Home AFGE Union Veterans Affairs To Renegotiate AFGE Collective Bargaining Agreement

Veterans Affairs To Renegotiate AFGE Collective Bargaining Agreement

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is finally attempting to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with AFGE rather than violate the one currently in effect.

It is about time, and not because I agree or disagree with the current CBA. The current agreement has a lot of positive elements for the 250,000 AFGE members at VA. However, it does put the interests of the rank and file VA employees ahead of the needs of veterans and the agency. That is my take on the CBA.

Aside from all that, the reason I support the change is that the agency has repeatedly refused to follow the 2011 CBA after the passage of 38 USC § 714 in 2017.

Why have a contract in place that you refuse to follow?

It creates an asymmetrical information advantage at the agency since only the agency knows when it will or will not follow the CBA.

VA says the new proposed changes are designed to ensure taxpayer resources are being used to benefit Veterans, first.

“It’s time for a reset in VA’s approach to labor-management relations. A reluctance to challenge the status quo produced the current agreement, which includes many benefits that favor the union rather than the Veterans we are charged with serving,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “With VA facing thousands of vacancies, these proposals could add more than one million man-hours per year back into our work force – a vital influx of resources that would make an almost immediate difference for Veterans and the employees who care for them. These proposals make clear that service to Veterans must come first in all that we do, and I look forward to working with AFGE to ensure we achieve that goal.”

Significant changes to the CBA include:

  • Reducing taxpayer-funded union time for VA/AFGE employees from more than one million hours per year to 10,000 hours per year – redirecting more than $48 million per year back to direct services and medical care for Veterans
  • Empowering front line supervisors
  • Streamlining the hiring and job classification process – potentially reducing the time it takes to hire certain positions by weeks or months
  • Ensuring the contract does not interfere with the VA’s ability to take action under the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, the MISSION Act and the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act

As an attorney, I have helped a few disabled veterans with problems they faced working at the agency. In that time, I can tell you the agency senior leadership does not follow the CBA 100% of the time.

But, the CBA is an agreement, and I do not believe it is proper for our federal government to make agreements it refuses to follow. So, good, bad, or otherwise, it seems like a good idea to create a new CBA since the current one is not being followed.

What do you think about the proposed changes?

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48 COMMENTS

  1. First thoughts are wait to see how it plays out. It’s good that VA employee concerns will be more sensibly addressed. Theoretically that should lead to better care for veterans. Seeing is believing. They deserve skepticism.

    Salaries and track records for VA administrators and above all the way to the top clean to the Whitehouse deserve close scrutiny. There should be a version of the Sarbannes-Oxley legislation vigorously applied to violations against veterans. Screw a vet… dock that pay. Let the brown stuff roll uphill for a real change. Ignore a vet, deny services, patronize or otherwise disrespect us… so sorry about your probation and guess that raise is out of the question for another year. Consider it an invitation to work slow, sloppy, and without ethics, elsewhere.

    I can’t think of an employer that wouldn’t fire me if I worked like most VA employees. Recently I discovered a prescription and test results had been mailed to the Bay Pines VA because their address was entered as my home address. When test results weren’t received as indicated, I called the Palm Harbor CBOC to say, “hey, still no letter”, guess what? Two more weeks have passed and still no letter. It’s magic how that works. Then there’s the extraordinarily obnoxious front desk person, Julie, who is… hmm… insert impolite thoughts here.

    And patient advocates must be one of the most worthless salaries paid. Sure they can make a call to tell someone to do their job. But I can do that for free; and I have. The most attention I’ve received from a patient advocate was being handed a claim form to file against the VA for putting four holes across my belly to remove an appendix that my medical records later stated remains intact because there was no acute appendicitis as was diagnosed in the ER 12 hours earlier. The chief surgeon called to say it was SOP. Okey dokey.

    This could be a very long rant with a long laundry list of bad times at the VA. I won’t bore further, but I can dream about the VA getting Grandma’s switch. That makes me smile inside ^<^

    Back to AFGE. Rah. Rah. Clap. Clap.

    • My response is “Thank God.”
      PLEASE!!!!…Do What is Right and Humane for Once. Do What is Ethical that Stands With, Stands For, and Stands By the Veterans in all situations. Best.

  2. Y’all really want my opinion? Here it is:
    Send the AFGE and any other union packing! Then, let ALL of the people employed by VA – get caught fucking over a vet, you’ll be spending time in jail AND your pay will cease!

    • Crazy Elf: So to hell with all the GOOD workers that work at the V.A. then? Not thinking there friend.

      • He said get caught __cking a vet you’ll be sent packing all pay will cease. Keep the good one’s. And while We’re at it v.a. please start cross training people.

      • Cheryl Phillips responded perfectly to your complaint against me.
        If any VA employee is good, then they have nothing to worry about!
        On the other hand, my statement about those who screw up – then it’s good bye and good riddance!

    • Bay Pines VA oig interview
      “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkjpf-3cNfg&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR38LVvH2vQM4VCrKDeHFC4uFQhkEZPqMOLrsr6MNfBOLeaQj04TqrGuupY”

    • Mr. Saadiq,

      Welcome to the board, Coastie. AFGE = American Federation of Government Employees (Union). CBOC = Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

      Jim Clement
      1973 – 1976 USMC
      1978 – 1993 USN

  3. Veterans are long overdue for some real leadership from the Veterans Administration.

    Leadership that speaks truth publicly about how bad things have really gotten for the veterans they are supposed to be serving.

    Leadership that develops practical solutions to take better care of all our nation’s warriors.

    Leadership that recognizes that when they are doing a good job, veterans will be singing their praises rather than the VA spending millions of taxpayer dollars on Public Relation Agencies to put out ‘fluff pieces’ to mislead American citizens about the stellar job they are doing to care for our nation’s veterans.

    The truth is that the VA is doing a piss-poor job.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has one of the largest budgets within our federal government. This is used to provide veterans less than third-world medical care and benefits. It is about twenty years past time to seriously address the corruption, malfeasance, and incompetence that infest the Veterans Administration.

    Here is a plan to accomplish that goal:

    1. Immediately recognize the problems inherent in the Veterans Administration are system-wide, not just limited to a few discrete locations.

    2. Fire all the incompetent and corrupt Workers. Fire every single AFGE/SES employee. The VA prides itself on service to the veteran. However, the American Federation of Government Employees Union makes it nearly impossible to rid the VA of corrupt, incompetent employees.

    3. Sell off all the VA facilities. Alternatively, they may be converted into military barracks-style housing for homeless veterans. These will be run with military-style rules to promote good order and discipline.

    4. Issue all veterans a card that allows them to choose their own doctors within their community that they can trust.

    5. The United States Government will pay those doctors promptly (Within 45 days) for the care they provide veterans.

    6. Eliminate the ‘Federal Protection’ clause in the United States Code for incompetent medical personnel that the VA sends to other states where they are not licensed to practice. Going to practice medicine in each state? You need to be properly medically licensed in that state.

