Proposed legislature aims to end time lag for veterans' benefit - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Proposed legislature aims to end time lag for veterans' benefit claims

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

For all the sacrifices those who have served in the armed forces have made for our country, it's important they receive the love and gratitude they deserve for their service

It's also crucial their needs and benefits be met at a timely fashion.

When applying for benefits, it can take weeks, months, or even years for Congressional Constituent Service representatives to receive files from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Now, legislature introduced by Minnesota DFL Senator Amy Klobuchar and Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy is working to curb that time lag.

Joe Brown served in the U.S. Army for three years, back in the 1970s.

He was a sergeant assistant chief of section in a firing platoon and was based in Germany.

Now, as a veteran, he gets his benefits claims through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

But when a health issue came about and he applied for his benefits, attention didn't come immediately.

"When I filed, it took about a year to a year and a half before the VA got back," said Brown.

Luckily his health scare wasn't too serious.

But, for another friend, that wasn't so much the case.

"He's my age and he served in Vietnam in the Navy and he had like, a heart condition and something else and basically related to Agent Orange. The VA apologized because I think it, he filed this and was about like 10 years ago or five or something like that," explained Brown.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Bill Cassidy are working to create legislation to keep this time lag from happening.

The Working to Integrate Networks Guaranteeing Member Access Now (WINGMAN) Act.

"The process, the paperwork and everything, it could be improved," said Brown.

The WINGMAN Act would eliminate the step of using the VA as a middle man and allow vetted constituent service reps direct access to veterans' benefits claims files.

"We're non political here at the American Legion so any senator or representative, if they're going to speed up and support legislation for the veterans, 100 percent behind that," said Brown.

Despite the lag in time it took Brown and his friend to receive attention, he said most of his experience with various veterans services has been positive.

"They're real good. I mean they work with you, they bend over backwards," explained Brown.

The WINGMAN Act has been endorsed by AMVETS and bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Not only would the WINGMAN Act eliminate the middle man when it comes to benefits claims, but it would also allow constituent service reps the ability to keep veterans better updated on the status of their pending claims. 

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