May 15, 2015

Veterans Adminstration to roll out new, improved website

Fueled by last year's horrifying wait-list scandal, the V.A. and government representatives have been promising to better serve our veterans. 


Ask any veteran and you'll learn that one area badly in need of improvement is customer service. Right now, there are over 1,000 veterans-related "hotlines" that often require those calling for information to make multiple calls and endure multiple wait times. Processing of applications is slow, The application itself can be maddeningly complex. Veterans Services Officers are helpful but may not be available with regularity. Even the V.A. website requires users to go through contortions to provide or ferret out information. The V.A. is not succeeding at letting veterans know about available programs, either: Nearly half of all veterans are unaware that they are eligible for certain benefits or that those benefits even exist (see my prior post on Aid and Attendance benefits). 


One tool the V.A. is implementing to address these issues is a new website, which theoretically - hopefully in practice, too - will  provide veterans with a smoother experience. The new site will integrate nearly 200 separate veterans-related databases into one portal. Once registered, a veteran should have access to information about any and all benefits to which he is entitled. 


Don't get too excited just yet, though: The site is going to be in its beta phase for some time. The test period begins May 20. Hopefully the bugs will be worked out by the end of the year, when it will go live. The phone system is supposedly being overhauled, too. We'll see how that goes. I am cautiously optimistic!

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