VA Official: Vets Should Give Up Appeals Rights, ‘Instead’ Reopen Claim

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Columbia VA Official

The director of the Columbia VA Regional Office was quoted advising veterans to avoid the appeals process without mentioning the impact of not appealing a denial.

At a rotary club meeting, regional office director Leanne Weldon warned veterans against filing an appeal after a denial because the appeals process takes 5-8 years. Instead, she advised veterans wrongly denied to file a new claim or a claim to reopen because the veteran might get a favorable decision within 112 days.

“Also, file a new or reopen a claim, instead of an appeal. Appeals can take five to eight years, where a new claim takes an average of 112 days.”

Her advice was highly deceptive because it failed to mention the Decision Review Officer option for a local hearing to resolve the appeal, which saves the veteran’s effective date of filing the initial claim and does not take 5-8 years to resolve.

She also failed to mention how much VA stands to save by not paying veterans backpay when the opt for her quicker option – thousands of dollars per veteran. For Columbia VA, that could amount to tens of million of dollars wrongly withheld from veterans through South Carolina, which is home to 100,000 receiving $1.4 billion in disability claims.

Infamous Disability Compensation Process

The process Weldon discussed is the now infamous disability compensation VA benefits claims process. For almost a decade, VA has struggled processing initial claims creating a backlog. VA then sold taxpayers on numerous multi-billion dollar IT solutions to fix the backlog while also rushing claims decisions through that were decided incorrectly.

Now, initial VA claims are decided quickly, whether wrong or right, and incorrectly processed initial claims are then moved into the appeals process and resultant backlog there. At least, that is what is supposed to happen.

Instead, VA has convinced veterans directly, or through their veteran service officer, to shunt that process by refiling their claim or requesting to reopen the claim despite having time to file an appeal to protect their rights and make use of the quicker Decision Review Officer process.

Yesterday, Weldon failed to mention such strategy, surrendering one’s appeals rights, would result in many veterans forfeiting thousands of dollars in back pay they forego by refiling the same claim. She also failed to mention the evidentiary impact of not appealing an unfavorable denial since such a move could result in an adverse decision on certain evidence becoming final.

Fruits Of Bad VA Benefits Advice

Generally, the bad advice VA teaches VSOs to give veterans consists of:

  • Filing a request for reconsideration of claim – this robs the vet of their effective date
  • Filing a new claim for the same claim – this robs the vet of their effective date
  • Filing to reopen claim for same claim – this robs the vet of their effective date

As noted above, a wrongly decided claim can result in a disabled veteran going without hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month. Over the course of one year, any veteran could forgo thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in backpay.

While the scheme Weldon pushes might result in a veteran getting a favorable benefits decision sooner, it also results in VA paying less money to veterans who would otherwise receive the money after a favorable appellate decision.

Further, there is no guarantee the VA regional office in question will make a better decision the second time using the same facts it mistook as insufficient the first time. In those instances where VA gets it wrong a second time, that veteran, unless she filed a Notice of Disagreement on the required 21-0958 within 12 months, will have lost their right to an earlier effective date.

Either way, Weldon and directors like her save money.

This is in many ways like the Great Benefit scheme discussed in the landmark movie The Rainmaker with Matt Damon and Danny Devito. In testimony, Great Benefit admits it falsely denies insurance holders’ claims the first time around, as policy, to weed out frivilous claims. Then, if the claimant really merits the insurance settlement, they address it if the claimant persists. Does this sound like VA?

 

VA Dishes Misinformation To Veterans

For years, many attorneys have attempted to combat the misinformation being spread by veteran service organizations who reportedly were instructed by VA employees to advise veterans against their right to an appeal. We also wanted to take action against VA for giving legal advice without informing veterans of the consequence of such a decision.

We lacked evidence that VA was engaging in this practice of deceiving veterans vis a vis veteran organizations until this news report from Columbia.

According to The Morning News:

Leanne Weldon, regional director of benefits for the VA in Columbia, spoke Monday to the Florence Rotary Club on problems many veterans are facing and how they can get help faster. 

Weldon, an Iraq War veteran, said she understands how the claims process can become convoluted and frustrating. She said the best thing to do is call and get help.

“Come in and visit us or get a service officer to help you understand the process and where you are in that process,” she said. “Also, file a new or reopen a claim, instead of an appeal. Appeals can take five to eight years, where a new claim takes an average of 112 days.”

Weldon said veterans coming from tours in recent wars, such as the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, are facing trauma and health issues at higher rates.

“Ultimately we want to treat these veterans, find the causes of what’s happened to them and prevent that from happening to other veterans,” she said. “We’re not an office full of bureaucrats; most of us are veterans also.”

Weldon urged veterans in need to call the VA at 1-800-827-1000, or the Florence County Veterans Affairs office at 843-665-3045.

Source: http://www.scnow.com/news/article_09ec7794-c342-11e7-ad6d-8784be7c93f1.html

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Alex
Alex

So is is best to appeal or ask for reconsideration? ??

91Veteran
91Veteran

On a first time claim denial, I would think it is best to file a Notice of Disagreement, and request a hearing before the VA Regional Office Decision Review Officer. It keeps your claim local.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

this is exactly what I’ve done regarding my claim. Recently I’ve started to wonder if maybe I should have gone straight to an appeal. Let’s say my DRO will not decide my case within the next 3 years. I’ve already invested 4 years into this claim, so that’s 7 years already wasted. Now add on top another 5-8 years for the Appeal, does the appeals process also include remand time?

All told, in the above scenario I would have probably had better success going straight to appeal.

The point I’m trying to get at is this. Every case is different, just as every condition that affects veterans is unique to that particular veteran. Does it need to be this complex? No. Why is it? Because there are corrupt and soulless individuals running an ineffective, inefficient, and outdated bureaucracy.

I’m reminded of a favorite line from Dune (the remake, not the original) Where Duke Leto is imparting some wisdom to his son Paul. “the first step in evading a trap is knowing it’s there.

The VA is this obtuse by DESIGN. That is the trap. VA employees can and will lie to and about you. They will feed you all the misinformation they can and then some. They have only their interests at heart and not yours. Knowing this, it is incumbent upon the claimant to forearm themselves with Law, Facts, and Evidence.

