Bob McDonald’s ‘Failing’ Appeals Process Blame Game

Bob McDonald

Benjamin KrauseSecretary Bob McDonald says the appeals process is “failing veterans” because the tools and procedures are too “cumbersome and clunky.”

Is the process failing veterans because it is too clunky or is it because too many VA employees are allowed to violate the law with impunity when denying benefits?

“Decades worth of law and policy layered upon each other have become cumbersome and clunky,” McDonald told Congress. “Most importantly, it is now so antiquated that it no longer serves veterans well as many find it confusing and are frustrated by the endless process and the associated length of time it can take to get an answer.”

How can this be true after former Undersecretary Allison Hickey worked for 5 years to revamp the Veterans Benefits Administration using new database and software systems? I thought the virtual benefits system was supposed to be the silver bullet?


On closer inspection, it appears McDonald is sandbagging the argument directed at the new appeals backlog that was created when Hickey’s team pushed through claims with more errors. They did this to make the public believe the backlog was fixed. Instead, they pushed the backlog into a different part of the claims process.

McDonald claims Congress should revamp the appeals process to allow adjudication in a matter of months instead of years. One thing I can guarantee is that by streamlining the process McDonald really means revoking certain appellate rights to simplify processing rather than merely employing more people and ensuring they follow the law.

What a novel idea, right? Make sure you hire more adjudicators at the Board of Veterans Appeals. Then, be sure they follow the law.

RELATED: A Real VA Fix No One Is Talking About

Hell, the real problem here is not the process of appeals but the enormous burden erroneous claims decisions put on the system.

Without accountability for poor decisions, VA will always have a problem like this. Employees are incentivized to push the claims off their desk as quickly as possible. This means more complicated claims or bigger claims files will get the shaft because each employee has a lower incentive to work harder on a claim that takes more time to adjudicate.


Simple economics. The problem here is VA created internal processing policies that encourage production numbers over accuracy. Employees who fail to process more claims more quickly receive good marks. Employees who take their time to do the claim right receive a penalty for taking more time to get it right the first time.

I have been saying this for years. Most people paying attention have been saying this for years. Now, McDonald is running this scheme of shifting blame from bad policies during the first adjudication while perversely preventing veterans from hiring attorneys to ensure the claim is prosecuted correctly the first time around.


One proposed “fix” is to jam through a “fully developed appeals” process that will limit introduction of new evidence and arguments. It instead guarantees quicker processing time.

This idea fails to address the issue and limits development of an appeal. Like the “fully developed claims” process, this appeals process will revoke a veteran’s right to develop out their claim using independent doctors and building out a claim in a thorough manner.

Again, the problem is not speed. The problem is accuracy. If claims were accurately resolved the first time around, there would be no need to appeal.Perhaps the real fix would be to allow veterans to hire attorneys. The prohibition against this basic American right has certainly not fixed any backlog problem I have seen.

Perhaps the real fix would be to allow veterans to hire attorneys. The prohibition against this basic American right has certainly not fixed any backlog problem I have seen.


Yet, organizations like DAV continue to push their view that veterans should not be allowed to hire an attorney to represent them. This is one of the only administrative system in existence that prohibits an American from hiring representation during the first stage of the claim.

RELATED: DAV Executive Pay Shocker – Veterans Outraged

The problem with a lot of claims is that they are not developed correctly the first time around, and the veteran’s file is then filled with negative claims evidence that was improperly developed. Getting past the negative evidence can be a real problem.

Even if a veteran has the money or desire, the law prohibits them from hiring an attorney. And organizations like Disabled American Veterans think that lack of legal counsel is okay.

Adding another wrinkle is that your communications with a DAV veteran service office is not confidential like an attorney. Heck, they even use email addresses and phone lines. They also have a fiduciary responsibility to VA while helping you seek justice. VA even provides their office space free of charge. Most VSO’s hope to get a job within VA after developing relationships inside the gov for better pay and better benefits.

Seem like a possible conflict of interest?

Get this, as if the above is not bad enough, if they screw up your claim and cause you to lose by giving bad advice or not filing an appeal in time, you cannot sue them for malpractice.

Riddle me this…

Imagine if the same prohibition applied across the board to all Americans. No criminal could hire counsel until they were convicted. So you could only hire an attorney after the firs trial where you made admissions and gave testimony without knowing your rights.

It would be a travesty of justice and Americans would not stand for it.

Now why is it that veterans get less consideration than criminals? That is a question I would like an answer to, Secretary Bob.


Here is what DAV has to say about your right to hire an attorney whenever you want. The quote comes from Dan Clare, head of communications for DAV. His comment is in the comments section in response to me outing DAV leadership for making $300k+ per year:

Veterans should never have to pay to obtain the benefits they’ve already earned. DAV opposes permitting attorneys to charge fees for initial claims representation before the VA, prior to the “Notice of Disagreement” (NOD). At this stage, the VA’s obligation to assist the veteran, coupled with the advocacy of service officers should permit many deserving veterans to receive their benefits without paying a dime. DAV does not apologize for its position. DAV’s National Service Officers, who are themselves disabled veterans, assist with more than 300,000 claims for benefits last year at no cost to those we served.

