Whether it's continuing their education with the help of the GI Bill, attending a VA job fair, or submitting a disability claim, our veterans deserve to know that they can rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the very department created to help them to provide the benefits they've earned and the help they need.
Unfortunately, a disability claims backlog at the VA is making many veterans feel like second class citizens who are left to navigate endless amounts of bureaucratic red tape.
Normally, it takes the VA about nine months to process disability benefits claims, but recently some cases have been taking years. Over the last four years, pending claims at the VA have increased by more than 2,000 percent; right now, there is a backlog of more than 600,000 claims. For veterans who submit a first-time claim, the average wait time is between 313 and 327 days.
The struggles that veterans are facing to get the benefits they deserve are embarrassing. That's why I've been working to cut through the red tape nightmare at the VA if they won't address this problem, then I will.
Over the past couple months I've taken several steps to right this wrong.
First, I've urged the VA to devote all possible resources to reducing the backlog.
Last month, my office launched the site braley.house.gov/helpingveterans, a webpage Iowa veterans can use to request help from my staff to expedite their claims and work through the barriers they're facing navigating the VA claims backlog. To date, more than 50 Iowa veterans have used the website to request help.
Finally, two weeks ago, Kyle Dykstra, my Veterans Outreach Representative and an Army veteran himself, traveled throughout eastern Iowa to provide assistance to Iowa veterans who have disability claims tied up in the VA disability claims backlog.
He met with dozens of veterans and through his outreach at least 20 new cases have been opened. Kyle visited Grinnell, Marshalltown, Independence, West Union, Decorah, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Dubuque during his outreach efforts.
My office is here to help.
If you're facing a mountain of red tape from the VA, log on to braley.house.gov/helpingveterans or contact my Cedar Rapids office at 319-364-2288 to request help from my office. We'll do everything we possibly can to resolve the problem you're having with the VA.