The Inside Story on How the Feds Are Failing Veterans

Today's yak shows have been rightly dominated by the news that the Department of Veterans Affairs has been doing a terrible job at treating wounded and disabled vets.

Last November, Reason TV's Amanda Winkler (a former service member herself) looked at the terrible treatment—and lack therof—of soldiers returning from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here's the original writeup. Go here for more links and downloadable versions.

Over the last 12 years, more than two million Americans have been deployed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But for thousands who return home with injuries, another battle is just beginning - this time, with the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA).

Upon enlistment, service members are promised that, should a service-related injury occur, the US government will provide them with care and financial compensation. The VA is responsible for providing this care but have been unable to render these services in a timely manner. The average wait time for a veteran to receive his or her benefits is one year.

President Obama sounded the alarm during a speech in August 2010, stating that it was the country's "moral obligation" to provide veterans with timely compensation. Under VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Obama administration promised that all claims would be processed within 125 days and with a 98 percent accuracy rating by the year 2015.  

Despite Obama's speech, the backlog continued to grow, reaching a peak of nearly 900,000 pending claims with 70 percent backlogged in March of 2013. This past August, the numbers dipped slightly: nearly 800,000 pending claims with 63 percent backlogged.

The administration points to the August numbers as a sign of improvement, but reports of processing errors reveal a poor quality of work, with mistake in 30 percent or more of the claims that they process. Unfortunately for those waiting for assistance, when a mistake is made, the veteran must appeal. Once an appeal is filed, the average waiting time for the veteran is another four years. 

About 4 minutes. 

Produced by Amanda Winkler. Camera by Joshua Swain and Winkler. Narrated by Todd Krainin. 

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  • Mike M.||

    Even Dana Milbank, a world class Obama dick-sucking JournoList of Weigelian proportions, has declared this one to not be a phony scandal and said that Shinseki needs to be shown the door.

  • John||

    Notice how this came out right around the time the IRS emails were released. This scandal can't be traced back to Obama or attributed to anything beyond incompetence and cravenness of various government employees.

    It is no surprise then that a pathetic fucking hack like Milbank is all for holding someone accountable for this. There is both no danger of Obama being held accountable and it gets the attention off of scandals that will.

    We have spend five years of no one at any level being held accountable for anything in the Obama administration. Now the VA effectively murders at least 12 and who knows how many more veterans and our betters in the media will agree that well okay, we can hold some retired general in his retirement job responsible.

    Frankly, people like Milbank being outraged about this is fucking offensive. He and the rest of the Obama cock suckers can go fuck themselves. How fucking dare they try to gain back some of their self respect by throwing Shinseki to the wolves on this.

  • Irish||

    Remember the good old days when progressives were saying that single payer would doubtlessly work wonders because of how great Veterans Administration Hospitals are?

    Good times.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    They got the death panels right.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Obama gave a speech about something and didn't follow through. Shocker.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Military and veterans, one of the few groups on the taxpayers dole that the GOP outdoes the Dems in throwing money at.

    "With these and other factors in mind, Mr. Hagel proposed to eliminate the fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, retire the U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk and cut maintenance for an aircraft carrier that would be slated for retirement in 2016. The committee, pressed by lobbyists and members in districts where the weapons are built, voted to keep all three.

    In addition, the committee approved billions of dollars in funding for the F-35 jet fighter, despite serious capability and development issues. The committee abdicated responsibility for one of the Pentagon’s biggest challenges, pay and benefits. If left unaddressed, they could eventually consume most of the budget and make weapons modernization impossible. The committee did this by rejecting Mr. Hagel’s plans to cap pay raises at 1 percent instead of 1.8 percent, slow the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and increase health insurance deductibles and some co-payments for retirees and some family members of active servicemen."

    Todays NYT Editorial

  • Virginian||

    Mr. Hagel proposed to eliminate the fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, retire the U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk and cut maintenance for an aircraft carrier that would be slated for retirement in 2016.

    One absolutely terrible idea, and two excellent ones.

    I'm very surprised. Usually the ratio is much worse when it comes to government proposals.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Considering our financial situation and that all that we need and could possibly be justified is a force to fight a defensive war, all of that, and much more, should go.

  • Virginian||

    Eliminating the A10s is a terrible idea. They're proven technology, and extremely effective. The reason they're eliminating them is that their continued existence is a major reason not to buy the F-35. As long as the A10 is flying, one of the major "arguments" for the F-35 boondoggle goes away.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Military and veterans, one of the few groups on the taxpayers dole that the GOP outdoes the Dems in throwing money at.

