Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dead to the VA

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs continues to astound me with new levels of incompetence and lack of caring.  A friend forwarded me this article yesterday:  Veteran facing big bills after VA declares him dead.

Seems someone stole this veteran's identity, sought medical care with that stolen identity, then died leaving unpaid medical bills.  That's not the worst part though, the VA declared him dead, and sent notification to his "surviving" family that $5,000 in VA payments had been improperly paid and demanding return of the funds.  I quote from the article:
"Hubbard receives a government pension around $1,000 a month. It’s been three months since he’s received any money to pay bills or buy food.
“We got a food bank here, and the one at the church where I go to, that’s where I get my food from,” he said.
Hubbard also feared he wouldn't be able to pay for his Section 8 housing.
The landlord cut him a break, only charging $25 a month until he gets his pension back.
“I keep calling. They say it could take up to eight months,” he said."
They said it could take up to eight months.  EIGHT MONTHS!!!

WHAT! THE! HELL!!!????

I'm getting more and more infuriated while I write this.  See, I've also recently worked with a veteran and his family who, due to an error by the VA (I know, hard to believe), his GI Bill payments were not only cut off, but the VA automatically withdrew thousands of dollars from the veteran's account.  The veteran didn't know until his house payment bounced, then other checks started bouncing.

The VA says, "Yup we screwed up, but it takes a long time to correct the issue so be prepared for it to happen again".

Well they were right about that - two months now in a row the VA has withheld money and not reimbursed money improperly confiscated.  It might happen again in two weeks.  There is a family out there, veteran husband with TBI and PTSD, a caregiver spouse stretched to the absolute limit, and a slew of little kids, one of whom is special needs.

How can an organization dedicated to helping veterans be so callous, so incompetent?

Now I understand humans make errors - but to take EIGHT MONTHS to correct it?  While a Navy veteran who served during Vietnam can't pay his housing and has to go to a foodbank?  What would he do if he didn't have a caring and understanding landlord?  When a veteran can't feed his kids?  Can't put gas in his car to take them to the doctor?

Does anyone at the VA realize they are destroying veterans' lives?  This is the kind of stuff that causes a veteran to contemplate suicide.  That the one agency that is pledged to care for him or her demonstrates such total and complete heartlessness is unforgivable.

Shame, shame, shame.

There are a lot harsher words I want to use.

This incompetence is criminal negligence.


Can you do that?  Do you care?  I'll be reaching out to my lawmakers this week - I hope you do too.


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