John Smilowitz
John Smilowitz

That I can concur with, I am a Service Officer with the local D.A.V. in Massachusetts and I tell all my clients the same thing, do at least one disagreement and if it’s still a deny go take the next step and do an appeal. As long as you have a Veterans Organization to back you, there is a good chance to win your case

91Veteran
91Veteran

John, you may have opened a can of worms here….

The number of vets who despise VSOs is growing daily because they are either in bed with the VA or incompetent. I myself had been through at least 4 VSOs before I found a good one willing to help. He happened to be with the DAV also, but that doesn’t guarantee a good experience.

My most recent VSO is also DAV, but he’s almost as lazy as a VA employee. Yes he can submit paperwork already prepared, but beyond that, he’s pretty useless.

I realize not all are the same, but the good ones are getting few and far between.

namnibor
namnibor

I just *knew* I smelled rotten cabbage rolls in a moldy funny hat.

namnibor
namnibor

That lack of standardization the VA possesses across it’s systemic mess is reflected like a mirror with the most VSO’s…funny how that chaos works.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

Honestly John I started my claim with your organization in Connecticut. Your organization was and probably still is woefully inadequate for the task at hand. The VSO who had me sign power of attorney for him immediately disappeared never to be heard from again. When I called the DAV after aprox 1 year of hearing nothing to inquire as to what the holy hell is going on, I have PTSD and I refuse to live with a dearth of information, I was met with a lot of confusion, it seems nobody in the office could figure out who I was or what I was talking about. Long story short they had no case on file.

Out of curiosity what are the requirements to becoming a VSO in MA? I ask because apparently it differs from state to state. Apparently in some states you can purchase your license via Cracker Jacks University and in other states you actually have to know just what the holy fuck your talking about. So where are you on the Cracker Jack U scale?

In closing I take issue with your parting statement “As long as you have a Veterans Organization to back you, there is a good chance to win your case”

It should read “As long as you have a Veterans Organization to back you, there is a good chance you’ll get outright denied and or sold the fuck out.”

Take your happy feel good VSO bullshit and get the fuck out.

FUBAR
FUBAR

Brutha, Hallelujah!!! I had the same experience with the same DAV office in Connecticut. Sign here and never hear from us again. Seven years now and am finally getting a DRO hearing as the result of a NOD after reopening my claims. What did DAV do to help …. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING !!!!! And, to think many of them are Vets … pathetic.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

J. Marc Burgess made at least 263,185.00USD in 2013. This guy is the head of the DAV. I’m sorry but if your here to help veterans you don’t need to be putting a quarter of a million dollars a year in your personal bank account. Mind you this information is what was available in 2013 I have no reason to think that he’s made or is making less now than he was then. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s used some or all of the proceeds from his cushy DAV job to further enrich his own personal fortune via diversification. I wonder if this guy is listed in the paradise papers. Rich scumbags tend to skip out on taxes and nothing says scumbag like ripping off vets.

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

Alex If u live in NC or SC just appeal it, that is just my OP

namnibor
namnibor

“[…We lacked evidence that VA was engaging in this practice of deceiving veterans vis a vis veteran organizations until this news report from Columbia.]”

The V A and the VSO Piggy’s have colluded to deceive Veterans while they keep their snouts in the Piggy Trough $lop Deception (the other PTSD). FUCK YOU VA!

namnibor
namnibor

May I advise the director of the Columbia VA Regional Office to wipe that snide witchy-poo grimace off her indifferent lying asshole face? There, done!

tonygreene113
tonygreene113

And just because she’s a veteran we are to listen to her? I shit on their whole entire bureaucracy. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and severe adjustment disorder by their own doctors and continue to be denied my just benefit rating.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

I wouldn’t listen to her because she’s obviously not an attorney and the “advice” she is spewing is legally toxic. I assume, and correct me if I’m wrong here anybody, that if an actual attorney advised their client in such a fashion they’d be sued in an instant and probably disbarred.

Anybody who advises you to give up your rights does not have your best interests at heart.

91Veteran
91Veteran

The problem here WC is that the VA would claim she cannot be liable for the bullshit she is spewing because she was speaking generally on policy, and not advising on legal issues.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

I would imagine that whether she’s speaking on policy or not her words constitute legal advise and bad legal advise at that. At the very least she should be reprimanded. I wonder if it would be possible to get a federal injunction barring her from dispensing these “pearls of wisdom”

91Veteran
91Veteran

I don’t disagree, but knowing what weasels the VA are, I could just imagine the excuses they would use.

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Tony, hang in there. My son has had three suicide attempts and we’ve also gone through the whole string of asshole that you never hear from again. I think you really just have to keep appealing and appealing. I really haven’t seen any magical person or organization that was helpful. They want you to go away. The VA employees are crazy makers. A lot of them seem to get sadistic satisfaction out of playin g with Veteran’s problems. They have laughed on the phone, won’t identify themselves, and one phone rep told me his name was Jane Doe. Absolutely no accountability. Any job I’ve had and behaved this way, I would be fired! So find someone like a family member to keep you calm and not just sink into anger and just keep on. In the very beginning of my son’s appeal he was not only denied an increase for PTSD but took away his TBI! He was in treatment for a TBI and we had just spent three hours with a social worker, coordinating. the treatment plan with a physician (I use the term lightly). They never examined him again, just flat out took it away. Just a tad punitive!

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

The way I read Ben’s commentary is simply this;
The VA wants veteran to “NOT appeal a claim”! Rather, the VA would want the veteran to start anew!
Thereby, the veteran would “lose out” on “back-pay” and possibly even disability %’s! Which could lead to a lower compensation check each month! Resulting in a veteran losing hundreds of dollars each month!

Basically, the VA IS wanting to FUCK OVER veterans, AGAIN! So, what’s new? The VA has now admitted to wanting to FUCK OVER veterans!

So, FUCK THE VA!
FUCK THE VSO’s while we’re at it!

91Veteran
91Veteran

I read it the same way Crazy Elf.