    7. Rapidly reduce the years long backlog of Veterans Disability Claims. Any claim a veteran submits to the Veterans Benefit Administration that requires more than 90 days to adjudicate, is automatically found to be in favor of the veteran. Should a veteran file a false claim to defraud the system, the Veterans Administration will be required to prove in civil court that the claim was falsely submitted. For filing a false claim, the veteran will be mandatorily subject to all the following:

    (A). The claim shall be denied. If the veteran has received any form of benefits due to filing of a false claim, they will be required to fully repay those benefits with interest.
    (B). The veteran will be banned from all VA facilities for the remainder of their life.
    (C). The veteran will lose any benefits they have and will not be allowed to file for further benefits.

    8. All veterans shall be allowed to seek/retain the services of a Veterans Rights Attorney from their first initial contact with the VA. This will help to protect the legal rights of veterans against corrupt, incompetent VA employees.

    9. No AFGE, or any other labor union business will be allowed to take place in any federal workplace. Conducting union business during working hours will be strictly prohibited and enforced. Should any government employee be found violating this provision, it will result in immediate lifetime dismissal from all federal, state, city and county government employment.

    10. Attorneys for appeal for cases of ‘wrongful termination’ will be retained at the former VA employee’s personal expense. U. S. Taxpayer’s will not be subject to payment of legal bills for incompetent or dishonest personnel with regards to governmental employment.

    It is my belief that were the above ten measures placed into rigorous ethical practice, these would over the next few years ensure major performance improvements within the Department of Veteran Affairs.

  4. Pie in the sky hopes and dreams, but here’s wishful thinking.

    My preferred outcomes would be:

    1.) Eliminate the AFGE and other unions. If the same government that the unions run to to enforce the laws and cry about discrimination cannot apply the laws effectively to themselves, why ask for their help to begin with? The unions in government positions are nothing more than glorified political kickbacks to campaigns for only one party, and therefore unnecessary.

    2.) Rewrite the law to RETROACTIVELY eliminate the applicability of the Federal Tort Reform Act to VA. When Federal employees seriously compound injuries to veterans, and then intentionally withhold their medical records, the veterans should have a recourse that does not have a statute of limitations of a mere couple of years, especially when the full extent of the damage is not immediately known.

  5. Drop the taxpayer funded Union crap to ZERO! There is no reason for the taxpayers tom pay the Union employees to do union work on the taxpayers time.

    I agree with Crazy Elf, you screw with the Vets ONE time and it will be your LAST time as a VA employee, union contract or not.

    Cut the waiting time drastically. There is no damn reason for a Vet to have to wait for 8 hours to get their medication, and if it takes 8 hours for a employee to fill a stupid bottle of pills for the Vet, then its time to get a new employee.

    Require ALL doctors appointments to be done in a timely manner. Taking no more then 2 weeks, Three at the outset and no this three to four month crap.

    Require ALL tests the doctor orders to be completed within 2 weeks MAXIMUM. If the VA cant do it then send the Vet to someplace that can and the VA pays for it.

    ANY AND ALL operations that are on a service connected Vet to be paid for by the VA, no questions asked and if the employees dont want to do it then they are fired and the Vet is sent to a doctor that will and the VA foots the bill.

    And this is just what I can think of off the top of my head.

  6. Nice plan Jim Clement! Although I like the VA Medical Facilities and only want the option to seek non-VA care if necessary. This option has to be without the need for a VA physician’s referral as a result of them being more concerned for self-preservation and unfortunately, not for the veteran. I agree with the legal assistance for veterans. This will be the deterrent for mismanagement of claims and corrupt employees. Presently the veteran doesn’t have any other recourse other than going through the VA which is the antagonist or paying for legal advice themselves on a disability stipend.

    I want to be optimistic and believe the voices and concerns of veterans’ are being heard. I want to believe that the people in the position to make the necessary changes to improved the VA truly care and are taking action to address these concerns.

    Peace Out

    • TLC – – – This is the original plan, that I first published on this board sometime back in 2016. There will be a revised one coming out shortly that DOES address your concerns WRT to seeking non-VA Care. I have been thinking about the issue you raised in your posting for months, as I do realize there are some veterans who will not want to leave the VA. When the revision is posted, I am sure you will be aware of it.

      Step 4 states you are issued a card that will allow you to choose your own doctor within the community that you can trust. That card would allow you to choose any doctor who is properly licensed to practice within the state in which you reside, and the government picks up the tab. Period. You want to stick with your current doctor – – – that is your business.

      Please forgive any typo’s. 81 and counting. Damn.

      • Last year, in the beginning of October, I came down with something I thought was the flu. It wasn’t. It wouldn’t be until my PCP sent me to a civilian hospital on November 28th, that I found out it was food poisoning. More specifically – salmonella poisoning!
        From around October 6th or 7th, 2018, until November 28th, I tried desperately to see someone at the small vha clinic I go to. Not once was I seen. I had to wait until my appointment date of November 28th.
        If I had a card – I would have went to the civilian hospital when I first became ill.
        Now that I’m on medicare I’ll go directly to the hospital and bypass the VHA!
        In my opinion, they’re worthless in a situation like this.

      • I hear ya, Elf. And at our age, Salmonella ain’t nothing to blow off like a runny nose!

        Had you the card I propose, when the VHA clinic you regularly get your care at could not see you in a timely manner – – – you could have gone to any doctor or hospital, and Uncle Sammy would have had to pay every single red cent for your care.

        I got one more year, then I’ll be eligible for medicare. I agree with you. Use medicare. Bypass VHA. Go directly to a place where they will get you fixed up pronto!

        My wife often urges me to run to the doctor for “every little thing” or so it sometimes seems to me. Better than 90 percent of the bumps, bruises, lacerations, etc. that I sustain – – – I am able to self-treat. I have self-sutured before.

        I often tell her that being a Sick Bay Commando just ain’t my style, but if I ever tell you that I need medical attention outside of normal working hours – – – you can damn well bet that I deem it serious. She has learned over the years that this is one marine who will damn near be at death’s door before he will go to an ER in the middle of the night.

      • Elf, Jim, it’s all just a daily game for all of them. I wrote previously about my first experiences with waiting to use Medicare, then trying to find a good ‘supplemental’ and try to continue on with the basics that worked for me. And had to hit age 65 for a sup since my state/corporate insurance doesn’t allow or supply sups under that age. Then to get lost in that system, mess with med care IT systems and their changes, etc. Then to again encounter scamming and bull over eye surgeries I could not do on my own. Like order special equipment to cut and pull tooth and bone bits out of my jaw for a couple years. Head swelled up like a melon, no pain meds. Yep, sutures and super glue… good things. I also have charcoal, gathered antibiotics (infections if needed), etc., on-hand for possible poisoning or gut issues, etc. Got the medic alert. If too sick I go out to the little cooking fire pit, summer or winter, and bed-out on the picnic table to croak so I don’t stink-up the house if I don’t pull through. Got too many good and banned books to ruin and not get passed along. Yep, they’ve knocked me back to frontier living, plus. Ha ha on them. I don’t give a damn. As big Pharm, and many others are making every possible herb illegal to vitamins too. 1984/USSR/fascism/censoring/tyranny. What fun!

