As VA Backlog Grows, Congress, Veterans Grow Weary Of Excuses

Bill Briggs | NBC | February 27, 2013

With most veterans waiting nine months for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process disability claims, a congressional panel Wednesday chastised the VA and the Department of Defense for each breaking four years of vows to merge all troops’ medical records into a single electronic system to help crack that backlog. 

A senior defense official admitted to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs that while “looking down the barrel” of Friday’s sequestration-mandated budget cuts, DOD recently opted not to simply link with the VA’s existing electronic health-record system but to instead seek a more cost-effective computerized tool to catalog and track its service members' medical files.

That explanation, however, sparked committee members to slam both agencies for protecting their individual turfs rather than fixing the lengthening wait for troops' claims to be seen and for disability checks to be cut. Further complicating that human math: Another 34,000 service members will return from Afghanistan during the next 12 months...