Florida is home to over 1.6 million veterans and their families. Many are part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system. The quality of service provided by the VA is of great importance to all veterans.
The Citrus County Florida Veterans Advisory Board has released its white paper titled Failure of the VA System: “Delay, deny, wait till I die”. The role of the Advisory Board is to inform “the Veteran’s Service Office of areas of unmet needs in the veterans’ population, advises local veterans groups of services available, provides input on office policies and procedures and assists other matters specific to veteran’s services and veteran’s groups.”
The report quotes Rep. Jeff Miller, (FL CD-1), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, [Who] said the data confirmed the worst fears of many veterans and members of Congress. “The common refrain we hear from many veterans is, ‘Delay, deny, wait till I die,’ said Miller, who called the burgeoning backlog of benefits claims a ‘national embarrassment’.”
The white paper notes:
“They’re not interested in quality,” said attorney Gordon Erspamer. “They are interested in production and getting the decisions done, regardless of whether they are right or wrong. “The system is simply broke. We can do a lot better for our veterans.” The VA says its error rate on PERCENT OF PATIENTS RATING VA HEALTH disability claims is 14 percent. But the Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed a subset of those claims and found an error rate of 38 percent. And the Board of Veterans Appeals found the agency made mistakes in 73 percent of cases. Attorney Gordon Erspamer says errors are often the result of a well-known practice at the VA, “There’s a practice called topsheeting — a very famous term at the VA. And that is basically you take a look at the file, you look at the top pages of the file, and you write a decision.”
Watchdog Wire spoke with a VA physician who stated that working for the Veterans Administration is like “working for the Post Office”.
VA’s St Petersburg Regional Office Shortfalls Of major concern to Citrus County, Florida veterans is the status of our St. Petersburg Regional Office (RO), responsible for delivering non-medical VA benefits and services to 1.8 million veterans and their families in our State and 22,000 in our County. This is accomplished through the administration of comprehensive and diverse benefit programs established by Congress, and the RO goal is to deliver these benefits and services in a timely, accurate, and compassionate manner. Examples of the benefits and services that are supposed to be administered by the VA Regional Office are as follows:
- Disability Compensation, Including Death Compensation Benefits to Eligible Survivors
- Disability and Death Pensions for Veterans and Their Dependents
- Veterans’ and Dependents’ Education and Training
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance
- Guaranty and Indemnity Home Loans
- Specially Adapted Housing Grants
- Special Benefits for the Disabled
- Certain Burial Benefits
“The St Petersburg Regional Office has historically been one of the worst cases of veterans support in the VA,” states the white paper.
To read the entire white paper click here.