After being ripped apart by Congress and the media for years, the Department of Veterans Affairs is now proudly proclaiming their backlog of disability claims is down by 44 percent.
But have they really solved the problem?
American Legion Commander Dan Dellinger visited Hampton Roads this week, making a stop at American Legion Post 327 in Norfolk.
And while he says the VA has made strides with first time claims, they’re also seeing the appeals process go up as they are doing the claims.
The VA Regional Office in Roanoke processes all the claims for veterans in Hampton Roads.
At the end of March, more than 19,000 veterans had disability benefits claims pending.
That’s down 33 percent from one year ago when more than 29,000 were still waiting.
But during the same time period, the number of appeals went up by 20 percent.
And those veterans who want a correction to their disability benefits will be waiting an average of 3-4 years.
The American Legion says it all can be blamed on the antiquated records systems the VA uses, which consist of stacks of paper files.
“What we need to do is have the seamless electronic medical records, where DOD and VA talks to each other, talking to Congress, VA about this, they have already spent a billion dollars but haven’t solved it as of yet,” Dellinger says.
And there is still no concrete timetable for when the project will be completed, giving those veterans still waiting very little hope.