A Real Veterans Affairs Fix No One Is Talking About In DC

Veterans Affairs

Benjamin KrauseUntil Congress repeals 38 USC § 511, Department of Veterans Affairs will run roughshod over the rights of veterans and the ability of Congress to hold them accountable. But perhaps its time veterans refocus their angst against government contractors that help VA violate our rights?

With all the bad news in the press with VA violating veterans rights left and right and lying to Congress, I thought I would write about my ‘fix’ to give you something to chew on over the weekend.

Let me explain.

The statute, 38 USC § 511, severely restricts a veteran’s ability to sue VA officials for wrongdoing. It states that the Secretary (and de facto his minions), have final say over any benefits decision effecting a veteran, and that the decision cannot be reviewed by federal courts. But many “decisions” by the VA secretary affect veterans access to benefits, services and programs constituting a denial of one of the many established VA benefits. This list includes Servicemen’s and Veterans Group Life Insurance payouts.

Instead, veterans are stuck in the never ending VA grinder that attorney Chris Attig writes about on a regular basis. VA routinely argues that § 511 blocks jurisdiction for federal courts in most situations when benefit claims are at issue.

But VA is dead wrong – as usual.


As we now know, VA has often abused this authority by wrongfully withholding benefits in a way that is best described as “bad faith.” It is bad faith when VA takes a legally unjustifiable, meritless position in denying a veteran’s request for benefits.

There are many instances where VA lawyers and benefits adjudicators engage in what Henry Campbell Black called, “Predestined Interpretation”, while interpreting VA laws. Predestined Interpretation occurs when a an attorney interprets the law in a way that fits his or her own bias where a distortion results.

When a law is not clearly on point, an attorney needs to engage in “interpretation”. Existing laws require the lawyer doing the interpretation to act in good faith and apply the law in a way that is consistent with long-established rules of legal interpretation.

All Veterans Laws are “remedial” laws and must be liberally construed to effect justice in the remedy provided. Yet, VA lawyers distort this process by using narrow interpretations that have the effect of penalizing veterans by holding that veterans are not entitled based on the facts when they would be under the correct liberal interpretation.

To provide context, criminal laws are narrowly (or strictly) interpreted by the courts to ensure any person accused has adequate notice of the law prior to conviction. The point is to ensure no criminal is surprised by an unexpected, liberal, application of the law against some kind of prohibited behavior.

VA lawyers are often accused of interpreting the Veterans Law strictly, applying it against the veteran as if applying it to a criminal. Time and again, this perverted interpretation of the law by VA has been ruled by the Courts as illegal and unethical. But, VA lawyers and claims raters continue to misapply it against veterans.

In 2010, Chief Justice John Roberts made openly critical remarks during oral arguments at how often VA lawyers take “substantially unjustified” positions when fighting attorney fee awards in veterans appeal cases. At that time, it was discovered that VA lawyers did this in 70 percent of the appeals where veterans attorneys won awards for Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) attorney’s fees for wrongly denied veterans.

Bad faith insurance claims adjudication is an illegal practice for insurance companies in every state where the insurance company makes a decision that is unjustified based on the clear language of the policy and the facts as presented.

Yet, VA gets away with it since it is essentially the insurance company for the Department of Defense and generally considered outside the jurisdiction of most federal courts when taking bad faith positions under § 511 for certain benefits adjudications (disability, pension, Chapter 31, etc.).


On the benefits side, VA functions as an insurance company and even used to be named the Bureau of War Risk Insurance.

VA claims it hires insurance consultants to help it create new methods of doing business. In many instances, these new methods result in restrictive policies and extra hoops that serve as little more than roadblocks to benefits similar to those used by Allstate in the last decade.

Allstate got sued for “bad faith adjudication” of claims, and in 2007, it had to release slides created for it by an leading insurance industry consulting company called McKinsey & Co. Those slides created by McKinsey & Co instructed Allstate about its new profit model the firm referred to as the Delay, Deny, Defend model. The suit was not good for Allstate and the world became privy to its new and very profitable “Delay, Deny, Defend” scheme to improperly increase profits on the backs of policyholders.

[The matter is outlined in book, From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves.]

