With reports that the number of backlogged claims from veterans has increased significantly since 2009, many are demanding a lot more from the leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
And at least two veterans service organizations, the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion, are stepping up to help the VA.
The number of claims has escalated from a high of 164,000 in October of 2009 to an astounding 630,000 this year, according to an article in the Hill and information garnered by CNN’s Candy Crowley.
Eric Shinseki, Veterans Affairs Secretary, has been in charge since 2009. He defends the Obama Administration’s efforts to aid former soldiers, and states it is a high priority.
The Center for Investigative Reporting, however, has found that even as the backlog became worse, nevertheless the Department of Veterans Affairs “…handed out millions of dollars in bonuses to top officials over five years….”
House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, irritated at what he termed “rewarding failure” at the VA with bonus pay, recently introduced an amendment to the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 that would put a five year moratorium on performance bonuses for Department of Veterans Affairs senior executives. He said:
“The fact that so many VA executives collected huge performance bonuses year after year while continually failing at their jobs calls into question whether department leaders even know the meaning of the word ‘accountability.’ Unfortunately, it’s taken the national crisis that is the benefits backlog and a media firestorm surrounding the department’s bonus scandal for VA leaders to realize that rewarding failure only breeds more failure.”
An effort to help with the backlog has been reported by the American Legion.
The American Legion National Commander, James E. Koutz, believes the collaborative effort will allow the process for claims to speed up. From Military.com, word of the new partnership with the VA and Disabled American Veterans and American Legion is given. Called the “Fully Developed Claims Community of Practice,” it is a key part of the VA’s overall transformation plan to end the backlog in 2015.
The actual goal is to “…process claims within 125 days at 98 percent accuracy.”
“Teams of our experts have already gone to VA regional offices in Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other cities to help identify best practices for FDCs, and to further train our own service officers.”
Help is needed. NPR is reporting the frustration of nearly a million veterans who “…can’t get timely compensation and have been waiting hundreds of days for help, often to no avail.”
And the point is made: 2015 is a long way off for people who have served this nation and must now suffer with a very broken system.