"when almost every veteran who replied to the poll feels they cannot trust their VA compensation claim to be handled fairly something needs to be done."
Oakland, NJ (PRWEB) March 1, 2010
The results of this poll clearly demonstrate something must be done for the VA system to regain the trust of veterans. Our veterans always, but particularly when we are at a time of war, deserve the best treatment we can give them. How can we asked those in the military and those considering a career in the military for them to risk their lives if they cannot rely on their own government to provide them with the compensation they deserve for the injuries and diseases they acquire while doing their duty for their country.
We must ask the question of why the veterans feel this way. The list of possible reasons is long. It took years before the government conceded that Agent Orange was linked to many diseases and medical conditions veterans who served in Vietnam were suffering from. Although Gulf War Syndrome is now recognized by the VA, it was first treated with skepticism and doubt and some of that still lingers today. There is also the Congressional investigation into the shredding of documents and changing of dates by some VA regional offices. The story was broken by the VA watchdog website and developments continue to be followed by that website. It also doesn't help that the processing times for VA compensation claims are extremely long. Some of these cases can go on for years and years. Another big problem is that veterans are frequently told their files were lost or cannot be found. Veterans were not even allowed to hire VA disability lawyers to help them with their denied claims at the administrative level of the process. Finally, in January of 2007, a new law allowing veterans to hire lawyers was passed. The VA and other organizations argued that allowing VA lawyers into the process was only going to take money from veterans in a "veteran friendly" process. As can be seen from this poll veterans feel the process is far from friendly to them.
In a separate and unrelated poll recently conducted by a Social Security disability website showed that out of 608 respondents, 81% did not trust their SSD claim to be handled fairly. Obviously the SSA also has a problem with people trusting them to handle their SSD claims fairly. However, at least the SSA is taking steps to change these opinions. Within the last few years, the Social Security Administration has become almost completely electronic. The VA still uses paper files. The transfer to electronic files should eliminate files being lost or destroyed. It would also make the transfer of files and information easier and quicker. Five or ten years ago SSA had a similar problem of lost files. The electronic format has virtually eliminated this issue. SSA has also seen an increase in funding to hire more judges and support staff to help reduce the backlog of cases. The VA is severely understaffed and critically needs more funding to hire more judges and support staff as well. With increased funding, the SSA has opened new hearing offices and hired and trained more people for their telephone service. Using SSA as a successful model, maybe the VA should receive increased funding and do the same. Perhaps, in general, the VA should follow some of the examples of improvements the SSA has made in their process.
Although the poll was only a small sample of 464 veterans, the results were powerfully shocking and cannot be ignored. Karl Kazmierczak, Esq. believes "when almost every veteran who replied to the poll feels they cannot trust their VA compensation claim to be handled fairly something needs to be done." We are in difficult times financially in this country but there are few things more important than those who have served to protect us and our great nation. A couple of years ago, the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center put the media and political spotlight on the problems with the VA medical system. I hope that the release of this poll can do the same for the way veterans VA Compensation claims are processed.