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Cutting through the backlog of veteran benefit claims

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 06 2014 05:00:13 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 06 2014 06:31:22 PM CST

One lawmaker says legislation to fix the chronic backlog of veterans' benefit claims is lacking, so he's taking action.

BREINIGSVILLE, Pa. -

One lawmaker says legislation to fix the chronic backlog of veterans' benefit claims is lacking, so he's taking action.

Senator Bob Casey just introduced legislation that he says will help break up the backlog.

"A lot of veterans are so troubled with PTSD they can't work. In order to get money to live in takes a long time," Ed Goehring, of Upper Milford Township, said.

Goehring would know; he processes Veteran benefit claims out of the Breinigsville FVW.

Goehring served three years in Vietnam.

"I caught a piece of shrapnel," he says pointing to his Purple Heart.

Goehring survived battle after battle, only to engage in a different fight, once he returned home.

He himself had to wait a year and half before he received his disability benefits.

"Why should anyone have to wait that long?" He asked.

According to a task force formed in part by Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, the average wait time for a Veteran claim resolution in Pennsylvania is nearly a year.

"That is unacceptable. To say it's an outrage is an understatement," Casey said.

Casey says the VA backlog stems from a lack of urgency, lack of technology, and an outdated system, among other factors.

With thousands of troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan Goehring thinks it's only set to get worse.

"We have to make sure the system is improved and a structure is in place that will not be slowed down again," the Senator stated.

The legislation includes streamlining and simplifying VA practices, mandatory six-month reports to Congress and expanding examinations to private physicians.

Whether it becomes law or not, Goehring offers this advice for any Veteran fighting for benefits.

"Keep appealing and don't give up," he said.

We called the Department of Veteran Affairs but did not receive a call back at the time of this report.