A veterans group on Wednesday launched a new survey to gather information about veterans’ experiences with the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which developed the survey, including extensive wait times at the agency’s medical centers and a longstanding backlog of disability claims.
Last year, the group published interactive graphics that detailed experiences with the claims backlog, using input from well over 200 respondents. The online tool showed how long the former troops had waited for determinations, as well as the types of claims they filed and details about the individuals, including their names, conditions and deployments.
The VA is in the process of correcting problems related to a record-keeping scandal that involved falsification of scheduling records to hide treatment delays. The issue led to the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, as well as the removal of other VA leaders and a campaign to book appointments for all of the patients affected by the agency’s inappropriate actions.
Last week, Congress approved legislation to provide the VA with about $16 billion to help veterans find care through non-VA providers if they wait more than 30 days for an appointment or live more than 40 miles from one of the agency’s medical centers. The measure also allows the VA to lease extra space and hire more medical staff, among other provisions.
As for the claims backlog, the agency has reduced the number of longstanding claims by 55 percent, according to the latest numbers.