Today, Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35) was joined by seven colleagues of California's Congressional Delegation to notify the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, about the vacancy of the Director of the Veterans Benefits Administration Office in Los Angeles. This position has been left vacant 8 months now. Given that it still takes more than 300 days to process a veterans disability claim at the Los Angeles office, the lack of a director raises serious concerns. The full letter can be found below:
February 10, 2014
The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
We write to draw your attention to the continued absence of a regional office director at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Los Angeles Regional Office.
The Director of VBA in Los Angeles has been without a full-time permanent director since May of last year. This arrangement is unsustainable and affects VBA's efficiency in the implementation of the VBA Transformation Plan in Los Angeles. As members of Congress, whose veteran constituents have their claims processed at the Los Angeles Regional Office, we are concerned with the Los Angeles Regional Office's ability to eliminate the continued backlog without consistent leadership at the regional office.
It is our highest priority that veterans receive their benefits in a timely manner regardless of where they live. As of January 21, 2014, the average time to resolve a claim originating in Los Angeles was 305 days. VA's decision to allow claims to be rated outside of the veteran's originating jurisdiction will help big cities such as Los Angeles reduce the time a claim is left unresolved. However, outsourcing claims to another regional office is no substitute for fixed management.
For the past several years, the Los Angeles Regional Office has been one of the most challenged VBA offices nation-wide. Securing a full-time director will ensure that resolving veteran claims will not take a step backward as more service members return to civilian life. Despite recent improvements in the processing of claims, the lack of a director for more than 8 months is a problem that cannot be ignored.
Thank you for your attention on this matter. Should you have questions regarding this issue, please contact James Hauser with Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-225-6161.
Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35)
Congressman Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41)
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27)
Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-24)