Saturday, February 9, 2013

Congressman Miller face the facts on veterans

Congressman Miller face the facts on veterans
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
February 9, 2013

Congressman Miller, face the facts and then you'll be able to do something for the veterans. This is not a new problem for our veterans. It is an old one no one did much about.

In 2007 we had to deal with this. Neglect? The VA's current backlog is 800,000 cases
And then by December of 2007, there were these reports.
The agency’s new plan to hire at least 150 new appeals judges to whittle down the backlog, which has soared to 755,000 from 311,000 in 2000, will require $100 million more than the president requested this year and still more in the future. The plan has been delayed by the standoff between Congress and the White House over domestic appropriations.
148,000 Vietnam Vets sought help in last 18 months
Followed by this one.
VBA's pending compensation and claims backlog stood at 816,211 as of January 2008,
Followed by this one
VA reported 879,291 claims were in backlog
And ending 2008 with this one.
806,000 Veterans backlog claims listed
And then this
VA Claim backlog hit 915,000 on May 4, 2009
As you can see, none of this is new. While it would have been easy to just deal with the backlog of cases and ignore the veterans left behind from Vietnam, the rules were changed to try to do the right thing even though it meant the challenge would be greater especially when Congress did not do their job and make sure the funding and staffing were all in place.
The backlog has been exacerbated by the administration’s 2010 decision to accept 260,000 previously denied and new claims associated with Agent Orange exposure.

As advocates like me were pushing for veterans to get help with PTSD, more filed claims and an increase in wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan greeted by a Congress not taking action to make sure they were cared for.

Now that all that is out of the way perhaps it will be a good time to stop blaming this administration and do the right thing for veterans.

There are 1.7 million veterans here in Florida and most of them are waiting for Congress to do the right thing. They suffer and wait while Congress holds hearings on the problems but don't seem to interested in holding hearings on what works, what is already in place and how to expand on the good. Congressman Filner was not interested in deploying older veterans and their spouses to help the newer generation living with PTSD and we saw them suffer the way we did. Any idea what all of this does to whole families? Do you know all the stress adds to the ravages of PTSD, suicides, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and homelessness?

House Veterans' Affairs chair wants to cut VA claims backlog
Feb 9, 2013
Written by
Ledyard King
Democrat Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, the Pensacola-area Republican who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, wants to speed up the time it takes to process veterans’ disability claims.

It’s one of two main priorities Miller outlined in an interview Wednesday in his Capitol Hill Office. The other is providing veterans greater access to mental health services, possibly by allowing them to access the TRICARE system that serves active-duty military personnel.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has set a goal that, by 2015, no disability compensation claim will take more than 125 days to fully process and that 98 percent will be accurate. As of August, it took an average 260 days to process each claim, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.

That’s up from 161 days in 2009. The accuracy rate is currently about 85 percent, according to Miller’s office.

One million service members are expected to become veterans within the next five years, further straining the agency’s capabilities.

The GAO called the VA’s ability to process claims in a timely manner “a daunting challenge.”

Some 1.7 million veterans live in Florida.

The agency processes about 1 million disability benefits claims nationally a year, but there’s another 1 million they can’t get to, said Miller of Chumuckla.
read more here

With all due respect, it is time to learn the facts before you doom veterans to mistakes repeated.