First things first: Welcome to VA’s new blog, VAntage Point. I’m not here to explain what this site is all about, but I do want to talk a little about why we feel it’s important to have a column for “Guest Posts.”

Here at VA, there’s a lot of talk about change. Not just change in how we deliver services and benefits, but also in how we communicate. In that sense, we’re no longer interested in simply pushing out information. That’s an okay way to tell you what we want you to hear, but these days, few organizations are healthy unless they’re involved in two-way communications.

For us, that means we want to make VA a better, more efficient place by engaging with you. If you’re a Veteran, you can tell us what you’re experiencing—whether it has to do with your dealings with VA or your reintegration in general. If you’re an employee, you can not only tell Washington, D.C. what’s happening in your area, but you can tell Veterans the VA story from your perspective. And those are just examples. We want to hear from as many different people as possible. We want to know what we’re doing well, what we can improve, and, most importantly, we want to hear your ideas.

So let’er rip. Just follow our guidelines and let’s get the conversation started.

Brandon Friedman is the Director of New Media at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Published on Nov. 5, 2010

Estimated reading time is 1.3 min.

Views to date: 123


  1. Rob Mellor July 14, 2011 at 1:17 am

    i have been laid off on almost every job i get, i am only 29 after my duties has been done with my country, i am left broke now. i can’t claim my shares of benefits i don’t know why. but i sure hope i should get it soon or i’ll be sleeping in the streets with my family.

  2. Sandra Smith May 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I really need to locate the web-site where veterans were commenting on denied claims for A.M.L.A veteran posted the whole file of a veteran who won his case in 2008 for this illness..It was all the legal documentation recorded by the “court of appeals”. I am appealing my deceased claim for new presumptive illness that they say is not on list…Please help advance…Sandra J. Smith

  3. Roy Klein February 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I am a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran. My claim was filed on 29 September 2009. The VA has bounced my claim between “development” and “decision” at least twice (possibly three times). My claim has been delayed for various excuses for 17 months. Each time the decision team found a different excuse to bounce it back to development. Following is the summary of the last two times my claim was sent to “decision” and bounced back to “development”.

    On 1 December 2010, I was informed (via IRIS) that my claim was “Ready for Decision and is with the rating specialist”. But, the very next day, on 2 December 2010, I was informed (via IRIS) that my “claim was returned to the development phase while [the VA] makes a line of duty determination regarding a vehicle accident that occurred while traveling to reserve training.” The line of duty determination is the exact same issue for which I was told was resolved in August 2010. Apparently, the VA either did not like, or conveniently lost, the definitive proof provided to them in August 2010. Therefore, I resubmitted a clarification letter in December 2010.

    On 10 February 2011, I requested the status of my claim. On 11 February 2011, I was informed (via IRIS) that my claim was sent to “decision” on 25 January 2011. But, on 22 February 2011, my claim was again bounced back to “development” because they interpreted my “clarification letter” as showing that I claimed additional disabilities. However, my support statement did not mention any additional disabilities. Although, page 2 of my statement mentioned a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) conducted by Social Security Administration in March 2010 and submitted to VA in September 2010.

    Therefore, it is readily apparent that the December 2010 “decision” team ignored the FCE (submitted in September 2010). This is not the first time VA either ignored, or conveniently lost, my submitted records. For the first 14 months the VA conveniently lost one set or another of my medical records. Yet, the very next month the lost set was magically found, but another set of medical records was missing.

    I requested help from congressional and veteran service organizations, but all was to no avail. The VA simply ignored or gave useless generic feedback to them.

    I honestly believe that the VA does not really care about Veterans and the backlog of claims. If the VA is supposedly trying to fix the backlog, then why do they continuously create more backlog by bouncing claims back and forth between “development” and “decision”? Why doesn’t “development” and/or “decision” review the entire veteran’s claim package before bouncing it back and forth? Instead the “decision” team finds one item they think needs more info, and they bounce it back to “development”; without so much as looking at the rest of the package.

    When that one item is clarified and sent back to “decision” 30-90 days later, the decision team reviews the package up to the next item they think needs more info, and bounces in back to “development” again. It is readily apparent that this apparent vicious cycle is the VA’s standard operating procedure. Hence, there is no wonder it takes 17 to 45 months for the VA to finally make a decision on a claim.

