VA benefits backlog frustrating for veterans - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

VA benefits backlog frustrating for veterans

Posted: Updated:
Retired First Sergeant Linda Daily and retired First Sergeant Jeff Locklear live in Spring Lake with their son, Jeremiah. Retired First Sergeant Linda Daily and retired First Sergeant Jeff Locklear live in Spring Lake with their son, Jeremiah.
Daily spent 20 years in the military and was awarded a Bronze Star, commendation medals and service ribbons. Daily spent 20 years in the military and was awarded a Bronze Star, commendation medals and service ribbons.
Daily now has a huge medical packet to show for her 20 years of service. The packet lists dozens of conditions from worsening chronic back pain to post traumatic stress disorder. Daily now has a huge medical packet to show for her 20 years of service. The packet lists dozens of conditions from worsening chronic back pain to post traumatic stress disorder.
Cheryl Rawls, the Director of VA's Winston-Salem Regional Office, said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the biggest factor in the current benefits backlog. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mobley/WFDD Cheryl Rawls, the Director of VA's Winston-Salem Regional Office, said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the biggest factor in the current benefits backlog. Photo courtesy Kathryn Mobley/WFDD
SPRING LAKE, N.C. -
Almost a million U.S. veterans are waiting years for benefits they were promised at retirement from the military. The backlog has caused a storm to rage around the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Between the both of us, it's 47 years of military service that lives in this house," said retired 1st Sgt. Jeff Locklear. "Forty-seven years we committed ourselves to the U.S. military and this is what we get."

Locklear and his fiancé, retired 1st Sgt. Linda Daily, say they feel dishonored and disrespected. Daily has been waiting more than a year for her benefits, Locklear more than three years. 

The couple lives in Spring Lake with their son, Jeremiah.

Locklear spent 26 years in the military as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. He was awarded two Bronze Stars and countless commendation and achievement medals. Daily was deployed to Iraq twice. Her assignments included logistics and the release and storage of weapons and other military equipment. 

"She had some close friends die over there," Locklear said of Daily's time in Iraq.  "And she was in charge of cleaning out vehicles. Body matter, body parts still left in the vehicle."

Daily now has a huge medical packet to show for her 20 years of service. The packet lists dozens of conditions, from worsening chronic back pain to post-traumatic stress disorder.

As for the VA backlog, she said, "Frustrated at first, but more like my last 20 years wasn't even worth it."

Locklear has been able to help Daily through her darkest days because he understands. His list of serious medical conditions includes PTSD as well. 

"We're both waiting. So we're both in the same boat," Locklear said. 

How did things get this bad? Cheryl Rawls, the director of the VA's Winston-Salem Regional Office, said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the biggest factor in the current backlog. 

"Two very long wars that involved multiple deployments for most service members, reservists, and Guardsmen and women," Rawls said. 

Other factors contribute to the backlog as well.

"The Secretary (of Veterans Affairs) made the decision several years ago to expand the list of disabilities due to Agent Orange exposure," Rawls said. "VA knew that this change in law would result in an increased backlog of claims as we worked to re-adjudicate claims from veterans previously denied benefits under this category, but it was clearly the right thing to do for veterans."

Rawls said the VA is implementing an aggressive plan to eliminate the backlog by 2015. The approval process is being accelerated by the Department of Veterans Affairs to get veterans benefits immediately if eligible, according to Rawls. 

"Talking to vets, they'll tell you once you put that packet in, they best thing you can do for yourself is go fishing," Locklear said. "Fishing. Go fishing because there's nothing else you can do."

 

 

Pam Saulsby

Pam anchors the 7 & 11 PM news. She is an Emmy winner and one of the area's most trusted journalists. Her "Pam Cam" franchise showcases her multiple skills and a sincere passion for storytelling. More>>

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • Parts of Durham once again flood as business owner looks for relief

    Parts of Durham once again flood as business owner looks for relief

    Monday, July 21 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-22 02:20:30 GMT
    Several inches of rain created flooding in parts of Durham on Monday.
    Several inches of rain created flooding in parts of Durham on Monday.
  • Take Me To The King: A Book By Joel Wiggins

    Take Me To The King: A Book By Joel Wiggins

    Monday, July 21 2014 1:10 PM EDT2014-07-21 17:10:46 GMT
    Valonda Calloway and Joel WigginsValonda Calloway and Joel Wiggins
    Prepare to have the very core of what you’ve believed to be your foundational truths challenged. Get comfortable being uncomfortable in your thinking about traditional religion. And be okay with self-examination on a whole new level. Unlike the award-winning gospel smash, this Take Me To The King is NOT for entertainment purposes only and is definitely intended for spiritually mature audiences. Journey with author and successful entrepreneur, Joel Wiggins, as he explores the current state of ...
    Prepare to have the very core of what you’ve believed to be your foundational truths challenged. Get comfortable being uncomfortable in your thinking about traditional religion. And be okay with self-examination on a whole new level. Unlike the award-winning gospel smash, this Take Me To The King is NOT for entertainment purposes only and is definitely intended for spiritually mature audiences. Journey with author and successful entrepreneur, Joel Wiggins, as he explores the current state of ...
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.