What is so fucking disgusting about this is that she is the VA RO director. If she doesn’t know any better, why the hell would the flunkies under her know better?

I can still recall being told my only option was to appeal, but when you mention an NOD or DRO hearing, the excuses started flying.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

91Veteran,
The only good thing she did, as VARO Director, is verify what “Honest Trustworthy Veterans Advocates” have been saying for decades! ie: “The VA is out only for themselves, and to FUCK OVER veterans!”

YankBoy
YankBoy

Crazy Elf,

You can fuck the VA.. That fantasy sounds tempting… Me?? I’d rather stay disease free…

Stay safe!!

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Crazy elf, @91Veteran, @Namnibor, @YankBoy, @Alex, Seymore Klearly – – -The Regional Office Director of the Columbus VA, Leanne Weldon, should at least be reprimanded w/o pay, and at max should be terminated. At the time Ms. Weldon spoke the misleading information for Veterans to refile (when it’s not advised to refile), and if many had followed her instructions, this could cost Veterans in the Columbus area hundreds of thousands of dollars.

My question is this; “why would someone talk about something, then share for the purpose of recommending to their audience what do about a particular circumstance or situation, when clearly this wasn’t the correct information that would benefit Veterans?” This is, as worse, or even more, compared to saying nothing about the same issue, when the person knew the correct answer, and the person kept their mouth shut, and didn’t say anything to benefit Veterans.

VA is famous for giving out misleading and or withholding information that may benefit Veterans. Conclusion; HUGE STUPID PROBLEM AT VA.

Same thing with medical issues that’re being treated with Opiate / Opioid Pain Medications. Most VA PCP’s, or Pain Specialists, Clinical Pharmacologists, etc., will not warn you ahead of time about possible conditions from the long term use of pain medications, even though they’re possible ailments that can come about.

The only major symptoms that I was directly warned about to contact the VA Provider was for constipation, blood in stools, and nausea. When it has been clearly documented that the long term use of pain medications may cause Microbial Dysbiosis, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Narcotic Pain Syndrome, etc..

Second conclusion same as the first. – – – Nutter.

Curtis Brown
Curtis Brown

That’s the COLUMBIA, SC VARO, not Columbus.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Curtis Brown – – – My mistake, your right. Oh my, I’m beside myself, what was I thinking? LoL- – – Nutter.

Curtis Brown
Curtis Brown

I live in Columbia, SC and have personally met Ms. Weldon and have been subjected to this exact behavior from the VARO under her leadership. If your claim has the possibility of landing at 70% or greater, they will outright without any factual evidence as well as manufacture reasons to deny and send you into the appeals process until you get to the BVA VLJ, and if a remand backs you instead of their bullshit, they will piecemeal your issues for development every 6 months per issue, extending the claim process for another few years. She’s dirty because this is the behavior she’s cultivated and all at the veteran’s expense.

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Get out the Vaseline and assume the position.

“VA’s Shulkin calls for new, strategic approach to veterans benefits programs”
By Nicole Ogrysko Federal News Radio, November 6, 2017 6:13 pm

“Administrative costs at the Veterans Benefits Administration have gone up by $4 billion — from $1 billion in 2000 to $5 billion in 2017.

“We have to make simpler benefits determinations,” Shulkin said. “Frankly, we’re spending too much on administrative costs and we have to let veterans know what they can expect. They shouldn’t have to constantly be refiling claims to get what they deserve. We have to emphasize service-connection for disabilities so we aren’t compensating veterans for age-related issues. We have to focus benefits on enabling independence so veterans can succeed on their own, because that’s what I think leads towards feeling a sense of well being.””

Of course the endless war on terror may have a little to do with the increases.

Full article at: “https://federalnewsradio.com/veterans-affairs/2017/11/vas-shulkin-calls-for-new-strategic-approach-to-veterans-benefits-programs/”

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

VA is even moving to same day denial of claims services for Veterans. To help streamline ass reaming.

“The department last week launched the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), which lets veterans choose from multiple different paths to resolve pending claims. VA began the 18-month implementation plan when President Donald Trump signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act into law over the summer, which authorizes a new claims review process.

The goal of RAMP is to give veterans the earliest possible resolution of their pending claims with VBA.

Later this month, the department will begin making VA benefits determinations for military members on the day they leave service, Shulkin said.

And in the future, Shulkin said he wants VA to make instant adjudications, similar to the way consumers can get immediately get their credit scores online or through a mobile app.”

More on the upcoming rearend pains at: “https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=3968”

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

From the press release: “Veterans who disagree with the decisions they receive in RAMP can appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in the new process and have their appeal decided by the Board when the new law becomes effective in February 2019. ***Veterans who participate in RAMP will not be able to return to the legacy appeals process***.

VA encourages eligible Veterans with pending appeals to participate in RAMP and the benefits of the new review process. VA will begin sending eligible Veterans an invitation to participate in early November and continue the program until February 2019.

VA will continue working with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and other Veteran advocates to implement the new appeals process over the next several months as VA continues to make bold, positive change on behalf of Veterans, their families and survivors. “

namnibor
namnibor

I highly suspect ‘RAMP’ and congress critter Stairmasters have *something* in-common.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Perhaps he should send his nitwit Directors a memo on this.

YankBoy
YankBoy

SHULKIN…

You idiotic womb reject. STOP GIVING AWAY BONUSES. THE VA IS A PLACE THAT IS SUPPOSED TO CATER TO HONOR AND VALOR, NOT A MARKETING OR BUSINESS COMPETITION…..However, that would explain the piss poor level of care, concern, and due benefits EARNED by the majority of VA’s clientel…

Joseph Stonelake
Joseph Stonelake

Because they don’t want to pay back pay is most likely the reason ! Sounds like a a large lawsuit and fees is on the horizon ! That is not responsible behavior nor fair to the Veteran !

namnibor
namnibor

Meanwhile, back in Oz…it’s “Erection Day” for potential new congress critters and those already wading eyeball-deep in the DC Swamp. This morning I lost count after over 18 local election adds ALL MADE SURE to use that **magic word Veteran** in their ads and HOW THEY FIGHT FOR….VETS…but help me understand WHY this is all talk and absolutely no action once ERECTION DAY is over? I’m assuming the Vet Stage Prop position about now. Anyone else?

namnibor
namnibor

I’m suggesting that “Erection Day” and close proximity of Veteran’s Day is absolutely no mistake and am suggesting that “Erection Day” be redefined to mean what it is…Erection Day…

Peter Kreutzfeldt
Peter Kreutzfeldt

why should an appeal take 5 to 8 years. For most Viet Nam vets that is a death sentence. Perhaps that is their intention, attrition till there are non left

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Peter,
You’ve heard the NEW VA’s motto of:
“DELAY, DENY, UNTIL THE VETERAN DIES!”
Well, that’s what you just wrote!

