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Thanks to a re-tweet from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow with this article referenced:

Number of Veterans who Die Waiting for Benefits Claims Skyrockets

Long wait times contribute to delays of tens of thousands of benefits, pensions

Rachel's coverage of this issue has been frequent and pointed, notably in her December 10, 2012 show.  Here's an excerpt (click here for the full transcript):

Last year, six-month wait times. This year, it`s not six months
anymore. This year it`s now nearly nine months. The average amount of
time veterans have to wait for their benefits has over the last year and a
half been going up steadily, every single month.

This summer the V.A. secretary, General Eric Shinseki, said the goal
was to get the wait time down to four months. And instead of going down
even toward four months, it`s going up and up and up and up, to the current
level, which is the longest wait time the V.A. has recorded since they
started recording these numbers, which is 20 years ago.

Is this still shameful?  At very least.  Are you wondering, like me, if you can help?  If so, follow me below the Fleur de Kos.

Kossacks are legion.  Many of you volunteer your time and money and art and commentary to causes you not only care about but teach others to care about, too.

Every time this subject comes up, I've gone to various sites -- Veteran Affairs, DAV, IAVA -- looking for unconventional opportunities to do some good.  Opportunities for those of us who, well, are in the earned-benefits stage of life.  Who still have good brains for which we no longer receive salaries -- because we've retired or because no one finds us useful any longer.  Who maybe couldn't take a real salary because we'd compromise our own fiscal situation.  Who have enough time, smarts, and physical ability to do what the VA is finding to be beyond its current capacities -- that is, paperwork.  

There must be some way to offer ourselves as competent, reliable, effective scissors for some of that red tape.

I haven't been able to find a hint of such a movement on any of the sites I've investigated, including this one, though I know it can't be a new idea.  The VA does need volunteer drivers and other resources that are traditionally volunteer functions.  Those are still badly needed.  But I'm thinking about something quite different.

Back when President Obama started his first term, in the early, terrifying days of what Dr. Paul Krugman has called the Lesser Depression (this July 22, 2011, Krugman Op-Ed in the NYT may be behind a pay-wall), those with memories of the Great Depression mentioned ideas like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).   Those suggestions were not picked up.  Republicans began and continue a litany about the worthlessness of so-called make-work jobs, even asserting that government itself cannot create jobs.

As Rachel herself would say, that's "horse pucky."

Look.  I am not a veteran.  No one I know is a veteran. (I lead a very solitary life.)  All my uncles save one were too old to have served in WWII, and my cousins were too old -- with one exception -- to have gone to Viet Nam.  My former father-in-law, however, long dead, was badly damaged in WWII and Korea.  So I am utterly naive about this problem, educated only enough about it to be angry and ashamed that we as a country have kept few of the promises we made to those who served with those promises having been made to them.  There are millions of able retirees and unemployed living among us.  

I'm not suggesting make-work:  what's needed here is real, valuable, meaningful work, service to our country.  Why not let us help?

Those of you who can tell me how I'm naive and wrong about this are welcomed to let me know.  Those of you who can set me on the right track are strongly encouraged to educate me.  Those of you in particular who are already involved in an effort of this type, I beg you to let me in on the details of how I can become part of it.  Especially you Kossacks at DKos Military Veterans.  With that, all I request is your civility.

And thanks for giving this diary your time.  (And me a chance to try out rusty html tagging tools)

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 12.6 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

    by argomd on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:08:29 PM PST

  •  Good Ideas, argomd (5+ / 0-)

    and yes it is a damn shame,

    we let this happen to our vets.

    this country must make good,

    on its W-era debts.

    Isn't it time to fix the Filibuster?
    -- Here's how.

    by jamess on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:43:18 PM PST

  •  This is insane. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mskitty, Notthemayor

    Consider the number of transactions that Amazon, Facebook, or Google make daily.  Why isn't the process completely automated, for those with internet access?

  •  Actually, my son-in-law recently retired (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mskitty, Notthemayor, splashy

    from the military (after 20 years of service) and I can confirm everything that you're saying.  We are fortunate to have Loretta Sanchez for a Representative because she has been very helpful in resolving some of our problems.

    Thank you for calling attention to this problem.  It's a lot worse than you have described.

  •  My father was entitled to benefits... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    For his WW2 era service.  He never realized he was eligible till I did the research.

    We applied for benefits a year and a half before he died.  He never got a dime.

    Every phone call...on the rare occasions you could get the phone answered...ended up with apologies, an explanation that someone along the line hadn't sent something somewhere, and a promise it was taken care of now.

    Obviously not.

    However, they were very efficient when he did die.  It took them less than two weeks to send a letter informing me his application was cancelled by his death.

    At first he joked they were hoping he would die before he collected.  By the end, we were pretty much convinced that was the truth.

    Understand, it wasn't a big pension.  Just a couple of hundred a month because his SS benefit wasn't very high.  But when you don't have very much a couple of hundred a month is significant.  

    He was...and all veterans are...deserving of better.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:52:57 PM PST

  •  There's plenty about the VA that could benefit (0+ / 0-)

    from improvement, but this story is complete bullshit. Not the diary, the diarist is reading an article in good faith and writing from an uniformed point of view. This is a political football and folks are being taken in.

    I'm working on a long, detailed piece outlining what the problems with the VA claims system really are, what the "backlog" really means, and proposing a solution that has some realistic chance of flying. I don't want to steal too much of my own thunder with a reply in a comment.

    Go back and read the linked article again. The lead story is about how horrible it was that a veteran died before his VA claim could be processed (a familiar calumny against the VA). He's their poster boy, their best case for this issue.

    Well yes, it's true that the veteran died five months after filing his VA claim, which wasn't approved until seven months after filing. Yes, that's true. Of course what's not mentioned is that as a WW II vet he had waited sixty six years to file it!

    Sixty six years to file, seven months to approve. Who, exactly, put the delay in his claim?

    While I won't be explicating it further in this thread, it is my firm conviction that these planted "news pieces" are part of a long game public opinion shaping campaign to discredit the VA, the Obama Administration, and government in general with seemingly sympathetic disinformation which will eventuallly result in a "solution" of privatizing the VA claims process. In my opinion that would be the worst possible outcome.

    I'll try to have the diary up within the week.

    Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Monkeys kill people too, if they have guns.

    by DaNang65 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:12:49 AM PST

    •  more than just that article, actually (0+ / 0-)

      Seems the stats on mean and median wait times for benefits applications to be processed cover a lot more than the one anecdote about the single WWII vet dying before his request was granted.  One anecdote didn't trigger my interest, and one anecdote won't end it.  Hadn't really given the case much attention, since it was clearly not representative of the case population.

      Many professional journalists with records for accuracy -- and the VA's own data -- seemed to me a reasonable spur to tackle the issue.  I and they may well be completely wrong, of course, and for me, I freely acknowledge that and welcome any evidence closer to reality.

      But thanks for giving me credit for acting in good faith.  I also did not act based on a single, unrepresentative anecdote.  Not too sure a wide-spread, organized campaign of disinformation as the one you describe would have slipped by undetected.   Who would benefit from fomenting that?  Can you propose the eminence gris behind this?

      Eagerly awaiting your diary with source info.  The actual sources of the data, including the VA itself, could also benefit from hearing from you.

      (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 12.6 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

      by argomd on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:55:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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