Begich: Veterans Shouldn’t Have to Play the Waiting Game for Benefits
Inspector General Report Finds Several Gaps in DoD Records-Keeping
In response to a dismal report from the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG), U.S. Senator Mark Begich is pushing the DoD to speed up the transfer of veterans’ records to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) so the VA can use these documents to provide services and benefits to veterans in a timely manner.
The report outlines several system failures in the Army, Navy and Air Force including incomplete medical records and records transfers outside the 45 business-day window. The quick transfer of complete records from the DoD is essential so that the VA may begin to evaluate claims and approve services and benefits.
“I’m frustrated that our veterans have to play the waiting game when it comes to getting the benefits they’ve earned and deserve,” said Begich. “This audit illustrates several system failures that must be fixed immediately. Our nation has trained and equipped the best military on earth. It’s ridiculous that we are failing in a task like processing service members’ paperwork in a timely manner.”
Begich noted he would use his seat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to drive progress on the improvements recommended in the IG report. Begich has worked relentlessly on this issue and supported legislation to increase funding to the VA in 2013 to help address this problem. The legislation was developed after a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting in May 2013, when Sen. Begich grilled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel about claims languishing in the VA system.
Sen. Begich discussed improving the claims and benefits turn-around time with women veterans at his roundtable today with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a member of the Hawaii National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team who also served two tours of combat duty in the Middle East.