At no cost? I know I received bad VSO help years ago that cost me over $100,000 in back pay now. So how much was that “free” help really worth?

I know it was worth $100,000 to the VA because they were able to keep the money. So perhaps organizations like DAV who take this position that prohibits the right to hire an attorney are really pro-VA and anti-Veterans Rights?


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  1. Was watching the news.congress was questioning a guys about pharmacy stuff

    He used the same words as the VA employees.I plead the fifth and then tweeted

    I can’t believe these stupid people are running our country.

    Words of the day

    I plead the fifth and you can stump the government and laugh all the way to the bank

    Our country has become a joke.but it’s not funny at all.when are our elected officials going to wakeup

      1. I need a lawyer to help get my back pay after 40 years waiting and would like to find someone to fight the VA disruptive committee that is punishing veterans for disruptive behavior.without requiring any written proof.

        The VA is not the law.but punish any veteran they want and the veterans can’t defend themselves.

        We are being stripped of our civil and constitutional rights. They threatened me with arrest federal charges and banishment from all VA care.If it’s ever reported that I become disruptive.

        I have never been disruptive and they never required proof from the employee.

        Don’t think Ben works in these areas and I can’t seem to find anyone who does.

        I have to live with that threat every day.the employee still works for the VA and Bob McDonald’s office told me twice that the employee who reported longer works for the VA.

        When I told McDonald’s office that she is still working and someone lied to them.they refuse to acknowledge what I advised them.

        Its simple retaliation by the employee.who just don’t like me.small town bullying by a disgruntled employee.


  2. I still insist that ALL veterans should purchase the Veteran’s Benefits Manual and the Federal Veterans Laws Rules and Regulations published by LexisNexis and study up on their individual cases. These manuals are a little expensive but well worth the price. Some of these VSO’s don’t know their heads from a hole in the ground when it comes to the Title 38 laws. It’s best to get a leg up on stuff first before you go talk to a VSO. It’ll save you some headache down the road.

    1. @Dennis. When you go to a DAV person (or any VSO) – even if you are armed to the gills in your knowledge – they don’t want to know what you have to say, and will hold a grudge against you for telling them anything about the law, asking them about their process, or giving them any queues that you might be questioning their abilities on any point. It’s their way or the highway.
      Have you noticed all the radio advertisements about the DAV – how they stand for veterans and how they fight for veterans rights? Have you noticed how DAV partnered with the auto insurer USAA where DAV gets a donation from USAA if you use the code when you buy auto insurance? Have you ever wondered what’s up with Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band with sponsors like the DAV Charitable Service Trust (a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to one, single purpose: empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity) (Really?)who is invited to perform at DAV’s midwinter meeting coming up shortly in D.C…. or the Wounded Warrior Project who spends less than 60 percent on its services to veterans …. the rest, according to Charity Navigator, went to fundraising and administration who pays it’s CEO and executives far more than what DAV pays theirs. Yes, everyone is being DUPED BIG TIME by these organizations (and the VA) – the general public and Sinise too – because of the amounts of money they spend on PR (fundraising) efforts. Tell that to the next veteran that got his/her ass shot off and has to beg for any compensation or medical services, BOB.

  3. take the power from them the V.A. claims, let the vets get a private consultant . close down that part of the V.A.that deals with claims, take that money to help vets pay for private consul, resolve it at the court of veterans appeals. AND JUSTICE FOR ALL AND FOR VETS!!. Then maybe the V.A. can start working on the medical help the Veterans need.

  4. Robert Reynolds has his own ethic problems as well:



    There existed a significant potential for Reynolds to ‘run afoul of

    the criminal conflict of interest laws and/or standards of conduct.'”

    Robert Reynolds – National Commander DAV and
    executive management officer for the
    Veterans Benefits Administration

    When Robert Reynolds was elected National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV)…I questioned some folks at DAV HQ about a potential conflict of interest.

    My thought was that since the VA signs his paychecks, can he really serve the veterans of the DAV?

    Well, the VA Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) took a different approach and looked at whether Reynolds could properly do his job at the VA when he also represented the veterans of the DAV.

    Either way…it’s a conflict of interest…and, it should NOT be allowed.

    You can work for one or the other but not both. What’s the old saying?…No man can serve two masters.

    The VAOIG report is here…it makes for interesting reading…

    Story here…

    Story below:


    VA Official Scolded for Ties to Advocacy Group
    “Washington Watchdogs,” a periodic feature of the Post’s Investigations blog, looks at the findings of the federal government’s official investigators.

    A top Department of Veterans Affairs official has been scolded by the government agency for his involvement with a prominent lobbying organization, a group that helps disabled veterans get benefits that the official is charged with dispersing.

