Column by Jesse Church
Hello veterans, old Jesse here with all the veterans news and upcoming events. I would like to remind all veterans that the VA service officer Joe Thompson will be the veterans center in Kaunakakai on May 27 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., if you need help with a claim. I would also like to remind everyone of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Day program on May 28 at 9:30 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park in Kaunakakai. The Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans’ Memorial Day program will be at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery on May 30 at 9:30 a.m.
Congresswoman Mazie Hirono recently introduced a bill (HR 943) in Congress called K-9 Companion Corps Act, which would create a federal grant program for the use of assistance dogs by service members and veterans. Assistance dogs are currently helping thousands of soldiers and veterans, fighting to overcome physical or mental health disabilities.
Tim Dyhouse wrote a good article in the April 2011 issue of VFW magazine, about how the VA hopes new computer technology, better business practices and greater employee accountability are going to be the keys to reducing its claims backlog. The VA wants to eliminate all pending compensation and pension claims by 2015, and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki wants all claims processed within 125 days at a 98 percent accuracy rate. The backlog results in average waiting times of 180 days for new claims, up to four years for appeals. Asking veterans to wait half a year or more for a rating decision that could have a 1-in-3 chance of being incorrect is absolutely unacceptable. So with the VA’s new computer system, technology developed by IBM, VA states that the plan has more than three dozen initiatives, addressing three focus areas, creating a culture of accountability and advocacy among its employees, re-engineering its business processes and deploying leading technology. VA also plans to roll out its Veterans Benefits Management System, which uses VA’s new computer system to manage the flow of paperwork, electronic forms and correspondence nationwide in 2012. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the plan works.
Tony Dias, president of VA Loans Hawaii, came to Molokai on May 12 for a free educational seminar for veterans to learn more about VA benefits, specializing in VA home loans. Tony and his staff did a terrific job and we sent them a big mahalo. Tony has agreed to come back to Molokai if there are enough interested, so call the veterans center at 553-8387.
If anyone has any news, stories or just wants to talk about their experiences while in service of this great country, give old Jesse a call at 553-3323, I’d love to hear from you. A big mahalo to all our veterans, and the people of Molokai, you’re the best, I love you all.