Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel), member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, released the following statement today after the Department of Veterans Affairs announcement last week on the plan to expedite claims over a year old:
"On the battlefield, the motto is to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, it is our duty to ensure that we leave no veteran behind. Sadly, for too long we have failed to live up to that promise to our nation's veterans by delaying access to the necessary benefits they earned.
"During a subcommittee hearing last Thursday, myself and members of the subcommittee stressed to Secretary Shinseki the need to end the Department of Veteran Affairs' outrageous backlog of claims. The issue has been troubling for many Californian veterans; particularly those serviced by the Oakland Regional Office which has the dubious distinction of having the largest backlog in the country. I was pleased to hear the Department's announcement last Friday that it was going to expedite the process for claims over a year old. Additionally, I believe that by completely modernizing their process and through better coordination with the Department of Defense, the VA can meet its goal of eliminating the backlog within two years.
"However, I still have some concerns with the direction that the Department is heading. Today, along with fellow California Democrats, I sent a letter to the Subcommittee Chairman and Ranking Member asking for better oversight of the implementation of the new Veterans Benefits Management System. I remain skeptical that the new system will be able to achieve the two year goal and want to make sure it does not add to the burdens our veterans are already facing.
"The men and women who answered the call of duty and bravely served our country did so without hesitation or delay. It's time we match that commitment when they return home."
To read the full letter, please visit http://farr.house.gov/images/stories/Documents/vabacklog.pdf
To read the Department of Veteran Affairs' release, please visit http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2436