Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

September 17, 2013

Fed up

Mikulski: VA needs an ‘attitude adjustment’

The Baltimore Regional Office of the Veterans Affairs Department has a woeful track record in processing veterans’ claims for benefits. Maybe the get-tough approach being taken by one of Maryland’s U.S. senators will finally get the problem fixed.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee — the panel that oversees funding for the federal government — has given the VA 10 days to come up with a plan for an “attitude adjustment” at the Baltimore office. She contends some employees in the office seem more interested in disqualifying than approving benefits claims.

There is a lot at stake for Maryland. The Baltimore office serves 484,013 veterans living in the state and its jurisdiction includes all counties in the state.

In a letter sent to the VA on Monday, Mikulski said she is “deeply disappointed and frustrated” by the regional office and wants an “action plan” within 10 days to improve its “lackluster” performance.

Compared to other VA regional offices, the Baltimore unit has a terrible track record. Nationwide, the VA’s weekly workload reports show veterans compensation claims are taking an average of 198 days to process.

 At the Baltimore office, the average is 277 days. Only in the Washington regional office, which averages a processing time of 337 days, is the process slower.

Verna Jones, director of the American Legion’s veterans affairs and rehabilitation division, said at a recent Senate Appropriations Committee hearing the Baltimore office is lagging because employees do not appear to accept and embrace the so-called “fully developed claims” program that is intended to speed up case decisions.

The Baltimore office, she said, “is not one of the higher performance offices within VA. Systemic problems within the office, including poor file management and high employee turnover, contribute to morale issues and poor performance.”

In Washington’s bureaucracy, nothing is ever a sure thing. But Mikulski’s decision to give the VA a 10-day window to come up with a remedial plan may finally shake up Veterans Affairs leaders.

It will be interesting to see the VA’s forthcoming response.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Library week

    Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
    movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.

    April 13, 2014

  • Sunday hunting Sunday hunting

    Legislation that increases hunting oppportunities on Sundays in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties has passed the Maryland General Assembly and reached the governor’s desk.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • One cannot compromise on God’s word

    A recent letter asked, “What is it about compromises that seem so undesirable?” Most of us are familiar with John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The next verse goes on to say, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”

    April 13, 2014

  • Ballpark project a partnership, not a government handout

    To the Editor:
    Regarding Mark Nelson’s recent objection to county government assistance to exploring the placement of a minor league baseball team in the Cumberland region, I would answer that the project should be considered a partnership between private enterprise and government. The private support would come by way of donations collected from local citizens, currently banked through the Dapper Dan Club.

    April 13, 2014

  • Editorial Cartoon Editorial Cartoon

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Decriminalizing marijuana lines pockets of drug cartel

    Has the Maryland government decided they like contributing to the drug cartel? Their new decriminalization of marijuana does nothing but line the pockets of the cartel.

    April 11, 2014

  • Speed cameras Speed cameras

    We’ve never been big fans of speed cameras, primarily for two reasons. First, because the cameras are not always accurate, and secondly because many jurisdictions seem to create revenue by installing cameras and issuing high numbers of speeding tickets.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Open data Open data

    Maryland state government took a step in the right direction when the General Assembly approved legislation aimed at making spending data more available and searchable to everyone.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo