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September 23 • 02:01 PM
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Thousands of veterans’ claims being lost, buried, shredded


To the Editor:

A new report by Rick Maze, staff writer for the Air Force Times, sheds some disturbing light on the problems faced by veterans in attempting to obtain veteran's benefits. It was reported that VA employees have been squirreling away tens of thousands of unopened letters related to benefit claims, sparking concerns that veterans and their survivors are being cheated out of money. VA has acknowledged further credibility problems due to a previously undisclosed incident in 2007 where workers at the Detroit Regional Office turned in 16,000 pieces of unprocessed mail, and 717 documents turned up in New York in December during an amnesty period. This report comes at a time when VA is attempting to resolve earlier controversy involving documents essential to the claims process which were discovered in bins awaiting shredding at several regional offices. This raises questions about how many past claims have been delayed or denied because of intentional or unintentional destruction of documents.

In a letter dated May 8, 2006 from Keith Thompson, Department of Veterans Affairs, he stated, "VA is sending this information to veterans receiving disability compensation in several states where average compensation paid is less than in other states." Veterans who have been denied compensation, or believe the compensation they receive does not comport with the criteria of a particular rating criteria may want to consider contacting their state representative to request a hearing on these matters. VA is obligated to explain why a veteran's symptoms comports with the criteria of a particular rating criteria.

Considering a 100 percent disability compensation payment of $2,300 per month for 12 months would be an income of $27,600 for a disabled veteran, not processing veterans claims is of substantial loss to the economy of the State of Michigan, and may include costs to the state pertaining to medical care. These losses could potentially involve hundreds of millions of dollars.

We urge our state representatives to conduct a formal hearing to determine the economic cost of these actions and their effect on the State of Michigan.

Joseph M. Sam, Imlay City
March 18, 2009

Castle Creek
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