Senator John Cornyn calls VA claim backlogs a "national disgrace - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Senator John Cornyn calls VA claim backlogs a "national disgrace"

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AUSTIN -

Senator John Cornyn talks with local veterans services to address the claims backlog issue.

It's been on the national spotlight, thousands of veterans are waiting for their claims to be resolved. In Texas alone there were nearly 90,000 pending claims a year ago and nearly 70,000 were categorized as backlogged, which means they're more than 125 days old. However, those numbers have been reduced with a national initiative. In mid July, Texas had around 71,000 pending and close to 50,000 backlogged.

While that is a reduction, there's still thousands of veterans waiting.

"We have help here at the local level to help Veteran's Affairs nationally as they move through this problem and I'm proud of where they're going but they've got a lot of work to do," Cornyn said.

Cornyn met with several veterans service organizations in Austin Friday afternoon at an American Legion Post. They addressed the backlog situation at the beginning, but he also heard about some positive work being done in Texas.

"The nice thing is I was surprised in a good way, about all the positive things that are happening," Cornyn said.

After the discussion Cornyn sent a letter to president Obama. In he emphasizes the importance of the backlog issue and also calls it a national disgrace. He also urges Obama to appoint a capable person for the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs which has been open since May.

A couple veterans also told Cornyn their stories with one explaining his experience filing a claim.

"I came in there, I'm like look I don't know what to do. Before I know it he had my claim taken care of and then it got processed," veteran Guy Wallace Bottoms Jr.

That's not how it works for everyone, though. Bottoms Jr. says many of his friends and family are jealous of his speedy claim.

"I have friends that have been out longer than me and they're still dealing with it in other states."

The Texas Veterans Commission says last year they received $2 million from the federal government to work on the backlog. That money went to 50 claims counselors split between the Houston Veteran's Affairs Regional Office and the Waco Regional Office. The Commission says those alone have reviewed 20,000 claims.

However, with 500 claims coming in every day, it can be hard to keep up.

"Until they go totally virtual, I don't think the problem will be solved," Director of the Texas Veterans Commission Thomas Palladino said.

Palladino says the VA is working on a paper less, electronic system to modernize the process. He says that will help, but it may take several years to put in place.

"It's slow but we're doing it, so they're slowly changing the way they do business. That is helping us expedite those claims," Palladino said.

For the time being though, everyone's working hard to make sure veterans get what they need.

"My fellow veterans have taken care of all of us, now it's time to take care of them."

Two WWII veterans were also with Cornyn in the discussion. They took part in the Honor Flight program that brings WWII veterans to Washington D.C.

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