Wednesday, September 23, 2009

9/23/09 Surprise visit

This morning, I stayed at home to take care of some essential lingering official business-like financial phone things (whew!) that just can't be done at night or with children around. When I was ready to leave for work, I noticed a message on our answering machine. In a hurry, I almost didn't check it -- I had no energy to return yet another phone call -- but, curious, I did.

Turns out, it was a field examiner from the Veteran's Administration, who was down in our area from Oregon (?! hello, OREGON?!), could I meet this afternoon. This afternoon?! I haven't heard a peep since last May, and now I'm supposed to drop everything in the next few hours? Well, NO, I can't, but, what choice do I have? This is the first step in months towards appointing me Dad's fiduciary and finally releasing his pension funds. I wasn't about to miss this opportunity -- it could be months before I'd hear from them again.

I was able to contact the field examiner quickly, and arranged to meet her at home later in the afternoon. My relief at finally, finally getting some attention from the V.A. was tempered with intense frustration with the process -- I have to drop everything and totally suck up, because they have all the power. They have the money, after all. Money is power. Lack of money is sucking up to the V.A.

I met with the lady, and she was very nice. Without beating on her personally, I did tell her I hadn't heard a thing from the V.A. and quickly summarized the numerous problems I'd had dealing with the V.A. And why was she calling me out of the blue? She explained that when she got back from vacation a few days ago, she was handed 35 new cases, all out of Oakland, and told to fly there the next day. That's not even enough time to print out hundreds of case file pages. Seems the V.A. treats its employees as badly as its veterans. "The V.A. administration sucks," she explained.

Well, that pretty much shot my afternoon, but at least it was a huge step in a long, long process, one that started about 18 months ago. There's still at least another 8 weeks of waiting, but we're now closer to the end than the start. It's actually remotely possible that Dad will finally have his Veteran's Pension before he dies.

The lady was so nice, and so satisfied that I had Dad's interests at heart and wasn't about to use his money to open a meth lab, that she said she'd waive the bonding requirement. The huh? Believe it or not, since Dad's back pension has built up to more than $10,000, the V.A. normally requires the money to put into an insured bond -- which would cost over 700 dollars. I was stunned. We'd have to pay because the V.A. putzed this for so long?! That is totally, completely, beyond outrageous. This is one time I'm very happy a rule is being treated as a guideline.

Tough work week ahead, but not for me. Gabriel's book report is due next week, and we're far, far behind. Unfortunately, Gabriel picked much too hard a book -- a great story and a good book, but one filled with anachronisms and archaic language and build-up in the story that makes it hard to jump into ("Puss'N'Boots," a classic story, but I have to explain that "game" means "small animals that you hunt" and that presenting dead rabbits to a king is considered a gift). Not to mention his "Star Of The Week" on Monday (Tuesday with Katrina if I can get the teachers to agree to it, but they haven't responded), and, of course, regular homework. And Julian even had a book report yesterday (a "Story Map"), plus homework and reading. I'm exhausted!


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