ROAR: How is your VA regional office?

About seven years ago, The American Legion Magazine published a survey form asking veterans to submit information about the treatment they were receiving from VA medical centers and clinics around the country. At the time, more than 300,000 VA patients were waiting 30 days or longer for doctor appointments in understaffed, underfunded facilities nationwide. The survey asked questions about waiting times, and also offered a place to write freely about other VA health-care concerns worth sharing. What an education that was. Nearly 5,000 VA patients responded to the survey, which illuminated much more than delayed appointments. The surveys revealed inconsistent treatment programs for female veterans, ridiculously low mileage reimbursements for rural veterans forced to travel hundreds of miles to see VA doctors, and spotty help for veterans with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The information from that study has guided Legion testimony in Congress, legislative priorities and hundreds of staff site visits at VA health-care facilities. Most importantly, it has led to positive changes.

The survey was called “I Am Not a Number.” And it gave birth to the “System Worth Saving” report, which now delivers to Congress the Legion’s highly respected annual assessment of VA health-care facilities nationwide. When Congress needs to know what veterans think about VA health care, The American Legion is the expert source thanks to the “System Worth Saving” program. There is nothing else like it.

This year, that same model is being applied to tackle another major VA issue: benefits administration and general performance of regional offices. At our national convention in August, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki vowed to bring the backlog of unresolved VA claims decisions under control by 2012. The problem has haunted VA since the Eisenhower administration, only it’s worse now, with approximately 1 million veterans awaiting decisions that could change their lives forever.

Secretary Shinseki needs our help on this one. The Legion is now conducting a series of VA Regional Office visits in a program we call ROAR – Regional Office Action Review. Like the “System Worth Saving” program, Legion experts and local veterans meet with VA Regional Office administrators and employees to see what they are doing to reduce the backlog, how they are staffed, and how new technology is being used to improve the process.

Of course, we also need to get the stakeholder side of this story. That is why I strongly urge you to go to The American Legion website and fill out a ROAR survey (www.legion.org/roar) to share your thoughts about your regional office. You will be asked a few simple questions about the time it has taken for your VA claim to be resolved, if the appeal process works, if you are satisfied and how you were treated. The confidential survey also provides an area to write freely about your VA experience. We are always on the lookout for problems, but also want to learn about success stories that can be shared with others across the country. No one has a greater stake in this than we do. Let’s get online, fill out a survey, and help the secretary fulfill his challenge to finally break the backlog.

 

sergeant

July 1, 2011 - 11:02am

Con't I am Retired, SFC Victor M. Zavala so if you can check this out Commander please let me know what you can do on my membership to be update and life time. NOT WILL TO PAY AGAIN, SORRY, BUT WE NEED ORGANIZATION WITH ALL OUR MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS, My experiences is this; commanders are not checking or doing their job with this organizations they are to involve in politics, please keep one foot in the military organizational stage and one in the politics affairs. Doing good and great things but do not forget about the military organizations, once in a dark time, drop by and see if what they said they were going to do is what they are doing... great policy. God Bless.

sergeant

July 1, 2011 - 10:52am

talked to Mrs. Amy Walden, about my request for an applicatin for Life Membership, she tell me to go to my post, well, good luck on that one, they are new open, had a regular membership but request on how to get a Life Membership, and never got an answer or application for the American Legion HQ and now she send me a Renew Online which I have to pay $35.00 in order to get a Life Membership and I told, Mrs Amy Walden, I should not be charge again when I requested a application for Life Membership, I think she is all about the Money, Not for Veterans or Membership Request so I told her that is a Sad Story on what she told me, that I had to pay $35.00 in order to get a Life Membership, So National Commander if you can help me please do so, I told Mrs. Amy Walden to address my Issue to you, I am 100% she did not, cause haven't heard for you either or anybody else in your Staff. I belong to the Donna Texas VFW and did too for the Donna American Legion but those Veterans are NEVER THERE.

Patrick F. Gould

January 19, 2011 - 9:12pm

Commander Foster,

In this month's Legion Magazine I have noted the consensus dissatisfaction expressed by several Legion members for the current federal & state hiring of veterans. Sadly, our veterans employment preference system as it exists today is a national disgrace.

Given the high number of honorably discharged, yet still unemployed veterans in this country, there should be no excuse for not giving all of these brave men and women "head-of-the-line hiring preferences" over any and all non veterans. There should also be penalties for any government hiring authority who might try to do otherwise.

In short, we the Legion should always advocate for the legally binding concept of always hiring the veteran first and everyone else, second.

Unlike other legislative programs now pushed by the Legion, this initiative will not cost taxpayers a single dime. Please make this the Legion's legislative priority over the next few years. There is nothing more important.

PFG

Sooners61

January 13, 2011 - 9:16pm

Cmdr. Foster, It's as simple to fix as finance in the Army. Most of the VA employees NOT all but most were never in the military, poorly trained, lazy, and have a not my job attitude hard to get anything done w/ that!! It's depressing to go to VA in Long Beach because I know people I served w/ were NOT that ate up! VA delays your claims so you'll give up so Why not just lay everyone off?

