After eight years of fighting with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs regarding a claim for PTSD that did eventually get approved but with an inaccurate effective date, it was clear that, unless I wanted to go another eight years, I needed help.
I contacted my congressman, Rep. Farenthold, and asked for his assistance in dealing with an unresponsive and dismissive Veterans’ Affairs. I signed the release that allowed Congressman Farenthold to inquire and receive information on my behalf and armed his staff with the details surrounding my claim.
A few weeks later, I heard back from his office and was told that the VA was not going to do anything more for me regarding my PTSD claim. I was disappointed but not surprised. I knew how the VA worked and that, for the most part, it is a government organization designed to assist veterans but in actuality, seems to despise us.
A few days ago, just a couple of weeks after my last contact with Congressman Farenthold’s office, I received a letter from the VA. This letter stated that they wanted me to fill out a form that updates them on the status of my spouse and dependents. This seemed very odd to me as I had never been asked to do this before over the past eight years. Why now?
In addition to the demand that the information be sent back to the VA within 60 days or risk having my disability compensation reduced, the formatting of the letter and form as well as the point of origin were very suspicious. I have been living in the state of Texas since 2009 and have been assigned to the Houston Regional Office since then. Why, on earth, would the Cleveland, OH Regional Office be sending me letters, demanding updates to my dependents? Also, since when does the VA send correspondence to me with the letter on the front of the page and the form that I am to fill out on the back side of that very same page? Every other correspondence I have ever received from the VA, that included any forms, has been on separate sheets of paper. Letter – form – rights and appeals disclosures page. This one was: letter and form on the same sheet of paper. Not normal.
I contacted Congressman Farenthold’s office, first thing, Monday morning. I let them know what I had received and the odd details about it. Today, I received a notification from the Congressman’s office advising me that the Houston Regional Office had no record of a letter being sent to me regarding my dependents. I was asked to send a copy of the letter and form I received, to Congressman Farenthold’s office, so they could continue the inquiry, armed with copies and proof.
Am I being paranoid or does it seem odd that I would receive a “routine” inquiry asking me to update the status of my dependents just a couple of weeks after I asked for and received help from my congressman with the VA? Not to mention that if it is their “routine” to do so, then why is this the first time? Is the VA cutting back on funds so much so that they are now forced to use the front and back of sheets of paper instead of separating the forms from the letters like they normally do? Is the Houston VA office so busy that they have sought assistance from the Cleveland, OH office? Are they doing some new kind of updates to their system that has caused them to lose the birth dates of and number of children I have? Is there a reason why they haven’t needed to verify this information until now?
I’m not sure what is going on but, in light of the controversy surrounding the IRS and other government agencies, I am a little nervous about the VA contacting me, using threatening language, right after I get my congressman involved in my claim with them.
Things that make you go hmmm….
I’ll update as I find out what’s going on.
Got word from my congressman’s office that they received the copy of the strange letter. They advised me to wait to send the form back in just in case it is fraudulent. They are working with the Houston VA on the case.