News 13 continues to look out for our military veterans. Some vets here in Bay County are having trouble getting the help they need on medical claims and other assistance. So what is going on? News 13 gets to the bottom of the issues in this Problem Solver.
It all deals with a veterans hotline telephone number. We have learned that it can be a hit or miss situation when veterans contact the VA. Has something changed with the system?
Louie Davis of Bay County says this is the worst it has been. Davis says he has taken phone calls from other veterans sharing the same frustration. Davis is a former Marine and now service officer for the VFW posts in our area.
We caught up with him at the VFW Post 8205 in Parker. He tells us, "Usually, I just sit back and let the VA take their time getting everything done. But when you get enough complaints…somebody has to start doing something about something."
Davis says for some reason, the Department of Veterans Affairs toll free National Benefits Call Center 800-827-1000 phone number has been slow to respond to veterans calls about medical and other claims. According to Davis, "Was even calling at 8 and 9:00 central time at night to try to try to leave a message…unable to do so. So that has been for two weeks just me trying."
So news 13 contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs to find out what is wrong. Turns out that the recent dangerous weather conditions, including snow and ice in some parts of the nation, are to blame. The VA tells news 13 that the winter weather significantly affected available resources.
This statement from the VA, "since the beginning of January 2014, call center service across the country has been impacted a total of 15 days due to the inclement weather. These full and partial closures of the call center affected our ability to serve callers...The phone system itself is not experiencing a problem."
The statement goes on to say call volume was up 47 percent in January 2014 from December 2013 and remains heavy. The VA also says that during periods of peak call volume, there may not be a call back from the telephone system. But they do happen ... 94% of the time.
There is also an option for veterans to remember. They can register for what is called the eBenefits online site. It is available twenty four hours a day to access benefits information.