        Another a-side. Ben. Wondering, has your clients or whistle-blowers ever stated just how many of those friendly caring AFGE workers, other unions plus the contractors or the rest it takes to help ruin them or play the VA or government attack games to protect and support (their)… “my team-mates.” Professional staff covers for union staff and vice versa.

        Ya got a few clerks at each desk possibly if not more plus their PAs. Then to encounter the same crap in multiple clinics, to the CBOC gaming and cover-ups etc. My count was up to about fifty playing the game and merely over getting referrals to specialty clinics updated through two lousy PCPs. One couldn’t look me in the face and told me start all care all over again and couldn’t find my records or test results over the years. Another new one that was just worried about her orders “from the top” and having to hand-pick or pull names out of a hat, or off the screen alphabetically like to cease pain meds to meet ‘orders’ so politicians and such can look good on paper. Played games over my long time help referrals and being young didn’t seem to want to abide by specialty clinic treatments or concerns.

        How many game players did your clients have to deal with? Or maybe outside of the VA too? Networks, activist, agencies, all playing the cover-up game.

        How many IBEW workers and Duke Energy staff does it take to carry on retaliation tactics for pissing off so many? My count on that is two office IT and phone staffers. One unknown line-man to create the dead short to torch the wiring, and four at the house doing inspections on their Smart Meter they refuse to take off my home. AND four present while office staff reports there are no (two small trucks, 4 IBEW workers) present at the house or have been. Yes, recorded. Should have did a video too but not up to it.

        At the same time dealing with the same crap, threats, and harassment, won’t give up my med files from one of two major civy hospitals we have here. Again from several clinics from ‘registration,” surgery, two of their clinics, CEO secretary, other secretaries, switch board operators, etc. Lost count on that one, impossible to count them all or keep up with it, or record it all. Plus the civy dentist and oral surgeon playing the no X-ray games, no releasing med file crap, and on it goes.

        And there are supposedly “good” union/AFGE/med care associations/staff and workers in the medical fields at the VA or out in sheep land and sounds of crickets? “Union Strong.” I just love those signs in yards. Seems to me union and affiliated thuggery and corruption is alive and well, prospering hourly, and pissing on all who may dare ask the wrong questions or why they broke laws severely.

  7. Union, Management ! You can write rules and laws and regulations and they will not follow most of the regulations or laws.

    I’ll bet if someone would walk up to an employee any employee and ask them what the regulations state.

    I’ll bet 99.9%, would not be able to state the proper rules or regulations or laws.

    Oh come on, this was not that bad, let it slide.

    Hey, do me a favor and down play the situation, he/she is a good person, not to mention my relative or friend.

    Remember, I hired you ! You stated you owe me for that it’s Pay up time.

    If rules and laws or laws were being followed, they would not be in this mess.

    The new whistleblowers origination set up to Help Whistleblowers, is Now under investigation for abusing their authority and are reporting these whistleblowers into the very people doing the harm.

    Said it once and will say it again ! The only way to fix the va is to make laws where the employees could be held accountable through our justice department.

    When employees make false statements or allegations that directly harmed a veteran, those employees should have charges placed upon them.

    Let’s say, an employee working on a veterans disability claims and they deny the claim and found out that the employee has a bad track record of denying disability claims.

    That employee should be Arrested at work and sent through our justice system.

    Or employees make false statements into the veterans official medical records, that em should be held accountable through our justice department.

    So, many other reasons should be determined as an attack on those veterans.

    Shredding official military records should be jail time. Hiding official military records should be possible jail time.

    The va is unwilling to hold employees accountable. If the employees are union members, the union can pay for the attorney costs.

    When employees make mistakes, their immediate supervisor should be held just as accountable, for not doing their job.

    Bottom line ! Our elected officials need to pass laws to do exactly that.

    Employees making mistakes with the veterans payments and over or underpaying the veterans. Should be held accountable through our justice department.

  8. Crazy Elf: So to hell with all the GOOD workers that work at the V.A. then? Not thinking there friend.

    • I believe I’ve answered your comment above.
      My comment was directed to those VA employees who fuck over veterans – not the ones who are good.
      Get your glasses on. Then re-read my comment. And, don’t try spinning my comment like the demoncraps or career politicians always do!

      • Reading Smilowitz’s comment just reminded me how much I miss Seymore Klearly . . .

  9. All Veterans Affairs employees below management positions are AFGE members. Even if they do not pay dues they are still bargaining unit employees! The reason why AFGE is allowed to use official time to represent all employees during regular business hours is because it was negotiated that way so that AFGE represents all employees no matter their willingness to pay dues or not! As for all those on here bashing the VA, you all say that you care about what happens to our great veterans of our country but do you think to realize that 3/4 of those employees that you are bashing and calling for their termination are Veterans like myself. I do agree there does need to be change at the VA but it’s not with the everyday employee that you see, it’s with upper management all the way to the WH. AFGE gives the Veterans at the VA the voice that without we would forever be silenced!

    • There is a conundrum.

      “https://www.disabledveterans.org/2017/05/18/afge-official-time-defense-union-really-protect-veterans-jobs-va/”

      And it is also unfortunate that some veterans, certainly not all, but there are some who treat us just as rotten as most, again not all, but most civilians in VA hospitals. I’ve been at the receiving end, especially in the Women’s Wellness Clinic which I had to go to Administration to get permission to stay out of the Women’s Wellness Clinic at the Jesse Brown VA. That was granted after they heard what happened.

      I’ve also experienced applying for clerical work at a few of the VAs, having considerable clerical and customer service background. I might as well have not bothered since no one followed up, even after I called and went in person to follow up face-to-face. I can only suppose that because I’ve brought issues to patient advocates and administration that I excluded myself from the possibility of ever being hired at any VA.

      Some of us get messed up enough we just don’t care who we say what or do what to. At MACV in Duluth, I complained about the neglect and toxic management for about a year. It wasn’t until I began keeping communications in email and accumulated enough conversations between the property management at MACV and its executive management and sent all that to the VAOIG, that suddenly I was offered a security deposit to leave. All of those employees and executive management were veterans. “For veterans by veterans”… horse biscuits in hogwash. That’s how veteran management and veteran staff at MACV resolved their problems.

