As soon as Sean's name hit the list for the hearing, we were warned that people would be scrambling to either "fix the problems" or "make promises" to influence our testimony. Sure enough, our first calls came from the VA wanting to know how things were going, and whether we needed assistance with anything.
Well, of course! Sean has been trying to get proper compensation and pension benefits since he lost his vison a year ago. But that wasn't really the intent of the call.
Next, we suddenly had a Federal Recovery Coordinator calling us, saying Sean's case had just been assigned to her. Sean was never assigned to an FRC and in fact we didn't even know such a person existed. The FRC Program was created to identify services needed for seriously wounded and ill service members, veterans and their families,and help bridge the gap between the DoD and VA. The call came in the night before we left for DC.
We have been working with our FRC, Ms. H, since January and I'm pleased to say that she has been extremely helpful. We wrote goals and developed a Federal Individualized Recovery Plan (FIRP) to aid in making sure all our needs are met. She has definitely been an asset. It makes dealing with issues at the VA less painful as we now have a resource who knows the policies and procedures and is on our side. I wish we had been assigned an FRC sooner as we might have avoided a lot of problems along the way.
The most interesting (and disturbing) call was a woman from the Army Reserve office who wanted a copy of Sean's testimony so she could "edit the copy for grammar" and "discuss the testimony" with Sean. Yeah, I don't think so. Turns out when we passed the name around a bit that she was a high-ranking official for the Army Reserve and she had already been denied a copy by the Subcommittee staff earlier that day.