VA should respect power of attorney

December 3, 2012 

Having just read the Nov. 27 guest editorial (“Care at the End of Life”), and having just dealt with end of life issues with my late father, I wanted to comment on the use of power of attorney in these cases. Until needing to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs on my father’s behalf, I was not aware that the VA does not recognize power of attorney.

Dealing with the VA is frustrating on a good day, and then to be told they couldn’t talk with me as my father’s representative led to even more frustration. Long story short, I finally had to involve Senator Richard Burr’s office (R-N.C.) to get things resolved. They still wouldn’t talk with me, but someone from the VA did discuss matters with Senator’s Burr’s office.

The business manager at the nursing home in North Carolina where my father was residing told me representatives from the VA call the alzheimer/behavioral unit routinely, wanting to speak to the veteran (who is not competent) personally.

Interesting in my father’s case was the VA had made a determination he was incompetent to handle his own affairs, yet they would not deal with me as his representative. Even the IRS recognizes a power of attorney! Defense Finance told me in order to change anything regarding tax withholding from military retirement pay, I would have to hire an attorney, go to court and be appointed my father’s guardian. All of that just to claim $30 or $40 per month, needed for his care.

My father served as a tail gunner on a B-52 during WWII. He and other veterans who offered and continue to offer their lives for our country deserve better treatment from the VA. To the veterans who may read this, alert your family regarding what they will find when dealing with the VA. Write to your senators and congressmen and demand the VA follow the same rules regarding power of attorney as other government agencies.

The writer lives in Surfside Beach.

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