My dad is a WWII veteran. At almost 91 years of age, he thinks clearly, gets around and still manages his own home. He is a remarkable man who is also hard of hearing and needs my help to navigate his health care with the VA. His local team in his small town has been wonderful. Our family is thankful for the federal government programs that assist veterans, but dealing with the federal offices are a nightmare.
Yesterday I had to call to change his account number. Someone tried to take his identity and we had to change all his accounts. It was a simple phone call that should have taken a few minutes. It took over an hour!
The first time I called I was on hold over 20 minutes, then by the time I ran through the five prompts to get to the right person, he answered. After going through all the verifications of security, we somehow got disconnected. I about cried because I had to start all over again.
I waited another 20 minutes. The person who answered was probably the most unfriendly person I’ve ever had on a phone conversation. Tanisha (she wouldn’t give me her name for the longest time) was combative and made this simple change a nightmare. She talked to my father with no respect and gave him a hard time because he couldn’t hear well and doesn’t own a computer. I explained that my role was to help him hear. I was authorized to do this.
My father kept trying to answer her questions and she became annoyed with him because he couldn’t hear well. She would answer with YES or NO and then say nothing. I had to keep asking, is there more we need to do. Finally before I hung up, she told me to download a form and send it to the VA. “Any particular address”, I asked? The VA is a large system. Acting like I was an idiot, she didn’t give me the address and told me I should know where my regional VA was located.
If Tanisha worked in the private sector, she would be fired. Her rudeness and unwillingness to help do what she was hired to do was out of line. If I had not advocated for my dad, he would have hung up in frustration. And not all vets have family advocates. But what really got me was her lack of respect for my father who was trying his best to answer her questions. She was downright rude to him.
Tanisha, you have your job because my dad fought a war that secured your freedom. Next time you talk to a vet, try to remember that he isn’t your enemy. Do your job and show a little compassion. And if you are having a bad day, don’t take it out on the men and women who served our country!
P.S. Mr. Obama–this is why federal health care would be a nightmare!