I'm a proud Air Force Veteran and a new member of VA's team. Joining VA, I wasn't quite sure what to expect after having spent 12 years working for the Department of Defense as both an active-duty military member and a civilian. But so far, what I've experienced has been positive and full of dedicated staff members who are here to serve.
I didn't expect to see so many Veterans, and to reconnect with so many people I have served with. From people I know and have been stationed with, to friends of friends, the network of Veterans within this organization is huge.
But the dedication of its team members and VA's commitment to hiring Veterans makes VA much more than just a place where I can reconnect with long-lost Air Force friends. It means that throughout the Health, Benefits, and National Cemetery Administrations, Veterans are serving Veterans, spouses and their families.
Just look at the Veterans Benefits Administration, where 54 percent of total VBA claims raters are Veterans. In 2012 alone, 88 percent of newly-hired claims raters were Veterans. What this means is that most of the people working on Veterans' claims have a vested interest in getting those done quickly, and done accurately – because maybe some of them have filed claims in the past or even have claims pending. They get it! Having a personal connection to the process makes it that much more important to make sure the process is effective.
There's a backlog, and while we're making steady progress on reducing it it's important to remember that VA and the VBA claims reps are working hard to complete every claim quickly and accurately. We know that each claim will have an impact on a Veteran in need of assistance.
Veterans applying for new claims can help, by filing a fully developed claim when it's applicable. This means you submit all of your information at once, and certify that you have no further information to file in relation to that claim. If it fits your needs, it's much faster than other types of claims. Veterans can file an FDC when they have an injury, disability, or condition believed to have occurred or been aggravated by military service or a condition caused or aggravated by an existing service-related condition. More information about the different types of claims and compensation is available here.
Beyond claims, my experience with VA staff is that people are proud of the jobs they do in serving Veterans. They – WE – all want to ensure you receive the world-class health care and benefits you have earned through your service.