TILLIS: Constituent service can cut red tape

Nearly half of our 10,000 cases have involved veterans facing bureaucratic hurdles at the VA, which my staff worked tirelessly to resolve.

U.S. Senate Photographic Studio —
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

If you’ve ever had to deal with a federal department or agency, you probably know firsthand that the government doesn’t exactly place a priority on providing stellar customer service, especially if you hit a roadblock that was created by the government in the first place.It happens far too often. Veterans who can’t get timely appointments at the VA or are inexplicably denied for VA disability benefits. Hardworking families who aren’t able to receive their tax refunds from the IRS after becoming victims of identity theft. Seniors on fixed incomes who don’t receive their Social Security checks on time.Americans who face these types of dilemmas and try to get them fixed can get stuck in a web of red tape and endless bureaucracy, with letters that go unanswered and calls that go nowhere for months and even years.All residents of North Carolina should know that my five North Carolina offices — in Charlotte, Greenville, Hendersonville, High Point, and Raleigh — are here to help you when a federal agency isn’t being responsive or accountable. My staff can serve as your personal advocate by stepping in and directly corresponding with the government on your behalf.Providing top notch constituent services has always been my top priority as your senator. That’s why one of the first things I did after being elected was to hire a talented and dedicated team with more than 100 years of combined prior experience serving the people of North Carolina and helping them navigate the government bureaucracy. Each of my staff members has a wealth of expertise in specific areas, which makes them incredibly efficient and effective when it comes to contacting the right people at federal agencies and getting you answers.My office always strives to go the extra mile to assist North Carolinians.For example, late last year a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars from the Triangle contacted my office to ask if any programs were available to assist him and his wife with basic living expenses. After learning that the veteran had several conditions that have been connected to Agent Orange exposure, one of my staff members discovered that he had never applied for VA benefits. My office connected the veteran with the Veterans Service Officer in Smithfield to submit a claim to the VA. Due to his age and medical situation, my office requested that his case be expedited as an exception to the usual guidelines. Our request was granted, and his claim was quickly approved. He was granted 100 percent service-connected disability.This was only one of the nearly 10,000 cases my office has closed for North Carolinians who were having issues with the federal government. Nearly half of our cases have involved veterans facing bureaucratic hurdles at the VA, which my staff worked tirelessly to resolve. My office has also assisted North Carolinians with a wide range of other federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration, the IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Citizenship and Immigration Services, among others.The one regret I’ve repeatedly heard from North Carolinians who have been assisted by my office is that they simply wish they knew about the constituent services we offer sooner. That’s why I need your help spreading the word to your friends, family, and neighbors that my office is ready to lend a helping hand if they’re experiencing difficulty with a federal agency.Make sure their next phone call is to one of my regional offices or send me an email by visiting tillis.senate.gov.We look forward to assisting them.U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is from Huntersville.