October 28, 2013
Congressman Walter B. Jones Press Office
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2189 – a bill cosponsored by Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) that would address the backlog of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability claims. According to the Government Accountability Office, the number of claims awaiting a decision for over 125 days more than tripled between 2009 and 2012, while the average length of time to complete a claim also increased from 161 days in 2009 to 260 days in 2012.
To remedy these situations, H.R. 2189 would create a special 15-member panel to study the backlog and offer solutions. Furthermore, the legislation would require the VA to take certain steps to expedite claims processing – such as prioritizing the claims of certain groups of veterans, entering into agreements with other agencies for the efficient transfer of disability or medical records, and increasing the use of contract physicians for medical examinations.
“The men and women in uniform defending our freedom deserve to be treated with the highest standard of care,” said Congressman Jones. “We must keep our promises to the individuals who have risked life and limb for our country – and we must do so in a timely fashion. After all our veterans have sacrificed for us, we need to be sure that the VA is working for them.”
H.R. 2189 included two additional measures supported by Congressman Jones. One would ensure that individuals who served as merchant mariners during World War II are considered veterans under U.S. law and honored as such, including many North Carolinians who faithfully served the United States on the East Coast. The other proposal would require one city per year to be designated by the VA as an American World War II City, with the first being Wilmington, North Carolina, in the Third District.
H.R. 2189 passed the House with a vote of 404 to 1 and will now go to the Senate for further consideration. The House also passed the following five measures relating to veterans issues this evening:
H.R. 2011 – Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Education Improvement
H.R. 3304 – To authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor to Bennie G. Adkins and Donald P. Sloat of the United States Army for acts of valor during the Vietnam Conflict and to authorize the award of the Medal of Honor to certain other veterans who were previously recommended for award of the Medal of Honor
H.R. 1742 – Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2013
H.R. 2481 – Veterans Economic Opportunity Act of 2013
H.R. 1405 – To amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to include an appeals form in any notice of decision issued for the denial of a benefit sought
For additional information, please contact Sarah Howard in Congressman Jones’ office at (202) 225-3415.