A Day at the VA – And they are surprised vets complain?

Today was a typical day for us at the Veteran’s Outpatient Clinic in Austin. We got there about 10 am and our first stop was the desk at Mental Health. I had the form ready to be filled out by the doctor, but was told that particular doctor only comes in on Thursday’s. The look of confusion on the receptionists face should have started the claxon of warning bells. I calmly explained that the form was an Aid and Assistance form, and we needed it filled out to complete a claim. Uncertainty was tattooed on her face. She asked what she needed to do with it. I repeated that the form needed to be filled out by the doctor when she came in on Thursday. Ten minutes later, I was pretty sure the form would end up in the hands of the doctor. Hopefully. It was sent with a good luck, and godspeed.

The next stop for the day was the eligibility office. ¬†Somehow his name had been misspelled in the system at one point and it was causing problems with appointments and shuttle reservations. A pesky extra “e” was the culprit. The first young lady we spoke to there was a sweet girl who, what she lacked in training, made up for in desire to help. A rarity. After getting the correction (we thought), we waited patiently to get his old, tattered ID card redone. After a 45 minute wait, we were called back into the room for the photo. The misspelling on the record was discussed again. The gentleman assured us he has checked to make sure the name was spelled correctly. Onward we went to the next stop of the day.

Next up was the Veteran’s Commission office in the clinic. We signed in and were told to expect a “very long wait.” Never a good sign when they tell you that you might want to make sure you have eaten because you are going to be there a while. After heading back to the holding room, we settled in for the wait.

We had a couple other forms to deal with, so I decided the down time was a good time to deal with it. I asked the gentlemen at the information desk where this particular form needed to be filled. He told me that it was the Commission office. Happily, I went back to the office to turn that one in and mark it off the list. No. Foiled. I was informed that the form I had needed to be filled with the social worker on staff. I head to his office. He has just left for lunch and won’t be back for an hour. They were not sure how many people would be waiting to see him when he got back.

Back to the Commission office holding tank. One of the counselors stepped out and asked us what we needed. I told him and he said we could just mail it ourselves if we were sure we had everything in order. I told him we would wait to speak to a counselor. Our stomachs were starting to remind us that it was time to eat. We headed on down to the commissary. They have great french fries there. Finally, after an hour wait we were called in. The counselor there at least seemed familiar with the paperwork we were presenting. She told us that it would be better if we waited until Mental Health finished their part to begin the filling process. I verified that we had all the forms save the one from Mental Health and we left her office.

We headed down the hall to wait for the social worker. We checked the kiosk for future appointments and discovered his name was still misspelled. What?!?!? Back to Eligibility we go. Done buttons had been pushed by this time. The gentleman at the window told us there was nothing we could do about the misspelling unless we had his birth certificate. The young lady who had been so helpful before tried to help again and he “shushed” her. RUDE! I knew tempers were soaring, so I sent my vet down to wait for the social worker while I hashed out this identity issue. I told the clerk that since the VA was the one that had made the mistake, they were the ones who needed to fix it. After 30 minuted of arguing, cajoling, and questioning he finally sent an email to the Temple VA office to have the problem fixed.

Back to waiting for the social worker. 30 minutes later we were called into his office. A very nice man, he met us with a smile. I handed him the form that the Commission office said he needed, and he told me that the form needed to be filled in a different office. Can you guess? Yes. The Commission office. He was shocked and a bit angry when I told him they had refused the document and told me to file it with him. He said he would take care of it. Finally. Someone who seemed to care and want to do his job. The needed forms were completed and we were finally done for the day. Before we left his office, the social worker recommended we file out a “Speak to the VA” letter. I took one to complete later, as I have a lot to say. Hope they are ready for an earful.

Random Thoughts for a New Year on the Old One

My brain has been going in overload the past few days. So much is going on in the nation right now; in society in general. When did it become common, acceptable even, to treat authority figures with such hatred? We have Congressmen calling for the end of out President, mobs rioting, criminals being treated as victims, and police being murdered. Have we become so sick that there is no hope? I can’t believe that to be true. I think what has happened is that people have become so self-centered that they have no empathy.

Why is empathy so rare? Have some people completely lost the ability to feel empathy, or have they just forgotten?