Sunday, May 19, 2013

We are the VA Backlog

I started using Twitter this past week and much to my suprise it is a great way to connect and find information based on subject matter and interests.  I admit that I sterotypically thought of it as friends and celebs tweeting their every move and trip to the toilet.  Alas, I am pleasantly surprised. 

One of the things I have been concerned with for quite some time is the VA Backlog or as I now know it #VABacklog.  It is appaling and horiffic to think that there is such a mound of claims that the VA can't process them fast enough.  I've seen the frustration from my own combat wounded spouse becuase of his inability to work, our financial strain, his deteriorating health, inability to be left alone independently, and the VA's unrelenting process of hurring up to wait a bit longer.

I first wrote about my thoughts on the VA backlog in relation to the rise in veteran suicides in January.  You can find my post here.  Today, I feel like we are one of that 600,000+ in the backlog.  Sure, everyone has their stories and it is horrible that vets get the back burner when it comes to much
deserved compensation. 

While we've waited the better parts of the last 6 years waiting on claims, I do not understand why we've had to wait 7 months on a few papers (sent in by our congressman on our behalf) to be mailed somewhere to an office to be scanned into the Veteran's Benefits Managment System (VBMS) so that the VA can say they have now have a "web-based, electronic claims processing solution complemented by improved business processes.  Once the claim is scanned we will proceed with the claim processing."  By the time they mailed the five or six pages, took seven months to get them scanned, send correspondence appologizing back to us and the congressman, I have a hard time understanding why they can't just look at the papers and see that we need action.  Seven months to put a hardship request and caregiver documentation into his file to be reviewed later. Pitiful.

For almost two years I have been paid from the VA as a full time, Tier 3, caregiver for my husband.  Back in early Fall of 2011 his neurologist filled out paperwork for Aid and Attendence noting that John needed "Constant Supervision."  In December of 2013, we finally got notice that they denied this claim becuase they felt John needed no assistance.  In my opinion, this claim was one of many we've had denied when I believe the VA just wants to move some numbers and reduce that backlog.  Documents upon documents show that John needs and deserves Aid and Attendence, yet the VA denied it without really looking at the evidence so they could reduce that backlog of claims.  John's claim was processed. "Denied." For me, it is unacceptable.  For John, he doesn't have the patience, memory, or stamina to fight this battle. 

I feel so bad for the vets who don't have someone to fight this battle for them.  I guess this week I will once again step up my efforts to reach out to other organizations that John is a member of and those groups that have told me they would try to help us.  It is tiring.  Even when the Congressman's office has petitioned the VA to expedite our claim due to hardship and "clear and unmistakable error for the rating of individual unemployability, aid and attendence, and traumatic brian injury."

Veterans are ending their lives daily with suicide and others are dying from their illneses and injuries.  Today, John's life didn't end but he suffered with living.  He cried becuase he couldn't move his legs or walk to the bathroom.  He couldn't put on his own socks or move his own covers.  Today was a day worse than some others.  He couldn't get to the bathroom without his wheelchair and assistance.  His chair doesn't even fit through our doorways but the VA denied that housing adaptation grant too becuase John has a brain injury and seizures.  Since he hasn't lost a limb or eyesight, they say we are out of luck and have to struggle.

The VA is not responding effectively and timely enough.  We, the backlog, are at war with a mound of paper and a system that is not effective enough. It has almost squashed us to death.  We've got to win this war.  My husband and the rest of the backloged vets deserve better.  Fight for them.

On the Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran's Facebook Page they posted this informaional photo to give you an suggestion of how to petition your congressman:

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