    The official, who is not named in the report, became a member of the organization, the Cold Spring, Ky.-based Disabled American Veterans, before he began working for the Veterans Affairs Department, he said. But audtiors said the situation is “fraught with possibilities for running afoul” of department ethics policies and he will have his activities “closely monitored” and be instructed on what “matters may require his recusal,” according to a government audit obtained by Watchdogs this week through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    The audit, while redacted, references Disabled American Veterans (DAV), which has 1.4 million members, on page five of the report. The organization’s national commander, Robert T. Reynolds, serves as the executive management officer for the Veterans Benefits Administration in Washington, D.C.

    A photo of Reynolds is prominently displayed on the organization’s Web site. Reynolds was elected national commander during the organization’s national convention in August 2006 in New Orleans.

    Article continues below:

    During his introductory speech, Reynolds “proclaimed the DAV the undisputed service organization for veterans and reaffirmed the organization’s mission to build better lives for America’s disabled veterans and their families through the finest advocacy and service programs in existence.”

    Reynolds, 42, a disabled veteran from Arlington, Va., served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from 1984 to 1990. He was injured in a parachute accident while assigned to a U.S. Army Special Forces unit; the injury required two years years of multiple surgeries before he was honorably discharged.

    Larry Scott, founder and editor of VA Watchdog, an online magazine that focuses on veterans issues, said top positions at so-called veterans services organizations are often reserved for government workers such as Reynolds.

    “What we find is that people who are politically motivated, not partisan per se, but politcally motivated, use VSOs as a stepping stone to Washington,” said Scott, referencing politicians like Gordon H. Mansfield, the deputy sectetary of Veterans Affairs and a Bush appointee who served as executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

    A former executive director of DAV, the late Jesse Brown, served as secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Clinton administration.

    Scott, who is also a member of DAV, said he asked members of the national disabled veterans organization about Reynolds’ potential conflict of interest when the government worker was elected president of the disability organization nearly two years ago.

    “They said that, ‘We don’t see him doing anything wrong. He’s very careful,'” Scott said. “This is how things have been done. This how things will be done. This is the way business is done.'”

    Reynolds, reached at his Washington office this morning, said he had yet to read the report as did David W. Gorman, executive director of DAV.

    Investigators did not find specific examples of wrongdoing but Reynolds told auditors he “stood for both VA and DAV and that the missions were one and the same.”

    “He clearly could not distinguish between these two distinct organizations which, at times, have adversarial or opposing viewpoints,” the audit said.


    How can an employee of the VA be the Chief Advocate for Disabled Veterans and there not be a conflict of interest? Who does he serve the veterans or the VA, this practice needs to stop, I don’t care how long it has been going on. If men like this want appointments to Under Secretary positions go political and quit using veterans benefits and cases as their own personal footballs, we are the ones who appear to be paying for it, why else are there claims that have taken 40-60 years to be properly adjudicated.

    Sphere: Related Content
    Posted by Mike (Beetle) Bailey at 6:29 PM

    1. Same thing is happening with patient rep.they are there to protect the employee.trouble shooter.

      They will do nothing for the veterans when it involves VA employees

    2. Interesting read. I would like to see the mental gymnastics the DAV or VA used to justify this BS. I cannot imagine an Office of General Counsel paralegal would even sign off on something this clear.
      Regardless of how things have always been done, I cannot imagine a VSO official ever had a high VA position at the same time trying to do both jobs. I suspect any before them had to resign from having anything to do with the other organization.
      The other laugh I got was reading that the VA has any kind of ethics policies. They must be written in hieroglyphics on old parchment scrolls.

      1. They were probably written in BRAILLE …high up on the building in Nor Cal that is under so much investigation by the IG and Veterans Affairs Committee for HUGE over runs in building costs . Millions spent on art …the Braille is considered art …DUH …Cant be read unless touched ….

  5. The problem is VA plays out all appeals as close to one year as possible, to provide the requested information so the Vet can respond to an appeal or claim. This gives you a few days, if that to respond after you get your information from the VA. They are MASTERS at this game. Appeals time should be lengthened by VA’s resources to respond, but then nothing would ever happen then.

    It’s a highly thought out delay-tactic sequencing rip off, backed up with a century of statistics and anti-vet laws governing the process. THEY KNOW you need A before you can claim B: therefore, you may never see A (like your C-files, heavens forbid) until years later!

    1. Buddhaha like I told other Veterans called your local Newspaper to put your ideals how to improve Veterans Healthcare. …..Semper Fi.

  6. This guy and others are trained by the VA.They don’t know the rules and know veterans will be denighed their initial claim.just like social security.

    Lawyers always ask if you have been denighed benefits and will tell you to file and after you get turned now.then call us.

    If veterans want to use a lawyer.It should be their right. Many lawyers will say the same thing about the VA and will file for you after your denial.

    They don’t charge if they loose your case. In won using a lawyer and paid him 25 percent.

    Problem they only paid from the date the lawyer filed. They have veterans stumped.(VA) by giving excuse after excuse.the veterans don’t know what the VA needs.

    The veterans think the VA will obtain all evidence there is out there.not knowing they really don’t assist the veterans and don’t tell the veterans what evidence they used or need or tell the veterans their records were destroyed.when they know different.

    Tell the veterans.well find someone that was there when you got hurt and have them write us a the letters no good it was not notorized ect.excuse after excuse.