Note that the call to action is alarmingly similar to VA’s attributed motto from veterans, “Delay, Deny, Hope that I die.”

According to the case documents, Allstate simply wanted to increase profits. And the “Delay, Deny, Defend” model allowed Allstate to retain money that should have been paid out for a much longer period of time. A company could then invest the funds into relatively safe capital markets accounts to earn interest on the improperly retained payouts.

Further, Allstate would fight those claimants in court in an attempt to reduce the payout for bigger claims where it was cheaper to fight in court than to cut the check. It would also lowball policyholders by providing settlement checks for lower amounts than were warranted. Sound familiar?

In the end, this was essentially a scheme cooked up by McKinsey & Co for its client to increase profits, and the scheme worked great for Allstate but was bad for the policyholders.


In 2009, VA hired the same insurance consulting company, McKinsey & Co, to help it refine its disability benefits adjudication processes including creating disability calculators, disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs), and part of the VBMS system. You may have seen these systems and “fixes” touted by none other than Undersecretary Allison Hickey before Congress as the fabled silver bullet fix for the disability backlog for the last few years.

It does not take a rocket scientist to see at least a coincidental link between VA hiring McKinsey in 2009 and the explosion in the backlog since that point. The VBMS computer program has been a huge failure to this point. Pretty much, every electronic “fix” has failed to provide the results promised by top VA executives.

Since VA does not have to pay interest on the funds it withholds from veterans but instead can invest the money in capital markets, VA can earn a perverse return on the money by screwing veterans or dragging out the process. The longer the process takes for a payout, the more interest VA can earn on the money wrongfully withheld through arbitrary denials.


For example, if VA withholds a disability rating of 100% for a veteran for one year, it will payout the veteran at the rate for the previous year under the argument that the Sovereign does not pay interest – since there is no interest, the government also takes the position that they do not need to adjust the payout for cost of living increases to compensation for inflation.

Here is what this looks like when comparing just one year for a veteran who receives an award in 2013 but the claim should have been awarded in 2012 (veteran with spouse and one child). We will assume some rater somewhere made an arbitrary mistake about the law that they should have known to not do through proper training that caused a one year delay due to a DRO hearing decision:

  • 2012 – 100% payout = $36,444
  • 2013 – 100% payout = $37,608

By delaying one year, VA holds the funds, pays the veteran at last year’s dollars, saves $1,164 on COLA increase, and the agency can even earn another $1,822 in interest by investing in capital markets with a conservative rate of return on investment of 5%.

All in with this example, VA just “earned” almost $3,000 by making a mistake [sic]. Here, VA saved 8% by making an error that withheld money from a veteran for one year. That veteran did not have the benefit of possessing the money and making investments or payouts as he or she saw fit and are penalized. We can call this a disability tax.

Does this seem like a sick and twisted scheme to you?

In my opinion, VA should be required to pay at today’s COLA / disability rate amounts to avoid creating this perverse incentive to make mistakes that is exactly the same as what insurance companies have been caught doing in bad faith.

Check out our newest example from Prudential getting caught doing exactly that.


In 2001, Prudential embarked on a similar scheme to increase profits on the backs of veterans and their families with relation to SGLI and life insurance payments.

For a little background, VA pays Prudential to manage these benefits programs for veterans. In fact, VA does this with a lot of companies. So much so that many Americans would be shocked at how little VA actually does do regarding benefits adjudication. Prudential is required by VA statute to pay out the benefit when a veteran dies. In exchange, VA pays Prudential for the service and also pays the firm for lost profits by working for VA rather than on the private market (this makes little sense to me).

The payments would likely be substantial enough for most firms, but Prudential decided to fraudulently withhold funds and/or arbitrarily pay out funds. The company was able to earn a rate of return on investment that created even greater profits for company shareholders – both directly from VA and also from fraudulently withholding policyholder payouts. In response, veterans’ families sued both Prudential and VA.

[Read about VA / Prudential vs Hamilton in Class Action here.]

In that suit, 38 USC § 511 did not serve as a bar against jurisdiction of the courts because § 511 specifically allows litigation on such insurance claims – and (more interestingly for us) the actions of the agency were outside of the statutory scope outlined by the language of the VA insurance laws. The lawsuit proceeded past motion for summary judgment and dismissal, Prudential was hammered with allegations of fraud, and the parties settled for multiples of millions of dollars this summer, according to reports.

