Where The Hell Is VA Benefits Head Allison Hickey?

Allison HickeyBenjamin KrauseMany of my readers write to Allison Hickey on the regular basis by email now that word has gotten out that she replies. So where the hell is Allison Hickey these days?

The quick answer is that she has been rabidly answering emails from veterans and providing behind the scenes assistance to speed up certain cases. Many veterans from my own website have had a great deal of success in their claims following emails to her.

Earlier this week, Allison Hickey wrote to her employees in VA Benefits Administration about what it is she has been doing over these past months. Many of my readers claim their emails to her and her resultant efforts have resulted in justice. I wish she was doing this three years ago but welcome the added push for justice.

After you read her email, answer the following questions. Is this move enough or is it too little too late? Or, is this just what the doctor ordered?

Here is her letter to VA employees posted on our Facebook group Disabled Veterans – Chapter 31 Voc Rehab:


VBA Colleagues and Partners,

There is no particular reason for this email today – no anniversary event, no service birthday, no major milestone – just a few thoughts to share. I have missed sending you more frequent notes. Some of you might have wondered where I went the last 2 months or so – except for Marines in our midst who clearly saw their Birthday message and responded in force to me!

Frankly, I have been talking to our Veterans – many who have sent me emails. I can’t tell you how many emails I now get and personally write everyday – but you are helping me answer their questions by your actions across the nation. Many of you are completing claims for them that have been waiting some time now. Thematically, their questions are about the status of their appeals, their dependency claims and even their health care concerns. I probably do well over 3-4 hours of emails with Veterans every day (many at night and on the weekends as well.) In fact, there are so many email communications going back and forth that some have asked how we sustain this level of engagement with our Veterans. Then I remember…

That is why we are here – to take care of them – to answer their questions and concerns. It is our whole reason for being. It’s the reason we have a job, a passion to serve, a sense of purpose, a roof over our heads and food on the table – we have a job to do and they are the ones we do it for every day.

Each of us has the blessing to do this humble mission. Without the needs and questions from our Veterans, their families and Survivors – we have no reason for our existence. They define our very reason for being. The extra patience, kindness and transparency we can show – no matter how many times they land in our email box or phone or claims receipts – make all the difference in their experience and thoughts about us and the honorable mission we serve.

Every interaction you have with a Veteran, their family or Survivor is an opportunity for us to show our kindness, appreciation, and understanding that they are the reason we do this mission. I ask you humbly, please do it well. If you are meeting with a Veteran, talking on the phone, or emailing – be at your kindest and most compassionate self. Understand that sometimes they are frustrated (and often rightly so) and they need to be heard. I was reminded this week that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason – we are designed to hear more than we say. Let’s hear them and respond in healing ways.

Thank you for all the times you are so very kind, compassionate and professional with our Veterans, their families and Survivors.

Proud to be your USB

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  1. Ive been retired for a year and keep asking for help and assistance for my family bc of the things that happened between me and my spouse they found me 100% as of march 1 2015 and knpw me and my caregiver some my family we cant afford two places at once but they rather keep telling me ill get the back pay later on in November but by then we probably will be homeless i havent gotten no help or anything since active. Duty but bc im not active duty nomore they dont even care about anything no matter what you tell them they look at you and tell you what they think only the can look at my records my doctor passed a year ago and i got alot of documents i couldn’t get seen alot of times bc i have no doctor still to this i just dont no what to do anymore you trust the ppl you worked for a listen to 12.5 years 4 marines 8 army 4 deployments and the thanks you get for ur selfless services makes you wish you did something else besides this

  2. I have been waiting for the VA to add my wife to my benefits since October 2014 and it is now 22 July 2015. I have sent “official” copies of the state issued marriage certificate. So where is the new VA? Nothing has changed, only people switched in and out of positions. The VA still doesn’t talk to Vets, they only talk to the management and the service organizations.

    In the system since 1969.