    Or maybe the VA is simply backlogging all claims waiting for the veteran to either die or give up completely. I read an article, dated 27 January 2011, that stated “For the first time in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims found the VA in civil contempt for failure to expeditiously handle a veteran’s claim”. Now, what if all veterans took this action?

  4. Brendan Kearney January 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Wanted to draw you and your colleagues attention to the TogetherWeServed military heritage websites. Over a million plus members with an active ongoing dialogue covering a wide variety of topics that would be of significant interest to the VA…to include real time efforts at suicide prevention, etc.
    Truth in advertising, as a retired Marine Officer, is that I am helping steer current and future efforts of the site with an ultimate goal of enhanced service to the Veteran community.

  5. John G. December 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve got a basic ebenefit account and want to upgrade to a premium account. Why can’t I use myhealthevet in-person authentication now to upgrade? It’s a 4 hour one-way trip to the closest VA regional office. Any plans to revert back to upgrading online or is the VA laying blame on the DOD?

  6. brenda hayes November 30, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Alex, Sorry; but I had to reply as I was hardpressed not to do so. Your reply above is the the type of reply that makes us believe it the same old thing from the VA–another dog and pony show. Those who have had more time and more disheartening and discouraging treatment from the VA/VAMC for their Veterans,their various family members and friends can rebut a lot of what you say about the system.
    THE VA, now you, need to listen…not state party line…because party line is what we’ve been getting; the VA–you– have the opportunity to get us to the table to believe that you care and that you want to have better in place for our Veterans/Family members. Most of us would like to believe and try to listen that the VA really cares about CHANGE for the good and that it wants to make the system(s) healthy and not stay sick and dysfuctional– for the good of the Veteran and their family members.
    True, the problems lay in the system(s); AND, it the system–but its the people in the systems that need to be held accountable for quality and customer service and that does not seem to happen too often.
    especially with Federal Employees and with Federal Contract employees!
    Right now, I’m working on over 4 hours of dealing with Tricare Express Scripts–Rx faxed and confirmation # in hand by Dr. Office on NOVEMBER 17; Yesterday, I spoke to Dr. Office and they finally spoke to John, spvr at TES who said, after he had her refax with the given confirmation number, “then it must be on someone’s desk and not doing patient any good; will send it Overnight Express at our cost. He said he would call or he mail me–not heard anything from him. I queried the CS site and they said, “…you will receive your meds in 14 days!” This is just another example of how Tricare Express Scripts is not working well and there is NO escalation to fix anything in this system for the person having the problem and fixing the processes that broke down to begin with so it will not happen to others. But we seem to have a Contract written in STONE with TES? Why not open the playing fields to get better competition so we do get better customer service. Tricare ES thinks they have it all wrapped up with the old VA (I do have to wonder what is the connection with this contract?) What about negotiating with CVS or like Humana did with Walmart–they are convenient and pretty much on every corner!!
    TES also in their CS email had the audacity to say now I have to wait 14 days to get my Rx; but, I can pay more for “emergency” meds out of my pocket and more inconvenience from the Dr.’s office to call it in or have the pharmacy call Customer Service! This is why my last Dr. REFUSED to use Tricare Express Scripts–takes too much time dealing with their incompetence and ineptness. Is this new information for you or the General S? Apparently, I saw in a news clip that General Gates has heard not so great things about Tricare as well. There is no ombudsman to help us deal with the screw ups in the systems…Over 5 hours now…this is not good Customer Service for the client, the Vet or his family member and its not good customer service for the payee–the Government. We have been encouraged to use this Mail order to save money not only for us; but for the government.
    Give us choice, give us ombudsmen to deal with spinning problems, incompetence in the system, and with arrogant lazy contract employees.
    Alex, I love your enthusiasm and I love your fresh outlook; but, please don’t preach to us about how good we have it with VAMC’s, Tricare, Tricare Express, etc. “me thinks you protest too much (that the system is great!”)
    Another sore spot—Mailing complaints is not the 2010 way to deal with anything. It’s like saying, “you have another hoop to jumpt through (maybe you will give up and go away)even KMart has a 800# and asks how are we doing! Also, if you don’t have anyone with authority at the end of a 800 # or someone who can call you back and get things straightened out (especially when they say they will) you have a dsyfunctional, unhealthy system that only exasperates the poor broken down sick Veterans and their stressed out caregiving family members who have no choice but to use it as it is part of their benefit that they’ve EARNED and paid for by their service and still have to pay outright for it now; but…that another story about “broken promises”!.
    Also, thanks for your service Alex. I will try to be hopeful; if anyone can turn the bloated boat (VA) around in a typhoon that is stationed in a small harbor; my bet is on the General (and his Boss)–he’one of us (the G)! But he better hurry up; we only might have another two years…
    Not sure if he is realistic on his 5 year Program to end Homelessness for Veterans (I have some ideas on this) sounds good; but not doable the ways things are now; throwing 50Million here and there is not the comprehensive plan that will work.
    Let me volunteer to participate on the “think outside the box” committee on how can we get it right for our Veterans/family members!!
    Vetwife Advocate
    Something is wrong when you have such arrogance in corporations; there is no manager to take responsibility. As I say; if you don’t have accountability and quality built in programs; you get incompetence and poor customer service.