REggert

January 1, 2011 - 4:19pm

I started my claim for relief under Atomic Radiation in Feb.2010. I sent my claim to the Denver regional Office. It was immediatly denied using the "presumptive" excuse. I sent my notice of disagreement in April,2010. I later learned that all radiation claims must be handled by the Jackson, MS. VARO and that Denver does not have authority over my claim. It's obvious that VA does not know their own rules and deny claims without investigating. I was later told that my claim had been sent elsewhere but I don't know where and I was never informed by the Denver Regional office where it was sent. It is now 11 months and VA does not have the common decency to inform me of the status of my claim. The people who staff the clinics and the Denver hospital are fantastic but whoever is involved in claims for disability should all be fired and replaced by people who are actually interested in helping vets. Talk is cheap and that's all they do. It's too bad that politics play such a large part.

profrlklein

December 29, 2010 - 7:59am

The VA Houston Regional Office has continuously stalled my disability claim for more than 14 months using flimsy and asinine excuses. This VA office has continuously lied to me about the status of my claim for more than 14 months.

My senatorial and congressional request for help was to no avail. The VA purposely lied to them concerning my disability status without reprisal. Therefore, these actions (or lack thereof) have given the VA Houston Regional Office Cart Blanche to continue to abuse the system with their fraudulent delay tactics on disability claims.

On 20 Sep 2010, The VA promised me and my U.S. Congressman to expedite my claim. Well, yet another VA lie since they refuse to do so. Instead, they continued down the path of “excuses” to conveniently postpone/delay my claim. The VA essentially ignored the Senatorial and Congressional inquiries, yielding no respect for the U.S. Senate or the U.S. Congress.

anthony e.pallatto

December 28, 2010 - 4:56pm

I HAVE BEEN GETTING FRUSTRATED TRYING TO GET MY PTSD CLAIM SETTLED WITH THE VA. THEIR INABILITY TO ASSESS MY PTSD CLAIM HAS BEEN A CONSISTANT STRUGGLE, SINCE 1983. THE INCOMPETANCE OF THE VA'S PSYCIATRIST & PSYCOLOGIST IS A DISGRACE!!. IT SEEMS TO ME THEY NEED TO BE MORE SELECTIVE IN THEIR HIRING PROCESS OF INDIVIDUALS WHO DOES THE EVALUATIONS OF OUR COUNTRIES VIETNAM VETERANS.
THEY DON'T SEEM TO COMPREHEND WHAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED IN VIETNAM.WHAT I HAVE GATHERED SINCE 1983,THEY BASE THEIR DECISIONS ON IRRELEVANT MATTERS,INSTEAD OF HELPING,THEY HINDER !. I WAS A COMBAT VETERAN FOR THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS IN VIETNAM WITH ECHO 2/7 1ST MARINE DIVISION 68-69.I PARTICIPATED IN 14 MAJOR OPERATIONS.OPERATION WORTH,BALLARD VALLEY,ALLEN BROOKE,EAGER YANKEE,HOUSTON,SWIFT PLAY 2,MAMELUKE TRUST,TALLEDEGA CAYON,MAUI PEAK,SABINE DRAW,DARING ENDEAVER,MEADE RIVER,& TAYLOR COMMON.IT SEEMS TO ME THEY HAVE NOT GIVEN ANY CONSIDERATION TO THE FACT I HAVE DEVELOPED PTSD DO TO MY TRAUMATIC EXPOSURE.

anthony e.pallatto

December 28, 2010 - 8:55am

I HAVE BEEN GETTING FRUSTRATED TRYING TO GET MY PTSD CLAIM SETTLED WITH THE VA.THEIR INABILITY TO ASSESS VIETNAM VETERANS WITH PTSD HAS BEEN A CONSISTANT STRUGGLE,SINCE 1983.THE INCOMPETANCE OF THE VA'S PSYCIATRIST AND PSYCOLOGIST IS A DISGRACE.IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THEY NEED TO BE MORE SELECTIVE IN THEIR CHOICES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO EVALUATE'S VIETNAM VETERANS. THEY DON'T SEEM COMPREHEND WHAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED.THEY BASE THEIR DECISIONS ON IRRELEVANT MATTERS, INSTEAD OF HELPING, THEY HINDER.I WAS A COMBAT VETERAN FOR THE USMC, VIETNAM 68-69 / 14 MAJOR OPERATIONS,WORTH,BALLARD VALLEY,ALLEN BROOKE,EAGER YANKEE,HOUSTON,SWIFT PLAY 2,MAMELUKE THRUST,ONE OF MY WORST,TALLEDEGA CANYON,MAUI PEAK,SABINE DRAW,DARING ENDEAVER,MEADE RIVER,& TAYLOR COMMON.IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THEYHANE NOT GIVEN ANY CONSIDERATION TO THE FACT THAT I HAVE DEVELOPED PTSD DO TO MY TRAUMATIC EXPOSURE TO LIFE AND DEATH SITUATIONS I EXPERIENCED WHILE SERVING IN VIETNAM 68-69.

gassling

December 27, 2010 - 7:20pm

Commander Foster, it's very difficult to locate the proper e-mail route to contact you as it is not made very clear in the magazine. I'm taking this route in hopes it will reach you.

In the current magazine you talk about USAA being a great deal for veterans with regard to Insurances, Financial Services, etc. I was excited about this possibility for homeowners insurance and contacted them. My findings are: THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME AS ANY OTHER INSURANCE COMPANY WITH REGARD TO MAKING AVAILABLE HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA. They do not make it available so it is therefore my opinion they are not anywhere near as cooperative, as available or as good as any other.

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