  3. Allison Hickey is an amazing asset to the Vets that she goes the extra mile for. We sent her an email on my husbands behalf, a four year old claim. Allison’s response was swift, a holiday weekend response and a resolution to the claim and money in the bank within days of initial communication. If all employees gave the care and dedication she gives this country as a whole would be better for it.

  4. i wrote/emailed Sec McDonald & Ms Hickey a couple of weeks ago. what’s the advice here on a time frame of a response? do you advise writing a short follow up if no response received after say a few weeks? 3-4 weeks? ?? what is the protocol/advice here?

    1. All we get is rhetoric. The only thing different is they answer with BS a little bit quicker now with the news media in the forefront.

    2. As more and more Veterans are hearing of successes the time period for response is bound to become longer as Allison Hickey is personally responding. There is also the possibility that, with thousands of Veterans writing to her, that some correspondence could fall through the cracks. Just yo play it safe…write again and double check your spelling of her email address. I learned that one the hard way! The first time I wrote to her I left out an “L” and 2 weeks went by with no response. As soon as I resent with the proper dpelling I had a response inside 2 hours.

      1. i emailed a second time to follow up from first email a little over a month ago. i never heard back. but i did include some supportive pdf’s. maybe they read them maybe they delete them. beats me. after seeing your alls replies here i emailed again. mainly due to my lawyer called and mentioned RO still, after months, is telling they have no record of appeal. although we both have delivery confirmation of it. go figure. but other veterans boards return this is more common than not. so we resent it, again, with delivery receipt.

        we’ll see if McDonald and/or Hinkey reply to the concerns i raised.


    1. Iris:
      I agree with your statement. I also emailed Allison. It is my opinion that she spoke to the RO but as before, I am not optimistic that I will receive compensation. I give up on the VA so I am going to continue to send out resumes and pray that I get a job soon. The struggle is real!

    2. I think this is just another short term so to speak, ATA Boy technique used to present to the veterans and public alike that the atmosphere of the VA is changing. Just Smoke and Mirrors by upper echelon. Won’t last long. Heads have to roll including Allisons…………….

    3. You can’t really be surprised that they can’t remember what they said. They were hired and put in front of the public because of that one attribute. They could talk fast and make you think that they were going to take care of all the VA problems. Obama metrics How many used cars without engines can I sell today???

  6. It’s sad to see the majority of us vets feel this way. I wish I could say it’s going to get better. Hard to believe it will. I’m just not sure.

  7. I am shocked. I read Ben’s columns whenever they are sent and appreciate the passion he brings to holding the VA accountable.

    This morning, after reading his column, I decided to see whether I would get a response if I emailed her. I previously emailed Secretary McDonald and have yet to get a response, so I wasn’t hopeful I would see anything.

    I sent an email to her about my service connected total knee replacement surgery, C&P and my insurance being improperly billed for this surgery at 11:26 am and at 11:42 am she responded with what she had done.

    I previously tried emailing Ben about the insurance deal and never got a response.

    I don’t know her history, but if she is willing to immediately email a veteran on a Saturday morning, I will certainly support her until I experience differently.

    1. Even if you do get a response it will either be a lie or one that they are working on a fix for that problem…

      1. Actually David, after sending the above email, I got a call from the Denver VARO director Monday morning. She said they would provide a partial decision on my claim by Wednesday, which they did, and I received it in the mail Thursday. The difference in disability was paid the same day. The decision on the other part of the claim is delayed until my C&P on Dec 17th. I also got a call from the local VA on the improper insurance billing that same Monday, and that has since been resolved. Emailing her lit a fire under someone. I suggested another veteran email her. This vet has been waiting 21 months for the VA to rule on her NOD, so she emailed her. She too got a response fairly quickly. She too got an incorrect decision the the rating official shortly after. I suggested she email Hickey again and explain what the rating official did. Within a couple days she was notified she now has a hearing before the rating official with her attorney.
        Emailing Hickey has helped, but she will burn out. This kind of response needs to happen from officials throughout the VA.

