In the past several years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has come under fire for a number of issues related to the ways in which former service members are able to tap their benefits. Certainly, this has been the case when it comes to medical treatments in particular, and it's a problem that the government is working to address. Now, though, it's important to highlight that more efforts are being made to highlight the actual fallout from these problems so that they can be more clearly understood.

Of particular note here is the fact that newly enrolled veterans are having more difficulty than others in obtaining the treatments needed to make life after service a little easier to deal with, according to a new study from the watchdog U.S. Government Accountability Office. In all, 1 in 3 of the veterans examined in this study experienced wait times so significant for even basic health care needs that they still hadn't been seen by a doctor when the study wrapped up. Almost half of those vets didn't even have an appointment scheduled despite VA policies related to getting them scheduled and seen as quickly as possible.

More must be done to ensure veterans get the treatments they need, when they need them.More must be done to ensure veterans get the treatments they need, when they need them.

Other issues
And among the 2 in 3 newly enrolled veterans who did end up seeing a doctor, the wait times were still significant, the report said. In fact, they saw the delays range between 22 and 71 days between when they submitted requests for an appointment and when they were actually able to get it completed. This was mainly due to a lack of available appointment times, and "unnecessary delays" caused by scheduling problems on the part of the VA services at treatment centers.

Meanwhile, though, the U.S. Veterans Health Administration estimates that wait time between submitting a request and when the veteran is actually contacted by the VA to schedule an appointment is just four days, the report said. In reality, the most common wait time in this regard was about 17 days, with more time coming between that date and when the appointment actually takes place.

Addressing the issue
This has long been a recognized issue, but this data suggests the problem may be worse than many might have expected, the report said. Consequently, the GAO has a number of recommendations for the VA to undertake as a means of helping to ensure this system works better going forward. First is that the VA put more resources into improving turnaround times between a submitted request and first contact for scheduling. Second is that the VA take greater efforts to more carefully monitor wait times, especially for the newly enrolled vets who need care. Finally, it believes the VA should update its scheduling policy in general.

Veterans deserve the full military benefits due to them as a result of their service, and also that the government does all it can to improve their access to those benefits. That kind of care can make life after military service a lot easier for them to handle.