VA Communication

Veterans: VA puts another bridge between itself and the veteran in communication, “don’t call me, I’ll call you”. Communication between the VA, the veteran, and/or the veteran’s representative has always been a problem. The problem is exacerbated by the longtime it takes to adjudicate a decision and go through the appeal process which may take up to several years. The VA, in order to carry out its goal to be more efficient, has put up barriers of communication between itself and the veterans and/or their representatives. It’s difficult to speak with at all, a rating specialist, a Decision Review Officer, or a judge throughout the whole process; the ones who are actually making decisions.

As technology has developed, the VA has been able to put in its internal system where a veteran’s claim is at, at any particular time. That is, if documents are properly scanned into the system. It has always been difficult to tell where a claim is in line with others claims until a claim is actually picked up and worked on by an adjudicator. When a veteran calls the VA’s 800 number in order to find out the status of his claim, the 800 number is only as good as what’s been entered into the system. If the veteran has signed up for eBenefits in order to check on the status of the claim himself, the veteran is faced with the same problem.

Over the years at least the veteran had the benefit of the 800 number going to the local Regional Office of his own state. Now the 800 number goes to a Regional Office which, on many occasions, is not the veteran’s own Regional Office in the state in which is claim is being adjudicated. If there was a problem with the veteran’s claim, at least the veteran was able to attempt to resolve the problem in his local Regional Office. Now veterans are faced with an additional layer of a communication dilemma. All documents with the VA are sent to Newnan, GA in the east and to Janesville, WI for veterans’ claims in the west. As you can expect, mistakes are being made, documents are being lost, scanning is only as good as the person who is scanning the files, and the training he receives. The labeling of documents correctly creates additional problems for the adjudicator, the veteran and his representative. It also creates additional problems for the veteran because he can’t go to his local Regional Office because the problem cannot be corrected at his local Regional Office.

The VA’s goal to expedite claims in a more efficient manner does have its pitfalls. It enforces the VA’s unfriendly policy of communication by putting another layer in the communication gap, “don’t call me, I’ll call you.” It seems like the communication issue is another step away from being resolved in behalf of veterans. Veterans, their representatives and the VA need to look for answers to the problem.

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