Veteran care delayed

Veterans filing for benefits with the US Department of Veterans Affairs are standing in line.
Krystle Wagner
Aug 14, 2012

Currently, the Detroit Veterans Affairs regional office is experiencing an 18-month wait for traditional claims, said Doug Wells, supervisor of Detroit National Service Office of the Disabled American Veterans. Wells said the wait varies at each regional office.

For 61-year-old Grand Haven resident Fred Lemieux, it took about 18 months before he began receiving compensation for serving in the U.S. Army Americal Division.

“It’s frustrating because it takes so much time,” he said.

Lemieux served in Vietnam and was in the Battle of Fire Support Base Mary Ann in 1971.

Each year, the Disabled American Veterans advocates for about 200,000 veterans and their families filing benefit claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Wells said the wait is caused by several factors: soldiers returning from war, aging veterans, widows filing claims and job losses that push veterans to seek otherwise unrequested benefits.

Another factor was adding conditions that added about 30,000 claims overnight, Wells noted.

“A lot of things are culminating at the same time to create that log,” Wells said.

While there’s about an 18-month wait for traditional claims, Wells said veterans are encouraged to file a fully-developed claim. That type of claim requires veterans to do the work upfront because there is sometimes a faster decision made — sometimes in four to six months.

Wells said there’s hope that Veterans Affairs will move quickly in the future, as they are transitioning to a virtual file program called Veterans Benefits Management System. It allows more than one person to access it at a time.

Although it was challenging to obtain compensation at first, Lemieux said it gets easier once someone is in the system.

As for veterans filing benefit claims, Lemieux has advice.

“You’ve just got to stick to your guns,” he said. “It’s what you earned. It’s what they promised you.”
 

Comments

HavenWillie

In todays economy...where GM pensions, teachers pensions etc. Are being cut to the bone...can we really afford these benefits to veterans. I understand they worked hard to earn them, but so did teachers. The money just isn't there. We are deeply in debt as a country.

ohwell

There is big difference between someone working on an assembly line or in an air conditioned classroom, and the majority of veterans. First of all, most veterans don't make the money GM workers and teachers do. Next, a lot of them put their lives on the line for this country or even lost their lives on the job. So yes....they deserve every benefit they earned. By earn, they might have had to live in a tent in the jungle in Vietnam, in the desert in 100 degree+ heat, or some other worse living conditions. They didn't get to home at the end of their shift and eat a hot meal, see their families or have any kind of luxuries the GM worker or teacher get to enjoy on a daily basis. Some might not even been able to get any sleep for days, as they were in enemy territory needing to be alert, so they weren't killed. Way to support your veterans......NOT!!!!!!

sirhansalot

HavenWillie You must be a teacher, Sir please do not disgrace a Veteran of our country by comparing them to a GM worker or a school teacher Remember teachers and GM workers are not putting there life in the line of danger for the rest of us to live free. Thank you Fred and all of our vets for being and going places most would never do!!!!!!!!!!

HavenWillie

What part of "we just don't have the money" don't you understand? We are in an economic crisis. Our country is trillions of dollars in debt. You can't keep spending money we don't have. Everyone has to take a hit.

ohwell

That is not the veteran's fault that the country (Obama) is spending over $4 Billion (yes Billion, with a B) a day. Not the veteran's fault that we are in an economic crisis, just remember this in November at the polls. You can only rob Peter to pay Paul for so long, then as you say the money runs out. Quit trying to make it even harder for veteran's in this country. Shame on you!!!!

sirhansalot

The US government could start with the stopping of sending money overseas to countries like
1. Israel 2.4 Billion
2.Egypt $1.7 billion
3. Pakistan $798 million
4.Jordan $688 million
The list goes on and on. We can afford to give our vets better health care and better treatment.

mamat

My son served our country and was injured doing his military job as his chain of command ordered the group to load equipment by hand than using equipment made for the job (120 lbs repeatedly over his head multiple times). He injured his back, neck, most of his spine. This same chain of command allowed a new pilot to land a plane with soldiers and 75% of them sustained injuries and it further injured my son. He was medically discharged last year and informed he cannot work (he can't sit, stand, lay down, walk much, etc).
Since last year, we have been dealing with the VA trying to get his disability claim settled and we are almost at one year. It is a night mare from H#$L!!! Who do you think is entitled to pay him?? What part of "vets who receive injuries on the job" don't YOU understand!
Had my son been injured like he was in the civilian world, it is a major workman's comp issue that would have had him paid disability for life and the company majorly fined. Yet, here my son sits almost a year later with no money coming in, delay after delay, nobody taking responsibility for his injuries and how the heck do you propose he's supposed to live? He's been on his own for years.

davewali

Vets have earned, deserve, and need those benefits.
Yes, I am a veteran, and I have used the VA for my health care. I was unemployed, (unlike you), no insurance, (unlike you), with health problems. Private insurance is unaffordable. Maybe you would prefer I die, to save YOU money?
I served during peacetime, but I feel I earned everything.
What is a shift for a teacher....7-4, then go home? Weekends off.
A GM worker.....6-3, then go home? Weekends off.
I was working 6 hours on, 6 hours off, for days, weeks, months.
Don't like your benefits? Quit, an option not available to a sailor in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of an enlistment. Going home was a dream, somewhere on the horizon.

IF your concern is only about debt.....consider this. I got healthcare, so I could survive, courtesy of the taxpayer. That was temporary. For that, I am deeply grateful.
YOU have a job, and you live, courtesy of taxpayer money. That is permanent. You seem less than grateful.

BEARTHECARNAGE

You can thank our President Obama for this.

Lanivan

mamat - I am very sorry to read about your son's struggles. I would like to thank him for his service to his country. He is a courageous hero, and I appreciate his efforts in the war. I also hope and pray he will find healing and some relief for his back pain so he can go back to his regular life. To the other commenters who are so quick with their hate-filled blather to blame Obama for the wars, for the VA problems, on and on - just name it - the facts are this: in response to the problems encountered by our service people coming back from the Iraq and Afghan war in the past few years (remember - those wars Bush started on the cheap with the US credit card?) as Obama is closing down the wars, he has put together a series of laws to address these problems. The VA has expanded the disabled claims work force by over 2,600 people to better meet demand. $128 million has been invested for online applications to better manage veterans benefits. Check out all the ways Obama has positively addressed the various veterans issues - www.whitehouse.gov/...veterans_a... warriors_record_O.

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