Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has certainly faced his fair share of challenges during his time in office. Tasked with eliminating a lengthy disability claims backlog, tackling veteran homelessness and improving vets' access to services, he has often encountered a considerable amount of criticism. However at the recent Veterans of Foreign Wars conference, he spoke about the progress his department has made in recent months, Stars and Stripes reports.
Perhaps most significantly, Shinseki touted the considerable progress made in the fight against homelessness. The number of veterans living on the streets has dropped by about 20 percent over the last three-plus years. Additionally the VA has funneled approximately $500 million into an ongoing effort to make contact with hard-to-reach veterans. However, the backlog issue still needs work, but Shinseki touted the Veterans Benefit Management System, which will make sure claims do not sit in limbo. As it stands now, approximately 67 percent of pending claims are older than 125 days.
"We said all along it would take time to solve this correctly," he told the gathered crowd. "And we're not going to leave this for another secretary or another president to wrestle with. The president wants this fixed and we are on track to eliminate the backlog in 2015."
Shinseki also touched on several other initiatives launched by the VA. According to Stars and Stripes, there will be a 21 percent boost to funding for traumatic brain injury and a 51 percent increase to funding for prosthetic research.