Weekly Column

Oct 16 2017

Here For Nebraskans

** Click here to download audio of this week’s column**

Every American deserves the utmost respect when they interact with their government, but sometimes they can encounter complicated hurdles and federal red tape. When this happens, I encourage you to contact my office. My staff members across Nebraska can assist those trying to navigate the federal bureaucracy.

In Scottsbluff, Kearney, Norfolk, Lincoln, and Omaha, my staff has years of experience and a strong track record of aiding constituents as they confront roadblocks. My offices often help Nebraskans with a broad array of problems, from struggling to acquire VA medical records or proper designation for their military pensions to trouble with Social Security and tax refunds owed by the IRS.

Outreach and casework staff can assist in other types of cases you might not expect. For example, Amanda Knobbe, a zookeeper at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, recently needed to travel to South America, but couldn’t obtain the proper travel visa. Last year, Amanda was chosen to travel to Brazil to partake in the Giant Armadillo Project, an organization looking to establish an ecological study of giant armadillos in the Brazilian Pantanal wetland.

One of three people selected worldwide, joining the project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Amanda, but the problem with her visa made the trip seem unlikely. Disappointed, she decided to contact my office to see if I could help. We got started immediately.

My staff went to work, discussing the issue with the State Department, and soon after, Amanda received her travel visa. While in Brazil she helped to expand research about giant anteaters and giant armadillos. This knowledge will help us protect endangered species and preserve natural wildlife.

When Amanda returned, she sent us a thank you note that included some great pictures from her trip, including an armadillo she and her team saved. It was great to see Nebraskans changing the world by conserving nature.

While Amanda’s case is unique, the most common circumstances involve Nebraskans fighting for what they deserve. In a recent case resolved by staff in Scottsbluff, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) charged a Wilbur resident with an alleged erroneous debt collection for overpayment of program funds. Facing a bill of over $7000, my office helped him prove that the NRCS was in the wrong, saving him from a debt he never accrued.

My offices also receive requests from those facing dire circumstances, especially when it involves receiving payment earned by those who served our country.

Recently, my Omaha office assisted a mother and daughter facing a dispute in the mother’s non-service connected pension from the VA. A member of the WWII WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), a branch of the Naval Reserves, she was facing the prospect of being forced out of her assisted living residence if she did not receive the proper compensation for her service to our country. Our office spoke with the VA’s Pension Management Center and helped the process move along. When everything was settled, the former WAVE member was awarded a monthly pension of $1,794.00. This allowed her to stay in her current assisted living residence.

These are all examples of how my offices can serve you during interactions with federal agencies and programs. Making a real-world impact in the lives of Nebraskans in need of help continues to be the most rewarding aspect of my job. I’m always ready to remind the federal bureaucracy that they serve the people, not the other way around, and my staff knows how to get the job done.

If you need help with a federal program or agency, please reach out to any of my state offices or contact me through my website: www.fischer.senate.gov.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process, I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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