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Vets' VA Issues Go Beyond Medical Delays

Recent months have shown that there is no shortage of veterans who have had problems with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

More than two dozen of them brought their issues to the Temple Terrace City Hall for a veterans’ intake event on Wednesday organized by Congressman Dennis Ross (R- Lakeland).

Ross said his office has received complaints about delays getting VA medical appointments, but they’re also hearing a lot about problems with VA benefit claims.

“What we’ve seen is when the (Department of Veterans Affairs) would receive claims, if they denied them -- and in many cases they denied them -- they would consider them closed,” Ross said during a news conference after hearing from the vets.

There’s supposed to be an appeals process for veterans denied benefits, but Ross said many have experienced undue delays with their appeals.

“For those on the benefits side, due process is everything,” Ross said. “We have a multitude of cases where they have recouped retroactively payments that were due for years past.”

His congressional staff is currently working on more than 100 cases involving veterans.

Ross said he is open to outsourcing the claims process and offering private medical care as an option if it would speed up service to the veterans.

Other Tampa Bay members of Congress,  including U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R-Seminole), U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Tarpon Springs) and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa), have held similar events recently to give veterans direct access to VA representatives, Congressional staff and state veterans advocates.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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