Speakers atrecent series of veterans’ rallies throughout the state of Virginia decried the backlog of veterans benefits claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.During the recent government shutdown, a gathering at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond encouraged veterans to make their voices heard in the nation’s capital. The rally was a part of the Defend Freedom Tour, a nationwide bus tour sponsored by Concerned Veterans for America.
Horace Washington of Richmond, a Vietnam veteran, spoke about his experiences fighting with the VA to get benefits. Washington suffers from illnesses he says are related to being exposed to Agent Orange in the late 60s.
Washington is also concerned about soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have injuries and illnesses related to military service, but the VA is running behind on processing claims.
Public benefits for low-income, disabled, elderly, and chronically ill Americans are under pressure fiscally and politically, and the number of veterans filing claims for benefits is climbing. The VArecently revealed that it had a backlog of 400,000 claims. In addition, about 250,000 veterans have pending appeals challenging claims decisions that they say are wrong, according to The Washington Post.
The cost of medical care and benefits for veterans has skyrocketed in recent years, and Defend Freedom speakers sounded off on several issues to address the gap in government funding for disabled vets who need help. They called for reforming the VA, addressing defense spending, and curbing government debt.
Other government programs that help veterans are also experiencing hiccups. SNAP (food stamp) benefits were slashed $5B on November 1, and the reduction in government food benefits will affect 900,000 veterans. Furthermore, Social Security Disability’s trust fund will run dry in 2016 without an infusion of cash. Veterans are naturally concerned about the state of affairs and are organizing to get their needs met in a complex and difficult time for the nation.
If you are a U.S. military service member in Virginia and suffer from a chronic illness or injury that prevents you from working, you may be able to get assistance from Social Security and the Veterans Affairs. An experienced Richmond veterans benefits lawyer can help you understand the process and win your case.