Stars and Stripes, the newspaper for America’s servicemen and women, reports that nearly 30,000 post-9/11 combat veterans are still waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process their applications for VA health care. Incredibly, some of the veterans have been waiting for years.
The veterans earned those health care benefits when they risked their lives in combat, and by law they are guaranteed at least five years of enhanced health care from the VA. But the VA is not processing their claims even though the veterans have filled out all of the required paperwork. Instead, the VA bureaucrats are applying an outdated optional means test, which is not required by the 2008 law that governs the process of applying for VA health care benefits.
The 2008 law does not require the veterans to fill out the paperwork for the optional means test. However, because the combat veterans haven’t filled out that paperwork, the VA bureaucrats are placing the applications from the combat veterans into “pending” status, where the applications lie untouched for months and years on end, all because the VA employees are applying an outdated standard.
To make matters worse, this same issue made nationwide headlines last August when Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA enrollment center in Atlanta, wrote a letter to U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, about how a slowdown by VA employees had cost 34,000 Veterans their VA Benefits. In July, Davis revealed the details of exactly what happened when he testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
But instead of fixing the problem, the VA just ignored it and hoped it would go away. Now almost four months later, Stars and Stripes, which publishes four daily print editions for the military service members serving overseas, reported in their November 13, 2015 online edition that the problem still exists, and that the VA bureaucrats are dragging their heels and looking for excuses instead of doing something to fix the problem.
Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told Stars and Stripes that, “The law hasn’t required a means test from recent combat veterans since 2008, yet VA still hasn’t come up with an efficient way to enroll these veterans in its health care system without one. This is either blatant incompetence or cold-hearted indifference.” Maybe it’s both.
Benita Miller, the director of the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, told the Stars and Stripes. “We didn’t have the guidance to make an agreement to enroll them in VA health care.” What a cop out! The House Committee on Veterans Affairs requested that the VA provide information to the committee by last Friday about the combat veterans who are on the pending list, including a list of veterans who may have died while their enrollments were pending. But the House Committee still has not received the information. Benita Miller told the Stars and Stripes that her organization is still compiling the data and does not yet have the statistics on the number of veterans who may have died while waiting for the VA to process their applications for VA health care.
Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be another scandal at the VA, there’s another scandal at the VA. How many more of America’s combat veterans are going to die waiting for the VA to deliver the health care benefits those veterans risked their lives in combat to earn?