Veterans face serious inequities in compensation for disabilities depending on where they live and whether they were on active duty or were members of the National Guard or the Reserve, an analysis by The New York Times has found.
Those factors determine whether some soldiers wait nearly twice as long to get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs as others, and collect less money, according to agency figures.
"The V.A. is supposed to provide uniform and fair treatment to all," said Steve Robinson, the director of veteran affairs for Veterans for America. "Instead, the places and services giving the most are getting the least."
"It's Actuary Science 101," said Paul Sullivan, who until last March monitored data on returning veterans for the V.A. "When 5,000 new troops get deployed from California, you can logically expect a percent of them will show up at the V.A. in California in a year with predictable types of problems."
"It makes no sense to wait until the troop is already back home to start preparing for them," Mr. Sullivan said. "But that's what the V.A. does."
Many new veterans say they are often left waiting for months or years, wondering if they will be taken care of.
In 2004, a system was designed to track soldiers better, prepare for surges in demand and avoid backlogs. But the system was shelved by program officials under Secretary Jim Nicholson for financial and logistical reasons (my em), V.A. officials said Thursday at a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
The V.A., which has said it has an alternate tracking system nearly operational, depends on paper files and lacks the ability to download Department of Defense records into its computers.
President Bush has appointed a commission to investigate problems at military and veterans hospitals.
Swell. Bush is too incompetent to throw a beer party in a brewery, and so are all the people he appoints.
For Mr. Curry, the reservist from Chicago who has fallen behind on his mortgage payments, his previous life as a $60,000-a-year postal worker is a fading memory. "It's just disheartening," he said. "You feel like giving up sometimes."
Please don't give up, Mr. Curry. It's exactly what this maladministration wants you to do. Don't let them off the hook that easily. They owe you and hundreds of thousands of Vets just like you. Pay they must, and pay they will, unless we let them get away with their malfeasance.