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Veterans question Roanoke VA claims director about long wait times for benefits

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Posted at 6:54 PM, Aug 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-05 19:02:15-04

Norfolk, Va. - Veterans are sounding off about long wait times for benefits.

Every day, Eric Sellers is on the front lines of the battle over disability benefits.

His chapter of the Disabled American Veterans in Norfolk helps about 7,000 vets a year navigate the complicated VA claims system.

“We need to come up with a realistic system that’s going to work right now for veterans,” said Sellers.

Monday, Sellers got a chance to bring his concerns to the top man in charge of all disability claims in Hampton Roads.

Congressman Scott Rigell hosted an event with Keith Wilson, the Director of the Roanoke VA Regional Office--who admitted quickly, there is a big problem for veterans waiting more than a year for claims.

“There is no excuse, no reason anybody should have to wait this long for a claim,” said Wilson.

According to the VA's latest numbers released last week, the Roanoke office still has a backlog of more than 25,000 vets waiting an average of 483 days for a claims decision.

So we asked what Wilson could do to fix that.

“We have been working very hard, making systems electronic, mandating overtime, so we are doing everything we can to streamline our process,” said Wilson.

Still, even Congressman Rigell says more can be done.

“The first step is really rejecting the mindset that things can't be changed,” said Rep. Rigell. “I want him to go back, and be fired up a bit, get it down to where claims aren’t taking a year to get a response back. That’s too long for our veterans.”

Related: 

Another Vietnam Vet waits for appointments at Hampton VA: “They need a lot more people”

Several veterans complain about long wait times at Hampton VA Medical Center