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GOP senator slams VA for slow response to veterans' disability claims

Feb. 8, 2014 at 10:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., slammed the Obama administration Saturday for a backlog of veterans' claims, saying the delays "have real life implications."

Delivering the GOP's weekly address, Burr said Congress had approved more than $600 billion over the past five years for veterans program, but that the Veterans Administrative had not responded with an "equivalent surge."

About 700,000 claims are waiting to be acted on, Burr said, a reduction from a larger backlog he claimed came about only after comedian Jon Stewart had a series of "biting monologues" on his television show.

"When it takes a comedian to garner a response from our government, we are in bad shape," said Burr, the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

"More than a quarter million appeals are waiting to be resolved and the time it takes VA to act on appeals is worsening," he charged. "These delays have real life implications for veterans, especially for those at risk of lapsing back into isolation or a downward spiral that can be difficult to stop."

He said he had introduced legislation to "continue to force Washington to change." Burr noted programs in his home state were connecting homeless veterans to federal and state programs that provided them both a place to stay and opportunities to learn new skills to get a job.

"Our veterans understand these are challenging times and that the government is limited in its capacity, but they also have high expectations after the promises that have been made," he said.

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