Yes siree/madamee. Take your pick. We have news from our esteemed and unidentified Vermin Lane correspondents that the BVA has created what can only be described as a vacuum in VA space- a nether region where all VBMS-generated claims were heading at 125 DPC (days per claim) and 38% accuracy. Yes -that twilight zone of “not at the VARO but not actually at the BVA just yet.” VA observers of the Heavens have named this the “Eskinazi Paradox” or among the inner sanctum as “Laura’s Riddle”. My 2 year old grandson says it “How di do do dat?” Regardless of how you parse it, it’s heathen magic.
In a real accounting system such as GEICO, where metrics cannot be mutated, a claim goes from A-thru Z in a relatively short time. We can safely say that if it doesn’t involve a Ferrari, it can be concluded in less than two months with 98% accuracy and with everyone still smiling- maybe bleakly-but still smiling nevertheless (after the deductible).
Unbeknownst to Under Secretary Hickey, there is a dastardly plan being hatched to erase the VBA’s claims backlog. In a rush to comply with the Treaty with the Great White Father in DC of 2013 , Gen. Hickey swore on a stack of Burger King Crowns that the backlog would be resolved and the claims process would begin installing Six Sigma-approved Drive-Thru windows at the VAROs across the Fruited Plain. Well, not exactly. 2015 has dawned but the backlog is still an issue. The latest we’ve heard was an acknowledgement that it would be “substantially” contained (tamed?)…
Apparently, the Veterans Service Center Managers’ emails spammed the USB’s follow-on admonition to do it fairly and give the benefit of the doubt to us. I’m getting reports from folks saying “Wow. That was quick. I don’t understand, though. I uploaded everything on the eBennies site just like they told me to and I don’t see where they got it. There must be a mistake”…
Well, boy howdy yes there’s a mistake. Welcome to 3 card VA monte. This is the ricochet we have been predicting. Give a rater a deadline and no strictures on technique or morals, and you’ll get a decision in the designated time. It won’t be right but there is no penalty for decisional error. The “decision” has been made. That is the measurement for VA. If your Father died and you put in a request for a flag, that grant would be a “decision”- albeit a positive outcome.
Unless you’re driving a wheelchair and missing some of you original-issue 2000 body parts, you’ll probably win eventually. Make sure to bring your Combat Action Ribbon and the Purple Heart though just for added insurance.
Once the denial process has run it’s three year course at the VARO, your appeal (the official receipt of the Form 9 and subsequent certification via Form 8) demands this c-file be transmitted to the BVA immediately for docketing. The Regional Offices show this has happened on paper. They are no longer technically in possession of the document(s). Said documents still officially reside in a segregated area away from the general filing area but no longer “belong” to the local Office. They are in the above described nether region where they await official receipt by the BVA.
The BVA denies this and merely considers them to be in a queue of sorts. The Phoenix analogy immediately comes to mind where there is a paper list of Veterans “benefits Patients” waiting for an appointment at the BVA with their meagre pool of Veterans Law Jurists. You cannot see these patients in VACOLS yet as they wait to be “transported” to DC. At best, they may show as in transit but that would make a mockery of the Panama Canal analogy. I can walk to DC from Seattle faster than my claim can get there via FEDEX. Here’s member Randy’s from that “nether region”. Apparently no one knows exactly where it is…
The Secretary has received your email dated February 17, 2015. He has forwarded your inquiry to VA leadership for review and direct feedback to you. Thank you for your communication.
Office of the Secretary
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave NW
Washington DC 20420
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 4:00 PM
To: McDonald, Bob
Subject: [EXTERNAL] 29538960
I have followed procedure in regards to the VA compensation but yet again have to fight to get answers. My form 9 was sent in Sept. 2014 and we received a notice that it had been received. When I tried to check on the progress at the BVA I was told that the case had been returned to the RO and the file was closed. Neither my attorney nor myself were ever notified that the case was closed. We cannot seem to get an answer as to the whereabouts of my C-file at present. I originally filed the NOD in February 2013 and my health as a whole is going down the tubes with stage 4 liver cirrhosis and type II diabetes. I would appreciate your office looking into this and getting me some answers.
