Thursday, February 03, 2005

Rod wants to help veterans

From the Chicago Tribune:

Every year, benefits go unused because veterans do not apply for them, state officials say.

The statement is true, but misleading.

In my experience the problem with vets getting health benefits is that they get jerked around by the bureaucracy on eligibility. What the state could do to help this problem is to have a legal team help veterans appeal decisions to deny veterans disability benefits. Along the way the state could collect data to prove the VA is not processing claims in good faith. They are denying claims because they know some vets won't jump through the wickets to appeal the ruling and because the VA is usually not resposible for paying for treatment prior to the appeal being adjudicated.

So, if a vet knows working through the VA is a big jerk-around, s/he may choose not to apply for benefits. So, the reason vets don't get benefits to which they are legally entitled is not that they don't know the system, it's because they do know the system.

Hiring twelve people to help vets is a fine idea, but the state should see the real problem. Creating a bureaucracy to better track veterans is kinda pointless if the VA is still an unhelpful bureaucracy.

State government could play a role in leveling the playing field when vets have to fight the VA. But it doesn't sound like this is going to be Blago's strategy.


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