WASHINGTON, DC: Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01) and Congressman Hansen Clarke (MI-13) toured the Detroit Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefit Center Thursday in what they called “an effort to learn more about the veterans’ benefits claims backlog.”
“After fighting for our freedoms overseas, Northern Michigan’s veterans should not have to fight VA bureaucracy when they return home. It is evident the VA is in need of better IT systems and more efficient processing. The VA serves a constituency that has served America, and they deserve to have the best service possible,” said Benishek, who worked at the Iron Mountain VA Medical Center before coming to Congress.
“It is crucial for Members of Congress to work together, in a bipartisan fashion, to help our veterans obtain the services they deserve. Long delays preventing veterans from receiving their benefits are unacceptable, and I look forward to working with Congressman Benishek and the Detroit VA Benefit Center to improve this situation,” said Rep. Clarke, who represents Michigan’s 13th District in Detroit.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has been facing a benefits claims backlog for many years. After leaving the military, veterans often have to wait more than a year before they begin receiving benefits. According to the VA Department, of the 19,000 veterans’ claims pending in the Detroit Benefit Center, 12,700 or 66.2% are more than 125 days overdue.
“I have also introduced legislation with Congressman Benishek to improve veterans’ access to their educational benefits and I am working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to promote the National Veteran Small Business Conference and Expo, which will be held in Detroit this June,” added Clarke.
“Congressman Clarke and I are from different parties, but we both recognize the important need to provide our veterans with quality and timely service. This bipartisan visit was helpful in learning more about the challenges facing the VA and how their services can be improved,” added Benishek, who serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Michigan’s First District is home to more than 68,000 veterans, which accounts for 13.7% of the District’s population.