    "With these and other factors in mind, Mr. Hagel proposed to eliminate the fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, retire the U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk and cut maintenance for an aircraft carrier that would be slated for retirement in 2016. The committee, pressed by lobbyists and members in districts where the weapons are built, voted to keep all three.

    In addition, the committee approved billions of dollars in funding for the F-35 jet fighter, despite serious capability and development issues. The committee abdicated responsibility for one of the Pentagon’s biggest challenges, pay and benefits. If left unaddressed, they could eventually consume most of the budget and make weapons modernization impossible. The committee did this by rejecting Mr. Hagel’s plans to cap pay raises at 1 percent instead of 1.8 percent, slow the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and increase health insurance deductibles and some co-payments for retirees and some family members of active servicemen."

    Todays NYT Editorial

  • Mike M.||

    The DoD to a large extent is a giant scam, but if we're going to send some poor schmucks to get their legs blown off and traumatized for absolutely nothing, the least we can do is give them adequate medical care.

    This is nothing remotely new though: our war veterans have always gotten shit on in this country going back to the times of George Washington.

    That's why I personally would never encourage a kid to enlist in the military, especially on behalf of a government as insane and out of control as ours is.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Perhaps, but cutting raises from 1.8% to 1% is not exactly leaving our brave warriors to the wolves.

  • fuck you tulpa||

    If that were the only thing they were doing, maybe, but even you aren't so fucking stupid as to think that's true.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    As usual you have nothing really to say.

  • fuck you tulpa||

    As you totally avoid the fact that I'm right and you can't refute me so you attack me personally.

    You pointed out one thing and attempted to insinuate that that single hardship wasn't much of a hardship, then try to change the subject and run away when confronted with that fact that only an idiot would attempt to forward the argument that you made.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    See, as said when it comes to points your only action seems to be missing them. If you flail around some more maybe you will actually come across mine?

  • Invisible Finger||

    The DoD to a large extent is a giant scam, but if we're going to send some poor schmucks to get their legs blown off and traumatized for absolutely nothing, the least we can do is give them adequate medical care.

    On the other hand, it's the perfect example of why big government is a colossal mistake.

    "I supported big government and all I got was this lousy medical care".

    If Americans are too stupid to learn that Big Government only creates things like Detroit yet STILL supports the idea of big government, then veterans-treated-like-shit is the inevitable outcome.

    But I expect the majority of Americans to react to scandals of super-sized government by pleading, crying, and whining for even bigger government.

  • Christophe||

    Given the cost-effectiveness of nukes as a deterrent, if this country was serious about becoming non-interventionist, you could save a lot of money on the military.

  • John||

    Except that it would declare open season on the US for all actions that while serious do not justify the use of nuclear weapons.

    For example, some country starts sinking US merchant ships or kidnaps US diplomats or civilians. Are you going to nuke them over that? I doubt it. And if you are not going to nuke them, what are you going to do about it if all you have is nukes?

  • Fluffy||

    Thank you for your concern.

  • John||

    So the VA falsifies waiting lists and lets 12 people die waiting for care and the fact that the GOP likes defense spending or the F35 costs too much money has some relevance to that issue.

    Are you fucking retarded? Is it possible for you to make any cogent point other than "gee those SOCONS sure suck" or "you know the GOP is just as bad as the Dems". Those are both fine points, except when they are endlessly and tirelessly made in threads they have nothing whatsoever to do with.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Sure, the administration runs our military and veterans dole programs badly, I'm happy to acknowledge that. My point is a larger one about the existence and size of that dole. That libertarians might make such a larger point, and that Republicans like yourself (and if I remember correctly, aren't you on that government dole yourself ?) might miss it, is hardly surprising

  • John||

    My point is a larger one about the existence and size of that dole.

    I know that you half wit. That point, valid or not, has no relevance to this issue other than changing the subject.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    If we were talking about the Post Office being mismanaged and some horrible result coming from that mismanagement, would it be irrelevant or changing the subject to note that the entire system of government monopolized and provided for postal services is something that in libertopia we would not have? What you (and the %*^& you tulpa troll) do not get is you want everyone to focus on the faulty branch and I think the tree should be chopped down. But conservatives like you and trolly Mc%*^& tulpa want that tree to grow and grow, so you want to just focus on this little faulty branch for quick political points.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    You've got us dead to rights, Bo.

    I confess. There is no level of DoD spending I would not support, no weapons program I wouldn't gladly fall in love with.

    I would willingly starve thousands of black children to keep the lily white sons and daughters of defense contractors in the finest Ivy League schools.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Interesting, my post was only about the GOP and Brooks felt like he must answer to it.

  • fuck you tulpa||

    God you're a childish cunt.

