Accuracy in Media

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin called it “arguably the biggest scandal the Obama Administration is facing in Washington right now—the Department of Veterans’ Affairs disability claims backlog.” The average wait time, she reported, is 273 days. “Despite a half-a-billion dollar new computer system designed to improve efficiency at the VA, 97 percent of all the claims are still filed on paper.”

In the wake of the Memorial Day weekend, it is important to remember that 600,000 veterans’ claims have been waiting over 125 days to be cleared by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly 900,000 claims were still waiting to be cleared, overall, as of April, according to The Washington Examiner. If the Bush Administration was capable of handling veterans’ benefits, why isn’t President Obama? After all, his Vice President calls this his “sacred obligation.”

“We have a lot of obligations—to our children, to the elderly, to the poor,” said Vice President Biden this past April. “But there’s only [one] truly sacred obligation in my view, and that’s to equip those we send to war and care for those who come home from war and their families.”

“That’s a sacred obligation.”

According to Change.gov, from back in 2009, “Obama and Biden will improve the quality of health care for veterans, rebuild the VA’s broken benefits system, and combat homelessness among veterans.” That included fixing the “benefits bureaucracy” by hiring “additional claims workers” and improving “training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently,” as well as transforming “the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness” (emphasis added). 

Rather than improving timeliness, veterans’ benefits backlogs have increased under Obama’s presidential leadership. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to provide service-related benefits has “virtually collapsed under President Obama.” This is the contention raised by Aaron Glantz, a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, back in March. “The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency, to 245,000 in December—an increase of more than 2,000 percent,” reported Glantz (emphasis added).

As a result, 67 U.S. senators, including 34 Democrats, sent a letter to the President asking him to resolve this situation. “In the last four years, the number of claims pending for over a year has grown by over 2000%, despite a 40% increase in the VA’s budget,” they wrote. “As a reminder, during this same time period, Congress has given VA everything it has asked for in terms of more funding and more employees; however, this has not eliminated the backlog of claims.” The budget for the VA is $140 billion for 2013, second only to the Department of Defense.

Just last week, the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), pressed for the departments of Defense and Veterans’ Affairs to “combine their electronic health records, calling on President Barack Obama to end ‘the bureaucratic back and forth on veterans’ records,’” reported Kathleen Miller and Danielle Ivory for Bloomberg News on May 23.

“It has taken about 250 days to process a claim, according to a February memo signed by Allison Hickey, VA undersecretary for benefits, and Frederick Vollrath, a Pentagon official,” reported Miller and Ivory. “Almost 175 of those days ‘are spent trying to secure’ military service treatment records, according to the document obtained by Bloomberg.”

“The Pentagon plans to buy an electronic health-records system following increasing pressure from lawmakers to end a backlog in U.S. veterans’ disability claims.”

What you won’t hear from the mainstream media is how successful the Bush Administration was at decreasing these backlogs. VA’s internal documents “show that the average wait time for veterans filing disability claims fell by more than a third under President George W. Bush, even as more than 320,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans filed disability claims,” reported Glantz. “The documents show delays escalated only after Obama took office and have more than doubled since, as 455,000 more returning veterans filed their claims.” So, the number of returning veterans has increased about 30%, yet the number of delays has “more than doubled” under President Obama.

Shouldn’t this travesty be reported in its true light, then? Simply put, President Bush did a better job at ensuring that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans received their disability benefits, the data shows. “We need to hear from the President of the United States, and ever since this national controversy emerged a few weeks ago, we still have not heard from the President of the United States,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, last April on MSNBC. “And the impact for our veterans on the ground is tremendous.” According to the CIR report, internal data indicate that wait times are, on average, between 316 and 327 days to process a veteran’s disability claim. “Those filing for the first time in America’s major population centers wait up to twice as long—642 days in New York, 619 days in Los Angeles and 542 days in Chicago,” wrote Glantz. Rieckhoff told MSBNC’s Morning Joe that he had spoken to those whose claims may have spanned 1,000 or 1,200 days.

