Right now over 500k Vets are embroiled in a VA claims backlog. 100k of those Vets are just waiting on a rating decision. The other 400k Vets are waiting on the VA appeals process. With a 2017 budget expected to be 184 Billion dollars you would think the VA could get this right. If the DOD provides information about the entire claims process from front to back to retiring and separating military Veterans they will know how to navigate the claims process. If the VA has the information at every office across the country, Vets will be able to get their claims filed quickly and decisions made faster. Something must be done and this story needs to be told for those almost half of a million Vets log jammed in the system. There is hope and over the last five years the VA has reduced the number of claims backlogged in the claims process. So, it can be done. However, it would be nice to see the claims backlog sitting at zero.
In 2007, I retired after 20 years in the Air Force. I am an Iraq War Veteran and Bronze Star Medal recipient. When I exited military service my commander told me to make a copy of my military health records and take them to the VA. I did this and waited 8 months for a rating decision. I figured this wasn’t an abnormally long time since there were hundreds of thousands of Vets in the system. In 2010, I had a severe bout of PTSD. I was hospitalized in the Baltimore VA medical center. Upon release I was informed to make copies of my health records and file a claim for the PTSD. So I did. One year passed and I began making phone calls but couldn’t get an answer to where the claim was in the process. Two years passed and now I was frustrated. Three years passed and I was angry. I reached out to a reporter with the Baltimore Sun and my story about the VA claims backlog and my ordeal over a three year period went national news. I spent a great deal of time learning the process inside and out. I learned almost immediately that I hadn’t followed the VA criteria to submit a VA claim correctly. The VA needs to process a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) in order for it to fly through the VA claims process. FDCs historically take shorter periods of time to decide then claims that do not submit all of the necessary information. I believe this information should be provided to Vets so they can fully understand the claims process and what they need to provide the VA to submit a Fully Developed Claim (FDC).