Nexdeceptus
Nexdeceptus

Psychological warfare= “The use of propaganda, threats, and other psychological techniques to mislead, intimidate, demoralize, or otherwise influence the thinking or behavior of an opponent”. Maybe this is one of their feeble attempts to raise our suicide rate. It’s NOT working on this old dude. These vermin have no idea who they’re poking with their sticks. Our last resort is to kill, theirs is to run. If they keep poking, they’ll get bit.

namnibor
namnibor

We shall bite them from all triangulated directions…there will be no place to run if Veterans all just got on same page and protested around every VAMC in USA…but I also realize the DBC would call their friends at the National Guard for a little target practice or suicide by cop…whatever.
I little hyperbole but you are right in that ‘Fight/Flight Response’ we possess and we are running out of arrows in your quivers.

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

“Also, file a new or reopen a claim,”
I thought you had to have new evidence to reopen a claim?
And how do you file a new claim for let’s say arthritis for a old claim of arthritis?
Can anybody help me make sense of this…

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Oldmarine,
There is NO “sense”, common or otherwise, within the Veterans Administration!

namnibor
namnibor

“It’s more likely than not that your arthritis was aggravated by persistent assholes at the VA and that aggravation causes you to sit for long periods on the john contemplating strangling the VA hack and ignoring your normal daily routines and lost all interest because the aggravated arthritis NOW even prevents your strangling the engorged purple team leader. Done.

John Smilowitz
John Smilowitz

You don’t open a new claim, all you need to do is gather new evidence to that claim that you filed originally. All that info is added on and check out to see if all of it is accurate by reading all the information, in other words a pattern being set. But no it’s still the same claim but updated.

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Good luck Oldmarine! They won’t address an old claim. They’ll say you have Old marine Arthritis and it isn’t service connected. Breaks my heart to see Veterans treated in such an immoral, dishonest , and unappreciative way. Just dispicable

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

I know what your saying Laura but I do have something in my military records about it and the other thing is since I only have one kidney [30%] and I used to be able to take Indomethacin for arthritis and now I can’t take anything because of the remaining kidney function… I am claiming it as secondary …
What does anyone think about that strategy?
Besides Good luck…LOL

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Oldmarine, I totally agree you! You definitely deserve that
I wad just mocking the VA. Nothing surprises me with them. I have been lied to, laughed at and now my particulat fight concerning removing me as as my son’s fiduciary to cover up their mistake is getting down and dirty. This week when I made my ongoing call to the supervisor of the field reps and fiduciaries, Francis Thurman of the Indianapolis Fiduciary Hub, I was told I am a bitter woman and I was removed because I am emotionally unfit.Then he changed it to lack of a surety bond. Lies, lies. lies.
So definitely, just go for it, It seems very obvious to me as a health professional that you are deserving are deserving of this, I am just so jaded! I don’t think you will have a problem, it is so cut and dry what is documented about your condition. Boogey on Marine! Semper Fi!

91Veteran
91Veteran

Laura, with this problem, you need to follow up this phone call with a letter to the Director of that hub stating you are contacting Congressman X (whoever your congressman is) requesting an inquiry into this situation to get it resolved.

State the facts. You are his mother. You were initially his fiduciary. State whether you have a signed Power of Attorney (which you should to prevent this happening again), then state what you were told on this phone call. State that you were told by Francis that you were removed as his fiduciary because they said you were emotionally unfit. State that you are shocked that a financial clerk can make such an unqualified diagnosis over the phone. State that you were then told it was because of a lack of a surety bond. State whether you were told of such a bond requirement, and that it would be their mistake in what they did and why. Request that director respond in writing to you or your son over who the Director is assigning the task of working with you to resolve this.

At the bottom of the letter, show that you are courtesy copying your congressman named above.

Contact that congressman’s local office and ask to speak to his veterans affairs aide. Tell the aide that you want a case file opened and an inquiry made to the VA on your sons behalf, then explain why. If you have a Power of Attorney from your son, explain that. Explain other details of what has gone on. Explain you are getting excuses from the VA.

Ask for the aides email address so you can send them an email explaining what you want. The aide should send you a Release of Information firm for you and your son to sign and return so they can inquire.

These inquiries sometimes will happen fairly fast if your congressman is willing to help.

Given the response you just got from Francis, it is clear they do not give a shit about your phone calls unless you turn up the heat. If you make clear that the director is involved and your congressman, I bet the VA gets very helpful.

