Washington, D.C.— Today, Representative Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village), joined colleagues on a bi-partisan letter to President Obama urging his immediate assistance in addressing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) claims backlog.
The letter specifically requests President Obama create a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for veterans and for the Department of Defense to make records available to the VA in a more timely manner.
Brownley also recently joined her colleagues on a number of bills aimed at providing the tools necessary for the VA to accomplish its goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015: LINK.
The full letter sent to President Obama is below and online here: LINK.
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to ask for your timely assistance in ending the bureaucratic back and forth on veterans records, which is negatively affecting veterans’ disability claims, and potentially their health. As you may be aware this was one of eight ideas identified to make government work at the Bi- Partisan No Labels policy forum in which more than twenty-five Members of Congress participated. However, this has been a long standing concern and issue that seemingly the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense cannot resolve. The technology exists, the will is fervent, and the time to fix this is now.
Our nation’s veterans and servicemembers deserve the efficiency and effectiveness that would come with a seamless health record. They also deserve the timeliness in resolving their disability claims that may come from DoD providing certified to be complete electronic records to VA for the purpose of adjudicating claims in a timelier manner.
As such, we are asking for your immediate action on two specific items. First, end the back and forth amongst DoD and VA regarding the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record. The time has come for a decision to be made and for the permanent merging of electronic health-care records of the DoD and the VA. Select a system, pick a path, and move forward. We can no longer waste the time or money that will result from endless bureaucratic inaction.
Second, it has come to our attention that many claims are being dramatically delayed by DoD’s lack of timeliness in providing records to VA with a particular emphasis on our National Guard and Reserve units. Mr. President, if VA is moving into an electronic processing system, it will be impossible to meet Secretary Shinseki’s goal of no claim pending for longer than 125 days if VA is waiting on DoD for 175 days. We are asking for your personal commitment that DoD will provide to VA certified to be complete service, personal, and medical records in an electronic format by the end of this calendar year. We believe a timely turnaround would be DoD making the information available within 21 days of discharge or 45 days for previously separated service members.
Veterans need your leadership to address these issues, Mr. President. Our veterans’ welfare depends on these important decisions. We stand ready to assist you in any way that you deem necessary to achieve the requests herein.
Member of Congress