    After I was shot the army transferred me many times and I never knew or remembered their names.where they lived.they rely on this and hope you can’t find those who were there.

    I feel in my heart.some employees would have wished that many of us.would have been we won’t be bothering filing claims.

    After all veterans with traumatic brain injury are just miliginges and are just trying to get over.or drug seekes.

    They would rather let veterans suffer.even when they have evidence they look the other way.

    Sorry.but after forty years of lies.has me pissed off.after forty years.they gave way more to the two ladies in moving expenses.than a veteran shot in the head.

    There should be a rule.If a veteran puts in for a certain disability and the VA employee denied their claim and later the veteran wins his case. The eye for an eye law takes effect and that employee is made to live with the same disorder the veteran had to live with.

    Lose a leg.they lose a leg. Ect

    They just may change their tune!

  7. McDonald probably understands the speed of the leader is the speed of the pack. He points fingers, so everyone under him also points fingers. He lies to Congress, and so everyone under him lies to Congress. He is ineffective, so everyone under him is also ineffective. The only good news is that we only have another 350 something days of him being there. I get nauseous when ever I go to the VA and see his silly looking mug.

    1. That’s providing the incoming President even gets his or hers appointees approved by Congress, and then there’s that random chance that McDonald may even be asked to remain on as VA Secretary.
      So, it’s unfortunately not so cut and dry X number of days left of his ineffective leadership.
      Then there’s the even more random chance that he either resigns so he can go play “The Count” on Disney’s Sesame Street On Ice for a tour or is terminated. The latter is the most improbably scenario because President Obama has repeatedly stated, “I have FULL FAITH in the VA and VA Sec. McDonald to DO THE RIGHT THING…”
      POTUS and DOJ have not exactly been helpful last 7.2 years under Obama and our President has been visiting Muslim Mosques (another one just today), but you do not hear of this President visiting a random VA do you? I think Obama believes all is okay with the VA. Sick times we find ourselves in.

  8. AO, Something very similar happened to me with the DAV. The only difference in my and your cases were they had me sign a POA and when I called them 4 weeks later, I was told they had no rep for that office, didn’t have anyone else they could refer me to, and didn’t know when they would.

    I called the national headquarters of the DAV and when I asked them what were they going to do for me in my NOD. They said, it takes months to get turned down for your NOD and by then they would be able to represent me in front of the board when I lost. Huh?

    By this time the secretary filed the NOD. I told her, I wished to withdraw the DAV as my rep, but not the NOD and I would find someone else to handle the NOD.They sent a letter to the RO stating I withdrew their representation and my NOD as I no longer wished to pursue it.

    The first thing I did was write the RO telling them I never wished to withdraw the NOD. I then delved into every veterans slef-help website, read the CFR, formulated my arguments, and handled all the follow-up. I was originally rated at 50% for PTSD and I was awarded 100% on the appeal.

    I admit, I was consumed and it helped me as I took it on as a job. I sure don’t recommend that approach for everyone.

    Oh, I also received my money back from my dues after writing them a long nasty letter, outlining their inaction and incompetence.

    I have a friend, who is also a Vietnam vet. He has heart disease so badly, he isn’t allowed any physical activity beyond walking. He hasn’t worked since he was 58 years old and is rated a total of 70% (PTSD and Ischemic heart disease). He is represented by the DAV. I told him he should be 100% and it should be a slam dunk for what he told me. The DAV rep said that he doesn’t think it is a good time to file a claim. When the hell is a good time? Yep, I don’t trust em, as far as I could throw them.

  9. Most important is posting complaints,we as veterans know it’s like a needle in a haystack..yes.some.dab and some back we ask questions.,possible be our ad locates yet delays .we have been lied lied,deceived and now we are the cows tail.I believe as long as we keep posting some poo f our 60.00.dollars posting want veterans to give up and die.what happen to honor,no one left behind,liberty,principals,and.old glory for which it stands.we fought for this country,died.for this country,she’d tears .respect ,honor and yet secretary macdonald have forgotten what actually veterans stand for.

  10. Do I smell Troll? What phase is the moon in? Could be wrong but faint hint…this week’s topics should be like catnip for VA Trolls.

  11. you should understand no one cares,they will screw you in a heartbeat and laugh about it. Its all bullshit and you will be dead before they settle with you. I understand that if you do go into the service you need to make sure you have life insurance and a health insurance because if you have problems when you ets you are on your own.
    all the congressmen and senators are lying bastards and don’t give a crap about what you were told when you when you went in until the body count is getting too high and they need more of you to kill
    VA can suck it

    1. Norman Rosecrans are you (please reply back ) are you going to dish out your money put your thoughts about Veterans Affairs in your local newspaper

  12. Just not chatting about Robert McDonald Secretary of Veterans Affairs dish out your money and put it your local newspaper. …..SEMPER FI

  13. The problem with a veterans claim for benefits has been and always will be the initial steps taken by the veteran, often with the “free help” of the VSOs.
    Depending on those initial steps will mean the difference between a successful claim, or appeals for years.

