Attorney Sara Watkins has been appointed to the steering committee for Suboxone. Read More Here.

Delays possible as many seek veterans' benefits

Individuals who serve in the United States armed forces are entitled to a range of benefits in return for that service. In fact, veterans' benefits are among the top incentives for young people who sign on to serve their country. Unfortunately, these benefits are not always easy to come by, and many of the men and women in Pennsylvania who chose military service will encounter difficulty when the time comes to reap these promised rewards.

A recent inquiry by the VA Inspector General's office found a range of disturbing actions that took place at the Philadelphia office, and has led to a call for change at the agency. The watchdog report suggests that a mixture of mismanagement and incompetence has left many military families without access to the benefits that they have earned. It appears that after having filed a claim, thousands of vets were subjected to nearly a year of waiting before an answer was given.

The assessment of conditions at the Philadelphia office revealed that the average response time for veteran inquiries or claims was 312 days. The Department of Veterans Affairs requires that such inquiries be answered in five days or less. Much of the problem seems to rest on the mismanagement of documents, with some paperwork appearing to have been lost or intentionally hidden. It was also revealed that paperwork containing personal and private information was left unsecured, including within the office kitchen, where a range of employees and others could have accessed the information contained within the documents.

For Pennsylvania veterans who have worked hard and made sacrifices to serve their country, being unable to access their veterans' benefits in a timely manner is important. When mismanagement and basic employee incompetence hinders that process, legal action is sometimes the only means of recourse. The recent watchdog report only serves to illustrate the issues that veterans can face when trying to make use of the benefits to which they are entitled.