      There was one man who was on our side. He made all the difference and it was because of him that a few of us did get help. But he couldn’t field every curve ball and he was constantly faced with a toxic work environment. When one of the other veteran outreach counselors, who generally turned a blind eye, was promoted over him, he found another place to work. He kind of had to, really. He’d been there for eight years watching the circus with upper management’s feet on his head. As much as we knew we needed him, we were glad to see him find a better work environment that was less prison-like. He was a veteran too, and he’d done all he could against the rest. Sometimes you do what you can, report what you can, then you have to walk away and start taking care of yourself before you can’t and end up like those of us who were living at the MACV.

      It is important to keep it real and to acknowledge we are imperfect humans. We are not perfect because we are veterans. There are veterans who will throw other veterans under the bus in a skinny second. But usually we kind of talk around that for the most part because it’s so painful to experience or even think about. It’s hard for me to comprehend why any human being will mistreat another, but we do.

      I say “most” when I bash the VA unapologetically. Yes, there are good people in the VA sticking out the bad times so they can help improve what they can. However, if the majority of VA employees – be they civilian or veteran – did their jobs and treated us well with respect, there would not be this extended outcry to redress our circumstances.

      What is most sad about all this, are those who are dying in the midst of the fray. The last stretch of their lives is dirtied and made heavier to bear by corruption. They are not allowed deserved respect and dignity. What I am describing I have seen first hand as a volunteer with para/quadraplegics in the SCI residential unit at Edward Hines. My breaking point was seeing an army lifer lying faced down on his bed, naked, without prosthetics that relieved his pain, completely forgotten about by staff. I reported that he needed help and I waited and waited. I went down the hall to resident VSO’s office to say what was happening. When I returned he was dead.

      And through the volunteering, I saw so much that nothing is done about. Caretakers, some of who were veterans, stole from these men who were restricted to living in wheelchairs and gurneys blowing threw straws to get mobile. When I mentioned the stealing to one of the residents, he said keep it to yourself. We have to. “You don’t live here and we have to deal what a new mess brought on by retaliation from staff everytime someone reports what they see.” He said I didn’t have the right to speak for them.

      This is at at the top of the list of reasons why I do what I do, and say what I say. Why I refuse to be silent. Why I refuse to stop.

    • Apologies for the typos that don’t make sense. I get bent out shape everytime I talk about this stuff, then it’s writing be damned.

      • I have been going to the WSVA for 35 years .I have nothing but good to say about them . There are problems with the folks who determine disability for vets nationwide. Bruce died after fighting the VA system for 25 years over his agent Orange case .The Union people at the VA I go to are great. For those of you who think this is good cause Trump is doing this ,think twice. The Loch brothers are calling the shots .Most of you don’t read VA news everyday, I do . Trump said vets could go outside the VA,guess what he didn’t fund it .Trump also had 3 rich Jewish guys running the VA FROM MAR ALARGO .WAKE THE FUCK UP VETS .

    • A. Rogers. I’ll bash until I die and not only over the VA or AFGE, SES unions or affiliated. I’ll bash them all because they have all gone political/thug/corrupt/harmful activist/Mafioso and far beyond their original purposes. And globalist. Cough… global communitarianism/communism/Marxism. Cough.

      Seems when the retaliation, covering-up, protecting their own, ‘professional’ staff. temps included do quite well at attacking, ignoring, destroying, playing games throughout the VA clinics, CBOC and beyond to work their wicked ways. To “protect their team-mates.” The lower levels will break every law on the books to protect their own. So it’s not all about the scum management and above. Even though some of us kept hearing … “it’s orders from the top.” If that is so and worked there I’d walk out and VA employment could kiss my big ass. Oh, have I mentioned that I’ve been a past union official for other corrupt unions? Unions protect and selective too about who they support and protect.. or throw under the bus. And have that deeply corrupt symbiotic relationship with the corporations, DC cliques, stockholders, country clubbers or secret DC cliques.

      It takes more than a mere few VA workers to play games between clinics to deleting communications exposing some serious wrongs on my Healthy E Vet crap site. Protecting several ‘advocates,’ new PCPs, IT staff, and more than one clinic, etc. Then poop hits the fan. And we are “bashing other vets?” While our suffering and deaths mean little to nothing to most I’ve encountered or dealt with inside the VA or not. Not the everyday employee??? With civilian health care staff playing the same games from various sections or clinics just like the VA did and does? Coincidences? I think not. At least I got some half assed med files from the VA and can’t even get my files from a local civy hospital, dentist to a oral surgeon that sent out completely phony records after months of more bitching and letter writing. Yeah right. Unions, associations, HIPPA rules, “professionals,” their protective corrupt, predatory, self serving, laws to protect and aid us… blah horse crap.

      How much of your dues goes to lobbyist and the anti-“right to work” cliques?

      Will AFGE get that around 3 months off paid leave over having a new born or something others can’t get?

      Do unions like the AFGE care about others making minimum wage not affording to pay for their services or those beneath them? Nope, they are all about self, period, regardless of human costs.

      How is that having a union voice in DC helping YOU or US and our care? How is it that so many unions out here do NOT give a damn about vets or others in their own communities… in reality? I sure haven’t seen much or any walk-outs from anyone, a union, congress, senate, etc., about what is happening out here and how medical predators and corrupt have taken control of every damn thing. But outsider unions due to politics or VA issues will join forces to try to silence or ruin those like me? How cute it is the power they all have today and fully protected even by police unions and those under the mighty egg sucking AFL/CIO which the AFGE and others seem to agree with and out to destroy those who will not assimilate or bow to them.
      “https://archive.org/details/CSPAN_20190428_184300_AFL-CIO_President_Richard_Trumka_at_the_Economic_Club_of_Washington_DC”

      Dot dot dot, satellite connecting, unions in support of censoring… dot dot dot. Same behind the scene agendas… dot dot.

      Wish I could make nearly 300 grand for being a open border, wanting to unionize the worlds workers, hate non-union workers, …under their umbrella like the SES/AFGE bandwagon riders/kinds. It’s all about them and to hell with the rest of us. Dot dot. It’s not about ethics, hiring decent, caring, competent, non-activist staff, etc. There is no need to do union shop functions on the job either.

      • Reginald, sheesh is that all you got? Read the VA news daily? Shit am I ever impressed. Bet you can’t get your nose unstuck from MSNBC either or the “Chew.” Faux? Hang on every word from Brezenski or Maddow too I bet. Get great care in your area Mr or Mrs Cheerleader? Great! If true. Also great playing activist and provocateur. Side-step issues or what is posted then throw out the usual or typical response from the peanut gallery. Hurt your socialist leaning Alinsky/union loving rear-end? Must have. Truth and facts hurt don’t they? Those like you and so-called “good” workers allowing things to happen or simply not caring is part of the major problems. You’ve just shown your colors and concerns there butter-cup. Which is typical.