    This is solely due to this process being inconsistently applied across the VA, across VSOs, and inconsistent information provided to the veteran.

    If there were standard consultations where every veteran was told the same thing, what to apply for and how, what to expect in the process, when their exam is, what the exam should entail, what to point out to the examiner, MAKING SURE THE EXAMINER IS COMPETENT AND QUALIFIED, etc., there would be a LOT less appeals, and a LOT less need to hire an attorney.

    For example, a veteran needs to apply for service connection of a missing hand. There should be no difference between VSOs or VAs in what that veteran is told to do or expect in filing a claim, but every veteran is told different things by VSOs, if they are told at all, and every veteran experiences a different quality for their exam.

    A VSO should have a standard intake form that reviews a veterans entire medical history, then the veteran is told exactly what conditions should be claimed. Instead, most veterans are told to fill out some form, they are not told they should list every medical condition they have, and various conditions may be added piece-meal throughout the process resulting in never ending appeals or outright denials.
    When examined, C&P examiner’s are usually incompetent quacks that do not follow guidelines in what documentation that should be filled out. Hell they often fail to even review a veterans medical record prior to the exam which would also make the claims process easier. A C&P examiner should have to sign under penalty of perjury that they reviewed a veterans entire medical record.
    If VSOs were doing such a bang-up job at helping veterans, there would be little or no appeals because a veterans claim would be approved properly the first time. Of they want to argue against a veteran hiring an attorney, they should do a better job of insuring the claim is filed right the first time. As it is, most are too lazy to even tell the veteran what is needed or what to expect to insure the claim is complete.

    And given the DAV has gone down hill so badly in the last 15 years, they are the last group that should be bitching about whether a veteran exercises rights that others enjoy. If they did their jobs properly from the start, there would be less appeals. There certainly would be less veterans fighting to get care, and likely fewer veterans committing suicide over the lack of care.

  14. “Secretary Bob McDonald says the appeals process is “failing veterans” because the tools and procedures are too “cumbersome and clunky.”

    No, the issue is far more basic: VA ignores its own policy, procedures, pronouncements & record, and stonewalls veterans (literally for years) who try to set the record straight, and right a VA wrong.

    1. Yes, if you are a veteran that can read and understand VA policies and regulations, you will find that most VA employees, to include providers and administrators, do not read their own policies. The disruptive behavior policy expired 31 Dec2015 and I have not seen a new one or extension of the old one. So why are veterans still being added to this list and remaining on the list?

      I have never been allowed to attend the committee meeting. I just see on my medical records where it has been extended. I have not been back to the VA in six months. I want the flag removed and my records protected by law. No one will listen. Try calling the VA personnel that wrote the policies. They will not respond.

      I believe that part of the problem with ALL VA matters is that personnel are not reading the policies or they are not given the time to read and understand the regulations.

      It is strange that the VA has a very limited time to appeal, yet they take years!!!

      Where are our congressmen who are well aware of our issues? They too cannot get the truth out of the VA.

      1. You are being so kind and generous in assuming they can even fluently READ in the first place. They have more ‘low rent employees’ that cannot even properly TYPE at the intake or rescheduling because their FAKE NAILS ARE 3 INCHES LONG WITH GLITTER AND HELLO KITTY STICKERS…but they make great $$$ being all incompetent and such.

        I do not think a Medical Assistant should EVER be doing Disability Rating Evaluations….ever! This is a major facet of the problem because the VA initially makes it like a fast food drive in type of non-thoroughness that comes back to bite you like an alien mutant infestation of crab lice 10,000 strong and growing…:)

    2. I think Secretary McDonald must have *misspoke* and SHOULD have stated that it’s THE VA that’s “cumbersome and clunky”.
      It’s like the washing machine you avoid using because it’s guaranteed to be off-balanced on “spin cycle”, and the VA and it’s “Spin Cycle Machine” is working very hard to MAXIMIZE VA Employee’s Benefits and make their job easier….while just like the screwed-up, still soaked with sudsy detergent on that off-balanced load; The VA’s a LOAD of OFF-BALANCED and if that means ‘cumbersome and clunky’, it is what it is.

      Unless…The VA has ‘redefined’ what ‘cumbersome and clunky’ really means?! It might mean higher performance bonuses 🙂

  15. I became a life member in the DAV, cost $180. I though the DAV would represent me and my disability claim. But, I could never get my/their point of contact to return my phone calls.

    My DAV-point of contact was always in training, every Wednesday and could not be disturbed, and he never worked on Friday.

    When I disagreed with the VA’s, bait and switch, PTSD evaluation; where the evaluator said, “The VA gave me 90 minutes to evaluate you; and if you don’t answer the questions [he was reading from his computer screen] faster, I will report to the Compensation and Pension office that you were uncooperative and VA police officers will escort you to your vehicle.”

    Base on that failed PTSD exam I chose to file a notice of disagreement (NOD). No one from the Indianapolis DAV would return my phone calls. Then I wrote the DAV and requested a refund of my $180. It took 6 weeks and the DAV refunded my money. The day their check arrived; at 8:30 p.m., their Indianapolis DAV representative had been ordered to phone me and offer help filing a NOD. By then I had found an independent Veteran Service Rep.

