Your Views: Updated, unified system could speed care for vets

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

With more than 700,000 disability claims in the Veterans Affairs system, the average wait for veterans to receive any benefits is about 300 days. How is this fair to the brave men and women who have offered up their lives for our freedom? There should be no question as to whether we make veterans’ benefits our absolute priority.

Lt. Col. Randy Smith in the Pentagon said in an interview that one of the main causes for this backlog is the lack of doctors able to treat illnesses most common to veterans, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. He also said many veterans are just now claiming disabilities for problems they acquired in wars such as Vietnam, including Agent Orange, which cause cardiac disorders and cancer, and complications from burn pits.

Another problem is that there is no one system for veterans benefits.

Dawn Jirak with the Veterans of Foreign Wars says the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and private practices all have different medical systems. For example, the Department of Defense is using digital pictures, or PDFs, of medical records that cannot be edited by their “online system.” Because of this, veterans may not receive proper care and might often fall through the cracks.

While it is a common goal to take care of our nation’s heroes, the means are all different. The several departments must update and unify to one system to provide full care for our veterans. This would make it much easier for the VA to process claims and ensure that all veterans get the care they have earned and deserve.


Janesville Parker

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is among commentaries written by students at Janesville’s Craig and Parker high schools who visited our nation’s capitol in Washington as part of the Advanced Placement U.S. government course.

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