Federal benefits to veterans delayed

Jul 8, 2013

Hoosier veterans may still have to wait months or years before receiving federal benefits despite a state effort to get them into the federal system more quickly.

A law that went into effect this month focuses on training and paying city and county veteran’s service officers to ensure that Indiana veteran’s claims are filed correctly and promptly in the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs system.  The problem is that the Veteran’s Affairs office in Indiana has a back log of about 10,000 claims. 

Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs director Jim Brown says by getting Hoosier vets in the system now, it will save them time when the V.A. catches up on its paperwork.

“There is a future out there, and at some point the lines cross to where the initiatives that we do now will come across and they will meet the line of the Veteran’s Affairs nationally.”

Brown says he anticipates it will take about two and half years for the backlog to clear.

Co-founder of the Help Indiana Vets Foundation Dean Graham says that’s not good enough. He says he supports the state’s efforts, but many veterans need help now. 

“We’re going to take responsibility for our veterans and we’re going to do this, and take it not out of the hands of the federal government, but while they’re back logged and they are doing their thing, we’ll show them how we do it here in the Hoosier state and we’ll take care of our veteran.”

Graham says vets need basic services such as money for food and clothes. Brown says that’s not what the federal benefits are meant for. He says local non-profits are best equipped to handle more immediate needs.