Despite the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs avoiding the sequestration crisis and spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on developing a digital claims process (97 percent of claims are still on paper), many combat veterans will be waiting an average of 273 days before they will see any service-related benefits. If one happens to live in Reno, the individual can expect a 681-day wait time.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, “The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency, to 245,000 in December – an increase of more than 2,000 percent.”
The CIP goes on to state that despite agency promises to eliminate the claims backlog by 2015 and the administration’s promise to “revamp a broken VA bureaucracy,” the internal documents show the VA expects the number of veterans waiting – currently about 900,000 – to continue to increase throughout 2013 and top a million by the end of this month.
The reason? A failure to execute and implement. Bureaucratic complacency – so says the report.
This latest information falls into public hands at the same time the VA is dealing with Steven Coughlin, a former senior epidemiologist at the VA, who is “leveling accusations of serious ethical lapses, claiming an agency intentionally manipulated and suppressed data which resulted in veterans — particularly suicidal veterans — being denied critical care.”
For these very reasons, communities across America will need to step in and provide the fail-safe: neighbor helping neighbor. Are we prepared?
Bottom line: Government was never intended to be the “solution,” but rather, according to Thomas Jefferson, “Enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”
It would appear that the interest of our governors are being met and not the interest of those being governed when it comes to our veterans.
If you or someone you know is in need of benefits, visit e-Benefits and at least get in line.
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.