In what is perhaps a redux of the famous Z-grams which Rear Admiral Elmo Zumwalt used to issue in the 70s on operational procedures in the Navy, so too is Undersecretary of the VA for Benefits Allison  A. Hickey similarly engaged. Her “H-bombs” are going off all over the place at 810 Vermont Ave. NW in DC and a few even land up in Congress.

Unlike Elmo’s legendary missives which were designed to improve Naval operations, Hickey’s appear to be panaceas to all those nasty problems we’ve been suffering with in silence for decades.  The latest appears to be a retread of the famous triage system instituted in the eighties to focus on needy Vets with problems that required immediate attention. That system was relegated to the mailroom where astute vA employees were assigned to open all the incoming mail. Its purpose was two fold and weeded out all the letters with anthrax and ricin. The important thing was that a Veteran could invoke the holy words Rule 900, and with supporting evidence, get his claim adjudicated before he didn’t have use for the money in the afterlife. This worked admirably until the claims picture changed with increased wars and their attendant fallout (injured Vets). We were instructed to call this “collateral damage” in the 70s when nape went further than we intended.

Member Squidly Didly sends us this latest masterpiece from the desk of none other than her royal highness of benefits. Its another H-bomb that simply restates the triage program and makes it sound like a brand new invention. I certainly don’t mean to sully Ms. Hickey’s reputation for innovation but if this is the best she and her henchman can come up with as a rejoinder to Rep. Filner’s tirade on inefficiency last month, we as Vets are in for a long winter of discontent. Sixteen ROs? Gee, what about the other 40, Master? In good time. Padewans. All in good time.

Veterans deserve better than for our Protector to simply repackage old programs and present them as new, cutting edge technology in the war on the claims backlog. The majority of us do not drive turnip wagons for a living and have a modicum of intelligence. Most of us can see the ham-handed tactics they are employing in a desperate attempt to hold on to their authority. The worst case scenario is beginning to rear its ugly head. What if outside agencies could be employed (read subcontracted) to successfully diminish the backlog and increase accuracy? Perish the thought. Why, that might mean they would lose their supremacy over all things Veteran. Is that such a bad thing?

Hickey is herself a Veteran. Although she flew a desk for a living in that former life, she should still empathize with Vets. The same applies to Uncle Eric. This shouldn’t be an adversarial relationship with us on the losing end. There is simply no parallel in American history for the shoddy treatment we have been getting since before the Bonus Army was decimated in DC back in 1932.

Always remember ladies and gentlemen-promises were made and gifts were exchanged when you signed up. This has been the case for two centuries since the War of Northern Aggression. You kept your promise and held up your end of the bargain. Unfortunately the government, like an ADD child, seems to forget its end of the agreement or worse-it constantly seeks to renegotiate the contract after signing to provoke a different outcome. That outcome seems to always leave us with less and less every time they renegotiate the compact. I now understand how the Oglalla Sioux felt after their last do-over with DC.

As Squid pointed out, all these purported “cures” simply are instituted at the RO level with no mention of the downstream issue of the logjam at the BVA rapidly developing. Hell, let’s revisit that and call it what it is-a clusterf**k of jurisprudence. I’m not one for expletives but we have used up all the polite adjectives over the years to describe what is going on. What Ms. Hickey and company don’t seem to absorb is that this has gone beyond the pale where simple H-bombs and press releases detailing what is in store for us don’t cut it. If they resolve the problem at the RO without addressing the next backlog phase, all we’ve fought for is a new stumbling block with a different name. Until we resolve the next most basic issue after timeliness (which is accuracy), all the crap is so much window dressing.

The only thing missing here is a catchy acronym like the “BOZO plan” for this new initiative. Brilliant OrganiZational Obfuscation Plan indeed. Its okay with me if you want to use that one. Somehow, it seems appropriately named under the circumstances.

About asknod

VA claims blogger
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  1. SquidlyOne says:

    Good point Kiedove. After looking at a number of DBQs, I’ve come to realize that it is just a quicker way for the VA to deny or lowball or just be in error. There are a number of reasons why I say that. One is that the VA still has to decipher our SMRs. They are not in DBQ format and they never will be. All doctors and medical staff (VA or private) have a very rigid standard for documenting treatment records. If a patient has a very complicated and lengthy medical record, either there is no check-box or if there is one, the good Doctor may not check it simply because it doesn’t show up in the medical record for another several pages. In other words, it is just another level of obfuscation. It has to be, by reason that the medical records still need to be checked for accuracy and content. Will the DBQs change with the treatment records? Will there be additional DBQs generated for ongoing treatment?

    It is about the tail wagging the dog! There is no way the DBQs can accurately reflect a Veteran’s medical condition. How many “revisions” of a DBQ will the VA keep around. Which one will they use? Which ones will they conveniently lose? The medical records are etched in stone. The DBQs are just putty in the hands of the VBA. Are my VA doctors going to write a DBQ every time I go in for treatment? I should think not. Are private doctors going to keep a stack of DBQs around? Because there will literally be hundreds of DBQs with thousands of revisions. There has to be. And last but not least, we come to the nexus. A doctor has to describe in great detail how each possible factor could contribute to the etiology and the likelihood of each factor. Logically speaking, it is impossible for a DBQ to take the place of a nexus letter.

  2. Kiedove says:

    Scrolling to the end of the H-bomb link about the triage system…do these Disability Benefit Questionnaires replace the nexus letters? Or are nexus letters still required for a fully developed claim? I’ve looked at a few questionnaires and they don’t give a private doc much room for his reasoning!

    • Kiedove says:

      Talking to myself here: The 2012 BVA decision are still “page not found” for search terms like Agent Orange, diabetes, HCV. It’s July already. They are posted through 3/3/12 but not accessible. Who can we contact?

    • asknod says:

      This was mentioned at the hearing up on the hill several weeks ago. The Hickeygram went out the next day. “Get the new DBQs printed ASAP! They figured out we omitted the nexus slot. Dang, I didn’t think anyone would notice. Go figure…”

      • SquidlyOne says:

        Oh man ya had to mention Zumwaldt. I was sure glad to get those cracker jacks back. Those teal colored uniforms were made from polyester and would melt then catch on fire when you lit a cigarette. Really bad news to run into a crash and burn. Dodging helo blade fragments sucked enough! 🙂

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