Valley Veteran Hopes New Web Tool Will Help Appeals Process

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WESLACO – New improvements to the Veterans Affair’s website will now make it easier for veterans to track their benefits appeal process.

The "Manage Your Health and Benefits" section under Vets.gov allows vets to follow any decision made on an appeal by the Veterans Benefits Administration.

The page follows the process step-by-step and will also provide alerts for actions a veteran needs to take.

A Rio Grande Valley veteran says she hopes the new tool will make her appeals go easily. She says she's had a rough go with the process over the years.

Nancy Bazan lives in Weslaco, a long way away from Norfolk, Virginia where she served in the U.S. Navy in 2007 and 2008.

She says she saw endless possibilities in joining the armed forces when she was younger. However, Bazan did not get to serve full-term because of a head injury. Now, she's fighting a new battle with the VA.

She says she left the Navy, came back home and now lives with disabilities.

Bazan tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS she needs physical therapy to deal with them. She’s appealing a VA decision on how her injury is being treated.

"I need to go for head trauma. I suffer from headaches, headaches is a secondary. I have head trauma, that's my first one,” she says. “So, suffering from headaches, memory loss, that's a secondary condition. So those conditions are what I'm appealing.”

Bazan says for 10 years, she has appealed VA decisions 10 times. She says the process has been very difficult.

"I don't know where to start. I can call the numbers on the letters that come here on my letters, but I'm going to be on hold if I don't push the right numbers.

“So, I call the gentleman and I say, 'Hey, what do I have to do?' 'Press this number, press this number, press this number,” she says.

Hidalgo County Veterans Service Officer Felix Rodriguez says the new web tool will help Bazan understand where her appeal stands in the lengthy legal process it goes through. He says it's an improvement on other methods veterans have had to track their claims.

Rodriguez says he wishes it would have been done years earlier. He tells us he's seen a lot of veterans end up lost in a backlog of VA cases.

"We'll take what they give us, OK. Considering (the) VA's slow response to our needs," says Rodriguez.

He adds he will continue to assist Bazan in her appeals.

Rodriguez says the new tool also helps him and other veteran's service officers in the country. He says they can now research an individual's case before helping them.

Link: VA website


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