On my morning hike (100 yards) to the mailbox for the paper, I am always accompanied by my able-bodied PDAs. That would be the 4 personal dog assistants and the new kitty who mistakenly believes she’s actually a canine. With no cat role models, Ambush is condemned to assume that everything on my property are dogs except the horses.
This morning I pulled the paper out and was greeted by “BACKLOG OF DISABILITY CLAIMS SWAMPS VA”. This was apparently just discovered by the mainstream media. Nobody from AP or UPI consulted the 3 million Vets who are sitting around watching Drew Carey and dying or contemplating suicide. This news morsel emanated from the fertile brain of Steve Vogel, a correspondent for the Washington Post. Considering he’s a stone’s throw from 810 Vermont Ave. NW, I am amazed he wasn’t all over this like white on rice sooner. This is like living in Dallas and just finding out someone assassinated John F. Kennedy.
He is quite the sleuth judging from the article. He has reasoned that this must be due to Veterans returning from the SWA Olympics and compounded by the VA’s recently “liberalized” rules for Vietnam Vets to file AO related claims. Hoo-ha! Actually the VA has never made it difficult to file any claim, but he thinks the process may have been more arduous in years past. If he’d left an email after his name, I’d enlighten him. Perhaps I could post on his wall or sign him up for my tweets.
He states that the number of “pending” claims before the VA stood at 853,831 on Friday last. He thinks this is a net increase of 100,000 more claims than last year and up 500,000 from three years ago. Another interesting factoid was that although VA “processed” over a million claims last year, 1.3 million more were filed during the same period.
Additionally, of the 2.2 million veterans fighting the Raghead Uprising, 624,000 have filed claims and many more are expected. Hold the phone, Joan. More claims are expected? What about the million or so who have probably filed and whose claims lie unopened (and “unprocessed”) in the VA’s RO mailrooms across our fruited plain? Mr. Vogel also has it on good authority that 200,000 Vietnam “War” Veterans have filed claims since VA made it so easy to get compensation for AO. The man is clairvoyant. He adduced this all by himself.
He goes on in this breathtaking expose to reveal the VASEC “launched a department-wide effort to break the backlog, according to agency officials.” He points out the two billion dollar increase in funding (20%) is going to “accelerate services for Veterans“. These same agency officials have stated that going to a paperless claims processing system “will take months out of the process”. Months as in plural, mind you. It makes my head spin. This new paperless concept will embody “cutting edge information technology”.
Allow me to give Mr. Vogel a little accumulated knowledge from the other side of the pasture. I have illuminated some things here in red to make it easier for me to find them again. VA has never liberalized anything except their pay scale. They may have finally started explaining what they require and telling us, but that’s a far cry from the verb liberalize.
Let’s take the word “processed”. In order for a word to have meaning, we all must be able to define it the same way and agree on it. VA uses “processed” to mean received- perchance in the “process” of being adjudicated. It does not imply finality. More importantly, this terminology does not encompass claims in the development “process”, denials in the “process” of being appealed, appeals in the “process” of being remanded to correct errors, or other partially complete claims in one “process” or another. We have more claims in other “processes” combined than what arrived last year. Were Mr. Vogel to count these it would better reflect this nagging “backlog”. I liken this to the art form of counting the unemployed. Once you quit looking, you are no longer unemployed. When your unemployment paycheck time limit runs out (99 weeks) you are-yes- no longer unemployed. Were we to truly count the “unemployed” the currently touted 8.5 % would be closer to 25%. That agrees with what I see out there every day.
You will notice the past tense form of the word “launch” as in, to inaugurate or introduce a new program. VA knew the wars in SWA were going to generate vast quantities of injured and maimed. They also were the progenitors of the new, “liberalized” rules for Vietnam Vets vis a vis AO. This was as predictable as flatulence after consuming baked beans. How can they be stupefied to suddenly discover this is causing a backlog?
As for ” accelerating the process”, here again we run afoul of semantics. Where we were traveling at 20mph in a school zone, we are now accelerating up to the heady speed of 22mph. Helmets and protein pills are in order. We are on the cusp of witnessing a sea change in the way claims are processed. No longer will this take 3 years, fellow Veterans. No, we’re talking on the order of two years and nine months and perhaps several days less than that.
If VA does away with paper files, I guess you could characterize it as “cutting edge technology”. After all, ball point pens were once cutting edge-as were typewriters. It’s all in the description and the phrase employed. Being the only government entity in D.C. still clinging to 19th century quill and ink pot, any innovation can be touted as cutting edge without stretching the concept of the truth.
If we all gather here next year at this time and compare notes, I wonder if the term “backlog” will issue from anyone’s piehole? We Vets have been ordained Emperor and forced to wear nothing while being told we are wearing finery suitable for Kings. This imaginary fig leaf doesn’t comport with the “process” we hear redefined constantly. Trimming months off a decade-long claim and calling it a watershed event somehow seems a little bit overdone.
Words are amazing devices for conflusticating reality. I look forward to more entertaining VA faery tales in the future. We may soon read that seven dwarves named Denial, Never, Speculative, Construe, Soc, Ssoc and Noa have been hired as VA examiners and are busy chopping even more months off our claims.
You will notice Soc is holding his hand up in the well-known “V” for Veterans. You may also notice that I had a molar pulled by VA today and this post is heavily influenced by morphine.