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Thank You 91
In June when I realized a cover up on progress I did contact CongressmanX
Unfortunately, it was Tim Murphy. He did, however get legal representation for my son. They have written letters to that fiduciary who is not paying his bills, but they won’t address the wrongdoing going on. Their letters don’t seem to have any impact. There is no followup like “if you don’t compile with your fiduciary responsibilities, we will…..” I sort of get the feeling they’re working it both ways. The Hub reps say I can’t talk to the RO Director because it has to go up the chain of command, so they say their manager will call me, and she never does. I did find out her name, though. Francis is this arrogant jerk who loves his job because it’s all such a fun game tormenting Vets. My son had talked to him on the phone and Francis kept talking over him . My son said, I’m the Veteran, you’re supposed to be working for me”. Francis went into gales of laughter. When he stopped my son said, “You think this is funny?” Francis said, Yeahhhhhhh, I do!!!” and then went into more loud gales of laughter. My son hung up on him. Francis called right back and when my son answered, Fran is screamed at the top of his lungs, “I’M A SUPERVISOR, I’M A SUPERVISOR, I’M A SUPERVISOR!!!! I HAVE A RIGHT TO CALL YOU!!! Gregg, my son hung up but the disrespect really upset him. He is so vulnerable. I am following your great advice. However. I agree with the need go e xpose. If these dumb football players unite for their whiney social injustice crap, why does no one protest for Veterans? Veterans need people to stand up for them. I think the sacrifice Veteran’s have given is a whole lot more important than a bunch of people who look at a protest like a big party, burn and loot, walking around pushing baby. stroller at night instead of at home reading the kid a book before bed. I think I need to start it. Am I able to hand out fliers in front of the VA? If one person protest s with a sign, would I need permission? I need to get a group and then let it grow like Kapernik. We just can’t keep letting this continue. Peple have to be fired to correct this. So I complain to Francis and the corruption goes up and down the ladder. This Indianapolis Hub is the one Ben covered several years ago. I read the transcript of the hearing. It’s all the same stuff and under the same director. 79% of complaints made were never even looked at, 11% that were looked at, 7% of those were ,it handled properly, and the remaining that were investigated revealed almost a million dollars embezzled from Veteran’s money. Let me know about trying to rally a group and public awareness. That would generate interest by the media.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Thanks very much for responding Laura. Sometimes when advice is offered we never hear from those asking questions, so it’s tough to know if it’s a waste of effort.

I don’t understand why they would provide legal representation rather than inquiring into what the problem is.

Were you named as your son’s fiduciary before the VA took that away?

Would your son be willing to sign a Power of Attorney for you to act as your fiduciary?

This still stinks. You mentioned the fiduciary may be an attorney. Is it possible whatever representation was provided to your son is covering up for that attorney?

If the current fiduciary will not return calls and they are an attorney, I would contact your State Bar and submit a complaint to them.

The hub representative is lying to you about going to the RO director. That is bullshit. There is no friggin chain of command in the VA that a veteran must follow. If your son has a problem at the VA, he, or you as his representative can go to their supervisor, the Patient Advocate, the director of your VA, the VARO director, right to Shulkin’s office, to the IG, to your Congressmen, to congressional committees or even to the White House to get the problem resolved. That’s bullshit that you have to work your way through flunkies first.

I sincerely hope you have Francis recorded. If not, you certainly need to start recording calls. That is damn disgusting what he did to your son and could be harassment.

If Murphy’s office will not help you, you might have to contact one of your Senators. Call Murphy’s office again and ask specifically for an inquiry.

The only results I can find for Thurman is his LinkedIn profile which lists him as a supervisor, Field Rep at the VA in the Greater Pittsburgh area. What’s interesting is his interest listed in his profile shows Commercial Bank of Dubai.

As for organizing or participating in a protest, I think you would be wasting your time. Yes, it might get media attention, but I doubt it would help you. I believe even handing out flyers in front of the VA would get you arrested by their VA police.

Again, I would do what I described in my other comment. Put things in writing. Please let us know how things are going, and updates in the most recent article here are helpful.

Laura Fino
Laura Fino

Thanks , I didn’t mean a protest for me, but for all the issues. I don’t know any group that is treated so horribly and no one protests. Veterans are unable to do this. So these football players get attention for their protest that quite frankly I don’t even know what they want. And I have never seen a protest for Veterans. I can’t just deal with my issue. What about all Veterans? This lawyer fiduciary now resigned but is still in place until a new one is in place. So the lawyer resigns, but she is the person who they use for other Veterans as their fiduciary. This is very fishy. I have the letter telling me. I must issue any VA funds in my possession by making a check payable toLawOffices of Tamora L Reese, LLC. But I read that the account must identify the relationship between the beneficiary and the payee. I have been paying Gregg’s bills from the same VA Custodial account before they removed me. I was his fiduciary from Oct 2016 to July 2017 and Gregg’s monthly benefits for August were directed to her.She didn’t set up a custodial account until the latter part of August. I have requested a copy of the financial institution where Gregg’s money was initially and she just ignores it. I do it just to keep an ongoing record. By the way Francis is a Vet. He has a couple Alan’s. His real name is William and he has gone by Billy. Has some roots in Oklahoma. I did get the form to file a complaint with the Grievance Board. I’m waiting for Gregg’s lawyer to send his complete file. Since Tamora isn’t representing Gregg as a lawyer but a fiduciary will they still investigate her. I’m hoping since she does everything under the auspices of her Law Office they will. Thank you so much 91 Vet. I know this is a discussion group and don’t want to be annoying. Just want you to know I really appreciate the help and seriously follow up on it

91Veteran
91Veteran

Laura, a protest does not accomplish much simply because it’s difficult for vets to get to a protest who might have difficulty even getting to a VA appointment, and although it might result in some local media, it will likely be a one day event that doesn’t change things much.

As for football players…if you recall, the media was freaking out with lots of coverage last year about football players and head injuries. They were so concerned over suicide. Looking back over the history of pro football, there are less than 50 football players that committed suicide in 90 years for any reason, yet roughly 20 veterans commit suicide daily, and the media doesn’t give a shit.

A better way to help veterans is to help your son by learning as much as possible about how to deal with the VA. Help your son, then help others in similar situations by posting here or on Facebook or anywhere possible. If you read back over some past articles here, you can see how much Ben has accomplished by posting articles on this blog, working with some local media and developing contacts within the VA. I think one of Ben’s biggest accomplishments in the past 3 years has been forcing the VA to admit to giving 22,000 TBI veterans examinations by unqualified doctors, and the VA having to do those exams over again.

As for your situation, you should resolve the problem of who is the fiduciary first, and it would greatly help if you were assigned as such. Once you get that sorted out, I would strongly suggest you find out how to submit a complaint to the State Bar Association wherever that lawyer is licensed to practice. From what I can find on her, she is licensed in Pennsylvania. Her one star review on Yellowpages suggest others are unhappy with her as well. Research how to submit a complaint in Pennsylvania.

As for investigating her, I would think the State Bar would certainly investigate if you submitted a complaint showing she was appointed your son’s fiduciary, and she ignores paying his bills, or any contact about his bills. She will have to respond with evidence of what she did with his money in order to resolve the complaint.

