Concord Monitor: Editorial: Congress attempts to speed VA claims
Among the many, many effects that the architects of America’s two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem not to have prepared for is the huge, new demand for service from injured and sick veterans – and the utter inability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to keep pace.
As a result, the agency is now sitting on a backlog of 570,000 claims, which means the requests for medical or rehabilitative services have been pending for more than 125 days. Of those, 250,000 have been awaiting decisions for a year or longer. In all, the number of pending claims is nearly 900,000. That number represents a 2,000 percent increase over the past four years, despite a 40 percent increase in the VA’s budget over that time.
And even as the agency announced a new strategy recently to tackle the oldest of the claims, officials acknowledged that the effort would probably temporarily increase the time required to complete a new claim. Already, the average wait time is 286 days.
Needless to say, the frustration among veterans and their advocates is palpable. That’s why a new collection of pragmatic proposals from members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, including legislation sponsored by 2nd District Rep. Annie Kuster, is an important and positive step.
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