Don't take "no" from the VA bureaucrats

The two or three people who read my blog (perhaps one less these days — a long story that) on a regular or pert near regular basis may know of the troubles I’ve seen with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Well after a couple of calls screaming this afternoon at a couple of women at the VA’s billing call center in Topeka, Kansas, (some or all of the VA hospitals have outsourced their billing)I had an epiphany about my relationship with the VA.

That relationship boils down to this: The VA finds reasons why they cannot do something while I harbor any number of reasons why they can do something.

The VA’s attitude stems from it being institutionally averse to helping people, combined with any number of rules, regulations and layers of bureaucracy that could hide an entire Army division as well as its tanks, Humvees, skivvies, kits and kaboodles.

My reasoning is due to having witnessed the VA doing what others within that same organization says can’t be done. Thus, it is my belief that beyond what is natural, and perhaps even inside portions of the supernatural world, that things can get done. Oh, bureaucrats, administrators, hall monitors, DMV clerks and the like all SAY something can’t be done. But I believe that practically anything can be accomplished, perhaps with the exception of successfully having your socks emerge in pairs from a washer-dryer on a routine basis.

When a supervisor from the VA billing call center called me back this afternoon to tell me that the bureaucrat in Houston would send in the request for my second refund from having too much money stolen from my government pay, I screamed back at her: “You see, it CAN be done.” She said that if I didn’t stop yelling at me … Well, I didn’t wait around because at “yelling” I slammed down the phone thus cutting off communication with a person who would dare tell me that something can’t be done, mainly because she helped contribute to getting what I needed to be accomplished, done.

It might be a long, lonesome and frustrating road if you are a veteran and the VA tells you that they can’t do this or that, or if you are having trouble getting what you need for your health. But the worst thing that you can do is to take it from them. Too often, people just take the VA’s word for it and that’s it. I suppose I cost myself a lot of grief and high blood pressure, but sometimes it’s worth the struggle. Even though, a veteran shouldn’t have to struggle to get care for which they’ve signed up.

There is always another level a veteran can appeal to if nothing is getting done at the hospital level. Each VA facility is part of a so-called “VISN,” for Veterans Integrated Service Network. There are about 17 or 18 of these throughout the country. My VA clinic and hospital are in VISN 16, which includes VA facilities from Jackson, Miss. to Houston, Texas. This link will take you to a VA facilities locator. Enter your zip code and select “VISN office” on the drop-down menu next to the words “Facilities.” This will lead you to locations and numbers for the VISN office over your clinic or hospital. If you are having problems with a hospital or clinic and cannot get anywhere with the alleged “patient advocates,” locate your VISN office and ask for whomever is over the patient representatives or advocates in that VISN. They are the next step up in the food chain.

If you are a veteran and use the VA for health care, don’t take no for an answer because believe me, it’s not an answer.

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