U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, met with Hancock County veterans today to address concerns about their treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Latta met with the veterans at Findlay American Legion Post #3, where he spoke in front of an audience of approximately 20 people.
Latta noted that in meetings across Ohio’s 5th Congressional District, he had noticed an increase in the number of cases involving veterans.
“I’ve been hearing from a lot of folks in my area that the appeals process has been taking way too long,” Latta said, stating that appeals through the VA’s Cleveland office could take up to 10 years to be processed.
Many of the veterans in attendance that spoke complained of bureaucratic and administrative delays.
James Fletcher, of Vanlue, is a Navy veteran who was diagnosed in 1981 with an obstructed lungway. He filed two claims at that time, one for the lungway and the other for ruptured disks he suffered after a 400-lb locker fall two stories onto his neck while he was serving on an amphibious assault ship.
In September 2011, he requested an evaluation on his disability.
Two years later, he heard back from the VA, “We’re not going to increase your disability, but you have asbestoisis,” and he was told to refile his claims.
“It’s ridiculous and I don’t know what to say. They diagnosed it to me but they wouldn’t compensate me for it,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher eventually had to get a lawyer to help him appeal.
“I’m telling you, Mr. Latta, the VA is dysfunctional,” Fletcher said. “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand does.”
One Vietnam veteran said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a VA doctor, but that the administration later questioned whether he had served or not. He has since had to file for a re-examination of facts in his case, meaning that despite the diagnosis, the VA will have to review the facts of his disability case.
“Overall, they’ve been good when it comes to treatment, but when it comes to this stuff, it’s frustrating. It’s like banging your head against the wall,” he said.