Veterans coming back from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with severe injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder have been left behind by their government as they desperately wait for a response about disability benefits from the Department of Veteran's affairs. Many veterans returning from war have been waiting for over a year. Currently, the VA system has a backlog of approximately 500,000 cases and they're being cleared extremely slowly, causing further long term pain to veterans and their families.
Under relentless pressure from Congress, veterans groups and the news media, the VA finally started shrinking the claims backlog this year. But the lethargic department doesn't plan to clear it completely for at least two more years, and veterans will still have to wait up to four months for an answer on their claims. That's a pitiful, unambitious goal, and there's deep concern that the VA can't even meet it.
The question is, what is taking so long for veterans to receive benefits and a response from the VA? Maybe VA administrators would have more time to focus on veteran claims if they weren't busy making $52,000 parody videos, spending $98,000 on fancy walking kits, notebooks, hand sanitizer and water bottles, or attending lavish conferences on the taxpayer's dime.This waste was exposed by the House Oversight Committee last year.
Think that's bad? It gets worse. Yesterday during a hearing about the waste of taxpayer money, former Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration for the Department of Veteran Affairs John Sepulveda refused to answer questions and pled the fifth.
"With all due respect Mr. Chairman on the advice of my counsel I respectfully decline to answer based on my fifth amendment constitutional privilege."
What a disgrace.
|Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is also the author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up.
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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography