VA Trims Veterans Benefits Backlog

Monday, November 11, 2013

DENVER, CO: Homeless veterans say the Pledge of Allegiance at this VA event, where they received free clothing, medical care and employment assistance, among other things. November 3, 2011. (John Moore/Getty)

The disabilities incurred during combat last a lifetime, and yet a lifetime is what it feels like to be a part of the backlog of veterans awaiting disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Iraq war veteran Jason Ayala filed his claim almost two years ago and has still not had it approved.

"I've seen a lot of good guys in the military get stuck in this backlog and most of them wind up getting in trouble," said Ayala. "Most of them don’t get the compensation they need. That little buffer would help them identify with the problem, get the treatment, and continue on with their lives, but unfortunately a lot of them don’t."

Marine Edwin Del Rio got to a very bad place before his claim was approved.

“There’s times when I was just living off Top Ramen noodles for several weeks, and there’s times when I’d take out payday loans because I didn't have enough money to get myself through the month," said Del Rio.

But since this spring there has been remarkable success in addressing and decreasing the backlog. The VA has improved despite the sequester and the shutdown and the gridlock in Congress.

But will it last? And how many more like Del Rio will there be? How many more are waiting? Joining The Takeaway is Aaron Glantz, reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, who documented the backlog at its worst and has watched the improvement all this year.

Guests:

Aaron Glantz

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman

Comments [4]

Brian from WA State

Aha, now I get it. The entire Iraq and Afghanistan debacle was the soldiers' fault! All this time I thought it was because politicians and military br<ass>es made those choices. It's so clear now. Thank you for finally clearing this up for all of us lesser minds!!

Nov. 14 2013 03:59 PM
A Veteran

Some people are just IGNORANT morons :))

Nov. 11 2013 10:08 PM
Jim Moon from Mill Valley, CA

This segment was superb. Hearing vets tell their own story was powerful. Thanks to everyone connected with this presentation.

JM

Nov. 11 2013 04:04 PM
Ron Fletcher from NY

I'm tired of all the veteran BS because they all volunteered and they weren't fighting for 'freedom' (which this country has less of every day) but for cheap oil and instant gratification and hubrous of stupid politicians. We now have more extremism than we would have, we have lost the world's respect with our behavior, and we're facing 30 years of non-intervention to get the middle east back to where it was before we attacked...and the volunteers enabled the politicians to do this...so don't tell me we need to take care of them forever when they thoughtlessly went into the military so we could drive Escalades.

Nov. 11 2013 03:40 PM

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