Submitted by: Major Miguel Reece

Category: Books

When I was thinking of writing my book about veterans, their life after service, and the constant urging of the veteran community not to let their chapter in history be forgotten, my goal was to tell stories about veterans that affected me during my time at the Veterans Affairs Regional office in St. Petersburg. In the end, my book ended up being about one thing: the battle military members face when they become veterans. How do they deal with civilian life? Will they get their entitled benefits?

To be clear my book, The Disabled Veteran's Story, is about what veterans go through when they return from battle. I do not have answers to solve the VA's problems nor do I want to. These are purely my thoughts and experiences.

During my 10 years with the Veterans Affairs Regional Office, I discovered many disturbing facts. The most heartbreaking was despite the ultimate sacrifices of many military members, too many veterans, widows, parents and orphans die prior to receiving a penny. In my experience, this is because of the length of time it takes to process a claim and the bureaucracy the veterans endure at the hand of the VA.

The VA focuses on numbers over service while many beneficiaries are dying. It is a travesty. Why is it so hard to develop a business model to services those who have served us?

In my opinion, many solutions do not work. A paperless system is not a solution for those with computer phobias. So as we wait for the bureaucrats to make changes, 90-year-old World War II veterans continue to wait for the results of claim filed two years before. Then his health issues continue to worsen.

My book,The Disabled Veteran's Story, addresses these issues. I spoke with a mother whose son had a traumatic brain injury (TBI). She admitted she believed the VA benefits' system is broken.

"It is not a customer-focused business model," she said. "The constant battles with intimidating tactics, being bullied and inconsistencies with the required instructions are undue emotional stressors that distract from the demanding care required for such critically disabled veterans."

I experienced so much justified anger from veterans' families whose family member died days prior to my arrival. They never received their long-awaited funds. The family members said that not only are vets dying prior to receiving funds, but their families and friends have accumulating bills with the expectation that they will be paid once funds are received. Instead many funds go away or take months or years under the current system with receipts showing the expenditures.

This must change!

About the author:

Major Miguel Reece is a military veteran with more than 30 years of service in the United States Air Force, both as an enlisted member and officer, with an additional 10 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office, St. Petersburg, Florida. He is the author of The Disabled Veteran's Story.

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