Well, the VA finally called me back. For those readers who may be unfamiliar with my ongoing saga with the Veterans Administration, here is a quick recap:
My disability claim is well into its second year. Some six months ago I was informed that my claim was partially completed, with about half of the identified conditions being adjudicated. I would be “contacted” by the VA to schedule appointments which would take care of the unresolved issues.
So I waited for the call. For five months I waited, and finally decided to take the initiative to call them instead of spending another day being deafened by the sound of no telephones ringing. After a week of failed attempts, I finally reached a real live VA representative! Together, we reviewed my case and initiated an inquiry that required the team that was actually working on my case to contact me and explain its status. In ten working days. Or less.
They never called. So, at day twelve, I called them.
I eventually ended up speaking with another VA representative who (again) reviewed my case. She determined (and was quite annoyed to report) that the team who was evaluating my case had indeed seen the inquiry, but had simply marked it closed and not bothered to contact me.
She apologized and placed a note in the electronic file to her boss and the team that was supposed to contact me. Whether or not they would actually call me back she could not say. To her credit, she was very professional and really helpful.
Well, two weeks later the VA called back.
I don’t know if the gentleman who initiated the call was on my team or not, but he did explain the status of my claim. It turns out that one of the remaining conditions requires an actual physical re-examination, but the others required administrative corrections (which, in his words, consist of checking different boxes on the processing forms). Don’t worry, he said, I would be contacted soon (!) by the VA to schedule the appointment.
I won’t hold my breath.
He followed by instructing me to call two weeks after the appointment as a follow up. Apparently, since my case is in the review stage it will not lose its place in line and go back to the beginning because all that is required is for the printouts from the examination and the corrected process forms to be placed in the file. If I call, he said, it will make sure that the file keeps moving forward.
So now I am in week two of waiting for the call to schedule my appointment. I’ll keep you posted…
– Be proactive. My experience shows that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and particularly if the VA promises something that they do not deliver. Make sure to record names, dates, and times of your calls and reengage with the administration immediately after they fail to achieve a timeline milestone.
– Be patient. It is not going to be a rapidly resolving process. If you get angry, all you will do is slow it down. I know it is incredibly frustrating at times, but the people on the other end of the phone are overwhelmed by a byzantine bureaucracy. Don’t vent your frustrations at the messenger because you may find your file at the bottom of the pile.
I’m so ashamed of our VA! Stay on ’em!
Thanks for reading- I will!
Found your blog by chance a couple nights ago. I am also a former Marine rated by 10% by the VA back in 1993. Been in the VA system since 1992 which is astonishing. Unfortunately back then, there were not many resources that could have helped me so I essentially got bumped out of the VA after my physical therapy. As a naive 19-20 year old back then, I believed what they told me.
Oddly enough, I find the VA to be more open now then in the 90s. Every time I make a call or leave a message, they will call me right back. Granted I live in Vietnam now which means there is a dedicated line for overseas Vets. The process is still long though, I am going 17 months since my attorney, also a former Marine, reopened my claim for me. Been 5 months since I finally submitted all of my paperwork. Yes, a lengthy process but it is not the fault of the VA here, they told me that the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City was not being cooperative with them. I just ended up making my appointments and submitted my paperwork myself (making copies of course).
Best of luck dealing with the VA sir. I envy the career you were able to have and good luck with your MBA.
Thanks for your comments, and I think that you are right. As difficult as it is to work with the VA now it is much better than it has been in the past. You have a great website, and I am envious of your time in Vietnam. I visited there last fall and loved it.
I love Saigon, been here nearly 9 years. If I had not got injured, my path would never have brought me to Vietnam. Give me a holler next time you pass this way.
At least it’s an indication that your package is still in a pile somwehere, and not in the circular file.