The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a veterans’ advocacy organization. But, over the years, since World War II, thousands of veterans with service-related disabilities caught up in the VA’s bureaucratic backlog of disability claims are viewing the VA as working against them instead of for them. That is because vets are waiting too long to get disability benefits.
Retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki is the new head of the VA. He wants to improve services and change perceptions. But the VA’s cumbersome system is overwhelming and the backlog of disability claims is getting worse.
According to the second installment of a five-part series presented on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered:
- 500,000 claims for service-related disabilities are waiting to get processed
- Forty percent of claims wait more than four months for a decision
- 100,000 claims are backlogged at the Board of Veterans Appeals
Applicants include veterans from the first Gulf War and Vietnam, but the newer vets, those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, are young – most are in their 20s and 30s. Twelve percent are female, and more are surviving injuries because of medical advances on the battlefield. “Of the 425,000 veterans who have claimed VA benefits since 2002, nearly 60 percent are younger than 30.” (NPR Snapshot graph)
The VA system is overburdened with challenges.
The NPR five-part series , which aired May 10-14, takes a hard look at why things must change at the VA and what the government agency is doing to fix a complicated and archaic bureaucratic system to better serve today’s veterans.
Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.