  • Calidissident||

    That's probably true, but he has a point in this case. Nowhere in his post did he mention or even hint that he was talking about Reason readers or libertarians.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    That guy doesn't do 'points' Calidissident , other than to miss them.

  • fuck you tulpa||

    I got your "point" when you pointed out one thing and attempted to insinuate that that single hardship wasn't much of a hardship, then tried to change the subject and run away when confronted with that fact that only an idiot would attempt to forward the argument that you made.

    Which is why you cried about it, cheap shotted me, and ran.

    Like I said, you're a childish cunt, and it obviously bothers you that I point it out.

  • fuck you tulpa||

    "Nowhere in his post did he mention or even hint that he was talking about Reason readers or libertarians."

    Did I say he did?

    I said he was a childish cunt.

    The rest of that shit is from your head, guy.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Nice of you to chop quote Calidissident there (I seem to remember you accusing me of that starting you off into a hissy-fit of hysterics a few threads ago), excising the part where he directly addresses your comment and segues into his point. Trolls got to troll, I guess, and dishonesty is how the troll rolls.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Reluctant

    Saturday, Holder warned against the spectacle of such episodes. “These outbursts of bigotry, while deplorable, are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged, or the work that still needs to be done,” Holder said.

    “The greatest threats,” he continued, “are more subtle. They cut deeper. And their terrible impact endures long after the headlines have faded and obvious, ignorant expressions of hatred have been marginalized.”

    These high-profile, racially charged controversies have coincided with what the administration, and many others, hoped would be a moment of celebration surrounding the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which ended — legally, at least — racial segregation in public education.

    The timing has offered the administration, reluctant over the years to discuss race overtly, an opportunity to appraise the halting character of the country’s racial progress and those resisting its next steps.

    Here in post racial America, nobody uses race as a cudgel to batter their political opponents.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I saw this. Of course now that really bad acts of bigotry are so few we have to identify less bad ones as the real problem to justify our ever growing federal racial oversight committee .

  • Rich||

    “The greatest threats,” he continued, “are more subtle. They cut deeper. And their terrible impact endures long after the headlines have faded and obvious, ignorant expressions of hatred have been marginalized.”

    I keep hearing this stuff, but never are specifics called out.

    Is Holder alluding to things like locking your car doors while driving through the hood, or what?

  • Irish||

    He's alluding to things like requiring someone to show an ID before voting in a federal election and arguing that it's a bad idea to give people $30,000 a year to not work.

    Thinking someone should prove their identity before helping to choose the most powerful man in America is just unbelievably racist, you naive teathuglican.

  • Rich||

    *** scratches chin ***

    Hey, don't you have to show an ID before collecting that $30K?

  • Fluffy||

    I guess Obama wasn't able to gut the VA's Inspector General office in time.

    He was able to geld the IG in most other departments. I guess he didn't get to this one as quickly as he wanted.

  • DJF||

    The first place the Feds fail veterans is in sending them off to fight unneeded wars. After that its just down hill.

    Just like the rest of government the Veterans dept needs a good house cleaning, not only of the employees but also of veterans who milk the system.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This

  • Irish||

    Just like the rest of government the Veterans dept needs a good house cleaning, not only of the employees but also of veterans who milk the system.

    How dare you speak that way about our veterans? I have it on good authority that American soldiers go off to fight entirely out of the goodness of their hearts and are free of the avarice and greed which plague the rest of the human species.

    I've always loved that conservatives think about soldiers in exactly the same idiotic terms that progressives think about teachers, but neither side has enough self-awareness to realize how similar they are.

  • DJF||

    I am a veteran and know a couple of guys who did milk the system. They claimed to have physical disabilties but it did not seem to effect their private lives, they could play baskeball or fix roofs with no problem.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    to realize how similar they are.

    Yeah.. no they're really not.

    I agree completely however about how conservatives and progressives often fetishize these two groups. I don't find it amusing as much as disturbing, though.

  • John||

    Sure veterans milked the system. That is a problem. But I don't see how that fact somehow makes what these people apparently did okay. If you want to clamp down on VA fraud, be my guest. Doing that, however, won't make this look any better.

  • Invisible Finger||

    The first place the Feds fail veterans is in sending them off to fight unneeded wars.

    The most effective way to make new supporters of liberty is to let them learn first-hand the results of supporting ever-larger government.

  • Steve G||

    Maybe if the VA wasn't task saturated with handling thousands upon thousands of retiree disability ratings and subsequent appeals for such bullshit as sleep apnea, they might actually be able to track (and resolve) the actual life and limb cases. I'm never more ashamed of my fellow veterans than when I hear them bitch and moan about only getting 20% or 30% disability for a condition that A) wasn't the military's fault and B) was/is preventable.

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