Portland, OR— Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel today visited Portland Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4248 and met with area veterans to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) growing backlog of unanswered veteran’s benefit claims. The average wait time for Oregon veterans to receive an answer to their claims is 317 days, with 12,698 veterans across Oregon currently waiting for their claims to be processed.
“These veterans stood up for us overseas and they should not have to fight for benefits to which they are entitled once they return home.” Merkley said, “I’m calling for speedy action to address this backlog. I will bring your voices to the VA in Washington and make sure they understand the urgency about fixing this problem.”
Senator Merkley recently sent a letter to Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, expressing his concern and frustration over the growing backlog, and questioned him on the topic when Shinseki testified before the budget committee last week. The Senator applauded Shinseki’s goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015 but pressed him to expedite the process.
Staff from both Senator Merkley’s office and Multnomah County were on hand today at the VFW Post to help veterans who need help accessing benefits or who are struggling to get answers from the VA.