In a letter George Washington wrote to our own illustrious Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut on 28 June 1781:
“Permit me Sir to add, that Policy alone in our Present Circumstances, seem to demand that every Satisfaction which can reasonably be requested, should be given to those Veteran Troops who, ‘thro almost every Distress, have been so long and so faithfully serving the States . . .”
In the spirit of George Washington’s words on this 4th of July, the recent progress on veterans issues the federal government has made towards policy satisfying every demand of our nations veterans…
On June 4th, the House passed the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) Appropriations bill. The bill funds homeless programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs at the highest levels in history, meeting President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request for those programs. These funding levels include $300 million for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program and $250 million for the Grant and Per Diem Program.
As well, the Obama administration announced the completion of a new online application that completely enables an electronic, online, disability claim to be filed with the VA. The availability of the joint VA-Department of Defense Web portal eBenefits marks a major milestone in VA’s transformation from paper claims records to a fully digital operating environment, one of the keys to VA’s goal to eliminate the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015.
Taken together, the these two developments lay in place the pieces to revolutionize the processing of disability claims and benefits for veterans and their dependents, at once bringing the system into the 21st century and working to resolve the two major and synergistic complaints plaguing veterans today: the enormous backlog in disability claims (more than half of them from Viet Nam or “other era” veterans) and veteran homelessness. There currently are just over 851,000 claims filed with the VA, with most of them — about 565,000 — past the 125-day period that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki set as a resolution time. In some parts of the country, the wait time is past 600 days.
These twin developments in the month of June promise to solve these problems by the end of 2015!