Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hurry up and wait!

Many of us are growing impatient to get the results in the Haas case. So many of us have a vested stake in the outcome.

Waiting gets difficult, and we sometimes question why justice is being denied/delayed. Why us?

Nevertheless, we must cope with the anxiety. Somehow, we must cope…

Hearken back some four or five decades to when you were at Recruit Training Command, in Great Lakes, Illinois, or San Diego, California. The phrase we all grew to understand all-too-well: hurry up and wait!

March to breakfast, stand in line. Hurry up and wait!

March to class, stand in line. Hurry up and wait!

March to the grinder, form up for morning inspection and the dreaded 96 count manual of arms. Hurry up and wait!

March to lunch, stand in line. Hurry up and wait!

March to Sick Bay to get the “Flying Seven” – 3 shots [including that wonderful bicillin shot!] and four scratch tests, stand in line. Hurry up and wait!

March to the grinder for PT to work out that bicillin shot! No waiting here!

March to the classroom, stand in line. Hurry up and wait!

And what did we hear from the DI while in line? “Move it up! Close it up! Make your buddy smile!” Hurry up and wait!

Remember this?

Remember Hurry up and wait! ? What excellent training for when we got to the fleet.

Chow, stand in line. Hurry up and wait!

Quarters, stand in line. Hurry up and wait!

General Quarters. Hurry up and wait!

Sea and Anchor Detail. Hurry up and wait!

Liberty Call! No waiting here!

No one learns quite how to wait like a member of the US Military, and the Navy has certainly perfected waiting to a fine art.

Now we are waiting again. This time for something that will, for many of us, determine our futures, and what kind of legacy we leave.

That’s high anxiety stuff.

Yet wait we must, calmly, and with aplomb. We are patient because we still believe that justice will prevail.

We’ve hurried to get here, now we must wait. See? There was a reason they trained you to Hurry up and wait! in boot camp. Now you know what it was.

VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Time winding down for public comment

Time is winding down for making public comment on the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA] proposal to rescind all the M21-1 Manual changes it made since the Agent Orange Act was passed in 1991. There are just about two weeks left during which comments will be accepted.

If we are correct, this is step one in altering the definition of "Service in Vietnam", to conform with whatever decisions the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit make in Haas vs. Peake.

Again, if we are correct, the DVA will not be able to replace the rescinded sections of the policy manual unless and until the change is made in the appropriate section of the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR], which is the "plain language" [yeah, right!] version of legislation passed by Congress and published as law in the United States Code. [see explanations in our earlier post: Important info on Comments about the VA's Proposed Manual Change.]

To make the change in the CFR, another public comment period will be required to allow the public to comment on the change the DVA plans to make to the language of the CFR to bring it into line with the Haas decision.

The DVA has not done so yet simply because the Court has not ruled on Haas to date. Until they do, the DVA has no way of knowing the specifics of what the definition of "Service in Vietnam" are, and what the parameters of that definition may be, based on the court ruling.

After that, the DVA will still be required to post another proposed change to their M21-1 Manual in order to add the new Haas-related definition of "Service in Vietnam" to their manual. We're fairly certain then that the current comment period is just the first of three required by law to allow the DVA to make the changes. Due Process requires these periods of public comment, that serve as public notice as well of the intent of an agency to make policy changes.

Summing up the process, the DVA needs three periods of public comment: the first one, is the current one, rescinding all the manual changes made to date; the second one, pending the Haas decision, will allow the DVA to redefine "Service in Vietnam" in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] to bring that definition in line with what the Court rules in Haas; the final period of public comment will see the proposed language to be inserted in the DVA's M21-1 Manual, that brings it in line with the Haas decision.

We suspect that during this time period, should the Haas decision in the United State Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims be upheld, thus denying the DVA's appeal, that the DVA will begin processing the Haas-related cases that have been on hold for nearly 12 months at this point, via an internal memo that directs the Regional Offices to apply the broad definition, hopefully receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal as qualifying criteria, to receive automatic presumption for exposure to Agent Orange.

We also suspect, and certainly our prayers include this, that the Court will require the DVA to handle all Haas related cases expeditiously, and immediately, giving them a priority, and to bridge all claims to their earliest date, regardless of appeals, appeal requirements, or appeal status. In most cases, this would certainly reduce the backlog at the Board of Appeals and Court of Appeals levels.

It should be noticed also that the DVA has been on a rather significant hiring spree of late, in part to assist with the great and ever increasing backlog of cases due to the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, but also to handle the anticipated increase in active claims when the Haas-related cases are released from their holding area when the Court removes the Stay Order.

For further information, including how to make a public comment on the proposed manual recission [remember, recission does not mean change! The changes must be withdrawn, first, and then proposed new sections of the manual must be put up for comment], please refer to the earlier post:
Important info on Comments about the VA's Proposed Manual Change.

We reiterate at this point that we are in favor of the DVA's action on this proposed manual recission. They are finally doing the right thing. And, it is encouraging that they have begun the process well in advance of the decision in Haas.

We have made our comment and it was a positive one in favor of the DVA's proposed action. We recommend that as many of you as possible make a short comment indicating that you favor the proposed recission of the changes made to the M21-1 Manual.

Remember, only about two weeks remain, so make your comments now!

VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.