Today, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) released the following column:
"On May 23, 2013, the U.S. Army's Old Guard deployed to Arlington National Cemetery with special orders: plant a flag at each gravestone. In all, more than 260,000 flags were placed -- precisely one foot in front and centered -- at each stone across the cemetery's 624 acres.
"This simple yet powerful act of remembrance is just one of the ways we come together on Memorial Day to honor the men and women who've died in defense of our nation. Each year, millions of Americans march in parades, decorate memorials and display the flag in honor of fallen heroes.
"But Memorial Day isn't just a time to remember those who've made the ultimate sacrifice. It's a day for us to thank those who are still overseas, and those who've made it home. And it's a day for us to recommit ourselves to providing all those who've worn the uniform with the quality care and benefits they've earned.
"In recent months, I've heard from dozens of veterans living in Ohio's Eighth Congressional District who are waiting entirely too long for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to process their disability benefits and compensation claims.
"Jeff Caron, an Army Veteran and resident of Monroe, has waited 611 days. Kenneth Abney, an Air Force veteran and resident of Liberty Township, has waited 835 days. David Barrett, an Army veteran and resident of Fairfield, has waited 368 days. Sadly, these are not isolated cases.
"Today, the VA is drowning in a backlog of claims, leaving thousands of veterans too long for the services and care they need. In all, Federal News Radio reports that 559,000 veterans are awaiting decisions from a VA that inexplicably still processes claims by paper.
"To its credit, the Obama administration has acknowledged that there is a problem. But over the past four years -- despite year over year increases in funding -- there has been little in the way of real progress.
"In fact, it now takes the VA's Cleveland regional office an average of 414 days to process a claim. That's up 80 days from just three months ago -- and it puts the administration's goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015 further out of reach.
"We need to put an end to this shameful backlog, and we need to do it now. According to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, one million servicemembers will become veterans over the next five years -- and many of them are expected to apply for disability benefits.
"In the House, we're working to ensure that our veterans have opportunities to land good private-sector jobs, and we're also working to hold the VA accountable. Twice this year I've requested that the Obama administration put forward a coherent plan create a quicker and more efficient claim approval process, with clear deadlines and benchmarks. Unfortunately, that request has gone unanswered.
"Eliminating the VA's backlog by 2015 will not be easy. But this Memorial Day, as we consider the sacrifices made by our men and women who've worn the uniform, we must work together to see that it gets done."
Boehner represents Ohio's 8th District, which includes all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, and the southernmost part of Mercer County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.