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New Foia/privacy Act Procedures At Ros


Ascomdepot68

Question

According to a letter I received today:

"As of March 3, 2014 future request with some exceptions for FOIA/PA actions received at the Atlanta Regional Office AFTER March 3, 2014 are forwarded to ST. Louis Records Management Center for scanning and processing on disc.You will be notified by that office to your request if your request is in this category."

Exact spelling and grammar of letter.

Apparently applies to all RO's. I had a hint this was what they were doing since May 2014 when my Congressman's aide was told by the

Congressional liaison at the Atlanta RO "we don't do that here anymore" and a C file disc was sent from RMC at St Louis.

I am not sure if the actual documents are mailed to RMC from the RO for putting on disc or if the documents are copied from electronic records at RMC.

I do know that that they still managed to lose 65 documents and there are still several other Veteran's documents co mingled with my records on the disc.

More efficient? Who knows. More likely to take more time and involve more handling which increases errors? Yes.

I do know that only letter and legal sized documents were on records received. Crucial maps sized 2'X3' and 2'X2' were missing.

Also another FOIA/PA "claim" popped up on eBenefits for me today. And low and behold this time they did list an expected date of

completion as 120-187 days out. FOIA supposed to be done in no longer than 30 days! No real time limit on PA items. I have an

idea though that this might be a VCAA matter. The VA is placing some requests of assorted types under the "FOIA/PA" as they

say they don't have a "button" for everything so they just use that.

Another thing I have to discuss with Secretary McDonald

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Interesting info.

Thanks.

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Yeah, FOIA has no teeth with prosecution.

If the VA ignores, FOIA standards - what can you do?

Has anyone here taken legal action to have FOIA requirements enforced?

Just found this site http://www.foiadvocates.com/

Edited by Notorious Kelly (see edit history)
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ASOM: Took me about 14 mos to get my C-file this past 01/5/14. I hand delivered request to Detroit RO. Had 2 pages from another Vet's file.

I read a legal blog back early 2014 regarding FOIA requests to VA. Most Vets not being represented by an attorney aren't aware of the FOIA legal requirements regarding timely complying with the document request. I think most just sit back and wait, maybe a call or 2 to the 800#. I think lawyers "Jump Ugly" with the VA as soon as the VA misses the required compliance dates. I can't remember what legal sanctions were mentioned but I don't think attorneys wait 6-16 mos for an FOIA production of documents request. I had also requested an appointment to view my C-File on the FOIA request. Never heard anything back regarding personal viewing.

Had my DRO Hearing 06/27/14, all issues awarded. I haven't spent a lot of time on the FOIA problems since. I did contact the VA Voc Rehab councilor that managed to place another Vets reports including all personal info, into my C-File. I called the Vet to advise him and he didn't think, me having his records in my file was a big deal.

Semper Fi

Gastone

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Has anyone had luck with walking into the VARO and asking to view their cfile?

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Gastone, that vet is probably still in the blissfully ignorant zone where I think we all spent a little time before we wised up to the ugliness of this process. Evidently, he's never heard of identity theft or HIPAA. Bet he'd think that's a big deal if he ever needs those records and discovers they're missing.

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

I wonder how good that is for folks without computers.

After they scan my c-file, it would be great if they would let me pick up the original in person...

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NavyWife,

I had to make appointment with VARO to view C-file.

An employee sat with me a bit impatiently and copied the few pages I needed. If I'd have wanted more pages or whole thing it would have been a good bit longer wait (not same day).

This was around 2009. I must have made the request to view C-file in person at VARO previously since you can't call them.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Has anyone had luck with walking into the VARO and asking to view their cfile?

I haven't had any luck getting an appointment to view mine. The conversion to electronic records effort seems to have

made this very difficult to accomplish. There is some speculation that this might impact "Due Process" rights.

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Thanks Notorious Kelly & Chuck75 for the replies.

I would like to go there with hubby and see the most recent things they used to decide the claim. However, it's a 5 hour round trip drive, so I've been holding off. I had heard they have a thing called "veteran waiting" where they are supposed to help you within 15 minutes when you show up in person to the VARO. But I am hesitant because I know the last thing they want to do, is let you see the contents of your own cfile.

I know I can put a request in writing, but that could take a REALLY long time to get it.

Chuck75-- what did they say?

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

I tried the "veteran waiting" at Montgomery VARO. I drove on over and the person laughed at me. They said I need to request an appointment or request a copy. He then said it would be 6+ months to fulfill my request. I got my c-file in the mail much later...

