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VA chief vows to speed disability claims

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The new U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary, retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, has vowed to speed the processing of veterans' disability claims.

The Newport News (Va.) Daily Press reported Tuesday that Shinseki recently took a tour of where VA claim adjudicators work.

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The newspaper said the legion of adjudicators, about 11,000 people, is equal in size to the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

"You walk into one of our rooms where ... decisions are being made about disabilities for veterans (and) see individuals sitting at a desk with stacks of paper that go up halfway to the ceiling. And as they finish one pile, another pile comes in," said Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff.

He said 1,100 new claims processors will be hired this year to address VA's claims backlog.

"If we don't ... create a paperless process," he recently told House lawmakers, "I'll report a year from now that we hired more people to do this."

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