    Indiana has one representative that serves on the Veterans Administration Committee. Speaking with her office I was told, “They just don’t know how to clean-up the VA.”

    The quickest and easiest solution to improve Veteran physical and mental health is to allow every Veteran choice. Allow Veterans to seek care from the Private Sector or the VA. Veterans are committing sucide at nearly the rate of 1 per-hour. The DAV and the VA have room for improvement.

    1. Agent Orange. Call Bill Doyle in Rep Lee Zeldin’s office. Tell him Robin Mitchell said to call him. 631-289-1394. Make sure to tell him you have more wrong doings by Indianapolis Michael Stephens VBA. Especially anything PTSD/TBI.

      Zeldin is trying to get Robert McDonald AKA #BaghdadBobMcDonald to answer him back since July on why he is refusing aid and attendance to a 100% service connected veteran with TBI. My husband now has four 21-2680’s. BaghdadBob is refusing to answer him. I know Bob has been addressed personally about my husband’s claim and said he will not answer. To a congressman on the veterans affairs committee! I would also call both the House veterans affairs committee and Jeff Miller’s D.C office and tell them you also have Indianapolis VBA Michael Stephens Director not doing his job. The same VBA that Bob McDonald is refusing to answer why they ignored the law. Zeldin’s letter has specific violations of law, Fast Letters, Training Letters, Title 38, CUE’s in it Bob refuses to address.

      Zeldin’s office caught Michael Stephens and his number two hiding evidence from the VACO in D.C. Stephens was/is keeping my husbands file on his desk…he admitted to that…but neglecting to upload the two 21-2680’s that they ignored to deny SMC T

      . I even have one 21-2680 they gave me back by mistake that has written in red marker by Justin one of Stephens lackey’s “Directors special interest” and stapled to both the fax cover sheet from the Indy VHA and the 21-2680. That was well into the second hearing. It should have been uploaded long before that. Like when they made their first “honest” decision. But, by not uploading it they thought they could hide it from VACO. But, Bill was onto them by then.

      Stephens also tried to sic his goons on us. Outside the hearing door were the top VBA staff including assistant director, a guy named Wasson playing VSO for the day even though he is a VBA employee, and on the right four cops. My husband, two witnesses and I had to walk past that gauntlet. One witness had the foresight to go out in the hall and listen to them talk about my husband’s file and how to beat his claim. As we walked out a dyke cop put her hand on her hip near her gun and stepped closer to my husband. Both my witness and I got in between. My husband was a Ranger and Green Beret for 21 years. He is one of the few Americans to graduate the ROK Ranger school and taught hand to gland at RIP. Even gimped that idiot was picking on the wrong vet not bothering anyone trying to get her jollies off. The cameras conveniently weren’t working that day. The day after I got the we didn’t do anything wrong but I will train my employees better letter I got a I am a threat letter. These morons are so transparent they would only make successful criminals within the VA system.

      The DRO Katrina Bone a GS-14 forgot to turn the recorder on for the first two out of four hours. My husbands social worker had to remind her it was not an adversarial hearing. The transcript shows she admitted she can’t read a 2-1 as Stephens admitted he can’t either. She refused to follow Fast Letter 09-52 and ask SOCOM for his record. Despite the fact that a cover page from SOCOM is in his file sent to the OEF/OIF section marked not OEF/OIF veteran and shiite canned the evidence they sent in 2011. A CUE. At the second hearing she insisted Appeals Coach Sue Burke sit in and despite being pointed out multiple CUE’s neither has done a thing to this day.

      DRO Bone insists on the record she is the final authority. Not Training Letter 09-01 that tells them to consider SMC’s for service connected TBI vets, TL’s, Fast Letter’s, multiple doctors filling out 21-2680’s etc. She even put in the decision she didn’t approve aid and attendance in part because he has family that can do it. So, I guess court rulings don’t matter either.

      I finally called SOCOM myself. They tried to hide the letter back but I got it anyway. The VA has a lot of employees willing to help on the sly. My husband has set up spy networks before. He can’t tell you what he had for dinner last night, can’t leave the house alone, but if he learned it at the JFK school, Ranger, Q course, Farm, etc he knows it. TBI is a funny thing. Comes in handy in fighting corrupt organizations like drug dealers and the VA. He claims they could be interchangeable in morals.

      The best part is Stephens called out VA CID and Homeland Insecurity on us. I didn’t even know the VA has it’s own CID. I told them to leave and not come back without a warrant and took their pictures and put them up on the net before they were even out of the driveway. You can see them at FB page Desk Commandos of the VA.

      I got a call a short while later telling me I couldn’t put field agents pictures up on the net. I said something not too nice and hung up. I have many copies of the pics and I like them up there. The owner of the FB page The VA is Lying had surveillance on him. Indiana too.

      This is long but know you are up against a corrupt, self serving, evil machine. They need Holy water sprayed liberally around the place.

