see the 'works of the flesh, ' Galatians 5:20, 'immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissent ions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, etc.' I know that I have been guilty of most of the bad things in my life, but have gained many of the fruits of the Spirit as I matured now as a Christian... but it has not been easy and I have to constantly work on things and resist temptations. Like an AA program, I have to "work my own personal program" that [for me] consists of a daily intake of the Word of God-- the Bible, meet with other mature Christians on a regular weekly basis, pray, etc. Just like a Soldier has to keep in shape and train to keep that razor edge in case he has to jump up and fight in a moment's notice. Our foes are mighty and mean-- so we have to be a little bit MEANER!

Well, I have to force my self to go down stairs in the basement to work on some things that need fixing. and then I want to go to the store latter to buy some oranges to ward off any more flu bugs and sickness. I am trying to feed my wife all the good, fresh fruits and veggies, vitamins and minerals before she goes in for open heart surgery so that she has a fighting chance to survive and heal properly.