Inside Opinion

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Tag: Veterans Affairs


Should Shinseki resign?

The Veterans Affairs backlog in handling vets’ disability claims has some calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Boston Globe columnist Juliette Kayyem says that although Shinseki’s effectiveness has been undermined by his reluctance to play the D.C. political game, he shouldn’t quit. She writes:

Shinseki is in a generational battle as much as a bureaucratic one. He is the quiet leader at a time when veterans need a persistent public nuisance.

Here’s the entire article.

By Juliette Kayyem
The Boston Globe

This week, we honor those who have died in America’s wars. And those who survive. Veterans

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VA’s delays, errors create hardships for veterans

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ delays in acting on disability claims isn’t just inconvenient. Congressional testimony Thursday indicates that at least two veterans may have died “due to delay in care.”

That would be the most extreme result of the VA’s backlog, which doesn’t appear to be decreasing. Most regional offices  are experiencing longer processing times, according to auditors and a review of VA data by McClatchy Newspapers.

The average wait to begin receiving disability compensation is now 337 days at the Seattle office – more than 11 months – up from 213 days in January 2012. It’s even worse in New York City: 641 days. The number of vets with backlogged claims is expected to be more than 1 million by the end of March – and keep growing. Read more »


Benefits go begging when vets aren’t informed

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Ignorance isn’t bliss if you’re a military veteran unaware of the benefits and services available to you.

Unfortunately, that’s the case for millions of America’s veterans. A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2010 Veterans Affairs survey data found that more than half of veterans have little or no idea what benefits they’re entitled to – including access to VA health facilities, payment for disabilities incurred during military service, home loans and money for education.

Even among the best-informed cohort – younger veterans who served since 9/11 – 40 percent say they have little or no understanding of their benefits. More than 60 percent are unaware of their life insurance benefits.
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Pentagon must overcome bureaucracy on PTSD diagnoses

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

It’s welcome news that the Department of Defense is expanding its review of post-traumatic stress syndrome diagnoses. That review will now date back to the 2002 start of the war in Afghanistan and include all branches of the military, not just the Army.

If recent reversals of many diagnoses made at Madigan Army Medical Center are any indications, too many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been wrongly told that they do not suffer from the disorder, affecting their ability to get treatment and receive disability benefits.

According to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray – who has been a pit bull on the subject of veterans’ mental health care – many soldiers whose diagnoses have been reversed said they were told “they were exaggerating their symptoms, lying and accused of shirking their duties.”
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Give vets’ caregivers the relief Congress promised

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

When Congress passed legislation last year to pay family caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the program was supposed to be up and running by now.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs is not only tardy implementing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act signed by President Obama in March 2010, it is also excluding many wounded veterans’ families that Congress wanted to help with the legislation.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who chairs the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, says Congress wanted the law to help at least 3,500 caregivers of severely wounded veterans, at a cost of $1.7 billion over five years. But the VA plans to only serve 840 and has only set aside a fraction of the funding authorized for the caregiver program. That’s “unacceptable,” Murray says. Read more »


Morning roundup of NW editorial pages

Some items of interest from today’s opinion pages:

• The Everett Herald makes the case why a recent Court of Appeals ruling overturning a Bothell man’s 2007 misdemeanor stalking conviction because the jury that convicted him was made up of residents from two counties.

• The Tri-City Herald celebrates strong Columbia salmon returns and concludes that something short of dam breaching must be working.

• The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin cheers Veterans Affairs’ new rule that veterans will no longer have to prove their post-traumatic stress disorder was triggered by specific bomb explosion or combat event.

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