    I saved a copy so if I got blipped again; you would get the message eventually. Once burned, shame on me….you know how it goes.

    • Alex Horton December 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

      Brenda, not sure if you meant to reply to Brandon or if the comment was really directed at me – I haven’t said anything on this post yet.

      We’re working on the tech issues with the blog. Nothing sneaky is going on with the comments. A blog has never existed in this Department, so we’re pretty much learning as we go. Every comment submitted has been posted, with the exception of one that shared the emails of employees. We’re not trying to censor anyone, as you can see from our (mostly) critical comments.

      I really wish I was in a position to fundamentally change the federal government, and in effect Veterans Affairs, but I’m not. This blog was set up to establish a two way conversation, and we’re trying our best with three people who have this blog to tend to along with other duties. 21.9 million Veterans have the ability to get on here, comment on their own status and ask very complex and technical questions. Three people, including myself, are working to create an environment where every VA employee is an ambassador to Veterans. That’s the change we can make. Transforming the culture of government bureaucracy is a task that has been attempted by more talented and powerful people than myself. At the moment, we’re doing the best we can with what we have. VA is better off today than ten years ago, but we still have a lot of work to do. It’s not moving fast enough to help every Veteran. I get it. I’ve been affected by the overburdened system too. The best I can do now is to use this blog as a Richter Scale for Veteran related issues and concerns, and then get them in front of the right people, while bring you guys relevant and useful information. In that end, I’ll be working as hard as I can for fellow Vets.

      • brendqa hayes February 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm


        In rereading this post; I’m not sure who or where I was responding to; so please accept my apology.

        Keep up the good work. If I see the post that hit me sideways; I’ll let you or ? know.

        Vetwife Advocate

  7. brenda hayes November 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Your system threw me off again. I believe it must be intentional as it is happening too often. I post the correct CATCHA and get the error “wrong captcha code”.

    It’s a trust issue after three times!!

  8. brenda hayes November 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I sent a message regarding a IT problem with this site. I had a sizeable message and because I did not have something filled in on this form, it blipped me back. I tried to send a message to you for your IT Dept to fix it; also sent it to the VA OIG Hotline WHAT A JOKE!! Sent me a form stating no enough information. DUH. It was enough. THis is the type of thing Vets/family members are up to the ears with.

    No, thank you for taking your time…ya da ya da. or how else can we help…but a form.

    I see a lot of posts are going unanswered; is this supposed to happen?

    There are too many legitmate complaints by Veterans/family members.

    I applaud the effort…I’m still from Missouri.

    BTW, what is relationship management?

  9. Richard Wickberg November 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Was stationed on the perimeter of Camp Casey Korea in 1972-73 (1/72 Armor, Happy Valley). There wasa lot of spraying and little grew within a 100 meter perimeter of the camp.Most every weekend I went through the back gate and climbed the mountain behind us.

    The VA insists I have never been exposed to Agent Orange. The Army will NOT tell me what I was exposed to.

    What rights do Korea Vets have???

    • brenda hayes November 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      I know there are certain dates for A/O claim to be presumptive in Korea 65-68?and I know it was supposed sprayed on the DMZ.

