Absolutely great! The first VA Secretary in the history of VASECS finally begins to modernize VA by revamping antique procedures and they want to give him a Texas Necktie Party. Sometimes I wonder what passes for a feeble mind. This sent in by member Frank- (the other brother Frank) reveals that some Veterans just can’t be satisfied-period.
While I’m not enamored of Shinseki enough to have a beer summit, I do give him high marks for fighting the idiots who have populated the VA hierarchy down at Vermin Ave. for decades. He’s dragging them into the twenty first century kicking and screaming- much against their will. In fact, the chuckleheads are reported to finally be relinquishing their treasured dial phones with the cute, old finger wheels on them. This is no small accomplishment and should be accorded some attention.
This has not been accomplished without the usual caterwauling and bellowing associated with mating elephants. In fact, at twenty one months, it takes less time to gestate an elephant than it’s taking to go paperless. Nevertheless, it’s finally happening. Change at the DVA is inexorable under Shinseki. That much can not be attributed to his forebears.
The only downside to this is the 78 rpm gyrations of denying claims with over 50% error. Hell, I might be being generous. I suspect it’s even higher. LawBob Squarepants made an interesting analogy several days ago to it as VA knitting- “Grant one. Deny three. Grant one. Deny three.” Nothing could be closer to the truth.
Inveigling us to submit Fully Developed Claims form-fitted to their specifications with us carrying all the water and doing the homework is neat trick. Duty to assist can now be retired. Since VA rarely engaged in this practice in the past, its loss will hardly be noticed.
Gen. Shinseki has many detractors among the ranks of Vets but what he does have is the unenviable task of fixing something that has been broken for longer than I have been filing and losing. VA has taken intransigence to a whole new level since the inception of the VJRA in 1988 and refused to modernize. Much like an obstinate child, they refuse to reform. The general is actually being polite as pie in his attempts to revamp all this. I would probably let the heads roll where they may and move on if my crew stubbornly worked against me in this kind of situation.
Some say he’s not a hands-on administrator. That may be right but he’s as inexorable as a glacier and proceeds apace in spite of the verbal abuse. This is precisely why we should be embracing him and his belated efforts instead of trying to unseat him. Face it. He’s Army and doesn’t have the Je ne sais quoi “farthinker” capabilities we associate with Air Force types. But much like a plodding dray animal, he is succeeding where all his predecessors failed miserably. This should be reason for praise rather than disdain.
Now, who, exactly, is Concerned Veterans of America ? Good question. Considering there seems to be a new one of these outfits about every month, some scrutiny is in order. The general is a known quantity. He is doing what he said he would-albeit taking his time in the process. As for his promise of 125 days and 98% accuracy by 2015, the jury is still out and will be for several years.
I would normally never give anyone carte blanche to revamp a Federal agency when they ask for five years. That seems unreasonable on its face. But keep in mind that VA Secretaries have dissembled and fiddled since 1989 while Vets died waiting for their day in court. Shinseki is finally moving the goalposts closer toward some rectification of the problem even if the progress seems snail paced.
Rather than give the heave ho to the man who finally got the engine of change started, perhaps it’s time to look under the hood and find who unplugged the spark plugs all these years. Therein lies the problem. One Secretary does not a backlog make. This was orchestrated by many over time and it will take a concerted effort (by many) to rectify. It will require a major retrenchment of the way VA thinks of us as Veterans. We have to be humanized rather than relegated to numbers.
Lastly, VA must quit cooking their books to solve their problems. Taking claims and divvying them up into subgroups or “less than 125 days” and “over 125 days”, “fast tracking”, “FDCs” “provisional decisions”, etc. is nothing more than a redux of the divide and conquer theory. At the end of the day, the exact same number of Veterans are still disenfranchised and nothing has changed other than which line they are standing in. Waiting at the BVA two years for a docket is eerily similar to waiting at the RO for the magic 125 days (that morphs into 485) promised. Vets can’t discern the difference. Waiting is waiting in anyone’s dictionary. Changing the geographical location does not dispel the feelings of anger nor does it validate exorbitant bonuses while we stew in poverty waiting.
There is plenty of blame to go around. Make no mistake. Gen. Shinseki, unfortunately, has “The buck stops here” on his desk and is expected to wave the wand and solve the problem. He is. He’s just not doing it as fast as many would like. Let’s give him credit for being the first VA Secretary to actually succeed in dragging the DVA out of the dark ages rather than just endlessly promising to as his predecessors so ably did.
Remember, getting things done at the VA is akin to mating elephants.
1) It’s done at a very high level
2) It’s only accomplished with a plethora of bellowing, foot dragging and screaming
3) And lastly, it takes a minimum of twenty one months to produce measurable results. Be patient. And while we’re at it, let’s have a look at the Form 990 the CVA has on file with the IRS. Can it be we have another $330,000.00/year CEO and all his fat cat friends sucking Vets’ wallets dry?