Saturday May 25, 2013
VCS Statement: A Vital Constitutional Victory for Our VeteransSalem-News.com
The lengthy bureaucratic delays our veterans face must end now.
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled VA's mental health care system and disability claims system remain badly broken, and veterans face long delays to see doctors and obtain benefits.
The Court of Appeals ordered VA to fix what it descrbed "egregious problems." VCS believes now is the time for our President, VA Secretary, and Congress to fix VA. The lengthy bureaucratic delays our veterans face must end now.
Veterans had our day in court, we won, and now we urge VA to move forward so no veteran is delayed or denied healthcare or disability benefits. Our nation can and must do better so no veteran is left behind as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
In a blistering 104-page attack on VA's long delays for healthcare and benefits, the Court of Appeals ruled, "We hold that the VA's failure to provide adequate procedures for veterans facing prejudicial delays in the delivery of mental health care violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment [of our Constitution]."
VA's crisis was caused by two major factors. First, VA suffers from "unchecked incompetence" over many years. This has impacted peacetime and prior war veterans. And, second, VA was hit with a tidal wave of 654,000 new, first-time Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran patients since 9/11, including 332,000 mental health patients. VA reports reveal 192,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
In addition to a sharp rise in new patients, recent war veterans filed 552,000 disability compensation claims against VA after deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. However, only 92,000, or less than half, of our Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans' disability compensation claims for PTSD were approved by VA.
Unfortunately, starting in 2001, VA had no plan for any new patients and claims. VA still has no strategic plan to meet sharply rising demand for treatment and benefits. Tragically, the Court confirms veterans died (more than a thousand during a few month period during the 2008 trial) while waiting for VA to provide healthcare and benefits, according to yesterday's ruling.
The Court of Appeals concluded, "VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough; no more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perform its obligations." VA continually fails to provide timely access to healthcare and disability benefits, according to the Court of Appeals, without any due process to challenge a broken system. This harms veterans and violates veterans' rights.
Veterans for Common Sense thanks our co-plaintiff, Veterans United for Truth, and we applaud the Court of Appeals for their wisdom in handing down this tremendous legal victory for our veterans.
VCS also thanks our lead attorneys, Gordon Erspamer at Morrison & Foerster, and Sid Wolinsky at Disability Rights Advocates, for their endless diligence on behalf of our veterans.
Our legal victory for veterans is possible because of your support. You can make secure, on-line tax deductible donations at our web site.
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