This book, Battle for Veterans’ Benefits, Taking on the VA, is written for veterans, by veterans. More specifically, this book is intended for disabled veterans and is written by disabled veterans. Both of us are air force vets, one a career flyer, and the other served his single tour, got out, and has regretted that decision ever since. We both once worked at a VA regional office adjudicating veterans’ claims and have experience with literally thousands of veterans’ claims and complaints.
Saying thank you to a veteran is not enough. We dedicate this book to all those who served in uniform. Especially to those who were never thanked properly: Korean and Vietnam veterans. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, well done, welcome home!
We thought we knew about the VA before we started working for the VA. We learned we didn’t know squat about VA benefits! Like most government processes, it’s clunky and, at times, very hard to understand. Believe us when we say that the folks who work at the VA are dedicated to their mission and work very, very hard each day, trying to get as many claims out to veterans as they possibly can. Why are they so dedicated? Most of the people we worked with are veterans. The government did a great job by hiring veterans to work at the VA. We understand what you need and how badly you need it. We speak your language and share your heritage.
Why does the VA claims process seem so clunky, slow, and take forever? Well, that’s a great question, and the answer is equally hard to explain. The short answer is the lawyers and the courts. Now we’re not going to slam the lawyers as that would be too easy. Actually, the lawyers have done a pretty good job helping the vets get more benefits and holding the government accountable. But with just about every court case the VA is involved with, the judge rules that the VA must inform each veteran of such and such.
Okay, so the VA does all that. What that means is that when the VA receives a claim, the VA has to use specific languages (usually dictated by the court from someone in Washington who used to work at the IRS and previously wrote the tax code!) in our letters. This makes the simple
We received your claim and are working on it.
Into a five-to seven page novella explaining all your rights. Most of that stuff should be attached to the claim forms and not in the VA letter to you.
As this book is being written, the typical VA claim for compensation is taking just under two hundred days to complete. That is way too long to wait to get help from the government you defended. Hopefully, this book will help you get through the process much quicker and not get phone calls and letters from the VA letting you know you didn’t complete your claim correctly.
There is a new undertaking at the VA to make the claims of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans more streamlined. This effort is called Benefits Due at Discharge or BDD. There are only two BDD offices within the VA system, one in Salt Lake, Utah, and the other in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. BDD offices only work on those service members being currently discharged from the active military. Their average time to complete a claim is about one hundred days.
As we write this book, we will attempt to interject some humor whenever and wherever we can. Although being air force vets, we find it hard to write a book with our recliners all the way back! We will type it slowly because we know some of you army types don’t read too fast. We will try not to use too many big words so the Marines can keep up, and we will refrain from using Navy terms because even they do not know what they mean! We could not find enough sketches or pictures to help out all the Coasties, sorry!
We trust you will find this book helpful and that you will recommend it to your fellow veterans. It is okay to share, but remember, we are veterans too trying to make a living, helping other veterans. Buy your own copy! ‘Nuff said!