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Veterans Need Real Reforms and Better Outcomes

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Amy Fairweather

Once again, we have a stark reminder of just how badly broken the disability claims system remains.  This story stands out as especially egregious because of the veterans’ role as special operations and the killing of Osama bin Laden. It appears that despite procedures to assist veterans whose special forces status this veteran’s claim has languished behind VBA walls.  We often see that veterans who seek out help through the press or other media get the attention of congress and the VA and their cases are suddenly resolved. This is not possible for all veterans whose cases may not be as dramatic.

The most important number is how many veterans are getting healthy, or healthier, or helped.
It is vital that we acknowledge that this veteran is not more or less deserving of timely and fair processing of claims than any of the other 820,000 veterans waiting – sometimes for years – for their earned benefits.

We need the VA engage in real reforms, streamline procedures and hire more staff to clear the backlog.  Leadership, from the president to the secretary to regional directors must also see to it that the procedures and culture of the VA disability system truly seek to assist veterans in securing benefits and care instead of engaging in a adversarial system in which claims are routinely delayed and denied in error.


Amy Fairweather leads our Swords to Plowshares Institute of Veteran Policy staff to conduct legal and public policy research regarding veterans’ access to health care, housing, legal and social services. Amy leads the Swords to Plowshares Institute of Veteran Policy and also serves as the Program Director of the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.

Amy Fairweather received her undergraduate degree from Mills College and her Juris Doctor from the Hastings College of the Law. She is a member of State Bar of California.

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