Again, it would help if your son assigned you as Power of Attorney over his financial affairs.

Who is the letter from that you mention? From the lawyer? What is the Grievance Board?

If you are aware of her having access to a custodial account, that suggests you can eventually get an accounting of where all the money went. This seems rather fishy that you were just removed as fiduciary after they allowed you to act as one for several months. I would think she would get very responsive with you to any complaint you submitted to the State of Pennsylvania.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Laura, I forgot to ask. How does that attorney even know what bills have to be paid? Are they submitted to her in some way? If she is ignoring them, do the bills get sent to collections?

James
James

You found someone in claims of the Veterans Administration that can interpet a diagnosis or a medical treatment in your Active Duty Service Medical File, I’ve been
waiting 5 & 1/2 years for someone that can just open mine.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

I’ve been in a VA claims fight for 4 years now. I filed when they where doing the Fully Developed Claim bullshit and where getting people to sign up for the process with the promise of an extra years worth of back pay should the FDC claim be approved.

I figure at 100% disability, which is what I’m going for due to PTSD, the government owes me aprox 120K as of today. I had a DRO hearing 1 year ago and have heard nothing from the VA since then.

I would love for this bimbo to get within arms reach of me and try and tell me to forgo my appeals process and effective date. I suspect I would break the world record on rapid disassembly of another human being.

91Veteran
91Veteran

What better way to cover up mistakes, intentional or not than burying the evidence by telling a vet to file a new claim? I guess she doesn’t give a shit about the quality of work done by her claims examiners.

One thing that needs to be mentioned in your list of problems with this suggestion Ben, is that telling a veteran to refile a new claim just adds to the clog in the system. Perhaps the wait time could be less than 112 days if this bimbo wasn’t telling vets to refile new claims for the same problem her nitwits are denying.

The other thing to be mentioned is that while this may be the first time a regional director is clearly on record telling vets wrong information, this has been going on for many years.

You can see a large number of vets from all across the country ask about whether they should appeal a first time claim denial. Its clear they are not told what their options are.

My first claim in the early 1990s was denied, and the VA kept telling me my only option was to appeal. Once I did, I was then told it would take years to get a decision. The VA also told me I could not file claims for new conditions until the appeal was resolved. The original claim was a slam dunk with military medical records, but it was clearly rubber stamped denied without looking at it. After 2 years of nonsense, I pulled my claim back from appeal, then filed the other conditions. It had been rubber stamped denied again.

In the late 1990s I testified before Congress, and within a week I got a call from the VA saying I would have a decision by the end of the week. The lady that called said my claims folder was a disaster, and it looked like nobody had ever looked at it. I told her my claims had already been denied twice.

Throughout this process, years after I pulled my appeal, I was told about a Notice of Disagreement, and about having a hearing before the DRO. I don’t think that helped as much as testifying before congress.

The VA has lied to veterans for years. The VA will continue to lie to veterans for many more.

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

91Veteran…Just like my claim I have all the evidence but I clearly see nobody read anything and they deny it and when I appeal it they say what don’t you agree with,….. Fucking Assholes just read it VA…What a Circus..,.LOL

91Veteran
91Veteran

That’s what pissed me off the most…saying I should respond with what I disagree with.

Hmmm. Your entire conclusion?

How the hell can you deny a condition is service connected when I provided the surgical reports from the military?

Well, you can always appeal.

Lem
Lem

See my answer above.

Lem
Lem

Did you get the new form for a VA Rating Decision? If not, ask for one and the Notice of Disagreement form. Makes it easier. But some issues are never addressed by the Rating decision. Put them in also. At least I am. And don’t forget to label as a CUE if there is a document that is in the file or should be that the Rating Officer didn’t mention in his decision. If he didn’t mention it claim he didn’t see it and call the decision a CUE.

Lem
Lem

The DRO left my case hanging for 5 years. I finally broke it loose by moving to a different VARO and requesting the appeal be moved and no DRO. Straight to the BVA.

YOU CAN DO ALL! And that is what you should do. I’m in the process of doing a Notice of Disagreement for a claim I filed while waiting for while waiting for the DRO and BVA decision. In the past you couldn’t file a new claim while you had one pending. That is no longer true.

When a BVA hearing comes up to the Docket after a long wait they automatically re do the Rating Decision including all of the C&P examinations. I’m in the middle of all of this. A BVA decision positive with remands and one issue decided which I filed a Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

Had a hearing in 450 days and a decision in another 200 days in a very complicated case from the BVA after getting it moved from Pittsburg and the “Evidence Center” was set up. One issue left to appeal to the Court of Appeals Veterans Claims and several remanded. I suspect the Evidence Center is a contract operation that is pressured to deny all claims that are not very obvious. If you have an issue that is long standing, a worsening condition, they will deny it. If you been recently discharged with an amputation they’ll rate it but will not grant associated conditions that accompany it like a less than obvious to the lay person TBI.

But, for me, the big issue, 100% back to 2009 when I became 70% Combined and presumptively 100% TDIU was finally decided. The DRO could have decided that in 5 minutes and then continued his study of the other issues.

If you are over 75 forget the DRO. Go directly to the BVA and request expeditious handling because of your age. Not sure, but I think the DROs are still at the Regional Offices.

The new forms help a lot. Both in getting the issues defined and help define the issues in an appeal.

If you are poverty stricken, request expeditious handling by the BVA especially if you have children under 18.

Otherwise wait it out. The decisions are now being made by the “Evidence Intake Center” and they are 100% negative.

If an item of evidence is not stated in the Rating Decision that is relevant claim CUE and go to the BVA. If the VA failed to assist you in gathering evidence claim the Secretary Failed in His Duty to Assist.

CUE and Duty to Assist seems by my BVA Decision to be things the BVA is looking closely at. At least the Judge I drew. But I hadn’t specifically claimed failure in “duty to assist” or the “clear and unmistakable errors”.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

DRO hearings are still at the VARO at least mine was as of last year. I assume you’re talking about the appeals process when you talk about expediting a claim. I can assure you requests for expedition at the DRO level fall on deaf ears. At least mine did when my attorney pushed for an answer 6 months ago citing imminent homelessness, and I’m still waiting. My only response from the VA is “it’s in the queue…” I guess my question is “how long is this fucking queue”

Lem
Lem

Not exactly the 112 days promised, is it?

