Larry Provost

As the VA scandal grows, and the administration lies about the position of The American Legion, I recall how I saw government insistence on numbers, at the expense of people’s lives, firsthand.

Almost a year ago that I stood in the office of the advocate, who worked for a Veteran’s organization, in a Department of Veteran’s Affairs building in Washington, D.C. My education of how government, when run amok, will treat its Veterans was about to begin.

The advocate was a fine young man and enjoyed his work, even with the many disability claims cases on his desk. He saw Veterans disability claims and as a Veteran’s advocate, he helped Veteran’s with legal and medical research without charge to the Veteran, and regardless of whether the Veteran was a member of his organization. The advocate was a Veteran, too, and handled his cases thoroughly. I was constantly amazed by the diligence he and his colleagues had in regards to helping advocate for their fellow Veterans after seeing little but huge case files, day after day, for years.

A call came into the advocate’s office from the office of one of the Veteran’s judges who works for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in the same building. One of the judge’s staffers said that the case needed to be brought back because the judge was ready to render a decision. Cases that Veteran’s organizations assist with are normally given an appropriate amount of time so that the advocate can look at the case file, conduct appropriate legal and medical research, and write a brief on behalf of the Veteran claiming disability. This was not the case, no pun intended.

The advocate tried explaining that he had only recently received the case, was at the very beginning stages of reviewing the file, and was well within the window of time of reviewing the case, writing a brief for the judge, and returning the case to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

The government bureaucrat on the other end of the phone line said that it did not matter and that the case needed to be at the judge’s office for decision in one hour. The advocate became visibly upset over this intrusion of government power and tried explaining the situation to the bureaucrat but to no avail. Faced with little choice, the advocate immediately began working on the case.


Larry Provost

Larry Provost currently works at The American Legion in the National Security and Foreign Relations Division.