Sherrod Brown announces action to fight veteran claim backlogs - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Sherrod Brown announces action to fight veteran claim backlogs

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - State Senator Sherrod Brown will join members of a local Veterans organization in a call to action to the Department of Veterans Affairs in light of a backlog of almost 490,000 disability claims.

Brown says those who have fought or served our country honorably are not always being honorably served by the Veterans Administration System that processes claims for disability.

Senator Brown, who sits on the Veterans Affairs Commission, announced he is introducing the Veterans Services Outreach Act.
 
That legislation would require the Veteran's Administration to notify veterans filing claims electronically that they can receive help and important time-saving help through people who are certified at various veteran's organizations in communities.
Brown is also supporting the Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2013, which would hold the Veteran's Administration accountable by requiring it to publicly report information on its projected monthly goals and actual production.
 
In this situation, Congress and the public would know if the Veteran's Administration is eliminating its backlog.
 
The bill would also establish a task force to hire and train claims processors and develop tactics to attack and eliminate the backlog.

Brown introduced Stuart Novotany; a Navy Corpsman for the Marines and Purple Heart recipient who was shot in the Vietnam War.
 
Novotany says he is frustrated with the "long wait line and red tape." He says he has been waiting 619 days for the Veteran's Administration to process his claim for un employability after being diagnosed with cancer.
 
The Navy veteran tells 21 News that he was sent a letter asking him to prove he served in Vietnam when he came down with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma; but, he says his whole history is in the Veteran's Administration's medical system from him being shot during duty.
 
Boardman resident Booker Morris, 84, who served our country in World War II, The Korean War, and did two tours in Vietnam, says he had a disability claim filed for agent orange but was denied.
 
He says his doctor told him he would check into it but has not heard anything yet. He has since been diagnosed with cancer as well, and is struggling with paying his utility and other bills.
 
Morris says he is hopeful Senator Brown can get help for veteran's who have honorably fought for their country, but find when they come home they have to fight the Veteran's Administration system.
 
The Director of Trumbull County Veterans Services, Herm Breuer, says he sees veterans facing a government system that is adversarial to them every day.  
 
Breuer, a veteran of the Iraq war and Purple Heart Recipient, says unless the time to process claims is lessened lives will be at stake.
 
Breuer says if that does not happen there will be more veterans who can not pay mortgages, or utilities; who find themselves homeless, living in cars, or who end up giving up and committing suicide.

 

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