Written by Barbie Perkins-Cooper/Jim Davis
GARDEN GROVE, CA – The mission of Veterans-for-Change is a simple one and it should be shared with all. According to Jim Davis, the founder of Veterans-for-Change, the mission for Veterans-for-Change is, “To wake up Congress and the President to meet the needs and fulfill the promises made to care for and treat Veterans. As a member of Veterans-For-Change, an expanding vocal group for Veterans rights, benefits, and treatment, I as well as my co-members and veterans nationwide, are extremely upset that the following areas are not being addressed by Congress or the Veterans Affairs adequately or properly.
Veterans-For-Change finds this an outrage and would like to request your consideration to correct and improve the system that has forgotten how to care for Veterans, and how to service their needs. When called to duty, to service America and its freedom, our Veterans stood tall, fought the battle, and now when needing our service the most, the VA ignores, or procrastinates to service their needs. This is a disgrace to all serving in the military.
A) VSO TRAINING: After extensive research, Veterans-For-Change through extensive research nationwide has discovered VSO’s (Veteran Service Officers) are generally trained by the organization they work for however, this training is not uniform amongst the various Veteran Service Organizations.
- This causes delays in claims, appeals, and remands far too countless to track consistently.
- What Congress should do and we very strongly request all of its members to support is to work with the VA to establish a minimum mandatory one-year-training program for all new service officers to be completed with a passing grade prior to being certified to process and handle claims.
- Additionally there should be a minimum mandatory 10-day annual refresher course for all service officers to stay up to speed on program changes and illnesses approved by Congress and the VA so that there are fewer mistakes and fewer veterans turned down for improper training on the part of the VA to their VSO’s, all in order to maintain their certification.
- Fail the recertification, then the VSO is suspended until such time they can pass and/or be required to complete the initial 1 year training program again.
- The VA rules and regulations for each type of claim are far too complex and complicated and no set of application templates for required documents is available to afford the veteran of a speedy claim approval process. In this, the twenty-first century, and the availability of all the technology, research tools, and Internet capability, there should be a way to ‘template’ or build a consistency for the benefit of Veterans. Consistency is the key! While it is true, every case is different, the VSO’s need to be compassionate enough, professional enough, and well trained enough to assist the Veterans without denying, declining, and procrastinating.
B) Eliminating Avoidable Remands: Veterans-for-Change has discovered there are far too many reports of claims being remanded back to the VARO or DRO for various reasons, most in part due to lack of proper documentation, incomplete or improperly completed claims forms.
- This can be eliminated or greatly reduced by putting in place a computerized claims system with all the necessary checks and balances of proper documentation, and all needed information completed properly before the claims processor can move on to the next field or screen and complete the claim application.
- Establishing standards — by setting standards for each type of claim so both the claims processor and the veteran knows what is needed in detail via a “missing document” check list, thereby the ability to report the system could generate and be given to the veteran so there could be no mistakes made thus reducing the number of remands annually as well as the serious backlog.
- Additionally this computer claims system should also be able to access both military and medical records, again reducing labor time in requests and photo copying as well as postage to send out. US Mail is famous for losing the mail, or delivering to an incorrect address. When this happens, the vicious cycle must be repeated. A computer claims system process would be electronic, thus having the ability to track delivery date, and tracking, checking the claim and processing of the claim.
- If members of Congress were to work with the VA and push for this kind of system, the monetary savings on paid staff alone would surely offset the costs involved on a daily basis.
- This electronically computerized process would also reduce the number of claims and appeals now currently pending which are in excess of one million, and steadily growing.
President Barack Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.”
You, as Americans, and politicians of a free society, do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to provide benefits and care, regardless of the costs involved! You do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to care for those who did the job you failed to do, or the many millions of Americans who chose to escape the effects, physical ailments, illnesses, and emotional wounds of war. Freedom is not free; it comes with a price tag. Veterans paid a gigantic price, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Only a war veteran can comprehend how that price was paid for in full by our military and war veterans, along with their spouses and children! The price they paid for their devotion to their freedom does not have a monetary amount and it could be considered priceless since the effects of war leave so many emotional and physical scars that cannot be repaired. The price our war veterans paid was distributed in full with blood, sweat and many tears! Veterans-for-Change finds this unforgivable.
Isn’t it about time Congress, the President, and the Veterans Affairs actually stood tall and paid that bill? Isn’t it time to help our wounded warriors, including those who suffer with PTSD, medical care and improperly cleaned or sterilized equipment, and Blue Water Navy Dioxin Exposure, along with the emotional scars, to be compensated?
The actions of Congress and the actions and policies of the VA seem to express so loud and clear that it would have been far better had our men and women not served or died at war than to suffer the denials, the schemes, shenanigans, and the maltreatment provided by the government of the United States. The choice is yours. You must decide.
Jim Davis is the son of USMC MGySgt. Lesley Davis (Ret.) who passed away on April 24, 2006, from ALS caused by Agent Orange. His dad’s mission before he passed on was to ensure all veterans, spouses, children, and widows all received the benefits, medical care and attention, and proper facilities from the VA.
Because of the promise made to his dad to carry on the mission, in May 2006 Davis began as a one-man show sending out 535 letters every single week to all members of Congress requesting and politely demanding the fulfill their promises made over the past decades to care for life those who wore the uniform and their families.
Veterans-For-Change was born in August 2006 with a very small membership of 25 people composed of veterans, spouses, widows, family members, and friends and to date continues to grow.