Efforts to move backlog of veterans claims met with mixed reviewsUPDATED 7:19 PM HST Sep 20, 2013Video Transcript
undertaking... playing CATCH-UP on that massive backlog of claims for veterans. Four months ago, the feds started MANDATING overtime at regional offices... to reduce the numbers. As KITV4's Lara Yamada show us... those efforts are returning MIXED results. NATS: 20449-53 Shots NATS: 20503-10 Taps At Punchbowl Cemetery ... they are remembering missing service members. 5416-25 As we think about the heros who have sacrificed so much, we must not forget the thousands of military families who cannot find peace. But most in the crowd are veterans... found. And dealing with the reality of life after war. DONOVAN 20700 It's been challenge really for many veterans. FRANK 4600 I'm a 100 percent disabled veteran. Veteran of Foreign Wars Commander Frank Bragg says filing his claim was a long and frustrating process. FRANK 4605-10 You have to keep appealing it, but it pays off in the long run. TRACEY 5743 We've been very busy! In recent years, the VA has been slammed with criticism about a backlog of claims, at one point, surpassing a MILLION. Tracey Betts, of the Honolulu Regional Office, says in recent years, the VA added new medical conditions and categories -- forcing the department to RE-DO tens of thousands of claims. TRACEY 10041-48 Anybody who was previously denied, we went back to see if they were treated for these conditions. Early this year, the VA launched its plan to cut the backlog by refocusing on older claims, shifting to electronic filing - and in May -- MANDATING overtime at all regional offices until the numbers improved. TRACEY 5902 Claims are always coming in everyday. - Nationally, the VA says its down to 446-thousand backlogged claims -And 744-thousand pending. -Betts says locally they've processed all claims over 2 years, most over 1 year. -And are down to 4,500 claims in our region. DONOVAN 20944-52 I think we're doing much better than we were doing a couple of years ago. I see progress, but we still have a long way to go, without a doubt. Lara Yamada KITV4 News. Despite that progress, the President has made it clear he does NOT believe the VA is moving fast enough. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki -- born and raised on Kauai -- has been tasked with reversing the problem. His goal is to END the backlog in TWO YEARS. He'll be on Oahu -- TOMORROW -- to talk about that.