Veterans say disability-claim wait times not getting any better



ATLANTA - Some veterans waiting for disability claims for service-related injuries say wait times are not getting any better despite what the agency is saying.
In June 2013, the average wait time for a claim at the VA's Atlanta Regional Office was about 336 days, according the agency.
This year wait times have decreased to an average of 299 days, according to the office's website.
But the number of veterans appealing claims in Atlanta increased from 2013 to 2014, from 13,021 to 14,461 respectively.
Some critics say that the backlog burden is just being shifted to another area.
“They are just throwing darts at a dart board, that is all,” said Rich Sestili, a retired Vietnam veteran. 
“No Veteran should have to wait to receive earned benefits.  Through a combination of transformation initiatives and the hard work of our employees, we are making significant progress toward our goal of eliminating the claims backlog in 2015,” said then-Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki in a press release issued in April. “We still have more work to do, and no one is more committed than our Veterans Benefits Administration employees, over half of whom are Veterans themselves.”
Vietnam veteran Bruce D’Agostino says he’s been waiting 45 years.
He said initially the VA told him it lost his records, but two weeks ago he said the agency recovered them.
“In this case, the information was in their hands the whole time but they denied having it,” D’Agostino said.
“I’m embarrassed for this country that they treat the veterans the way they do,” said Bill Delameter, another veteran.
A spokesperson for the Atlanta Regional Office says the office is aware of the increased caseload at the appeals level and is working on ways to fix that issue as well.

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