A few years back we provided some ideas for the restructuring of the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA]. One of the ideas, which we did not originate, was to approve all claims with a minimum of eligibility checking…an amount that can be done electronically by the VONAPP system. However, it is now just about the only way to fix the God-awful mess the Department has become.
The claims backlog is well over a million deep and soon to be two million as 45% of the Veterans from the current combats are filing claims for disability. PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury [TBI], are leading complaints in this class of wounded warriors.
Obviously, there is no prioritization of claims going on. One western Regional Office [RO] has a backlog of 22,000 claims, and as a result is putting on hold all Blue Water Navy claims!
One fix would ease things by synchronizing the computer systems carrying medical information about troops past and present between the Department of Defense [DoD] and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Billions of dollars have been wasted on this in the past by ignoramuses who refuse to cooperate in the process. The process is quite simple, you get into a room together, you list out your data elements [or provide a data elements dictionary], and what they mean, and match them with those of the other guy. Once that is done, you turn it over to the programmers, and suddenly, you get a list of serving military members being discharged with their ailments coded in the DVA system’s language.
An overnight computerized batch run of those discharged would be sent to the DVA. If you have also data-matched the severity of the ailment to the DVA’s ratings percentages manual, then the computer could easily create a new approved account for benefits for that transitioning trooper who is now a Veteran. No human intervention required.
Think about that for a moment. All the new Veterans coming out of active duty would no longer have to file a claim with the DVA for benefits and care. They would have one generated for them as part of their military separation. This would also include eligibility for such things as the GI Bill, in addition to compensation and pension benefits and medical care.
Think what that does to the backlog.
Lest you think that this is an oversimplification, we want to assure you that ten years ago, we were doing exactly this kind of work between the State Police and the Department of Welfare in a large state. It is a tedious job to match the data elements [last name, first name, middle initial, service number, date of birth, address, SS#, dates of service, branch, wounds and injuries, dates of wounds or injuries, etc.], but once it is done and the programmers have mapped them on each side, then the DoD should send one of these through at discharge or separation from active duty on every single Veteran. Then the DVA would not have to make info requests of the DoD when adding someone into the system that may not have been eligible at separation.
With that done, the backlog should begin to diminish, slowly, but still diminish. Once and for all time, we would hope.
The DVA is a sick puppy. Its top management has no clue what is happening in the ROs. Neither does middle management.
Meanwhile, yearly bonuses are paid at both levels. We would ask, “For what?” Who in their right mind would deserve a bonus while millions of Veterans are stuck in the purgatory of a pending claim?
That is a national disgrace.
The nation asks these men and women to go to war, and if necessary lay down their lives, or sacrifice their bodies to grievous and traumatic injuries, and shake their minds traumatically, yet makes them wait for [often] years for claims resolution.
In the case of the Blue Water Navy Veterans, some of their claims are now over ten years old. TEN YEARS! And the DVA is shuffling them to the bottom of the pile while it clears the new warrior class.
They want us to die and go away.
Now it is time for Congress to step in, and pass the Agent Orange Act, and do so in the expanded version WHICH WILL NOT INCREASE THE BACKLOG!
But Congress has its own mess -- the Budget.
We’ve told them how, and where to find the money to fund the bill. We’ve told them that using the Vietnam Service Medal will not cost anything more because of the administrative cost savings in processing the claims.
Is there no one in any of the three branches of the Federal government of the United States that has a humanitarian bone in their body?
Congress and the Executive Branch are empowered to send our men and women into harm’s way. Yet when it comes time to pay the butcher’s bill, neither is willing to spend the money necessary to do it swiftly and fairly, and as Lincoln put it in his second Inaugural Address,
“…to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”
The United States government is doing a piss-poor job of it.
And it will pay. In the end, if things remain unchanged, which it looks like they will, the next generation of fighting men and women will choose not to serve the United States in that capacity because the United States does not keep its promise to them. They will not go in harm’s way on behalf of the United States as the United States no longer cares for those who have borne the battle, or their widows or orphans. The United States will try to reinstate the draft and will find a mass migration into Canada that makes the draft dodgers of the Vietnam era look like tourists. The power of the US Military, the one constant thing that makes us the leading power in the world, will cease to exist.
And when that happens, the United States will slide into the third world, and ignominy, for allowing the example of the “shining city on the hill” to dim and flicker out of view.
”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets
"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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
"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington
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