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MILITARY MEMBERS, VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES
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From The Desk Of The CEO Of Silent Soldier:
To all valued military members, veterans and their families I personally want to thank you for all your support to our sponsors and encourage you to continue. Our sponsors and providers recognize the sacrifices you have made for this great nation and want to do their best to help you any way they can.
Broken VA Turns Its back On America’s Veterans And
Military Families With 400,000 Backlogged Claims.
It was around this time last year that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began to feel the heat for the substantial backlog of veterans waiting for their disability and compensation claims to be processed.
It was an issue Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) had been sounding the alarm on since 2012. But the criticism reached critical mass in 2013, as the backlog hit a historic high in March of last year, before beginning to subside.
After cutting its overabundance of pending claims from a peak of 600,000 cases in March 2013 to about 400,000 to date, the VA has been unable to budge below that threshold this year, according to The Red Tape Report, authored by IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America).
Subsequently, hundreds of thousands of veterans who were permanently disabled or made ill by their military service are waiting months for their compensation checks to arrive to help pay bills and, in some cases, to purchase food. Some of those veterans are physically unable to hold jobs.
“In the State of the Union address, President (Barack) Obama re-affirmed the VA disability claims backlog as a national priority,” said Jacqueline Maffucci, IAVA’s research director and author of the report. “It is not just about bringing the backlog to zero, but keeping it there.”
In addition to those 400,000 ex-service members with backlogged claims, another 265,000 veterans have filed appeals with the VA, asserting their disability benefits were erroneously denied or cut, the report states.
“No veteran should have to wait for benefits they’ve earned and deserve,” said Victoria Dillon, a spokeswoman for the VA. “We are executing an aggressive plan to fix this decades-old problem and end the backlog in 2015. We have made strong progress, and we know there is more work to do.”
The VA partially decreased the backlog through a mandatory overtime program instituted during 2013, the IAVA report found, noting, however, that adding extra hours onto VA employees is not a sustainable solution.
The good news? There’s a bipartisan effort under way in Congress to demand greater accountability from the VA’s leadership, which would go a long way toward addressing these shortfalls.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs introduced the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Management Accountability Act of 2014.
This legislation would give VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and future VA secretaries complete authority to fire or demote VA Senior Executive Service or equivalent employees based on performance and finally hold the VA accountable and address a problem that worsens by the day.
This is a step in the right direction and CVA gives full support.