Jim Davis and Perry Edenfield, and their Organization “Veterans-For-Change” with members nationwide totaling 60,000+ and growing are asking in writing all members of congress address the issues of the Veterans Affairs.
The lack of funding to provide benefits, medical treatment, medications, rehabilitation, better medical facilities, more and better trained Veteran Service Officers, faster processing of claims and appeals.
There are more than 895,000 claims plus backlogged as much as 4-8 years and more.
So Veterans worldwide are coming together to fight for all the rights and benefits which were promised when they enlisted.
How many veterans have to die waiting for the military, Veterans Affairs, congress and the President finally do the right thing?
Does any member of the media dare challenge their local elected official to address these horrible problems? Please see below for copy of letter.
I write to you today to bring to your attention the plight of the United States Veterans. Not just one, but all of them.
But, before I continue, and you decide to send me a courtesy reply that I’m not in your district or state and congressional courtesy dictates you forward this to my Senator or Congressman, please read this first!
All of our millions of men and women who served in our armed forces dating back to WWI accepted the calling to serve our country. All did so freely, without question, pause, or hesitation, and at the request of our President and government.
Every one of these fighting men and women laid down their lives, left behind their families to protect our country, our flag, our freedoms, and our way of life! Each was promised that our government would take care of them, their spouse, and children for life.
Yet our Veterans Affairs, Congress, and our President all have failed these men and women sorely. They’re failed to provide adequate care, treatment facilities, doctors, medications, and benefits.
Our veterans have to fight every day of their life even though they’re home now, they still must fight the VA, our government, and President. Some have to fight for years to get the mere pittance of benefits due them and which were promised to them.
This last VA increase was a mere 9%, of which most of that was eaten up by Medicare so the actual increase was only 1-1.5%. I’d say that’s rather embarrassing at best that our government and members of congress think so little of our veterans past, current and future.
Below is a list of all the problems I and many others in a group in which I belong to see within the Veterans Affairs.
I sincerely and very strongly hope you will keep these in mind when you think about who gave you your freedom, who fought to allow you the choice to take office, and whom I hope you in return will protect, defend, and honor!
1) VA Funding
a. Current VA Budget needs to be at minimum doubled, without being able to be reduced by the President, Congress or special interests. And should be automatically raised each year to meet the scheduler requirements of the cost of living. No vote should be needed.
b. The President and Congress need to stop taking funds from the VA to fund the war budget or for any other purpose. (Including Road Work, Transportation And Face Lifting Of Non Useable VAMC’s)
c. All Funds assigned to the VA Budget must only be used for benefits, health care, treatment, transportation, prosthetics, medication, etc. with a monthly accounting to be published by the GAO.
2) VA Staffing
a. Request the Honorable Nicholson resign his position, replace with a qualified director, preferably a veteran who will know and understand the needs of his fellow veterans and this should be effective immediately.
i. This person should oversee operations nationwide for position filling, operations compliance, and claims processing within a timely manner. And have the authority to fire those who do not or cannot produce and adjudicate well grounded claims.
ii. This person should be held completely accountable for all offices nationwide. And submit a monthly or quarterly report verifying all statements and spending.
iii. This person should be held completely accountable for security of all electronic and hard copy files containing any data pertaining to veterans, claims, benefits, identification information. This should be effective immediately.
b. Reduce the number of those at the top whose positions can be merged with others to provide a more efficient executive staff.
c. Staffing should be increased in each state VA office by no less than 50% after they have completed a full employment evaluation, security background check, are a US Citizen, and preferably a veteran.
d. New staff positions should only be filled once a candidate has completed a thorough training program on the Veterans Affairs Benefits Program, been tested and have passed with no less than 78% scoring.
e. VA Should create a standardized training program for all claims officers with annual enhanced training for all claims officers including the proper usage and completion of all Veterans Affairs forms.
3) Claims Processing
a. Identify weak links and immediately take action to correct these weak links in claims and benefits processing. Weak links are those which the veteran (who is responsible for proving reasonable doubt) are missing from the veteran’s files and should be sent a letter with a suspense date.
b. Upgrade information systems to handle claims processing faster and more efficiently electronically vs. manually.
c. Allow veterans to be able to log into a highly secured website to check the status of their claim, see case notes, view medical and military records, etc. (And have a contact us for inquires not shown as missing forms etc.)
d. Once properly trained staffing needs are met claims should be able to be processed and approved or denied within 90-days.
