In October 2013, The National Council on Disability will release a report written by Paralyzed Veterans of America that examines the impact a backlog of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs is having on the lives of veterans with disabilities.
The report, “Review/Clearing the Backlog and Facilitating Benefits for America’s Veterans,” provides results from Paralyzed Veterans’ original research as well as a comprehensive assessment of the backlog, from its historical origins to today, said Sherman Gillums, Jr., associate executive director of veterans benefits for Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The goal of the report is to educate Americans on the issue and to provide recommendations for the President, Congress and other federal agencies to consider, Gillums added.
While there have been a litany of views already expressed on the problems and consequences of the claims backlog, Gillums stressed that the new report goes above and beyond by highlighting the hidden costs associated with the backlog, including poorer health outcomes, higher dependence on government assistance and lowered self-expectations.
“Paralyzed Veterans has long advocated for good quality of life for veterans, regardless of disability, and this project is a demonstration of the thought leadership for which our organization is known,” he said.
Gillums also briefed the full Council on Friday, July 26, 2013, about the importance of the report for educating the public on critical aspects of the backlog. “We want those who may not have a direct stake in this issue to know enough about it to take an informed position, which contributes to a more productive discourse and hopefully a more effective solution,” he said.
Paralyzed Veterans also hopes the President, Congress and agency leaders will consider the report’s recommendations and begin to be more thoughtful about how decisions and bureaucratic red tape often impact the well-being and experiences of our nation’s disabled veterans.
“No one report or set of recommendations will solve this problem that has lingered for decades,” Gillums said. “But the more we arm citizens with education – information that goes beyond the slogans, headlines and politics – the more likely we are to devise ways to de-bureaucratize the VA claims process for our nation’s heroes and their families.”
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's Benefits Department
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.