S E E   A L S O

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

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11 November 2019

It always surprises us how many companies ignore our national holidays to conduct business as usual. And today being a national holiday of some weight, it particularly saddens us to think so many Americans have gone to work today as if it were any other Monday.

Service Flags. POW-MIA, Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S., Navy, Marines, Army.

It happens to be the national holiday we salute the neighbors -- not all of them citizens -- who have put their own lives on hold for years to defend us. It isn't any ordinary Monday.

But we have a habit of treating our veterans poorly. You might say that, as a nation, we're AWOL when it comes to doing our duty to them.

The topic has been hard for us to avoid lately.

Earlier this year Mom's social worker suggested she should use Dad's veterans benefits rather than pursue Medicare requests to follow her doctor's care recommendations. We looked into it and not only was the application process onerous for any elderly person, it was unfathomable to a reasonably capable fellow in the prime of his life.

After apologizing for the delay in responding to our written inquiry, the VA explained:

Eligibility for survivor benefits depends on many details and is decided on a case by case basis. The only way for an individual to know if they are eligible is to submit a claim. The claimant should refer to the attached fact sheets for detailed information, as well as how to apply.

But there's a catch:

For security reasons we are unable to provide specific information about a claims file to anyone other than the claimant, their chosen VA Power of Attorney (POA), Veteran Service Organization (VSO), or an individual listed on VA Form 21-0845, Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party.

No mere power of attorney, note, but VA Power of Attorney. Because:

If the claimant would like to appoint you as their Power of Attorney (POA) for this or a new claim, they should complete the attached VA Form 21-22a, Appointment of Individual as Claimant's Representative. This form allows you access to the claimant's information, and allows you the ability to act on behalf of the claimant for one claim only. As such, a new form must be completed for any future claims.

More recently an old friend who served in Vietnam has been wrestling with the Veterans Administration over medical issues he's suffering from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

He's one of those true blue guys who would do anything for you. But now that he needs help, nobody will do anything for him.

Just a few weeks ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs turned down the benefits claim his advocate advised him to pursue:

As he put it, the VA is "set up to discourage these applications. They mouth a lot of concern, but behind the scenes, it's the opposite with a lot of ineptness mixed in."

Our experience exactly.

He consequently doesn't have much faith in the appeals process. And to make matters worse, he's about to lose his room in a residence hotel. That means he'd have to move out of the city he's lived in since the 1970s to make ends meet.

It's a sharp contrast between the kid who voluntarily did his duty and a country that says it's "grateful and thankful for the service our Veterans have performed for our country" while it looks the other way. The kid suffers the consequences of his service while the country flies flags and organizes parades one day a year that most people spend at work, oblivious to the life-long suffering of its veterans.

Our friend knows what happened to him in Vietnam, even if the rest of us don't. And he's pretty clear about what's happening to him now.

He's getting screwed. But strike up the band for another Veterans Day.

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