Military affairs beat: Kudos to St. Paul VA on claims clearance

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 2, 2013 - 7:28 PM

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been the subject of intense criticism over its backlog of disability claims.

After 10 years of war, veterans return with more complex claims. More Vietnam veterans’ claims related to Agent Orange have also been recognized.

The department blames the backlog, in part, on its switch from paper to electronic claims and work to coordinating communication between itself and the Department of Defense.

Last month, the VA announced it had eliminated more than 65,000 claims from its backlog of veterans who have waited a year or longer for a decision on their claim. The St. Paul regional office, which had always been one of the most efficient of the 58 regional offices, had only a few claims pending for over two years before the initiative began in April. It announced last week that workers completed 27 of the old claims for Minnesota veterans. Some 2-year-old claims that remain are a result of extraordinary circumstances, according to the VA.

In announcing the good news, the VA certainly seems to have its people on message (or at least skilled with the cut and paste function in a Word file).

In a news release, Antione Waller, the St. Paul Regional Office director, said: “I’m proud of our employees, who have been working long hours on this effort. We’re now focusing on eliminating the claims that are more than one year old. We’ve made great progress, but know much works remains to be done to eliminate the backlog in 2015.”

Here’s what Waller’s equivalent in Cleveland was quoted as saying: “I’m proud of our employees, who have been working long hours on this effort. We’re now focusing on eliminating the claims that are more than one year old. We’ve made great progress, but know much works remains to be done to eliminate the backlog in 2015.”

And, the VA director in Alabama? “I’m proud of our employees, who have been working long hours on this effort. We’re now focusing on eliminating the claims that are more than one year old. …”

You know the rest.

 

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