WASHINGTON, May 29 (UPI) -- Veterans advocates said Sunday the U.S. Veterans Administration needs an overhaul and the private sector also needs to do more to support former soldiers.
High unemployment and plodding VA procedures are placing stresses on veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have or are about to move back into the civilian world.
"That's why you have the 14,000 calls to the hotline for suicides," said Tim Tetz, legislative director of the American Legion. "That's why you have these people who are just absolutely pulling their hair out."
Tetz said on CNN's "State of the Union" that Washington has basically given the VA all the resources they have asked for; which points to systemic problems.
"We need to basically start all over, stop with this one way of doing it -- the way we did it in the 1960s -- and revamp the whole process,"
Tetz and Paul Rieckhoff agreed the VA had good programs to offer, but red tape and large VA work loads make year-long waiting periods common.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., told CNN the VA had to be more open with Congress about what it needs to accomplish its mission and not worry so much about "sounding like they needed more money."
"Paying for our veterans is a cost of war and war is expensive," Murray said. "This country has to step up and pay for that. And in order to know what we need to do, our VA and the administration has to be honest with us about the costs."