This weekend, I’ve been researching the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) updates proposed by the VA to address the disability backlog. Currently, the backlog is anywhere from 500,000 to 1.3 million claims, depending on who you are talking to.
On June 19, 2012, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing to confront VA about concerns related to the VBMS program.
Journalist Bob Brewin likened the hearing to “Gone with the Wind.” Brewin had this to say about an exchange between Congressman Filner and Under Secretary Allison Hickey:
Allison Hickey, VA undersecretary for benefits, told the hearing that the VA had submitted to the committee a “strategic plan” to scan billions of pages of paper veterans records, but it turned out that the staff had received only a PowerPoint presentation lacking details.
Filner bellowed, “This is not a strategic plan…where’s the plan?” Hickey said she had the details in a Word document, but did not bring that document to the hearing.
Filner fired back, “Why don’t you have it here?”
Tom Philpott wrote about Congressman Bob Filner’s drilling of the VA and Gen Allison Hickey. Hickey is head of the Veterans Benefits Administration. In his article, “New Steps to Reduce VA Claims Backlog,” Philpott called the grilling of a VA decision-maker “verbal abuse.”
For me, I have felt verbally abused many times by the Veterans Affairs while trying to get my disability claim approved over 10 years. Personally, I do not feel terribly bad for Hickey.
I’m researching a full write up of Hickey, Philpott, and Congressman Filner’s critique of VA’s continued failings. I’ll post this report on Monday.
Take some time to review Under Secretary Hickey’s testimony and Congressman Filner’s questioning of her. .
The video is at the bottom of the page. Skip through until the end, where Hickey gives her testimony.
What do you think? Please comment if you care about your benefits.