E.J. Dionne Jr.’s homage to the mid-level and noncommissioned officers who are the backbone of the our military [“What the captains can teach us,” op-ed, Nov. 22] was appreciated and rightly reminded Americans that it is these people, not the generals, who have borne the heaviest burdens of the past 11 years of unremitting deployments and the unique challenges of counterinsurgency warfare.

In almost a passing reference to what awaits our troops upon their return home, Mr. Dionne asked us to remember the systemic problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA is facing a daunting wave of older and younger veterans who often are finding it difficult to receive the benefits they are due for service because of the increasing backlog of disability claims. This situation appears to be almost beyond the ability of Congress or the senior leadership in the VA to solve.

As a veteran of three conflicts since the 1990s, I ask, why is it taking the VA so long to take effective steps to mitigate the benefits problem, and why have military men and women been able to fight the VA’s entrenched bureaucracy only to a stalemate?

Brooks Tucker, Annapolis