Yey! Chalk one up for the good guys. Let’s keep this going.


My questions are:

  • Why does VA continue to lie about these fixes (VBMS, eBenefits, GI Bill system, Electronic Health Records, etc.) and why did VA officials merely parrot the lies from certain government contractors that these fixes would magically revolutionize agency benefits systems? The proof (or lack there of) is in the results we have seen.
  • Why is no one talking about government contractors and their influence on VA decisionmaking?

Since we cannot sue VA like all other Americans can sue other federal agencies, I wonder when we should start suing these government contractors and VA for any potential misdeeds they have a hand in outside the scope of many VA laws.

I think the time is now!

Read More:  https://www.dailyreportingsuite.com/insurance/news/military_veterans_life_insurance_benefits_related_suit_clears_first_hurdle

Updated 8/8/2014 4:00 pm

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  1. I think, some think that there is little return or profit with providing Vocational Rehabilitation towards 50% and above disabled.

    So might always be best to remotely think that this low-balling maybe a blessing in disguise, as to why one would get something less than a 50% disability percentage rating. However, perception is perception, and it’s obviously not profitable to high ball a pay-out. On the flip of this; where there’s money, there tends to be more fraud or exploitation.

    Sometimes best to have nothing or little, versus everything. But again, this is only perception, versus needs and wants, versus the responsible parties getting away with a crime.


  2. As for my service connected rating, that came after I filed a CUE and the DRO stated it wasn’t a mistake, yet couldn’t explain why the rater ignored medical evidence and did not ask for an independent consultation. You can read my story here: https://sharder8.blogspot.com

  3. There is a way to make lasting changes in the VA, in “one fell swoop”: remove the incentive for the VA decision makers to do wrong. I have always been in the belief that this powerful incentive is MONEY. Like I told Ben a long time ago, follow the money and you can connect it to every corrupt event that ever occurred in the VA. Here are a few examples: 1. Hundreds of millions of dollars of bonuses implicated in the waiting list schemes, 2. Millions of dollars wasted on training conferences, travel, and other perks, 3. Billions of dollars of cost overruns and years of delays on VA hospital constructions, 4. Millions of dollars stolen from veterans through the VA’s Fiduciary Program, 5. Billions of dollars wasted with nothing to show for it on VA’s healthcare IT contracts, 6. The total obliteration of PL 109-461, otherwise known as the Veterans First Contracting Act. 7. Hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on drugs deemed ineffective by VA researchers themselves.

    My fellow veterans and taxpayers, this blood money is in the VA’s Supply Fund. This blood money can be easily accessed, like getting money from an ATM, and can be used for any purpose, without any congressional control or oversight, by the VA’s Supply Fund board of directors. The last time I looked, there are only three members of this Board, one of which acts as the chairman.

    The VAOIG and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs have had in their possession hard evidence of criminal offenses perpetrated by VA procurement officers. Why they are covering up the criminal misdeeds of these VA officers is surely a mystery to me. But whatever their reasons are, the onus is on us veterans and taxpayers to make sure these VA criminals get their time in jail. If no one demands that these so-called watchdogs conduct criminal investigations of these VA officers, then we will surely waste our only real opportunity to reform the VA. I firmly believe that all these talk about VA reform will eventually die down, sooner than we think, and the VA will emerge virtually unchanged. I’m afraid the VSO’s with their fundraising activities revolving on the pain and suffering of veterans, will see to it that their cash cow will stay so. I always thought that with all the political clout and media power of these VSO’s, no veteran should suffer under the VA ever again. To me their silence and lack of real effort speak volumes.

    1. steamwhistler: Your heart may be in the right place, but the new legislation has already circled the wagons on this issue. The bonus incentive is still in place, and any firing is subject to a review and appeal with in the process. They have already closed ranks, it’s the same old, same old. THE FIX IS IN. I maintain that you CANNOT fix the VA from within system.
      I rest my case.

