This is not a very sexy image. But it should be.
The huge backlog of cases at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the most shameful — and under covered — scandals of the last decade.
As recently as March, nearly a quarter million veterans had waited more than a year for action on their disability claims. That backlog is now disappearing. It’s down 34 percent since March.
At the current pace, the backlog of getting help for veterans who earned and deserve it could be eliminated by next year, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported this week.
How did it happen? They listened to the tech people, says Craig Newmark, who writes at CraigConnects. One of the first steps was to get rid of all the paper and digitize everything.
They’re still in the process of scanning paper documents, but at least it doesn’t look like this at one VA office anymore.
That also made it easier to take claims and spread them around the VA system, including the VA in Minnesota, where the caseload subsequently went up — and so did the wait times, temporarily — while the larger backlog shrunk, the Pioneer Press reported this week.
“They’re knocking out cases left and right,” David Culmer, the American Legion’s service director in Los Angeles, told the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In his area, the typical time veterans have been waiting fell from 421 days in March to 198 days in late October. Still, there’s a need for more technology and a little common sense. The VA and the Pentagon developed separate systems for maintaining health records.
When the VA needs to see a service member’s records — they can be 1,000 pages — they have to be printed out and mailed. It can take four months for one file in the Navy to be printed and sent to the VA, so a claim can be evaluated. One industry source calls the situation “ludicrous,” according to NextGov.
(h/t: Kevin Marshall)