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Veterans Affairs Department Seems Poised To Hit Milestone

Veterans Affairs Department Seems Poised To Hit Milestone

Veterans Affairs Department (VA) claims appear poised to hit a milestone of 1 million.

This milestone moves toward as agency scrambles to recruit and coach more claims processors that may take two years. VA executives are working along with the Pantagon, as ordered by U.S. president Barack Obama to design a system by 2012, which will let two agencies to exchange records electronically; a procedure that now conducted by hand on paper.

In the meantime, the veterans, a few of whom severely injured in the Afghanistan and the Iraq, continue to undergo a financial adversity when their claims are being processed. They wait for over 4 months on an average for a claim processing, and applying for a claim takes almost one and half year on an average.

In addition to backlog are issues that may range from the difficulty of meting out mental health related claims by the Iraq veterans, to an alteration that has made it easy for the Vietnam veterans, who had exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange to be eligible for the disability payment. According to the Veterans Affairs Department, it's getting 13% more claims than it got last year.

The official website of VA confirms that the Veterans Affairs Department has over 720,000 claims and over 170,000 claims are under processing; for a whole of almost 900,000 claims. And the number is up by 100,000 from January, as mentioned on the site.

Since 2007, the department has recruited over 4000 claim processors the department is also working for modernization of its system.

In the past year, the Congress approved legislation that wanted to update disability ratings procedure. A hearing last month by a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee would investigate whether the rule's alterations are being imposed and whether VA would be capable of handling million of claims.

Veterans' lawyers admit that there are improvements in claim procedure, but they say that still it is too unwieldy. They mention that some of the injured veterans from recent wars are disbursing payment with their credit cards, waiting for their initial disability payment, at the time while it's so difficult to get better from or to get used to their wounds.

According to John Roberts of Houston, the national service director at nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project, the process is not flawless, although they keep on talking about providing a flawless transition.

Nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project helped David Smith from Haleyville; AL. David is an ex-army staff sergeant, who conducted about 3 tours to Iraq, currently, he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. He is suffering from symptoms like anger and anxiety that make him unable to work. He has been waiting for months to know about the result of his appeal that may provide higher compensation for him.

He said that it has added more stress since he does not know what's he is heading for. He wants to know clearly so that he can settle his next step.

Ex-Marine Cpl. Robert Murray, 26, Alberta, VA was seriously burned and got his left leg amputated after an explosion in the year 2006, thinks himself lucky. After he was released from army, he got job and this made his wait for claim processing easier.

He thinks that it is tough for someone who does not get a job after discharged from military. And, either he has to rack up credit card bill or borrow money, until his claims are approved. Currently, Murray is working in a construction company.

Murray's first claim was lost. And, the second one was winded up at an office of VA. Finally, the third one was processed after few months. To him, it was unbelievable that he had to spend almost one year in Walter Reed Army Medical Center and in the outpatient care with loads of files just to prove him injured before VA. And, that was the greatest disappointment to him.

According to Ryan Gallucci, the spokesperson at the veteran group AMVETS, his company wants a legal change which could make it easier for the veterans to prove his war-related injury. It may also help their claims to be processed.

Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y. said that he is hopeful about improvement of the claims processing. However, the situation will not be so soothing for the veterans currently waiting.

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