On Veterans Day last year, we launched VAntage Point to help VA better communicate with Veterans. When we were in our development stages, we kept reader interaction at the top of the priority list. The outcome was a commenting system that allows readers to respond to individual posts without moderator approval. Further still, we accepted guest posts from anyone willing to write about issues relating to Veterans, whether they’re a Vietnam Vet going through the claims process to a national cemetery caretaker to a student on the GI Bill. Many have been critical of both VA and the government, but an honest discussion trumps all. Poke around other government blogs and you’ll see what you find here is pretty unique.

Still, what we designed wasn’t perfect. Folks had trouble entering codes that helped fight spam, and comments weren’t viewable until after they were posted. Our blog developer has worked to improve the look, feel and usability of the site by taking comments and suggestions from our readers into account. So I’m happy to announce that version 1.1 has launched and is now live. Among the changes you’ll find: an improved commenting system with preview capability, a full archive broken down by post type, a tag cloud on the right sidebar that filters posts by subject, and a neater presentation all around.

Take a look around the blog to see for yourself. Did we miss any fixes or updates that should go into the next version?

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Published on Aug. 30, 2011

Estimated reading time is 1.3 min.

Views to date: 209


  1. Sally Caspers August 31, 2011 at 5:22 pm


    Thanks for the great work you’ve done with this blog. I’ve learned so much from reading the posts and, sometimes, the comments. The transparency and openness of this website does make it unique! Best of luck in the new semester!

  2. Jon August 31, 2011 at 11:01 am

    One question about the new site, Alex: Do the authors of the posts have the ability to delete comments that don’t coincide with their viewpoints?

    • Alex Horton August 31, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Technically yes, we have the ability to delete comments but we don’t do it without good reason (as evidenced above, I disagree with marineseabee on the characterization of VA health care but the comment stays). We allow any comment if it isn’t spam, contains excessive profanity, personal information like a Social Security Number or has a lot of links (a hallmark of spam). Also, our guest post column has featured a number of posts critical of VA. One of them that suggests a new way for VA to file claims is up there right now.

      • Jon September 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

        I was referring to the guest columns specifically, Alex, and the one that you mentioned. Do the guest posters have the ability to remove comments from their posts? I thought that I had provided some decnt feedback, but it seems as though it was removed shortly thereafter. It could have been a technical glitch, though.

  3. marineseabee August 31, 2011 at 5:27 am

    I thank my lucky stars I was not wounded seriously in Vietnam after reading the first two complaints, er “comments”.
    IF I ever needed the VA FOR ANYTHING, I think I’d just kill myself first since, it seems, they do not want to do the job for which the VA was originated.
    At the moment, I have Medicare and Tricare4 Life. I believe those two should be all I’ll need. IF they say somewhere down the line that they cannot help me, THEN, I feel that I’ll “end it” because the VA sure won’t help me.

    • Alex Horton August 31, 2011 at 7:23 am

      I’m not sure if some folks separate the claims side of VA from the medical care side. The claims process is paper bound, takes a lot of time, and I suspect is where a good deal of Veterans have issues with VA. The medical care, on the other hand, is pretty good. I’ve been in the system for a few years now, and was confident enough to decline my federal employee health insurance in favor of VA care. I’ve been to the emergency room for stitches, walked-in to see the doctor and have gotten my physical there. The last time I was there, my doctor let me know I could leave a secure message on MyHealtheVet if I had any questions. If you can find anything that advanced and useful when it comes to patient-doctor communication in the private care sector, I’d sure like to hear about it.

      That doesn’t mean no one has a bad experience at a VA facility. Of course some folks do, just like anywhere else, be it a private doctor, a primary care clinic or emergency room. But this ‘I’d rather die’ business? It’s a bit much. From what I can tell, VA was not a pleasant experience after Vietnam. But it’s been a long time since then. This myth of substandard care has got to end so the new generation of Vets isn’t scared off from receiving the care they deserve.

      • Chief Rob (aka GW Rob) September 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

        Thank you Alex Horton for chiming in regarding the separation of the claims process and the medical care provided by VA. I also agree that “I’d rather die” suggestions are a bit much.

        I understand the separation of claims and medical services. That may be why, up to this point, I have not had one issue either getting medical treatment or the processing of a claim.

        I get treatment at both a VA Regional Medical Center and an outlying clinic in a small town. Both have provided me with first class service. When the necessary fix was not available at either place they sent me to a contracted civilian provider.

