VA on a Treadmill:

According to the Government Accountability Office, Veterans Affairs has taken steps to improve its delivery of services to veterans even though, as we reported earlier, it actually has “lost ground” since 2003. The VA plans to increase by at least 450 the number of employees who process claims, to reduce the number of appeals that must be reworked, and to instill claims processing consistency among its regional offices. However, GAO believes these plans may run afoul of new court decisions, a continued increase in the number of veterans claims—principally from the war on terror—and a continuing inability to get claims evidence from military service records. Meanwhile, VA accuracy has improved from 80 percent in 2002 to 88 percent in 2006, but GAO says that is still “well short” of its goal of 98 percent. VA also still must wait for evidence from DOD, which in the case of claims related to post-traumatic stress disorder, can take up to a year to come from the Joint Services Records Research Center. (Congress has faulted both VA and DOD on their lack of progress toward shared electronic data.) And, GAO really wants VA to get beyond mere band-aid fixes and look to make “more fundamental reform” to catch up with “scientific advances and economic and social changes” that negate the antiquated “concept that impairment equates to an inability to work.”