7/22/13 - Help Our Veterans - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

KFVS12 VIEWPOINT with TIM INGRAM

7/22/13 - Help Our Veterans

According to the Wounded Warrior Project, an unprecedented number of service members are surviving severe wounds or injuries. This is mostly due to improvements in battlefield medicine and advancements in body armor. For example, for every U.S. soldier killed in World Wars I and II, there were 1.7 soldiers wounded. In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, for every US soldier killed, seven were wounded.

Combined, over 48,000 servicemen and women have been injured  in recent military conflicts. Additionally, its estimated as many as 400,000 service members live with combat-related stress, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Over 300,000 are believed to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while on deployment. And then...after dedicating their lives serving their country in the military, many would assume that the Department of Veterans Affairs will be ready and waiting to help these soldiers in their own time of need. Not so easy.

Many veterans who suffer from disabilities are finding that they must wait years to receive help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA says it has a goal to eliminate the backlog of claims pending longer than 125 days by 2015. You should know that according to the AP, 70% of claims pending  were longer than 125 days as recently as this March.

Senator Mitch McConnell, speaking this week at a national VFW convention called the backlog a "National Disgrace" and at about that same time a Congressman and Senator from Minnesota introduced legislation to address the problem. The "Quicker Benefits Delivery Act" is a set of identical bipartisan measures in the House and Senate aimed at removing barriers to getting claims processed quicker and promises disabled veterans can get at least some help and support while their claims are still being decided.

Pick up the phone and call your congressman. Let them know how you feel about taking care of those who have given so much for the rest of us.

Click here to find out how to contact your elected officials

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