Delay, Deny, Wait Till I Die: 20,000 Veterans Die Waiting For Their Benefits

Abby Zimet

Thanks to delays, mistakes and bureaucratic ineptitude bordering on cruelty,  about 900,000 veterans and their families nationwide are waiting up to a year and a half to collect benefits they're owed, with more and more dying before the much-needed funds arrive. The Bay Citizen and its parent Center for Investigative Reporting found that almost 19,500 veterans died - World War Two veterans from illness or natural causes to Iraq veterans from suicide - while waiting through the backlog, more than triple that of three years ago. The stories are horrific: James Alderson, an 89-year-old WWll veteran, applied for subsidized nursing home care for himself and his 90-year-old wife, waited through seven months of delays and errors and letters from the VA - “It is our sincere desire to decide your case promptly.... (but) action may be delayed” -  and finally died without receiving anything. A couple of weeks after his death, the VA sent his son a letter announcing they had closed his case.

Update: A new report cites "serious misgivings" about inadequate treatment given to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, half of whom come home facing PTSD, depression and other difficulties.

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