Considering the two -three days of time @ 4 hrs a day to "accomplish" the show and tell Talent Management System (TMS) test and undergo the VA's idea of a last check ride to make sure you know how to get airborne, a quick visit for the official photo, a one last return 3 weeks later to pick up your shiny new VA Badge (see below) and you're good for a year until the next 2-hour security briefing. Every three years you have to undergo another VA Chinese water torture of the TMS test (and another security briefing). Now, if you'd built your own set of Cliff Notes ( as I did), you could breeze to the end and take the last one.
It's insulting to have to learn how the VA arranges the M 21 and how to use it -just to gain access to the most useful tool in the VA's inventory. You find CUEs they know about and try to ignore.They're even bookmarked by RVSRs. When I present to a VLJ (always in person) at a Board Hearing, if I so much as mention the M 21, the VLJ will cut my throat and say "We don't recognize the "Manual" as established statute or regulation. Could you express that in a Part III 38 CFR adjudications regulation or withdraw the allegation?"
The VBMS is chronological and boy howdy is it neat as a knitting bag.You can read 1970s rating decisions and why/how they denied. There are more CUEs than you can count. How could you not take advantage of this Godsend of intelligence? It's like the Rosetta Stone for an attorney or agent. Your very own Veterans Representative from DAV/VFW etc. can't even see this. Remember, there's one National Service Officer in town who signs all the 21-22s as the accredited VA representative. So he's signing for thousands of Vets. He is the only one who has the authority to look at your file besides you. Good luck.
I'll let you guys and gals in on a little- known fact. In your VBMS file under "Profile" , the third tab down is a tab marked "Flashes". Click on it to expand and it tells you a lot about the Vet. If he's got a pissed off Congressman or Senator breathing down their neck, it'll have a CI flash for Congressional Interests. If you were in-country in Vietnam, it confirms you as a member of the Nehmer class. It tells where the file (original) is located (like RMC in St. Louis). It says if any are in Virtual VA abbreviated as VVA (the precursor to VBMS). If you have terminal lung cancer, it's usually flashed for "terminally ill". This helps me get my client instantly advanced on the docket. It's my hyperdrive motivator tool. I can even have my local Change Management Agent (our private VA POC) here in the Emerald City change it to terminal in Jackson, Mississippi or Roanoke, Virginia. You can find a problem on Monday and call the Change agent the next day at the RO in her/his state and save a year's work. I know about 20 now. Almost all are Veterans, too.
Best of all, listen to this one. If a VA attorney or agent files a 21-22a POA, VA flashes it "Attorney Fee". If you file a Chicken Dinner Winner NOD and catch them out, the next flash (within a month) will be "possible attorney fees". Just about a month before the decision is issued, if I've won, the next entry appears " Attorney Fees Payable". It's like watching a rattlesnake lean back right before it strikes. You know it's coming because they alllllllways telegraph it.
Best yet, we can look in VACOLS Appeals and print your decision the same day after it's issued. I know. There's always some mystique about the BBE. I remember the one I got in 2015 that gave me SMC back to 1994. I stared at it (pre VBMS) for an hour. If I'd still been a smoker, I reckon I'd have burned a few. It's still the thrill of victory even if you just see it electronically. I print them and send them to the clients. VA gets around to the BBE about two weeks later.
I honestly feel like the fox in the henhouse. VA folks can't "hide" things anymore. It's in there somewhere and I've even found partial drafts of SOCs in progress in the "Go to Work Section" showing them developing the claim denial.
I got this from a RVSR asking me about becoming an agent.
"The same thing with VSRs and RVSRs. The employees "on the floor" have their hearts in the right places. Many of them are Vets like you and I. The problems begin with the whip-cracking Coaches (or managers in human-speak), less of which are Veterans. Then move up a little further to the Assistant Veterans Service Center Managers (AVSCM), which are the equivalent in our office to Officers that were never NCOs. Then there's the Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM), the head honcho that fights tooth and nail against our unions to make it harder for someone like me to help Veterans. The VSR job isn't affected too greatly by the red tape, I was able to out produce everyone at my office with a 100% quality the entire time I was in the position. The RVSR job is a different story. As you already know, rating disabilities can frequently tread into very gray territory. Some claims just take time to get right. Rating claims is the backbone of the whole organization. So how does VBA handle this crucial element? They implement a lackluster training program then quickly put you on the floor rating claims under strict timeliness standards. Morale is low when your job is supposed to be to help Veterans get the compensation they are deserved, but instead you're being forced to kick claims out as fast as you can (and of course at 98% accuracy) so you don't get fired. So yeah, the VSRs and RVSRs that I've come up with are not trying to screw the Vets. We're among the Vets. We're trying to do our part while also fighting VBA's mismanagement."
That's what you are up against, folks. They have to get 'er done or get fired. I'll take being a laid back, blood sucking agent any day.
The best part is once you get the badge, you don't have to go through the metal detector or take your shoes and belt off. The card gets you through security. Period.