Letters to the Editor

Bad politics, onerous policies are crippling VA

More articles are appearing chastising the VA for delays in processing claims applications.

I can understand politicians berating an executive agency; it is an easy way to cater to an unhappy citizenry. But I wish the press would inquire into why this is occurring before jumping on that bandwagon. I did and found a few items might clarify the issue

1. VA says approximately 45 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are currently seeking compensation for injuries related to their service (far more than other wars) and those claims include an average of eight to 10 medical issues per claim (more than double the Vietnam era).

2. Congress continues to legislate expanded eligibility for programs. (One example you may have heard of: the addition of more diseases that are deemed to be a result of exposure to Agent Orange. A veteran who flew back from Australia in the 1960s, and spent 20 minutes in Saigon while changing planes, is now presumed to have acquired cancer or any of 11 other illnesses from exposure to Agent Orange.)

3. Congress continues to legislate new VA programs. Perhaps you've heard of the Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension. It pays a veteran who served on active duty at least 90 days, during a period of war up to $1,758 per month, $1,130 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,085 per month to a couple.

The result? "The system is being clogged by pension poachers who are preying on veterans, who are submitting thousands of applications for people for whom this benefit was not intended," (Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon)

The result of all of this is a massive increase in the number of claims. But without recognizing its complexity we cannot fix it. I suggest that just chastising VA for not speeding up the process is no help.

Jeff Hale