Yesterday morning, I dressed up in my “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” suit. I dialed up the director’s office at the Phoenix Regional Office and was preparing to launch a diatribe on why there is no intelligent life at the Regional level anymore. Before I could even get into my spiel, a polite Veteran who had answered the phone, a Mr. J.R. Rodriquez, quickly assuaged my ruffled feathers and we together tried to find the problem of where and how a POA can be lost or unacknowledged for six months. Further, Mr. Rodriquez delved deeply into the VBMS Gutenberg Bible and tried to extract why my client, and now I, can’t seem to get my client’s c-file for the last 10 months.
Mr. Rodriquez was unable to find the immediate reason but promised to find out and call me back as soon as possible with the answer, and more importantly, the solution to the problem. He claims, and I certainly have no reason to doubt, that he is an accomplished RVSR and DRO of over six years. He went on to explain that one of the primary reasons he was in the Director’s office answering the incoming was his new avocation-Phoenix’ designated problem solver from Hell. Seems VA has finally created a job description to cover fixing problems promptly and all you have to do is call them up and bring it to their attention. Mr. Rodriquez is not a blame shifter or an apologist. He’s the genuine article- or so it would appear.
Two things come to mind immediately. Has VA suddenly become “customer friendly” and is this just a ploy to pacify callers whereupon they (VA receptionists) revert back to form when they hang up and have a good chuckle with their buddies over how easy we rubes can get rolled? The answer was evident yesterday afternoon about 1640 hrs when I received my promised call back from J.R. I had no idea VA employees are still at work after 1630 hrs.
Seems Mr. Rodriquez is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful that a thundering locomotive. As for leaping tall buildings at a single bound, the jury is still out. One thing was apparent right off. VA seems to have turned over a new leaf. Mr. Rodriquez apologized for not having an answer because the contractor in charge of converting my client’s c-file was back east and had gone home for the day. However, in the next breath he explained that he, on the other hand, hadn’t gone home yet. What’s more, he’d have an answer today (the 9th of May) before I commenced work.
To test his thesis, I got up at the screech of dawn and did my barn chores with the horses. I was back here in the asknod TOC by 0640 (L) and writing this blog in hopes of catching him out. It’s o745 now and I’m poised to go both ways. One thing is apparent though. The soon-to-be world-class service he explained as being the “new VA” has already arrived. He crowed about his new assets and a rolodex full of ‘go-to’ personnel to ferret out problems. He tells me there are new pathways to discover quickly (in eight hours or less) why the snafu began and the repair order. His contact point at 810 Yellow Brick Lane NW Wash. DC 20420 dutifully got back to him yesterday afternoon after a long chat with folks at the Records Management Center in St. Louis but he was unable to talk directly with the contractors assigned to crank out that CD for my client.
Imagine that? In less time than it takes to file an Extraordinary Writ, he’s cut the Gordian knot and ostensibly proposes to have an answer for me this AM before the opening bell. That’s a mighty tall promise in VA country. Five years ago he’d have been fighting entrenched ennui and the standard administrative I don’t give a shitism endemic to the old system.
If all this proves to be reality and not some chimera, I’m going to have to learn to curb my tongue and begin telling Vets that Wavy Gravy Woodstock altruism has finally arrived -We must be in Heaven, man. Perhaps the defining difference here is more basic. Mr. Rodriquez is a Veteran with a capital V. He says he feels more invested in the process because he’s served his country and working for the VA gives him great satisfaction in helping other Veterans who somehow missed the bus or fell through the large cracks in the VA system. Boy howdy does that ring a bell with me. I began to come down with that bug in 2008 when I finally figured this poker game out.
Whatever the reason, that VA would create a new job for a VACO employee with extensive rating experience and give him free rein to spend his working hours doing nothing but right our wrongs bodes well for VA advocates as well as Veterans. The fact it is happening in Phoenix, of all Regional Offices, is also heartening. Let us pray it is not a flash in the pan but a harbinger of a new dawn for Veterans and the prompt adjudication of their claims.
And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
P.S. Unless, of course, he doesn’t call back. It’s 1420 Hrs. L and the frequency is clear…
P.S.S. Standing by on frequency. 1650 Hrs. Comm Check, over?…. You-all don’t reckon he was funning me, do you? Stupid is as stupid does.
PPSS. Mr. Rodriguez and I finally connected today (May 12th in the AM) as well as last evening. He’s a gentleman and a scholar and apparently there are 56 more just like him deployed across our Fruited RO plains. One more tool in the Veterans Claims toolchest.