Archive for December, 2016

The VA – a bloated tick

Posted in VA on December 12, 2016 by Jon Spencer

Ok, so this is a rant about how utterly inefficient the VA system is.  I have seen the reports in the news, but never realized how utterly incompetent the system is at serving veterans for even the most simple requests.

First, I moved from Dallas, Tx to Tennessee, North Carolina, then back to Tennessee this year.  I know, a lot of moving, but it was spread over many months.  You would think something as simple as an address change would be relatively painless.  You would be wrong.

Now in Oct, I landed a new job, so I contact the VA to update my records.  I tried to use the online feature, but for some reason THAT address doesn’t update to the one the VA system uses…so I had to call and get them to update their system.

Nearly 3 months later, I attempt to get into a clinic for basic medical checkups (vision, dental, eye).  I received a card stating I was enrolled in the Veterans Choice Program, so naturally I call the number on the card to attempt to be seen.  Well, their info on my wasn’t updated, so that took about 20 min just to get my new address entered.  At the end, I am notified that I am in the system, but there are two programs and of course, I have not been assigned to one.  I was told I have to call the VA and get enrolled.  Ok, first…this is a VA program, but not really the VA…so just another time/money/bureaucracy sink to stymie getting anything done for the veteran.

I then call the VA toll free line, and amazinly get to talk to David there.  I tell him I just want to get in for a basic check-up at my local VA clinic, so he takes my info to verify it’s me.  Well, after 10 min of that, he then tells me my contact info is still pointing to Dallas.  Now remember, I contacted the VA multiple times over the summer, I have even received correspondence at the new address, but yet his system is showing an address that is nearly a year outdated.  Sigh….

So we get past this point, and now I’m informed that to be seen in at my local CBOC clinic, I have to contact the Regional Hospital in Memphis to have them (1) change my preferred facility from Dallas to Tennessee, and (2) will need to work with them on getting an appointment.  So far, I have spent over two hours on the phone, with two different people, in two different offices, and not even close to getting an appointment.

David gives me the Memphis phone number, and tries to connect, but no one answers.  He then gets back on the line with me and says we will call the main switchboard number, then have them transfer to the Eligibility Department at the Memphis VA Hospital.  So I wait and after a few minutes I hear the phone ringing.  TEN minutes later, I am still listening to the phone ringing.  Finally, a Mr. Billy Smith answers, I tell him the situation and I need my preferred facility changed from Dallas to Tennessee.  He fumbles around for a bit, then puts me on hold.  So I wait again, and wait….and wait…and wait.  Another 7 minutes pass and now a Mr. Johnson answers, and I have to go through the whole explanation again.  So after explaining and verifying who I am, I am now told there are two ways to proceed.

Option #1, drive down to Memphis, wait in line to see someone there to get my files transferred, and once that step is done, then meet with another individual to get an appointment setup.  Well, I work during the week, and Memphis is about 2 hours away from me, so I choose not to waste a whole day for an administrative process that should only take about 30 actually minutes of work…tops.  Especially since I would then have to drive BACK two hours to home and wait around for my appointment at the clinic that is 10 minutes away from my house.

Option #2, I submit my request over the phone.  This process will take 5-7 business days.  Once this is completed, I will need to call back to setup an appointment.  Well, first, I will need to call back to even check if I was moved in system, which I highly doubt will happen, but if it does by some Festivus Miracle, I can then speak with someone on getting an appointment.  Oh, BTW, getting an appointment will take another 2 weeks.

I tell Mr. Johnson since I’m already on the phone with him, let’s go ahead and get the ball rolling.  I assume he did actually put a request in to get me into the Memphis system, but I will have to wait a week to even see if it’s been done.  My experience is that it will not.  I imagine it will be like usual, in that I will wait a week only to find out no one has a clue what I’m talking about, and will have to start the process again…wasting a week waiting on the VA to do nothing.

So, now that I’m in this process, I can easily see why the VA has been under such intense criticism over the past few years.  It is a unbelievably mismanaged, incompetent, and bloated agency that is full of tenured employees with no incentive to help, or fear of being reprimanded when they don’t.  This is the thanks veterans get; a system that is difficult to ‘enroll’ in (although I’ve been a disabled vet for 20+ years), slow response to meet basic services, and providing sub-par attention when forced to deal with the people they are suppose to assist.

More to follow on the blundering VA Health Care system as I go deeper into the bureaucracy.

MadCSLab – What is it?

Posted in General on December 12, 2016 by Jon Spencer

Welcome to the Mad Computer Science Laboratory, where we will delve into the forbidden secrets of the tech world!