Veterans waiting for benefits in Manchester assured things will change
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki speaks at a news conference in Manchester Wednesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
This spring, the VA announced efforts to reduce backlogs, now that the paperless, $428 million Veterans Benefits Management System is in place at all 56 regional offices, including Manchester.
That involves entering a claim into the system, determining what records — such as medical examinations and Defense Department service records — are needed for verification, obtaining those records, making a decision and notifying the veteran.
“That’s one of the things bureaucracies can do. They put so many road bumps in your way that eventually you give up,” he said.
Shinseki said veteran service organizations such as the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans provide key assistance to veterans when it comes to researching their claims.
Shinseki attributed the lengthy wait to key decisions three years ago.
Three Vietnam War-related illnesses, including Agent Orange poisoning, were recognized. Nine first Gulf War illnesses were recognized. And benefits were allowed for veterans with verified post-traumatic stress disorder.
Overall, the Manchester office has a good track record of processing a claim. The average wait time for a fully developed New Hampshire claim is 36 days, compared to 82 nationally.
“It’s a great indication Manchester is doing well,” Shinseki said, “they’re carrying an additional load.”
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