Thursday, February 07, 2008

So Where Are The "I Support Our Veterans" Ribbons?
The Veterans' Administration always seems to swamped by claims. It wasn't always this way.
When we had to draft folk to fill the needs of the military, we also had the G.I Bill of Rights. It provided for things like guaranteed mortgages and education benefits and medical care and disability pensions. Many of us didn't use all the benefits that were available. My education benefits arrived in a timely manner. The backlog of claims wasn't what it is now.
Ever since we went to an all volunteer military the VA has been buried by claims. One reason for this is that after the draft ended in the 70s, a G.I. had to enroll in a program to receive benefits and had $100 a month deducted from his pay for the first 12 months of that enlistment. If I had had a $1200 co-pay deducted before I even had a claim, I would make damn sure I would have claimed all benefits I thought I qualified for and perhaps some I was not entitled to receive.
There are other reasons for the backlog of claims, I'm sure, e.g. budget cuts, lack of priority, etc. Here's one thing being explored to help eliminate the backlog:
From my favorite Veterans' Bulletin:
VA Claim Backlog Update 14:
"Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence could help the Veterans Affairs Department reduce a backlog of disability claims that has spiked past 1 million, according to computer experts and veterans advocates. The Veterans Benefits Administration, which processes the claims, has a backlog of 650,000 pending claims and another 147,000 that are under appeal and working their way through a process that "is paper intensive, complex to understand, difficult to manage and takes years to learn," Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs Rep. John Hall (D-NY) said at a 29 JAN hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Training an employee to rate VBA claims can take two to three years and many leave within five years, Hall said. Experienced raters can adjudicate only about three claims a day, spending two to three hours on each claim. He said the VA should consider the use of artificial intelligence technologies, such as automated decision-support tools that can determine disability payments, which would speed up claims processing. "
Swell. Use AI to help deny claims. Eliminating backlog does not mean denying claims, even if that is the easiest route to take.
I don't have the solution. I'm sure AI ain't it. Getting vets more publicity, making it an issue might. Volunteering might help also. From the same bulletin:
"VA Voluntary Service (VAVS): VAVS was founded in 1946 to provide for our nation's veterans while they are cared for by VA health care facilities. It is a volunteer organization run by the VA which helps veterans in VA facilities throughout the country. Volunteers assist in routine administrative functions to help free VA employees to concentrate more on health care. There are also several VA cemeteries that have VAVS volunteers assisting in maintenance chores. It is one of the largest centralized volunteer programs in the Federal government. Over 350 organizations support it and. volunteers have provided over 676 million hours of service since its conception. As a community service volunteers assist veteran patients by augmenting staff with end of life care programs, foster care, community-based volunteer programs, hospital wards, nursing homes, and veteran outreach centers. The program receives annual contributions of over $50 million in gifts and donations. There are two convenient ways to sign up to be a VAVS volunteer:
1. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs facility nearest you, ask for Voluntary Service, and tell their staff of your interest in becoming a VAVS Volunteer. The staff will take care of everything else including your interview, orientation, and assignment! To locate the VA facility is nearest you refer to http://www1.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isFlash=1 2. Volunteer now by filling out and submitting the form located at http://www1.va.gov/volunteer/volnowDB.cfmSomeone from your local VAVS office will contact you with additional information. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 25 JAN 08 ++]"
Since I have been turned down for employment by the VA, am bored, and have a hobby horse to ride, volunteering seems to be the way to go. I'll let you know how it goes.
BRB is Write (and hates the system but not the players)

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