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va claim frustration

When it comes to “walls” and “obstacles”, there are 2 kinds of people.

The first kind are the people that look at the wall, are overwhelmed, give up hope of getting past it, and turn back.

The second kind are people that look at the wall and say: “Hey, that’s a GREAT place for a door.”

Tell me if you know this feeling when you run into a wall of VA Claim Frustration:

You file  your VA disability compensation claim.

You diligently prepare the documents for the claim, give the VA access to your  medical records, explain what’s going on with your current medical condition, and dutifully fill out the forms they ask to be filled out.

Then you wait. A week.  A month. A year. 2 years.

Then, one day, it arrives.  That big brown (or white) envelope from the VA.

You tear it open to find not only a denial letter, but a whole lot of explanation for the denial that makes no sense.

The feeling of  powerlessness that overcomes you is more than you expected.

How will you get medical care if the VA denied you?

How will you keep the power on this month – since you can’t work because of your military injury?

How do you even START to draft a response?

I know that sense of powerlessness.

I have seen it bring hardened Combat Veterans to their knees.

VA Claims frustration can paralyze a Veteran seeking benefits.

I have seen the worst that the VA has to offer Veterans.

I have seen Veterans denied claims that the law requires be granted.

I have seen the VA deny compensation to Veterans that were clearly exposed to Agent Orange.

I have seen the VA deny one Veteran based on another Veteran’s medical records.

I have seen the VA destroy the character and integrity of Veterans simply because they claimed benefits for injuries related to Military Sexual Trauma.

I have seen the VA make rulings that are clearly unlawful.

I have watched Veterans die while waiting for benefits.

It’s infuriating.

Sometimes it makes me sick to my stomach: even though I have a license to practice law, I’m no stranger to the abuses, delay, recalcitrance, and pettiness of the VA.

What I hate more than anything else is that sensation of Powerlessness:

Powerlessness to get a Veteran the help they need.

Powerless to promptly get our nation’s heroes taken care of.

Powerless to fix an injustice before a Veteran dies.

 What if I told you I’m done feeling Powerless over the VA?

Would you believe me?

What if I told you that there is a way to take back the Power in your VA Claim — would you follow my lead?

I sometimes don’t believe it myself – after all, who could find a way out of the suck that is the VA bureaucracy?  Its been like this for 50+ years, how could I be the one that finds the way out?

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’ve found the way out for everyone.  Every claim is different; every Veteran’s situation is unique.

But what I think I’ve found is the light at the end of the tunnel of VA darkness for most Veterans.

What I know I’ve found is a way to never feel powerless over the VA again – no matter what the outcome.

My 3 Steps for Overcoming Your VA Claim Frustration:

Step 1:  Get your C-File and learn everything you can about the law and process of the VA bureaucracy (or find help if that’s more than you want to do).

Every Veteran should get a copy of their C-File. It’s the most important document in their claim.  Here’s how to get yours.

Every Veteran should understand what service-connection is, and what it is not.

Every Veteran should understand how the VA Claims Process works.

Every Veteran should understand how the VA turns a service-connected disability into an Impairment Rating.

Every Veteran should understand the different types of evidence: material, probative and relevant.

Every Veteran should know how to PROPERLY find an accredited VA attorney to help them if they get in over their head.

Every Veteran should the 8 Steps to Improving their Own VA Claim.

Step 2: Commit yourself to being Defiantly Optimistic.

I don’t think we have to treat VA employees like crap just because their bureaucracy made our lives difficult.

If they are wrong, tell them.  Better yet, show them.  Better still, ARGUE your claim BETTER.

I’m not telling you to be weak and pithy.

I do think that if we change the way that the VA experiences us, they will have to change: it is impossible for one person in a relationship to change without the other one changing too.

Every time you yell at, berate, or verbally insult a VA employee, you make it that much harder for the rest of us to build a relationship of trust and respect with the people who want to help at the VA.

What helps me is making a distinction between the people – most  of whom are good and decent men and women, doing the hard work that few others want to do, and the bureaucracy that our politicians have created).

I am working at being optimistic and positive when communicating with VA employees.  I will continue to be defiant in my criticism of a bureaucracy that makes it hard for Veterans to get the benefits and help that they are entitled to.

Step 3: Keep at it. 

Sometimes, the path to success is just overcoming “resistance” and sticking with your plan.   Like the fish says…

A saying we had in the Army went like this: “There is only one way to eat an elephant:  one bite at a time.”

One book that I find very helpful in this regard is Steven Pressfield’s “War of Art”.

This book helped me find a path to sticking to a plan, getting up each day and putting one foot in front of the other.

You can purchase this book through here: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles:

Another FAVORITE book of mine – I actually listen to his podcast – is Will Bowen’s Complaint Free World – VA Benefits attorney Matt Hill introduced me to this book, and it’s changed my life:

I truly believe that the universe rewards those that overcome internal resistance.

If you commit yourself to the steps above, and then follow through on that commitment, you will never feel powerless again.

Your plan may fail, the VA may deny your claim, but by following these 3 steps, you will Take Back the Power in your VA Claim and know that you have more control of the outcome of your case then you ever thought possible.

What can you do, today, to change the way that you experience the VA Claims Process?

1 Comment

  1. Julia Perry

    Chris, you said many more helpful things than any vet could possibly hope to read, regarding empowerment and frustration. Thank you.
    I need to know if you think what I experienced is typical and fair: the only BVA-accredited attorney in my corner of the state made me wait over 3 wks to have him respond to phone messages and filling in a form on his website (mainly because he had his 2 weeks AcDuTra with the Reserves–of course that is valid, and I contacted him in the summer when mos of that happens), that when he did catch me on the phone, he wouldn’t listen to why I have an issue needing an attorney, without a payment of $200 for him to unglog his eardrums and let me speak my piece for a few minutes. I told him twice “you don’t treat a disabled veteran like that,” twice, but then he wished me a good afternoon and hung up. What say you?


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