Recent reporting has focused on the institutional factors that may be delaying these claims, such as the Veterans Affairs office’s reliance on paper records and the need for modernization. The Veterans Affairs Secretary is promoting a digitization method as a way to fix this problem by 2015. Yes, by 2015.

One mitigating factor that Jennifer Griffin of Fox News pointed out is that Eric Shinseki, the retired four-star general who took over as Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs in 2009, “removed obstacles for veterans to receive disability benefits for post-traumatic stress, which caused a surge in claims. The total number of post-9/11 combat vets receiving VA disability payments for PTSD soared from 27,000 to 196,000 from 2006 to 2012.”

In March, MSNBC’s Morning Joe highlighted this opinion piece by Joe Klein, who asked, “Why aren’t the claims processed according to severity? (emphasis in original). “Why should an Army Ranger who suffered a 100% debilitating traumatic brain injury in Konar Province three years ago still be waiting for his disability check?” he asked. “Why should that Ranger have to wait behind a Vietnam veteran, who is filing a 3rd time claim to get his disability for post-traumatic stress raised from 50% to 60%?” This misses the point entirely. As the senators’ letter states, the VA has received a 40% increase in funding and greater resources. Yet the problem is growing.

“The question is, why hasn’t the VA—and the Obama Administration—made this obvious call,” wrote Klein. “The answer is: for the same reason that it’s hard to get anything done in Washington. Special interest power” (emphasis in original).

The biggest special interest in Washington is the Administration itself. The media should be asking why the Obama Administration is not able to deal more effectively with this issue. Instead, they are raising questions about efficiency—which do have their place. However, if the Bush Administration was capable of handling this issue, why isn’t Obama? And if these results had occurred under Bush, how would the media have treated them? The results under the Obama Administration have been scandalous. The question is whether the explanation for this failure is the same incompetence factor that the Administration embraces when explaining their actions in the IRS or Benghazi scandals, since the alternative is even worse.




Comments

  • Medic1986

    The truth is that this administration has contempt for veterans and their families. Veterans are least likely to lean left politically, the HHS Secretary and others have tried to divest us of the constitutional rights we fought for out of spite. They will continue this behavior until they are no longer in power ( if that ever happens, I still wonder about the 2012 election) It doesn’t make sense that so many coal states would swing his way.

  • boysenberry

    This administration does not care about veterans. Its obvious.
    0bama is just traveling around and talking a lot, nothing gets done that’s important like the veterans waiting without limbs for some benefits.
    Shame on this administration!
    There is always more than enough money for 0bama to constantly fly around and “campaign”, talk, talk, talk. For his family to go on lavish vacations, to have huge parties, and go on golfing trips.
    They really don’t care!

  • dereid49

    Obama can really talk the talk, but when it comes time to walk the talk, he says ‘I don’t know’! Always someone else’s fault!
    I’ll have Holder Investigate it!
    I’m Going Golfing…

  • wldct118

    More lies from the Obummer administration. No one can trust anything the Government says. Wake up people. Can you see there is something very wrong here.

  • jlf0210

    THE TRUTH IS THAT OBEYME IS A THUG!…He could care less about helping the country AT ALL..Isn’t that obvious by now,?.. and now with his kingdom crumbling around him, ARE WE SURPRISED??…No, more than anything it is worse than we thought…and why is his impeachment even a debate?? You Government people better get it in gear, because we have had it with your BULLSHIT. And we can take so much but we’ve had it,..If it takes a street war , you’ll loose.

  • Eric Kent

    It is Bushes fault. This POS is the biggest JOKE I have ever seen he is a TOTAL and COMPLETE FAILURE as POTUS. Name one thing that this President has done that has had a beneficial effect on this country. There are none because he is a typical lazy African American look at every predominately African American community and you will see his work ethic first hand. All the money in the world can’t fix anything if nobody is willing to do the WORK it takes to improve things.And you know something i no longer care if you want to call me racist good so be it the truth is more important than your slandering me and shifting the focus of the argument.

