DONNELLY MEETS WITH SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly, along with fellow freshmen and members of the Veterans' Affairs committee, Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), met over breakfast with the Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs Jim Nicholson. Nicholson and the Congressmen met to encourage cooperation and dialogue.
"I appreciate that the Secretary of the VA is making an effort to improve communication between the agency he oversees and Congress," Donnelly said. "It's in the best interests of our nation's veterans for us to work together to fulfill our country's promises to those who have served honorably in uniform."
With an increased number of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Donnelly emphasized to Secretary Nicholson the importance of decreasing the average 177 days that veterans wait for their disability claims to be reviewed by the VA. Nicholson expressed his interest in evaluating new and innovative ways of decreasing wait time, including certain proposals to utilize a presumption of service-connectedness for disability claims.
In March, Donnelly and Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced legislation that would presume service-connectedness for veteran's disability assistance eligibility, shifting the burden of proof to the VA.
"With our many engagements here and abroad, we need to be prepared to meet the diverse needs of our men and women retiring from service," Donnelly said. "I hope that the VA and Congress will continue to work together to improve services for veterans."