East Texas veterans deal with claim backlog

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A growing backlog of disability claims within the Veterans Affairs has been in the news a lot lately. Just this week U.S. Senator John Cornyn passed in the Senate, with no opposition, an amendment designed to do something about the problem. The legislation follows a plan that's working here in Texas.

More veterans, thousands disabled, are returning to the states. Way to many are waiting for their disability claims to be processed.

"There are 600,000 plus backlog claims in the veterans administration system and about two-thirds of all pending claims are backlogged," said Cornyn when introducing his legislation to Congress.

It's veterans service officers across East Texas who prepare veterans for the long wait.

"I hate to tell them up front when they come in and initially apply that it could take several months, up to a year," said Abby Scorsonelli, Veterans Service Officer for Nacogdoches County. "And they just kinda look at me, like, 'Seriously, why would it take so long?."

Primarily two reasons--the shear number of applications and the missing claim information. In Texas a unique partnership is shortening the processing time.

Cornyn is hoping that the partnership between Veterans Affairs and the Texas Veterans Commission will serve as a model for the rest of the nation."

Texas Veteran Commission Strike Force Teams have assisted 7,500 veterans whose claims were stuck in the VA backlog and provided over 2,400 cases to the VA for action.

The Texas Veterans Commission is conducting 'Beating the Backlog' community events in larger metropolitan areas. Veterans receive one on one assistance. One was held in Houston on November 17th.

The stepped up measures are important around the holidays.

"Yes, it does take its toil on veterans at the holiday season because they want to provide a good Christmas for their family," said Bob Manchester, regional director for Texas Veterans Commission in Houston. "And sometimes if they don't have a lot of money that's very difficult to do."

Veterans are encouraged to seek assistance when filling out the forms. One mistake or omission can create the backlog that no veteran deserves.

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