The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced the department of Veterans Affairs to work differently and in an unexpected twist the VA may actually be reaching more veterans.
It is estimated that 97 percent of the VA staff is currently working from home and department officials said in an interview with the Military Times that they have seen an increase in productivity. “We’re seeing our employees’ availability and utilization at a higher percentage than usual,” VA Under Secretary for Benefits Paul Lawrence explains.
Also since VA offices are closed, the department has begun holding tele-town halls. As of late May the VA has held the telephone-based meetings in 13 states and reached more than 350,000 veterans. “Ironically, they really have enabled me to touch a group of folks who aren’t on social media,[or] print media, the places we usually go,” Lawrence says. “It seems like we’re reaching an older generation of veterans, and telephone is the way they engage.”
As a result of the pandemic the VA has waived some in-person exams and the deadlines for some veterans benefits applications have been extended, but you will want to check with your VA office to determine if these temporary rule changes affect your individual case.