Published by Patrick Gleason
Those who have sacrificed years of their time and agreed to put their lives on the line in defense of their country represent a numerically small segment of society. Of the U.S. adult population, 7% has served in the Armed Forces.
Federal and state lawmakers are understandably focused on addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by military veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is among the most expansive and complex federal agencies. With a budget exceeding $240 billion, the VA is comprised of 412,000 workers and contractors, 6,000 buildings (of which 1,500 are health care centers), 144 medical facilities, and more than 1,200 outpatient locations.
Yet, as large as the VA is, there are indicators the agency remains overwhelmed, struggling with service backlogs that force veterans to wait extended periods of time before they can receive assistance with benefits and disability claims. In fact, more than 36% of the nearly 520,000 disability and compensations claims now pending at the VA are older than 125 days.
The last two decades of foreign military operations have produced the largest number of veterans in the U.S. since the Vietnam war. In order to rectify what is expected to be a growing backlog at the VA, a number of reforms are currently under consideration in Congress that seek to streamline VA processes and procedures, with the goal of improving service to veterans. One way to do that could involve leveraging the companies and non-government entities that already assist veterans with their benefits claims.
The ecosystem of organizations that currently help veterans navigate the VA system include Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) comprised of volunteers, accredited legal representatives, and private consulting firms that work on a contingency basis. Veterans can also try to navigate the VA process themselves. But the demand for and mere existence of private companies whose sole mission is to help veterans navigate the process underscores the complexity, convolution, and dysfunction of the VA system....
Read full article on Forbes.