Department of veterans "claim holding" processes



23 mARCH 2006




Congressman Lane Evans

Congressman from Illinois

House Veterans Affairs Committee


Mr. William McLemore

VA Deputy Assistant Secretary

Intergovernmental and International Affairs


Mr. Jeffery E. Phillips

Communications Director for Congressman Buyer 

House Veterans Affairs Committee


Mr. Len Sistek

Committee on Veterans Affairs

Oversight and Investigations


FROM:  Charles Kelley, Vietnam Veteran


SUBJECT:  Ethics of the VA in mandated processes of mandating a claim lay in state for six months minimum, Questions on.


It recently came to my attention regarding a widow’s case against the government for her husband’s death related to his toxic chemical exposures in Vietnam that there maybe some built in hold on claims by the VA processes.


I am including the widow’s statements below with some editorial license as to the wording and deleting the names.



After my 2 contacts (the VSRs) that were available to me locally pulled their ties with the VA because of their loyalty to Veterans and their absolute disgust and disagreement with the VA System gave me no other choice but to make the 3 1/2 hour drive to see the next closest Patient Advocate that MIGHT possibly help me.


“The lawyer that first helped my husband start his disability process (before the terminal diagnosis) was a VSR, was wonderful.  When my husband’s terminal cancer was diagnosed, he helped me a lot.  He contacted me one day to let me know he was leaving his job because he did not agree with the VA System, and that he could not continue to carry out the BS they demanded. 


We stay in touch, and he advises the best he can.  He also introduced me to the man that took his place, who was also a VSR, who was helpful, but I will also add that after eight months this guy left because of the same VA issues.


In January of this year, I got to his office at 6:00 AM and was #11 to sign in, and finally got in to see him at 12:30 PM.  He pulled up my husbands file picked up the phone, dialed three numbers, was connected to DRO and said "pull up file #xxxx, “what the hell is wrong with you people, this is one hell of a case!"

The DRO said; "it is in the 'holding pattern', it has to sit for at lease 6 months at this stage, and I should get a reply around June at which time it will be a year since the NOD was received." 


Obviously, the above does not speak well for the VA system.




Is this six-month hold required on all VA claims?


Is this six-month hold required on only spouse survival cases on VA claims?


If so, is the congress aware of any of these built in holds mandated by the VA?


Note: One can understand the stalling on Veterans claims because if the Veteran dies then his claim dies with him or her.  (Conflict of Interest and rewards poor VA performance by anyone’s definition, especially a legal definition.)


One could not understand why the VA would have a built in hold on the widows and/or orphans claim.


Does the VA have some legal precedence, outside of their own separate omnipotent judicial system, under the constitution or any code of laws that allows this mandate?


Is there anything like this in the civilian claims court or civilian legal system where a judge cannot pass judgment for a minimum of six months as the claim lays dormant?


If not then why not? 


If it is good enough for Veterans, then why is the rest of the nation excluded from such legalized delays and stalling?


Thank you very much for your attention in this matter.


Sincerely and Respectfully,


Charles Kelley

DMZ 67-68