Sleepless in Colorado
You have heard of Laura’s “rocket dockets” that accelerate the easy-to-deny claims to the forefront in front of tennis shoe staff attorneys in robes- the so called Acting VLJs. Even this technique as exposed by VLJ Kelli Kordach cannot keep pace with the ever-metastasizing number of appeals. There used to be a time before all those VA-ambulance chasing attorneys showed up where a VLJ could just rule and be done with it. Allowing Vets to have attorneys, let alone a higher appeals path, was simply begging for trouble. Judge Eskinazi now is mouthing the words “I told you so.”
What, exactly, did anyone expect? If you step on a balloon, the air merely moves to where the pressure isn’t. In this case, adding VBMS Exlax™ to the system has accomplished the stated metric of clearing out the backlog. It makes no difference what the results were. They are, for the record, 100% correct unless, or until, a Vet successfully appeals them up to a higher level and prevails. If they come back on reversal or a vacate/ JMR , that drags the statistic down but a new decision also counts as a correct decision too. Only at VA can you count a failure a success twice. VA’s personal best (164 correct decisions on one claim) is held by the Cleveland Office where they invented shredding. Few know that they are still adjudicated Col. Harland Sanders’ claim to this day, either.
Frank sends us this tasty morsel from the Cleveland Clearinghouse:
My husband is a 68 year old Disabled American Veteran. I recently called VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s cell phone. After getting voice mail, I left my name and number. Two days later, a member of Secretary McDonald’s staff, Erin Gittens returned my call. She looked at my husband file. His appeal for compensation has been backlogged at the Cleveland Regional Office since 2010 Erin Gittens promised to send an email to the Cleveland Regional Office inquiring about my husband’s claim.
The very next day, we received a phone call from the Cleveland Regional Office. The gentleman’s name is Kevin Freedman.
Mr. Freedman was very upset that I had called Secretary McDonald.
He said he was TOTALLY IN CHARGE OF MY HUSBAND’S CLAIM, not anyone in Washington, especially Robert McDonald.
Mr. Kevin Freedman stated that he intended to immediately DENY THE CLAIM! My husband and I were shocked that this gentleman, Kevin Freedman could DENY THE CLAIM that has lingered at the CLEVELAND REGIONAL OFFICE for OVER 4 years, in less than 4 MINUTES!
It is boldly obvious that this VA WORKER, KEVIN FREEDMAN is angry because we phoned Secretary McDonald for help. In revenge, Kevin Freedman is denying the claim for compensation OUT OF SPITE!
During our phone conversation, I asked that he meet with my husband in person. Mr. Freedman’s reply was, “There is really no point, I am going to DENY the CLAIM! But, if you insist, Come on up to Cleveland!”
We are senior citizens. My husband is a veteran.
We do not deserve to be treated with such TOTAL DISRESPECT! Please Bob McDonald help us, like you promised!
Our long time member Hey Mikey! He likes it! from Oregon writes in with some disturbing news I was aware of subconsciously.
Good Morning Bro! Well my VA never seems to amaze me when it comes to blood. First thing in Basic I have A pos blood,1999 get transfusion I have A neg and now 2015 I have B pos. In 2003 when I had a Hep C biopsy they say in records my Hep C is 1b and now 2015 it has magically changed to 1a. And they wonder why I don’t want any more procedures done there.
Because my kidney lab tests are high they don’t want to do the Harvoni unless I have a colonoscopy, and scoped thru my nose and down my throat. Hate to tell them they can’t reach my kidneys thru those holes.