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

it’s sad that their allowed to keep a veterans property hostage without due process indefinitely that’s for damned sure.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

Maybe Ben could get this Weldon “vet” chick to do a Q&A maybe then she could help us understand why she wants to fuck over the open claims community. Maybe she could attempt to explain to me just why the holy hell I’d give up an appeals process when theres aprox 120k of back pay on the line? I’d love for her to sit there and tell me with a straight face that if she where in my shoes she’d forgo the appeals process.

I also noticed how she said her office was full of vets. Is this going to become a trend? Getting vets to fuck over other vets?

Let me be the first to call for this cunt to go up against the wall.

Dennis
Dennis

Prosecuters make similar styles of deals all the time. In the case of a prosecuter they try to get a defendent to agree to a lesser punishment in return for cooperation now. This official from VA is suggesting to vets that they agree to cooperate now in return for a greatly reduced delay (punishment) in the delivery of property owed (VA compensation). Both come from a government official and both involve Due Process.

The difference of course is that only one of those officials is entitled to act on behalf of Justice in the course of Due Process and the other is not under the Constitution as far as my D minus high school diploma mind can recall from Mr. Chester’s civics class. Which of course leads to the ONLY question that seems relevent to ask;

Since I don’t recall her name in Mr. Chester’s class, then whose civics class did she attend?

YankBoy
YankBoy

This BROAD should not use the title of veteran, as real and true veterans take care of veterans on and off the battlefield, regardless of what the “crooks and books” say.

She is a covert operative and token for the VA while reaching out to the gullible and/or weak or unknowing veteran. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard “I am a veteran too” from VA employees who are simultaneously screwing veterans and that includes Voc Rehab, medical, and all other “services or …..

I do know one thing, and that is if veterans of the E Grades class were running the VA, I would lay hefty bets that the VA would be running at better standards of moral, ethical, professional, and responsible levels. Absolutely no bonuses!!!!! Period…..

This bonus thing makes me cringe. I am getting care or services because some idiotic VA rep and/or employee is getting a bonus??

TO HELL WITH THE VA AND MAY THEY BECOMD FODDER FOR MY ENEMY…

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

the next time you here a VA tool exclaim that “I’m a veteran too!.” as they fuck you over ask them if they’ve already spent their 30 pieces of silver.

YankBoy
YankBoy

THANKS WYLDE…

I have a LOT of questions for them…. including that one about their Silver….

Stay Safe!!

namnibor
namnibor

They spent some of that 30 pieces of silver on very abrasive sand to place in the Vaseline as they say time for your colon cancer check. Crushed semi-precious stone Garnet. At least Judas had the decency to just go hang up his life on a tree.

Steven
Steven

I had one of the evil va dro scum say I am a vet too and I know what your job what.. blah blah blah, and this guy looked like he never missed a meal…. the BVA judge has had to remand my files 2x back because his office refuses to follow direction and read my records…. all crooks,,, the whole claims system and system is a rotten stinking fish! it took 20 years to get my claims back to the bva! I have several fatal diseases and the va knows time is on their side!

mk
mk

I feel for the Vets in that Region and in that Area if shes in charge pushing BS like this so much for Patriotism which is much more about actions than a flag…

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

OK so this just occurred to me. Is Mrs Weldon an attorney? Isn’t there a law against giving legal advice, and this definitely strikes me as legal advise, if you’re not an attorney?

Steven
Steven

all of the people in the va claims make medical decisions and opinions and not one of them is a doctor

zee
zee

I think everyone is still forgetting one big factor about filing a apeal to a claim that frightens so many vets is: They tell you, you be cut off from any benifits you currently receive. Vets see that and run for the hills. When i applied for UN employable after losing both my legs due to heart service connected and blood clots disability i got a letter saying they where going to drop my service onnected to 10%

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

Who told you that? As far as I’m aware, if you have a claim in process that claim is not awarded and your not receiving compensation for it anyways. Unless your saying that if you have claims already awarded and you have a different claim going to appeal then they stop all payments on your separately awarded claims. That sounds really fishy to me and should warrant some investigation in and of itself.

Dennis
Dennis

Title 38 states that newly re-opened claims must contain new and material evidence. So, if a veteran doesn’t have any new evidence the claim gets denied. Isn’t that what happens?…CRAPOLA! This woman is a VA company man all the way!

namnibor
namnibor

VA Upper SES’ers…where the men are men and obviously, so are the women. Graves, Helms come to mind as well as today’s witchy-poo regional orifice director.

joeaveragevet
joeaveragevet

Reopening due to New and Material evidence, 38 CFR 3.156 b, can work, if you submit “new evidence” while the claim is pending, that is, before the appeal period runs out. Or, 3.156 C (new service records) should also work if the missing evidence was “service records”.
However, A veteran can reopen due to N and M evidence EVEN when there is a pending appeal.
Even so, as Ben Kraus stated, this is largely bad advice which hurts Vets with the exceptions as I indicated above.
Even more troubling is why is there so much “new evidence”?? Yea, I can understand if you go to the doctor and he identifies a new condition or increase in the exam, but this is not the norm. It usually means that VA can not find our evidence, or has stashed it in another Vets file, or even destroyed it completely. This should not be happening…Vets evidence should not be lost or destroyed by the VARO. Its not okay for them to do that. Many have forgotten the “October (2008) incident”, when VARO’s were discovered to have Veterans evidence awaiting the shredder file inappropriately. VA promised to fix this, but that was 9 years ago, and there still seems to be a “whole lot” of new evidence. I wonder what happened to the old evidence?? It sounds like this director wants Vets to help “cover up” this en masse deleting of Vets evidence.

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

NO joe the claim doesn’t still need to be open with new evidence, It can be reopened after the one year with new evidence because I did It

windguy
windguy

Never even got comp and pen meeting. Just a short, curt fuck you letter. Cambodia? Where the fuck is that? We were never there. Laos? Oh hell no. Those guest appearances over China – never happened.

