SAN MATEO, CA – Representatives Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) and Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) announced today that veterans have responded “loudly and clearly” to the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about their backlogged claims for disability benefits. More than 130 veterans have registered to attend a veterans forum on Monday, May 21, 2012 from 1-4 p.m. PST. The meeting will be held in Room 207 of the Veterans War Memorial Building in San Francisco. Reps. Speier and Lee will hold a press briefing at 12:45 pm in the same room.
“The Oakland VA benefits office is
broken and it won’t get fixed unless the VA, Congress and veterans can work
together to restore accountability and justice to the benefits process,” said
Congresswoman Speier. “May 21 is a day
dedicated to ending the delay that has veterans waiting an average of 320 days
for benefit decisions. Some veterans wait as long as six years—that is
shameful. The Oakland VA director told me the backlog would be erased by March
2013. I am holding him to that projection. “
“We need bold actions to address this unacceptable claims backlog at the Oakland Veterans Affairs Regional Office,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “The brave men and women who served our country deserve to have their claims addressed quickly and accurately. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I led the charge earlier this week to demand that VA be held accountable for their performance and inserted language in the VA funding bill to help make certain that VA has the resources needed to address this unacceptable and persistent problem.”
Veterans are waiting an average of 320 days to receive a decision from the VA’s Oakland office which handles claims from Kern County to the Oregon border. Some 34,000 claims remain unsettled at the office which has the VA’s second highest case delay record in the nation.
The Oakland VA director Douglas Bragg and the VA’s Western Regional director Willie Clark have agreed to be at the meeting.
Five VA claims specialists will be on-site to conduct private interviews with veterans to discuss backlogged claims. While the VA may not be able to meet personally with each veteran in attendance, all veterans will have the opportunity to discuss their claim delay with Congressional support staff or Members of Congress. The Offices of Rep. Speier and Rep. Lee will continue to work on cases after the meeting.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Douglas Bragg, Director of the VA Oakland Regional Office
Willie Clark, Western Area Director, Veterans Benefits Administration
12:45 pm Press Briefing
1:00 pm Veterans Forum to address the disability claims backlog
Monday, May 21, 2012
12:45 – 4 p.m. PST
Veterans War Memorial Building
401 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102