Brown calls for renewed leadership to address veterans health care, end disability claims backlog

Published 2:31 pm Monday, June 2, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following the resignation of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, released the following statement:

“Secretary Shinseki has dedicated his life to serving our nation as a soldier and as an advocate for our nation’s veterans. He has taken unprecedented steps to address major issues facing veterans from cutting the backlog in half to working to end veterans’ homelessness,” Brown said. “Moving forward, actions must be taken ensure veterans are receiving the highest quality care possible.

“As Sloan Gibson takes over the administration of the VA, he must take swift action to address problems uncovered by the IG report,” Brown continued. “The VA must also continue ongoing efforts to eliminate the disability claims backlog and ensure that all veterans have timely access to the services they have earned.”

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As the only Ohio senator to serve a full term on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Brown has introduced a package of key legislative proposals aimed at addressing issues facing Ohio veterans. Over the past week, Brown toured the state to build support for his Significant Event Tracker (SET) Act, legislation that would ensure that unit commanders document events that individual service members are exposed to which might later be connected to PTS, TBI, or other injuries.

In response to the disability claims backlog, Brown has helped secure record funds and staffing for the VA to combat the backlog. In November 2013, Brown announced that key provisions of his Veterans Services Outreach (VSO) Act passed the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. The act would require the VA to notify veterans filing claims electronically that they can receive help and important time-saving information that could significantly reduce their wait time. In August, Brown announced that he would also work to pass the Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2013, legislation that would hold the VA accountable by requiring it to publically report information on both its projected monthly goals and actual production so that Congress and the public knows if the VA is working toward eliminating its backlog. The bill would also establish a task force to hire and train claims processors, and develop tactics to attack and eliminate the backlog.

In December 2013, Brown announced his support for the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act, legislation that would improve homeslessness prevention programs and increase the availability of transitional housing for veterans.