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A few years ago I called Peggy and asked how do I make arrangements to see my c-file at the Atlanta RO. Peggy stated no appointment is required, just show up and they will accomodate your request. I made a wasted 3 hour round trip to the Atlanta RO.

The VA employee at the front desk asked if I had an appointment to view my c-file. When I responded "no", she threw a piece of paper on the counter and said, "put your request to view your c-file in writing and the VA will schedule you for an appointment."

I waited several months without hearing anything from the VA. I also noticed that my pending claim suddenly went from preparation for decision back to gathering evidence. I found out that my request to view my c-file was considered an FOIA request and as a result my pending claim was placed on hold. Based on advice I received from others, I faxed a request to the Atlanta RO asking them to cancel my request to view my c-file. A few days later, my pending claim went back to preparation for decision and I received a favorable decision a few weeks later. If you have any issues pending, keep this in mind if you make a written request to view or request a copy of your husband's file. Of course, this may have changed since I experienced my problems and your RO may be more cooperative.

Perhaps you can get a contact number or fax number to your RO from Berta and you can call or fax your question to them about viewing your husband's c-file. This might save you a 5 hour round trip. JMO

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Folks:

I'm a former FOIA Officer, and have had no luck attempting to review my C-file either That was one of the importnat recomendations that I got from this site. I've sent letters and emails to the regional office and they continue to advise that they cannot give me a date in which I could review my file? I've heard a lot of war stories about Vets that have records missing or some one else's records in their files? No sure why a request to see your C-File would slow anything up because there's nothing for them to do...especially if the files are in electronic files anyway?

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

Kelly is right. There are tons of award winning expose's waiting to be revealed from behind the VA facade.

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  • HadIt.com Elder
.... "Due Process"

"NOTICE OF DISAGREEMENT"
August 20, 2014
Board of Veterans'Appeals C-00 000 0000

Department of VeteransAffairs

Washington DC 20420

Dear BVA,

Please accept this letter as my "Notice of Disagreement" (NOD), in response to your decision letter dated April 23, 2014.
I request additional time so we may reach an equatable conclusion to this case.
I still have not received, or had the opportunity to review copies of my "Claims Folder", requested on December 7, 2011 , per FOIA requirements, prior to my BVA Hearing held on May 22, 2013. I had to go before the Honorable... BVA Judge, at my BVA hearing without ever reviewing copies of my records, putting me at a disadvantage and causing harm to my claim.
I have waited till the last moment to file this NOD, hoping the VA would comply with my request before the 120 day BVA, NOD time limit runs out. It has taken almost six years to get this far, and I do not want to start over because I missed a deadline.
Enclosed please find a letter from the DVA office of the General Council in support of my efforts to resolve this in a timely manner.
Yours Truly,
Commander Bob

Edited by Commander Bob (see edit history)
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This is actually interesting and both nerve-racking for me now. I believe it was several months ago that I had commented on my request for my C-file, at the Okmulgee Regional office in Oklahoma. My request took exactly 7 days. Arrived at my home in a big plastic bag. I guess that is not really common. Long story short, in trying to get an IME and running out of time on my NOD I didn't get to make a copy for myself. 11 1/2 inches was more than my single page copier could handle and more than my pockets could pay for at the local Kinkos. In any case the record review company destroyed my records if I did claim a specific disability for the doctor that was doing my IME/IMO, bad bad Bad, BAd, BAD move on my part. I have seen my whole file, actually had it in my hands more than once, however, now all i have left is maybe 6" worth of records. DETRIMENTAL to say the least. My attorney has asked for my file and even has VBMS access yet he hasn't received a copy of my files and the evil doers at the VA didn't give him the password for access to my files through VBMS, let me correct this, a password that works. Sooooo I'm willing to bet, that although this would be highly illegal, probably break countless laws and regulations, be detrimental to my claim, not to mention an obstruction of justice charge that items will be missing in the copy that they afford my attorney now. All I would have to contest to the accuracy of my c file is my memory and word of what it looked like before this brilliant transformation into the digital shedder. I would even state that this action might stir up memories in long term members here at Had it of the Sheddargate days at the Regional offices, instead of shredding evidence it is going to be done by a click here and click there. Welcome to the digital age folks. Before I stir people up, I want to make this perfectly clear, this is just my OPINION, and my opinion only that I am writing, however, for any members, that might be going through this process or just starting the process be very cautious and smart. Don't make the mistake of not making a full copy of what information the VA sends you from an FOIA request.

I may be off my rocker but my gut feelings have kept me around and alive through out my existence in this life I can't really stray away from them now, even if I am not operating on all cylinders. JMHO

Edited by arng11 (see edit history)
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