On average, on my email, I receive more mail asking me how long it will take versus any other subject besides “How high do you think they’ll rate me?” To both questions, I of course go out, slay the virgin hen in the henhouse and study her entrails. That’s why I charge $10 a pop for this. No. All funnin’ aside (the OGC might think I do it for a living), I use the coffee filter technique and it’s never failed me yet.
We still shop at the restaurant supply place where they have the five foot long, uncut Fred Flintstone half racks of Brontosaurus ribs. They also happen to be one of the few who carry commercial Bunn® coffee filters. If you’re one of those impatient people in the world who wants 10 cups now, it’s for you. It’s the Binford® of coffee machines. Mooooore power. More to the point, they only come in 500 round clips. Since I only make one pot a day, it’s an accurate measurement of time. Timing this year would have it that I bought the above a week after the VLJ Travel Board hearing on April 29th.
I’m on my second Bunn and sixth pack since I filed in February 2007. Our water here is very tasty… and acidic. It tends to be hard on hot water appliances but the taste trade off and being odor-free is worth it. 3,000 filters and I’m still not finished with my claims. A great way to count days too-2,920.
Time in VAland
VA worker bees see much hardship and many homeless Vets. Some of you filing increases for meniscus of the knee from 10 to 30% don’t understand that a rater can be pulled off your claim to work a huge influx of Parkinson’s AO presumptives in Seattle if the local TV station runs a special on Agent Orange. I compare it to the military. If they had an A/C taking off at the Aerial Port and you were in line, it meant nothing if five wounded guys showed up in a meat wagon. Now carry that analogy to a constant stream coming in ones and twos for medical or financial reasons or the Congressional Interests Section getting calls from Georgia every five minutes and you have a recipe for mayhem. Stir in a slow VBMS hookup and you feel like you’re in 1995 dialup land. Nothing can get done. Interruptions are the norm rather than the exception. And then the new VASEC says “Hey. Here’s my number.” to 3 million Vets.
Many of you have tried the “Call me Bob. Here’s my number” or Brigadier General Allison Hickey. Virtually all of you have essentially called “Congressional Interests” and the proper RO Section at your local Fort Fumble has called you and taken time to suddenly “fix” something that has been amiss for months, years or decades. Almost all of you over at Hadit.com are publishing their telephone successes in a forum there. What I wonder is quite simple. If VAROs are hopelessly swamped, what exactly ensues that warps the time vortex back upon itself such that a repair order is promulgated at the speed of light? I refer to the speed with which the funds appear in your bank account.
I suspect that one of you Vets still standing in the queue for a DRO review are being supplanted by the use of Call me Bob’s email addy. Face it. In a system that admittedly is backlogged out 200+++ days for even an initial up or down, if someone calls and gets his/her dependency issues ironed out after waiting 15 months, some one or more of us must have to take a new number. I think they borrowed it from Deputy Board Mistress Laura Eskinazi. If it looks like a rocket docket, and it quacks like a rocket docket then it’s probably a reasonable facsimile of one especially bred for VAROs. Virtually all who talk with me say they are personally contacted by a DRO who is now doing something other than what she was slated to do today…
Getting bumped off the A/C is all well and fine but eventually something has to give. What we have here is a George Orwell Animal Farm construction where some pigs are “more equal” than other pigs. The pig smart enough to use a computer is now advanced in line ahead of a World War II Vet asking for SMC L or M or trying to get A&A for his wife.
I am ashamed to admit it but my father, as Commander of 5th Air Force in Fuchu Japan sometimes managed to just have a T-33 or an RF -4C that happened to be in front of Base Ops sometimes if I needed to get over to Cam Ranh in a hurry. I would normally have trotted over to 6th AP of Entry and waited for the next Klong flight. This is no different. The analogy is exact. I certainly have no gripe with Vets who choose to do this. I, myself, led the charge last September but it backfired. I received a haughty chuckle and a SOC six days later when I suggested an earlier effective date for SMC of April 1994.
The majority of Vets I’ve suggested it to have availed themselves of it to varying degrees of success. I’d estimate it’s running 71% to the good. Were it only for application like a writ where the wait time has to be over two years, it might make sense. Were it to apply this way to a homeless Vet in six days would be too cool for school. Somehow, I do not see that happening.
Time is more than an enigma at VA. Every day is hump day to the next. Overtime is normal for Saturdays. Mistakes are becoming endemic because they have created a nightmare computer hybrid that argues with itself. Every time they need to actually bite the bullet and get one big fancy Cray Cadillac, they cheap out and add another peripheral on top of Virtual VA. VBMS is slower than the seven year itch in Sioux Falls from what we hear- that is, when it’s up.
Time in real terms at the VA is immaterial. Being the only Veterans Life Insurance Company in town, They’ll get it done when they damn well feel like it—unless Bob or Allison’s chiefs of staff call up and want an in-depth briefing on Johnny Homeless Vet in 20 minutes from the VSCM. All of a sudden, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a 100 gig Windows 21 Superputer, VBA gears up and does what Allstate does. And Geico does. And USAA does. They fix the problem in a few days.
We know they can do it. Call me Bob shamed them into it after the Phoenix Phiasco. As for General Hickey’s promise of 125-day ratings with 98% accuracy, I am concerned. She genuinely has created a sea change and begun improving the air of indifference among employees. Whether it was Six Sigma, Rolfing or EST, we don’t care. If that enthusiasm and verve would just percolate down to the AOJs we’d be ecstatic. Happy raters produce more ratings. Eventually, they’ll be given realtime tools to adjudicate with in order to quell this ebennies demand for instant status reports at all hours of the day or night.
I propose an APP that automatically keeps you connected to ebennies throughout the pendency of the claim including the Appeal. Each Vet will be assigned an Advocate. You can leave a text message for the CA (Claims Advocate) to tell him what you’re doing today and a video of your cat tipping the flower vase over this morning. He can in turn ignore you or wreck your whole day and type in one of those 😦 thingies. Hey, go figure. Maybe I could create it myself and get insanely wealthy. The point here is to take the sting out of time and create a distraction that absorbs it. Bored Vets are unhappy Vets. In this new instant knowledge world we inhabit, idle thumbs are the devil’s workshop. We need constant input to fend off boredom. Simply knowing that the CA is at least receiving your babble is paramount to assurances that (s)he feels your angst and is pretending to be your BFF. You could share your Advocate’s selfie with your close friends and put it on Facebook. You could ‘friend’ your CA. The options to whittle down time into small, digestible blocks are endless. I’ll leave it to your imagination.
P.S. Yes. You guessed it. I had a phlebotomy today. Hey, I search for humor wherever my oxygen starved brain can find it.