VA delays impact veterans with PTSD

12/20/2013

VA delays impact veterans with PTSD

Despite reducing the disability claims backlog by 36 percent, the Department of Veterans Affairs still has thousands of pending claims. Many of them affect veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, who are unable to receive the treatment they need as a result, The Los Angeles Times reported.

In a recent report, the news source interviewed many veterans with PTSD who experienced long waits when applying for health care benefits through the VA. Ari Sonnenberg, an Iraq veteran, told the news outlet that the process of receiving the military benefits was another burden in his life after service.

"You'd call up and you'd ask, 'What's the status?' Nobody knew," Sonnenberg said. "Then you'd make an official inquiry, and they would say, 'OK, here's the number.' And then when you call up a week later, there's no record of that inquiry. ... I was losing my mind at one point."

It took Sonnenberg a year before he received his 80 percent disability rating, according to the news source. Many other veterans like Sonnenberg also had to wait at least a year for their ratings. However, by that time, the veterans told the news source that their symptoms had grown worse. 

The VA has continued to cut its disability claims backlog through new initiatives and increased employee productivity, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015, the federal agency said in a statement. 

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