After successful events in Houston, El Paso and San Antonio, the Texas Veterans Commission will conduct its next Beating the VA Backlog event Saturday in Arlington.
The purpose of the event is to give veterans who have questions concerning their claim, appeal or submitting a new claim the opportunity to sit down with a counselor who will ideally be able to gather any information that is impeding the claim from being rated and processed.
The event will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel, 1500 Convention Center Drive.
Cheri Smith, spokeswoman for the veterans commission, said officials are looking to help at least 350 veterans with their claims.
Over the past several months, the commission’s Strike Force Teams have reviewed more than 10,000 cases — accumulated since the teams were implemented — given the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs more than 2,800 cases back for rating that were incomplete and submitted more than 1,200 fully developed claims for rating.
“Our five Beating the VA Backlog events were fully staffed by the Strike Force Teams that are responsible for our success so far,” Smith said.
Denton County’s veterans service officer Paul Bastaich will be one of the counselors on hand at this upcoming event.
“Hopefully, people will realize there is a process in play and if we follow that process, the claim will go through each phase quicker, hence beating the backlog,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of veterans will try to file claims on their own or on the advice of people who don’t understand the process.”
He noted an example of a family of a veteran who kept sending in medical information every time the veteran would visit a doctor, thinking it would help speed up the claims case.
However, Bastaich said, all that did was restart the process for that claim to add all the new medical information.
“Some of the simplest mistakes are literally trying to make too many inquiries to the VA about the status of a claim. That will slow the process and many times aggravate the employees to make a snap decision and it may not be as complete as the veteran or VA may hope,” he said. “The push today is to submit fully developed claims, to use the disability benefit questionnaires so all the questions are answered when the claim is originally submitted”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .