If you are a veteran, have you run into difficulty getting your benefits from the Veterans Administration? I read about a number of veterans that waited a year or more to receive needed benefits including medical treatment. Men and women who served our nation only to get wounded and maimed end up waiting months to receive their desperately needed disability compensation. There are horror stories across the nation of men and women who almost qualify as a marathon runner from all of the run arounds they get from the VA.
Perhaps that’s because VA employees can no longer earn points for following up on contacts and perusing whatever documents are necessary to process a case. This was known as ‘supplemental development’ and they used to gain extra points for this, but that is no longer the policy. With no reward or incentive to go beyond the minimum requirements, resulting in poor performance, many claims are being handled improperly or left incomplete. At the moment, the VA reports that there are about 14,000 veterans who have appeals still pending after more than 2 years of applying for their rightful benefits.
In fact, the employees earn points for normal minimal processing of claims. According to one VA employee, this results in many workers concentrating on pushing through the easy claims and even cheating on claim processing at times. At the same time, they ignore the harder backlogged claims because they don’t earn any points towards their bonus if they do. Hence, thousands of wounded veterans are facing medical, financial, employment and even family problems because VA workers opt not to work on their claims.
The VA is so inefficient that last year, they closed their Oakland office for a time in order to retrain their employees because they were so inept at their jobs. The VA office in Baltimore is the worst in the nation as it takes longer for them to process a claim than any other VA office in the nation.
Yet, 90% of the employees at the Oakland VA office and 40% of the workers at the Baltimore office received bonuses for their outstanding performance. In contrast, the VA office in Sioux Falls has a performance record more than 4 times better than the Oakland office, but less than 10% of their staff received bonuses.
All toll, certain VA employees shared in $5.5 million worth of bonuses. However, it seems that the more inefficient the employees were, the more of them that shared the bonus. If I were in charge of the Veterans Administration, I would completely revamp the point system and bonus program to insure that only those employees who are doing their jobs to the best of their ability will get bonuses.
I would also clean house and get rid of those workers that cheat, leave claims incomplete or consistently incorrect in their processing of claims by establishing a negative point system. So many negative points and you’re out the door. I’m sure in today’s economy and job market that there are lots of people who would love to have the job and would do it well.
The bottom line is that our veterans, especially those who have been wounded and are facing tougher times here at home than they did abroad deserve better care than what they are getting now from the VA. They deserve our gratitude, thanks and most of all, our help in whatever needs they have to heal and become productive and proud Americans.