By Steve Vogel
Published: August 20
A petition signed by a reported 26,000 veterans and sent to the White House on Tuesday calls for President Obama to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, saying a change of leadership is needed to eliminate the lengthy backlog of veterans awaiting action on their disability claims.
In advance of the petition, the Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday released figures reporting that the backlog of claims pending more than 125 days is down by almost 20 percent from its highest point more than four months ago.
The claims backlog — those cases pending 125 days or longer — stands at 490,000, which is down from the 530,000 reported June 15, figures show. VA says its total claims inventory of 773,000 is the lowest since April 2011, and down from 808,000 on June 15.
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Where were they when Fort Drum ordered the VA to not help with claims?
Army officials in upstate New York instructed representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs not to help disabled soldiers at Fort Drum Army base with their military disability paperwork last year. That paperwork can be crucial because it helps determine whether soldiers will get annual disability payments and health care after they're discharged. (Morning Edition, January 29, 2008)
Where were they when this came out?
VBA's pending compensation and claims backlog stood at 816,211 as of January 2008, up 188,781 since 2004, said Kerry Baker, associate legislative director of the Disabled Veterans of America, during a Wednesday hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. (Nextgov.com February 13, 2008)
In 2000 the VA had 578,000 claims come in. By 2007 it was 838,000. But what was not so easy to find was the report obtained by Veterans For Common Sense about this.
“Since 2006, the number of claims has grown 15 percent. The amount of time it takes to make decisions on disability claims is two to three year. On an average, it takes four years to get an appeals decision.”
The same year the GAO said there was no accountability for claims processors. Since I have thousands of these reports to review, while it is appalling how long veterans have to wait for their claims to be honored, the truth is, it was never fixed right for their sake and unless people stop playing politics and paying attention when they want, what happens to veterans will always be a political football. It wasn't right in the 90's and hasn't been right for generations but unless people actually do some basic homework to discover what the truth is, nothing will be fixed right for their sake.
By the way, don't wait for reporters to put all of this together for you. They won't. They just repeat what they are told.