There’s never been a greater public and political awareness that the VA’s Claims Adjudication System is broken. What’s more, the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision acknowledges the VA claims system is dysfunctional, yet proclaims Congress has sole authority to make necessary changes. Now more than ever veterans need quality claims representation. The Town Hall Meeting brought to light the immense backlog at the Oakland Regional Office, however solutions remain up in the air. Veteran Service Organizations like Swords to Plowshares must be a part of the conversation and invited to present practical solutions based on decades of experience.
- Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares Executive Director
In the wake of the article that revealed that the Oakland VA office had severe deficiencies in processing claims, U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier and Barbara Lee called this town hall meeting. Veterans spoke of their troubles dealing with the VA for unacceptable delays and errors in processing their claims. Claims decisions in the Bay Area average 320 days and the Inspector General found that 38% of claims had errors.
Willie Clark, the VA Western Regional Director, said he would drive improvements for no more claims past 125 days with 98% accuracy by 2015. Lee responded that “2015 is way too far out.” What was disheartening was how some veterans were addressed after their statements by the head of the Oakland VA office. In addition, the focus of the VA speakers was not offering solutions but challenging the findings by the Inspector General. The affected veterans do not want excuses, they want results.