New plans to improve Veteran's services around the state

$3 million dollars added to state budget

BAKERSFIELD -  

Congressman Kevin McCarthy has introduced a bill to cut down on the amount of time veterans have to wait just to see a doctor.

The bipartisan legislation comes on the heels of a new plan to deal with the backlog of claims waiting to be processed.

$3 million is being allocated in the state budget to help alleviate the jam of process claims, which on average takes about 338 days to complete.

Adam Martinez joined the army seven years ago and just recently was put on terminal leave.  He is among the many soldiers filling out disability claims.

“It’s important for veterans to get their claims because they put in their time, their service and now its our time for us to be taken care of. So, we’re not doing active duty anymore, we’re not serving, it’s time for us to come home, relax and get help if we needed it,” he said.

The new plan allows the California Department of Veterans affairs to hire new service representatives in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego.  The workers will help process claims.

“I was so worried that I was going to put all my claims in and I wasn’t going to get anything until two years later, maybe even six months to even hear anything so, it’s great news to be able to hear that its going to take less than two years,” said Martinez.

The Veterans Access to Timely Medical Appointments Act is also good news for veterans.  The legislation requires the VA to schedule primary care appointments within 7 days and specialty care appointments with 14 days.

“I have talked with other veterans here that not only is there a long wait but they are sent through a lot of difficulties,” said veteran, Tyrone Little John.

Congressman McCarthy who helped introduce the bill to hold the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable says “It is inexcusable the VA has not taken action to resolve scheduling delays for veterans.”

“I don’t think anyone should have to go through that, we have doctors at the VA that are trained, educated to know the difficulties that a person goes through,“ said John.

The proposal mandates the VA improve its medical appointment scheduling policy within 180 days of the bill’s enactment.

“They’ve put their lives on the line for our country and we owe them nothing less to get them the service and the response and the benefits that they earn as a result of their honorable military service,” said Dick Taylor of the Kern County Veterans Services Office.

Veterans are not required to do any additional work now that it will take less time for them to file their claims.

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