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An email from Jim to a friend.

From: Jim Strickland

To: A Dedicated VA Employee

Subject: What's Up In Your World?

I hope that this finds you well and not too upset with all the flak that's flying around you guys. Thanks for staying in touch and keeping us informed.

We're curious. How is all the horrible press affecting the everyday guy and gal who works at one of the VA regional offices? The press and the Congress each make controlled visits to a random VARO and everyone gets plenty of face time on camera except the people who are doing the work and shouldering the blame.

So, what's up on your end? Tell our readers how the real VA employee feels about all this.

From: A Dedicated VA Employee

To: Jim Strickland-VAWatchdog Dot Org

Subject: My World

I've been at a meeting with other dedicated VA employees. Very little has been said about any of this.

A number of my coworkers watched the hearing last week and there was some discussion but there haven't been any ongoing discussions about it.

I don't think that any employee has any expectation that there will be any change and it is business as usual here.

There are a fair number of employees who still think that this is an attack on all VA employees and that Congress and the media are trying to make it look as if the VA does nothing. I am not sure they really understand when I try to explain that it is not the front-line employee that the furor is about but the dishonesty and lack of accountability of the high level managers that is it at issue.

After working more than a year of mandatory overtime with no end in sight and dealing with constantly changing performance standards and procedures, it's hard for even the most dedicated of VA employees to care about much of anything or have any hope for any positive change.

That includes me.

But I have to say that the entertainment value watching some of these high level people get skewered in the press and in the hearings is quite high. But that’s all it is-entertainment.

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Do you have a picture of yourself back in the day?

Whether that was 50 years ago or 5 years ago, share yourself in uniform, on duty. I'll start with this one of the world's geekiest in 1968. Email your picture to <>

Jim Strickland  91-D20  E-5     98th General Hospital   1968-1970

Here I am next to my ship after it was recovered from being shot down,early Dec-71. Was hit just inside the Laos/rvn border just west of Khe Sahn.The pic is back at base camp, Camp Evans.  G.A.Branigan, Charliehorse 962, RVN 70-71-72 A Trp. 7/17th.ACR.1st.Avn.Bde.CE-LiftD Trp.3/5th.Cav.101st.Abn.

Senior Scout Crewchief  The CAV is forever....OathKeeper   N7LOH

Me in Nam.

Gene Miller  

Kilo 3/9  1967

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A picture of me 02/1969 at an outpost

from the small hamlet of Vinh KIm.

Gary Bradley

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The Veterans A to Z Guide of VA & SSA Benefits

You may know that we maintain 2 veteran-centric web sites; the VAWatchdog and the A to Z Guide. The A to Z Guide is strictly VA and SSA benefits, no news updates, no opinion.

We've been busy updating the A to Z Guide for you to use.

Please check out these and other pages over there as you look for the best intel you can find about your benefits.

As always, there's no charge, no registration, no membership requirements...we don't spam you, put you on some unwanted email bulletin list and we won't even take your donations.

We'll do our best to answer your questions quickly, accurately and courteously. This is all about you, the veteran who needs just a little help with those benefits.

How To Hire A Lawyer

Trust me, you're going to need a veterans law attorney before this is all over. VA is more adversarial than ever. Don't wait, it doesn't cost you a dime to talk to an attorney.

How To Manage Debt to the VA

When you're notified that the VA is taking away your money because of an overpayment, you have to react quickly. We outline how to do that.

The Combined Ratings Table or CRT

This is VA math and the reason that your ratings don't add up. What other organization can look you in the eye to tell you that 10 + 10 + 20 + 20 = 40?

How To Increase A Rating

This is the #1 question we receive and it's the simplest action to take at your VA. We describe in detail the steps you should take to have your ratings increased.

Marijuana, Drug Testing and You

Believe it or not, VA doesn't care if you smoke pot. You won't lose a benefit because you bought that fancy bong. Civilians are doing as much or more drug testing than VA. Read this and find out how changing laws about weed affect you.

Some of the pages at the A to Z Guide are similar to the information you'll find at the VAWatchdog. Much of the data there is written by other authors and will add to what you find here. No matter, the serious veteran who is in command of his benefits will want to read it all.

Applying for and receiving the benefits you earned isn't a sport you can watch from the sidelines. You must be involved.

If you don't have the time or the energy to read through the material we provide you, why do you think that you can hand it all over to a stranger and that person should do it all for you...for no charge?

Nobody cares about your benefits the way you do...nobody.

Do It Yourself...and get it done right.