The VA Claims Backlog is a Cash Cow that nobody at the top wants to get rid of.
I’ve long said that the VA Claims Backlog won’t ever get fixed because there is money in it. If the VA wanted to fix the backlog, it could do it. It’s not a lack of political will, or a lack of know-how. The Backlog is just too damn profitable.
Here are just a handful of ways that some folks profit from the backlog:
In 2011, more than two-thirds of claims processors shared $5.5 million in bonuses.
Top 3 VSO Execs making MILLIONS while you struggle to get paid hundreds for your military injuries. (If there was no backlog, would you ask a VSO for help?)
Microsoft has a 5 year contract with the VA to provide something called “CRM” – Customer Relationship Managment – essentially software that monitors (and in reality, data mines) interactions between the Agency and Veterans. How many millions of dollars do you think that contract is worth? They’ve been re-structuring the VA “call-centers” since 2011. Have you seen any difference? Does the VA answer your call any quicker? No. It’s not about fixing the VA. It’s about skimming money off the taxpayer while giving the illusion of progress.
The current VA Director of Veteran Relationship Management (VRM), Maureen Ellenberger, was initially was brought on as a contractor to help the VA deploy CRM technology. You have to ask yourself why an individual making MILLIONS from the sale of a businesses like Eggrock and the launch of a multi-million dollar business called AuctionPal would take a $150k (ish) a year civil service job at the VA*. (My money says that by 2016 Ellenberger will be making millions outside the VA while the next President and Congress talks about fixing the backlog). Don’t believe me? Set up a Google Alert on Maureen Ellenberger and watch her corporate pay rise in a couple years.
I’m not trying to get you outraged.
I am trying to get you to realize a simple fact: the VA process won’t change.
We live in an era where Republicans work to skim money out of the public coffers while making Democrats seem irresponsible, Democrats work to skim money out of the public coffers while making Republicans seem irresponsible, this group called the “Tea Party” tries to find a way to get in on the game, and all 3 of them try to convince us that they are the real Americans.
My fellow Veterans – its not about solving the backlog. The backlog is here to stay.
You want results with the VA? The solution is hinted at in the first article, above, when a VA employee says this:
At the beginning of the month, I’d try to work my really easy stuff so I could get my numbers up,” said Renee Cotter, a union steward for the Reno, Nev., local of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). (emphasis added)
Do you see the solution? It’s simple. Make sure that your claim appears to be “easy”. Help VA employees “get their numbers up” by presenting them a claim that they can grant and close out and move on.
What are most of us doing? The exact opposite.
If you want to fix the VA, then by all means, become outraged. Send letters to the VA. Try to get the media to understand and care enough to dig into the motives of people like Maureen Ellenberger. Call Congress, begin your crusade. I’m behind you 100%.
If you want to get your VA claim out of the backlog, it’s time to Take Back the Power from the VA.
I’m not telling you its going to be easy or quick, but it can be done. Every month, my Firm pulls cases out of the backlog using the same method I want to teach you.
*To understand Ellenberger’s situation a little better, ponder this:
Immediately prior to taking her current job at the VA, Ellenberger worked as a Senior Advisor at a company called Associated Veterans, LLC, where her focus was “…on implementing a new Veteran Relationship Management program supporting a key initiative for the VA.” Shortly after this, she took/created the position of VA Director of VRM.
Associated Veterans, LLC, says on their website that they provide “…project management support to VBA for the development and rollout of the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).” If you read the Shinseki Plan to clear up the backlog, it all turns on the success of VBMS.
The 2014 VA Budget directs $291 million directly into programs like the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), set to receive $155 million, and the Veterans Relationship Management (VRM) initiative, slated for $120 million. I’m curious – given that $275 million taxpayer dollars is being funneled into a company that Ellenberger has deep and recent connections with, on projects that she had a deep and recent tie to, what is her connection? Does she still have ownership options? Relationships? Is she there to fix the problem at the VA or to make millions off it? My fear is the latter.
I was a senior GS employee with the VA for the last two of my 23 year career in Civil Service. I have never witnessed fraud, waste and abuse as I did with the VA; and I worked on the revenue side of the VA (non-clinical).
Mediocrity is rewarded and doing a good job–you get reprimanded. Not enough time to tell the unbelievable stories of my two-year tenure that would make you blood boil.
It seems the folks on this site and the site owner have a very good picture of what I’ve personally been through as a Vet and seen as a VA employee.
I tried to stand-up and be a voice of common sense and practice good government. Many smart people told me to keep my mouth shut. I was threatened, lied about, lied too, and eventually I went outside the agency for support and was suppose to be protected by the Whistlblower Act. That was a joke or maybe I was completely naive.
I was actually started to become what I saw and despised. I checked my moral compass or either ran out of fight and walked out the door. I gave up a very nice financial picture so I would NOT lose what I know it is to be right. I actually became physically ill and although the money was good, my health was more important.
The VA claims and healthcare so far has been a nightmare. I have had some wonderful VA docs and nurses, it’s the administration, policies that make no sense, a few lazy docs and nurses that do not document correctly even when you do get the appointment it took you 6 months to get.
It’s a vicious cycle and it seems like everyone up to the Secretary can’t or won’t fix it; because it CAN BE fixed without spending a dime probably by anybody that’s been a victim of the VA’s careless and even reckless behavior of our benefits and healthcare that you and I earned.
Got way too long-winded. Keep calling, writing letters, etc…Will it do any good ? I don’t know. But I do know, myself, I can’t sit and do nothing. So a keyboard, paper and stamps is my way to try in making another Vet have it a little easier.
Thanks for visiting the site and sharing. Bill Waterson, creator of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes, famously said: “Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement”.
I think you made the wise decision in choosing to leave the VA. There are some good people that work there, and I keep in contact with them as much as possible.
But you are right, the problems in the VA are so ingrained in the culture that the BEST way to clear the backlog is for each Vet to take back the power in his or her own claim!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
The VA does seem to play the numbers like an insurance company – many Veterans accept the denial and never challenge it. –CA.
Right on the money Ben once again!
The va is an insurance company. They will pay you out money, but their first priority is to deny you your claim. If they cant outright deny it theyll either grant it or lowball you…but both areway better than a denial.