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The Price Of War

We look at veterans back from war and waiting way too long for benefits. The price of war delayed and denied.

Marine Cpl. Tyler Huffman looks over a waterfall at the 9/11 Memorial in New York. (AP)

Marine Cpl. Tyler Huffman looks over a waterfall at the 9/11 Memorial in New York. (AP)

Apparent meltdown at the VA over getting benefits to veterans.

As vets have crowded home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – with all kinds of needs and wounds and disabilities – waiting times for help have soared. 273 days on average, for vets with immediate problems.

642 days for vets in New York. 619 in LA. 500-plus days in Chicago. Nearly a million vets waiting. 600,000 backlogged. Applications lost. Vets in trouble.

It’s a scandal. And maybe a sign of a country delaying and denying the true cost of war.

This hour On Point: veterans back from war and backlogged.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Aaron Glantz, Reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting covering veterans and domestic military issues, and author of “The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans” (2009). (@Aaron_Glantz)

Linda Bilmes, Professor of public policy, Harvard University, and author of: The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict” (with Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2008).

Jeff Miller, Republican U.S. Representative for Florida, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Tom Tarantino, Chief of Policy, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

From Tom’s Reading List

Center for Investigative Reporting “Despite agency promises to eliminate the claims backlog by 2015, the internal documents show the VA expects the number of veterans waiting – currently about 900,000 – to continue to increase throughout 2013 and top a million by the end of this month.” (March 2013.)

The Hill “Shinseki said a lack of funding was not the issue, noting that his department has received 40 percent in budget increases over the past four years, while most other agencies have taken hits. He instead pointed to the massive amount of paperwork that needed to be transferred to digital formats, the need to sync with Department of Defense (DOD) records and the addition of more veterans who qualify for disability claims as reasons for the backlog.”

USA Today “Allison Hickey, the retired Air Force brigadier general who for two years has been VA’s undersecretary for benefits, said she continues to believe it is possible to eliminate the backlog of claims by the end of 2015 and to complete initial claims within 125 days with 98% accuracy.”

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