  8. How do I email her? I retired this past June. I had ALL my VA medical exams completed in April while still on active duty. My case was outsourced from Winston-Salem to Atlanta for completion due to backlogs…there has been NO movement. Everytime I call its the same answer. I cannot understand why my VA rating has not been completed. It has been 6 months When I do call I ask is there anything I need to do? Do you need more information from me?
    The answer is always no.
    I am an outpatient at the James Haley Polytrauma/Blast/TBI clinic and have a “Schedule A” letter for government employment. I have everything complete and all information and documentation that the VA needs they have…all exams completed at the VA clinics.


  9. Well, whatever the reason that VA folks are beginning to take action, it is what it is and we should do our best to support those officials that are making things happen. So long as things continue to improve, then, bottom-line, that’s what matters. Continue to press for accountability and fire those who fall short.

  10. Unfortunately Benjamin, I know that Allison Hickey has been lobbying very hard in Washington, DC trying to strip many, if not ALL of the presumptive conditions for Gulf War Illness. From her history dealing with this issue, she has seriously tried to push the agenda that GWI is a psychosomatic problem & not a actual physical condition. Me personally, I do NOT trust her.

    1. I’m right there with anyone who says they don’t trust her. If her job was that bad and she new things were wrong, she should have done what she could have or left her position. Instead, she chose to sit around and go with the flow to get that paycheck. If the job clashed with her morals or work ethics, she would have resigned. Now all of a sudden she’s a champion for vets. I tried to do things the right way and tried to ask her for help like I explained in a previous post. I got zero response. Not even an email. So from now on I plan on showing certain parts of the VA and VR & E no mercy. As far as I’m concerned, I’m at war with this incompetent organization and I absolutely will not stop until I win or die trying.

      Great efforts, clearing up backlogs, fighting for vets, working the weekend, oh my!!!! Read between the lines, that’s code for ‘I didn’t give a shit six or eight months ago but now I have a new boss and I may get fired. I better make it look like I really care about vets and do my job.” Like I said, after all the stress they have put me and my family through, and continue to do so, I have no respect for Miss Hickey, Jack Kammerer’s office, and the lower level VR & E offices. What do you think of those apples!!!! Mike

      1. Exactly Michael. For many many many years she has been working very hard against veterans. For her EVERYTHING was a mental issue & now she is a veterans champion? Nope, I do not buy it. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothes. For her it is “Oh you have prostate cancer? That is a mental issue caused by PTSD” “You are suffering from Gulf War Illness or Agent Orange? That is related to TBI”.

        She has been well known for pushing everything over to being a “Mental condition” I would perform my happy dance if I see her removed & fired from the VA.

    2. The only thing you can trust is your endurance to show “WRONG PERSON FOR THE JOB!” If one writes like a 7th grade English Comp Paper and you basically give the topic matter in those first paragraphs. Oh I wrote, hey I am one damn naive to believe she would respond in a manner to understand these words. “MY PHYSICAL PAIN CAUSES GREAT MENTAL ANGUISH.” What is the pain? Just lifting a guy who was damn tall and I had friends who were 6’5″. He was not light and two people going down three flights of stairs. It’s in my active duty record, bad thing when medical and I hated to miss one day. ( I loved working in any area except two places for a reason). Now, she has some woman call me I just got home, it was a moment of stressors of what I already knew I would probably end up not being able to use my legs. MEDICAL. Let me say “lady, it’s nice you made sure to make my issues worse but the thing I see you lack is ANY MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE TO SAY THE LEAST” I am not impressed, HM2 and gee, this guy like I kind of known for years? Marine and I cannot say what he did? Your hint. Also his friends kind of scary? Me? I never understood the “art of flirting nor dating” because MIA FAMILIA CAME FIRST! You know, if she had these behaviours in a “young service such as the Air Force,” my cards trump hers big time, but medical and if she had to be triaged? Man, that is not the people you wish to step on!!! NAVY-COOKS, HOSPITAL CORPSMAN OR YOUR PAY CLERK. ( we called it the three C’s to survive the Navy which just remember these are the ones that matter the most!
      I do realise that people need so much help, but just because I didn’t jump when these doctors I knew ( and avoided because I would limp) my life became busy and sciatic pain is a bad day or a can make it a no problem day. “I HAVE NO SHAME TO MY GAME, CAN SHE SAY THE SAME?” THE ANSWER? A RESOUNDING NO THAN JUST MORE THAN ME! LET HER GO AND IS SHE DOUBLE DIPPING LIKE RETIREMENT PAY AND VA PAY? Gee George Washington? He RESIGNED HIS COMMISSION THAT IS HONOR THAT ALWAYS SHOULD BE DONE, AFTER ALL, IF THE DISABLED CANNOT DO IT THEN WHY CAN THE “ABLE BODY” DO IT AT ALL?