      My husband would desperately like to go home to Alaska. I brought him to Indiana to the Poly Trauma Rehab Center when Alaska refused him treatment and kept losing claims. He got great care in that clinic. Now, I am in Zeldin’s district so it is his to take on. I cannot take him up there by myself.

      But, this year is election year and all of congress is up for election. There are 22 million veterans. If we let them ALL know they have until November to make a visible difference or they are out #BaghdadBobMcDonald will either figure out how to do his job or resign in disgrace like Hickey.

      And, ALL congressmen and senators on the veterans affairs committee asked to be there. They work for ALL veterans, not just in their district. If they tell you to call your own tell them your representative needs THEIR help as a VA Committee member. Or, they can be replaced too.

      Trump can help veteran Todd Landen in two weeks. BaghdadBobMcDonald can’t find a pen to write a congressman back in seven months.

      It is past time for congress to put up or hit the road.

      Oh, and my husband is a lifetime meber of the DAV. They are useless.

  16. To ALL on here, tad off topic but directly related to exactly what McDonald and The VA are up to…and I sent this to ben via email as well and just decided to post here for all to read and follow the article Ben had not long ago here about the VA Dr. that spent years at VA developing Hep C Drug. Then the VA steals from Choice Act $2.6 BILLION to give to Vets and now the VA is saying they cannot “AFFORD” to give it everyone, essentially acting as a verbal “death panel threat”…to ASK FOR YET MORE $$$$$…told you so…on CBS This Morning….today…quoting my email I wrote and sent Ben:

    “[This morning on “CBS This Morning”, an in-depth story about the VA and that Dr.
    Shinazi that developed that Hep C cure drug while only spending very little % of
    time actually attending to Vets but rather Big Pharma and regardless of the VA
    receiving $2.6 BILLION STOLEN FORM CHOICE ACT for this drug FOR Vets, the story
    is bring to light that the VA is NOW stating they CANNOT administer this Hep C
    Drug to ALL Vets that need it because…..the cannot AFFORD it but YET the story
    further enlightened that the VA gets a 50% DISCOUNT on said drug, and same drug
    in third world and other countries only costs a FRACTION of $ of what the VA is
    getting charged…Rep Miller and Committee is supposed to hold a hearing (today
    or already occurred?) on the ethics and possible financial clash of interest and
    his priorities, since Dr. Shinazi reportedly only spent less than 8% of his time
    at the VA actually working WITH and FOR Vets…but rather Big Pharma…do a
    Google search or go to CBS This Morning website for full story, sorry do not
    have link handy.

    I thought you should be alerted if you did not already know that even though the
    VA received and stole all that money for Choice Act, the VA STILL is not going
    to be giving it to everyone that needs it…fraud is thick in the air here.]”

    So does anyone see the pattern? McDonald talking about revamping Appeals Process, (which will inevitably mean asking for more $$$), and now the VA is saying $2.6 fucking BILLION DOLLAR$ stolen from Choice Act, is not enough which means a double convincing case to the limp0 d!cks in Congress Committee, whom the story said Rep Miller and Committee will be having this Dr. SHITnazi before them with yet another horse and pony show…and mark my words, the VA will be given more$$$ and it’s only first few days of Feb/2016.

    The groundwork is being laid thick here that will result in more $$$ and in the end, as always, NOTHING will get properly done.

    Sorry, no link to CBS This Morning, but was this morning 02/03/2016.

    1. Here’s the link: remove the quotations


    2. I read that article and thought it was nice that Miller was finally stepping up and was going to ask questions.
      Unfortunately, the article also said Shinazi declined to comment, had retired and declined to appear before the committee.

      1. Yes. That’s why I sent the link and info to Benjamin via email because this is yet another huge scandal that’s brewed ripe for extraction from the VA’s ‘groove tube’.
        What’s with this outright obstinate attitude these days thinking it’s just okay to refuse to answer inquiries and to extreme of outright refusing to appear?

        This just shows how they think they are above and beyond the law’s reach.
        Only thugs have this mindset.

  17. This is an accurate article on the state of the VBA claims system. I just finished my claim, and without constant monitoring, and a substantial investment in time to educate myself on how to win my claim, I would be facing years of appeals to get benefits authorized by law for generations.

    My biggest contention is with the C&P examinations. I was subject to 2 exams, one when they gave me my initial rating, and the second, after I filed for reconsideration, both conducted by PA’s. Both times, the medical professional omitted facts about my condition that they said they had reviewed in my records that failed to provide an accurate representation of my current and past condition, so that I could receive a valid rating. I was lowballed, and the rating official at the Regional Office did the same thing. The VA’s rater based his/her assessment on the first exam, and I ended up with a 10% disability rating because of it.

    The VARO failed to do his/her job by looking into my medical records, and using all of the facts contained therein to make his/her rating decision. It was a lazy, hurry up and get out the work deal, and I was the victim of their failure to do their job. There is no punishment, no corrective measure, nothing in place to prevent this from happening.

