Department of Veterans Affairs

Better Letters for Vets

VA needs to upgrade the structure and content of standard language used in its automatically generated letters (MAPD and PCGL) to provide optimal service to Veterans, slash claims inventory, save money, and boost employee morale.

Edits should be done by VA employees who work claims daily, not contractors in Washington who have never opened a Veteran's file.

Every month VA receives thousands of requests to clarify nebulous issues in letters from Vets and beneficiaries. Thousands also visit VA regional offices to ask similar questions in person. This creates unnecessary work for VA, which translates to extra expenses (paper, toner, printers, employee salaries, electricity, postage, etc.). More importantly, this issue frays the relationship between VA and its customer base. VA's credibility is compromised, and Vets become skeptical and frustrated.

VA letters are generated automatically and reviewed by employees prior to being mailed. Letters contain legalese rather than simple language. They contain superfluous information. The letters do not state important information first, and there are grammar and punctuation errors that need to be corrected manually. Employees are not allowed to make any other significant changes to their letters.

For the first time in history, VA has almost 1 million pending claims. Many VA employees are currently working mandatory OT due to the massive workload. Many Veterans wait a year or more to receive decisions on claims. When a decision is made, they receive a complicated letter. They read it, get confused, and write back to us.

Changing letter templates (in MAPD and PCGL) will save money, reduce processing time, and improve VA's image. VA can then focus on processing claims to award Veterans benefits rather than working correspondence claims that could be avoided altogether. Consequently, VA employees will not feel so overwhelmed, and they can take pride in the "product" they create.

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Idea No. 7536