  4. Does the VA and it’s subsidiary entities maintain a “separate set of books ” ? Something on the order of a Comprehensive
    Annual Financial Report ? If they do, as I suspect, then they would be bound to report their investments as a reporting requirement, as do other entities, Corporate and Governmental.
    The investment of these “quasi-pension fund” for the lack of a better word, are what drive the capital markets…

    1. Fire Gigliotti
      What he did inVisn 19
      Years earlier
      He is also responsible
      For the 1 billion dollar
      Denver replacement hospital.
      Fire him now!

  5. Your story is the main reason why I do not avail myself of the VA Health care system any longer. I used the Phial Va Hospital early 2000’s, and can honestly say that the care provide was first rate. All this of course is a factor of time, place and circumstance whether you get in and out of the system in one piece.
    Well, so far I can say that my experience with the VHA and VBA has been positive in in a relative context. I may have been more successful because of my background in paralegal and IT. I take a calculated systems approach to my dealings with Agencies, they are the Opposition. An obstacle to be overcome and defeated.
    A whole other aspect are the Sociopaths that are entrenched in the system.
    Your experience with the SGLI may be a preview into just what is in store for Veterans after the $16 Billion white wash that has just been implemented. It is just a lateral move to privatize the Health Care System (in my never so humble opinion). It was a ploy that Bill Richardson put into play when he ran for the Dem nomination against Bill Clinton. These fellows are GENERATION planners. For the most part our individual accounts of our VA experience are of little consequence in the long range planning.
    Ever stare at an image of black squares on a page and grey seem to appear between the white spaces? With the VA, that’s where the information is located.

  6. No matter what claim a veteran may take, whether you agree or not, lets be guided by only the proper response that I received, when there may be an other opposite view. After all, veteran’s are involved, and wanting to make a change, taking a position and in doing so, perhaps making it better for all of us.

    We all could learn few words of wisdom from an American Legion field representative. Who I might add, did not want to enter my battle, said this… “I would not venture to tell you what battles to enter. We as veterans have at least earned the right to individually pick and choose which skirmishes we wish to take part in. What I will ask you is to keep fighting. Again, I thank you for your efforts…”

  7. I will say that the part of your story regarding Prudential and SGLI, and SGLI specifically, is a really raw sore spot for me. I received my 100% Svc. Connected Perm./Total in 2010. Even though I was provided with the paperwork/info on the SGLI and enrollment, I was delayed/dragged about and finally denied my SGLI sign-up (I never even was allowed to make a premium payment…no enrollment), because the UNDERWRITERS, AKA Prudential, stated one of my chronic health issues was not allowed to be covered and fell within something called an EXCLUSION/PROHIBITED HEALTH CONDITIONS in order to receive such insurance.
    In the PRIVATE INSURANCE WORLD this is INDEED THE CASE **BUT** I was told by the VA that did not matter because this was “VETERAN SPECIFIC”. Without divulging too much here I will just say that a few of the many health issues I have came directly from while Active Duty, requiring an appendectomy. In course of surgery my appendix exploded so I required a lot of blood transfusions. Upon going home for Military Convalescent Leave, I was in my hometown civilian hospital with an unknown serious infection that had me living in restroom with both ends giving grief for 4 weeks…and nothing was found in all the plethora of tests by civilian hospital.
    When I went back to my Air Base, they also did not find anything. Because I have a semi-rare blood type I always gave blood at every Red Cross Blood Drive so after the few months post-surgical that I was able to, I gave again. A week later I received a Certified/Registered Notice from the Red Cross (all of which I saved and along with all other record keeping I did–all helped when I eventually needed to make a Svc. Connected Claim many years later)….that letter stated for me to see my Military Dr. ASAP because (this was 1983) Red Cross stated they found HEPATITUS B in my blood and suspected since I was in no high risk group at all, that it came as a direct result of either NON-STERILE SURGICAL ENVIRONMENT and/or TAINTED BLOOD via TRANSFUSION. The USAF was NOT testing for blood-based pathogens then and the Red Cross had been testing blood for HEP B for quite a while.