        I sought the assistance of a qualified Veterans Service Officer (VSO) and found one with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) located on a military post near my home. He was very fluent with medical terminology. When he reviewed my medical records he knew exactly what the issues were, made a copy, highlighted them, placed them on the claim form. I signed it and within a couple weeks I was going to different places contracted by the VA to determine and verify that the issues submitted on the claim we’re legitimate and the degree to which they affected me. After the individual places checked me out I was seen by one doctor that had everything from the others. He gave me a thorough exam. He found a problem that I did not know about and included it with the others. Within two months I began receiving compensation and a month later I received back pay from the date of the claim.

        What I am attempting to express is that when one has an issue caused during your service, by all means submit a claim and have them examine you as soon as possible. Moreover, I am saying that with the proper records with entry’s and annotation by medical personnel while in the service is a must for swift claim processing. Last, but not least, I believe that my successful claim processing was accomplished because the VSO was totally competent and educated about everything that encompasses VA claims.

        In summary, I suppose I will be called lucky or an exception to the process. Yes, I am lucky to the degree that my medical issues were properly documented and the handlers of my claim knew what they were doing, because prior to submitting a claim I had no idea how the process worked or who did what.

        However, I did not blame my institutional ignorance on the entity that was going to verify my issues, pay me compensation for those wounds and issues, and give me free care and treatment to keep me medically going in life. Thank you!

  4. Stupid August 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Reading this sure makes me confident I won’t end up homeless waiting on the VA, like he said, black & white by both civilian & military health officials, during service. I want my back pay as well!

  5. Victor Wayne Whitmore August 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Try and make this short and to the point. VA incompitance. Claim range 1973-2011. Still open. From a 10 year period ending in “We have no records of you even seeing the VA for anything” ( While documents exsist), Refile is all I could do. Communications with the claim range from 6 months to over a Year. For each letter of communications. Example: Refilled claim, took a year before recieving a letter that they needed my medical records, so I ordered, 6 months passed when the records comuntications arived, stating they did not have those records that the VA has them. Sending a copy of this letter to the VA, answer recieved 6-12 months later, oh yes we do have. ( lost about 3 years on just that one thing). Lost papers, or even asking for papers they already have. In the last 38 years, its been stopped going to the VBA, because of a mistake they made, took 3-4 years to fix that. Then failed to go to VBA, but a request for evaluation on skaring. Its been now 8 months and no answer. I filled for the damage to my back, 38 years later, still waiting not for the compensation, but another reason! I have PTSD that was caused from ship riots to officers miss conduct. During the riots I was beeten by blacks until I was blacked out. But never seam to have any damge. I thought. I have problems with athourity, never worked a job very long, lost a family, home, and career. I have talk to senaters, congress, VA, Reps, who have gave me basicly the same thing, ” The VA is right on track with your Claim” guess I have an idiot sign on my forhead. ( 38 years, and every time its reopen, I dont get back pay,” Oboma hired 1500 people to help on claims, or maybe the welfare office could not find that many uneducated people. I am 100% disabled on my back issues, homeless, 100% on CHF, PTSD, Knees are almost gone, Everything filed for is in black and white in my Military Medical records. Why? 38 years!

  6. James Wiley Nichols August 30, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    To Whom Will Listen,
    I am an 80% Service Connected Veteran from Vietnam. I do not think this is the place to air a complaint; but I will anyway. Is it a fact or not that the Veterans Administration is suppose to pay a Veteran who is 80% Service connected the other 20% UN-Employ ability. I am 61 years old I have been 80% Service Connected since February 27, 1970 when I was wounded in Country Vietnam. I am really disappointed in my country and the way I have been treated a as Veteran. I was (DRAFTED) into the Army did not ask for it did not want it had a real good job when I got (DRAFTED) and have not been able to work at that job since. The Veterans Administration has never done anything except to try their level best to take more away from me. And this caused me to do some stupid stuff and it cost me 25 years of my life in Federal Prison and now they are playing the same games as they did then in 1986.

    • GW Rob August 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Get to a Veteran’s Service Officer (VSO) from your choice of organization, i.e., DAV, VFW, American Legion, etc”… Once you get to a legitimate VSO, tell them you story and file an official claim that can be supported and substantiated by records of treatment while in and out of service, regarding your particular problem, wound(s), injuries, disease or situation related to such. Moreover, the VSO will inform you of the current list of presumed illnesses. If yours is on the list your claim should process rather smoothly.

      As for the “stupid stuff” you claim you did that cost you 25 years of your life, I strongly recommend seeking advice and counseling at your nearest VA medical center that has a complete staff of social workers, to include psychologist and psychiatrist.

      Best wishes, good luck, and thank you for your service to our Great Nation!

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