Like a surreal movie, the VA loves to take us on a tour of what isn’t when we file for benefits. This straw man argument creates a false precept and then proceeds to lead the viewer further and further away from reality. Eventually you get the impression you are reading another Veteran’s case and claim. Well, let’s put that aside pour le moment. Sometimes we are.
It begins, in my case, with what constitutes a “greenhouse”. VA is rather ambiguous on this but they apparently know a green house when they see one. That’s one of those “Elementary, my dear Watson” determinations.
After being taken to task on this in my Notice of Disagreement, I was appalled to read in my Statement of the Case that:
“The Veteran has one large and at least two smaller greenhouses on his property.”
Now, being a fair and balanced reporter and one who is not prone to minimize or obfuscate, my first impression was that this was standard operating procedure for VA. I envision them getting out the M-21 Denial Manual and scrolling down to ” ILP Greenhouses-denial protocols”. Next, “boilerplate denial based on too many greenhouses currently on site”. Lastly, an Adobe-prepared denial program which automatically prints the denial language without any human intervention. Et voila! the new VBMS at work. 98 % accuracy in less than 125 days. Yada, yada, yada.
Unfortunately, this disconnect is bound to occur when we discover the Vocational Rehabilitation counselor with the college degree in self-actualization has no conception of gardening. My counselor has had the pleasure of driving 90+ miles one way to research and record my horticultural aspirations several times. Each time he has seen the exact same set of circumstances. This is an extravagant waste of money when you consider gas in the United Soviet Socialist Republic of Washington is about $4.00/ gallon. Add to that the relatively high rank (see below) he occupies and this is like sending a Brigadier General out to reconnoiter the enemy’s position. It’s a far more appropriate job for a GS-5 in a Chevy Leaf who is acquainted with Best Practices in Gardening.
SEATTLE PSYCHOLOGY GS 12 2012 salary $99,254 BONUS- $680
Now, add insult to injury and look at his supervisor’s credentials.
SEATTLE SOCIAL SCIENCE GS 14 2012 salary $110,047 BONUS- $1,500
Put this in perspective. When I filed my NOD, they couldn’t independently assemble a satisfactory denial in-house. They mutually elected to export it to DC and the whizbangs at the Central Office supplied the coup de grace. I shudder to think what GS rating the DC honchos are pulling in let alone the bonuses.
Now, for those of you not of the Braille Persuasion, I offer this visual test of eye acuity. I asked my son in law to ascend the heights of the roof top and take this marvelous aerial overview of the garden and its environs. I invite you to count all the greenhouses visible to the naked eye. Cold frames, hot boxes and the like are not to be included as they are not artificially heated nor are they “houses” you can enter.
I’d vote for “it is not at least as likely as not that the Veterans has one large and at least two smaller greenhouses on his property”. Of course, I could be lying and there might be more around the corner hiding in the woods or in the shade. Of course, I could be Batman and you are looking at Wayne Manor, too.