Battling the Veterans Administration

I was an active duty soldier when I was diagnosed with Type I in 1994. Seven months later I was given a disability discharge and filed a claim with the VA. In just 3 months they decided my claim and awarded me a 40% rating (20% for diabetes). Since then, I’ve developed several typical complications, including neuropathy (both peripheral and autonomic), cardiovascular disease (with a heart attack at age 43 in 2006), gastroparesis and other things. As a result, I reopened my claim, asking that these conditions be evaluated, in addition to a deterioration of diabetes from the way it was when I originally filed 15 years ago.

Next week will be the one year anniversary of my submission of my new claim, and still no decision. I’ve been told on three separate occasions that my claim had been decided and the only thing left was the final approval before I would receive their decision letter. It seems that each time it got “kicked back” and due to some situation that the VA’s veterans representatives would never disclose to me and was sent back to be rated all over again. Each time they said that it was rated and awaiting signature I was told that I’d receive their decision within two to three weeks. The first time was last November, then in March and again in June.

To say that I am annoyed is an understatement. It is one thing to get jerked around, but to not be able to find our what is really going on adds to the annoyance level. The question that I;ve been asking myself is what to do about it.

I could ask my Senators or Congressman to lean on the VA, but various discussion boards seem to indicate that this tends to tick off the VA, resulting in further delays caused by bureaucratic picque. That is not a solution that will help me.

I could also lean on them myself, but let’s face it, with nearly 1,000,000 claims pending, the chances that it would do anything worthwhile are microscopic.

I may have hit on a novel solution, but it is a long shot.

I’m putting together a proposal for my Senator for legislation that would force some transparency and accountability on the Veterans Benefits Administration. Since he is the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, it might just go somewhere. That and it is always popular to do something good for veterans might boost this along. It also occurred to methat doing something that will change the way they operate will have much more impact on the VA, will help other veterans in a similar vote, and will no doubt give me some satisfaction at ‘getting even.’

More on my porposal in a later post.

Wow Tom - 15 years ago - that is so unbelievable but I have heard of similar stories here of veterans in Canada having similar problems - having served many years for their country - something I have never done - but can fully appreciate what you all do as it takes a special person. Anyway, I say go ahead with the proposal to your Senator!! I mean what have you got to lose if you just sit and wait, and wait, and wait …

Looking forward to updates as you progress along.

I am so sorry you are having problems with the VA. The way they treat our Vets is deplorable!

My brother-in-law served 2 tours in Nam and did not start receiving his disability til about 10 years ago. Has PTSD, diabetes, and heart problems (5 way bypass and God knows how many stints) just to name a few. All but the PTSD caused by exposure to Agent Orange. It took a constant fight to finally get things resolved. And the fight continues.

He keeps a copy of all of his medical records. He has utilitzed different Vet groups and has often solicited the help of our Rep., Mary Bono. We live in Calif. so getting help from our Senators, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, was hopeless. He writes letters by the hundreds including to the VA. The whole point of what I am telling you is don’t give up. I really think that is what they are hoping you will do.

Not trying to get any thing started here, but they want us to believe the Gov. can handle Health Care Reform. I say start by fixing our broken VA system first!

Thank you for your service to our country. May God bless you. Don’t give up, keep on fighting!

In your military service, did you have anything to do with Agent Orange, now known to cause, among other things, diabetes?;jsessionid=83EE18402C72296A515DCB6403BDB050?sequence=2

If you did, adding a suitable mention of this to your latest claim is likely to help.

I would have my US senator or representative flag my case. It does tick the Veterans
Affairs Office off, but it may also get them moving quicker…especially if someone at the US rep or senators office does a weekly phone call requesting the case status and follows it up with a letter or email. You have to remember this is your US government rep that should be concerned with the operation of the Veteran’s Affairs, because it is their duty and business to see that federal govt. operations run properly and accomplish their purpose. In my experience, it has a lot to do with the weight the US rep carries also.