Issue: Servicemembers must be assured that their transition from active service to civilian life will be as seamless as possible and that their veterans' benefits will enable them to successfully achieve their post-service goals with the highest quality of life possible.
Background: In January 2014, MOAA joined the ranks of service organizations recognized by the Deptment of Veterans Affairs (VA) to represent veterans' on their disability, pension and survivor claims.
VA Disability Claims System
The VA processed over 1.3 million claims in FY 14 and accuracy on compensation claims rose to 90%. Several initiatives such as clearing out the oldest claims inventory, encouraging fully developed claims, and national training have worked to reduce the pending claims inventory.
As of January 2015, there were over 501,000 disability and pension claims pending in the VA's inventory. 234,825 of those claims were backlogged - awaiting a decision for more than 125 days.
The VA's assertion that it will eliminate the backlog in 2015 is a challenging goal. MOAA's goals in this area include:
- Recognizing "Blue Water" Vietnam War Agent Orange claims for presumptive service connection
- Continuing investment in state-of-the-art technology and information management support
- Providing standardized and targeted training to employees, and testing all VA claims workers on the skills, competencies, and knowledge required to do their jobs.
- Extending claims development training to veteran service organization representatives.
Educational programs coordination and consolidation
The coexistence of the Montgomery GI Bill (Chap 30, 38 USC) alongside the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chap 33, 38 USC) is causing confusion and uncertainty with the troops. Handling administration of multiple GI Bill programs is cumbersome, at best. There is no precedent over the last 70 years for two GI Bill programs operating side-by-side. In an era of resource constraints, the Post-9/11 GI Bill should be retained to support 21st century armed forces recruitment, retention, and readjustment. The MGIB is no longer relevant and should be repealed.
MOAA also supports restoring basic Selected Reserve MGIB benefits to the historic benchmark of 50% of active duty benefits. To ensure coordinated adjustments of Reserve and active duty GI Bill benefits, MOAA continues to support consolidation of both statutory authorities under veterans' benefit laws.
Training and Rehabilitation for Wounded Warriors
DoD and the VA should collaborate more effectively on providing long-term medical and non-medical intervention and support strategies for wounded, ill, injured, and disabled servicemembers and veterans, particularly support services for family members and those with behavioral and cognitive wounds. MOAA will continue to closely monitor DoD, Service and VA wounded, ill and injured programs, policies and support services, including standardization of caregiver programs and interoperability of health and personnel records between DoD and VA medical and benefits systems.