Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s oversight and investigations panel, has proposed a new bill: HR 2383. HR 2383 is a bill that would authorize the VA to send out notifications and other communication to veterans via e-mail instead of via regular postal mail.
With over 895,000 claims pending in the VA system, the instant communication provided by email could dramatically speed up the correspondence process on veterans’ claims. Johnson, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, believes that taking full advantage of the technology available is vital to any solution to the current overload of claims in the VA system.
Recently, the VA has announced grants for innovative inventions in technology that show promise to speed up and improve the VA system as a whole, but these are all large scale, sweeping changes. Something as over-looked as email vs. postal mail correspondence is a method which make not only speed up some processes but cut costs so that money normally used on paper, ink, and postage, can be used elsewhere within the system.
Of course, not everyone is keen on the idea of switching solely to email. This reasonable concern is because many veterans are uncomfortable with computer systems. Additionally, not everyone has a computer, a fact that can be easily forgotten. Even further, internet access is not available in all areas, especially in rural areas, where the only possibility of internet is expensive satellite service. To make sure that no veteran is forced to use a method that are not entire comfortable with, or don’t have access to, the switch to e-mail would be purely optional.
When opting to change to e-mail, all applicable rules, regulations, and rights would stay the same. Some worry that changing to e-mail might inadvertently cause veterans to waive certain rights, but this is a recognized concern, and any e-mail communication would have to meet the same standards which postal mail communication meets.
Photo thanks to Carl_C under creative commons license on Flickr.