  • Eric Kent

    You finally figured it out? They really do not care. And I can’t begin to understand why he is still in office.Why hasn’t he been impeached yet.Putin has told him that he needs to stop protecting Monsanto and make them stop producing a certain pesticide that is thought to be killing off the honey bees Putin flat told him that he is heading towards a Third World War.Why isn’t this on page one? Because we are being fed a ration of disinformation and lies every day.

  • teacher

    When VA is headed by a person with no interest in our veterans what do you expect? The POTUS has no concern for vets, he would rather see us a potential threats and placed on a terrorist watch list.

  • Dennis A Jones

    I filed in November 2012 in Feb. 2013 I hand Carried All paper work to
    the Purple Heart. I then called the Purple Heart the first of May 2013. I
    was told they forgot to send it in to the V.A. I was told my claim was
    in the system that it only set me back 2 1/2 months.

  • Dennis A Jones

    I am already listed as 50%. And have been for several years. I am filing for a re evaluation .

  • Richard Hellstrom

    No administration in the World has dishonored our veterans like the Bush administration. – On this segment alone they should of been prosecuted by the UN and the ICC.
    The eye witness account by Fox Employee Mark Burnback from Fox News – from around 44:37 to 46:25 is pretty solid evidence.
    Is Congress Guilty Of Inside Trading.
    inboxrgh/wordpress
    The video is 9/11 in Plain Sight.

  • ALLAN

    THIS IS ALL PART OF OBAMA’S MUSLIM / MARXIST PLAN TO BREAK THE SPIRITS OF OUR MILITARY, IT’S RIGHT OUT OF THE “NEW WORLD ORDER ” WORK BOOK.

  • m

    looks like kneegro dosen’t want to be there

  • Wheelerdude

    Show me one action that isn’t the total opposite of what Team Obama says it’s going to do? Those who are good talkers are usually poor doers.

  • BeautifulAmerica

    Money to send weapons to Egypt and Libya.
    Money to party-on with Beyonce and the like in OUR White House, at OUR expense.
    Money to prop up socialist failures like Venezuela.
    Money galore for illegal aliens who are bloodsucking our taxmoney.
    But insufficient funds for our wonderful vets?
    Kick out this administration and all its minions.
    Family First, and Vets are American Family.

  • Guy Epperson

    Makes you wonder if Obama had a son who was injured in war would he still feel the same way about the vets who have been wounded. Then Again his son would go to the best medical facility and he would tell all the other vets to eat cake!

  • Rob

    “We have a lot of obligations—to our children, to the elderly, to the poor,” said Vice President Biden.

    That’s not what the inventor of our government said. James Madison told us, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” Take care of those vets. Honor the agreements YOU MADE for THEIR sacrifice.

  • tombeebe

    From personal experience I’ll verify this. Tried to get a vets widow the benefits and it finally took a call to my congressman. The American Legion, who along with the VFW and other veteran’s organizations have offices in in the VA building, was helpful, but they advised me that the application would likely take 18 months. Disgraceful. I’m not a vet, wish I were, but I respect their contribution to our country and find the situation at the VA a disgrace.

  • Kelly

    I dislike the way he looks and treats the military. Their lives have no meaning to him. It is like them dying would be a okay with him. As long as the oath in the military is to the Constitution he has no room to set his socialist communist agenda…Benghazi is a larger example of what our young men and women are up against in other countries…one soldier at a time…The military is fighting for a Constitution that Obama can’t stand…

  • Ken Colditz

    If these were Muslims waiting for benefits, Obama would be right on top of it making sure it was getting done quickly! Obama hates America, the Constitution and the moral values that we try hard to hold onto.

  • James Babb ?

    And some folks still want government run healthcare…

  • Kendra Lahrman

    the reason is that Obama does not care for our veterans because they are killing his muslim brotherhood!

  • socal33

    They really ought to march on Washington. The media can’t really ignore that. Set up camp right there on the front steps.

  • Rudy Malmgren

    I have been waiting 341 days since my case was approved. I have been told by other Veterans that I will probably never see the money they should have paid me starting 1 Dec 2011. I am now on food stamps and all my savings are gone. I’m 70% disabled and due to my physical condition unable to work. A lot of us are starting to wonder if this is happening to us because the military tends to vote Conservative. Obama said, “Punish your enemies.”

