WUSA9, SAMANTHA GILSTRAP
Rep. Abigail Spanberger believes Virginia veterans deserve better access to care. She is urging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately address delayed claims so that veterans can receive the benefits they have earned in a timely manor.
This call to action comes amid an influx of cases related to the Honoring Our PACT Act, which Spanberger voted to pass and the president signed into law last summer. Officials say the legislation expanded health care benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service, including in the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.
Spanberger sent VA Secretary Denis McDonough a letter urging the VA to take action to address these serious delays and clear the growing claims backlog. In addition, the congresswoman asked for information regarding the specific challenges that led to these unacceptable delays, a plan outlining how the VA will rectify this issue, and recommendations as to how Congress can support the VA in connecting veterans with the benefits they have earned.
As of Oct. 10, more than 300,000 VA claims are backlogged, meaning they have been pending for over 125 days. Officials say that number is expected to increase.
“I am writing to express my profound concern about the recent delays in providing essential care to veterans in Virginia. Last year, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. This landmark legislation is a crucial step in expanding Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances,” wrote Spanberger. “Unfortunately, I have heard from veterans across my district who have experienced significant delays in VA claims processing, increasing their difficulty in accessing the vital care they earned through their service.”
She continued to say, “Accordingly, I urge the VA to take immediate and comprehensive action to address these delays and ensure that veterans in Virginia and across the nation receive the care and benefits guaranteed to them under the bipartisan Honoring our PACT Act. The sacrifices made by our veterans demand nothing less than our unwavering commitment to their well-being.”
Click here for the full letter.