Covering Louisiana

Mar 6, 2014 4:27 PM by Dave Fields

Vitter joins bipartisan VA claims backlog group, confronts delays

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., attempted Thursday to tackle Veterans Administration issues on two fronts: hospitals and claims.

Shortly after another senator blocked his amendment to move forward with construction of 27 VA hospitals,, Vitter joined what a release from his office described as "a bipartisan VA backlog working group" designed to tackle veterans claims backlog.

Vitter teamed with "Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), along with Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), in introducing the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, comprehensive legislation designed to reduce the backlog of veterans' disability claims", the release said.

The group released the VA Backlog Working Group March 2014 Report in which the VA Backlog Working Group analyzes the many factors that contribute to the claims backlog.

"Backlogs and bureaucratic delays have unfortunately become the status quo at the VA," Vitter said. "Literally every day my office works with veterans across Louisiana to make sure they are eligible and have access to their full benefits, but the backlog highlighted in our report is ridiculous. Our legislation will help cut through the red tape and help veterans receive the benefits they deserve."

The group cited numerous organizations for providing what it called "invaluable input."

According to the release, the report and legislation "were embraced by several veterans service organizations (VSOs), including The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)."

Heller and Casey in July had announced the formation of the group, which was designed to provide a forum for lawmakers, veterans, and VSOs to tackle the disability claim backlog. A culmination and product of the input from the group's discussions with these organizations, the March 2014 Report provides a broad guideline for areas of improvement that can help shape a more efficient system.

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