When I was viewing the BVA statistics in an earlier post the other day, I was struck by the abysmally small number of claims filed by the AMVETS. In the 90’s they were the go-to Vet’s VSO for filing claims. Hell, I ought to know. I was one of their victims.
When I started to file for Hep in 1994, several Vets “in the know” told me these guys were red hot and had a win record like Seattle Slew. How could I go wrong? I met my rep., Bob Talbott, in the bar at the Tacoma AMVETS, and after a few adult beverages, moved into his office for the POA signing ceremony. Once accomplished, he was free to “discuss” my claim with me. I’m serious. We could talk about how the Seahawks were doing in their division. We could talk about La Nina and El Nino. We could solve global warming if we’d known, but he and I could not discuss the particulars of the claim absent the magic paper.
He became a regular font of info once that transpired. He wasn’t a Vet, but had extensive training in the art of claims. In retrospect, I think it may have been automobile accident claims. I saw him again when I was denied. We had a few more brewskis, wrote up the the NOD and submitted new evidence to rebut VA’s insinuation that I hadn’t been in Vietnam and never had Hep. That was the last of old Bob. He left to become a used car salesman several weeks later and neglected to tell me. I called them up several times in 1995 and asked what the progress report was. “We’ll get back to you” was the response. Oddly, those were the exact same words the VA used before they went AWOL for 12 years.
Here we are 18 years later and it appears AMVETS has focused their profit margins on food and drink. I assume they rent out the auditorium for weddings and wakes. They have a huge building (>5,000 SF) in Tacoma on about an acre. The restaurant portion is handsomely appointed, too. With only 265 claims accomplished nationally in 2010, and assuming an equal distribution over the contiguous lower 48 states, this means 5.52 Vets filed there last year. How can they pencil this out and stay in business? The restaurant industry is in the throes of starvation and many are folding weekly. Theirs is not on the verge of getting a Michelin 5 star rating any time soon. Any ideas on how they perform this magic act?
The area to the left behind Dang was where I sat. It wasn’t so much a seat as an afterthought for a second person. Notice the black throttle lever on the side? Yep, I could control the airspeed but had no stick. Mic Jagger was right. You can’t always get what you want.