I am ashamed of myself for not doing my small part to make this an issue that is publicized and one to fight for. America should be ashamed of itself for this willful ignorance. Most importantly President Obama should be ashamed of himself for not leading effectively in solving the problem of veterans getting the benefits they’ve earned for going to war. Most Americans are oblivious of the terror most of our veterans faced on the battlefield and the struggles they must deal with as they are reintegrated into society.
Everyone loves to be patriotic on the Fourth of July, on Veterans Day, and at times when the country’s uniformed soldiers are performing. Yet as one goes home after singing the Star Spangle Banner and America the Beautiful, most forget that the soldiers that were thanked with words deserve the corresponding deeds.
It is true that on any giving day, the mainstream media will provide a nibble or antiseptic snippet of the plight of the veterans that are waiting for their benefits. That comedian/satirist Jon Stewart is the one trying to make this an issue and assigning blame where it really belongs, speaks poorly of our entire mainstream media.
President Obama must be commended for providing budgets with large increases in veterans’ benefits. President Obama made a whole lot of promises to veterans and fulfilled most. Michelle Obama has been working with veterans and military spouses to match them with private jobs. That said, having great benefits is one thing. Being able to access it is another. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, veterans are waiting over a year for their benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to provide key information to Congress and the public that shows the agency’s ability to quickly provide service-related benefits has virtually collapsed under President Barack Obama.
Internal VA documents, obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting and authenticated by the agency, reveal that delays newly returning veterans face before receiving disability compensation and other benefits are far longer than the agency has publicly acknowledged. The documents also offer insight into some of the reasons for those delays.
The agency tracks and widely reports the average wait time: 273 days. But the internal data indicates that veterans filing their first claim, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, wait nearly two months longer, between 316 and 327 days. Those filing for the first time in America’s major population centers wait up to twice as long – 642 days in New York, 619 days in Los Angeles and 542 days in Chicago.
The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency, to 245,000 in December – an increase of more than 2,000 percent.
Jon Stewart in the video below provides a strong critique of government and specifically President Obama. He makes a salient point that could be paraphrased as follows. Republicans can be blamed for much of the bad that is occurring in government. On this specific issue the President must accept responsibility and ensure that solutions are effected. After all, as the head of the party that promotes the truth that government makes a difference and only government can do certain things, showing failed government by having a broken VA system could insure that the party that hates government is returned to power.
This infographic is probative. The VA has released a new plan called Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Strategic Plan To Eliminate The Compensation Claims Backlog dated January 25th, 2013. This plan maps out a strategy to get the waiting time down to under 125 days.
President Obama is pushing very hard to get gun legislation through Congress. President Obama is pushing very hard to get comprehensive immigration reform. Every special interest from bankers, to drug makers seems to get waivers or special attention when it is deemed an emergency. The treatment of our veterans is an emergency. It is likely costing lives and livelihoods.
The inadequate dispensation of benefits to veterans is not the fault of our brave soldiers. It is of an incompetent process. It is time that every veteran is allowed to file for benefits and get them immediately. Every American files their taxes and gets their returns on the assumption that they are being truthful. Cheaters can be prosecuted at a later time. We owe at least that to our veterans.