I'm writing this letter to help balance the scales concerning the recent attacks on the VA especially, Secretary Shinseki and under secretary for benefits, Allison Hickey.
Unlike Mr. Klein and others in the media, I have been in the trenches working on behalf of veterans for more than 25 years going back to VA Administrator Edward Derwinski. I have been the director of Veterans Affairs in Utah for twelve years and am a past president of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs. I am a life member of the American Legion, DAV and VFW. I know from personal experience of the commitment of Secretary Shinseki and Under Secretary Hickey to improve the claims processing operation. I have spent countless hours with these individuals and can tell you no one, and I mean no one, has done more to help improve, modernize and automate the processing of VA claims.
Those with the simple answers obviously do not understand the complexity of the issues involved in processing VA claims for compensation. The back log is huge, no doubt, but it is important to note that today's claims for compensation may involve 12 or more issues in which WWII era claims may only involve two or three issues.
The VA operates under a patchwork of laws thrown at them going back to WWII. The last GI Bill change, of which my son is a beneficiary, took a huge effort to implement.
The reality is, Congress needs to look at the various laws on the books and modernize them to assist the VA in helping our veterans.
My advice to the critics is roll up your sleeves, get in the trenches and urge Congress to work with the VA to modernize to accommodate the needs of today's soldiers and my fellow veterans.
Utah Department of Veterans Affairs
Salt Lake City