Will a kick get the VA moving?

May 10, 2013 

U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart stated the obvious when he said the Veterans Administration needs a kick in the pants. But we think he's being overly optimistic that his bill, the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act, would get the VA moving.

The bill would require the VA to pay partial provisional benefits to veterans if their claims hadn't been processed in 125 days. That's better than the zero veterans get now. But adding provisional benefits might also be an excuse for the VA to move more slowly on permanent benefits.

Of course, the VA can dream up plenty of excuses of its own. It has a track record of failing our military veterans, the men and women who sacrificed and put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. It's a national disgrace that veterans have to wait months to receive benefits.

Supposedly President Obama was going to fix the VA when he took office. But the Center for Investigative Reporting found that the backlog of claims has increased almost 2,000 percent since Obama took office. The first year of Obama's presidency, 11,000 veterans waited more than a year for benefits. In December, the number was 250,000.

Despite spending $537 million on a new computer system, about 97 percent of veterans records are still on paper.

The VA has said it's on track to fix this problem -- by 2015. If Enyart can speed that up, more power to him.