Today we honor our veterans and the sacrifices they make on our behalf. And in return, they should receive the benefits they’re entitled to and steady employment so they can support themselves at home. Unfortunately, they’ve had troubles on both fronts.
First, the good. For too long, veterans were facing extensive delays in getting the benefits they’re entitled to, with a backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs that could span for months, if not a full year. More than 256,000 vets were waiting. Finally, after a report from The Center for Investigative Reporting, the wait has dropped by four months, and the number of vets who have been attended to totals 34,000. Still a far cry from a job well done, but certainly an improvement.
A new computer system is helping, and the VA is predicting that no veteran will wait longer than 125 days for processing by 2015. The goal is to be caught up by December 2014, according to The Daily Beast. Workers at the VA attribute mandatory overtime during the past five months (to the tune of millions of dollars) for the progress and worry that they could once again fall behind. But a commitment to staying on top of things (and maybe hiring more workers) could prevent that.
On a negative note, a chart from the Council of Economic Advisers shows the unemployment rate for recent vets is around 10 percent, higher than the nationwide average of 7.3 percent. (The overall unemployment rate for vets is 6.9 percent.) The reasons, according to The Washington Post: vets have higher disability rates, they tend to lack work experience in the civilian world, and hurdles for making the transition back to civilian life are high.
WaPo reports that many states are trying to make that transition easier, a bit of light at the end of that tunnel.
We thank all of the brave vets and active military for their service. Let’s press the government to make their welfare a priority.