As a veteran I am sickened at the state of the Veterans Administration. I was medically
retired from the Army in May 2016 and have had this displeasure of using the VA and its
services. The goal of the Veteran’s Administration should be to provide the highest quality care
available to every veteran. On top of that, the service and care should be provided as quickly as
possible. This hasn’t happened at the VA and they continue to fail thousands of veterans on a
The poor treatment is compounded by the ever-increasing VA claims backlog. There are
veterans out there who are depending on their disability benefits just to make ends meet. I’ve
known veterans who have been homeless because they were unable to work due to their
disabilities and hadn’t received a decision on their claim in a timely manner. While at one time
the backlog was decreasing, due to VA inefficiency, the backlog is on the rise again. Since last
fall the backlog has increased to a staggering 300,000 cases and counting.
This is totally unacceptable and the VA must be held accountable for their piss poor
administration of veteran claims. If I’m elected to Congress, I would immediately request the VA
hire more auditors to process claims. The VA is currently paying auditors on staff significant
overtime but that hasn’t brought any remedy to the backlog issue. The VA appeals process is in a
similar state. I personally filed an appeal to my VA claim almost a year ago and only recently got
a decision back. These VA decisions are life and death to many of the veterans that apply and the
families of veterans that gave the ultimate sacrifice. We HAVE to find a better way of processing
claims and appeals.
One thing I would immediately recommend as a member of Congress is to fix the
complexity of the VA system itself. As a veteran with a college degree and one semester away
from having a Masters of Business Administration, I found it insanely difficult to find the correct
form or someone to contact when I had an issue. There are companies, both non-profit and for
profit, who make many millions of dollars a year helping veterans navigate the complex VA
system. No veteran should ever have to pay someone to help them get benefits that they are
already entitled to. This is shameful and gives and gives the greatest nation on Earth a very bad
look on the international stage.
In 2014, 40 veterans died waiting for healthcare from the VA. If the VA is so busy that
veterans can’t be seen by a medical professional within a reasonable time, they should have the
option of going to a civilian treatment facility and picking the doctor of their choice. It makes no
sense that the VA continually says that they are overwhelmed but keeping forcing veterans to
wait on them instead of instituting policies and procedures that will give veterans other treatment
options. Studies have shown that this will not only decrease veteran wait times but save the
government money at the same time!
The biggest issue with the Veterans Administration is that the staff in the system don’t
have to be accountable to any rules and regulations. The VA needs basic staff accountability
measures that you will find in any civilian medical facility. Its is well known within among
government civil servants that you can do just about anything and still keep your job. It’s the
prime example of a “good ol boys” club which will end if I’m elected to Congress. Thanks to
President Trump, it is a bit easier to fire bad VA employees but there is stills significant work to
be done in this area.
From my experience at the VA, many of the employees there have this thought that they
are above the law and act as such. What they don’t understand is without the sacrifice of these
brave men and women veterans, they wouldn’t have a job! As a veteran myself, I promise I will
be a relentless advocate for the fair and equitable treatment of all veterans!