LANCIA: New England Veterans Deserve Choice in How to Secure VA Benefits

Published by Bob Lancia

(NH Journal)


New England is fortunate to have some of the bravest Americans in the country call our region home. More than 700,000 veterans live in the area spanning from Connecticut to Maine. While they are deserving of our honor and respect, not all of them have fortunately been able to access the VA disability benefits to which they are entitled.


As of March 2022, over 240,000 pending claims for VA disability compensation and benefits were considered backlogged. That number will likely grow in future years as claims associated with exposure to toxic burn pits and the Navy’s “Blue Water” herbicide begin to increase. The need to provide as much choice and competition in the VA benefits claims process as possible has never been as apparent.


Unfortunately, well-intentioned but misguided efforts are currently underway in Congress that could make it more difficult for veterans to get access to the disability benefits they deserve. Efforts to reform the current system have some in Congress now looking to criminalize the way many private consulting agents help veterans navigate the VA benefits claims process. That would leave the initiation phase of the claims process solely on the backs of veterans’ service organizations (VSOs) or veterans themselves.


As a 100 percent service-disabled veteran, I have seen first-hand how arduous the VA benefits claims process can be. While I was fortunate enough to have connected with a case worker at a VSO that had the staff and resources to help secure my benefits, not every veteran has been fortunate enough to have had a similar experience. The fact is, funding and expertise are not distributed evenly across the nationwide network of VSOs. Access to veteran benefits should not be dictated by where someone lives, or the quality of the VSO located near them. That’s where private consulting agents can step in to fill the void....


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