Why the Veterans Affairs and Administration does not work for Veterans
I attended a VA workshop yesterday, Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the regional VA Office in Chicago to help with a pilot program that is designed to help ease and lower the high number of appeals for disability and discovered that the number one reason that these agencies appear not to be working is not just the policies and procedures but mostly importantly the personnel.
The policies and procedures are normally handed down by those in charge but these policies and procedures are composed by the input of those in the position to help shape them. If the opinions and experience of those who served are not voiced as passionately as they should and those expounding those views are not willing or able to demand better treatment of veterans, then the voices with no experience except what they were told or paid to say wins out. This is the gist of what is happening right now. That Veteran Service Officers (VSO) who are supposed to be the veteran’s representative does little to represent the veteran and more to appear equal to those assigned to determine the outcome of these hearings/appeals. It is as if they forgot what it meant and took to serve in order to preserve their own status.
During my interview the Disability Representative Officer (DRO) expressed to me that she was trying to help and when pressed about the help she was trying to deliver, her response was there was little she could do because of the policies and procedures passed down from above. My VSO jumped in and begin to blame the politicians and administrators for the failure of the VA and all their affiliates for the lack of respect shown toward veterans. While this may sound good to some, it ranged false and phony to me. It ranged phony and false to me, not because I hold myself in a much higher esteem than I do anyone else but a simple truth is being ignored. The truth of the matter is, in the face of policies and procedures that does nothing for those they were initially designed to benefit, one must be willing to stand up, step up and defend those they were hired to defend.
In other words, much of the reasoning behind those assigned to protect, defend and work on behalf of the veteran will tell you in no uncertain terms that standing against those in authority could mean their jobs, it could mean the livelihood of their families and it could mean the end of their opportunity to give back and show their support for the troops and their fellow service members. The solution is to stock these agencies with veterans from top to bottom who can clearly determine if the request for disability is real or false. No one can read through a lie about military service better than someone who has served in the military. Having someone who has chosen to forget their time in or has never spent any time in will always mean that an explanation of why something is not documented will never make sense to anyone who thinks all things will be documented. If the VA is judging disability based on that service member’s military occupational skill or MOS then they are missing a very vital point. Many who serve are not limited to that MOS, we are all trained to fight, so even if your MOS is telephone repair, when it comes time, that telephone repair specialist will convert into a foot soldier in a heartbeat. Would any civilian know this and would those knowing this change the policy or procedure that they pass down to only look at that person’s MOS?
The question then becomes, who risks more, the VSO or DRO who may lose their job if they stand up and defend a veteran or the veteran who stands up and defend the VSOs and DROs right to wimp out in defense of them. Compare and contrast the VSOs and DROs loss of job to the veteran’s potential loss of life.