  11. So, As A 100% UNemployable Disabled Viet Nam Vet could this Lady Allison Help me with this Agent Orange Clame? I have been Requesting the V.A. to help me, But all they will tell me is that I do not Qualifie for Agent orange benefits..All they do is Look at me and say “I Quote” you don’t have the symptoms and look o.k. to them ? I have several documents that say I am Qualified, plus I was in the Area at times when we(The Troops” were told to cover up with ponchos or get inside a Vecehile( P.C. ,Tank, ) and latch up until told all clear was ordered.. Plus My TWO Daughters and my grand Children have had Cancer or some kind of serious medical conditions. I have had 3 heart attacks, type two diabetes, take several medications for problems from Viet Nam. Who Do I Need to talk with or send the Forms too ?? Thanks for your help and Please Reply with Yes or No
    Just let me know that someone did see and read this E Mail.
    Gordon Bishop ( SSG E-6 , Viet Nam Veteran. 1968-1969 )

      1. Fred, Yes I would Very much Appreciate the form Number that I would use to file for the Agent orange and Diabetes Disability From the V.A. All the help you will furnish to me is appreciated. Thanks and have a Safe , Happy Holiday and MERRY CHRISTMAS, Gordon Bishop Viet Nam Veteran

    1. Go after Obama and why are you asking for donations? I help many veterans and I do not ask for donations. I do not know what your purpose is. WE have a find young woman helping and you have nothing better to do that pick on her? I know you were not in the Marine Corps.

  12. Here are two ACTIONS from Miss Allison Hickey that have helped ME in the last month. 1) I wrote her because my representative couldn’t get a copy of my C-File for an appeal for PTSD increase/TDIU. I explained I had been waiting for almost 10 months. Miss Allison Hickey answered me within an hour and 27 hours later, someone from my serving VARO called me and said “Your C-FIle is copied, where do I need to mail it to. That is ACTION. I even wrote Ben to tell him how fast the response was. 2) My increase and IU claim was initially denied. It took a year to deny and I had been waiting almost a year for a DRO review. I figured “Hey what the hell, it can’t hurt” so I wrote her a polite email, explaining the time line and in a few sentences all the evidence in my file that was over looked when my claim was initially denied like the 2 letters from treating VA doctors saying I am unable to work due to PTSD and the letter from my old boss explaining I was fired because of PTSD symptoms. All I asked her for was an answer, yes or no. She emailed me back an hour or so later. Less than 48 hours later a Rating officer called and said my claim for PTSD was increased from 50% to 70% and my 100% TDIU claim was approved with backpay to January 2013. I was overwhelmed and literally fell to the floor. Three days later the backpay was in my bank account. That is ACTION. I know some will say I cut in front of someone else waiting for an answer much longer than I had or whatever but, I simply reached out and got ACTION. I know the VA has so many broken parts and there are tons of horror stories. I can only speak for MYSELF. In my book Miss Allison Hickey is the real deal and in my eyes she deserves much respect.

