For the first time since 2009, a national advocacy group has been deemed a veterans service organization.
Stars and Stripes reported that the Military Officers Association of America has stepped in to help veterans prepare their applications for military benefits, primarily disability claims. The new designation allows the group to handle the benefits claims paperwork on behalf of veterans.
"We just felt like we couldn't stay on the sidelines on this anymore," MOAA president Norb Ryan told the news source. "Even with all the great help out there already, there is still a lot of work to get done."
The news outlet noted that the group will assist veterans with collecting their documents, as well as case management. The MOAA will help with just a few thousand cases in 2014.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the disability claims backlog has been reduced by 34 percent since March 2013, when the number of claims peaked at more than 600,000 pending cases. As of November 2013, there were about 401,000 claims still pending. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said in a statement that the VA is continuing to work toward eliminating the disability claims backlog by 2015.