During a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller today urged Veterans Affairs Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki to work more quickly in processing veterans' claims.
"Our veterans should have the absolute best care available to them. They selflessly leave their families and put their lives on the line for their country, and it is our responsibility to make sure that they get the care they earned and deserve when they return home. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing delays in getting the care they need, and I was very clear when I met with Secretary Shinseki last week that the VA must do a better job. I'm thankful the VA recognizes that. Our Vet Centers, VA hospitals, and their dedicated staffs provide such critical care for our veterans. We need to be diligent about the challenges facing the VA in caring for our veterans, particularly those with distinct needs returning from recent conflicts overseas."
Rockefeller has in recent months heard from several veterans about lengthy delays in their healthcare claims. Seeking clarity, Rockefeller last week met with Secretary Shinseki on the issue following a letter written to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel he signed, along with the other members of the Veterans Affairs Committee, pressing the Pentagon to work more closely with the VA to solve the agency's backlog problem.
Rockefeller is the longest serving member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and is its past chairman. Rockefeller has long been a champion of our nation's veterans, and has fought for adequate resources to pay for and treat veterans suffering from Gulf War illness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury. Recognizing that PTSD is a serious illness affecting many of our veterans, Senator Rockefeller has continually been a strong supporter of legislation to enhance the treatment and tracking of PTSD and suicide in service members. He believes it is essential to continue initiatives to provide veterans with quality health care--incorporating preventive and early intervention measures.
Veterans issues make up more than half of Rockefeller's constituent services caseload, work that is vital to helping veterans navigate the backlog process. Rockefeller's office assisted more than 800 veterans in getting their benefits in 2012.