Bay Area Veterans Highlight Growing VA Disabilities Backlog at Public Forum

Bay Area Veterans Highlight Growing VA Disabilities Backlog at Public Forum

CONTACT: Carlisle Williams (212) 982-9699 or press@iava.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Bay Area Veterans Highlight Growing VA Disabilities Backlog at Public Forum
IAVA Thanks Reps. Speier and Lee for hosting “Fix-It Forum” to address Northern CA veterans’ difficulty obtaining benefits 

NEW YORK (April 19, 2013) — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in the Bay Area today are joining Representative Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) at a forum to highlight the VA disabilities backlog. The forum, which includes Oakland VA Director Douglas Bragg, addresses the backlog, which affects more than 30,000 veterans who are waiting for their claims to be processed. Nationally, almost 900,000 veterans are waiting for disability benefits claims decision – at an average of 273 days. VA benefits were put in place to support service-disabled veterans who, as a result of their injury, need health care and financial support.

“Ending the massive backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs will improve the lives of so many in the newest generation of veterans. Right now, veterans are asking for help, but not getting it,” IAVA founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff said.  “As the problem grows, so does the drumbeat for leadership and a solution to bring the backlog to zero. We thank Representatives Speier and Lee for hosting this forum and working with us to highlight this vital issue.” 

As of Monday, 30,186 veterans were waiting for a decision for the Oakland regional Veterans Affairs office, a ten percent drop since last May, however twice the number of veterans who were waiting in 2009.  In addition, the Center for Investigative Reporting, citing documents authenticated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, has shown that while the number of Northern California veterans waiting on claims has dropped slightly, delays for veterans have worsened considerably.

IAVA has led the charge in Washington to end the VA backlog. In the past month, IAVA Leadership Fellows and senior staff have met with over 65 members of Congress, the Department of Defense, the VA, and the White House Chief of Staff to call for a solution to the backlog. IAVA’s petition calling on President Obama to establish a Presidential Commission to end the backlog has garnered nearly 50,000 signatures.

A number of IAVA members are attending today’s forum.

“The VA disabilities backlog is the biggest issue facing new veterans that’s preventing them from transitioning on to civilian life — getting health care and compensation for injuries they suffered, ” said Ann Weeby of San Francisco, 32, who served in Iraq and recently joined IAVA for Storm the Hill in Washington as a Leadership Fellow.  “They fought for their country. They shouldn’t have to fight for their benefits.” 

To the media: Today’s forum is a public meeting that will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m PDT at the War Memorial Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Ave., Room 207, San Francisco.

Please contact press@iava.org if you would like to speak with an IAVA member.

 

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. IAVA recently received the highest rating – four-stars – from Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator.

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