OAKLAND, CA – A local Veterans Affairs office is leading the nation with an innovative approach to veterans issues, by helping military members transition to civilian life by modifying their records without their knowledge, a VA spokesperson said today.
“A lot of our employees were getting bored with staring at their desks for 20 straight years,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Erik Shinseki, “so to raise morale I told them to start helping veterans in any way they can. Military life is tough, so we want to make civilian life easier for them.”
VA Claims Processor Roger Carder says he's eager to help veterans by working on their specific issues.
“Yeah I’m doing this guy a big favor,” said Carder as he rifled through the file of a former Army Specialist. “He got out with an honorable discharge so he deserves a break. I changed his records to indicate he was fully disabled so he wouldn’t have to get any kind of strenuous job. He called up a week later saying he got fired because his boss thought he was cheating the system. I told him I didn’t have the authority to change his records and couldn’t help him."
"He’s much better off now. He shouldn’t have had to work so hard.”
“I’m helping someone right now,” Rachel Smith said after placing a caller on hold briefly for three hours. “He’s saying he has PTSD and needs immediate psychiatric counseling. We’re supposed to get them an appointment within twenty four hours but I told him there aren’t any openings for three months. PTSD is one of those things that you’re better off dealing with on your own.”
The VA also launched its new “Tough Love” campaign, where they help veterans by giving them new challenges to overcome as part of a learning experience.
“I’m helping a girl named Sally right now,” said VA Case Manager Jason Marquez. “She joined the Army at 18 and got out at 22. She wants to go to college on the GI Bill. The Army gave her a steady paycheck so she’s never had a chance to deal with serious financial stress. I hid all her forms in my desk so she had to take out a bunch of student loans. Her savings ran out so she got evicted from her apartment, dropped out, and moved back in with her parents."
Marquez added, "Luckily the Tough Love campaign helped her gain a crushing amount of debt and she doesn’t qualify for GI Bill payments because she’s not in college anymore. It’s a good lesson we all have to learn sometime.”