    I also eventually much later I fell ill from what is called a SLOW-PROGRESSING, HIGHLY RESISTANT STRAIN OF HIV. Again, not in any high risk group. This made it “MORE LIKELY THAN NOT” that same blood transfusion also carried that HIV as well as the HEP B and having both is pretty bad enough, but for it to be a highly RESISTANT TO MOST CLASSES OF HIV MEDS, and actually responded great finally to meds in 2007 when I decided to cease using the VA while I was applying for SSDI and used MEDICAID until awarded both Medicare and my Svc. Connection of 100%. Again, using the VA attempt was futile because the medication…the ONLY MEDICATION I was NOT resistant to was NOT on VA’s DRUG FORMULARY so I just never went back and continue to this day with the great civilian Dr.’s and using Medicare for all medical and Part D Drug Plan, paying ALL MY OWN PREMIUMS and such.
    The SGLI UNDERWRITERS stated that HIV/AIDS was excluded from coverage since the VA never ever formally admitted that the HIV was ALSO Svc. Connected, just as the HEP B was.
    DENIED SGLI COVERAGE. Pretty f***ked if you ask me and I wanted to share this to show how dastardly the VA can actually be because my private Dr. has reaffirmed many of time that had I continued to use the VA Health Svcs., I definitely WOULD NOT BE ALIVE AND DOING AS WELL ON THE ONLY MEDICINES I CAN TAKE THAT’s DIRECTLY FOR **BOTH** HEP B AND HIV.
    I have not disclosed my name so I felt sharing this story was appropriate in that context.

  8. I won a CUE in 2010 by demonstrating an indisputable act of plagiarism between the pre-enlistment physical and the 1979 rater’s usurping of exact phrases to reach a negative conclusion and thereby deny my claim. I got paid a portion of what I am owed because current raters failed to consider worsening of knee conditions over 33 years (2012 when they finally issued a check). Five long years have gone into trying to correct all of the rater’s errors, the worst being their reincarnation of the 1979 rater’s fabrication of the actual diagnosis from the CUE’d decision.

    I really, really …….. did I say REALLY like the idea of suing the co-conspirators for their collusion in depriving worthy vets. Ben, that is brilliant!!

  9. Ben, You do have to agree that there is a downside as well to allowing the VA to be sued in federal court on the benefits side. While I think that the statute may need to be narrowed totaly repealing it would not be advisable. If Vets were freely allowed to sue in a federal court everytime the process did not go their way they would just file a suit and hope something sticks. While there are legit concerns it would turn into a cluster of epic proportions. On the claims side don’t you think the BVA does a decent job, they do rule on the side of vets pretty often if their is evidence to support it.

    1. Jim, your perceptions of repealing 38 USC 511 are not valid under current laws. Your perceptions of the BVA ruing in favor of veterans “pretty often” are also not valid. The CAVC remand to BVA statistics and the BVA’s failure to grant CUEs when evidence is also present show that the BVA is an incompetent, anti-veteran judicial entity. The annual BVA statistics and CAVC remand statistics tell the real story, not personal perceptions based on nothing more than your casual, intermittent observations. If you are not a full time veterans legal advocate who reads these laws and statistics, then you are just talking off the top of your head.


  11. Excellent article Ben, has me thinking about my husband’s disability claim even more than ever. Hopefully, the attorney I have contacted will handle our appeal. Thank you for all you do.

  12. I am in the middle of doing just that I have filed a complaint against the Psychologist who officiated my C&P and who without any discussions with me about my situation has harmed me and set my therapy back by stating I never have had PTSD. I am on record with private therapist’s and 2 VA Psychiatrists and psychologists, currently in therapy, as being diagnosed with CHRONIC PTSD and chronic Depression due to my war experiences in Vietnam. The psychologist the VA brought in for my C&P was a man who did not ask me one relevant question about my war experiences and strictly went by the DSM and ONE paragraph by the VA in my records showing I was hostile and a “troublemaker” (because I ask questions and take no shit) that said I have no records while serving in Vietnam. So, the Psychologist negated 33 years of my diagnoses of PTSD and said I have a Personality Disorder. He never ask me one question about my service. He does not even know my case. So, I have filed a complaint with the Licensing Board in the State of Maine and they are hauling his ass in front of the certification committee. It takes a lot of my time to write and reinforce my complaint but guess what I was married to a Psychologist for 10 years. I helped her pass her Boards and get certified I took a test called the Millers Analogy which I passed with flying colors and she has a degree in Psychology a PHD. This ass who labeled me a person who does not have PTSD thus negating professionals who are MD’s has a degree in Education. I am NOT going to let the VA win and screw me.

