A Disabled American Veterans’ service officer claims she has been inundated with complaints from local veterans who are reportedly unhappy with the way their cases are being handled through the county Veterans’ Affairs Office. The issue was brought to the attention of the Claiborne Commission during its regular August meeting.
Deborah L. Tripp, service officer for the Disabled American Veterans chapter No. 35, said the local veterans she spoke with were having ongoing problems making contact with Lee Brame, who is the part-time Claiborne Veterans’ Affairs officer.
“They call and call – he’s not there. They come to his office daily – he’s not there. I had suggested about getting an answering machine a couple of years ago, so he could actually get a message and call these veterans back. That’s never happened.
“I have veterans that he’s telling them they have no claim. That’s not a service officer’s judgment. I don’t care if they come in with the biggest ‘b.s.’ story that you’ve ever heard. That’s not your decision to make. It has to be filed. It goes to the (Veterans’ Administration) and they make that decision,” said Tripp.
If that person is lying, Tripp said it is a federal offense and the Veterans’ Administration will “deal with it.”
Tripp said an employee of a local funeral home had called her, concerning a claim brought by a widow of a veteran.
“He said when he called (Brame), he got smart with him, but he did let him make an appointment. Afterwards, the lady calls this guy back in tears because she said she was asked what makes her think she’s entitled to anything,” said Tripp.
Tripp claims those she spoke with said Brame was “vulgar” with both veterans and their spouses.
Some veterans were told that they did not have a claim when, in fact, they did, according to Tripp.
“Veterans bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars into this community, through their claims. Some of them can wait for a couple of years (for back pay)…and I’m talking $60,000, $30,000 up to $100,000 for one veteran. Plus, they get monthly checks, which also continues to bring money into this county,” said Tripp.
She asked the commissioners to consider doing away with Brame and hiring someone who will “do the job” and “treat the veterans, their spouses and families with the respect that they deserve.”
Some on the commission agreed among themselves that Brame is “an excellent” service officer and that he routinely goes “above and beyond the call” when handling all Claiborne Veterans’ Affairs business.
Tripp said she expected some of those who had lodged complaints to be present during the meeting.
“They are so frustrated, I guess they decided not to come,” said Tripp.
As of press time, Brame could not be reached for comment. The Claiborne Progress will follow this story and update it, as more information becomes available.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.