How Baltimore Fails Its Veterans

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The day after Veteran’s Day seems like a good time to point out that the Baltimore VA office has the longest waiting time in the country before injured vets get their benefits. According to the VA, vets should see their claims filed and processed in 125 days, or about 4 months; in Baltimore, the average wait time is 780.8 days, or more than two years. The office also makes more mistakes than any other one nationwide, reports the Baltimore Sun.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, part of the problem is that VA employees’ workloads have doubled in recent years, thanks to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus changes in qualifying injuries for Vietnam vets. VA employees have to meticulously document injuries before claims get processed. In cases of post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, where the damage may not be immediately apparent, that can be even more difficult.

Nonetheless, a two-year wait is an abysmal record. The Baltimore VA office came under harsh criticism in September from the American Legion (who accused the office of “aggressively excluding” Maryland vets) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (who said she was “deeply disappointed and frustrated on behalf of Maryland veterans”).

Since then, the VA’s nationwide backlog has shrunk by 34 percent— but that still leaves more than 400,000 injured vets waiting for their paperwork to get processed.

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