    1. Interesting, if you have your C&P report and it stated some personality disorder, mine was borderline personality disorder ( usually diagnosed in your teens, um, lady you need to study up, you cannot make a “true diagnostic disorder unless it is obvious like schizophrenia!”) they ask certain questions, yet I tried to explain to her, do you know what Fibro Fog is? She did, then kept going. I was trying to tell her that I just went through a very hard two weeks, awake from pain, threw me right into the cycle of the Fog state. Discussing high school? I graduated early, she didn’t ask that. Truth was, because of my maiden name, I got stuck with the “left overs” of classes to take. That gets damn old. Truth be told? Hell yeah I hated it! But how did I manage to graduate earlier? “Cry for help? Yes, a cry to work out how my past military experiences changed my life.” I had the needed requirements, I did not have to keep a diary, nor can I work magic and ask my mom to rise from her coffin and say “yes my daughter told me.” But, I forgot that in Arizona when I first sought help in 2011 a game played, my uncle, bless him, made an off colored joke, sexual, and I told him, “that’s not funny uncle, I was raped in my barracks room.” He felt totally horrible. So, my Aunt is going to also be writing a letter. I am a private person, but a friend here who they tried to contact during her teaching time with autistic children, ( for free with a psychologist and has enough psychology in her back ground as well) wrote a letter and told them exactly how I was. I would assist and volunteer, but please do not make me the center of attention. I impressed the shit out of that PTA, good at getting free things from the community, as well as writing a manual to assist others how to book. I’ve given in many ways, but do so as I believe giving back can improve the future. I mentioned accepted to “Phi Theta Kappa,” but what I stated was I refuse to pay to say I have better grades than you, she misquoted me completely. Just like stating I “veg?” WTF is “veg?” Okay, so who is stuck in some other date time? And just FYI, for the hell of it, I will suggest they take “notice” her typing skills are not too hot, however did she manage to make it through any university? Especially if she had to write APA style? Words running together, sentence structure, should I state the obvious? It states NAVY, now Navy, we have no SOLDIERS OR SERGEANTS, PROBLEMATIC WHEN YOU CANNOT GET THE FACT SAILORS HAVE PETTY OFFICERS, GO FIGURE! CALL, RE-OPEN! It seems a whole lot of we are doing it is going on!!!

  13. Good article, but you need to dig a little deeper into the Nature of the Beast, The Administration Procedures Act, and just what the nature of the VA is.
    The article seems to only deal with the issue of allowing attorney’s to practice before the VA.
    I can’t think of any veteran, (with one exception) who I’ve talked to who get this point.
    Until this issue is dealt with, we are AlWAYS to be dealing with issues.

    1. This article has nothing to do with practicing before VA… It was not mentioned one time. Instead, this article is about suing VA and government contractors in federal district court when veterans are harmed by circumventing 38 USC § 511. The APA is an entirely different issue and again, not the focus of this article.

      1. My comments are implicit as to the nature of the article. What else is there to say about VA if you haven’t addressed the real underlying issue? However valid your points are, and I don’t disagree, they are points that float just above the nature of the problem. You can catch the water or the wave, that your prerogative. We will agree to disagree.
        McKinsey & Co is another fine example of the spider web of corporate of intrigue.

