Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#DearVA Hello Again...


Hello again #VA. I would like to encourage you today to learn how to manage your telephone system. After many years running call centers around the globe, I would be happy to donate some time to assisting you in setting up a functional and adequate staffing plan and if necessary IVR to control your call volume. I figure I can volunteer approximately 48 hours a year and still be gaining time in my life if I fix your phone system.

At least once a month I have an issue of some sort, either with your benefits office, or your medical department or records, each call takes multiple calls, sometimes hours of being on hold, I get disconnected nearly every time I call and I figure that each instance averages out to approximately 4+ hours. Multiplied by 12, that brings us to at least 50 hours a year.

I could certainly solve your phone problems in that time. If not, perhaps the #NewVA is interested in looking to resolve this for us, so that we can reclaim the equivalent of a work week from the labyrinth of your ineffectual phone system.




Another day, another month, another year. It really all does seem to blend into one another and before you know it a great deal of time has passed. My husband has been out of the military for almost 7 years now. He’s been seen at our local #VA for about 5 years now. It took us just shy of 2 years to get his #VA benefits straightened out through a series of evaluations and appointments with people he’d never met or heard of before. We found it odd that people who spent a grand total of one hour with him got to make decisions about his future. He was so wracked with anxiety and suspicion that when the day came he told me, “Fuck it, they want to hear what’s going on inside my head, I’ll tell them!” He went in and unloaded everything, unburdened himself for a moment, broke down in tears and begged for it to be done. This is how he relayed it to me as I was not allowed to attend with him. This confuses me as he often times gets his words all tangled up and can’t express himself, or he refuses to allow people to see him at his most vulnerable, or he simply doesn’t remember. His greatest fear is that when he can’t remember something his evaluator will think he’s faking some of his symptoms. I am his memory for him. I cherish the fact that he remembers exactly two moments from our wedding almost 9 years ago… two moments. He remembers a little more of our daughters birth from almost 5 years ago. Sometimes somebody will say something and it will trigger a memory and he enjoys that. He laughs and tells stories when he remembers them. I enjoy that too. I like it when he tells his crazy military stories because it reminds him of so many friends that he doesn’t get to or can’t see anymore. Friends are difficult for him. He doesn’t really have any anymore. His only social outings are events that I set up and attend with him, with other vet families. He does not set up excursions himself, does not call people (again, his words get jumbled and he refuses to talk on the phone because of it), he doesn’t seek out activities. The hardest part is the depression he feels when I go out with my limited number of friends. I might not have a lot anymore because I often have to cancel plans or just can’t make them in the first place. But when I go out and come back happy and telling him of my adventures he really gets depressed and misses the camaraderie that he just can’t seem to find again.

I am rambling. It tends to happen when I talk about my husband and how he’s doing, what his life is like. The point I was getting to, #NewVA, is that there are several signs that indicate a likely TBI within my husband. But it seems that the moment his PTSD was diagnosed, the TBI didn’t matter anymore. But it does, they’re not the same and they don’t take the same treatments. Once, several years ago, we were referred to the Neuro Psychologist. We were glad that he’d finally be tested and have some answers and a plan of action. But that appointment was cancelled and pushed out another couple of months. We waited some more. That appointment too was cancelled and rescheduled a couple more months out. I don’t really remember how long we’d been waiting, but I do know that we finally made it to the day of his appointment… and then the phone rang at 7:30am. Our appointment was yet again cancelled…. and it never got rescheduled again. We are going for another annual check up with the primary care doc and we’ll ask about it again. But it’s been a couple years and several times this has been mentioned and nothing has been done. Nobody is interested. The worst part, in my opinion, is that when our friends have been scheduled to see the new Neuro Psych at our local #VA, they are specifically informed by a #VA employee that if you even mention “TBI” the doctor will kick you out of her office. She then refers those patients to another doctor on the other side of the state… 6 hours away. And that hospital is so overwhelmed (due to this practice) that they don’t allow anymore referrals from her… and if they did, it would again be months and months away. So exactly how is my husband supposed to get tested for or treated for TBI? And how is it possible that this doctor is doing her job if she refuses to see patients for a very common affliction? I just don’t understand. And how much research are we spouses expected to do? How much time are we to devote to learning what needs to be done, who needs to be seen, writing letters and advocating, re-setting appointments, and literally harassing employees to get our vets taken care of? It’s too much, that’s the answer. It’s exhausting and infuriating and leads us to feel helpless fighting a giant that has more resources and seemingly no accountability. We make friends with other vet spouses not just for the understanding that they have, but also to help ease the burden of research and requirements. We are forced to form our own sort of unions to help figure out what to do, when to do it, how to do it and if we are even able to do it? Deadlines, red tape, more research, more advocating, more letter writing… this is what our daily lives look like outside of actually physically caring for our vets. People talk about what amazing people we are and how the job that we do is so important and what angels we are. So why does the #VA make our lives so much more difficult. Why is the one entity that should be our ally feel like an enemy? I’ve often said that I feel like the #VA caused a car accident with us and they’ve got dirty lawyers that we’re fighting for years on end as they try to cause us to give up. I’ve managed this far, I don’t intend to give in any time soon.

“They thought they would bury us, but didn’t realize we were seeds.”

100% Navy Wife

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