Earlier today, Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) held his second of two public forums with Northern Michigan veterans to introduce a plan aimed at easing the claims backlog of the Veterans' Administration (VA).
"Northern Michigan veterans deserve timely access to the benefits they have earned. This week, we have introduced a common sense plan that I believe will help the men and women in uniform who have served this country," said Dr. Benishek, a doctor who worked at the Iron Mountain VA center for 20 years. "I was privileged to hold meetings with our local veterans and get their feedback on how we can best address this challenge."
"I just want to thank Dr. Benishek for giving us the opportunity to discuss issues related to the disability claims backlog. This is the first time anyone has cared enough to take an interest in addressing and fixing these problems," said Chuck Lantz, a Dickinson County Veteran Service Officer (VSO) who attended the public forum in Iron Mountain.
Dr. Benishek's plan has three main components--making a seamless transition for soldiers into the VA, simplifying and streamlining the way veterans receive their benefits, and improving access for veterans. The plan calls for the VA to speed up claims processing by immediately disbursing benefits for simple disabilities so long as proper evidence is determined to be adequate. The VA would then continue to develop the rest of the claim which may require additional evidence.
"We have learned a lot about the benefits backlog over the last year, but there is no better way to learn about this challenge than to have a direct conversation with our area's veterans. I'd like to thank everyone who participated in these public meetings. We will use their input in moving forward with the initiatives in this plan," added Dr. Benishek, Michigan's sole representative on the Veterans' Affairs committee.