      2. Get um, Ben. If there was a way to hang this over their heads Things would change over nite.
        In an earlier post (Also another subject) I said That these V.A. Contracted Dr.s are “Banned” from sending “ANY”Medical evidence that could help in a Vet`s Disability claim. I was told this By MY contracted NP at the Clinic. He`s gone now, As There were Appointments listed on MyhealthEvet. “Several” That they charged for that I did not go to, There was a list That said “Appointment Kept”. To top it off, I have been Prescribed A Class-A Narcotic Pain med.for 14.5 Years, And The Dr.(s) That sign off on these I`ve NEVER Met. Would`nt know if we were sitting alone in a room together. That`s a Felony. in most States.
        If I say anything I get “Flagged or Black listed.They want me “Nice “Numb” & Quiet” So they can finish me off. (I`m not joking, or Paranoid, I Believe this is true)
        The Neurologist I`m Driving 400 miles Round trip to see Ordered “Newer” Spinal X-Rays as the ones on file were 7 years old. The X-Ray Report said That a Follow-up was needed because there are Significant CHANGES in My Spinal Vert. From L-3 To S1,
        I`m Wheelchair bound, Cant walk, But I “Can” Stand. They denied me for Aid & Attendance, Tho I live alone and My house hasn`t been cleaned in 2.5 Years,
        or longer, But, This (would) give me a way to get some help. If I threatened to Sue, MAYBE Someone would listen.
        The Govt. Immunity to Suit, There is no recourse ANY Veteran can use as leverage, And, Without that They can continue with “Business as usual”.
        If I LIE to them they can cut me off. If I get more money than they have determined I am getting I have to give it back (I had an over Payment of $16.00 Yep, 16 bucks, and I got a Packet of What options I could take for them to get their 16 dollars back, )
        If They get caught Stealing, They get a letter, (Maybe)
        These people are getting away with Murder, not by Intent, (I don`t think) But, Lack of Interest.
        It should be like in the Private or Civilian Healthcare system, Someone CAN be held Accountable.
        WE Are not EVEN PEOPLE, to these guy`s, We are either Cattle, or Just a number they have to “Deal with”
        Thank you Ben, Keep it up.Brother. We`ll make it, That`s what we do. If not now or us, Maybe Soon for the Rest, As long as it get`s done. I “Would” like to see it, tho.

      3. Curtis, I TRULY CAN RELATE! I happened to talk to a person who gave me names of individuals in my area to assist me with daily needs. I have days that I can drive, but it always comes with a cost if I do too much. I can handle my pain around a 5 on a scale of 1-10. But I also have used meditation, NOT TAUGHT BY THE VA but learned at 17. It has helped me with going back to events that have kept me away from certain areas of my life. It was allowing myself to replay my “movies” of the experiences I had, two in one year. I am a tough one, and I find it EXTREMELY INTERESTING that they can’t find my active duty records, ( yet it does have the discharge papers that state back injury) then of course PTSD from assault and MST, I never reported the MST event. I just stuffed it. Never should I’ve done that, but back then this guy hung with a rough crowd of drug dealers and yes Navy.
        I’ve had 3 back surgeries, but damn smarter than some of these professional idiots! I kept refusing what they wanted to do, meanwhile I continued to decline. I went to Fort Worth, TX ( number 10 on the list, should be higher) even though they did not listen nor read needed contrast, enough was shown that the doctor there decided AGAINST ALL PAIN MANAGEMENT IDEAS! Gee, was I going in the right direction? I’ve had surgeries on the outside, I’ve been officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and reactive arthritis-it means “the body defense system begins to attack itself.” Usually something can trigger it, gee, my IBS and UTI’S started after those events. But the reserve record did show the UTI’S and comp for that. My back? Fighting and following Bens advice. I also called to let them know the comp& pen lady “changed my damn answers!” I stated, “so basically this idiot who lied doesn’t think a court document nor the fact two of my three are in the discussing process of “what to do about mom? I dare her to call them liars! She’d be eaten alive and cut down regardless of her title! I am seeing this pattern by many, and I told them what I did, knowledge is power!” Questioning that basically I was just a happy type to assist others, laugh and be kind to all became a “bad thing, to the point of stating confused about my sexuality because of the clothes I liked wearing?” That is a stretch! I got pictures, she will burn!
        I would call the 800-827-1000, I believe that’s the number. Call them, explain your situation, hell, cry like I did, my tears were damn real! My life and my goals have been turned into a nightmare! They are re opening the C&P claim, oh you bet they shall get it real, and my choice of time too. I am so much of a fighter that I push myself too hard, and when I do I end up awake for several days, that kicks off the Fibro, which now cognitive short term memory gets screwed up. I won’t stop pushing to try my best at being independent, but I’ve got to start short. All my lower spine the metal has shifted, more damage, arthritis, which was there and scraped twice. But my whole spine is declining, my t-spine, which stupid ER doctor, didn’t listen. But, I have age and wisdom, can be very cunning in knowing “what to say” and do so. I guess I should wear a Texas Big Hair Blonde wig, face plastered with crap, and a bra that makes me look like I have implants? “Judge not least you be judged!”
        BEN-“there is the letter of the law, then there is the spirit of the law,” think on it, “ANYTHING CAN BE CHALLENGED.” Sue? Oh, we can, if we are all willing, because I am on month nine and still waiting for another test. But, interesting, “WHY WOULD ANYONE ASSUME MAKING YOU APPOINTMENTS WHEN YOU SAY NO ISN’T THAT KIND OF WRONG?” Witnesses, bring it! Oh, and pay them? For misdiagnosing me and calling me an opioid addict? Hell, my DEA records do not say I actually took that amount, but even so, it is nowhere near addiction level-myself, unlucky or lucky? That stuff makes my hyper awake! Coffee can make me sleep! Go figure! And yes, increase happened after a car accident and my back got worse, but never took the limit allowed!
        Just as a post script-they’ve decided to open each case all over again. My question is “I wonder why?” Maybe it’s my being a total pain in the ass to POTUS. But wrong is wrong, we’ve had enough, we are gathering in numbers, and I hope they are ready, “because ready or not, here we come!”
        ( another long one!)
        Curtis, please try. I have always believed in giving back, assisting others, and I don’t want to be front and center for it. If I was closer to you, hell, I would help! I don’t know how not to give back, it’s all I’ve known. And when I was in school-“pay it forward,” a professor can validate it as she wanted to know what I was doing. ( caught damn it!) but she knew too, my heart is big, and there’s always room for more! Blessings Curtis, if you need help, let me know, I will do my best to assist!

