A little SNAFU | Editor's note on the June print edition

This month we ran into our first SNAFU. As deadline approached for this issue, I couldn’t figure out why on Earth the Department of Veterans Affairs in Seattle had not gotten back to me or any of the reporters working on stories for this issue. We were looking to build articles in response to veterans who have asked for more basic information on veterans benefits, including how to go about getting those benefits.

We reached out to the local clinic in Bremerton as well, offices over at Restil and made multiple calls to the folks in Seattle. In each case we were turned away by VA employees with the actual information we needed. They could not answer questions as simple as “When did the Seattle Women’s Clinic open?” or “What services exactly could a veteran get at the Bremerton clinic?” Instead of hearing from those who actually know the answers, we were to get our information from the official source in the regional office, Jeri Rowe director of public affairs – the same place that had not responded to questions or returned phone calls all along.

It turns out that Rowe’s staff was too busy ordering flowers, refreshments and fingerfood in preparation for her going away party. Rowe’s transfer to the City of Redmond was more important than getting out information to the veterans community. As long as VA employees take entitled stances that they are more important than those they serve, or believe that they deserve to somehow not do their jobs, veterans will always be second to the urges of bureaucrats. When people wonder how it’s possible that compensation and pension claims are way overdue for nearly 1 million veterans, the actions of Rowe and her staff are a glowing example of an agency with problems.

SNAFU aside, the monthly veterans profile is back with a great story on a great old Marine from the generation that made America great. The puzzle this month explores the VA backlog problems. A member of the local veteran leadership takes a crack at “The Bond” this month with a story on how he came to care. The long march of Bataan is remembered 70 years later and reporter Brett Cihon explains something about PTSD.


Greg Skinner

Editor, veteran