FTA
FTUSA
F It

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

A little less comprehensive today, I get the last two, but what is FTA? – – – Nutter.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

F Those Assholes? – – – Nutter.

windguy
windguy

Seriously? Fuck the Army. We had a litany of FTs

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@WindGuy – – – In Navy, not many imprints of Army lingo. And, thought that the military personnel, entering and existing quietly through other Country’s were Marines. So, Army units went crossing the boarders too? – – – Nutter.

James Clement
James Clement

@Nutter – – – Army Rangers (Green Berets) Marine Force Recon, and Navy Seals ALL were involved. Not too mention a few CIA and NSA types.

James Clement
James Clement

@Nutter – – – During those times, the unofficial motto of the Marines went like this, if my old memory serves:

We, the unwilling,
led by the unknowing,
are doing the impossible
for the ungrateful.

We have done so much,
for so long,
with so little,
we are now qualified
to do anything
with nothing.

namnibor
namnibor

I’m currently rolling with ‘Fuck Them All’.

namnibor
namnibor

‘FTA’- Fuck Them All.

namnibor
namnibor

Am thinking a lot of surviving family members of Sunday’s church massacre already have “Fuck The Airforce” (FTA) in their minds for the MAJOR WHOOPS the USAF did in not following-up to prevent him from buying weapons in first place…and was revealed today he escaped from a mental health place in NM and went to TX…the USAF is seriously lackadaisical and culpable in my humble laymen’s mind. LOTS of FTA’s. One for everyone.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

This is why I don’t hesitate to ask a question. There’re always someone that’s asking the same thing. So, don’t be bashful, and don’t be shy, ask the question to find out why. – – – Nutter.

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

They must have thought you took a R&R flight there

namnibor
namnibor

There WAS that song from punk era, “Holiday In Cambodia”.

James Clement
James Clement

Damn! Windguy, I have heard those questions before. What did the FTWGuv give you guys for aeronautical charts? Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken wrappers?

Ask the dumbasses to explain the AO problem in Kampong Cham. Wonder how many tourists would be heading for Angkor Wat if they had a clue as to how contaminated that ancient, sacred site is?

Laos? They think we are all old Laoses for having the balls to harass their poor overworked asses by continually filing claims to hold them accountable for keeping the promises made to us by this nation.

Keep after ‘Em until the grave!

Scorch

Dennis
Dennis

I can’t help but sense more VA trickery involved in this bullcrap. VA is and has always been SOV..screw over veterans.

namnibor
namnibor

The deeper trickery will be disclosed when it appears here on ben’s blog that while a Vet is waiting all those years for initial or appeals stage, somehow those assholes are collecting YOUR benefits that were already awarded…the OTHER waitlist that I am certain exists under a herd of very large asses. Wait for it…

namnibor
namnibor

That was a premonition and somewhat ‘fake news’, as POTUS likes to label it. However, I have realized over the recent decade that if you can THINK of a kind of corrupt activity, and be creative about it, then it’s taking place or already has at the VA and no matter how obtuse, the Feral Gov’t Welfare Works Program (FGWWP) aims to please.

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

Nam if I found out that was happening in my case I would not hesitate to secure firearms and explosive ordinance and wage bloody and violent war against the VA. At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, accounts have to be balanced and bills presented for payment with all interest duly noted.

Ray Neuman
Ray Neuman

I applied for an increase for Agent orange related Parkinson’s, They didn’t even give Me a examination, instead They reviewed My records and dropped my rating on stooped posture rom 20% to 10% ,,now if that wasn’t a warning as to what could happen if I try again I don’t know what it was. Is it common to just review records instead of giving a physical exam???

James Clement
James Clement

@Ray Neuman – – – Way more common than it should be. And yesterday, Shithead Shulkin ADMITTED that the VA is adversarial to veterans.

Rotten Lying Bastards they be.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

Per the latest massacre at the Church in Texas, the US Air Force more than likely will be sued. HUGELY. Per the loss and distress of the family members, they should be will compensated for such a damn screw up. Minimum; all kids college fees paid, clothes, food, items for sparking interests and learning, etc.. How do they calculate these types of matters. – – – Nutter.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Unfortunately, it gets much worse.

According to this article: “https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/texas-church-shooting/texas-gunman-devin-kelley-escaped-mental-health-facility-2012-n818496”

He was locked up in a mental health facility in NM after assaulting his wife and fracturing his child’s skull.

He then escaped, and was caught in El Paso 12 mikes away at the bus stop. He made threats there of trying to get the cops guns.

He was caught sneaking guns onto his air base at Holloman.

He made threats against his command.

The military investigated his computer use while he was in the mental health hospital, and found he was ordering guns and tactical gear online to be sent to a PO box.

I wonder how many of those dumbasses in the Air Force that could have done something about this are now working at your local VA.

Holy Jesus what a pooch screw.

namnibor
namnibor

But that was Obama’s “new military force”….or in this case, the “Air Farce”.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

Still, looks like the US Airfarce is going to have to cut many fat checks for these unfortunate folks. Hey, does the USAF know how to implement the laws? This is a MAJOR HUGE FOUL-UP. Attorneys go after “of those held accountable, which one has the most to obtain from?” – – – Nutter.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

Also, “And, the easiest to collect from.”

Oldmarine
Oldmarine

It was a drill they already got paid their 500 dollars a day

Johnny X.
Johnny X.

Well Leanne, if you would train your employees better, then perhaps they would get it right to begin with! So, you are telling us to put a halt to our denied claims, (claims that you denied to begin with), then re-file (forget about that back pay that we would be getting for the last 5 or more years), and your folks will deny again? Wow, what a wonderful plan! Makes sense. I’m sure glad you are down in Columbia and not back up at the Huntington VARO. Are you still having your training people sign off on training that isn’t being completed? Hey, it works! You are at that coveted SES level top of the chain!

WyldeChylde
WyldeChylde

training involves effort and effort requires interest. Since the motivational interest of any VA employee revolves around money and self interest there will be no effort to improve anybody else’s lot in life via training unless said effort is proportionately rewarded with monetary compensation.