      We have a friend who was there and he lost his bladder and his prostrate…and it was missed by an Army Medical Facility in Europe!! It could have been caught and probably he wouldn’t have to be worried about its return within the 5 yr period or its terrible residuals to deal with. Too many Service Officers don’t know about this either. This Korean A/O exposure needs to be taken on by the VA while the General is in charge as you Vets have a half way decent expection that things might be made right by you. This issue also needs to be pursued by the VA or the group that took on the Nehmeyer ruling as A/O just doesn’t stay in one place and if its like VN…sprayed outside the zone and into water, etc. I heard it is still in the soil in VN? Should be the same in Korea?

      Of course, the EPA is not even telling people that they are possily being exposed to old insulation which causes abestosis,etc. What do we expect? CHANGE! HONESTY, FAIRNESS! So sad to finally realize the decks are stacked!

      • Richard Wickberg January 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm

        Allopathically, the VAMC does an adiquate job taking care of we vets.

        BUT, I am nearly running myself broke. As a 100% Veteran Disabled for Life, I have to pay for my medical marijuana to curtail my migraine headaches – I’m a recovering addict of Dilaudid perscribed by the VA. I have to pay out of pocket for Chiropractic care because the VA in Spokane is too cheap. Why???

  10. Richard Wickberg November 28, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve suffered from migraines since 1972 at Ft. Sill. For the last 10 years I’ve been taking Dilauid for my migraines and finally went cold turkey to use medical marijuana. Washington is a green state but being 100% disabled, it takes much of what little I get for disability. Thanks to all you growers, especially those of you who grow for a Disabled Vets.

  11. Jon Anderson November 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I recently wrote in a VA blog and praised the medical care I have received. I wish I could say positive things about the Regional Office system but I cannot.The way they work(or don’t work) borders on derelection of duty.

    It has been 4 weeks since Congress ended the review period for the new Agent Orange claims. Not only have thousands and thousands of claims not been processed, the VA refuses to give any of us estimates when our claims will be processed. A car mechanic gives an estimate when repairs will be completed. Why cant we receive estimates when our claims will be processed?

    VA- you claim you care. Do you really care?

    • John Birch November 29, 2010 at 9:50 pm


      Are you saying that thousands and thousands of claims have not been process since 4 weeks ago? If so, think about the thousands and thousands of claims that have not been process for the 5-10 years.

  12. kendall workman November 19, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    The post 9/11 gi bill should never have been launched before proper funding was obligated to ensure proper training and systems were in place to support administering benefits. It’s been a year and 1 month since I started using it and 6 months since I had to drop out of school because the VA messed up my benefits. I’ve called and written everyone including Sec. Shinseki. Every response I get is “we’ll look into it and get back to you”. I even got my congressman involved and the VA sent him a letter in July promising to fix everything and send me a check within 30 days. Well its November and guess what? No check! I’m not holding my breath. At least my local CBS affiliate thought it was worth looking in to. They broadcast my story on the news and gave the VA some bad publicity. I did receive a letter from the VA Inspector General last week and they are going to investigate the division for misconduct. We’ll see. Maybe I. Will have a Christmas this year. If I could make one recommendation to the VA it would be to make sure that every Veteran is treated like a customer and not an inconvenience. oh, and make sure that they do not hang up phone calls from Veterans that are slightly agitated at the division for not fixing blatant errors. Especially when the Veteran has all the documented proof. if I have this much difficulty with education benefits I can only imagine what my fellow vets dealing with healthcare issues have to go through.

  13. Rene R. Ortega November 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Retired military are being short changed if they are also on the disability list. Why are we paying for our own disability out of our retirement check? I am 40% disabled and my disability check comes out of my retirement check. Federal employees get both, so why can’t we? Can’t any powers that be see that that is unconstitutional and discriminatory?

  14. Mickey O'Malley November 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Veterans, by their service to Country, are instilled with a strong sense of pride and comradeship.
    The DVA is immense, and because of its size, is able to continue to survive only by having morphed into today’s three headed entity-MEDICAL, ADMINISTRATIVE, and MATERIAL (brick/equipment). While Medical continues to be ‘second to none’, Administrative has lost it’s mind, and Material, is insidiously corrupt.
    Can it be saved? YES. How? Have veteran’s EVALUATE, RE-DESIGN, and IMPLEMENT change- BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE (privatization)! !!!

  15. Janet November 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I would like to know why I’m being required to pay back my USAF severence pay that I was given when I was medically discharged just because I am receiving disability pay. Retirees are allowed to keep both their retiree pay and disability pay…what’s the difference?