  13. as i mentioned in your thread when you first published their emails, that i wrote them – as of today i haven’t heard back but it is early yet in VA time and it was a long note with supportive facts and dates. hey, if you don’t have them, VA asks for them, if you put them, VA complains its too long. lol

    i agree to some extent what the poster mentioned regarding Ms Hickey’s former boss and maybe she was just following orders so to speak. often times employee’s/troops are only as good as their boss/commanding officer. most of us have witnessed that first hand.

    i do so hope she and Mr McDonald shake up the VA well enough that a lot of the dead fruit falls out. not just people but deceptive practices that are so rampant. i know VA has gone way overboard with such deceptive practices and record manipulations. the fact many of us veterans have had to get attorneys sheds a lot of light on the problem regarding just filing benefit claims.

    claims that have the medical evidence already documented! then C&P and VBA introduce the veteran to the “deception practices” and the veteran is left scratching his/her head asking, WTF just happened? you veterans and care givers know what i’m writing about regarding that.

    sure, weed the scammers out but as i wrote earlier, VA has taken that process to an almost illegal level of deception and deniability.

    Ms Hickey and Mr McDonald can but a stop and clean up some these practices if they so desire. if the local offices are still doing it then fire them and send strong messages through your organization.

    if/when i hear back from my letter to them, i’ll post back here

  14. Allison has helped me with at least 15 veterans. She responds well to my e-mails. However I am not dumb I am not the only one our here. There are a whole lot of veterans waning to talk to her and ask her to help our Korea Vets and WWll vets because of their age. She is a wonderful person and if we get behind her and help her we help ourselves. I make sure the claims she gets from me are solid claims. Last nigh I got a call from the man himself all I could say is thank you for calling me back. I have NEVER had one politician return one call, in the event they had they would not know what to do. Lets help Ms hickey and Mr. Bob.

  15. I hope that Allison continues to ensure that veteran receive the benefits that they deserve. I wrote to Allison in reference to the six year ordeal that I’ve endured to receive veterans compensation. It is so unfair when the military has totally ruined your health. Nevertheless, I am cautiously optimistic that in the end there will be a positive resolution.

  16. I’d also like to toss a question out. Have any of you ever heard of a vet being coerced into giving a statement to a DRO of agreeing with a decision Not Yet Issued when a hardship has been verified (threat of foreclosure….which happened) in the light of 30 day expedited adjudication (granted) then instead of 30 days that was dragged out for 4 months with an SSOC accusing the vet of not attending a C&P when in fact the RO lost the paperwork?

    I would really appreciate ant suggestions.

  17. J. Edward Vernon jr. …I agree with you. I can “talk” to anyone. I want to see actions. Couldn’t help thinking as I was reading… this all sounds like “how to appear concerned”, ie, the statement about vets being frustrated “often” with good reason. Any promise broken is a good reason. Any claim messed up beyond recognition is a good reason. Any instance in which an entitlement is scraped down to the last dregs of “what we should have given you and the tiny scraps that are left…..is a GOOD REASON. I don’t want to hear the practiced sympathy sounds. I Want It Fixed………….like the law says, not according to what leftovers can be tossed my way.

  18. I agree with you , Pete we can not get the proper care without MORE people ,who like Allison , want to do their JOBS and realize that every Vet is their JOB.
    It is said that “TALK IS CHEAP”, now is the time for ACTIONS. I await the RESULTS of this e-mail.

  19. I think that we need to consider that while Allison Hickey is the Under Secretary of Benefits…she does have to do as she is told by her Boss…the Secretary. I think we all know how ineffective and toxic her last boss was.

    There may well have been direct orders for her to remain in her ivory tower…and there may not have been.

    I doubt we will ever know the whole truth…BUT…what we do know, is that she is now doing what she should have been doing all along.

    I know it has now helped me…and countless others and as long as it continues…I say let her current and future actions earn her a reprieve in the eyes of American Veterans everywhere.

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