        An a-side. Ben, we know that any change in a new CBA things will remain the same except the propaganda and PR stuff. Nothing is going to change the networks of evils in place and nothing will rid us of the psychopaths and liars in place, in high positions full circle in any health care arenas.

        Who in their right minds think a hospital during working hours is a place to play union shop, politics, varieties of activism, or file some grievance? The same mind-sets that think hiring females with 4 or 5 inch claws that won’t fit in a latex glove for blood draw duties among other ignorance.

        Empowering supervisors to face off with the AFGE or those “at the top?” How’s that so-called whistle-blower protection going with all that fear and censoring going on still and increasing. And knowing how well the VA, activist, unions and government, or medical establishments can play their finely tuned retaliation games?

        Will the streamlining help with the revolving doors of PCPs or other clowns? Those that are so full of themselves they don’t or won’t pay attention to specialty clinics orders or advice? They still have to follow those “orders from the top.” Do things the VA way and what so many others demand they do… or else. Just like civy care today too.

        Government, all those agencies/people/high offices supposedly out to protect our rights that don’t? Oh but everything out there today is to ‘safe us,’ protect us, keep us from harm or self harm. Right. There isn’t much to lean on expecting any solid Earth shaking change within the VA or about their networks or affiliations over health care, suffering or the many suicides they also help create. Just more theatrics and time wasting to me. If any or all of them cared they’d all from VA, Congress, VSOs down would walk away or off their lofty jobs and ivory castles and demand some chance just like they can do over other issues like sports or kitty cat issues, to create mobs or movements, or Hollywood issues. Or for photo ops, etc.

        In ending. Don’t bother Reggie. Just go stifle thy self okay?

  10. I totally agree that there are bad veterans as well as bad people inside and outside the VA. But I will also say how one VA may be and another may be totally different. I know at the VA I go to they work very hard to promote the best treatment for all veterans. I do hear the stories about other VA hospitals and I do wish that it could change for all of us. The change has to start with upper management, to make the VA a different atmosphere that all veterans are happy to go to. Thank you for your comments

  11. The 714:Accountability Act was designed to punish Upper management and V.A doctors who knowily violated neglected veterans care by manipulated the time, appt , benefits, etc which led to deaths. However, the same management it was meant has used it to fire those employees at the bottom like housekeepers, food servers workers, and has cause the V.A to be understaffed. Contradictions. I hope AFGE give the Department of Veterans Affairs hell in their fight to maintain their official time.. The V A employee of Veterans. Don’t forget that.

  12. The V. A employees our Veterans also don’t forget that. We can’t allow the V A to become a plantation in a so-called Democracy.. The Trump Administration has already had the longest Temporary shutdown. Don’t forget many employees was forced to work without pay which is a form of enslavement. A contradiction Why would you want to put the foot on the neck of our Veterans who continually serving their country at the V. A.

    • Leon, gag me more with politics, slavery shit, or pity parties for those standing by knowing full well their institutions and all connected with it is corrupted to the core and broken. In states like mine it’s all encompassing bottom to top, tippy top. Hear that fiddle? But my heart doesn’t bleed for all especially over thugs, bullies, the corrupt, and those who side with them.

      It was scum sucking employees telling us to vote Dem for better care and treatment at the VA. Say what? Vote for Barry and Hillary to get better care? While for years I along with others sit by and listened in to union shop shit, activist crap and business instead of vet care and them hopping-to to get us taken care of. I still have a hospital news-letter telling their employees to stop talking shop in front of us and (supposedly) on the job. Even heard them more than once planning in call-in tactics to create shortages but managements and those in DC didn’t seem to care much or a part of the charade.

      Wish we had a free talk open forum to chat in. Unions like attorneys, phony media and a few others have totally ruined this country and our freedoms and rights to having no due process to health care issues. But plenty of corruption and censoring that will seal the communist/corporatist/foreign shadow governments destruction of us all. And being much older, if so, we should realize we’ve been socially engineered and brain-washed about many things since birth or first grade.

      Eugene V. Debs was supposedly the father of unions.. he was a lying two faced, self-serving dirt bag. (Communist, socialist, Marxist (what we live in today) a demon. One of many we are supposed to bow to think they are heroes in my locale.
      “http://www.ushistory.org/us/37e.asp”

      AFGE, SES, Marxist, activist of every sort boast of this when cameras are off. It was once well known “we are the union stronghold of Indiana.” Mottos, “union proud,” “shop or hunger,” don’t rock the unions boats,” etc. Raised to bow to unions, Debs, to Saul Alinsky crap. Ya know the “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” movie they are trying to bury the real story about such connections? The C church was fully fooled and infiltrated then and now by their likes and activism. Or scrubbed now according to my failed links.

      “https://townhall.com/columnists/larrykelley/2019/01/28/the-saul-alinsky-american-left-n2540352”

      Now give me those words like “plantation” again. Got to love an activist, fun lot.

      All those running for office primaries are against all ‘right to work” laws. Meaning they want everything unionized and closed shops, all, everything. Union strong Marx-fems X-academics, teacher unions, made it into high office while spouting support for all unions and needing more… to hell with what those of the AFGE and others were, are, doing to citizens and vets. And made it so I can’t attend town meetings, cracker barrel sessions, or get any support locally. They fill events with their own and old retired officials and corrupt. That is why my entire state is totally corrupted. It’s their agendas or else, no questioning, no other opinions wanted or will be tolerated. Then to think we will get by daring to challenge or question the likes of the AFGE, SES, FOP, teachers unions that lie and teach false history to the youth, to brain-wash, indoctrinate…any of those loving, caring, American (sic) unions? When totally occupied, ignored, attacked by many of them thar patriotic (sic) unions hell bent to destroy others with bad reports of any of them or their family or lodge members? Where people killed by a mafia member, unionist, won’t even make the news?

      Jr high still has it’s “socialist, union strong, Marxist,” huge murals on atrium walls, both sides. Complete with the red socialist hammer of destruction meant to be against their adversaries, against the Constitutional Republic. Yep great stuff for indoctrination. Marx, Stalin, corruption loved by artist Gibson who was also a card carrying commie and hater. And all we hear about are Nazis???? No different from any brand of ‘national socialism’ by any definition.

      Don’t try to educate me about unions or how a entire state and community can be so corrupt it’s beyond belief. I go vote and there are only two names on the rat’s ass Repuke ticket to vote for. All the rest are Dems and total lefties and hate my guts and all union and corruption/nepotism supporters. Nice huh. Guess it is for some, not so much for others. And I couldn’t even get the locals to take over my care due to VA crap, no X-rays for my shattered jaw by local professionals… and much more. Yeah, tell me about those poor union members and how sweet and caring they are. How great our communities are with them in it and ruling the works. I’d like to put more than a foot on some of their necks. But they all can kill us off with ease and fully protected. Gotcha.