  16. Mary November 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Alexa, contact your Senator and Congressperson. If that doesnt work, contact the investigative teams of your local news channels.

  17. Alexa Napier November 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    As a result of the death of my husband, service related, he was eligible for life insurance and the supplemental insurance. I received the insurance, but when I tried to find out what to do for the supplemental insurance, I spoke with Richard March. He told me not to bother because as long as he worked there he would never approve it. He said if it was up to him he would not have given the insurance either. I have tried to find out if he is still there and no one will say yes or no. Is he? He was a real jerk.

    • brenda hayes November 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm


      If you can prove that Richard March said that to you….GS could save the government his salary!! This man needs to go!! This is the obnoxious arrogance that needs to be weeded out of the VA system. This is pretty much the status quo on how lip service is given to family members; but how they are actually treated more often than NOT!!

      So glad you posted and I do hope someone fromt he General’s office will follow up with you. As a tax payer…I’m sick of paying for such behavior! OBAMA said, “if it’s not working…get rid of it…” IMHO; the people like that as well. Where did you contact him? What office? Did you report him to his superiors? Then report them as well. Did he mention WHY he said what he did? What a blurbetz!!

      You need to get your benefits as a widow; please contact a “good” service officer and find other onsite supports such as VA WATCHDOG; and other spouse/widow support; there are many who will try and get you to the right people to help you; even some attorneys that are pro bono. Where do you live and I can find out who might be good to assist you.

      So sorry for your loss. My husband is a Disabled VNVet and most of us VNVet wives/caregivers know that our Vets are dying out in their late 50’s and 60’s–more often than not from A/O and the other toxins to which their were exposed; In case you wonder about my feelings of outrage and frustration–anticipatory grief tends to make you angry and totally unaccepting of all the BS that contiues to be perpetuated on Veterans and their family members.

      I have so many true horror stories; they might bounce me from this site! But they are all true!!

      Don’t give up; your husband would not have wanted you to give up.

      Hugs to you.

      Vetwife Advocate

  18. Doug Noble November 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm


  19. Maura Northup November 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Does VA have the Best Medical Care in the US?

    If it is true that the VA is the best and the model Medical Care in the US, can someone tell me why there are so many missed diagnoses and why are Veterans applying for benefits who are struggling both with health issues and economics have to spend years waiting and money for costly Civilian Medical Opinions?

    Why does it take years to adjudicate a claim? It doesn’t matter if it was Agent Orange related or not. Either way if medical problems generated while in service it would stand to reason that during service (especially in certain jobs); it was aggravated. Military and Veterans medical records should tell the story! Analyze jobs, locations of service and how many in the same category with the same problems, and finally the age factor of manifestation and death.

    Health screenings and medical family history at time of enlistment should be the basis as well as age of entrance. Secondly, how soon do health problems began after joining the service? What type of medical problems did the Veteran manifest during his military career and after retirement within a few years? Are they now dead, alive or awaiting to die?

    Sadly, although the Veterans Administration does have some good, honest and dedicated employees; too many others especially in the upper positions work only for the paychecks rather then the Veterans well being. Many of us have come to regard the VA as the Enemy! Why is that? I’ve seen the same forms with the same information circulating for over 30 years. Where is progress? Despite technological promises of expediting claims, millions being spent in trainings, hiring, bad technological contracts, pay raises and bonuses…The Veterans are still loosing battles, not only in painful health conditions but also in dying before their time.

    Hurrah for bureaucracy, let’s forget the human sacrifices made by Veterans and their families. Veterans seem to be expandable. My husband asked for re-considerations from 1989 to when he died in April, 2007. I’ve been denied 4 times and have been on remand since 5/12/2010.
    I love Vets and thank them for defending our freedom at such a high price. Thank you Brothers and Sisters for your service and love to an ungrateful nation.

    A Vietnam Veteran Widow

  20. Walter Shockley November 12, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for this new blog, it looks great and a very good source for info, I will look forward to reading it daily.

  21. Doug Noble November 11, 2010 at 11:42 am

    The news release is at the VA Watchdog site, at the left click news headlines , then scroll down to July 2010 to the POT leaf and read.

