VARO–THE CONGRESSIONAL INTERESTS SECTION


StreetSign 1Subtly 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.

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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.

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About asknod

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5 Responses to VARO–THE CONGRESSIONAL INTERESTS SECTION

  1. We had to ask our Congressman to intervene on my husband’s behalf to find out why my husband’s BVA appeal had been withdrawn without his knowledge or consent. Only the veteran or his representative, in writing, may withdraw a claim. We had a trail of IRIS messages in which the BVA said a decision was pending, the last one dated three days after, as we later discovered, his appeal had been cancelled. We eventually called the BVA and were told the appeal was “gone,” which was exactly the word the BVA representative used and she didn’t know anything more than that. We then asked for Congressional help, only to find out that someone in the San Juan PR RO (not the RO in our state) had made a “clerical error.” If we had not contacted the Congressman, we would have been waiting for a decision that would never come, and the VA refused to tell us anything more than to wait. I contacted the OIG and Shinsecki, which was a waste of time. We later received a letter from the Congressman, relaying a letter to him sent by the BVA Chairman, asking him to tell my husband that the appeal had been reinstated. It was implied that no additional action from us was needed, which sounded to us like they wanted us to stop asking questions. My husband did not hear directly from the BVA in response to our question as to why no one bothered to check the claims file to make sure there was a written directive from the veteran authorizing withdrawal of the appeal.

    • asknod says:

      Sadly, you never will, Vicki. When VA screws up, they have elaborate procedures for protecting the guilty party. First, I’m guessing the Puerto Rico story is bogus. With no c-file there and the appeal already instated at the BVA, no action at a Regional Office could recall the claim or cancel it. The POA is self-explanatory. Only the person/VSO organization designated could effect a “cancellation”if that is the correct term. Once the RO signs off on the VA Form 8, it leaves their hands for DC and the BVA. No, this little fustercluck was all of the BVA’s doing. With the discovery that VACOLS has a back door that allows “revisions” after the fact, it’s childsplay to blame anyone they want and fabricate a paper trail. My guess is if you get a newer c-file out of them, you’ll find the truth. They’re too lazy to go in and eradicate the error.

      • Thanks, Alex. We’ve got an RBA on a pending Court appeal so I’ll look for that. I did see a copy of an internal VA email blaming the Puerto Rico RO. Actually, We’re waiting for an updated RBA because we’ve disputed the one we have. Found three other veterans’ documents, couldn’t find a missing IMO, and a lot of blacked out/mis-scanned pages. We’ve pointed out that we’re also disputing the Presumption if Regularity, for what that’s worth. The same Congressman’s office that helped us with the situation I previously described is watching this one, too. His local representative is a disabled veteran, interestingly enough.

  2. asknod says:

    My grammar police readers noted I a) used parentheses around sic after the adverb “procedurally” and b) question why I did. I’m guilty. I blame it on George W. Bush. No, seriously. I do know the difference. I called out the usage of an adverb to begin a sentence because I was taught to never do so. I, myself, succumb on occasion, but in the above instance, I found it awkward. Numerous CAVC and Fed. Circus decisions have sunk to using parentheses around ‘sic’ in spite of the correct bracketing method. I read so many that it apparently rubbed off, Bracketing shows the reader it was grammatical error corrected by the writer in the instant case. Therefore, I apologize and will religiously hew to the bracket annotation method in the future. Thank you, Angela and Fred for your corrections.

  3. mark says:

    HAHAHAHA

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