  • Kim Mann

    After the news report of my Husband’s situation with the VA Disability
    Dept. my husband has received disturbing stories of veterans feeling like they
    are being targeted my the Obama administration.
    These feelings existed before the IRS scandal. Veterans feel that the administration feels veterans are a threat because of their military experience and their patriotism. After giving this some very serious thought I might agree. I would like to have an investigation of the top officials of the VA and their policies.

  • Disgusted

    Filed a claim in Jan.2010, just got a request for additional records. Guess we will wait another 3 years. Yeah big improvement.

  • Desperate for answers

    My husband has been waiting over 2 years and we have yet to hear anything!!! He has severe headaches and depression and many other things he suffers from due to a accident he received in the Army!! What do we do!!!

  • sharder8

    As some of you are aware, the VA is now requiring employees to work a min. of 20 hours of over time a month, in order to clear up back log. Some Vet’s questioned if this was going to be the deny game again, moving the claim from new to appeal. IT IS! My “new” claim to add my dependents was DENIED, even though I provided required birth certificate copies and copy of my marriage license.

    Over a year waiting for my dependents to be added and now a denial letter and start over in appeal process. But, but, but . . . they reduced the backlog by 8% in the last quarter.

    While this has been going on, I just fought off eviction and still fighting off creditors. My vehicle has been down since March and I can’t afford repairs. I was involuntarily laid off end of May, 2012, and have not been able to find work. SSDI is a fight as well and been fighting them for almost a year. (56, 70% VA service connected, hips already replaced, waiting for knee and shoulder replacements, and mental heath through VA.)
    ,

  • Soulphoenix

    Unless he thinks it will cost him votes, Obama DOES NOT CARE. Perhaps he figures that the vast majority of these vets wouldn’t vote for him anyway, so why would he want to take care of them? He’s far too busy using our money to buy votes elsewhere.

  • Carl Brown

    This back-log is because get more claims denied or not process the bigger the bonuses are for the claims people for saving money.(told to me by claim applicants that quit their training when they heard that because it was against their morals and ethics… VA is their to help us veterans but instead they fill their pockets with the finances that the vet’s need for their families and to be able to survive.. this is per Whitehouse protocol…took me over 15 years to get my disability approved with appeals and re-application for benefits we should not have to wait for help this is another reason suicides of our vet have gone up they are tired if waiting fir help from a Muslim leader that is living un Sharia Law and the Quran instead of the Constitution like the rest of us

  • Richard Hellstrom

    I think what dishonors are Vets the most is the fact that Al Qaeda lied about 9/11 and that people like Mark Burnback and Richard Wagner are the voice of God in the form of truth. Even the French were questioning Flight 77. Al Qaeda must come forward and expose their actual role in 9/11 and stop lying to the world and the UN must step up here too.

  • Glen Saunders

    Complete lack of leadership from Obama right on down to the last snuffy on the last row of the request. There is nobody in charge of the claims only in charge of the coffee and donuts. Been there, done that and the little old lady who provides the goodies at the Dole VA Center in Wichita, KS is top of the line. The rest of the place needs some serious help…..

  • C4C

    See The Coalition For Change Inc. (C4C) video entitled Veterans Affairs Dishonoring America’s Veterans and Civil Servants . http://youtu.be/ua6un2diBck

  • C4C

    View the Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) video to see the injustices Veterans and civil servants face who attempt to do the “right thing” for veterans. http://youtu.be/ua6un2diBck Also hear audio at The Coalition For Change, Inc.(C4C) video highlights problems within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that impedes benefits and services to America’s Veterans. It highlights brave whistleblower, Mr. Oliver Mitchell, who reported how VA officials instructed him to purge patient records. Hear “audio” at http://youtu.be/XnvhdV2DD0g

  • TomJoadisJob

    320,000/8 years vs 455,000/ 5 yrs is not a 30% increase.

    Of course if the budget had increased at the same rate as the folks filing claims…

    http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2013/08/has-obama-administration-been-good-or.html

  • TomJoadisJob
  • TomJoadisJob