I got one of those medical cards, but when I called to have some other problems checked out that Boise doesn’t have, they told me only one disease per Veteran can be treated at a time and mine was Hepatology. HUH??? My Hep C Dr is a temp transplant and is getting a great training at VA BS from having me as a patient. When I told her what they said she was amazed. Yesterday I got an appt for some team for something different. I’ll find out next week what they specialize in.lol I think I will delay things till I get moved then use the card to see some civilians. Too much funny stuff going on here. Beginning to think they wanna have a whoops moment with their scope and make a new hole in my brain that unfortunately ends the whole movie.lol
Got any thoughts?? Mikey
Well, yeah. I have a whole lot of thoughts, Mikey. I see their butt tractors have been in the news a few times for being a little dusty where they forgot to wipe them down well. I see the UCLA having problems with their endoscopes they want to poke down your throat, too. As for the one disease to a customer, that actually doesn’t surprise me. VA has always rationed care. We know that. Phoenix was just the first time it was admitted in public.
In 2013, as I reported here, I made my pilgrimage to the VAMC American Lake and begged for Sofosbuvir. I was told to report for a butt exam and endoscopy too if I wanted to even get on the paper list. As you know, I don’t trust them not to kill us simply to reduce patient load. They pretty much made their intentions clear during my last 4-operation vacation there. I can sure understand Mikey’s concerns. We think he got this from either the VA’s butt tractor party in 97 (where they pierced his colon) or the transfusion a day or two later that they said he didn’t need afterwards to save his life.
Why would anyone think that the nefarious schemes employed by VHA at VAMCs across the country to control the true count of Veterans seeking medical help would not spill over into the VBA? I’m country raised and look no further than to a bucket of apples. One of them is going to go rotten and ruin the rest if left alone. The Veterans Administration is in deep doo doo and Rep. Miller is uncovering more crap daily. The miracle is how it was kept from the public and Congress for so long.
Call me Bob is now catching the blow back after his local minions are forced to adjudicate his “email claims” ahead of those who have waited patiently in line. This is an uncomfortable truth. Every time one of you calls Bob, your complaint is fielded by a staff attorney at the BVA. He hits the action button to the local RO involved. They drop everything and have a Congressional Interests (CI) interface (usually a GS-12-13) contact you and innocently ask “Whazzup?” Your complaint is duly noted and a denial (Or SOC, Or SSOC, or Form 8 etc.) immediately is issued. They mark “decided” on it and put it in the steno pool for a denial letter. Next query?
I’ve noted a 39-4 ratio of “What just happened?” emails from many of you. It doesn’t shock me. No one at Bob’s office returns to visit these. I’ve heard from them too. “I emailed what happened back to the guy and he won’t answer.” One saved the BVA’s phone number of the staff atty. who called him. Seems the Staff atty. works out of New Orleans’ VA Regional Legal now. Was there someone else here that could help you?
I save the best one for last. Some entertaining Vet out there convinced his Congressional Representative to try to dial the VA Prize Redemption Hotline at 800-827-1000 and see how long it took to get through. At 43 minutes, they dropped the call. VA did, not the Congressman. He was less than impressed and promised to look into it. Real soon, hear?
That’s the weekly round up of VA’s Romper Room. Mark your calendars to tune in on the 2nd of March. The VA will be required to Show and Tell up at the CAVC on my Extraordinary Writ. I can tell they’re working on it. My eBennies account is going crazy on mute. I couldn’t even access it yesterday they were so busy remodeling.
P.S. If you really want to piss off the raters at St. Petersburg and slow down production, fire the rater who’s the vice-president of the union for telling the truth.
P.P.S. Silver Queen Leigh emails me this afternoon with the glorious news that she has finally won her VA appeal for her HCV. We’ve been fighting for years so it shows that the asknod Book works. She and Paul followed it to a T. Win or Die! I’ll be writing up their travails and the win when I can see the magic paper. Whoooooooooooooooooooooooo, doggies. We’ve been working on that since Jesus wore diapers.