Last Tuesday, in keeping with the standard, paperless VR&E format, my ILP “mentor” came by from the local VARO for a chat. Let’s put that in perspective. He had to drive about 87 miles one way to drop in for a progress report and a chat. Use of the word mentor here implies someone who teaches you how to accomplish a task. I use the vA meaning of mentor:
mntôr n. one who denies whenever possible. One who only grants if they must, but only after extensive appeals and with the smallest amount of compensation possible. v. men·tored, men·tor·ing, men·tors Informal
We looked at the Asknod site and he was very impressed. He wanted to know all about the statistics and readership. He wanted to know what kind of content I was posting. In short, he wanted to know if vA was getting its money’s worth out of its “investment” in my computer. Seems like something you could do over the phone or email. VR&E must have a big budget like the HR folks back in D.C. if they can send GS-14s out all day to poke around, peek in windows and shoot the breeze with disabled Vets for hours on end.
The real problems started to surface immediately. As I mentioned above, my ILP program has less paperwork than some of the Forward Air Control missions I flew in. Zilch. Zero. We’re talking a 1960s handshake and a “Hail fellow, well met”. This doesn’t need to be classified or For your Eyes Only. Why the clandestine nature? I literally have nothing anywhere that grants me this computer or denies me the greenhouse. For an agency that drowns you in paperwork (eventually), the complete absence of anything acknowledging receipt of any of my filings is beyond strange. I didn’t even get one of those fancy things that starts out with “You are a Veteran of the Vietnam War. You served in the Air Force from…”
I suspect Kris drew the short straw last year and has to be the waterboy. He speaks often of his boss being the one who makes these important calls. The conversation then took an interesting turn. My mentor suggested that these motions, pleadings and dissertations on the need for a greenhouse were wasted breath. I was encouraged to write as often and as freely as I wished but pissing into the wind was going to have similar results too. The die was cast and the decision had been made.
The next subject addressed was the problem of Imperial Entanglements. This is what happens when you call Senator Patty “NIKE” Murray. She and her minions now descend like a Mongol Horde and make live miserable for the Congressional Interests Desk at the RO. Kris was very unhappy at the prospect of my involving anyone with the honorific of Congressman/woman or Senator. This just created more paperwork, engendered ill will between the Legislative branch and the Veterans Administration and plum made ol’ Krissy and his boss Davey have to work overtime explaining why they can’t do what Congress legislated especially for us in 1980. Certainly I could see the wise thinking here and refrain from that foolishness. Yep, I nodded, like a country bumpkin. Shure do, feller. Wouldn’t hanker fer that nohow. NosirreeeBob.
The Veterans Administration has, for the last twenty three years, screwed me out of legitimate monies for injuries incurred in war. For my beloved mentor to give me the inside scoop on what the Big Guys were doing was just the opening I’ve prayed for. By further trying to dissuade me from dragging Senator Sneakers in was the icing. I have attached here the Microsoft Word document with all the salient statutes concerning ILP wrapped up and summarized. It can be adapted by you to file your claim. This is important because most there in VR&E do not know anything about the IL program. When I applied for it, no one even knew what or where to find the application form. After finally qualifying, my file at the local VR&E was shanghaied back to Seattle where they sat on it. And sat on it. When I finally asked for a progress report, I was called and told it required much development. A week later they called to tell me why I wasn’t getting the computer. After one of my famous letters, they got out the tape measure and fitted me for it.
The dance for the greenhouse is more nuanced. I know what I am about and they know I know. Denial now requires very carefully constructed Adobe Acrobat phrases far and above their usual dangling participle variety. I wager the denial will be crafted by someone with an actual high school diploma. What’s more is that they finally have to deny it in writing which requires more than that high, nasal, whiny voice saying ” Well, ahh, you, ahh, know that to qualify you have to prove that the ahh, greenhouse need is vital, you know, to your ah, independence in daily living. We don’t, ahh, see that the, you know, greenhouse is vital or necessary. You ahh, have to show that.” No more “Well, this is off the ahh, record but you’re, well, you know,never going to be approved for this and it will just get messy if we have a lot of legislative ahh, types looking over our shoulder who don’t understand it. Congressional intervention rarely helps and often hinders, you, ahh, you know.”
This is what Senator Murray will be reading the day after tomorrow:
More recently, last week during his fact-finding expedition, Mr. Kris indicated it would not be in my best interests (and indeed a hindrance) were I to involve you or Congressman Dicks in this conversation. Why he or the Veterans Administration holds that view is confusing. Absent a frank discussion, I will never get any traction on this issue. This is why I write.
VA seems to be of a mind that independent living now consists of a cordless phone and a grab bar next to the toilet. Congress did not plan for such an absurd reading of its legislation.
Now for the icing and the little toy greenhouse on top of the cake. I love to save the best for last.
This is the latest 38 USC on ILP-every reference from § 3101 to the real meat in § 3120. Don’t file without it. It alerts them to the fact that you were not raised by wolves and recently disembarked from the USS Mayflower.
Some say I can “turn a phrase”. If indeed I can, this might be an example
As a member of the military forty years ago, I was a stakeholder in America’s freedom. Similarly, as a disabled American with disabilities well over 100%, I find myself today a stakeholder in all that the VA offers. The ILP program was instituted for veterans like me and to fence us out semantically on the turn of a word’s definition is an absurdity that Congress never intended.
I believe I have made my case succinctly and as clearly as possible. In the event my request is still found to be outside the parameters of what Congress envisioned, please send me the paperwork delineating your reasoning and the appropriate forms to facilitate my appeal.
vA has become smitten with the word stakeholder. I asked Mr. Kris what vA’s definition was. A stakeholder is anyone who:
> Has a vested interest in the Agency
> an employee of the Agency
> Veterans who receive medical care from the vHA
> Veterans who receive compensation or pensions from vBA
>Hungry Vets in St. Petersburg looking for people bearing steaks
> Taxpayers who fund the vA
>Congress (both houses)
> The USO
> Little Mikey who likes Life cereal
> The Secretary of the vA
> Contractors who provide services to the vA
> Dead voters in Chicago
> and a cast of thousands more.
vA has a very broad definition for them. Usually it employs the Friday rule and fences everyone out (you had to be born on a Friday, file on a Friday or know somebody who works for vA named Friday). Apparently the reverse is true with stakeholders. Everyone has a voice in it which is very touchy-feely. Stakeholders sing Kumbaya a lot. Stakeholders are interested participants who have a stake in making our lives better. If you are reading this, you, too, are probably a stakeholder. If you’re reading this in St. Pete and you’re hungry, you’re in the wrong line. We’re not holding any steaks. But what I discussed above might help to set a President.
And of course I baited the hook with a USPS 3817 to see if they try the “Huh? We never got it. Now if you’d had a responsible VSO, they would have accomplished this.” News and film in 2016.