This is going to be a three-part series, but I’m not going to submit them in a row, I’m going to stagger them, the reason is that even I get bored with the same thing for three weeks in a row so why wouldn’t our readers?
Five years ago under a previous administration when I was age sixty-five I applied for my VA disability in beautiful downtown Mega Manila. That is a bureaucratic pile of dung that even a Dung Beetle would shy away from. A new guy was elected and said he would fix it, but being Manila is the Capital City of the Philippines, I wondered if a surgical strike by an F-18 would even fix the problem. Remember I am talking about the previous VA in Manila; because Manila is still the main HQ for the VA. For those veterans’ living in the R.P. (This is also for eligible Filipinos from WW-II)
I retired in 1986 and just waited 26 years to file as I was living in Puerto Rico and then at sea as a seaman again and just never found the time. I have no idea how much money I lost, but as I never needed it I never cared. But when I pass on, Mayang receives nothing from the US Navy or Social Security but if I have VA she will collect that. Don’t worry about her between my savings and insurance she is well provided for. I even have Philippine burial Insurance and have never owed any money to anyone since the early 1970’s. (I do have a High-Value credit card with a $100.00-1,000.00 balance to keep it open, I’ll use it once a month and pay it off online the next day. (I told her to go wild with it my last days, and they will pay it off and send her a $1,000.00 extra.) She’s waiting! (LOL)
So in 2012, I made the journey to the VA puzzle palace after waiting three months for an appointment, prior to the drive to Manila, I phoned to confirm my appointment. “Oh, yes sir, you are scheduled for tomorrow at 0900.” I was told! At 0900 the following day after a middle of the night drive from Dinalupihan Bataan to Mega Manila, the guy at the desk asked: “Who are you and why are you here without an appointment?” Thank God the Philippines have no “Right to Bear Arms” amendment in their constitution or you would have still been reading about me in the local papers.
Through clenched teeth and choking down the bile that was welling up inside me, I explained that indeed I did have an appointment, and if you people enjoyed the monthly remittance from Uncle Sam (Or collecting Eagle Shit as we said in the US Navy.) Someone in a white lab coat had best well, start to hold my balls while asking me to turn my head and cough.
Within minutes my private bits were in the hands of some guy in a lab coat and I could only hope he was a doctor. Then off to an interview, a myriad of questions and thousands of little blocks were being checked. Next, they asked for my medical records. I explained that all I had were copies. (Once at the Philippines Bureau of immigration my passport was lost because I handed it to them) I’ve learned my lesson well, that giving any government anywhere on earth your original paprtworks of any type is a plum dumb idea!
My copy machine/printer was producing copies while my Niece (Shay-Shay) was paid well to sit in my living room watching TV and making copies of my medical records (Well worth it.)
The day at the VA ended and I was sent home to sit with my thumb in a body part until they contacted me. Two months later I contacted them. All was not fine; they were just waiting for a copy of my medical records! (Shay-Shay my niece, thank the Lord had made two copies) Remember my passport in Manila? You can’t get me twice.
Needless to say, my interest in a claim to the VA was fading quickly and the handwriting was clearly on the wall. It wasn’t going to happen. John McCain and Bernie Sanders co-wrote a bill that injected billions into the VA. The VA Administrators took that money and spent it on brand new offices and admin spaces, major bonuses for all higher-ups, and didn’t even hire one new Doctor. According to Washington who never followed up on the money as it was in the swamp and untraceable. Thank you, Senators McCain and Sanders, and you both wanted to be the president? Thank god that never happened!
January 2017, Paul had turned seventy and will try again. No trip to Manila VA Office was required; the VA team came to Olongapo with the Embassy Outreach. I filled out some paperwork’s and shockingly I was given a file, claim number. WHAT THE DUCK!!!
Similar to my Tri-Care Health Ins. a private contractor was hired to administer VA care overseas and their pay depends on how Veterans rate the service.
I was contacted by e-mail asking me questions about the distance to Manila I had to travel. Medical was now conducted by certified health professionals contracted to the US Government, I was phoned and e-mailed from Houston Texas and given a doctor’s appointment, asked to verify by e-mail that I received it in a timely manner, and then they (Houston) sent an appointment letter and maps on how to get there. Satisfied? So far yes
Well, Houston Texas did send me two e-mails one with an appointment on Aug. 4th and one hour later with an appoint on Aug. 3rd unsettling, but I responded back to them and they came back correcting the error within two hours and didn’t even try to blame me. I’m leaving in the morning with my Son-in-law driving me. I’ll report back and let you know how it went.
We drove north to Tarlac on SCTEX towards Tarlac and turned right, and then we passed thru Nueva Ecija, on the way to Palayan City where I saw a giant RED Horse Statue along the road. There was no logical reason for it being there, as there wasn’t any building near it only rice fields but it made the drive worthwhile. We found the office, the appointment was seamless and I felt good about how it was handled. A most relaxing drive and the scenery was quite beautiful there. Still a very long drive but it was not Manila.
End of Part One