    • Doug Noble November 12, 2010 at 12:47 am

      @the staff here
      Any comments about the VA letting the State law on over ride Federal law and making it ok for some vets to have pot in their pee and still get pain pills.but not for all. If

      I had a script for medical

      • Doug Noble November 12, 2010 at 12:52 am

        POT, I wouldn’t need stress pills and pain pills. I guess it alright to drink alcohol and get Pills from the VA, because Alcohol is legal by federal law in all states.

        • Charles McCallum March 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm

          When I was in California I had medical marijuana. When I moved back to Florida, my new doctor had me pee tested and it was positve. The pain I
          have to endure without meds, is enormous. I agree, it is not a fair way
          to do ignore in 14 states, and then get punished in the other states.

  22. Doug Noble November 11, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Brandon, Tell the service organizations;DAV,VFW,American Legion,etc that as POAs for vets, that they should contact, and discuss claims decisions and reasons for, with each vet before signing off and sending claims back to te VA. Lots of CUEs and wrong effective dates could be cleared up and fixed before the claim has to go to the appeals in DC thanks

    • Doug Noble November 12, 2010 at 12:41 am

      maybe I’ll get some reply in the morning

  23. Doug Noble November 11, 2010 at 2:04 am

    this little box is messed up and I could not see the end of my post. The end should have read. How can this be since there is no federal law allowing medical pot, but the VA can allow this?

  24. Doug Noble November 11, 2010 at 1:58 am

    In the 14 states and DC where medical pot is legal, the VA allows Vets with notes/scripts from outside doctors to receive pain pills. How can this be when there is not Federal law alegal pot?

  25. Jerry Sisemore November 11, 2010 at 1:23 am

    Well yes I did it showed up on your page but it says your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I sent a letter I wrote to Gen. Shinseki and was just wanting some fed back on it.

  26. Jerry Sisemore November 11, 2010 at 12:14 am

    What does your comment is awaiting moderation mean??

    • Brandon Friedman November 11, 2010 at 1:12 am

      We don’t pre-approve comments, so I’m not sure what you’re seeing. Did you try to post something that wouldn’t show up?

  27. Gregory Meinhardt November 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I don’t beleive that Vets should be charged three points for using their VA Loan a second time. Suppose a Vet owns a condo; then he gets a family, sells the condo, then looks for a house. Why should he pay three points on the loan amount when billions in Treasury funds are being passed out to non-vets for home purchases? If he sold the condo, then his obligation to the VA has been met and he should be able to start over again without being penalized. My realtor was a Vet and I was a mortgage broker once; we both felt this needed to be changed.

    • Ken Clark November 11, 2010 at 4:30 pm

      It makes no sense why they would charge you a 3.3% Funding Fee on your second use of your home loan benefits. If you have satisfied your obligation on your first loan and it did not default you would think they would lower the funding fee. But it is the VA and they are in the business of making money. Look at the attached story that ran on the Fox affiliate in Atlanta last year that showed that Veterans have been charged unallowable fees on VA home loan refinaces by the banks. Apparently over a 100,000 Veterans have been taken in this scam. Why has the VA not done anything to get us our money back? It’s because they just do not care.

  28. Keith Allen November 10, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Nothing gets the juices flowing like productive communication and this particular medium allows that. Bravo to the VA for opening up the lines of communication without giving the runaround just to set up an appointment or whatever.

  29. Jon Anderson November 10, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Claims for Agent Orange/Parkinson’s disease are now being approved. It appears that the majority of the claims are being approved for 30%. What % of the Pd claims approved so far are for 30,50,70,and 100%

    • William Moore November 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

      Jon, what is your source of info on PD claims being mostly 30%?
      I have had it for almost 3 years now, and no way can I go back to electronics repair….

      • David L Hykes November 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

        I was approved August 17 at my doctors hearing but am still waiting for my letter. Where are you getting your information from? I was told that they are seriously backlogged, and it might take up to three months for claims to be processed. It has been 14 weeks at this point for me.

        • David L Hykes November 23, 2010 at 11:34 am

          I too have PD and was diagnosed three years ago, and am unable to work any longer

      • Jon Anderson November 29, 2010 at 7:48 am

        William Moore: go to yahoo and type vets_parkinsons_agentorange*U.S.military veterans w/parkinsons

        This may not get you at exactly there but play with it – this is a group that is sharing experiences including a high percentages of 30% decisions. The VA refuses to give information about how many claims hae been processed and how many are 30%, 50% etc

    • William Moore November 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      My brother is somehow getting 50% for his hearing. Started at 10% a long time ago, about mid 70’s and while still in service for all of 2 years, no Vietnam duty, and years later the VA rated him higher. He won’t say how that happened.

