We’re on the cutting edge of legal technology at the Attig Law Firm:
The 7 year old Veterans Law Blog provides more REAL information to Veterans than any other lawyer blog that I’m aware of
We are the only law firm in the nation that I know of that is providing Deeper Education and Information to Veterans through a series of downloadable eBooks.
This is not the sort of thing that most folks expect to see from a Law Firm, and so I get a lot of feedback.
Almost all of the Feedback on the Veterans Law Blog is Positive.
I got a Facebook message from a Veteran that WON his BVA claim based on information he found on the Veterans Law Blog.
Veterans are emailing me – every day – to tell me how getting their C-Filed changed the whole course of their VA Claim.
One Veteran, in a private forum, thanked me for the Veterans Law Blog – and observed how much discipline and dedication it takes to post in-depth content like we do – every weekday.
But sometimes, we get some bad feedback. Like this post that showed up on Facebook the other day.
Or this one, where someone accused me of having my hand in Veterans pockets.
Sticks and Stones can’t hurt me – I promise you that words don’t. Because I know I’m not representing Veterans to get rich. I do it because after my family, there is one group of people that I care about – the men and women that served in the military next to me, whether they served 30 years before, or 2o years after.
There the list ends.
One of my “Life Philosophies” is this:
Focus on the Positive, and the Positive Grows. Focus on the Negative, and the Negative Grows.
So I don’t spend much time at all dwelling on the negative feedback.
Don’t get me wrong – if you accuse me of being “greedy” or “in it for the money” or “having my hand in Veterans’ pockets”, I’m going to respond. Those are what we Texans call “fighting words”….and while I won’t “fight” or “argue” with another Veteran, I will speak my mind and respond to their opinions.
I’m a service-connected disabled Veteran myself, and I’m trying to Change the Way Veterans Experience the VA Claims Process – not to get rich (far from it). I don’t believe that VA Disability Claims have to be so complicated, or difficult, and I like to teach and inform Veterans with what I learn.
But I focus far more on the positive feedback from Veterans out there that benefit from – and value – the unique thing that we are building here on the Veterans Law Blog.
These positive comments empower me to continue the life-changing work we do at the Attig Law Firm and on the Veterans Law Blog.
But the 2 simple words, “Thank You” – those can fuel my “gas tank” for WEEKS!
Then, this thought occurred to Me.
What if VHA and VBA Employees are Not So Different From Me?
What if VA employees are like me? I mean, what if their gas tanks were fueled – as much as mine – by a simple “Thank You”?
Now, I can hear you laughing – you might even be a little angry. After all, who wants to say Thank You for a 10 year delay in a claim. For sending your private medical records to another Veteran? For putting you on a wait list for medical treatment? For causing your loved one to die so a bureaucrat could get another bonus?
I”m not talking about thanking those cone-heads. There is a special level of hell for purveyors of red-tape and for the really bad people that are running the VA right now.
Like this clown…the general consensus in the Veterans community is one of rage – so many Veterans have told me they think she should spend time in jail for the 18 deaths now known to have occurred so she could get her bonus. One sent me this meme to use:
I’m talking about the ones that change Veterans lives.
The ones that do things – sometimes small, sometimes very big – that are POSITIVE gestures that change the whole course and scope of a Veterans claim.
Like the DRO in one Regional Office who took the time to sift through a convoluted claim that is decades old and a C-File that is tens of thousands of pages thick.
His decision was not what I wanted, and not what the client wanted, and we will be appealing it.
But he took the time to look through the case and help get the decision needed to move it to the next stage of the process.
He took the time to explain most of his position on the phone with me.
And in those phone conversations, I got the distinct impression that his loyalty was the Veteran, not the bureaucracy. Often, that bureaucracy ties the hands of even the most pro-Veteran VA employees in the system.
Here’s another example.
My Daily Thank You Note.
Every day, the last thing I do before leaving my office is to write a handwritten “Thank You” note to someone – the one person – that most helped me fulfill my Vision on that particular day.
I started this practice earlier this year, and I have to tell you – I leave work a happier and more energized man. As is written on my business card:
“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘Thank You’, it will be enough.”
One day, I sent a Thank You note to a VBA employee who had done a simple thing: she introduced me to a person that understood a particular benefit that my client was entitled to.
That’s it…a simple introduction of an attorney, to a VBA employee, by another VBA employee.
(This was a small action for her, but a HUGE one for me. You have no idea the stuff I hear from VBA employees when I introduce myself as an attorney. To hear a human voice that recognizes we share a common mission – being of service to those who served – is as refreshing as a Cadillac Margarita after mowing the lawn in the Texas heat.)
So I sent her a Thank You note: For taking the time to connect a Veteran with the help he needed, and by doing that one small thing, helping to Change the Way Veterans Experience the VA Claims Process.
2 weeks later, this employee called me in tears. Here’s what she told me:
She had worked for the VBA for almost 20 years, and nobody – NOBODY, not even one of her bosses – had ever sent her a thank you note.
She told me how she tried really hard, every single day, to help Veterans any which way she could.
She told me how the only feedback she ever received was how bad the VBA was, and how Veterans always felt like they were getting screwed (and she admitted that a lot of you are getting screwed.)
She said that getting that “Thank You” note helped to remind her how important it was to take a few minutes each day to help people get connected inside the VBA bureaucracy.
Can you imagine that?
20 years, and nobody ever told you “Thank You”?
How on earth could someone – someone that actually cares about Veterans – have the energy to work in the VBA bureaucracy without ever hearing that their work had an impact on a Veteran’s life?
That’s unfathomable to me.
But look what else it did – it reinvigorated her. It encouraged her to do MORE of the kinds of things that are helping Veterans beat this byzantine VA Bureaucracy.
What if we could give a shot of steroids (metaphorically speaking) to everything that was WORKING inside the VBA bureaucracy? I wonder what we could accomplish.
Here is what I want you to do.
Next time you are in the VBA – or the VHA – instead of looking for the bad things that they are doing to you (and I KNOW that they are doing bad things)…look for the people that are doing the GOOD things.
They are there, you just have to have a quick eye and be watching for them:
An employee that you notice is always smiling and friendly to Veterans, no matter how rude we are to him/her.
The employee that takes the time to explain a bureaucratic step to you – even if that process doesn’t work.
The employee that cracked a joke to try to keep you in good spirits while your world is going to shit around you.
The VBA employee that – on his own initiative – wheeled a Veteran to the cafeteria so he could eat while waiting for his DRO hearing.
Get that employee’s name, and when you get home, write that employee a short Thank You note.
Just Point out what you noticed that person doing. Explain that – or how – it changed a Veteran’s experience in the VA Claims Process. Then, say the magic words: Thank You.
I buy these notecards from a friend of mine in Dallas….they are unique, and we’d all recognize them from the same Thank You Army. Just a thought.
If we focus on the POSITIVE, the POSITIVE grows.
There are good and decent people inside the VBA and the VHA that are trying to beat back the bureaucracy from the inside.
They are hard to find, and often over-whelmed by the few that push a personal agenda ahead of what is lawful and right….but I promise you – they are there.
If we can give those folks more ENERGY by writing a note with 2 simple words – Thank You – then we will empower them to Change the VA from the inside.
If EVERY Veteran that reads the Veterans Law Blog – in may, over 7,900 NEW Veterans stopped by and read at least 2 posts on this site – sends a Thank You note for even the smallest of good deeds by a VHA or VBA employee….imagine the possibilities.
I promise you, those 2 simple words are stronger than a Sword at cutting through Red Tape.
They should be our “go-to” tool in our “bug-out bag” for “Changing the Way Veterans Experience the VA Claims Process.”