State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) spoke to the recent Veterans of Foreign Wars state convention and announced that he has asked the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs to address the massive backlog of disability claims at Texas Veterans Benefits Administration Offices.
Currently, more than 110,000 Texas veterans statewide have a claim in the system pending a decision.
Of that number, the Houston VA Regional Office has roughly 55,000 pending claims.
That, Patrick told the VFW, needs to be changed.
“A Texas veteran who files a service-related claim today can expect to wait for two-years on average before the VA makes a decision on their claim,” Patrick said. “For those needing to submit an adjustment to their claim, the wait is even longer.”
He also called the situation “unacceptable” and said “disabled veterans deserve better.”
“They dedicated their lives to serve and protect this country. Their bodies were punished for their sacrifice,” the senator said. “The best the VA can do is to add the veteran to a list and get back to them in twenty-four months?”
In his letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Patrick asked the VA to consider implementing a “fast track system,” that has been recommended by the Texas Veterans Commission. This system would identify and quickly resolve those fully developed claims with fewer issues.
Additionally, with the easier claims resolved, VA staff would be more available to focus on the claims with higher complexity.
“This is a long standing problem that continues to drag on,” Patrick said. “It is an injustice to the men and women who deserve our best.”
In 2009, Senator Patrick joined Gov. Rick Perry in the decision to temporarily provide claims assistance to reduce a backlog of more than 39,000 claims.