  30. jason Shattuck November 10, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Yes, I am registered with eBenefits. I also have been “authenticated” for my myhealtyevet. I have tried to get the premium account by the steps that ebenefits say, but the web site for the DS logon, is down, or being worked on. I can not, at this time, get the upgrade.

    Im just stressing out, because I got a letter from unemployment that I might be cut off of unemployment a lot sooner then what I was thinking would happen. So, I just hope the claim goes fast, I have seen some post of vets claims not going through for years, and I really hope that doesn’t happen to me. Even on on unemployment I still make more then my wife who is working. If unemployment goes away, I do not know what I will do, like I said, I am a construction worker, but there is no work in that filed, that and my back and shoulder hurt pretty bad, from the arthritis.

    Brandon, Thank you for acknowledging my commit.

  31. Jeff P. November 9, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    After waiting almost 2 years. I finally receive notice (via IRIS) that my appeal is in the hands of a Veteran Service Representative for development. My claim is for Ischemic Heart Disease. Two weeks later I get this big envelope from VA in the mail. I can’t believe my eyes! The VA has sent another letter informing me that they just received my claim! and they are requiring me to submit evidence that took me 2 years to compile! My file is over 2 inches thick! They even have a new date that the claim was opened 9/1/2010! I had a heart attack at age 30 just 10 years after I came back from Nam. When I read this letter I was so pissed I almost had another. If the geniuses at VA are assigning a new claim date to every Vet that may be a potential Nehmer class member (I think thats why these letters are being sent). They are going to double the backlog not reduce it!

  32. Graceful Aging November 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    We voted. We spoke. Now we must give thanks to our veterans. Educate yourself about their needs and how we can help.

    Our busy worlds and minds too often forget those who’ve guarded our freedom to live our lives. This week extend a Happy Veterans Day salute.

  33. Ronald A. Pereira November 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I am a Vietnam Veteran and have a 70% disability compensation. I will soon b e qualified to apply for MEDICARE. Do I need to apply of MEDICARE is I continue to use the VA, to save cost. Where can I find out this information? Thanks for your help.

    • Brenda Hayes February 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm


      Not sure if you found your answer. But…

      You need to sign up for Medicare Part B. They say it is not automatic; but they might be starting something “new”. SSA sends you a card to return if you DON”T want to sign up for Part B.

      I think it is worth it as…you have more choices for your medical care.

      It is important, if you have the choice, to have more choices. Costs; but it is worth it.

      If my Vet gets really sick…I want options for him.

      I encourage all to have Part B. There is a penalty if you don’t sign up at the first opportunity. Often, there are carriers, like Humana that are like PPO’s and I’ve seen where they advertise that the cost of Medicare Part B is low cost or no cost if you choose them. Medicare has a hotline that has counselors that can inform you of your choices. Just make sure they explain the pro/cons to you so you can make an informed decision.


      Vetwife Advocate

  34. Dan November 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    what VA office determines the cost of VA medical supplies/devices that are then charged to my insurance company that then results in a co-pay?

  35. jason Shattuck November 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Right now my only focus is to find out what is holding up my claim.
    If you try to cal the VA 800 number, for claim assistance. I get a run around, I was told some one will call me with in a week, I called them after 4 weeks. And finally found out that they have yet to receive any thing, which is BS, I called the places that I had to go to exams and they told me the Seattle Regional VA office got it the same day I had the appointment. 12 May 2010.
    So WTF is the hold up.
    Im liad off, I need my claim! Im claiming ringing in my ears (hearing loss), arthritis (back and shoulder pain), sleep apnea, and ptsd.
    I gave the country my time, and said I would give up my life, as needed for what ever cause, why cant the VA put some time into resolving these issues. For all the vets, that said the same thing.

    Or do I have to become a homeless vet, say I’m suicidal, or gonna go on a rampage, to get results.
    I just want my claim, I have 2 neighbors both vets, one put in a claim 3 months ago and got his letter for 70% service connected. The other, put in his claim for Agent O, the same time I had put my claim in. He also got his letter with-in 3 months. Is there a race thing involved in decided who’s claims go first. I say that because they are both black, im white.