      • They don’t like veterans. They are there for their needs and pay. The higther the pay the less they like u. I am afraid of Veterans Affairs and the mistreatment of people.

  13. 05/04/2019
    Dear Benjamin Krause,
    Why have a contract in place that many refuse to follow [2011 CBA/38 USC § 714 in 2017]?
    It is simple, there was a collusion between Management and the Union to provide substandard care to the Veterans which created the “…asymmetrical information advantage at the agency” allowing “only the agency” to know “when it will or will not follow the CBA.”
    Now after Five (5) years of intense scrutiny the “VA says the new proposed changes are designed to ensure taxpayer resources are being used to benefit Veterans, first”; obviously the VA is trying to redeem itself.
    To create a new CBA/ “negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with AFGE” is only a start in this “Charlie Foxtrot.”
    Sincerely,
    Don Karg

  14. I quit taking my husband to the va because of all the BS .They act like a bunch of EDUCATED IDIOT’S. The veteran goes to ER may be they will get to him, maybe not all depends on how long they want to make you wait. The dr.ask how may I help you, you tell them what’s going on and then treat you for something besides what you went in there for.

  15. VA is a government entity with union members? Well there’s yer problem….oh yeah. Fergot. ‘Sposed to help Veterans. Yawn. Same shite..
    Differnt day. Leadership gains, underlings and “customers” (vets) fight to suckle one remaining teet. Nothing changes and nothing will. “We work for Uncle Sugar and we cant be touched. Hopefully we’ll wait it out long enough and vets’ll die off and stop complaining.”

  16. /\ /\ /\ /\ THIS /\ /\

    Ding ! Ding ! Ding ! Winner ! Winner ! You get the Paper Bag Dinner!!! Come on down Wayne! Come get yer little sum sumthin the VA said you’ve earned !

  17. If you will allow a non-veteran, retired DOD DFAS employee, who is the court appointed guardian for a veteran sibling to comment from his perspective…

    Unions in the federal work place are way past their expiration date. There is no need. The government has this huge civilian human resource apparatus that could provide the same employee assistance with grievances as the union. If JAG can handle the prosecution AND defense AND judges for our service members, certainly a system within the HR can provide a similar system for aggrieved employees. I was never a member of the union, I did not request union services, I filed one grievance in 25 years and **I** filed it. The CBA required the union rep’s presence, but I had him sit in a corner and told him he had no role in the process other than to sit there quietly and look pretty. I presented my grievance, the supporting evidence, the supporting regulations and laws, answered the questions asked, and received the exact relief I requested. It is not a complex process.

    In early February, my brother, a USN vet, was almost killed in a car wreck. I live in AL and he is in NC. Nobody else in the family lives in NC. We are Army brats and sort of spread out after leaving home. Eventually, most of us ended up in AL. For me, it was after retiring from DFAS in Pensacola, FL. My brother had no POA. He has VA health care but no service connected disability because his application has sat idle for over two years. (He is not as persistent/insistent as I am.) He had injuries to every part of his body except his left arm. Brain injury, broken left leg, broken right ankle, broken right foot, broken right wrist, broken right thumb with tendon tear, several skull fractures, needed a pressure relief drain in the skull, broken ribs on both sides, fractured pelvis on both sides, fractured sacrum, ruptured spleen, perforated small bowel, lacerated renal gland, fractured L4, broken C2 eventually fused to C1, and several other injuries. Thankfully, he was wearing a seat belt. He spent 27 of his 62 days in the hospital in a coma.

    Some back story:
    Unfortunately, he and his ex-girlfriend had a violent break up where she enlisted the help of her brother and a cousin to beat my brother just ten days before the accident. One of the assailants left a deep bite mark on his upper arm that was still visible when I first saw him in the ICU. We also found out that the cause of the accident was inexplicable. He was T-boned on a country two-lane road away from any intersections. Then we found out that the ex-gf was in the car with him and she had zero injuries. In the two days after the accident, his employer and a neighbor contacted me to tell me that the ex-gf was saying that she caused the accident. The police can do nothing because the TBI caused his memories for several days prior to the accident to vanish.

    Because he had no POA, I had to fly up and go to court to become his court appointed guardian. That essentially works as a court ordered POA, with a steroid boost. It gives me 100% authority and requires my approval of all medical and legal decisions as well as decisions on where he goes and what happens to his personal belongings/finances. This became more important after he came out of the coma because he has some cognitive impairments from the TBI.

    After the accident, he was taken by ambulance to a local trauma center. There they took care of the spleen and bowel, but were not equipped for the other injuries. He was airlifted to a major trauma center in the Research Triangle area. (OPSEC here because we believe he is still in danger from the ex-gf.) There he underwent 13 more surgeries. After coming out of the coma, he progressed rapidly. The original prognosis had him in acute surgical-trauma hospital care for 3 to 4 months. He was ready to discharge to a skilled nursing/rehab facility in just 2 months.

    I had about 20 days to coordinate with the VA to get him into a VA skilled nursing/rehab facility. As I started out saying, I am retired from DFAS, specifically the Civilian Pay side of the house. I am accustomed to bureaucracies and personal fiefdoms within them. Or, at least I thought I was. I called his local VAMC to speak with his social worker who, I was told, would coordinate getting him placed in a VA facility. I expressed my family’s concerns about his safety and requested that he not be placed at the local facility. Any facility an hour or more from that area would guarantee his safety because the ex-gf does not drive. The condescension in the voice of the social worker tested my patience as she told me he would be perfectly safe there since they have a campus police force. I asked what changes had been made to how security is provided in the past ten years?She told me that the security needed no changes. Then I inquired about the person who went into their VAMC and killed five people, asking where their campus police were during that. She was not aware of the incident. I politely told her that unless their facility had a system in place that had someone posted at the doors checking ID’s, then anyone could enter a patient’s room without being challenged. Since my brother cannot walk, has almost no use of his right arm, he would be unable to defend himself or even run from an attack. Eventually, I had to go up the chain of command and a supervisor assured me that they would place him in another facility because if my brother was in danger, that put VA employees, other patients, and visitors in danger. Finally, common sense!

    At 0515 on a Thursday, my brother calls me telling me that the hospital is transferring him that Monday morning to the one facility we requested he NOT be placed. I immediately left a message for the VA social worker expressing my concerns. I left another message for the VA supervisor. I left a message with the hospital’s discharge coordinator who had also been advised of our concerns. I also questioned how they made a decision without having it approved by the guardian. My brother later told me that the hospital’s coordinator told him he had no choice. If he declined that placement, the VA would not pay any of the hospital bill, the ambulance ($6500), or the airlift charge ($26,800) and they would not cover his rehab. That is when my brother consented to the transfer. Consent is something he cannot legally provide due to the TBI and cognitive impairments. Long story short, it took me until 0600 Monday to stop the transfer. I would not get a return call from the VA social worker, and still have not nearly a month later.

