Absent from the presidential and other political campaigns are pledges to do something about the Department of Veterans Affairs and its procedures in handling claims for benefits. It can take more than a year to process claims, according to two former infantry officers who wrote a commentary for The Wall Street Journal. The authors, Pete Hegseth and Paul Rieckhoff, veterans of service in Afghanistan and other countries, are involved in groups helping veterans.
The title of the commentary is “No Medal for Veterans Affairs.” From what they wrote, that is an appropriate title.
Last July the VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said at the VFW convention in Reno, Nev., that there has been increased access and the number of compensatin claims had more than doubled since he took over the department in 2009. He said that was good news and was the result of greater access to the filing process. It has become obvious that the department was not prepared to handle the increase in claims
Hegseth and Rieckhoff wrote that veterans in and around Los Angeles wait an average of 377 days for a response to their claims!
That’s unacceptable. In New York City the average waiting time for a response is 373 days. In Waco, Texas, it is 413 days. There are many heartbreaking stories about veterans with legitimate needs who are being neglected because the VA isn’t equipped to process their claims.
The two Army officers who wrote the commentary state that the culture of the VA needs to adapt to the 21st century needs of those it serves by using 21st century technology and solutions.
The VA and veterans need someone in Congress to champion their causes. We hear some talk from candidates that they support efforts to help veterans, but it is more verbal bluster than anything else.