Long hold lines. Hurry up and wait appointments. Confusion and frustration that comes hand in hand with mountains of paperwork. The Department of Veterans Affairs is saddled with a reputation -- grounded in past experiences -- of being too big and too distant to truly care about the Veterans it serves.
That's why the U.S. Veterans Administration has started a new blog on its website, where veterans are invited to communicate directly with the agency. The blog, Vantage Point, will be edited by Afghanistan and Iraq infantry veteran, Brandon Friedman; Stryker Brigade veteran Alex Horton and VA special assistant Lauren Bailey. Horton, formerly based at Fort Lewis, Wash. is best known for his blog 'Army of Dude.'
"As the war in Iraq winds down and the war in Afghanistan ramps up, the VA wants to be more accessible to veterans of this and every generation -- to fulfill its purpose: to care for those who carried the burden of battle on their shoulders," Horton writes on Vantage Point. "That can be difficult from office buildings isolated in downtown Washington DC, where few veterans tread.
"Veterans need to have access to information quickly so the VA is now using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now the new blog, to make sure the exchange of information is a two way street.
"Every post on the blog is open to comment, and anyone who wants to voice their thoughts and concerns about Veterans issues can submit a Guest Posts. We welcome everything from stories about a compassionate VA surgeon to how long your disability claim is taking. Veterans and their family members, employees, policy experts, members of Congress, everyone who has a say about Veterans issues of the day, can post."