    I made calls to the director of his local VAMC and heard back from one person who said she would help arrange for him to get into a VA rehab elsewhere. I suggested we try one in AL so that he could be near our mother and three of his brothers during his recovery. I told them I would make and pay for the travel arrangements. During that week, I spent 62 hours on the phone trying to locate an open bed in a VA rehab in NC, AL, GA, MS, TN, or FL. I gathered contacts at various places, email addresses, and telephone numbers. I put all of that into an email and sent it to the contacts, the people at his local VAMC, the guy at the Durham VA, and the hospital’s coordinator. There was one VA employee in AL that stayed in close contact with me. The Durham VA social worker became involved because his area of responsibility included the hospital where my brother was. He called me at the end of the 62-hour phone week to get an update. When I told him that I had zero contact from anyone at my brother’s local VAMC, he told me that he was taking over for me. He told me gathering that information was the VA’s job, not that of the veteran’s family. Our job was to be there to support the veteran during his recovery.

    I flew to NC to be with my brother as the hospital’s discharge date approached. Still no call from the VA. Finally, the hospital put me in contact with the social services person that handles Medicaid applications. The hospital then secured a bed in a contract rehab center and paid for his first 45 days. I finally heard back from the VA the day after my brother was admitted to the hospital provided rehab. AL could not take him because he required more than 45 days. Now the contract where he is runs out in less than three weeks. Anyone want to guess how many times the lady from the local VAMC has called me in regards to getting him placed in a VA rehab or advise that they will pick up tab when the hospital’s contract ends? I will put the number between the parenthesis ( ). The guy at the VA in Durham is just as irritated as I am. I even asked him to transfer my brothers primary care to Durham since he has been in their area of responsibility for more than 30 days and then he can take the lead. He told me he was going to look into that right after he called the other lady again. He called back thirty minutes later saying he spoke to her and she asked for his help. It seems that an email I sent to Robert Wilkie’s office, almost a month ago l, has finally reached my brother’s VAMC.

    I have been trying to determine why his disability claim has been stagnant for so long. Nobody will talk to me because they do not have a power of attorney on file. Each time I am told to fax the guardianship documents to the Central Evidence Intake Center and call back a week later. I faxed it Friday for the sixth time. The VSO in NC and the one near me in AL cannot put those in the VA system. They cannot speak to me without it, even if I take them a copy or fax one to them.

    Then I am dealing with the copay billing part of the VA. At least they were able to take the paperwork and notate the system so they can talk to me. Even that is a nightmare. Each type of billing issue is a different office. I have 12 typed pages of notes from all of my VA calls. When I reviewed those Friday, 40% of my calls are delayed by over a day because the ONLY person that handles that particular issue is on leave. 15% of my calls are delayed by more than two hours because “they are in a meeting.”

    Then there is a form for every separate issue that requires the same information. Why not input that information into one system and have that one systen upload the data into ALL of the different systems? Even worse, every single rehab center has their own unique application form. No two are alike. I have roughly a dozen of them and it amazes me that a government agency does not have a Standard Form to collect all of the information. The unique information that each facility requires should be a separate small form. Ideally, someone could look at all of the various forms, collect all of the unique fields, and include those on the SF. So what if you fill our five or six fields that are not really needed?

    My opinion of the VA is that it is a bloated out of control behemoth agency with little oversight. It is made up of people who specialize in one topic and nobody else can fill in for them while they are on leave. Very few are truly interested in addressing the issues of the veterans who they were hired to serve. The ones who want to provide that service are hindered because of bureaucratic intricacies that prevent another person from taking care of an issue. I chose a career in public service because I could not join the military and become a pilot. For some reason people with asthma cannot pilot military aircraft. So I chose to serve those who serve. That my career ended with me serving those who serve those who serve is beside the point. Our military needs the DOD civilians that spend a career supporting their missions. Most of us come from military families and we chose a career in the public sector despite knowing we could make more money in the private sector. Public sector jobs are now less secure than private sector jobs. Three decades of BRAC has seen to that. I expected the same dedication to duty, country, and service members that the DOD workforce exhibits.

    PSA – when dealing with DFAS, you are dealing with some of the hardest working people in the federal government. Their workforce has been trimmed time and again, while at the same time their workload has increased. When an entire DOD agency can boast less than a 0.005% error rate, that is proof of a dedicated workforce. Yes, there are a few less-than-stellar employees, but I bet you could dial random DFAS numbers for a week and find only one. That includes MILPAY, MILRETPAY, CIVPAY, ACTG, and everything else. I enjoyed the work, as did nearly all of my coworkers.

    Then there is the stupid three minute long greeting everytime you call a VA number. You cannot press 0 to skip it for the 10th time that day. You can dial the extension, if you have it and bypass it. Forget about trying to get to the switchboard without hearing the whole spiel.

    My level of frustration has put my mind in a place that scares the hell out of me. If I were a veteran trying to do this for myself, and if I were sick, injured, or having a mental breakdown…. well, I believe I just identified a large cause of veteran suicides. Our veterans signed up to fight for our country, they did not sign up to fight the VA.

    • All that… so sadly typical. And nope, we should not need to fight the VA. Nor our families who, as you found, find it difficult to navigate discombobulated broken systems. It is also frustrating and depressing to consider how many are significantly injured, broken, or medicated, and bereft of the ability to help themselves as they otherwise would.

      About the POA and other concerns, have you contacted the VAOIG to file a formal complaint? Sometimes that gets something done. May depend on what is making news headlines, or pressuring from within, but I have had small success with the VAOIG. If nothing else, that acronym sends shivers down offenders’ backs since they have no way of knowing which way the wind is blowing internally.

      • Catherine,

        Thanks for the suggestion. I sent a blast email to every VA senior executive type about a month ago. I found a list of top brass email addresses. I am not sure if VAOIG was included. If they cannot get something set up at least 10 days out from the date that the hospital contract ends, I may make a call. Meanwhile, I will search out their number and email.

        What I really want is a single point of contact within the VA who can help direct all of this for me. I am also looking for a single attorney’s office to take on his VA claim and his Social Security claim. The SSDI should get priority processing since he is a veteran except the worker assigned to it will not return calls.

    • @ William Drummond

      “https://www.allsup.com/allsup-reviews?SessionCode=1294”

      For your review. Hope it helps.

    • One more thing. You will want to know your brother’s rights and something about eligibility criteria so you can spot misinformation during discussions with whomever.

      ‘https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html”

      Also, skimming through DSM SSDI eligibility criteria can help you collect and organize pertinent documentation and medical records to expedite your efforts for your brother. Some of it seems semantical, but it is what social workers and SSDI adjudicators must deal with, and so must we. Though the amount of reading can seem like information overload, it will help you understand why things are said, done, or decided.

