WCAX: N.H. Rep. Kuster on disability benefit backlog for veterans
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. - New Hampshire Congresswoman Ann Kuster says more needs to be done to end the backlog many veterans face when they apply for disability through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Kuster toured the VA hospital in White River Junction Wednesday. She says she's impressed with the way the hospital is run and the efforts being made there to help ease the backlog burden. Kuster sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington and says she'll use the hospital as a positive example when she returns to Capitol Hill.
"There does not need to be any political conflict here, everyone, republicans to democrats, want to see our veterans who served us served well in the future," said Kuster.
The backlog has increased dramatically over the last three years. In fiscal year 2011 alone, the number of claims pending longer than 125 days -- rose from less than 200-thousand to nearly half a million.
"We've been at war for 12 years. It's the longest war in our nation's history so we need to step up now and take care of those who fought for our safety all around the world," explained Kuster.
Kuster says she was most impressed by the hospital's center for female veterans and hopes to make that a model for other VA hospitals across the nation.
The VA in White River Junction serves about 75-thousand veterans from Vermont and New Hampshire each year.