      1. What other issue is there ? It’s all about the VA being a employment agency for everyone with a license to practice. Change the system, and we won’t be having this conversation. Your 40 yrs behind on this question. What I can tell you is that a good part of the reason for the problem we are having with the VA IS the Legal System,and all it entails. Your not campaigning for any real insight or change. I’ve been in this mix for decades, and so have others. The legal system has been a road block to any real change.

      2. The process will require taking apart the problem one block at a time. § 511 is one such block. Moving back to a more traditional view of the Constitution as it relates to Administrative Procedures Act (APA – 1946) is probably another multitude of blocks – however this goal you suggest is complicated. When you look at the civil rights movement, it did not happen over night. It happened over the course of a century or more. Changes to APA by Chevron (1984) did not get created immediately after APA was implemented. Nor did Chevron fully override Skidmore (1944), a decision prior to APA. The law is fluid and changes take time. The law and those who work in any legal system must be strategic with each move like in chess – Thurgood Marshall understood the strategy well when advocating for civil rights at NAACP.

        It sounds like you are advocating for just flipping the chess board over, but such a strategy (like eradicating APA in one fatal swoop) is a fool’s errand – the system is too entrenched to merely flip on its head. It must be taken apart one piece at a time or the long-game to fix it will fail. Such a move also requires some degree of cooperation/support from Congress – which is much like herding cats in today’s political climate.

        However, I would be interested in any comments you have that involve strategy in changing APA and such legal schemes that govern federal agencies. What steps or specific statutes do you think should be attacked and how would you attack them?

      3. Well, I’m going on the record for now as saying that there is no fix, either incremental or some grand strategy WITHIN the limitations that we are presented with. I don’t believe that anyone of us dealing with the problems will be around long enough to maintain any institution knowledge of just what went before. All the issue’s that we are discussing have been dealt with by others for decades. Is anyone on this site or any other resurrecting those issue’s?
        As I look at the events of the past few weeks, my only conclusion is that it was all controlled opposition. What the “whistle blower’s” and their cohorts ALL INSIDERS of various stripes have accomplished is to per-empt any independent research or investigation into the VA.
        We are Outsider’s attempting to peer into the Black Box that is the VA and the network that supports it.The “Fix” is securely in place. They will bury the problem with a tsunami of cash.
        In my opinion, only some form of “asymetrical” warfare model is needed to approach this. A veterans Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” manifesto.

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