Sunday, January 20, 2013

McCarthy: Veterans Affairs Department not following through on its own goals; our veterans deserve better

House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

"Over the past six years, I have had the honor to meet and thank many of our local veterans. Many have hit roadblocks with our Veterans Affairs Department. In response to complaints from veterans in our community about how the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) was failing to provide benefits and services in a timely fashion,  I called for an audit and review of VA benefits and services processes.

"This week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their findings to me. These audits confirm those complaints and indicate an overall lack of focus on the VA’s part and a failure to follow through with established internal goals.  Of over 856,000 claims the VA has, 6 percent are backlogged with an average wait time of 318 days from start to finish.  In the Los Angeles VA Regional Office, which serves Kern County veterans, 80 percent of the 25,322 claims are backlogged – one of the worst in the country. This is unacceptable. I have called upon Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to take immediate action to implement the GAO recommendations to begin fixing the delays in service.

"Those who have served our country deserve our recognition and gratitude for the sacrifices they and their families have made to ensure our everyday liberties here at home.  As an elected official I take my responsibility to oversee the VA to ensure our veterans receive the benefits and care that they need very seriously.  The Veterans Affairs Committee will hold hearings in February on the GAO’s audits and I intend to bring our veterans’ concerns to senior VA officials directly and ensure the VA is taking all necessary actions to implement reforms in the Department.  Over the coming weeks and months, Chairman Miller and I will continue looking into these matters and develop additional legislative solutions to ensure that the needed structural reforms will be made, not only for our veterans locally but for veterans across our country.

"George Washington said, 'every satisfaction which can reasonably be requested should be given to those veteran troops who, through almost every distress, have been for so long and so faithfully serving the States.”  I expect the VA to move quickly to ensure our veterans receive the benefits and services they have earned serving our great country, and I will continue to work to make sure this is done.

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