    It is very frustrating, to have to play these games, I need the claim, to go though, I really am close to being homeless, and I don’t think my wife would like that. The only skills I know are manual labor ie construction, but with the chronic back and shoulder pain I have from the arthritis, I don’t even want to go to work in construction, that bad thing is I am only 29. IDK if this will be read by someone that can help, I just need to vent.

    • Brandon Friedman November 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      Have you registered with eBenefits? If you can get in-person proofed, it’ll allow you to track the status of your claim.

    • Bryan Shortsleeve November 12, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      Why is it necessary to get reproofed (done with MHV) and when will the site be up and running?

    • Ken November 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      Seattle Regional Office SUCKS.
      Filed a claim for AO-cancer of Larnynx. Denied because type of cancer was not listed. Had to go thru Patty Murry as the VA used soft tissue cancers not respiratory cancers. They appologized, blamed it on NEW employee.
      Filed an appeal on Statement of Case for Heart Disease in 2006. Seattle never got back to me, never filed with the BVA. They did seek a Independant Medical Review which was in my favor. Finally in 2010 via the 800 number I found out my case was sent to Nehmer Presumptives Unit.
      Seattle RO is a joke…..

  36. Dan Goff November 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Is it possible to have a discussion forum within this blog, just as you did with the Facebook page?
    Thank you

    • Brandon Friedman November 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm

      We’re looking at launching a discussion board, but no word on the timeline yet. I think it’s necessary, but it could be a while before we get one set up here. . . .

  37. Lucy Ochoa November 8, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Could someone please explain to me why Chapter 35 DEA benefits can NOT be direct deposited like all other benefit payments can?

  38. Mitchell Lanier November 8, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Would like an explanation on PN being rated for each extremities or just service connected under DMII with no additional percent?????

    • Andrew Dalessandro November 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm

      I may be wrong but I think the VA has a 1 year after exposeure rule .I have PN unrelated to diabetes . I put in a claim but because of time frame was denied . I’ve been going to a Neurologist for a year They have no clue ,They tell Me I have it bad in both legs and also My arms . I also have Thyroid problems which is unusuall for Men .It seemed to develop the same time as the PN . I appealed and the VA asked for My treatment records .We will see It’s been 2 yrs so far My PTSD took 4yrs .

      • Mitchell Lanier November 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm

        My PN has been SC as secondary to DMII. The problem I have is that only one extremity was rated 10%. The other three were added to my increased award of 20% for DMII.

  39. Stephen Feldman November 8, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I have a 100% rating. I am eligible for certain benefits that active duty have i.e PX and commissary.I would like definitive commentary as to what other active duty benefits I am entitled to.

  40. Tammy Duckworth November 8, 2010 at 6:48 pm


    Anytime we have to wait it’s frustrating. Part of the processing time difference is that claims are much easier and faster to process if you come to VA within the first year after leaving the military. You did the right thing by going to the DAV. We are simplifying the application process but it’s always in a Vet’s best interest to have a service officer represent him/her. I strongly recommend all Vets talk to service oficers like the ones provided by the DAV or other legitimate Veterans Service Organizations or your State’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

    • John Birch November 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm


      In 1973 when I was “cured” nobody said anything about filing a claim. Now that I have still other excuses. But all a vet has to do now say “oh, I was so scared I was afraid I would craped my pants.” A nd the reply is You have PTSD, lets get you taken care of. Like I said in another post, the Vietnam vets will all be dead soon and the VA won’t have to deal with them anymore.

  41. John Birch November 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm


    Nice new forum, VA at least tries. Now for the gripe. I have had PTSD since 1973. I spent 2 months in the Marion, Indiana VA hospital and then got discharged because I was “cured”. Well I wasn’t, in 2004 I filed a claim and tried to get records from Marion VA. I was turned down because I didn’t have the right badges. I refiled in 2005 and after help from DAV I got a hearing in 2009. I got a letter from the board saying I had cause for a claim and the paperwork was sent back to somewhere.It has been 6 years from the first time I got my first no answer and a year since I went to the board. What gets me is that some of the new claims are being put on the express line and older claims are still at the bottom of the pile, mostly never to see daylight until the claiments are dead.

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