Thank you for calling the US Department of Veterans Affairs. To help us better serve you, please choose from the following options:
If you are calling about an existing claim, press or say “one.”
If you are calling about a new claim, press or say “two.”
If you have become unstuck in time and are calling about an existing claim that doesn’t exist yet or a new claim that already exists, press or say “three.”
Thank you. Becoming unstuck in time is a challenge many veterans face and we at the VA want you to know that you are not alone. We are here to help. The good news is that becoming unstuck in time may qualify you for some additional benefits. In order to determine your eligibility, I will now ask you a series of questions. If at any point you don’t know the answer to a question, simply say, “I don’t know.” Are you ready?
I don’t know.
Great! In a few words, please briefly describe your most severe or troubling symptom. You can say something like “headaches” or “loss of sleep” or “unexplained trips to a planet called Tralfamadore.”
Unexplained trips to a planet called Tralfamadore.
Okay. In order to move forward with your case, we’ll need to confirm that you were on Tralfamadore for a minimum of seventy-two consecutive hours. Were any of your trips to Tralfamadore part of a unit deployment or an individual temporary duty assignment?
Did you receive a tax-exempt status or hazardous duty pay for your time on Tralfamadore?
How did you travel to Tralfamadore? You can say something like “airplane” or “ship” or “privately owned vehicle.”
It sounded like you said, “Flying saucer.” Is that what you said?
Hmm, okay. Unfortunately, “flying saucer” is not an approved means of official military travel. Where did you stay while on Tralfamadore?
In a geodesic dome at the zoo.
Were you being held captive as part of an exhibit?
That may be helpful. Do you have proof of your time spent as part of a Tralfamadorian zoo exhibit? Perhaps a poster or brochure clearly displaying your face, name, and the dates you were on display?
Yes, a poster.
Has it been translated into English?
Please note, due to staffing issues, the Department of Veterans Affairs no longer has the ability to translate documents written in Tralfamadorian and can only accept documents translated by a VA-approved third-party translator.
Where can I find a list of VA-approved third-party translators?
Currently, there are no VA-approved third-party Tralfamadorian translators on planet Earth. Would you like the VA to notify you should one become available?
We can do that. Now, while you were being held captive, were you forced to conceive a child with a Hollywood starlet named Montana Wildhack?
Did you retain the original Tralfamadorian birth certificate? Translated, of course.
Have you submitted a VA-Form 4956-17B Lost or Destroyed Tralfamadorian Birth Certificate?
Please note, due to staffing issues, VA-Form 4956-17B Lost or Destroyed Tralfamadorian Birth Certificate may take up to thirty-six months to process. Unfortunately, we will be unable to determine your eligibility or help you become un-unstuck in time until your VA-Form 4956-17B has been certified. Is there anything else you would like me to know about your case at this time?
I will call back in thirty-six months. My VA-Form 4956-17B will have been lost.
Thank you, we will keep that in mind. Based on your responses, you qualify for a free Build Your Own Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny’s on November 11 between 5 and 11 a.m. Thank you for calling Veterans Affairs. Please have a safe and meaningful Veterans Day.
So it goes.