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Don't Be a Soldier in the City

A Center for Investigative Reporting special report about how disabled veterans in major cities are getting screwed on treatment by a mismanaged, inefficient Veterans Affairs program.

by VICE Staff
Aug 30 2012, 6:08pm
Anyone who has ever doubted VICE’s commitment to reporting on the major issues of our era will probably have a coronary as they read the following sentence: VICE and the Center for Investigative Reporting have been talking to each other, and while we don't want to get ahead of ourselves there could be some chemistry. We'll leave things a bit mysterious for now but will share with you an interactive map put together by CIR that breaks down the geographic inequities of wait times for Veterans Affairs offices across the country. These facilities serve more than 900,000 US veterans with pending disability claims for problems ranging from back injuries to post-traumatic stress disorder. And, as you will see, location is everything.



Veterans hailing from major cities across the US are finding it increasingly difficult to get local VA offices to respond to their myriad claims, and unfortunately the quickest solution might be as simple (and drastic) as advising them to pack up and move to the sticks. The above interactive map by the CIR shows a VA office-to-office breakdown of the longest wait times for compensation claims. The map will be updated weekly, ensuring that the CIR’s bulldog-like teeth will remain firmly implanted in this rapidly developing story. Amid recent media and political scrutiny, VA officials have vowed to improve wait times, pledging to drop it to 125 days or less by 2015. But the data shows that so far the situation is generally getting worse, even in three of the four offices where new computer systems have replaced stacks of paper folders.

On average, vets across the nation are now experiencing 50 percent longer delays for treatment than a year ago, with those in New York and northern Texas enduring epic, stagnant waits that make the queue at your local DMV look like the HOV lane. Vets who are initially denied compensation and subsequently appeal their claims are waiting as long as three and a half years to receive a response from their local VA.

The disappointing results so far lead us to believe that the VA is yet another broken, wastrel bureaucracy that is failing to help those it is supposed to be helping, all while spraying an insulting spitstream of "just be patient" into the faces of those who have dutifully served in this country's wars.

Read the CIR's full report here.