Number of Veterans who Die Waiting for Benefits Claims Skyrockets
Long wait times contribute to delays of tens of thousands of benefits, pensions
Last year, six-month wait times. This year, it`s not six months
anymore. This year it`s now nearly nine months. The average amount of
time veterans have to wait for their benefits has over the last year and a
half been going up steadily, every single month.
This summer the V.A. secretary, General Eric Shinseki, said the goal
was to get the wait time down to four months. And instead of going down
even toward four months, it`s going up and up and up and up, to the current
level, which is the longest wait time the V.A. has recorded since they
started recording these numbers, which is 20 years ago.
Is this still shameful? At very least. Are you wondering, like me, if you can help? If so, follow me below the Fleur de Kos.
Kossacks are legion. Many of you volunteer your time and money and art and commentary to causes you not only care about but teach others to care about, too.
Every time this subject comes up, I've gone to various sites -- Veteran Affairs, DAV, IAVA -- looking for unconventional opportunities to do some good. Opportunities for those of us who, well, are in the earned-benefits stage of life. Who still have good brains for which we no longer receive salaries -- because we've retired or because no one finds us useful any longer. Who maybe couldn't take a real salary because we'd compromise our own fiscal situation. Who have enough time, smarts, and physical ability to do what the VA is finding to be beyond its current capacities -- that is, paperwork.
There must be some way to offer ourselves as competent, reliable, effective scissors for some of that red tape.
I haven't been able to find a hint of such a movement on any of the sites I've investigated, including this one, though I know it can't be a new idea. The VA does need volunteer drivers and other resources that are traditionally volunteer functions. Those are still badly needed. But I'm thinking about something quite different.
Back when President Obama started his first term, in the early, terrifying days of what Dr. Paul Krugman has called the Lesser Depression (this July 22, 2011, Krugman Op-Ed in the NYT may be behind a pay-wall), those with memories of the Great Depression mentioned ideas like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Those suggestions were not picked up. Republicans began and continue a litany about the worthlessness of so-called make-work jobs, even asserting that government itself cannot create jobs.
As Rachel herself would say, that's "horse pucky."
Look. I am not a veteran. No one I know is a veteran. (I lead a very solitary life.) All my uncles save one were too old to have served in WWII, and my cousins were too old -- with one exception -- to have gone to Viet Nam. My former father-in-law, however, long dead, was badly damaged in WWII and Korea. So I am utterly naive about this problem, educated only enough about it to be angry and ashamed that we as a country have kept few of the promises we made to those who served with those promises having been made to them. There are millions of able retirees and unemployed living among us.
I'm not suggesting make-work: what's needed here is real, valuable, meaningful work, service to our country. Why not let us help?
Those of you who can tell me how I'm naive and wrong about this are welcomed to let me know. Those of you who can set me on the right track are strongly encouraged to educate me. Those of you in particular who are already involved in an effort of this type, I beg you to let me in on the details of how I can become part of it. Especially you Kossacks at DKos Military Veterans. With that, all I request is your civility.
And thanks for giving this diary your time. (And me a chance to try out rusty html tagging tools)