Iowa veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq wait, on average, more than 10 months for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process their health and benefits claims.
Nearly 7,000 disabled veterans overseen by the Des Moines Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office are waiting an average of 313 days on claims across the state, VA records show. That's 18 percent longer than a year and a half ago, although records show that since 2000 there are fewer veterans in the state.
The problem is demand. It keeps going up as veterans return from duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, putting stress on the regional VA office and those who help the veterans obtain their disability benefits. "I've had guys wait 13 or 14 months before even hearing anything," said David "Woody" Woods, Scott County director of veterans affairs. His local organization is not part of the VA.
"We have a weekly meeting with (the VA) in Des Moines," he said earlier this month, "and last week they completed 650 cases. But another 1,500 came in the same week."