Waiting to hear back from Veterans Affairs? Expect 3 to 5 years.

13 May 2008

A fifteen minute call to VA informed my that I should have final word on my claim in three to five years after the initial year process of filing the claim.

Following the outgoing physical from the military I was told that I had a positive shift in hearing, which is to say that while still in the normal range, my hearing is considerably less than what it was at nineteen. Low normal I was told, borderline. The constant ringing I learn to ignore. Much like a new wedding ring that the finger is constantly noticing, overly aware once it is missing; silent rooms roar with a deafening chorus.

“You should file your claim downtown.” The VA representative told me as he handed me some forms to fill out after meeting with him to review my resume and job plan. I didn’t want to go through the process that somehow seemed like stealing from the veterans that really needed it, those who came home without arms and legs and those who’s PTST wasn’t silenced as soon as mine. “Listen” he told me.
“I was a Navy Diver and I noticed one day that my hearing was fading after I got out. It turns out that I had perforated my ear drums. VA will pay for your hearing aids later in life. You’re going to need them, and let me tell you they’re really expensive.”

Following my initial paperwork there was a meeting in the Federal Building downtown which later led to doctors appointments. The first of which I was unable to keep since starting a new job. Unfortunately the veterans administrations thinks that anyone can make a 1:30 appointment on Tuesday twenty miles away. In order to reschedule I was told I would just have to appeal. And so I did. Soon after I was able to attend the first appointment. A week later I returned for a second. “ The doctor read me a letter that he had gotten which said “This service member has served in support of the Global War on Terrorism please expedite as quickly as possible.” There were three following appointments with different specialists. In order to get hearing aids in the autumn of my life I had a full physical done complete with an EKG, stress test, x-rays of my chest, feet and back. Oddly enough it was the first time I had seen an actual Medical Doctor through out my military career.

The VA is usually pretty good about correspondence, often sending the same notice several times. Two and a half months went by of not hearing anything, so I called the 800 number. After the usual back and forth comparable to Sprint, Bank of America, or USAA I was finally told that I did have an open appeal despite their previous declarations that I didn’t.

“Why would I start the process over again if I can’t confirm if was ever confirmed or denied?” “Sir I’m showing that you don’t have any claims open.”
“Then why did the VA just pay me to see a barrage of doctors a few months ago?”
“One moment please.”

I should mention that the VA has the same hold music as sprint that queues up with that crackling drum beat.

“Ok sir I do show that you have an open appeal. And it shows that a letter has not been sent to you and that one should be, though I don’t know when.”
“Ok. Can you tell me how long I should expect this process to take.”
“Three to Five years sir.”
“Wow. Really?”
“Yes sir,” with a slight laugh of how ridiculous she knew they system was “I’m sorry.”

I’m just glad what I’m trying to get I won’t need for a few more decades. How can the guys with missing body parts sustain for three to five years in addition to the almost year long process of the initial claim?

For Few, Iraq War Has Changed Everything

9 March 2008

Shortly before I left for my last deployment we got our wills in order. My wife’s friend who was and still is incapable of any real world understanding or empathy told us that she felt so sorry for us.

For Few, Iraq War Has Changed Everything
Swords to Plowshares
Vetrans for Peace
War on Terrorism Casualties