When U.S. servicemen and women get back home, they enter a time warp in which disability claims are processed in much the same way as those of their grandfathers were. There is little recognition of how much electronic records management has changed.
It is disgraceful that more than a half-million soldiers have waited longer than four months for their claims to be processed. Some veterans and military spouses have waited more than a year.
The Veterans Administration announced a plan last year to reduce the backlog and move from a paper-intensive system to automated, Web-based technology, but more progress is necessary. Last summer, a bipartisan group of senators set out to study the problem; last week, they announced legislation that should help.
Their bill has three aims: improving the claims submission process and providing veterans with appropriate information, requiring the VA to increase efficiency at its regional offices and be more transparent about the size of its backlog, and demanding greater cooperation among federal agencies to get benefits to eligible veterans.
Processing of disability claims must be as seamless and efficient as possible. Congress can help by passing the bill soon. U.S. troops did not delay in serving their country. The least America can do is not keep them waiting.