    I am currently working on a complaint that I intend to file with the VAOIG for the bogus medical examinations requested by the VARO. I have a right to a competent medical examination from the VA, when the VA directs the C&P exam to be conducted, and the law expects the medical professionals who conduct the examinations to be competent. The examinations result in the creation of a medical record. When the examiners omit facts that they certify that they have reviewed in the medical record, and they fail to account for those facts in the medical record, it is an omission. This is the same as malpractice. It is also falsification of medical records, and is a federal crime. The VAOIG is responsible for policing federal laws over VA Employee’s.

    I am not going to profit one penny from this action. I am doing it because I see this same problem in many different claims. These medical examiners have no risk involved in doing their jobs. If they get behind, they push their work through without any research behind it, and it injures a Vet who is in need of help. The resulting denial of benefits, or the award of a reduced award (which is what happened to me) is the direct result of their failure to provide a competent medical examination. According to Federal Law, this is a crime. The penalties involved for such false statements are a maximum term of 5 years imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine.

    1. Good on you for doing this, and goes to my point above. I believe, and I think Ben or others can say for sure, but I believe veterans can demand C&P exams by those qualified in the specialty you are claiming. A PA might be qualified for a general exam, but if you are claiming a spinal injury, it should be performed by someone in that specialty. A person claiming TBI should be examined by someone qualified for that. I had a re-examination in the past based on requesting one by a specialist, but I don’t know if that is still the case.

  18. Benjamin-

    Agree entirely with all you have stated. The website hadit DOT com educated me on this codependent relationship with all the VSO’s and The VA, and why I did not use any of such ‘VSO’s’, instead, I spent A LOT of time educating myself on the particular regulations in Title 38 pertaining to my claim and did it entirely, and successfully myself as a now 100% P&T Service Connected Disabled Veteran.
    I am pretty confident in the stating that I believe had I used said VSO’s some 8 years ago, I more than likely not only had my stacks of documentation still sitting on some VSO desk, but it would have also resulted in a half-baked claim and I personally do not think I would have wanted to endure any more stress and anxiety from that endless appeals process.
    What Benjamin has stated today is what I was proposing the “REAL REASON” behind McDonald wanting to total revamp the VA Appeals and streamline it when that blog article mentioned it. It was and is my theory that this is meant to PREVENT multiple appeals AND PREVENT or ELIMINATE Independent Medical Opinions…wait for it.

    We all knew on here that the VA was simply sliding and pushing plethora of Veteran’s Initial Claims through, deny, and move into the Black Hole Appeals Process.
    So by “VA’s Definition”, they HAVE whittled down the ‘Claims Backlog’ and their very statistics by design, do NOT include the minions stuck in the Appeals Process/BVA for years, even decades.

    So where does the VA slide these stacks in the Appeals Black Hole next to make it appear they are actually doing the right thing? A shredder? Making sure your assigned medical team prescribes questionable prescriptions that are counter indicative, then kill said Veterans? That’s the level of ridiculousness we are being served like a warm steaming pile of dog poop on a plate with a cherry on top.

    McDonald has been the Claude Reins/Invisible Man VA Secretary that makes his presence known more often than not when it just is not enough to send Sloan to Congress to beg for more cash.

    Revamping the Appeals Process will certainly be to the benefit to the VA, not Veterans. You can bet on that.

    Also, correct me if wrong, but I do not think a person can hire a Social Security/SSDI/SSI Attorney with initial claim and must wait until you have been denied initially or even wait until denied three times and then sent off to wait in a stack for years to be assigned to a Social Security Administrative Judge and if that judge still denies the SSA Claim, you cannot contest that.
    Also, what really differentiates the VA from Social Security is with SSDI/SSI you are either 100% Disabled or NOT AT ALL–nothing in increments as the VA operates.
    I personally found my SSDI Claim, which I did at same time as my VA Claim, to be MUCH harder to win one’s case and even more complicated and obscured because the VA and SSA **DO NOT** communicate with each other, placing the entire burden on the sick Veteran to supply info to both VA and SSA…both government agencies, yet do not normally communicate. Unless this has changed in last 8 years, I was told this by both my VA Regional Office and some higher Admin. SSA that I inquired about this ridiculously obscured process.

    1. I got my disability in 2011. I was in a VA hospital for PTSD and panic attacks. My psychiatrist at the VA was awesome. He did have a social worker see me and pretty much did all of the follow up with social security. I have submitted for social security but was hospitalized before I could do much more. The VA staff I was working with helped as I was in no shape to help myself. Social security called me in the hospital and told me my request was approved and would start as I got out of the Hospital. I was to
      D everything was rushed due to a program with SSA to assist veterans. I did nothing myself so I have little knowledge as to how it works, but the VA did communicate with the VA hospital staff. I was only getting 70 percent compensatin from the VA. So maybe things have changed or I was one lucky vet.

  19. Go to

    There are approximately
    216 + comments. Detailing how DAV is disliked by veterans. Some vets even seek help, and never receive it. Others tell of disappointing results on claims adjudications. Many even tell of illegal activities DAV has done to, not only veterans, the taxpayers!
    Other veterans tell how DAV service officers are “…paid employees!”
    Other veterans tell how DAV takes away their buildings and land.

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