24
Nov
08

183. The VA: Increasing The Risk of Homelessness Among Veterans

x9hzqca7fezdpcablha8ycabhh0jaca1prty9cara2tccca67ect4cap5eo2pcav4ja4pca31tm4cca7tcxwrcag0v8g5ca3a2ogqcaieoy7xcad994x0caev49lmcautrdu6cae9t5h5cabx5uihThe causes leading to  homelessness in our veteran population are varied and diverse. There is a unique story behind each veteran who finds themselves homeless. Certainly, reentry into civilian life after being discharge from military service brings with it many factors that can increase the likelihood of a veteran finding themselves homeless. One of the factors that puts our veterans at risk for homelessness is the delay in the VA granting approval for disablity benefits to veterans who sustain a military related injury.

Recently 2 veterans groups have filed legal action against the Veterans Adminsitration for the delays that have been common in processing disabilty applications for our veterans.

“The failure to expedite veterans’ compensation claims creates, at best, the impression that the nation does not respect its veterans,” John Rowan, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said in a written statement. “America’s veterans deserve more, and the VA‘s failure to fulfill its responsibilities brings dishonor to our nation and can only make the call of military service more challenging.”

According to the veterans’ groups, an initial decision on a typical benefits claim takes an average of six months. Appeals of initial rulings take, on average, over four years, according to the groups.

This single act of delaying timely processing of disability claims for our veterans can have catastrophic consequences in regard to homelessness among veterans. Imagine the effects of returning to civilian life with an injury (mental ,physical or both) and not being able to work due to a military injury. Trying to “make do” for up to 6 months without a means of support simply isn’t manageable for most people,let alone someone who is dealing with a disablity. It’s unthinkable that the very organization that has been created to take care of our veterans is the same one who is responsible for placing some our veterans into the homeless population by their inability to process claims in a timely and effective manner.

I’m constantly amazed at the inefficiency of some branches of our federal governerment especially in these current economic times. While employees in the private sector are facing climbing unemployment rates by no fault of their own doing, many federal employees enjoy a relative ” immunity” while demonstrating incompetency & an apparent lack of insight  into the population they serve.  There seems to be a serious problem within the VA that has placed thousands of our veterans at risk for homelessness as is evident by this article that outlines the discovery  of disability claims being shredded instead of processed.

The approximately 50 different kinds of records found slated for destruction—including nine compensation claims, 18 notices of disagreement with a decision, and two death notices—could be key pieces of evidence for a veteran’s application for benefits, says Jerry Manar, the national veterans service deputy director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. If a key piece of evidence has been shredded, “it can result in the denial of a claim,” Manar says. More than 800,000 claims of various kinds are currently pending in the VA’s backlog.

Yes, that is 800,000 back logged claims! Does anyone in the VA really care that out of these unprocessed claims many of our veterans have no means to pay bills for food,housing and other expenses forcing them into homelessness?

According to the VA, the suicide rate among individuals in the VA’s care may be as high as 7.5 times the national average. Delays in awarding benefits to America’s veterans increases the suffering of individuals already struggling with an inability to cope, as the seemingly endless wait for the VA to make a final decision on a claim magnifies the alienation and anxiety that they experience. For example, the inability to provide basic subsistence support significantly impacts a veteran’s ability to maintain economic stability, seek and gain employment, provide and sustain a home, or care for a family. As a consequence, there is a substantial increase in the number of broken families, cases of homelessness and depression caused by the failure to provide disability benefits on a timely basis.(source:MarketWatch)

 It’s time for the VA to clean house of any and all employees who have been a part of this negligence and dishonor to our Veterans. President Elect Obama has cited priority to accountablity of veterans support  and we await his adminstration choice for Veterans Affairs. We need a Veterans Adminsitration that is clear in it’s dedication to our  men and woman veterans who are deserving of help and understanding in their re-entry back into society. I can’t help but think there are many unemployed veterans out there who are well qualified to staff the VA.  Perhaps the VA could be part of the solution by providing jobs for veterans instead of being part of the problem by failing to serve this population. Certainly, these veterans served our  country honorably which is much more than we can say about the VA.

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