VA Head Envisions Big Improvements In Backlog

Rick Maze | Military Times | November 11, 2012

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki vows that major improvements are just over the horizon for veterans seeking benefits and health care. The 69-year-old retired four-star general and former Army chief of staff said in an interview that he knows veterans are frustrated by a complicated and lengthy disability claims process and by problems accessing VA’s health care system, but changing a large organization takes time.

He has ambitious goals: eliminating the claims backlog and homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. Meanwhile, he is expanding access to VA health care and improving programs for female veterans and for veterans in rural areas.

And while he doesn’t have an implementation date, he also talks of launching an aggressive mental health program in which VA clinicians would review the medical records of separating veterans to look for evidence of problems that could be early indicators of suicide risk...