4) VA Hospitals
a. Should maintain a high standard for employment with continuous in-house quarterly and annual training.
b. Should be inspected quarterly by an independent company or organization to insure that the best if not minimum standards of treatment, sanitation, standards and protocols are met.
c. Should maintain appointments scheduled, not cancel and reschedule repeatedly. This must stop now. A letter should be sent in advance asking if the veteran can accept the given date(s).
d. When an appointment is made for a veteran he or she should be seen within 1-hour of the scheduled appointment time. Or the doctor should be spoken to by the chief of staff of medical personnel.
e. Follow-up care should be contracted for with civilian hospitals and clinics to provide better extended treatment for those who are in excess of fifty miles from a local VA hospital.
f. VA Hospitals need to contract with Civilian Hospitals and Doctors to handle any case that is non-urgent and care that is non-assignable within 30-days.
g. Civilian Hospitals and Doctors used as contract out-sources should notify the local VA administrator immediately in writing of any appointment and/or service(s) rendered to a veteran.
h. Provide transportation to and from either a VA Facility or civilian contracted hospital or Doctor for veterans unable to drive, or have no means of transport.
i. Upgrade all VA Hospital facilities with up to date state of the art technology, equipment, and train staff to handle this technology and equipment.
j. Mandatory sensitivity training for all VA Hospital staff members on a quarterly basis.
i. Veterans should be treated with respect and dignity, not treated like a welfare case. This is a violation of the patient’s bill of rights.
ii. All staff members be it a Doctor, nurse, or aid should document all that is said by a veteran regarding his visit for what ever illness, or malady he or she is there for. With full disclosure of all notes to the (veteran) patient.
5) Veteran Legal Counsel
a. Veterans should have the option of hiring and attorney without limitation or restriction. With a congressional mandate that the attorney may not charge more than 10% of any allowable benefit or award. b. Veterans should also have the right to use a Veterans Advocate provided to him through any of the recognized veteran organizations such as VFW, VVA, DAV, American Legion, etc. again without limitation or restriction.
6) Need for more VSO’s, DRO’s and DSO’s
a. Hire, and properly train additional staffing for these positions nationwide. With first consideration to be given to veterans and not determined by race, creed, sexual preference (EOE).
b. Proper training to be setup by the Veterans Affairs, and the independently recognized veteran’s organizations so that training given is uniform and comprehensive. Standardize training for all VSO’s and DSO’s.
c. Learn from current VSO’s doing the job for a long time who have the knowledge, experience and have valuable input to make the job better.
d. Create consistency of Purpose towards the improvement of services. Reward those contributing to better service ideas.
e. Continually provide better service through annual training seminars to be mandatory attendance by all VSO’s and DSO’s, as well as office Managers and Supervisors to be provided by the VA, managed and overseen by the Director.
f. Pay rate should start at no less than $37,440 annually so as to acquire better potential employees with a better education level to be able to understand, comprehend, and provide better service to veterans.
g. Provide a employee benefits package for insurance commensurate with that of civilian employers with a 70/30 split. The VA to take responsibility for 70% and the employee having a payroll deduction of 30% to defray costs of insurance benefits.
h. Annual employment reviews to be conducted by a regional or district supervisor or manager to be forwarded on to a state supervisor or manager for final approval.
i. Hire support staff for each office Receptionists (Do not handle claims or processing)
ii. Secretaries (Do not handle claims or processing)
iii. File clerks (Do not handle claims or processing)
iv. Volunteers or interns to handle filing, scheduling appointments or for any NON-CLAIMS processing function as needed.
j. All offices to be open and manned Monday through Friday, eight hours per day except for recognized federal holidays.
7) Each service office should be held accountable for every claim filed, it’s status, and those reports should be filed with the senior director of Veterans Affairs on a monthly basis.
a. Also to include recommendations for claims processing
b. Data handling as needed
c. Paid staffing needs as warranted
8) Remove Veterans Commission as this is a non-essential commission and only serves to hurt veterans more than it does to assist them.
a. Return to Congressional oversight and adhere to Enforcement of regulations and laws currently in place without additional need for regulation.
I look forward to your reply as to how you propose to handle this ill fated Veterans Affairs, and how you propose to make things right for all our veterans, and give them all that has been promised without further delay.
11901 Samuel Drive
Garden Grove, CA 92840
cc: 109th Congress