When my wife and I were married, two days after the ceremony my new wife and I made a special trip to the VA medical center and visited the administration building where I filled out a brand new financial resources form; the VA’s approved method of informing them of my marriage and their obligation to my wife as a spouse, a caregiver, and, eventually, a surviving dependent. I waited two years to see the VA wake up and start the miniscule payment increase to my monthly disability check. At the time, it was a differential of $112 per month, the value they put on my wife’s full time caregiving, but a buck is a buck and she was earning it and I wanted her to have it. So I wrote and asked them “Where’s the beef?” to paraphrase an old Arby’s commercial. Their reply was curt and cold: I had not personally informed them in particular, so they had no idea that I had been married, and sent me a change of circumstances form to fill out –also saying that they would consider their receipt of that form as the date of effective change. A rip off, to say the least, given the circumstances.
Then I made a mistake. I meant to write 1996 in an explanation of a former marriage, but wrote 2006 instead. I was deep into chemo at the time, and their reply, sent 8 months after they received it, said plainly they recognized the error I had made, knew what I meant, but demanded that I redo the form. I did this. After waiting and waiting again, I was informed that I had not provided all of the information in a timely manner, and, in fact, my claim had expired.
When I write about the VA in these posts, I am usually very complimentary about the treatment I’ve received from the VA. I always make an exception when it comes to their administrative handling of my case because the paper pushers are always glacially slow in their actions, and appear to be more interested in decerning reasons to delay or deny claims, rather than putting the veteran’s needs ahead of what appears their own convenience level. I do give points for the quantity of veterans they handle, but comes a point when they slowness, coupled with a guilty until proven foundation, gets awfully tiresome and frustrating. The fact that a growing number of Tea Party Republicans in the house and senate are beginning to lobby against veteran benefits, wearing Support the Troop ribbons while trying to undermine aspects of the benefits we have earned causes me to feel some anxiousness that my wife could easily be left behind, derailing all I have done to try to protect her after my demise. Simply put, I’ve lost my faith and trust. For good reason, I think.
Considering that all sorts of organizations deal with a greater number of clientelle –banks, insurance companies, shipping organizations and all, I find it puzzling that our government has chosen not to take the less expensive and greatly more efficient digital methodologies to process claims. They do it with some aspects of newly certified veterans, but we old farts are pretty much left out of that loop. It’s like they hope we’ll croak and make things a lot easier. The passage of four years and change since my nuptials were reported stands as testimony to their administrative sloth. Not to mention, I’d like to have my wife get the $5k+ currently owed and climbing. Lord knows, she’s earned it. My issues and charming self can be a difficult row to hoe… ahem.
Considering that our hourse and congress have set up the rules so they get paid an ever increasing annual compensation which cannot be interrupted for any reason, even government closure or the sequestration currently thrust upon the nation, I think it’s time to make Congress and the Senate operate with their paycheck tied to their productivity and effectiveness in handling the nation’s business. Were such a thing in place, it would have been over four years since those lacksadaisical featherbedders received a paychech. They’d have netted zero, which is pretty much what I believe they have earned with their 128 working days per year schedule. The only place they seem to show any life or stamina is in trying to ensure that our government is completely impotent. Given they have trashed the nation’s credit rating, driving up the costs of all that dough they keep borrowing from China, I think they all should be locked out of their homes and experience a sheriff’s sale that auctions off their personal posessions to help pay the very deficit they created. Perhaps then the only people who might want to attain office would be those with the nation’s best interests in mind instead of their personal agendas and greed. Given a sub-20 percent approval rating, I think it’s nigh time we citizens start booting these deadweight goldbricks out on their golden parachute protected asses and replacing them with those who actually have an understanding of the purposes and methodologies of our Democratic Republic.
It’s hard to expect the VA administrative workers to do better, given the atrocious role modelling happening in our nation’s capital. Not to mention our DC representatives working to improve and better staff the sparse troops in VA admin offices trying to meet an admittedly gargantuan load. We need a new system; no more bandaids, and it’s hard to expect that to happen when there is so little impetus for conservatives and liberals to negotiate compromises. This all or nothing crap is hurting all of us, veterans and non-veterans. This country needs people in representative positions (note, I do NOT refer to them as leaders because they aren’t, just read the Constitution. They are representatives who’re supposed to function at the citizen’s whim and reason, not their party’s bullheaded ideas.) Plus that, I haven’t seen anything approaching leadership anyway.
Certainly my complaint is a tiny one in contrast to the tremendously many veterans, some who’re losing faith and taking their own lives as a result of untimely administration and backwards approaches to qualifying these fine people. There are so many who need so much more it’s not funny. But we obviously are not going to get any change until we, as citizens, do our duty and put the right people in there –being intolerant of party nominations of different faces and the same old story– and insisting on populating our government with those anxious to help the country. As anxious as the veterans who offered a lot more in service to the nation than the current clot of drain sludge gumming up the capital with overflowing sewage. The call the vote sufferage –because it requires citizens to take time and effort to participate. But we trade that little bit of suffering to benefit the nation and all of its people, not just a few who yell about entitlements –while claiming ridiculous entitlements of their own. In spite of their ‘power,’ they have all become what Perry Mason used to stand up and tell the judge: OBJECTION! Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.