Especially recently, many have complained the country's system for treating disabled or mentally ill vets is broken. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit evidently agrees.
The Veterans United for Truth and Veterans for Common Sense had filed a lawsuit seeking systemic changes to how claims are handled. Last week, the Appeals Court ruled 2-1 in the plaintiffs' favor, noting there was "unchecked incompetence" in the VA's handling of veterans' disability benefits claims and care for those suffering from mental illness.
According to sources, the court agreed with the plaintiffs that the disability adjudication process must be modified in the regional office and that mental health initiatives must be in place system-wide.
The groups had argued the VA essentially had no system in place for new claims or patients. They said the administration was completely unprepared for growing applications for benefits after soldiers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to The New York Times, the VA has been accused of having a huge backlog of claims. The court's decision reportedly indicated the VA took longer than its goal of 120 days to process individual claims; there were no suicide prevention officers at its outpatient clinics; and the appeals process disputing disability ratings was very slow, often taking up to a year.
It is hoped the decision will lead to better care for psychologically troubled or physically injured troops. Sadly, according to the Appeals Court, some have died while waiting for the VA to provide benefits.
In his final decision, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge notes, "No more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perform its obligation."
Source: New York Times, "Court backs veterans' complaints on mental health services," James Dao, 11 May 2011
Comments: Leave a comment