This is something I had not thought of throughout my disability claims battles with the Department of Veterans Affairs over the years. Only recently have I begun to reach out to key decision-makers with Veterans Affairs to get resolutions. This applies not only on matters that impact my specific disability claim, but also on matters that impact all veterans.
When the veteran is in need, there are many individuals who can help. These people range from veterans service organizations to Congressional committees.
For the most effective communication with these individuals, always assume they know nothing about your particular situation. Prepare your facts and organize them in such a way that you can explain the relevant issues in 3 minutes or less. This will allow you to communicate effectively and get the most attention.
When veterans drone on about their personal history, rather than focus on their disability claim, people who help tend to tune out. Just the facts. Stick to the facts.
When deciding who to speak with, remember who the person ultimately answers to. Veterans Affairs employees ultimately have to answer to their boss, the VA. They will be helpful to a certain degree, but do not expect to get an insider tip on how to get things done better.
Many veteran service organizations get their funding from Veterans Affairs and work hard to maintain a positive relationship with their VA counterparts who in turn decide your disability claims. This means a conflict may exist. The disability claims conflict may be between what is in your best interests and what is in the best interests of the VSO who is representing your claim to the VA.
One point to note, if the VSO does screw up your claim, such as by missing a filing date and whatnot, you will have no real recourse against them. Lawyers generally have no fiduciary duty like that of VSO’s. In fact, lawyers are supposed to avoid such conflicts and must step down if a conflict exists.
Further, if a lawyers screws up on your claim, you can sue them for malpractice. Lawyers also receive 3 years of legal training prior to being allowed to represent clients in a legal capacity.
Last, elected officials are a great resource, especially if you need help expediting your disability claim through an obstinate employee at the Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, this happens. When you have an issue, get your facts together and contact your representative. They are usually happy to help.