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New IAVA Report Reveals Red Tape Facing Veterans in the Military and VA Health Care and Disability Systems
Date:2/5/2010

Wounded Veterans Face Growing Backlog, Lengthy Waits for Benefits

NEW YORK, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest non-partisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released a revealing new report highlighting the countless bureaucratic roadblocks, lengthy waits for care, and complicated disability systems facing wounded veterans. Red Tape: Veterans Fight New Battles for Care and Benefits presents a clear snapshot of the huge obstacles facing our nation's troops and veterans as they navigate the complicated and confusing military and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and disability systems.  

"IAVA's newest report should be a wakeup call for all Americans. Injuries sustained at war are proving to be just half the battle for our nation's veterans. IAVA receives phone calls and emails daily from veterans frustrated by the disability process. They are tired of fighting for their earned benefits," said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff. "Red Tape pulls together a comprehensive and simplified overview of the challenges wounded veterans face. This critical report also provides concrete recommendations for improving the Department of Defense and VA health care and disability systems. We hope it will be a useful tool for the media, lawmakers, veterans, and anyone who cares about supporting the newest generation of warriors."  

Highlights of IAVA's newly released Red Tape report include:

  • Military Efforts Falling Short: Although the military has made efforts to address bureaucratic obstacles, the current process is still extremely problematic. Red tape within the disability evaluation system often leads to redundant tests, misdiagnoses and delayed treatment. The process also puts too much emphasis on cost cutting, causing veterans to be consistently underrated for their injuries.

  • Lack of a Seamless Transition from the DOD to VA: The report found that troops face significant challenges as they transition from the Department of Defense (DOD) to the VA. Challenges include: lost paperwork, a drop-off in the quality of care and a total lack of coordination between the two separate complicated and confusing systems.

  • An Outdated VA Disability System: Informed by research and first-hand accounts, the report details the VA's outdated paper-based disability system that emphasizes the quantity of claims processed over the quality of the processed claim.

  • A Drawn-Out Appeals Process: 17 percent of ratings decisions are inaccurate, forcing many veterans to go through the appeals process. The process requires long mandatory wait times and is slowed further by cumbersome extra steps. In order to present new evidence to aid their appeal, veterans are sometimes forced to restart the entire process.

  • Recommendations: Among the many recommendations in the report, IAVA calls for bold, urgent action that includes a modern VA claims processing system that digitizes records, holds processors accountable for the accuracy of their work and removes unnecessary steps in the evaluation process.

The full report can be found here.

From Feb. 6th to Feb. 12th, IAVA members from across the country will converge in Washington D.C. to bring the issues highlighted in the Red Tape report to Congress, the VA, the Pentagon and the White House for the annual Storm the Hill campaign. Disability reform will be the top priority. More information about the campaign is available at www.StormtheHill.org.

To arrange an interview with IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff or a member veteran who has dealt with the challenges discussed in the Red Tape report, contact Terrell Frazier, 212-982-9699; terrell@iava.org.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the country's first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 180,000 veteran members and civilian supporters nationwide.

Follow IAVA on Twitter.com/IAVAPressRoom

SOURCE Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

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SOURCE Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
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