Perhaps I should rephrase that as looking for PACT claims in some Vets’ c files. Over the last four months, my VA attorney and agent compadres have noticed, and commented repeatedly on, the sudden slowdown in VA claims adjudications. No, you Vets out there-some of whom have been waiting years-are not suffering a fig newton of the imagination. I’m pretty sure I finally deciphered the problem.
As most know, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act -aka the SFCHRHOPTACT Act- was passed by Congress back in the dog days of summer last year. VA poohbahs promised to have this new program up and running by January 2023. As we know only too well, VA promises a lot of things to any who ask. Honoring these promises seems to be another matter entirely. Seems I remember they’ve been promising to clear up the backlog as far back as the inaugural rollout of the VBMS in ’14. Unlike Virginia Slims®, we still haven’t come a long way yet. This one appears to be headed down the same road as fixing that little problem with Social Security funding.
Imagine having a go kart and every kid on the block wants a turn riding it. Eventually it breaks down or runs out of gas. There are 80 kids/day and one kart… Now imagine last year when there were only 50 kids each day who you promised a ride to but you only were able to let 30 kids/day ride it. 20 kids per day times all summer long had to wait until you got it repaired or refueled this spring. By rights, if you’re a stand up guy, you’d give those 20 the first shot at it before the 80/day who just queued up this summer. The inoperable phrase here is ‘stand up guy’.
Denis the Menace and his F Troop krewe want to make everyone happy asap but this is impossible. So the repair order is to give five of the kids who’ve been waiting three years rides and then let 30 new kids cut the line and jump in. Lather, rinse and repeat. In a nutshell, that’s what’s afoot at your local Fort Fumble. It’s actually more like a tug of war between competing factions with an ad hoc mixture of Vietnam Vets, Iraquistan burn pit Vets and AOD (advanced on the docket) Vets who are dying- all fighting for a shot at a ride on the claims go kart. And this doesn’t even include the last stragglers left over from the Korean War. Let’s call it what it is- VA’s new version of ‘equity’ for lack of any better descriptive noun.
Now, if that isn’t the equivalent of a world-class fustercluck, imagine VA raters sending each Vet out for a c&p with defective instructions on what you want them to do. The c&ps come back saying ‘yeppers, he has Parkinson’s’ but the rater requesting the c&p really wanted to know when he came down with it. So they request “clarification” and do c&p #2 40 days later. This one comes back with most of the the desired info but Mr. Rater says “sheesh, they didn’t determine a ‘baseline degree of disability’ from the date of claim. Guess I forgot to ask them for that.” So it’s back to the DBQ drawing board down at QTC for a third c&p. By now, your claim is six months old and they haven’t even begun to sit down and look at it yet. Remember in 2014 when they promised us pretty soon this was going to be a 125-day process max with FDC drive-thru lanes at the RO? Well, don’t feel pregnant and alone. This is an equal opportunity screwing they offer. In 2023speak, this is VA’s version of ‘equity’. Everyone gets equitably deprived of timely adjudications. Docket numbers and date -of -claim mean nothing.
Were the VA an automobile company, it would be like having to recall 60% of your rolling stock to fix the airbags for your 2016 vehicles and a “slight” backlog for all the model years accumulating since then with the same problem. Each promise and each new program to award Vets benefits- be it the Blue Water Procopio Vets, the now-entitled horde of Thailand Vets who ate “non-tactical herbicides” or the newest Afraq burn pit Vets- merely pushes further back the rating decisions and c&p exams promised to those who have waited eons to get their shot at compensation. It’s nothing more than rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic periodically to keep it dry.
Now, if that wasn’t the bitchslap heard ’round the world, imagine all those other patient Vets waiting for eons back east on the Group W bench in DC for their a) hearings; b) evidence review; or, c) a direct review up or down on the 2019-on rating decision denying them benefits. VA, in their well-meaning desire to speed up the process, elected to hire about 40 or so new Veterans Law Judges (VLJs) with absolutely zero legal experience in VA law. They promised this eventuality back in 2021 and finally got around to doing it last summer. Every swinging one of them (they, their) d—s has to be taught Veterans law before they can venture out on their own solo and begin adjudicating claims. So who would be the logical choice to teach them? Ol’ Denis the Menace and his merry band of chuckleheads didn’t think that far ahead. Guess who? Yep, the existing VLJs and staff attorneys who were, and are, supposed to be doing your claims. So, not only do we have an intractable traffic jam at the BVA but an ever-increasing backup of world-class proportions at the 58 Veterans Service Centers across our fruited plains which, incidentally, still do not have their promised drive-thru FDC claims filing lanes installed yet.
