Just as Spring approaches and everyone is planning their Toga Parties, I, and other like-minded Veterans Advocates descend on the Spring Conferences. What? You guys don’t do Toga Parties? How utterly uncivilized. At the NOVA conferences, we learn new tricks on how to set up blind ambushes, invisible Punji Pits and the proper deployment of assets. How fun is that? Well, probably way less funner than going to WallyWorld™ for most Veterans. So much to learn. So little time. Having an F4 Metavir Score is not to be confused with being a Chicken Dinner Winner so I want to make the most of what I have left.
Imagine being given a Super Power like Capt. America or Thor. Well, that’s what the VA Power of Attorney is. It’s like walking in and flashing your badge. Whoa there, cowboys. Not so fast. Did you Miranda him? Didn’t think so. May I have a moment alone with my client?
Then imagine getting to do this for Veterans. Is that too cool for school or what? Shoot, if I could clone myself and teach others, we could spread out across the fruited plains and wipe the VA out financially. I know. That’s counterproductive if you’re a bona fide tax-paying citizen but if you want to dress up like GI Joe and go play in someone else’s sandbox, there’s bound to be collateral damage. Appropriating funds for disability compensation should go hand-in-hand with 5.56 and 7.62mm procurement. Since they never do, the Govt. has enabled VA to “underserve” us. But… they forgot to plug the slot in the complaints box. In 2007, Congress allowed attorneys to stick their noses under the litigation tent . This also created a niche enterprise that allows non-attorney practitioners and VA agents to engage in H&I from 0800-1630. Seriously, dude. You get to dress up like Perry Mason and have all the same super powers given to someone with a shiny new Juris Doctorate-along with a crushing student loan of $225,000 @ 12% interest. Boy howdy. Like Beto O’Rourke said yesterday, “Man, I was born for this job”.” Ten years ago, I spent 58 days in ICU. They nicknamed me Mr. Defib. I had no idea you can still hear them when they yell “Clear!” Weird, huh? I’m ready for this, now. I even have my own defib unit on-board, too. Gee, I wonder if I’m supposed to yell ‘Clear’ when it goes off. Not likely. I’ll be doing the chicken at 30,000 joules. Chances are I won’t be saying shit either.
You don’t have to belong to NOVA to go to these conferences. If you just wanted to attend as an observer or student, they have a special rate for that, too. The more advocates we have, the more Veterans we can help. There are three million plus Veterans out there with disabilities ranging from 0% to 100%. Trust me when I say they are not being served very well under the existing system. To me, the crime is no one at VBA is proactive-even at VHA hospitals – unarguably the first line of encounter for gravely ill Veterans. There ought to be a huge 14-point type at the top of the intake form that says:
PLEASE FILL OUT THE FOLLOWING BELOW
- Would you like to apply for benefits today? [ ] Yes [ ] No
- ” ” establish an informal claim at this time? [ ] Yes [ ] No
- If already service connected, is this related to it? [ ] Yes [ ] No
- Do you have a VA representative? [ ] Yes [ ] No
- Attorney [ ] Agent [ ] VSO [ ] Next door neighbor [ ]
- Should we contact him or her?” [ ] Yes [ ] No
I’m finally beginning to notice more folks are capitalizing the word Veterans as they should have long ago. I certainly hope that will be the norm before I pass. Thank you- all of you- not just the VA and some of their incredible CMA employees. I want to thank all of you who allow me to help you. It’s a wonderful feeling and a great honor to be entrusted with such a task.
And lastly, that burning queshun on everyone’s lips.