Subtly buried in every American VARO across our fruited orchards, is an office set up to deal with inquiries, complaints, and irate congressfolk. In all cases, the invective is one-way coming into the Regional Offices-i.e. Congressmen/women’s VA gopher calls up his Congressional Interests (abbreviated CI) officer, usually a GS-12 or 13, and asks what the status of a claim is. In almost all cases, they’ll get a canned, manufactured response that is tailored to assuage any ruffled feathers and satisfy the query. In most cases, the Dog and Pony show is at its finest hour. One of the lead off statements will almost invariably be ” I’d like to point out that VA recently settled Mr. Graham’s instant claim and he received a check for over $38,000.00. It can hardly be said we’re dragging our feet. We would be happy to look into any other perceived problems Mr. G has but we need more info.
Shoo doggies.What’s that c-file for then? The point I try to make is that VA has had this tool in their box for decades-certainly as long as they’ve had irate Congressmen calling them. One thing I have never seen, though, is the CI officer reach out to a Congressman and beg him to call off his constituent who is haranguing them unmercifully.
As some may recall here, I’ve been a little less than circumspect in my communications with the Seattle Regional VR&E officers. Please see my recent diatribe of emails exchanged asking them when (or if) they intend to build my greenhouse. You can imagine my surprise when my good friend at Congressman Kilmer’s office, formerly in charge of VA trailer trash and now recently promoted to chief of staff in Tacoma, forwarded me the following email. Never in the history of CIs has one begged for respite from an abusive voter. I can’t begin to tell you how utterly shocked we both were. Nick wonder aloud if he’d even filed a VA Form 21-120 Report of butthurt before calling.
Here was the email sent from the CI:
Subject: FYI -just got this from the VA
“A Board of Veterans Appeal decision dated September 4, 2015, found that the Veteran is entitled to a heated greenhouse that is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) as part of his independent living services program.
Procedurally [sic], Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services (VR&E) contacted the Pacific District Contracting Office for an appointment of a Construction Manager to oversee the construction of the heated greenhouse that will meet the ADA program specifications. During the week of May 11, 2016, the VR&E officer contacted Mr. Graham relative to the construction issues. It appears that Mr. Graham has identified someone who could build the greenhouse immediately for approximately $90,000.00; Mr. Graham was advised that this action is not allowable by regulation. Additionally, Mr. Graham was advised that bid for a Contracting Manager should be completed in about 45 days.
Nicholas as you know it is always a pleasure to work with your office. We sincerely hope that the information presented in this letter will assist you in responding to your constituent. Please thank Congressman Derek Kilmer for his continuing efforts on behalf of veterans and their families.”
I presume the *** are the initials of the CI. Browsing through the VA- Who’s who widget, I note that VA does not distinguish CI officers and give them the moniker. Generally, they are drawn from the ranks of the claims examiners at the GS-12 level and chosen based their demonstrated ability to blow smoke into anal sphincters. This is a requisite assignment like an officer being sent to the War College in spite of having a Silver Star and a Purple Nurple. You absolutely have to have it on your résumé to be promoted.
I consider this a first. If any of you have used your Congressman to such deadly effect as I have, and had this occurrence where the CI begged his counterpart to call off the dogs, please do share it with us. It warms my heart that I am finally getting their goat enough for them to fill out a butt hurt form.