This morning, I spotted VA’s Friday morning attaboy employee email from the current “acting” Under Secretary for Benefits Josh Jacobs crowing about how they had just had their world class best day ever on January 23rd completing almost 8,400 claims- one of the top five highest claims production days in recorded history. I’m guessing the other four days they refer to were in the days and weeks shorty after the war of 1812 or the Spanish- American dustup of 1898.
Almost every one of my Afstan Vets, which are, for the most part, TBI casualties, has one of these identical VA memos (below) in their files on January 23, too. So, we can extrapolate and infer parenthetically that DoD identifying a burnpit victim for VA qualifies as a “claim production” for statistics purposes. Mind you, no actual compensation claim or disbursement actually occurred. Shoot, this is kinda like elk hunting with an RPG. Lots of success but not much meat to speak of.
Conversely, I don’t see any §1119 PACT claims adjudications- or even VA memos for that matter- that my Thailand and Laos brothers were identified as being toxically exposed to AO on January 23. What’s even stranger is that I can remember burn pits that were so skanky during my war that the mosquitos wouldn’t even approach the vicinity without a gas mask. I guess they aren’t the same kind of burn pits as the §1119 sand rancher versions. Well, either that or they just weren’t in the “correct” geographical locale to qualify. There must be something speshull about SWA burnpits.
Lastly, I wanted to share this tidbit I received this morning from a close friend. I want to apologize up front for my passive aggressiveness. I know I’m not always the model of civility and have sometimes been known to publish embarrassing things about our wonderful VA system. I think that’s an unfortunate byproduct of having been denied myself for 28 years. The VA’s Purple Book or the VA IMO sh*tlist come to mind. But interestingly, it seems if you’re at the Wilmington, Delaware VAMC and use one of the three available desktop computers in the MyHealtheVet area, you’ll find asknod.com is blocked as being an evil, virus-infested hazard. I wonder if it was something I said? So, if you’re bored and sitting around your local VAMC at 1500 Hrs waiting for your 1000 Hrs appointment for ________, sashay over to their computer and see if it’s a nationwide phenomenon. I’m Bad Company… and I won’t deny it.
We speak to truth here. I’m not going to ever blow smoke up your butt. I’m going to teach any who desire to know how, the best way to win a claim-free. I don’t offer the techniques based on one claim I did pro se for myself ten years ago. At asknod, I’m able to show repetitive results for the same claim issue over and over, VA’s evolving and ever-changing reaction to the claims, and how they continue to improve on the ‘delay/deny before we die’ algorithm, constantly metamorphoses. I’ll keep you abreast of their change orders. All you have to recognize is that if they’ve decided to change the Obstructive Sleep Apnea ratings criteria to deprive you of the 50% for a CPAP, or the sudden need for compensable hearing loss to qualify for that 10% for tinnitus, that the process is getting more and more adversarial by the day.
I don’t know if VA reads the tripe I offer you all, but I hope that by exposing the fact that our proverbial VA emperor is indeed naked, it gives all of you more insight and ideas on how to outfox their attempts at denial. Remember, I do not advocate cheating. I want all of you to win if you’re legitimately damaged by your service. Consider asknod a Cliff Notes™ book (free) on how to herd VA cats. No pay walls. No membership dues. Just knowledge from someone who really enjoys walking point in this poker game.
P.S. This is priceless. I wish there was video to go with it. My LRRP/former cop sent it to me. If you’re as demented as me, you’ll want to pull this on your next spam call. Enjoy.
It is never tripe.
No apologies never needed for “whatever” you say as I know speaking for everyone who reads all you write, it does not get any better! You say most everything I am thinking….but better. Figure this out – I am 250% – 100% SC Crohns and the rest is Diabetes and other crap….Getting SMC “C”. Did qual for L or anything else they said. But to add some more crap to the situation I worked at MCAS (H) New River 1982-1984 in HMH-464, as a Tech Rep for Sikorsky Aircraft. Yes, I qual for PACT Act and have Prostate Cancer, 2 Stokes, Heart Thrombus, Colitis, Barrett’s Esophagus, etc… I got one of the 4 million attorneys to file the TORT Claim with the Navy Jag. Guess I won the prize as we may now see if the Navy JAG is Better (qualified word) than the VA at adjudicating claims. I have seen guesses of what the settlements may be but I will believe it when I see it….. “Fucking A”
RAC – Old Service Disabled Vet – Vietnam Era and all the fun places I went as a Fed LEO and Contractor