by Sarah Schauerte
I’m back, everyone! And I have to apologize – for those of you who read my blog regularly (for which I thank you), you’ll note there hasn’t been one for some time. I have a good excuse, however – on November 2, my husband and I welcomed our first child, a daughter we named Brooke Avery. Our little Bean is doing very well, my parents are safely back home in the St. Louis area, and we’re learning all sorts of tricks as new parents (For example, did you know there is something called gripe water?).
Also, as mentioned, I recently released my debut novel for kids (NOT self-published), and have been busy promoting it. (I’ve been far, far less busy with this compared with caring for my new tiny human!). If you have any kid or grandkid that would be interested in a book for ages 8 to 12 likened to Jumanji but where the players go into the board to outsmart monsters (instead of safari animals), you can check it out here.
Since I realize that I’ve missed several weeks of the blog due to these recent developments, I’ve decided to share three VA-related anecdotes with you. Unfortunately, none are filled with quite the cheer that should be characteristic of this season:
- First, is anyone going through verification or reverification with the CVE? If you are, you know there are a number of changes with the CVE that have made the process a lot more difficult. One, because of the Kingdomware case, a lot of businesses looking to jump on that bandwagon have applied for verification. This influx has resulted in much longer wait times. Two, if you need to re-set your password, just call the CVE at (866) 584-2344 rather than waste time on the website. (The account screen will say it has sent you a new password, but it hasn’t. And won’t.). Do it before 6:00 PM – while the website says the Help Desk hours are until 8:00 PM, that’s an error that hasn’t been corrected for several months. (And please be nice to the poor folks at the Help Desk – account glitches and incorrect website information is not their fault). Three, the CVE is trying out a new process where it attempts to “personalize” applications. This involves a welcome call to veterans (I won’t go into details, but this call has little value), and the assignment of applications to a specific case manager. It can take almost a month for this assignment to occur and for the first document request to go out. And for the record, an application is “complete” – and the CVE’s 60 days to process an application starts ticking – after the applicant has thoroughly responded to that first document request. This can be a full month and a half after one first hits “submit.”
- Second, Representative Jeff Miller (Florida), who is leaving Congress and his post of chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is reportedly one of President-elect Donald Trump’s top picks for VA Secretary. An insider into the woes of the VA and some of the actual solutions to fix the broken system, Miller would be an excellent choice (though one disadvantage cited is he is not a veteran). You can read his interview with USA Today about potentially taking the post here. Other rumored candidates include Sarah Palin, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and 2012 Presidential nominee Mitt Romney. While Miller is not recognized as the front-runner, we can only hope that Trump will eventually realize the value he offers to the position.
- Third, in early December, the VA released reports on VA hospital ratings. If possible, some of you may want to consider traveling for better health care. The documents show that Denver’s VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System was given two stars out of five, and the Grand Junction VA Medical Center (Colorado) was given three. Many of the lowest-performing centers were centered in Texas and Tennessee: the Dallas, El Paso, Nashville, Memphis and Murfreesboro centers all received one-star ratings in the second quarter of 2016. The much-discussed Phoenix VA also received one star. Meanwhile, many centers situated in the Northeast and Upper Midwest received five-star ratings.
There you have it – three stories, and more to come next week. I have some catching up to do!
*Did you find this article informative? If so, sign up for Sarah Schauerte’s legal blog on veteran issues at: http://www.legalmeetspractical.com.