(WASHINGTON GUARDIAN) It was one of the simplest, most poignant promises Barack Obama made in 2008 in his first campaign for the White House: He would fulfill “a sacred trust with our veterans” by significantly reducing the government’s lengthy backlog of pending claims for disability coverage. The goal: All veterans could get a decision on disability claims within 125 days.
But on this Veterans Day, as Mr. Obama prepares for his second term, the president’s pledge not only remains unfulfilled, it has become a rallying cry for sick veterans, their widows and their advocates, who now wait as long as two years for disability decisions from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Records obtained by the Washington Guardian show that as of Nov. 5, the day before Mr. Obama won re-election, 558,230 of the 820,106 veterans seeking disability coverage had their claims pending for more than the 125-day target. That’s 68.1 percent, or nearly double the 36 percent rate in the summer of 2010.