Dear President Obama

So, I had a crazy thought to write to my president in hopes that he could help.  I was hoping it would catch his eye and I knew it was a long shot but I had to try.  I thought I would share my letter here.  Just because.

Dear President Obama,

I know you’re a busy guy with so many other, bigger issues on your mind.  But I hope you’ll at least spend the 5 or so minutes it will take you to read this letter.  It’s about my elderly mother and the Veterans Administration.

My mother is a widow and has lived on her own in her retirement complex in southern Florida for over 17 years.  For most of those years she was able to take care of herself.  During the summer of 2012 that all changed.  My siblings and I realized that she needed some help.  So, I hired Comfort Keepers and she and her aide get along famously.  It’s been a great arrangement.  That same summer we learned that Mom qualified for Veterans benefits because our father was a war veteran in World War II.  So we started the process.

My sister filled out the lengthy online application with Mom on the phone in the fall of 2012.  I don’t have the exact details on what happened with that application but suffice it to say we are now back to square one with the Veterans Administration.  There were a few issues with this application that we just learned about this week.  First, we apparently applied for veterans benefits for a living veteran.  The VA thought Mom was the veteran and opened a file under her name and SSN even though we put our father’s name and SSN on the original application.

Long story short, we now have to fill out another set of forms to apply for spousal benefits for our mother.  I’m disheartened and dismayed that nearly two years have passed and we still don’t have the benefits we believe our mother is due.  And now we have to start all over.

Mom is 91 now and fairly frail so the best thing for her is to stay in her home with an aide to help her.  But we need the financial benefits from the VA in order for her to stay there as her money will run out in about a year.  We’ve been told that some applicants have gotten retroactive benefits from the original date of the application.  And that seems appropriate in this case but how do we go about getting that?

That’s when I thought of writing to you. I’m sure this is a long shot but I am so worried about her that I thought it was worth a try to see if you could do anything for us.  We would be so grateful for anything that you might be able to do.

Thank you for your consideration.



You can probably guess that I didn’t get his attention.  I did get a reply in the form of a standard issue postcard that thanked me for my correspondence and that they’ve forwarded it on to the appropriate agency.  My letter was sent nearly two months ago. The new application was sent about a month ago.  I’m considering writing to him again.  What do you think?

UPDATE 8/17/14:  I did contact Senator Franken the other day and today I learned that the VA denied Mom’s claim.  So I sent another note to Senator Franken to disregard my first correspondence.  Pretty disappointing but at least we can move forward with Plan B.  Anyone have a Plan B?



Filed under Writing

11 responses to “Dear President Obama

  1. I hate this and believe all the hoops and loops are to discourage one. Don’t give up. I don’t think you had plans to anyway. What is wrong with governments that they tend to cut-ff their citizen in need from a decent life?

  2. Go to your congressman. mine helped me with a different issue. welcome to government bureaucracy. two months isn.t long… look online. you.’ll find others waiting longer..

    • I’m sure. It’s been nearly two years since we began this and two months since I sent this letter.

      hmmmmm…..I do have a sort of personal relationship with Al Franken. hmmmmmm…..thanks, I think I will try that!!

  3. You have more chance with Sen. Al Franken.

  4. Toby, thanks for sharing this. Our politicians let things fester for a long time before something hits the fan. The VA dilemma has been known for years as they serve far more people than they can, they are seeing more injuries that used to kill people but they can live with them. they are seeing more PTSD than ever before because of elongated and multiple stretches in stressful situations and yet, earlier this year Congress would not pass a bill to fund fixes. The bill they just passed is not nearly enough, but at least it is something.

    Changing a bureaucracy that has served a different kind and numbers of patients is like turning a battleship. It has least getting more attention now. On the form letters, be relentless in follow-up and get with your Senators and Representatives. I have received the same form letter three and four times.

    To be frank, you will likely need to be a thorn in their side, as many feel forms letters on the issue is all that is needed. In this day and age, we have to be the navigators of all customer service, especially when problems arise. It is a diplomatic relentlessness that is needed. If you do not get satisfaction, seek out one of the local news troubleshooters and make the issue known.

    I am rambling, but best wishes on all of the above efforts. BTG

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