      I also learned a lot from reading what regulatory authorities have made publicly available.

      I don’t mean to keep going on. Things just keep popping up in my thoughts about what has been learned over many years.

  18. @William Drummond All the SS office needs is medical documentation for an adjudicator to evaluate. They will set an appointment for your bother to have a medical / psychological evaluation, then make a decision. That does not take as long as horror stories tell. An attorney will request the same information from you, as POA, then charge your brother for it. And not always in a timely manner.

    What mostly slows an SS claim or invites denial, is:

    1) insufficient documentation
    2) inability to clearly and or adequately communicate medical conditions
    3) hypochondriacs (which can be a crippling medical condition) or would be scammers who think they can play the system – both have difficulty proving medical conditions

    It’s a crazy ride down the rabbit hole trying to discern what will make a difference to SS specific to the DSM. If you go, bring as much documentation as possible in terms of medical records. A SS representative can tell you what will suffice and what does not. You can also go through those motions and take time to think about what the representative tells you without signing anything. They’ll just say bring in all the paperwork they prepared when or if you’re ready. That way you don’t risk getting caught up with an appeal, though that doesn’t sound likely considering your brother’s conditions. And, if you decided to consult with an attorney, you’ll have it altogether.

    However, when someone has a “clear cut” claim with sufficient documentation, that someone permits a mandatory medical evaluation by a professional who is chosen by SS, doesn’t miss their evaluation, and follows up as requested, a claim can be approved relatively quickly. I don’t know what quickly is now, but mine was approved almost immediately the first time around.

    I will add that I feel somewhat advantaged because I was able to communicate sufficiently on my own. I am organized and keep good records while many people are unable. I am familiar with medical terminology and filing insurance claims so I was unafraid of the process as it was explained. I also asked questions for clarity which I have found many people do not for some reason, and generally did everything they asked when they asked.

    I’ve been on SS for a long time. Lost it twice for trying to work, and managed to get it reinstated twice. On my own. You sound organized and very thorough with record keeping. Should be easier for you that it has been for me 🙂

    Of the two appeals necessary to be reinstated, one took nearly two years because that much time had to pass before I was eligible. The second took about two months because I have a stack of records nearly a foot tall. I was emphatically advised not to do this to myself again, because SS representatives can take care of a dozen people’s claims in the time it takes to go through my SS records.

    An attorney becomes a middleman who passes everything SS needs, from you to SS. And though an attorney will make follow up calls and periodically keep you apprised, their services are best used for people like your brother who does not have someone like you. On the other hand, if you are overwhelmed, an attorney will can relieve some of the stress involved. And that said, when you provide an attorney with all the documentation, you will have done 90% of the work.

    There may be other caveats I am unaware of specific to your brother, and as I said I am not an expert. Good luck with your decision, whichever it may be. I just wanted you to know the process is not as scary or fragile as many believe. I wish you and your brother some peace of mind and easier days ahead.

  19. Pft. I really should not read and write when insomnia is dictating.

    Clarification: I am on SSDI. Very different from SSI. I did not want to be on SSDI. The notion made me feel incompetent to breath and I refused. I was fortunate to have a social worker who did not let me fall between the cracks. She chose not to conveniently agree with my choice and she stepped in on my behalf because I told her I had no clue where to start and had no intention of bothering with SSDI / government craziness, adding more stress to what was. She quietly schooled me proper. I was angry at the beginning, that she submitted my application. In retrospect, I understand why she took action. There are not a lot of easy cases and mine was. You can’t help everyone, but sometimes you get lucky that you can do exactly what the person in front of you needs. She was serendipitous in my life at that point.

    Which brings this to a comment you made that I overlooked. That being the need for someone to take over for you; particularly someone who knows the rope and will be proactive. The individual you seek is a social worker who will explain processes, and assist with completing appropriate forms as needed (not the SSDI application). If that individual has been in the field for awhile, they will have an established network of resources and professionals, and be able to make purposeful recommendations so you can choose a direction of action that best fits your brother’s needs.

    Caseworkers are not supposed to tell you what to do. Rather they present possibilities and answer questions. You kind of forge a path as you go toward what needs to be done. The caseworker helps facilitate progress.

    That said, all caseworkers are not equal :=) Your brother can be assigned to a caseworker through the VA. Most seem ok, though often they can be considerably inexperienced due to working not long in this field. You might consider contacting a VSO – hasn’t worked for me but may for your brother – who can refer you to an experienced social worker. Or it may go the other way around, where your brother’s caseworker might put you in touch with a VSO who can assist with getting a VA claim started. That’s a whole different animal though, and sadly, VSOs are hit or miss like other VA assistance.

    If you feel a VA social worker is not doing what needs to be done, you can go through a public health department to obtain a social worker. Often they work on a sliding scale which may be free of charge to your brother. Their first inclination may be to refer your brother back to the VA, at which point you as POA must be firm in explaining that attempt did not produce results and your brother needs attention ASAP. They should know the score, if they’ve been around long enough, and usually get things moving although that can seem slow as well.

    There is no quick fix. But it may be that the best you can do for your brother and yourself at the present time, is to find him an experienced social worker who will step up for your brother.

    A thought also about diagnosis(es). Oddly enough, mental health diagnoses seem to be approved for SSDI more easily than medical conditions. It’s been explained to me, that though I had cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe osteoporosis, aside a pile of other diagnoses, that it would be easier for me to allow an SSDI to evaluate me for Borderline Personality Disorder and / or PTSD. That mental health diagnoses are perceived to have lifelong impact and are a permanent impediment to employability.

    I was stubborn and and refused for awhile, again because somehow the mental health diagnosis seemed like a lifelong commitment to being dysfunctional. The social worker patiently went over the potential outcomes repeatedly until what she was explaining began to register. Though there was a heap of medical conditions, psychological conditions are deemed more permanently damaging. I would be more likely to receive assistance for medical conditions if I chose a mental health condition. I could choose a medical condition, however, only one could be chosen and then only help for that condition would be available. My reasoning became how do I choose one medical / physical condition from a pot full? It was easier to choose between the two most likely (previously suggested by professionals) mental health conditions. I ended up diagnosed with both, and the rest has been history.

    Also, even the best caseworker’s responsibilities have a begin and end. As POA, there are certain decisions only you can make. You can choose a payee for your brother, and possibly be, or find someone to be, a caretaker for your brother so you have some relief from 24 hour care. Last I read, a caretaker was compensated about $600 monthly. Not much for the amount of care that is sometimes needed, but it can help.

    Depending on specialty, an attorney might be able to help navigate challenges with a medical / physical claim. However, no one can be an expert on every condition and any attorney who claims they specialize in a wide array of conditions might warrant pause or bypassing.

    Okay. I think my tiny well of SSDI experience has been drained at this point. Again, I wish you and your brother well on this leg of your journeys.

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