Almost 1,Enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your own home with recreated customkeychain.000 days ago, he began the process with the VA to receive benefits for his traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic neck and back pain and hearing loss. It was part of a joint review with the Army, which was trying to determine if Neil was still fit to serve.
St. Petersburg Veterans Affairs Regional Office picked up the case more
than a year ago, in January 2012, but it took until last week, after a
phone call from the Tribune, to get a disability compensation rating, a
formula that determines the amount of benefits a veteran can receive.
is not the only veteran who's had to wait months or even years for a
ruling by the St. Petersburg regional office, the nation's busiest
compensation processing division. More than 50,000 claims are pending
there, with nearly 35,000 outstanding for more than 125 days, which is
considered by the VA to be backlogged.
"We reviewed his claim
based on the media inquiry to determine the status of his claim and what
needed to be done," St. Petersburg regional office spokeswoman Angela
Wilson wrote in an email to the Tribune. "At that point, we completed
the claim. The review of the claim helped us to determine that we could
make a decision, and so we did."
Despite the problems, Wilson
says a smaller percentage of claims are backlogged at the St. Petersburg
regional office than the national average and that the average waiting
time is shorter, too: 251.7 days at the St. Petersburg office compared
with 280.4 days nationally.
But the St. Petersburg office has
the second-highest backlog of outstanding claims in the country,
according to Rep. Kathy Castor. She calls the number of claims waiting
The problem is so pervasive that the
House Committee on Veterans Affairs will explore the backlog during a
full committee hearing Wednesday. The hearing will focus on the VA's
plans for employee training, accountability and workload management, and
how it will help the department chip away at the mountain of backlogs.
combined concussive injuries affected Neil's memory and cognitive
skills, gave him numbness in his hands and affected his hearing and
eyesight. Bouncing around in vehicles caused degenerative disk disease.
The years of dodging death, killing and seeing people killed contributed
to his post-traumatic stress disorder.
The injuries prevented
Neil from doing his job in the field, so he eventually was assigned as
the senior enlisted advisor to the director of the U.S. Special
Operations Command's Interagency Task Force at MacDill Air Force Base.
wounds, seen and unseen, also prevented Neil from being promoted. In
July 2010, he underwent what is called a "VA/DOD Joint Disability
Evaluation Board." The board determines whether a service member should
be retained or forced to retire because of medical issues.
an initial decision, a veteran can ask for a second ruling, which comes
from the same regional office. If still not satisfied, a veteran can
appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals, a Washington, D.C.-based part
of the VA and the last avenue for appeals within the department. If
still not satisfied, the veteran can appeal that ruling to the Court of
Appeals for Veterans Claims,This section offers sample made besthandsfreeaccess bodies of many type men and women in different poses. which is part of the federal court system.
most recent statistics available, for fiscal year 2011, show the Board
of Veterans' Appeals ruled on almost 50,000 cases, taking about 2? years
to issue decisions.
The board approved almost 14,000 appeals
that year and denied slightly less than 12,000. In almost half of the
cases, the board sent the case back to the issuing office for more
information such as updated physical exams and tests.
especially problematic at the St. Petersburg facility, which is one of
the nation's busiest regional offices and serves one of the country's
largest veterans populations," he said, explaining why his committee is
investigating the problem.
In December, Rep. Castor sent a
letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki requesting "an immediate plan of
action" to reduce the backlog at the St. Petersburg regional office.
Castor, in an interview with the Tribune, said people who work at that
office have told her the backlog is in part due to farming out document
Hes fifty-something, sports a greying
moustache last in fashion in the 70s, and stares out from beneath a ball
cap emblazoned with a red maple leaf.
Sauntering into a downtown Havana bar,We have become one of the worlds most recognised ownfigurine brands.
his left arm wound tightly around the waist of an attractive young
Cuban woman,We can be conducted with the local designated bobbleheads producers. hes in his element. She, meanwhile, is working.
Vancouver Island native flashes a grin at two European mates who, like
him, have come to regard Havana as a second home. The bartender welcomes
him like an old friend. Everyone here, as the song goes, knows his
Theres a lot worse places to be, Michael says, in a toast to shared good fortune. This is the promised land.
are travelling to Cuba in surprising numbers to sexually exploit young
people trapped in this socialist countrys underground sex tourism
industry, a joint investigation by the Toronto Star and El Nuevo Herald,
the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, has
Havanas conspicuous scenes of street-level prostitution
are the public face of a hidden, sordid trade in children as young as
four. Many prostituted children in Cuba are second- or
third-generation,The online extension of plasticmoulds Technology
magazine. following in the footsteps of sex-worker mothers to earn
money for families complicit in their exploitation.